By Andre Newcomb
As of late, Frank was doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. It was time for some serious changes. He had just competed in his third-ever bodybuilding show and had placed 5th out of six in his age group. He was hugely disappointed. He had thought he had improved dramatically since his previous show. The judges thought otherwise. In his very first show, one year ago, Frank was thrilled to take 4th place as a novice. Frank, 5’9”, weighed a lean and vascular 177-pounds. Everyone said he had great bodybuilding potential. Fired up, six-months later in his second show, Frank weighed 181-pounds and took 3rd, winning his first trophy and getting to stand onstage with the other novice class winners. He needed to add muscle size to his lean, yet extremely symmetrical physique. In his third show, Frank got the wakeup call: he’d graduated from novice into open class (age group) and was relegated to 7th out of 10 competitors. He weighed 183-pounds and when he looked at his competition, they all seemed to be shorter and loaded with muscle. By comparison, Frank felt thin and muscle-less. Frank reached out to John Parrillo. Frank had attended a Parrillo seminar the previous month and had been intrigued by the Parrillo approach. When he called Parrillo headquarters in Cincinnati, John immediately remembered Frank.
They’d spoken at length at the seminar. John had seen in Frank in person and thought Frank looked more like a good soccer player than a competitive bodybuilder. On the plus side, Frank had a naturally low body fat percentile. Over the phone, John quizzed Frank at length and in depth about his nutrition, his cardio, his lifting and his short-term goals. After listening patiently, Parrillo responded. “You obviously need to add lean mass. To accomplish that, you will need to increase your clean calories, you will need lots of them.” The agreed upon goal was for Frank to add one pound of lean mass per week, each week, for twelve consecutive weeks. Every week come hell or high water, he would intake enough clean calorie, enough food and supplements to nudge the scale upward one pound, no more, no less. Every Friday morning Frank would have his training partner administer a BodyStat reading: a 9-point skinfold caliper test that allowed Frank to assess his body fat percentile. Each week’s BodyStat reading dictated the course of action for the coming week in cardio, lifting, nutrition and supplementation. If Frank’s Friday BodyStat reading indicated that he was gaining muscle – yet gaining fat, Frank would maintain the calories and increase the pace or the duration of his seven-day-a-week, pre-breakfast, “fasted cardio” regimen. John stressed the importance of BodyStat. “Think of BodyStat as the weekly report card that dictates your next move. Without BodyStat the bodybuilder is flying blind.”
Frank was precise in his nutrition. It was critical that any bodyweight gain was lean muscle, not marbled with an unacceptable amount of body fat. It would take ever-increasing amounts of calories to drive his bodyweight upward. John went over Frank’s multiple meal eating schedule and made some suggestions. “At the beginning of the mass-building phase, adding a pound of bodyweight per week will be easy. The emphasis needs be on making sure any weight gain is lean.” The classical Parrillo food meal consists of a portion of lean protein, a portion of fibrous carbohydrate and a portion of complex starch carbs. “It is important that the foods be eaten together.” John explained. “Starch eaten alone will spike insulin to an unacceptable degree. By always eating starch carbs in combination with protein and fiber, the digestion is slowed and the insulin response normally associated with eating starch is reduced. Spritz meals with a sprinkling of CapTri® C8 MCT, an MCT lipid, to further dampen and dilute insulin.” Frank lifestyle only allowed time for three “food meals.” He would augment the three Parrillo food meals with three Parrillo “supplement meals.”
CapTri® C8 MCT was already a big part of Frank’s nutritional regimen. John had Frank increase his CapTri® C8 MCT intake gradually. The number of tablespoons per day were systematically increased over the course of the twelve-week cycle. Each tablespoon of CapTri® C8 MCT contains 100-calories, calories impossible to end up stored as body fat. CapTri® C8 MCT is an MCT oil and medium-chain triglycerides are preferentially oxidized when consumed. Frank would drizzle CapTri® C8 MCT on all his food meals. Towards the end of the mass-building cycle he began adding CapTri® C8 MCT to his shakes. As Frank got deeper into the cycle and needed even more clean calories, he began eating Parrillo Energy bars™. He loved the taste of the chocolate almond coconut bar, and with 220 calories, this bar is a mini meal in wrapper. Naturally, the cardio and weight training needed to be dramatically changed. Before the bodybuilding show, Frank had been performing cardio twice a day, upon awaking and then again after his later-in-the-day weight training session. Frank was hitting the weights six days a week, using a moderate-intensity high-volume classical bodybuilder approach: lots of exercises, lots of sets, moderate to high repetitions, short rest periods between sets. These extended weight training sessions generated a significant cardio effect: once Frank commenced a prep-phase bodybuilding lifting routine, his heart rate never dipped below 120 and often spiked to 200 when he exerted maximally.
