Monday, December 27, 2010

The Dreaded Sugar Hangover . . .

Never thought I'd have one of those again . . . but being in the States for Christmas and attending a series of parties, I went over the edge and partook of well . . .  nearly everything.

This morning Kelly and I went to the closest 24 Hour Fitness and got a workout . . . but not a great one.  We felt hungover, sluggish, and just got through it.

Combine that with the fact I am injured and it made for a miserable experience. 

The bright side?  I am ready to return home and get back into the groove, have a doctor look at what is ailing me, develop a plan to deal with it, and move forward. 

The question I often ask myself is:  "Is it worth it to fall off the wagon every now and then?"

For me, probably not.  I don't get enough bang out of it and a little cheating leads to a lot of cheating and I spend a lot of unnecessary time convicting myself. 

For others, I believe a week "off" the diet is a good dynamic.  It keeps them from serial cheating.  

This is where good trainers come in handy -- they don't preach a "one size fits all" program, but rather they get to know their clients, their inclinations, their strengths and their weaknesses and develop exercise and diet programs that recognize that each individual is different.

Train hard; diet harder!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pre/Post Workout Diet for Body Transformation

"What's the best pre-workout meal?"  "What's the best post-workout meal?"

These are the two most common questions I get in programs I give in health clubs and gyms.

Of course, opinions differ but here's what I've learned from the best . . .

Before Workout

You can go with whole foods or with a protein shake.  Either way, you want to get .25 grams of protein and .25 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight in this first most important meal of the day.  So, you weigh 175 pounds, for example. you want to get 44 grams of protein and 44 grams of carbohydrate before going to the gym. 

Best whole food choices include egg whites, chicken and turkey breast for protein and whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice or a sweet potato for carbohydrates.

If you don't have time for whole food, go with a protein shake that includes a fast-digesting form of protein like whey or egg protein.  Either way, get the .25 grams of protein and .25 grams of carbohydrate in this first meal.  My first meal of almost everyday is hot oatmeal and Syntha-6 protein powder (by BSN).  Add a little flaxseed, a teaspoon of coconut oil, and some Stevia sweetener -- it's the best meal of my day! 

Before getting to the gym, I also take Arginine as a pre-workout supplement.  This boosts nitric-oxide levels and causes blood vessels to dilate, which allows them to deliver more nutrients for muscle-building during the workout.  I take it in the form of White Flood and start drinking it in a pre-workout drink about 30 minutes before arriving at the gym.  I take this along with 5 grams of Creatine (in the same workout drink) which helps drive fluids to your muscles providing a bigger pump and the ability to lift more weight longer. 

Post Workout

After your workout you want to get another .25 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight and .25 to .50 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate per pound of body weight.  Depending on whether I am bulking or cutting, I vary between .25 and .50 grams of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight I am carrying at the time.  Again, lean chicken, turkey, egg whites are the best sources of protein.  Fast acting carbohydrates include fruit, fruit juice, even iced tea with sugar added.  I usually eat Ezekiel toast with jelly on it to add fast-acting carbs.

If you take a protein shake after your workout rather than whole food, I suggest using whey and adding a slow-digesting protein like casein to it.  This will help repair muscle tissue broken down in your workout.  Mix dextrose or fructose or some other form of sugar in the protein shake in order to get the fast-acting carbs.

After my workout, I take 5 or more grams of BCAA's (branch chain amino acids) in tablet form.  These also help in muscle recovery.  And, finally, I often take another 5 grams of creatine post-workout. 

That's it.  And it rarely varies day to day.

Train hard; diet harder!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Fitness: It Really Is A TEAM Effort

In response to my blog yesterday, my chiropractor and a critical member of my team, Dr. Jim Bourqe Starr, had this to say . . . I commend it to your review!

"Hi Jim, your chiropractic visit today had many great lessons not just for YOU and the athletes that train under your state of the art program but also for the health professionals that are part of the team of any these serious athletes. It is important to share some of these experiences that with your loyal followers of the Plus 50 Fitness as well as the medical staff who serve them all over the world.

"The chiropractor, trainer, nutritionist, physical therapist or M.D. who has the honor of sharing his/her skills with these athletes under your program must follow a different set of treatment criteria in order to be successful.

"First and foremost, the healer must put his EGO aside and understand he/she is PART of the team and not the HEAD of the team. These athletes like yourself are not just "weekend warriors" or "health club socialites." Your slogan, "Train hard, diet harder" says it all. You and your group are focused, dedicated and serious.

"Second,the health care professional (HCP) needs to understand that THERE IS NO TURNING BACK. The question of quitting or some form of mandatory rest doesn`t exist in the vocabulary of Plus 50 Fitness-type athletes. Therefore, the HCP needs to work within those parameters and seek to offer recommendations that will fit within those guidelines of treatment.

"Obviously, if there are questions of life and death, the HCP needs to lay all the cards on the table, or the athlete may find himself laying on the wrong type of table in a box! What we are dealing with is a measure of professional compromise in order to achieve maximum MEDICAL results but not at the expense of WORKOUT results.

"Finally, anyone over 50 years of age understands that the healing process takes just a tad bit longer than at 21 years of age. Patience and tolerance must be practiced by all members of the team. Working through the injury and/or the pain is a way of life with serious athletes. You and Kelly are serving as living proof of just plowing ahead everytime there is a setback. You both have experienced the truth that not only your training regimen must come in cycles of routines for maximum results but HEALING COMES IN CYCLES as well.

"Once athletes understand and accept this truth, any roadblock or physical setback is simply another lesson learned on this journey of body/mind training. You and Kelly should be commended for what you are offering to the world of athletes over 50. It is a way of life and a way to live healthier and happier.

"I am proud to part of your TEAM and I understand that it is not my job to tell you what to do or not to do but to offer professional advice so that WE may reach a conclusion that will serve the Plus 50 Fitness athlete at the highest level of not only health but of well-being. Looking forward to contributing to your growth."

