Welcome all readers! In this issue I will focus on the two seasons: spring and autumn. Now that the summer has gone, everyone is back to heavy training and regular meals. As we all know, we work hard on our shape all year to look good in the summer and show everyone the results of our hard work.
In my case, the mass building season has begun pretty early, as my last competition – the European Championships – was on 20 May. I will give you a brief overview of it:
Unfortunately, not everything went as I had hoped. In fact, the problems started from the very beginning. First, I was late for my plane and then I fainted on the stage when performing my free posing routine (fitness category). Luckily, I competed in 2 categories. Apart from fitness, I competed in the extreme body-building category up to 85 kg and managed to secure the 13th position. Sadly, it was much below my expectations. I had a chance to compete with the best of the best in Europe and it was an amazing feeling. However, other competitors, who often were three times more experienced than I, showed me my place. I approached that body-building lesson with humility and gratitude. Perhaps I will make a step back, but only to return stronger and make a few steps ahead. In order to make it to the British national team at the European Championships I had to take part in the national competitions 4 weeks earlier. I managed to secure the first spot in the category up to 90 kg, with which I am really satisfied. In that case, everything went as I would have liked, i.e. according to my plan. There were no unpleasant surprises.
Summing up the spring season, I have drawn some important conclusions and I hope that I will manage to avoid similar mistakes in the future – in the end, a man learns from mistakes.
The autumn season and building "meat"
I have begun my mass building season, as every year since my first experience with body-building, as early as on 1 August. To be honest, I do not know why I begin so early, but it is the same every year. It allows me to complete my mass building programme without any problems. I always set aside about 16–20 weeks, which is approximately 4–5 months. No more, no less – some may say it is a long time.
In my opinion, it is impossible to build good-quality muscle quicker. This year, however, is completely different from the previous ones. Why is that? Because my competition season lasted almost 1,5 year, i.e. from December 2012. During that period, I followed a very specific and restrictive ketogenic diet, which is a low-carbohydrate, high-protein and high-fat diet. When I started to eat more carbohydrates, my weight automatically went up. It is natural and normal for competitors because carbs bind to water.
When I stepped on the scale on 1 September, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my weight went up by 14 kg! What it means is that I went from 90 kg to 104 kg in 4 weeks. Just to remind you, my competition weight has been about 83 kg so far. Of course, it is mostly water and fat, but I think that this mass building season will be particularly successful. The main reason for that is that despite the fact that I can eat now practically anything what I want, I continue to stick to my standard eating regime. Of course we cannot go mad with it – I let myself eat out or have something off the usual menu once a week.
What is my diet?
I will tell you that I am a fan of monotonous diets, so I am not fussy about food. I simply calculate proteins and carbohydrates, and later break it into 5–6 meals a day.
Breakfast – an omelette:
150 g of organic porridge oats + 10 eggs (2 yolks). Coated with 50 ml of lactose-free milk + 100 g of fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries) + 20 g of coconut butter + 40 g of ISOLATE 100 (obligatorily pear-flavoured).
Meal No. 2, 3, 4, and 5:
200 g of chicken or turkey breast + 100 g of basmati rice or 300 g of potatoes + vegetables
Meal No. 6:
300 g portion of sirloin/rump steak or 300 g of cottage cheese with blueberries or 250 g of salmon
As you can see, it is not a sophisticated menu. Sometimes I will have fish or tuna instead of chicken, but I cannot complain that my food is not tasty. For instance, my breakfast is of a different flavour every day, and baked potatoes are delicious!
Of course, it will be as well for you to add other food to your diet such as pasta, groats, or brown bread. I do not come up with complex dishes because I prepare all my meals myself. It is probably one of the key aspects for competitors like me. I follow simple rules – food should be healthy, tasty, quick, good and not messy to prepare as I hate doing the dishes.
You can believe me or not, but making and eating such a delicious breakfast takes less than 40 minutes.
As far as the mass building diet is concerned, I try to increase the amount of carbs by 10% every week or two. I consider it a very healthy approach because it prevents the slowing down of metabolism and building up of fat.
My workout is pretty standard. It is not much different from what other guys do at the gym. I try to train hard so I lift weights heavy enough to improve technique as the weights go heavier. That is why I do not lift 200 kg on the bench press because I would not be able to do it properly from the technical point of view. Of course, there are some departures from technique when muscles are very tired. We must remember, however, that those are only the last repetitions in a series. There is no point in risking a serious injury. When I worked as a coach, I saw frequently how people injured their shoulders, ligaments, elbow joints, and lower back as a result of trying to lift weights which were too heavy for them.
