Thursday, October 27, 2011

Adelfo Cerame - Road to The Wheelchair Nationals '12: Experience and Intuition Distinguish Bro from Pro

Image 1: If Einstein had been into bodybuilding, he'd have loved how Adelfo approaches his contest prep.
Science certainly is a serious business. Nevertheless, even Einstein was convinced that, at the end of the day, "intuition" and "experience" is what distinguishes the average scientists, who spends his life in one of those sterile labs doing what philosopher of science T.S. Kuhn once called "normal science", from a genius like Einstein, who scribbled his theory on the photo-electric effects, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize, on a few sheets of paper in the course of a transatlantic cruise. And though I assume Adelfo won't like it, if I call him a "genius" (and I assume for a future pro bodybuilder the comparison with Einstein is not very flattering, anyway), intuition and experience are two things our man at the 2012 Wheelchair Nationals in Florida has in abundance, which is why I will now sit back, relax and let the "pro" do the work ;-)

4 Weeks in - Let's See Where We're at!

Week 4 is almost a wrap, and as I promised last week… I have new progress pictures and 2 new videos for you. We'll start with the pictures, because - even in the age of digital cameras and even smartphones with (supposedly) "high definition", stills like those in image 2 are unique (and necessary) in that they give you the time to really judge your progress - taking weekly (more often is neither necessary nor advisable) pictures is thus a must-do not only for a competitive bodybuilder, but for everyone who wants to take his physique to another level.
Image 2: Progress pics, front - September 2, 2011 (left), pre-contest experimentation phase; October 24, 2011, 4 weeks into the contest prep (img Adelfo Cerame, 2011)
For those of you who are catching up, I did not start my contest prep until the 1st week of October, so the September photos were taken while I was still in my bulking phase and still trying to experiment and to adjust my raw foods intermittent fasting dietary regimen to my individual needs. The lighting is a bit off between the two comparisons, but after 4 weeks, I can see a slight, yet visible improvement in my abdominals - it’s not much, but in view of not having been in a caloric deficit, yet (I'll be going there next week), this is certainly noteworthy.
Image 3: Progress pics, back - September 2, 2011 (left), pre-contest experimentation phase; October 24, 2011, 4 weeks into the contest prep (img Adelfo Cerame, 2011)
The biggest improvement I have noticed though are related to my back. I don’t know how much of the difference is due to the lighting or maybe just because I put my hair up, ... but I honestly think that I was able to put on some decent size - looks like the switch to an EDT-type training style with all the grueling, but obviously productive compound moves was already paying off…
"Opinions, please! What do you guys think? Honestly… I’d like to here some of the readers’ opinions. Am I just seeing things? Or am I really making improvements?  [Comment Dr. Andro: You can either use the "comment" function at the bottom of the page or contact Adelfo directly via Facebook if you want - the latter also holds true if you have specific questions or are interested in dietary counseling]
Like I did mentioned last week, I do feel a lot harder, tighter and fuller. The typical "side-effects" everyone I've talked two who has implemented Rob Regish's interpretation of "escalating density" training into his regimen is "complaining" about.

Showtime! Adelfo hits the gym again...

A pros pros training. Let's get to my latest training videos, now. We shot the videos Wednesday night! They are in fact so brand new that I did not even have the time to get sore, yet ;-)
Video 1: Adelfo is incorporating static holds at the end of each set, a technique he has adapted from Rob Regish's Blueprint (Adelfo Cerame, 2011)
Before I start my EDT Block, I always start off with some static hold movements. As you can see in the video, I do five reps and then hold the weight up, after the last one without going to full lockout (this is obviously important, unless you want your joints, instead of your muscles, to do the work ;-). When I began incorporating this technique from the Blueprint into my regimen, I used to add 4 plates on each side and just do one static hold without the extra reps, but I have noticed that the tension on a decline hammer strength machine is a lot different from a free weight decline press (the tension is a lot heavier on free weights). Thusly, I wasn’t getting enough tension with just one static contraction, because the hammer strength machines does a lot of the additional stabilizing work, you would be doing if you were performing this move with free weights.
Image 4: Even the best blueprint will need some tweaking to become your blueprint for success.
A brief note by Dr. Andro: This little "tweak" to the original "Blueprint" Adelfo has come up with is further evidence of what I mentioned two weeks ago, when Adelfo and I were on Carl Lenore's Super Human Radio. Adelfo is the kind of guy who does not follow (even good) advice blindly. He has exactly the kind of Einstein-ish "intuition" and "experience" which distinguishes an average trainee, who relies on his "gurus" to take him to the top (which obviously seldom happens), from a professional bodybuilder, who takes responsibility for his own progress.So, whatever your personal goals may be, whether you are an aspiring bodybuilder or just an average Joe or Jane wanting to look good naked - always remember: success comes from making a blueprint your blueprint!
Being assisted by the hammer strength machine does yet not mean that you cannot hit the pecs hard - it's well possible that the opposite may be the case, because you are eliminating some of the weaker links... So even if I am doing only 3 instead of 4 plates on each side the pump and the pain during the static hold tell me that I am sending that growth signal you should strive to trigger whenever you are at the gym... after all, muscle growth not exhaustion is why (I assume) most of you will be at the gym.