- Dr.Jim
Dr. Jim Bourque Starr

(Note: Dr. Jim Bourque Starr literally saved my life. I went into his office more than 50 pounds overweight and suffering a terrible dizziness that was ruining my life. He adjusted me in more ways than one which alleviated the dizziness which gave me the energy and desire to get into shape. Without him, there would be no Plus50Fitness.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Big Switcheroo

During the 6 weeks of FST-7, I put on 6 pounds -- up to 177.8

Between now and New Year's the goal is to see how much of that was muscle and how much was fat.

So, it's back to calorie-restriction for the next several weeks. 


But it has to be done.

The first 5 came off easy, as always.

Now at 172.4 -- on the way to 168. 

Will see how it all looks at that weight.  Hopefully, I won't have to be lighter to get sharp. 

Plan is to lean back down to less than 10% bodyfat (whatever that weight is) and then I'll know the rest was lean muscle added.

And, then what?

And then back to the cycle.

Back to bulking January 1 for 6 - 8 weeks, again on FST-7.  It's the most dramatic mass -gainer we've found.

Only issue now is injury.  Seems my lower back objected to FST-7 and, well, I don't care.

Had a great chiropractic adjustment today via Dr. Jim who said, "You need to lighten and be adjusted more often."

I replied, "I'll meet you half way.  I'll get adjusted more often but not only I am not going lighter, I'm going heavier."

That's the deal.  Sometimes success is just sucking it up.

Train hard; diet harder.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FST-7 - The Final Week

I can't say enough about FST-7 . . .

It is by far the most intense programs I've ever done.

This is our fourth and final week before a full week off.

FST-7 is a bulking routine, which means performed properly it will increase strength and muscle mass.  The only thing it needs is intensity and calories.  That's right -- calories.  With its focus on maximum micro-tearing of the muscles, you must have excess calories to burn.  This is NOT a routine to try while on a restricted calorie diet.

Kelly and I have both noticed a remarkable increase in strength over the 4 weeks.  Mass, too.

The question is how much of this mass is lean muscle and how much is fat?  We know there is some of both as will happen anytime you are bulking - that is using heavy weight and combining it with plenty of protein and calories.

We will know the answer to that sooner than later.  After our week off, we come back to a new routine, one that focuses on cutting.  That means we go back to calorie restriction, strip off whatever fat has been added and see what is left.  We'll use the calipers to measure lean body mass.

I know there are some people relatively new to the gym who read this blog.  My best advice:  DO NOT TRY FST-7 until you have had at least one full year in the gym working out hard, not missing, and being able to work through the pain.  Also DO NOT TRY FST-7 if you are trying to lose weight.  You will only hurt yourself and, even worse, not accomplish much because your body will look for food, find none, and feed on its own lean muscle mass.  Not good.

On the other hand, if you want to put on a few pounds of muscle, have a great training partner who can force you through the "7's," are willing to risk a little fat added, and being sore most of the time is not a deal-breaker, go for it!  You can learn more about FST-7 and Hany Rambod's training theories at

Next week, while we're off, I will be designing our diet for the next 6 weeks as well as our workout program, with a view to come into the Christmas season lean.  Then, starting the first of next year, we'll start bulking again.  Such is the reality of making your body the best it can be -- always bulking or cutting, but never staying the same.

Train hard; diet harder.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

FST-7: Taking It To The Limit

We finished our second week of FST-7 workouts this morning - about 20 sets of shoulders followed by calves.

That's two weeks down and two weeks to go before taking off a week and healing up.

So, what's the verdict?

FST-7 is a series of workouts developed by Hany Ramod who trains a lot of top bodybuilders.  "FST" stands for Fascia Stretch Training, and the "7" refers to the seven sets performed for the final exercise of a target bodypart.   I won't get into the details here but you can find out more about FST-7 at

Here's a few conclusions I've drawn after two weeks . . .

1.  This is not a workout for beginners.  It is tough even if you've been at it a while.

2.  It is a tendon stressor.  If you have tendonitis, this is not going to make it better.  

3.  FST-7 is not a workout to lose weight.  It is too strenuous for a calorie-restricted diet.  This is a bulking routine best used to add muscle, especially in hard to grow areas.  That means getting more calories, not less, than you need.  There will be time to strip off whatever fat is added later, but during FST-7 is not the time.  

4.  Form is key.  In free squats the other day I tweaked a knee.  It still hurts.  My guess is I focused on weight more than form and I strained a tendon or ligament.    

5.  The higher than normal amount of microscopic tears in the muscle caused by FST-7 training necessitates a little more recovery time than standard training protocols.  However, smaller body parts like arms and calves can be trained twice a week.  For example, we have set up our routine so that biceps and calves are trained twice week in an effort to play "catch up" in these body parts.  

Because we will miss Monday, we are working out tomorrow (Sunday) which is usually a day off.  This happens on the road, too.  I know I have to get 5 workouts in within each 7 day period.  I do what it takes to get that done, even if it means changing days or changing times.  

More on that topic in a future blog . . .

Monday, October 11, 2010

You know you've gotten a good workout when . . .

We're into the second week of the FST-7 series of workouts that have gained a new popularity when it was discovered that both Jay Cutler and Phil Heath (#1 and #2 in this year's Olympia competition) were using these routine.

Today was chest and biceps -- a total of 32 sets including the killer "7 set" finish of each body part.

For the next 3 weeks, we'll be on FST-7 workouts and not cutting our calories, but making sure we get enough calories to add muscle mass.  Then, we're headed to the beach for a week (which we'll take completely off except for cardio) and after that it will be time to diet off any fat added during the process which we'll get done before Christmas.  That's the plan . . .

As we were readying to leave the gym today, a friend walked up and asked, "Did you get a good one today?"

"Yep," I said, my hand shaking as I was trying to put on my sweatshirt.

"How do you know when you've put in enough effort?" he asked.

"When, like right now, I am about to vomit in the floor and can't zip up my own hoodie," I replied.

So, what's the point?

The point is not that every workout needs to result in being sick, or in shaking like an old man.


The point is that most people (me included for a long time) don't put in enough effort to change.  We never move to the next level because we won't push ourselves to the next level.  Most people in most gyms are comfortable coming in and doing what they always done, what they are comfortable doing.

And that is fine, unless they get unhappy over making no real progress in their physiques.