Frank cut back on the number of weekly lifting sessions, from six to four. He narrowed the number of exercises, dropped the reps and increased the poundage. This was off-season power-training at its finest. “Concentrate on getting stronger in your squats, bench presses, deadlifts, overhead presses, rows, curls, dips, cleans, belt squats and leg presses.” John added, “forget about the small exercises, drop the tricep kickbacks, most machines work, walking lunges, etc. and concentrate on getting stronger in the core barbell and dumbbell exercises. Get way stronger, eat way more, grow way bigger.” Frank now took more time between sets and really got into forced reps. He was lucky enough to have a highly competent training partner. Jim provided Frank expert forced reps on all his bench pressing and arm work. Frank also made big use of the Parrillo “drop-set” strategy. Frank liked to perform a Parrillo high-rep “finisher” to end a body part and build capillary density. Frank did not drop his cardio. He knew the secret to avoiding an unacceptable amount of body fat during the mass-building process was to skillfully use aerobic exercise. The studious use of cardio was critical for success. Before Parrillo, bodybuilders didn’t do aerobics under the faulty premise that cardio would “tear down muscle.” Parrillo demonstrated the lunacy of this approach.
While engaged in a mass-building regimen, cardio and BodyStat are the keys to ensuring that weight gain is lean muscle. Frank used the fasted cardio strategy on a daily basis. John Parrillo was the first to point out that if a bodybuilder performed a high-intensity cardio session upon awaking (before consuming any carbohydrates) the body, low on glycogen coming off the sleep fast, burns through the residual glycogen and then begins using the second favorite fuel source: stored body fat. The Friday BodyStat reading always let Frank know if he was on track or not. For the first two months of the process, Frank’s battle had been to keep the pound-a-week weight gain lean. He had no problem adding a pound of bodyweight each week, the question was, of that pound gained, what percentage was fat and what percentage was muscle? John Parrillo suggested Frank try some different cardio modes “Variety is the spice of life, too many trainees fall into a comfortable groove doing cardio in the same way using the same tool over and over, expecting miraculous results. Mix it up!” Frank had done nothing but stationary bike for years; Frank, an ex-boxer, began morning running and outdoor road work. He began jumping rope again. He told his training partner that this sudden changing of the cardio modes had “jolted” his body awake and was stressing his cardiovascular system in ways that was taking his aerobic exertions to a whole new level.
Frank would hit an early morning cardio every day of the week. Four days a week, later in the evening, he would go to the gym and power train. By putting these two training sessions at opposite ends of the day (another Parrillo suggestion) Frank found he could go harder in each. By week nine, Frank was ahead of schedule: he had gained ten pounds of muscle and actually lost fat, dropping his starting body fat percentile from 12% to 9%. By week ten Frank was consuming nearly double the calories he started the cycle off with. He was consuming ten tablespoons of CapTri® C8 MCT spread over the course of the day. He poured CapTri® C8 MCT over his food meals and added CapTri® C8 MCT to his shakes, CapTri® C8 MCT was used to construct the Parrillo cakes and the Parrillo Contest cookies he loved so much. Frank ended his mass-building phase in October. In twelve-weeks he had added fifteen pounds of muscle while holding a 9% body fat percentile. Friends and family were shocked at his transformation. Now, weighing a few pieces of Parrillo cake shy of 200-pounds, he went from muscular and lean to muscular and thick. He added a full inch to his arms and just shy of two inches to his thighs. His bench press shot up. His squat leapt up to 350. John congratulated Frank on his “perfect off-season.” The new game plan was for Frank to stabilize at his new bodyweight for four to six weeks. John related, “This allows the body to ‘lock-in’ gains; you are creating a new homeostasis, a new body norm.” Past that, Frank wanted to whittle down to 5% for a show and see how much of this new mass he could retain. He now had the tools and the confidence. He would never fly blind again.