I’m thinking of doing a show in 4 months but my goal is to gain size and get ripped at the same time. I’m 5'10" and weigh 220 pounds. My body fat is 18% and I eat 400 grams protein, 150 grams of carbs and 80 grams of fat each day. Something isn’t right because I’m getting softer and weaker by the day. HELP! – Mike F., Copiague NY
Well Mike, first of all let me ask who in God’s name gave you your diet? Lol. Your protein is wayyy too high, your carbs may or may not be too low depending on your metabolism and your fat is out of control high.
Secondly, your goal is close to impossible. Unless you’re a rank beginner or someone using roids you simply cannot structure a diet that will allow you to gain and lose at the same time. Let’s put it in simple mathematical terms. Let’s say it takes 3,000 calories to maintain your weight. How many calories would you eat to gain and lose at the same time? Lol. It can’t be done.
Now don’t get me wrong, with some pre-contest clients of mine I do notice after the first 3 weeks of dieting some of them report new muscle gain to me. The reason being is they weren’t eating enough protein while on their own nutrition plan. Since that’s not an issue with you eating 400 grams of protein, we can focus on just dropping body fat.
The first thing I would advise is taking your protein down to about 240 -250 grams. Then I would bring your carbs up to 200 grams and your fat down to 40. Once every 6-7 days we would do what’s called a re-feed where we would bring your carbs up to about 350 grams. But again these are imaginary numbers because I know nothing about your metabolism. If you have ectomorphic tendencies then I would probably give you more carbs and we would do two re-feed days a week not one.
If you had endomorphic tendencies then your carbs may very well need to be lowered, and/or protein. If you’re lucky to have mesomorphic tendencies then your numbers would stay the same but I may throw a second re-feed day in. So I hope this puts an end to the goal that frustrates beginning natural bodybuilders across the globe. You CANNOT directly eat to GAIN muscle AND lose body fat at the same time. It may actually happen during the early stages of a diet when you're trying to get lean, but your primary focus while dropping body fat is to maintain muscle not build it. Although you should always train as if you’re in a building phase. But that’s for a whole other Q and A session, LOL.
Joe, I hear you're pretty strong. Can you tell me some of your best lifts? - Edwin N., Texas
I’ve always had an obsession with lifting heavy. I’ve always loved how power training made me feel. Here are my all time best lifts:
- Bench press - 415 pounds
- Flat bench dumbbell bench press - 150’s x 8
- Incline dumbbell bench press - 150’s x 3
- Standing barbell push press - 250 x 2
- Dumbbell pullover - 170 x 10
- Alternating dumbbell curls - 100’s (don’t remember how many but about 4-6)
- Barbell squat - 455 x 2 and 315 x 20 I once did 50 reps with 200 pounds NOT fun lol
- Sumo deadlift - 555 (tried 560 and tore both my quad tendons lol)
- Barbell shrugs - 585 for reps
- Romanian deadlifts - 495 x 3
- Close grip bench press - 365 x 2
- One arm dumbbell rows - 170 for reps
I have stubborn legs Joe. No matter what I do I can’t get the wheels to grow, man. Can you take a look at my leg routine and critique it? -F Norris, New York
- Leg extensions - 4 sets 12, 10, 8, 6
- Barbell squats - 10, 8, 6, 4 reps
- Hack squats - 3 sets x 6-8 reps
- Lying leg curls - 2 sets x 8
- Seated calf raises - 3 sets x 5
Well my man, it seems your overall rep range is way too low to stimulate hypertrophy. You’re definitely getting some strength from your workouts but you need deeper stimulation and volume for some growth. I recommend you follow a non-liner periodization routine. On week one you will do the routine you just outlined with some changes.
For squats, do 3-4 progressively heavier warm up sets and on your last 4 work sets do a 5, 5, 5, 2 rep protocol. The last two sets should be very close if not failure.
I would then move to hack squats and do 3 sets x 10 to get some hypertrophy work in.
For hams I would do Romanian deadlifts. 3 warm up sets then 3 sets x 5 with the last set to failure. And I would do 3 sets x 10 on lying leg curls. For calves on this week, do 4 sets of standing calf raises x 10. Hit failure on all 4!
For week two we would focus on higher reps and more volume/intensity overall. Start off with some non-failure sets on extensions to warm up. Then do 5 sets on the leg press. Do all sets for 15 reps and go heavier on each set. Then move to smith machine front squats, 4 sets x 12, going heavier each set. Then let's superset lying leg curls with hip adductor machine. 4 sets x 12 reps each set. Then I would try FST-7 which is a training technique popularized by Hany Rambod. On leg extensions do 7 sets x 10-15 reps, and rest only 30 seconds between sets. Really focus on squeezing those quads hard during the set, and flex them between sets. If you have anything left do ANOTHER FST-7 on seated leg curls. For calves let’s jump up the volume this week. Superset seated calf raises with toe presses on the leg press 5 sets x 20 reps. Then finish up with 3 sets x failure on no weighted calf raises. The two various styles of training week to week should spur some nice fullness, growth and power in the wheels! Good luck man.