To change your shape, you have to change your workouts and that doesn't just mean changing exercises.  It means taking on more weight, even to the point it feels dangerous.  (That's where a workout partner comes in and I've written enough about that for the time being.)

Take it the next level -- do it!


P.S.  A lot of people have written to me and come up to me in our home gym asking about the NO (nitric oxide) article from a couple of weeks ago.  Since then, I've tried several more NO boosters, including SuperPump 250 by Gaspari Nutrition and most recently Quake by Sciavation.  SuperPump I rate in the middle of the pack.   Quake is deadly -- not literally but I was wired for 2 hours after taking a dose of it.  My energy levels were off the chart.  It is so strong I'm not sure I'd want to use it everyday and if I did, I'd definitely cycle off from time to time.  As with all NO boosters, it is best to consume it 15-30 minutes before training.  Used correctly, you will find it supports lean mass gains, promotes muscle pumps and fullness and, most importantly, provides intense energy and mental focus for the period of time it takes to get a good workout.  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Want To Live A Longer, Healthier Life? Protein Powder

The protein powder used regularly by body builders may hold a secret of a long and healthy life, scientists believe.  Combined with exercise, protein powder boosts fitness and improved balance and coordination.  In recent studies, it increased life expectancy by 12 per cent in animal studies.

Read more:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Squat, dude! It's not a Plié." - The Importance of A Workout Partner

 . . . in the gym this morning for the new leg routine on the FST-7 workout.

Yesterday was the first for FST-7 Chest and Triceps.  A monster frigging workout.  Sore today.

Tomorrow, my guess I won't be able to walk normally.

Got into the squats this morning and my partner, Kelly, pipes up, "Squat, dude!  It's not a Plié."


Not really nice, but necessary.

What she was saying is that my legs were too far apart and it looked more like a Plié (ballet move) than a squat and that limited my range of motion.

She was right.

Which brings me to the point.

A workout partner is ESSENTIAL to maximum results.

Arnold once said a workout partner was the most important component in his bodybuilding success.

I believe it both from personal experience as well as watching the professionals train -- almost always with a partner or a trainer.

Why is it so important?

There are several reasons, including the following:

1.  Accountability.  This means getting out of bed even when you're tired because you know someone is going to be at the gym counting on you being there.

2.  Motivation.  A good partner will push you when you don't feel like pushing yourself.  They can squeeze one more repetition out of you that you would not have gotten by yourself.

2.  Form.  We get to work out in a lot of gyms and see the same dynamic in all of them, what we call "hero work."  These are people who try to handle too much weight and sacrifice form, most often not using a full range of motion.  I see it most often in exercises like dumbbell bench press -- lowering the weight just a few inches rather than all way below the chest.  The same is true in leg press.  These would be funny if they were not so sad -- guys (and girls) loading on the plates and then doing a drop of about 3 or 4 inches instead of the full range -- knees to chest.  When you watch the pros workout as we did recently in Las Vegas, what you see is FULL RANGE OF MOTION.   That's what my partner did this morning for me -- pointed out that my stance was too wide and wasn't allowing me to get down into the hole on squats (butt below knees.)  Without her, I would have had a less effective workout.

3.  Making a difference.  It works both ways and when you drive someone else beyond where they thought they could go, it makes you both better.  It pumps them up and it pumps you up.  That can't be done without a partner or a trainer who is willing to get IN YOUR FACE.

Now, this assumes you want to improve, not just "stay in shape."  If the latter is your goal and you you're where you want to be physically, it doesn't take much to stay that way and you can do that alone.

But, if you want your muscles to grow, to change the shape of your body, it requires going beyond where you have gone before.  And that is best achieved by having the right partner or trainer beside you saying things like, "Squat, dude!  It's not a Plié!"

Train hard; diet harder.


Sunday, October 3, 2010


Before describing the new workout routine that Kelly and I begin tomorrow (October 4, 2010), understand that I DO NOT BELIEVE that there are any “secrets” to training that can bypass using heavy weight with plenty of sets and repetitions.  That said, within solid principles of muscle building there have been improvements in exercise physiology and in the understanding of how the body reacts to certain combinations of sets, repetitions as well as food and water. 

While at Olympia in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, we heard a lot about  “FST-7,” a training principle created by Hany Rambod, and frankly, I was unimpressed until I learned that both Jay Cutler and Phil Heath, who placed first and second, respectively, in that “best of the best” competition, were both using Rambod’s system.  So, we’re going to try it for a month as we come up to the first week in November, a week we are scheduled off from training.  (Currently, for recovery purposes we take every 7th week away from the gym, but staying with the cardio.) 

While you can find more about the science behind FST-7 at, the basics are these:

  1. The goal of FST-7 is to stretch the muscle fascia to make it thinner, allowing muscles to grow larger and appear fuller.  FST-7 is based on stretching muscles from the inside out by volumizing them.  This is accomplished by getting the greatest pump while training.

  2. Training is always with heavier weights in the 8-12 repetition range. 

  3. The last exercise for every body part consists of 7 sets of 8 – 12 repetitions each with only a 30-45 second rest between sets while sipping water.  This expands the fascia and maximizes growth.

  4. The higher than normal amount of microscopic tears in the muscle tissue caused by FST-7 training necessitates a bit more recovery time than standard training protocols.  So, major body parts are trained once a week. Smaller body parts like arms and calves are trained twice a week. 

  5. Due to the intensity of the routines, a larger infusion of protein and carbohydrates will be necessary in Meal 1 (our pre-workout meal each day.)

  6. Within 20 minutes of completing a workout, we will drink a protein shake to start the recovery process.  This will include whey isolate and a rapidly assimilated carbohydrate source.

