Most everyone understands that they need to put in work to experience results, however what few understand and even fewer practice is what comes before the work! Newton described action with his Principle of Inertia, in that “an object will continue moving at its current velocity until some force causes its speed or direction to change.” How does this apply to our fitness? Well, read on…
If you are a competitor in bodybuilding or fitness competitions, you are likely familiar with the change from off season to in/on season. This may be your first time starting on season preparation, but for many of us, we already know this is not an easy adjustment. When you talk about “off season”, many people take this to mean it’s time to let themselves go and consume any and all foods placed in front of them. I highly recommend avoiding this approach. Instead, stay focused on eating clean, but ensure you are maintaining an appropriate caloric surplus.
If you are just getting started with weight training, it can be confusing. You don’t know exactly who you to listen to, everybody seems to have the answers. If you are a complete novice it can be totally over whelming. Do you do straight sets or supersets or giant sets? Do you need post workout carbs? Should you do a split or full body routine? What about high reps to ‘tone’? If you do a Google search on ‘weightlifting for beginners’ there are over 568k results. That is one variation of one term. Everybody has an opinion, from your fat co-worker who thinks they know the best way to get ripped, to Dr. Oz who seems put his name on anything and everything under the sun, provided they pay him for it. Just a word of advice, the vast majority of information you need to transform your body is available online for free. Browse this website and you’ll get more information than you know what to do with, all without paying a penny.
We hit the gym, the track, pool, or cycling circuit with limitations and established parameters of strength and conditioning based on our current fitness levels. In order to improve conditioning and strength, we MUST push our bodies beyond failure. When we go down to do a push-up for example and stop at 20 reps when we might have been able to do 25, we are not doing ourselves justice towards reaching our full potential!
With the onset of the New Year and so many people beginning their resolutions it is very important to talk about the idea of “perfection” that many of us hold or rather, society holds. You see, we live in an imperfect world so to expect and even aim for perfection does nothing but set us up for failure in the long run. The true skill is recognizing that life truly is a journey with many twists and turns and if through it all we strive for Progress and NOT Perfection we are able to make continual long-term improvements. The beauty is finding that it is our imperfections that make us unique, if we all were perfect, we all would be the same and what a boring place that would be!
Ladies and gentlemen the darkness is upon us. It descends upon our gyms, fitness centers and health clubs like a plague. The plague cares not for gym etiquette, has zero appreciation for proper form, and will hog a piece of cardio equipment like nobody’s business.
The plague is known by many names including newbie, beginner or worst still: resolutionist. (Note: resolutionists are those people that make New Year’s Resolutions.)
According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, 45% of American’s will make a New Year’s Resolutions in 2012 and 38% of those will be weight-related. So, what that means is that the first couple months of 2013 are going to be extremely busy.
Fret not because all is not lost as the contagion can be contained and short lived.
Here are a few tips for surviving the early part of 2013:
Recently, I have learned some new techniques and exercises from fellow trainers and others in the gym that have helped me make drastic improvements in my muscular development and overall physique. I am reminded of when I first started working with my trainer, I quickly realized I had previously only gained minimal knowledge of training. I knew the basics of common exercises and an understanding of training techniques, but I was struggling to make consistent improvements. Limited as my experience was, I would not think to ask others in the gym for advice. Once I started working with my trainer, he taught me how to eat properly and train effectively. Literally ten weeks from the day I started training, I was able to shed over thirty pounds and had the opportunity to do my first photo shoot. It scares me to think if I had not been open to receiving this guidance, I would likely still be fighting the same weight loss battle today.
We, as Men’s Physique Competitors, have a problem. A serious problem. Let me explain. We enjoy pain. We enjoy discomfort. We enjoy getting up at 4:30 in the morning because others don’t do it. We don’t like to be normal. We push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. We push ourselves to a point that we didn’t know we could. We eat peculiarly, or as my kids say ‘food for our muscles’. We cook our food for a week at a time. We eat almonds out of a plastic bag, and drink protein shakes at family barbeques.