Now it is time to be specific. I will give you a brief overview of my training routine in the mass building season.
Saturday: arms (if I feel up to it)
I train my arms twice a week because I consider it my weakest muscle group. I perform 3–4 exercises, 3–4 series each, sometimes with additional drop-sets in the last series. So what is the difference between a typical mass-building routine and other training routines? The main difference is that, in this period, it is particularly recommended to perform heavy exercises that engage many joints, such as squats, dead-lifts, barbell rowing, and barbell shoulder presses.
I just love these exercises because I like the way I feel when, on the next day, I am practically unable to get out of bed. I know then that my workout must have been really good.
What about cardio?
I know that many amateurs avoid cardio workouts when on a mass building diet, which is a really big mistake. When we start to eat more, our metabolism starts slowing down as well, and appetite gets curbed. That is why aerobic exercises are particularly important when building mass: without them we will not be able to eat for three, and this is exactly how much we should eat in the mass building season. Of course, it depends on a person, because everyone is different. As it is known, there are three body types: ecto-, endo-, and mesomorphic. I belong to the first group, which means that I represent a polar opposite of body-building – my metabolism is quick and I have serious problems with building muscle. It is worth knowing to which group you belong because it will make it easier for you to understand why your friend who follows the same training routine and uses the same supplements gains twice as much weight as you do in the same period.
Of course, even being an ectomorph you will reach a certain weight and your metabolism will simply slow down. In such a situation I find it very helpful to perform a cardio workout – I perform such sessions three times a week for 30 minutes, immediately after I complete my strength workout, with a heart rate of about 140 beats per minute.
One of the important aspects of a cardio routine is your body's efficiency. You should remember that when your weight goes up drastically, your heart needs to work more and pump more blood. That is why such a cardio workout is nothing else than a way to improve your heart's performance.
You have also asked about the stomach workout. I have never trained that muscle group in the mass-building season and I consider it unnecessary. And forget about building muscle mass and having a six pack on your stomach at the same time. It is impossible because your positive calorie balance will not allow you to do it. There will be always some fat tissue in that area, so it is best to forget about it for a dozen or so weeks and then to rediscover your stomach muscles when the spring comes.
In my case, supplementation is one of the most important issues. I try to get everything from my food but, despite a well-balanced diet, it is very difficult. That is why I use TREC NUTRITION products and I can honestly say that they are of top quality.
My daily supplementation:
In the morning, on an empty stomach: 5 g of CM3 POWDER
After breakfast: 1 cap. of MAGNE-100 SPORT, 1 tab. of STRONG-C 1000, 1 cap. of VITAMIN B COMPLEX, 1 sachet of VITAL(X)PACK, 3 tab. of JOINT THERAPY PLUS, 20 g of COLLAGEN RENOVER
Before workout: 20 g of BCAA G-FORCE, 10 g of L-GLUTAMINE XTREME, 5 g of CM3 POWDER, 10 g of S.A.W., 25 ml of AAKG MEGA HARDCORE SHOT, 50 g of VITARGO ELECTRO-ENERGY
After strength workout: 20 g of BCAA G-FORCE, 20 g of L-GLUTAMINE XTREME, 5 g of CM3 POWDER, 50 g of VITARGO ELECTRO-ENERGY, 1 tab. of STRONG-C 1000
After cardio workout: 40 g of ISOLATE 100
Before sleep: 3 cap. of ZMA ORIGINAL, 3 cap. of DAA ULTRA, 1 cap. of MEGA MINERAL PACK, 1 sachet of VITAL(X)PACK, 1 cap. of VITAMIN B COMPLEX
On non-workout days, I take BCAA G-FORCE and L-GLUTAMINE XTREME on an empty stomach and before sleep.
I know it is a lot, but such advanced supplementation allows me to go 110% during each workout. In addition, despite intense activity during a day, I can regenerate easily.
I hope that I have managed to explain well what my diet, workout and supplementation are in the muscle mass building season and that you will follow my methods. I took me 4 years to work it out, but perhaps it will be enough for you to balance your meals and do your best during workouts to see the effects quickly.
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