Our workouts over the next 4 weeks will look like this (note the last exercise for each body part consists of 7 sets are performed with a 30-45 second rest between sets):

Monday (Chest and Triceps)


            Incline dumbbell press 3 sets x 8-12 repetitions
            Incline dumbbell fly 3 x 8 – 12
            Dumbbell press 3 x 8 – 12
            Machine fly or cable crossover – 7 x 8 – 12


            Close grip bench – 3 x 8 – 12
            Dips – 3 x 8-12
            Overhead cable extension or press downs – 7 x 8-12


            Standing calf raise – 3 x 10-12
            Seated calf raise – 3 x 15-20
            Leg press calf raise – 7 x 10-12

Tuesday (Legs)


            Leg extensions – 3 x 8-15
            Squats – 4 x 8-12
            Hack squats or leg press – 3 x 8-15
            Leg extension or leg press – 7 x 8-15


            Stiff-legged deadlift – 4 x 10-12
            Seated leg curl – 4 x 10-12
            Single leg curls – 7 x 10 – 15

Wednesday (Biceps, Triceps)


            Standing dumbbell curls – 4 x 8-12
            Preacher curls – 4 x 8-12
            Machine curls – 7 x 10-12


            Close grip bench – 3 x 8 – 12
            Dips – 3 x 8-12
            Overhead cable extension or skull crushers – 7 x 8-12

Friday (Back, Calves)


            Chin-ups – 3 sets until failure
            Wide grip pull downs – 3 x 8-12
            Barbell row – 3 x 8-12
            Hammer strength row – 3 x 8-12
            Cable/dumbbell pullover – 7 x 8-15


            Standing calf raise – 3 x 10-12
            Seated calf raise – 3 x 15-20
            Leg press calf raise – 7 x 10-12

Saturday (Shoulders, Rear Delts and Biceps)


            Seated dumbbell press or machine – 3 x 8-12
            Barbell or dumbbell front raise – 3 x 8-12
            Dumbbell lateral raise – 4 x 8-12
            Rear delts

            Dumbell rear lateral raise – 3 x 12-15
            Reverse pec fly – 7 x 12-15


            Standing dumbbell curls – 3 x 8-12
            Preacher curls – 3 x 8-12
            Machine curls – 7 x 10-12

As we move through the month, I will keep you up to date on how it is going.  My assumption at this point is that the number of sets and intensity of the “7 – set” is going to require our cardio to be cut down a bit.  How much I don’t know, but I’ll be watching the weight carefully to make sure that we’re not losing any muscle mass as the result of burning too many calories and going catabolic. 

If you have questions, please e-mail me at

Train hard; dieter harder!


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nitric Oxide Boosters: Want To Increase The Intensity of Your Workouts?

Spending a week at Olympia in Las Vegas resulted in me having to buy a new suit case and filling it with 40 pounds of supplements various manufacturers wanted me to try and paying $50 for the right to fly it home.  The least I can do is try each and every one of them and review them for you here.

I am going to divide the reviews up by type of supplement and this first one - Nitric Oxide -  will evaluate three different brands.

So, what is "NO?"  NO stands for nitric oxide.  Nitric Oxide is a free form gas that is produced in the body and is used by the body to communicate with other cells in the body. To produce this gas, enzymes in the body break down the amino acid Arginine.  Nitric Oxide is a molecule consisting of one atom of nitrogen and one atom of oxygen. The production of Nitric Oxide occurs when the amino acid L-arginine is converted into L-citruline through an enzyme group known as Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS). 

Now that we have the chemistry behind us, what does NO actually do?  In short, it causes increased blood flow which serves to deliver more nutrients to muscles, thus helping them become larger when subjected to stress.  In some cases, they also cause what I'll call a "euphoric" feeling for period of time after ingesting.  I like to describe the effect to audiences like this:  "It makes me feel 20 years old again -- for about 50 minutes."  

Like creatine, this supplement has been scientifically shown to increase endurance and size.  So, it is something that those who tolerate it well may wish to consider.  I, for one, never enter a gym without a bottle containing an NO enhancer.  

Here are three I have used and each is worth considering:

1.  White Flood. This was the first NO enhancer I took on the recommendation of my son who is out ahead of the game on these kinds of things.  Indeed, I still take it.  It is manufactured by Controlled Labs, it works, and after a year and a half, White Flood still works for me and I have not become tolerant of it, that is where I don't get any benefits using the same dosage.  I will warn you that you can (and probably will) get a little "jittery" for several minutes after taking it.  This is a natural and harmless side effect from the Beta-Alanine contained in White Flood.  For me, it is usually good for 45 - 60 minutes of a full-bore workout.  

2.  Hemo-Rage.  I got this at Olympia.  It is manufactured by Nutrex Research and a 2010 supplement award nominee.  It is touted as one of the more powerful NO enhancers.  I used it yesterday before working legs and I can honestly say it was my best leg workout in a year.  I can barely walk today - literally.  Unfortunately, I can't say it was all because of the Hemo-Rage.  I changed a few things in the workout, went deeper into my squats and hacks, and was mentally ready for legs after watching the Olympia competition.  I can sure say that Hemo-Rage didn't hurt anything and I seemed to stay alert and motivated during the entire workout -- about 20 sets of upper legs and 6 sets of calves.  No jitters like I sometimes feel with White Flood.  Hemo-Rage also contains some creatine, unlike White Flood, but I take my creatine separately anyway so that part is kind of "more of the same" for me.  Bottom line?  I'll use Hemo-Rage again soon in order to determine whether the leg-shred was due to Hemo-Rage or just plain rage.  ;)  If it is the Hemo-Rage, I'm a convert!  
Stay tuned . . .

3.  Black Powder.  This is hyped product manufactured by MRI and is used by some of the "hard core."  Like Hemo-Rage it was nominated for a 2010 supplement award.  I used it this morning and it came through.  While it was an off day for me - just 12 sets of traps and 10 sets of abdominals today, I felt stronger in general throughout my workout and felt that I could lift a lot more than I was lifting in the trap portion of the routine.  I felt my energy was was moving up throughout the routine and I did not feel fatigued at the end of the session.  This one deserves another try in a big body part workout, which I will be doing in the future after I cycle through all the samples and review them here, all with a view to naming "the best of the best."

When To Use:  BEFORE you start your workout, or at least drink half before you begin your working and then sip the other half during your workout, and then switch to water.  It takes about 10 minutes to gain the effect and then you should start working out.  The key is not to stop working out until you are done.  There is no time for chit-chat on NO.  It doesn't last forever -- sometimes you'll get a bump for an hour; other times it is gone in 40 minutes.  It doesn't wait for you.  It doesn't care if you're working out or chatting up the pretty gal next to you.  Personally, I like to take half of it in the 10 minutes before I begin my workout (driving to the gym) and then start sipping the rest during my workout, usually finishing about 15 minutes into the routine and then switching to pure water.  You can experiment and should.