"I am always tailoring my workout to my very specific needs"

And just in case you are now asking yourselves why I am not just doing the static holds with free weights then, the answer is simple: It's a safety issue. When I use free weights, I do not have the luxury to plant my legs and feet to th ground, which would give me that extra stability I need. I depend solely on my core to balance myself. I have to focus on balancing the weight and myself at the same time. So you can just imagine if I lost balance while trying to lift 3 plates on each side - therefore, the most I ever did after my injury on a free weight bench, was 2 plates on each side. And while there will be a video of me doing free weight bench presses somewhen in the near future, as well. For now, I want you to take a look at me performing my favorite EDT block (video 2)
Video 2: Adelfo doing incline presses and DB rows on the third of on of his EDT cycles (Adelfo Cerame, 2011)
I perform these push-pull combinations right after decline press static holds on the hammer strength machine. Being able to move as fast as I can from one exercise to another, this combo allows me to really make the most of my time at the gym. This video comprises only one of the many cycles I try to do within the 20 minutes given…(if you have not followed the whole series, you can read up on my EDT regimen here). The video, I think, shows the third of the cycles, each of which consists of a one push and one pull exersice

"I do a set of incline presses, then I superset that with DB back rows."

My goal with each EDT block (comprising two exercises each) is to try and complete as many cycles as I can within the 20 minutes. Last night I got up to 7 cycles and with each cycle, I lift as heavy as I can for 4-6 reps. If you do the math - 7 cycles à 4 reps does not sound so much, but you must also count the reps from the superset.... so that you are doing 56 all-out heavy (!) reps within 20 minutes… Then you have another static hold exercise, and another EDT block… remember what I said about not exhausting, but stimulating a few lines above - well, sometimes the former just works best by doing the latter ;-)
Image 5: A Philly Cheese Steak Wrap, the latest delicacy from Adelfo Cerame's personal cookbook.
Adelfo Cerame's Cookbook - Philly Cheese Steak Wrap: With the great feedback I am receiving on the recipes, Dr. Andro and I have decided to include one page of the repertoire I have come up with for me, as well as for the clients, I am doing dietary counseling for, as a regular part of each of my blogposts. Today's recipe is a tribute to all of you (and many of my clients) who are no big fans of raw food eating - and let's be honest, if you are doing it correctly "cooked" food can be both healthy and delicious as well. Not being a raw foodist, paleo eater, south beacher, or whatever else people affiliate themselves with… I eat nutritionally dense whole, natural foods (well, maybe with some exceptions on my cheat/reefed days ;-), of which I have found that my body cherishes extra bucks the ingredients may cost me.

A pros pos ingredients, here is what you will need for the one and only ...

Adelfo Cerame Philly Cheese Steak Wrap
  • 1 La tortilla Low Carb / High fiber tortilla (12g fiber/6g carbs)
  • 6 oz lean grass-fed sirloin steak
  • 1 tbs. real mayonnaise
  • 1 string cheese
  • Bell peppers & onions (optional)
Macros: 43g protein/ 6g carbs/  16g fat - bon appetit!

Looking back at the first month: "So far everything has gone smoothly!"

Image 6: Adelfo 10-8 weeks out from 09’ WC nationals (Adelfo Cerame, 2009)
Although we still have a couple of days left, I want to take the chance and review this first month of my contest prep. What is kind of exciting is that I have noticed that the way I look as of now is actually how I looked 10 to 8 weeks out during my 09’ contest prep (see image 6), and this is the time during prep where I usually felt rushed and began to drastically cut back on calories, because I felt there wasn’t enough time to achieve the level of competitive leanness I am expecting of myself. And though the drastic cuts did not affect me during the prep, it affected me after! And for those of you who have made extreme cuts before know what I’m talking about.... But anyway back on topic.

Next month (i.e. next week, already) I will actually begin to drop my caloric intake. This month I was at 2,250 calories, which is my maintenance calories. Next week I plan to start out with a ~15% calorie deficit from my caloric maintenance, which is about 1,912 calories. That's not much, but with the way I am looking now, eating at or even above maintenance, I expect to see some changes. If my body does not react the way I expected, I can still adapt my caloric intake in the course of the next four weeks, so that I will be able to reach my first long term goal, which is getting almost stage ready by January. By that time, March comes around real quick and I just want to have the luxury of knowing that I’m ready. But I’ll blog more about that next month and also write more about wheelchair bodybuilding in general for those of you that weren’t aware that there is such a thing ;-)