The problem? Our desire to succeed and build the best body possible can become an obsession and take away from other, more important parts of our life, namely our family, our religion, our job, etc.. So, how do we build a balanced life, while still having that same dedication and inner strength we strive for?
Let me share a couple things that I have done that has helped me to remain focused & committed, but helped me achieve balance in my life.
There comes a time in our lives, when many of us find ourselves to be in somewhat of a “rut”. There are many reasons and/or circumstances for this, unique to every person and situation. I recently found myself in this position, before making a major change in my life, to finally pursue the career that I am truly passionate about. Ever since I was fourteen years old, I have been working in the restaurant industry, the last eighteen years of which was in management. For the longest time, I believed that this was my calling in life. I really enjoyed being able to welcome people into “my home” and provide them with the highest level of hospitality.
No matter what we accomplish or what we are going through, we all at times will go through moments where we question what we are doing or just want to give up all together. These are the times that truly define someone who has the Warrior Spirit, you see, it is easy for anyone to give thanks, be excited, and have endless energy when things are going great and everything seems to just be happening in our favor. The times when the chips are down are the times we really have three choices to make; just stay where we are at, give in to the urge to quit, or realize why we started in the first place and snap out of it and make it happen! You see, to say that we all do not experience trying times would simply be naive, but in the grand scheme of this life and there being literally millions of things that go into what is happening at our present moments, we are also very naive to not realize that things are just as they should be! This is a concept that is very easy to say, but also very difficult to master; it takes the realization that our reactions and attitudes ultimately dictate our outcomes. It takes the realization that with millions of things coming into play to make a single moment, that there are far many factors other than just what we are currently doing. Above all, it takes the realization that people, things, and events do not in themselves cause emotions or dictate whether something is “good” or “bad,” but rather how we perceive them and if we treat life as a learning experience, rather than just something to mindlessly discount as if it isn’t our fault. Let me tell you, with the utmost conviction, that everything that we feel and experience is ultimately by our own doing, our greatest secret lies deep within ourselves, where we already have the answers!
Well the Excalibur contest has come and gone, what seemed like a long 24-week prep came and went quickly.
So many lessons learned from that journey I feel I must share with you today.
In my previous article I wrote about trusting those we have entrusted to coach us; however what I did not prepare for was what if your coach isn’t available or unable to see you within that final 48-hour pre contest window?
You have that moment when you look in the mirror and the person staring back at you is old? Yikes! What happened? The face once free of wrinkles now has crow’s feet around the eyes, the perfect hair is thinning or grey or both, and the bright eyes are now drawn and tired. Perhaps all a bit dramatic, but nonetheless, there is no doubt, we are all facing the effects of aging. I look at many of my peers who are in their late 30′s and 40′s…who have accepted age…and with it a sedentary lifestyle. They have accepted the low energy, the beer gut, the fatigue, the soreness, the loss of agility. Although we can’t waive the magic wand and push off the aging process for good, we can certainly make huge strides to ensure we can stay super fit and active while we age! I’m 41 and in the best shape of my life…and I hope to continue to make great strides towards my health and fitness. I know I can’t stop time, but I am determined to make sure that as I age, I look great, feel great, and have the energy I need to live a full life.
Are you entering middle age with a renewed focus on a healthy lifestyle? Are you proud of what you have accomplished in the gym at your age? Are you excited that you have some gray hair but your six-pack is easily visible? If so, you might decide to show your new body to the world at a local men’s physique or sports modeling competition.
There is a place for every athlete at these competitions, including those in the “masters” divisions. However, unique challenges face older participants. In this article, we will focus on the four traits that you need to find success: conviction, compartmentalization, consistency, and concentration.
I will never forget the first painful and humiliating day I worked out at a “real gym”. The place was called Future Man and as a skinny teen with no muscle and even less discipline I was anything but that.
Up until that point I had only been messing around with some old school machines and a few dust covered dumbbells at the High School gym near my house. I was just a beginner, knew nothing about training and was inconsistent at best. What I did know even then was that I wanted to build big muscles and look like the guys I saw on the covers of the body building magazines.