Caution:  With any product containing amino acids, taking too much is a possibility. Dosing with too much Arginine can lead to diarrhea, weakness and nausea. Unfortunately, dosing guidelines have not been established, so it is best to do what is known as "tolerance mapping." Take a small dosage for one week, note the benefits and the side effects, and increase the dosage until the benefits are maximized and the side effects minimized. Over time the two will converge and you will hit the optimal dose for your body.

Train hard; diet harder!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Photos From The 2010 Olympia

I won't torture you with my photos . . .

Here are 180 of them taken by a professional.

Highly recommended:

Train hard; diet harder.


Travel: How To Get On A Plane And Not Get Off Sick

Returned to San Miguel last night . . .

The week at Olympia in Las Vegas was terrific -- learned a lot, saw a lot, and as always, I just like Vegas.

The only downside to the trip started at the beginning the trip -- a woman seated directly behind me on the flight from Houston to Las Vegas was coughing, sneezing -- she was clearly sick.
And, she made me sick.
This happens more than occasionally and leads me to the conclusion that traveling is not healthy.  In addition to catching a cold or the flu, there is the issue of exercise, or the lack thereof, the impact of changing time zones on sleep, and the seating which, unless you fly first class everywhere you go, is bad for posture and the back.  
Like most of you, however, a good deal of my earnings are the result of traveling, so I travel.   
How best to travel and not get sick?
Contrary to popular opinion, you're not likely to get sick from someone 10 rows away from you on the plane.  Rather, the risk of onboard transmission of infection is mainly restricted to individuals with either personal contact, or seated within two rows of an infected passenger on flights longer than eight hours, according to Dr. Mark Gendreau, senior staff physician at Lahey Clinic and author of a recent study on medical issues on flights.
Typically, airplane air – about half from outside and half recycled after being passed through filters – enters at the top of the cabin. From there, the ventilation system keeps it from flowing forward and backward in the plane, limiting it mostly to the immediate row, before exiting through grilles in the cabin floor, which means not everyone breathes the same air.
Tips to staying well . . .
1.  Do not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth during the flight.  (Infection occurs when viruses or bacteria are sprayed from infected people in droplets from a cough or sneeze. The pathogens can then be picked up when passengers touch their tray table or the arm of their seat, and then rub their eyes).
2.  Wash your hands frequently or use a sanitizing gel during flight.  
3.  Stay hydrated in the arid cabin environment.  (I've found that if I'm in coach class they are never going to bring me enough water to stay hydrated and so I bring a 2-liter bottle of water with me.)
Even with these precautions, you may find someone seated in the same row or next row who is sick.  In the future, no more Mr. nice guy.  I'm going to ask to be reseated and I'm not going to be hesitant about saying why.
More on traveling and staying healthy in future blogs.
Train hard; diet harder.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 7: Olympia: Seminar

Today ends the 2010 Olympia experience . . .

At 11 a.m. we attended a seminar put on by the winners of the various competitions.

There were a few good tips but mostly it was an opportunity for these champions to express their feelings about winning in a misunderstood sport.

This afternoon we did a final bit of shopping and we're off to watch Bill Maher tonight and on an early plane in the morning.

I'll give some thought to what I learned that is worth sharing over the next couple of days and share it in this blog.

In the meantime, thanks for following.

Train hard; diet harder.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 6 (Post-Show): Olympia: Jay Cutler Takes His Fourth

Back to the condo from the Olympia show at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas . . .

It was all I'd hoped for . . .

A close contest -- Jay Cutler retained his title, followed by Phil Heath, a close second, and Branch Warren, who placed third.

Many thought Phil won it, but when its close, the tie goes to the champion and that's what happened here.

Most memorable from this evening was seeing all 12 Olympia winners on one stage at one time.  Actually, it was 11 of 12 with the 12th (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sending a videotape.  From 1965 until today, there have only been 12 winners of this Superbowl of professional physique competition.

Until recently, not even the very best could make a living at bodybuilding and most professionals still can't.  It means they have the dedication and commitment to do it even though most are working day jobs.  It means they love what they do and that's a rare gift.

Tomorrow will be the last Olympia event -- a seminar given by some of the competitors on training and diet.

We'll be there and report back what we learn.

Train hard; diet harder.


Day 6 (Pre-Show): Olympia: Expo Day 2/Samir Bannout/Jamie Eason

Got up this morning.  Have a cold.

While I like getting to where I'm going, I hate travel.  People get on planes sick; they know they're sick; they know they're going to get you sick, and they don't care.

Well, being in shape has a lot of advantages, one of which is I can pretty much ignore the cold, which is what I'm trying to do.

We went to the gym this morning -- arms.  Good workout.

Then, after a meal in the room we went to the Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center.  Even bigger than yesterday.  Fortunately, with the VIP passes, we got free run of the place for 30 minutes before the public made their way in.  Picked up some knee wraps.  Kelly got a rag or two and we loaded up on t-shirts for our friends at the home gym in San Miguel.  We have 20 pound bag full of free supplements we collected, too.  Plus what we ate while we were there . . . I'm going to have some penitence to pay next week . . .

At the Expo, I met Samir Bannout, the "Lion of Lebanon" who won Mr. Olympia in 1983.  A very nice guy, generous with his time . . .

Walking the convention center, I looked up and saw Jamie Eason -- one of the better known figure models around.  She, too, was kind and as cute as her photos . . .

Makes me want to stop staring at the floor . . .  ;)

Got photos from the pre-judging this afternoon.  Jay Cutler is in the battle of his professional life this year.  Phil Heath looks awesome.  For those with Facebook, these are likely 6 of the top 10 . . .

Did cardio early afternoon followed by some time at the pool.  The Vegas sun is, in a word, HOT.  

Then enjoyed a major protein infusion at an Asian buffet mid-afternoon and now we're back in the condo getting ready to head over to see what we came here for -- the men's Olympia finals.  

More later . . .

