With around 12 weeks to go, the heat is rising…
The world of competitive bodybuilding and sports science is fast evolving, and so too is the understanding of the science and biological mechanisms behind getting the body to go where it doesn’t always want to go..
12 weeks is the amount used to be the amount of time that most competitors would give themselves to prepare for a contest, but changes in science and practices has seen this time become slightly longer; in favour of small and frequent
changes that the bodily can (semi) happily adapt too, rather than making aggressive changes over a short space of time to take you from plump to pumped in 12 weeks.
Calorie restrictions placed on
you in a short space of time often have the opposite effect and make you hungry, tired, irritable and you’ll crave like never before!!
The methods I use to drop body fat from clients whilst holding lean mass is exactly the same as the methods used in competition prep; just applied appropriately. It can take months, years even, of experience to improve emotional attachments or understandings of “food” – so I never suggest that someone go from zero control to complete contest prep levels of vigour with their dieting in a short space of time, it’s just asking for an uncontrollable food binge! But progress is progress, and every day is another battle won.
Even the littlest things like disassociating breakfast with sweet things, breakfast cereals or toast, can take time. Your whole life you’ve been programming your brain and gut otherwise, so all of a sudden changing your breakfast ritual to meat or eggs or other high fat, high protein options is completely alien and can take time; not to mention churning your stomach! This is why we call it a ‘lifestyle change’, not simply a diet. Diets have expiry dates.
This leads me nicely on tothe topic of food. As I mentioned above, the new school of thinking in todays industry is that little changes made frequently are much easier for the body to adapt to so are much more sustainable, less stressful and ultimately more successful.
This week we’ve opted to pull food ever so slightly from my Training day, with rest days remaining the same at zero carb.
Here’s what my Training Day food looks like right now!
As stated a couple of weeks ago, training is staying largely the same – with a couple of exceptions. We have cycled a couple of the “key lifts” on my leg days.
Key lifts, primary movements, predictor lifts, big lifts; whatever you want to call them, are usually the lift that takes pride of place at the top of your workout. It’s the single lift that above any other, you’re aiming to progress week in, week out.
With leg movements; I’m semi-limited. A career as a Front Row Forward in Rugby, as is often the case, has left me with a lasting legacy of low back problems – namely compressed Vertebrae in my Lumbar spine from years of scrummaging, high impact collisions and lifting huge loads in the Squat and it’s variations through Strength and Conditioning. I’m assuming theres more than a handful of retired rugby players out there who can relate to this!
This generally doesn’t effect me too badly on a day to day basis, but “axial loading”, or placing a bar or pressure directly on to my spinal column isn’t going to get a warm welcome from my lower back. So instead, we opt for other leg movements like the Leg Press, Horizontal Leg Press, ‘V’ Squat, Pendulum Squat and Linear Hack Press. These are all fantastic lower body compound movements that wont interfere with low back injuries on the same scale.
Recently however, I maxed out the Horizontal Leg Press and V Squat, so they’re no longer suitable as my primary movement. This is where intelligent programming comes in.
Simply put something ELSE that you want to develop as your primary lift, and then move a lift where you’re strong further down your agenda.
So for me, a leg day has reshuffled itself as follows
A1) Leg Press – 3 Sets. Set 1: 13-15 Reps. Set 2: 9-11 Reps. Set 3: Complete failure 6-8 Reps
B1) V Squat – 2 Sets. 8-12 Reps.
This means that I can still use the stimulus of the V squat, but in a rep range that I’m unlikely to be able to use as much load on and AFTER a completely exhaustive lift, so my output will be slightly down.
I recommend using this yourselves. There are no “best exercises” or “magic tips and tricks”. Just the basics done right. Eventually, when you become obsessed with getting strong, you will either plateau, or max out a machine – it’s at this point that I advise swapping out a lift or at least changing the rep range.
You can check out training videos and more of this kind of stuff on my Instagram. Thats not a plug for followers, but if you’re interested, you can check them out at @m_r_training_frontier
The other element of training is of course, cardio. This is the lesser known, less sexy family member of training that is still a valuable tool in increasing your caloric expenditure. My cardio is currently set at 35 minutes walk each night.
What else is new?
As the blog title suggests and as I spoke about earlier – this kind of training is not without its setbacks.
Pushing your body to it’s limits week in, week out, is going to cause some wear and tear – you’d be naive to think otherwise. My journey is no different, at at the tail end of last week I picked up a lower back niggle (again!!) – so I headed off to the only physio in Lincoln I will happily vouch for, recommend, refer and praise. Mr Gavin Cummins at Lincoln Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic.
If you want a no BS approach, great diagnosis, hands on therapy and a realistic, holistic and effective care plan then look no further. It also helps that he doesn’t charge the absolute earth, which is more than I can say for some of the charlatans out there who pray on the unfortunate victims of pain.
For what it’s worth – here’s my advice. Always, ALWAYS be weary of physiotherapists, chiropractors or otherwise who tell you that you need their “screening” process and a block booking of follow up sessions. Remember, experts as they may be, they’re also running a business.
But I digress, after a great catch up and check over by Gav, he succeeded (yet again) in putting my mind at ease. I thought I’d strained a deep core postural muscle, the QL, which is a big deal. Tearing that is an absolute minimum of 3-6 months out. But after further investigation, I’d just knotted up and caused adhesions on some tendinous fascia in my back. Uncomfortable as it may be, its nothing to be worried about and can be remedied with *sensible* mobility, heat relief and listening to your body.
The heat and pain relief I opt for was recommended to me by the absolute guru Jordan Peters; Kwan Loong Oil.
If you’ve ever suffered a sore elbow, knee, low back, anything really, Kwan Loong Oil will revolutionise your training.
Kwan Loong Oil is an aromatic oil formulated to relieve pain and treat mild skin irritations. Often used in Chinese Health Traditions, Loong Oil is a natural, low-risk treatment for minor aches and pains, most commonly used for muscle pain, joint pain, backaches, arthritis, bruises, sprains and strains.
It has a mild anaesthetic effect, which is absolutely perfect, and doesn’t contain the harsher NSAID’s present in lotions such as Deep Heat.
So with that problem ticked off, I’m back in full swing and good to go for another week!!
Thats all from me again for this week – thank you kindly for reading! As always, I hope I’ve been insightful enough for you to learn something or at the very least provided an interesting read!!
I always appreciate critique or support, either way, so feel free to share, comment or tag your friends in! I’ll see you all next week!!