Not everyone who trains is pursuing a National championship title but we all have one thing in common, a desire to improve.
Motivation is a facet of exercise that is vitally important for individuals seeking to maintain or reach peak fitness levels. If fact, maintaining the big MO is the subject of countless articles, videos and Facebook status updates. And, when you think about it, fitness trainers, coaches and boot camp instructors make a living helping to motivate people to try hard and to do more.
You may be asking yourself where motivation fits with diet, exercise and sleep. And, I would suggest that motivation isn’t in direct competition with the aforementioned but an underlying component of all three. If you’re motivated to reach your goals then you’re more apt to engage in behaviors that support those goals, right? You are more likely to eat the proper foods, training in #beastmode and bank the proper amount of Zs.
I recently had a chance to review individual and comparison photos from the 2012 NPC Nationals held in Atlanta. The show had an astounding 900 competitors across the various divisions and by the time all was said and done, 62 individuals became IFBB pros. When looking specifically at Men’s Physique, approximately 7 percent or 12 of the 177 entrants reached professional status.
As I clicked through the photos, I began to wonder what separated the winners from the “professional” winners. I mean let’s face it, anyone that’s on that stage is a winner, but rules dictate that only a handful can turn pro in a given year. In looking at the photos, you could point out physical differences between this guy and that guy but it’s almost like preferring a Ferrari over a Lamborghini. At the end of the day both cars are amazing. So what is it that separates one competitor from another?
Long ago there was a man who each day walked to town around a large mountain, the same as many others did. Each day this man would pick up a stone from the mountain and place it to the side of his path, this went on for many years. Soon others began to do the same as they saw the man slowly moving the mountain from their path! Now, sometime the stones would fall down, sometimes someone else would put them right back, but most of the time they stayed right where they were placed. As more and more people joined in, the once mighty mountain was dwindled away to nothing and the path they ventured became a straight line! What is the moral of this story? Well, as individuals we can only do so much, but collectively we can move mountains! By committing to something greater than ourselves we are able to truly help this world and gain the most satisfaction in our own lives!
How does this apply to fitness?
Competing is much more than bringing a nice physique to the stage. What most people don’t understand is that even though Men’s Physique is considered a “Beach Body Physique” there is still a lot of work and preparation that goes into preparing for a show.
On July 1, 2012 my coach Anthony Racanelli and I decided to compete in the NPC Titans Show Oct 20, 2012. This gave us 16 weeks of preparation time. After the first 6 weeks we were on target dropping from 220lbs to 210lbs then the expected happened. Literally overnight, no exaggeration, my body weight increased right back to where we started at 220lbs...
If I told you that I could tell you very simply the key to unlocking your ultimate potential, making everlasting progress, being successful, and finding happiness; would you wanna know?
Seriously… Take a few seconds to think about what I just said; most everyone’s reaction would be an immediate “YES!”
I was recently asked for some advice by an old friend who has been competing as a body builder for several years. Over his 20 plus year career he’s had some great success but he has also dealt with some frustration and disappointment.
His goal has been to capture a prestigious IFBB pro card which continues to elude him. He’s come close on several occasions and in my opinion, with a few minor adjustments has everything it takes to achieve his objective.
“Do you think I should go for one more pro qualifying contest before calling it quits?”
As I take a moment to stop and reflect on this past year, which has brought about such an incredible amount of change in my life, I can’t help but realize how my life has truly been impacted by consistently projecting positive energy. It was only just more than one year ago that I first began my journey to improving my health and wellness, beginning with an unbelievable transformation of losing over 30 pounds. Trust me though; this journey has not been without stress and struggle. I have definitely had moments when I had hit a plateau, or faced difficult times with work, or simply the intense pressure of preparing for back-to-back Men’s Physique competitions. There have been many times when I have allowed doubt and negative influences to impact my state of mind and/or progress towards my goals. Over time, I have learned to recognize these negative influences or thoughts, and shift my focus to the many positive things I have in my life.