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 5: Olympia: Shoulders, Expo and Frank Zane

Big day today in Las Vegas.

Cardio this morning first thing.

Then to the convention center for the Olympia Expo.  It's a huge giveaway -- supplements, magazines, and lots of contests.  Walking down an aisle I saw Frank Zane.  He was a hero of mine back in the 70's, a three-time Mr. Olympia.

Then to Gold's - Sahara for a challenging shoulder/trap routine.  Here's a photo of this hard-core gym . . .

Then off to a late lunch, back to the hotel for a couple of hours in the sun by the pool and then off to a show tonight.

But tomorrow night is the real show -- Mr. Olympia.  More then . . .

Train hard; diet harder.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 4: Olympia: Press Conference and Meeting The Guys

Today was an off day from the gym and a good thing -- we were busy all day.  We did cardio this morning before going to the Olympia press conference but after that it was full speed ahead until now -- about 10 p.m. Las Vegas time . . .

The press conference featured all 22 contestants -- everyone had a chance to speak.  And, I was impressed for the most part.  Most outside physique competition believe the body building culture is all about ego, but you would have never guessed it hearing these competitors speak.  Except for one rookie, the word of the day was humility.  Each expressed gratefulness to be able to compete at this level, acknowledged that on any given day anyone of them could win, and importantly, that they didn't think about the others and what they were doing or had done, but only about bringing their own best to the show.

After a little sushi and shopping this afternoon, it was back to meet some of the guys this evening, including Jay Cutler (current Mr. Olympia) and Dexter Jackson (Mr. Olympia 2008).  Both were gracious and, while confident, nothing was assumed.  Both are quiet and serious.

Tomorrow begins the Expo -- we will be there first thing -- everything new will be on display, including foods, supplements and equipment.  A lot of the former champions will be there pitching for whoever is paying them at the moment and it is good to revisit history with them.

Until tomorrow, good night.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 3: Olympia 2010: Legs/Gold's Sahara

Getting into the groove now . . .

Worked out this morning at Gold's Sahara here in Vegas.  This is the gym Jay Cutler is using (and has used for years).  He lives in Las Vegas and he's preparing to defend his Olympia title.  It was legs for us today.  I have to admit I felt small, very small, around a lot of the guys (and a few of the girls) working out this morning.  These are the best of the best.

But, regardless of size, Gold's Sahara is hard-core and has some great equipment.  I'm convinced that Icarian makes the best leg machines around, including leg press and hack squat machines.

Meals up until this evening, pretty normal.

Went over to the Orleans Arena early this afternoon, picked up our VIP passes and met some people involved with the Olympia production.  Nice folks.

Back to the hotel.  Early dinner tonight at Joe's Stone Crab in Caesar's Palace.  Last night we dined at Shibuya (sushi) in the MGM.  Great meals, both.  Definitely double-cardio tomorrow . . .

Will attend the first Olympia press conference tomorrow.  Looking forward to watching the big guys try to psyche each other out even though I know it is more for show than real.  These are all professionals, years of experience, and nothing much phases them.  All of them have everything it takes to win -- like  PGA golfers, they all hit all the clubs in their bag.  It's a matter of fine points now, very fine points that will separate the top 6 from the rest of the field.

Before it is all said and done, we'll be back at Gold's Sahara to watch some of the competitors get in their final workouts.  Even though I've come to know what to expect, I'm still staggered by the weight most of the guys can handle.  What provides we older guys comfort is that most of the competitors are not 20-somethings.  In fact none of them are.  Most are in their late-30's and early 40's.  I'm convinced there is no way to win Olympia (man or woman) younger than the mid-30's.  Why?  Just not enough years in the gym to build the kind of physique necessary to be competitive at that level.  To the end of age, we saw a guy at Gold's today -- had to be near 70 -- about 215 pounds, no fat.  Which just proves that it can be done.  Success in this realm just requires what anything worth having requires -- dedication, focus and a lot of hard work.

Tomorrow I'll let you know what goes at the Olympia press conference and then Friday it's full-bore all the way through Sunday morning.  There is lots coming your way . . .

Train hard; diet harder.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Olympia: Day 2: Back/Planning

Got up this morning and did cardio.

Back upstairs, meal, relaxed a little, and then went to the gym to train back -- 20 sets today, good workout, different equipment.

Walked most of the day around the Strip in Vegas.  Did Meal 4 at Denny's -- 3 orders egg whites and 2 whole wheat pancakes.  Checked out the Aria which we had not seen before.

If legs were not slated for tomorrow morning, I would think seriously about double cardio today -- not because the diet has been off but because the flying smooths me out, that is I'm holding a lot of water.  I'm not big into diuretics and so I've found upping the cardio can help break water retainage.

But legs are tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it.  We're going to work out at the Gold's Gym where Jay Cutler trains (current Mr. Olympia) and I want the experience to be memorable, that is strong.  I've found that if I trounce cardio the afternoon or evening before legs I can't handle as much.  I want the legs  to be fresh in the morning.

Took a nap about 3:30 p.m.  Slept an hour.  Feel better.

Planned out the Olympia experience which begins tomorrow when we pick up our VIP passes.  

Now we are deciding on what's for dinner and where.

Last year we at Joe's in Caesar's Palace -- great seafood.  May go there again.

Have also heard good things about "Stacks" in the Mirage.

Either way we plan on eating clean.

More tomorrow.

Train hard; diet harder.



Monday, September 20, 2010

Olympia - Day 1 - The Challenges of Travel

Typical travel day . . .

Got up at 6 a.m.  Driver picked us up at 6:45 and arrived at the airport in Leon at 8:30.

Flight to Houston on time at 9:30.  2 hour layover there.  Then 3 1/2 hours to Vegas.  

Considering the time change, got here at 4 p.m. (6 p.m. CST).

Bus to car rental.  Turn on GPS.

At last of the chicken breasts prepared last night for the trip on the way to Target for a few groceries and then on to Whole Foods for the rest of the "essentials" - egg whites, Ezekiel bread, cottage cheese, bottled water, coffee, and a salad and some prepared fish for dinner.

Back across Vegas to the MGM Signature on the strip where we have a condo for the week -- quick dinner in the room and then at 9 p.m. CST -- off to the gym.  

Not the greatest workout, but beats nothing for sure.  And that's the hard part -- to stay disciplined, to get it done.  Not just go through the motions but to give everything you have, or at least everything you have left.

Back up to the room and finished off the fish.  Now a little yogurt for "dessert" and off to bed.

Tomorrow will be back on schedule -- early morning workout and early evening cardio.  

Olympia "weekend" starts on Wednesday and moves into full gear Thursday.

Will provide the play by play in this blog as we move through the weekend and the weekend.

Take care.  Train hard.  Diet harder.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Trip to 2010 Olympia Begins . . .

Technically, it begins tomorrow morning early.  We have a 9:30 a.m. plane to Houston and then on to Las Vegas, arriving there about 3:45 p.m.  Then headed to the MGM Signature where we have rented a condo, put our things away and head to the gym.  Which brings me to . . .

RULE NUMBER 1:  NEVER MISS WORKOUTS.  At home we workout about 8 a.m., but when on the road, we workout when we can.

Today is prep-day.  That means getting the usual things in bags -- clothes, swim suits, etc.  But it also means our workout gear -- gloves, belts, straps.  Which brings me to . . .

RULE NUMBER 2:  DON'T USE BEING ON THE ROAD AS AN EXCUSE FOR ANYTHING.  Take your stuff with you.  Your workouts out there need to be as good or better than those in your gym at home.

We also are packing food to get through the long travel day tomorrow.  I cooked half a dozen chicken breasts on the grill, put them in freezer bags and in the refrigerator.  I'll pull them out on our way out the door in the morning and we'll eat them throughout the day.  Same thing with a couple of sweet potatoes.  They travel well cooked.  We refilled our supplement boxes with our vitamins, minerals, etc. for 8 days.  And, we packaged up enough Syntha-6 and Casein protein to get us through Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  The show actually begins Thursday and we'll be able to replenish supply there.  We've been to Vegas enough to know how to find Whole Foods and restaurants where we can eat clean throughout the week.  Which brings me to . . .

RULE NMBER 3:  YOU CAN EAT CLEAN ON THE ROAD IF YOU WANT TO.  No excuses; only a lack of preparation and commitment can stop you.

Over the next week, I will blog regularly about the goings on at Mr. Olympia Weekend.  You can find out more at

Have a great week!  Train hard; diet harder!


Jim and Kelly

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Week Until Olympia . . .

Kelly and I will be attending Olympia weekend in Las Vegas again this year, leaving a week from today.

Learn more about it at:

Should be a great show -- Jay Cutler will be trying to win his fourth title but there are some younger guns closing in.  I will report daily from Vegas on this blog starting September 23rd.

I saw an interesting article I'll share on why salads aren't always the way to go, especially in restaurants.  Here are five salads that are worse than a Burger King Whopper -- some by a long shot!

We're back in the home gym now for another week.  We had a tough chest routine today -- sometimes you do OK but really struggle.  Today was one of those days.

Adding muscle is the name of the game at the moment.  Once I return from the Olympia show I'll start cutting again.  We have a beach trip coming up at the end of October and I want to look like I should be at the beach with no shirt on.  ;)
Train hard; diet harder!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Opportunities On the Road: The Last Three Gyms

Back home tonight  . . . but before getting here, however, I worked out in 3 more gyms in Texas:

1.  L.A. Fitness (North Arlington) - Totally unlike the Irving, Texas L.A. Fitness I wrote about in an earlier blog.  This had a good vibe, a good mix of people, a few hard-core (including my son who pulled 8 reps at 405 on the deadlift).  Good equipment, but it still had an antiseptic feel, and I'm not sure I could make a regular habit of L.A. Fitness.  

2.  Gold's Gym (South Arlington) - I've worked out in this gym before and like it a lot.  This is the gym my brother has worked out in for years and it has an almost perfect mix of modern and old-time hard-core.  In the latter regard, it has a horizontal leg press machine, i.e., leg presses from flat on your back.  I could barely walk the next day.  The free weights are in a room all their own.  Lots of heavy duty equipment here, not much fancy.  Only downside is the cardio equipment -- most of the elliptical trainers are worn out.

3.  Cleburne Fitness Center (Cleburne, Texas) - This is a small town gym in a small town south of Ft. Worth, Texas.  Decent equipment but an old vibe from mostly older people, some of whom want to talk more than they want to work out.  I worked out alone here and it reminds of the importance of a workout partner.  Arnold said that a workout partner was the most important asset in his success as a bodybuilder.  I believe it.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to getting back into my home gym, Fitness International.  Lots of people I know and it is a friendly place which I find to be a real asset.

The point of this series?  Look at opportunities to work out in new and different gyms as just that -- opportunities.  Experiment with new equipment even if what you normally use is sitting right there.  I always find that I get more sore using different equipment than I can using what I'm used to.  And that's a good thing.

Train hard; diet harder!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Opportunities On The Road - Legs at Gold's Gym - Arlington, Texas

In the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, my favorite gym is, and has been for some time, Gold's Gym off Interstate 20 in Arlington.  Again today I was not disappointed . . .

Wednesday is leg day and it is important to line up the best equipment for the biggest body part.

At this Gold's they have what it takes, including three of my favorite leg machines:

1.  Icarian Plate Loaded Standing Squat - this mimics the barbell squat without as much danger of injury.

2.  Horizonal Leg Press - there is no manufacturer's name on this but it is a great piece of equipment.  You lie flat on the floor on your back (there is a pad) and push straight up against a plate loaded press.  These used to be popular back in the days of Pumping Iron and I don't know why most gyms got rid of this killer piece of equipment.

3.  Icarian Standing Face In Calf Machine -- on an angle, this pin-loaded machine supports the entire front of  your body as  you do calf raises.  Really smokes them!

This gym (which is my brother's home gym) has the right vibe, a good mix of fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders, and has the best equipment pound for pound as I have seen in any gym, and that includes Gold's Venice Beach.  Perhaps the only improvement that needs to be made is the cardio equipment.  It is old and looks and feels that way. 

It was a trek over there this morning but well worth it.  Tomorrow morning is shoulders and we may use the hotel gym as a test to see if we can get a full-bore shoulder routine.  If not, I may drive over to Arlington again.  I just can't get enough of this club. 

Thanks to Ken and Mauri for the invite and to the club's friendly staff who made us feel welcome. 

Until tomorrow, train hard; diet harder.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Opportunities On The Road - Back at L.A. Fitness - Dallas, Texas

Maybe I've just worked out in a gym too long, but L.A. Fitness doesn't work for me.

Too antiseptic; no soul; no one in there this morning even remotely hard-core.

It is what it says it is -- a "fitness" club.

Machines all in nice rows by body part; carpeted; and no one grunting or groaning.  In fact, I didn't see anyone even speaking to each other.  Felt, well, lonely.

Very regimented.

Which means it is probably right for most people; I have no problems with anyone's choice of workout experiences.

But we like something a bit more raw; actually a lot more raw.

We did back today - 20 sets, plus abdominals and 30 minutes on the Precor.

Nothing wrong with the workout; but the atmosphere was just not motivating.   We're also without our NO supplement ("White Flood") and that makes a difference in energy levels, too.

An FYI on cool equipment -- I like the Nautilus Mid-Row machine - good range of motion and it keeps you strict.

Tomorrow is legs and we're going to try something new -- so stay tuned.

Train hard; diet harder.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Opportunities On The Road - Chest at Gold's Gym - St. Louis, Missouri

Back to Gold's Gym in Fenton, Missouri this rainy morning.

This is what I call a "full-service" gym -- everything from a pool to a basketball court, huge classrooms to a cardio-cinema.  For some, that's great.  For me, it would be a waste of money.  I come to the gym, any gym, for the weights and the cardio equipment, nothing else.

But, on a day rate, you get it all, or as much of it as you want.  I do object to $16 a day but when we came in this morning, Kelly asked if the pass was for "a day" or "24 hours."  The guy said, "I guess 24 hours."  We were there 23 hours after we entered the last time and so saved $32.  Try it.

Today we're back at the top of the order -- 18 sets of chest followed by 6 sets of calves and 30 minutes on a Cybex trainer for cardio/calorie burning.  And, on the road, calorie burning is important because it is hard to stay as strict as you can be at home.  At least that is true for me.

No new, latest-greatest machines to report today.  Chest is pretty much heavy pressing and fly routines.  I do like the Hammer Strength Incline plate-loaded machine, but we have one of those in my home gym and you probably do, too - good for the upper chest.

Before I forget, however, there is one machine I failed to mention in the last blog that is the best of the best for biceps -- it is the LifeFitness seated bicep pin-loaded machine.  Produces a pump like no other.  I've seen Jay Cutler use it in his videos and now I know why.  If you get a chance, use it!

Something else I like about this gym is the floor- a solid rubber surface.  Good because you don't have to be ginger with the weights.  Wish all gyms had great flooring . . .

We leave St. Louis this afternoon and will be working out in the Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas area for the next four days.  I'll keep you apprised.

Train hard; diet harder.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Working Out -- On The Road - Making The Most of Opportunities - Shoulders at Gold's Gym - St. Louis, Missouri

Most people who are serious about training tell me they like their "home gym," that being on the road sets them back. 

I understand the thought, but here's another take on it . . . one that looks at new gyms as opportunities for new gains.  Here's how . . .

Today, Kelly and I worked out at Gold's Gym, Fenton, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

What we found as at least a dozen new opportunities in the form of equipment that we don't have at our home gym.  It took some "testing" to separate the wheat from the chaffe (and there is plenty of chaffe when it comes to equipment), but we found a couple of killer machines today that smoked our shoulders, including:

1.  LifeFitness Side Delt Machine.  This one totally isolates the side deltoids.  No matter how strict I try to be using dumbbell lateral raises, I can't isolate like this machine does.  Tomorrow my delts will be toast -- the goal.

2.  Hammer Strength Seated Trap Machine.  I generally do traps with 80 or 90 pounds dumbbells and they work fine.  One problem -- 90 pound dumbbells are dangerous, pure and simple.  You can get injured pulling them out of the rack or putting them back in, not to mention the risk of your hands giving out and dropping one, God forbid.  (By way of example, Kelly almost broke a finger a few weeks ago slamming a couple of heavy dumbbells back into the rack.)  This machine (plate-loaded) gives you full range of motion while seated, taking a lot of strain off the lower back and if you drop the weight, no problem.

Of course, there are the downsides -- this gym had no "vibe" that I could feel.  Just a bunch of strangers (to us and apparently to each other) doing their own things.  I didn't see anyone encouraging anyone else, except me pushing Kelly and Kelly pushing me.  At our home gym there is always banter, encouragement and teasing. 

So, what to do?  Look at the advantages, not the disadvantages.  Anytime you work out in a new gym, you're going to have opportunities with new equipment -- test it, use it, take advantage of it.  If you don't have your workout partner with you, and you can afford it, grab the most fit looking personal trainer and tell him/her to "rip me to shreds." 

The next several blogs will highlight these opportunities because in the next week we'll be working out at four or five more gyms -- from a small key-entry gym to the mother of all hard-core gyms, MetroFlex in Texas, the place Ronnie Coleman trained as he was winning a record 8 Mr. Olympia titles. 

After that, we'll go back home and be in the "home gym," Fitness International, after which we'll be going to Las Vegas to attend Mr. Olympia in late-September when we'll have the opportunity of working out in at least three more new gyms, including the Gold's that is home of Jay Cutler.  Should be cool. 

Now, one more unrelated observation . . . if you want to make money in the long-term in the USA, invest in companies that treat heart disease and diabetes.  I have never seen so many fat -- really fat -- people and they seem to be getting noticeably fatter.  It's sad.  They don't know what they are missing and how easy it is to get in shape and stay there.

So, I'll keep preaching and, to that end, we'll will be giving two nutrition seminars during September, the curricula of which I'll post here in future blogs.  Listen up, corporate America.  These are programs your employees (the ones you're insuring against disease, most of which is caused by poor diet) should hear.

So, take care.  Train hard.  And, diet harder!

All the best,