Thursday, November 3, 2011

Adelfo Cerame - Road to The Wheelchair Nationals '12: Eggs, Chocolate Milk and Wheelchair Bodybuilding

Image 1: It's just a Halloween costume, but one that is absolutely fitting - in every sense.
I am honestly not sure on what note to introduce this week's installment of Adelfo's increasingly popular contest prep log - a funny or rather a dead serious one? I mean, even in the introduction to his very first post I have pointed out how inspiring not only his work ethic, but also his whole constructive attitude is. I mean look at him in his Halloween costume, what may look somewhat hilarious at first sight, is in fact dead serious (and you will realize that at least after reading the current installment of the contest prep series) - if you asked me, I would not be able to name someone else who would be more suited for the role of Thor, the hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength and the protection of mankind... and the fact that my Thor is sitting in a wheelchair, does just add to the freaky awesomeness of someone, I am proud to be call a friend.

Short-Term Protein Shortage and Other Obstacles

Wow it’s already November, Thor is back from Valhalla (cf. image 1) and the second months of my contest preperation for the 2012 Wheelchair Nationals begins. Things have gone quite well so Contrary to what you would expect, my strength and performance been increasing - I have been increasing my lifts by 5-10 pounds every week. The switch to escalating density training (cf. "Things Start to Escalate") is already paying off. I am getting stronger which each cycle - each week, a rep or two or a few pounds more on all major moves. 

Video 1: Click on the image to view Adelfo pump out an intense biceps + triceps EDT cycle (video by Adelfo Cerame, 2011)
EDT - a strong argument against superfluous body fat

While my strength is exploding, my waist is doing the exact opposite: It seems like I’m leaning out real fast - current waist circumference 30". Jeans which usually only fit, when I was way more into previous contest preps fit like a glove - now, more than 3 months out! I know that this would scare the hell out of many of my "colleagues" who would probably be afraid that they were losing too much muscle, but form me, it's a good thing. I don't feel that my arms, chest or back got flat (quite the opposite) and with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, being leaner will actually benefit me when I use those holidays for my designated cheat/carb load days. It’s always fun to have cheat and re-feed days when you’re lean and mean, because you can feel and moreover see (at least when you are back at the gym) how those carbs replenish your muscle ... but I’ll talk more on that on another segment when I do get leaner and actually start carb loading again.
A note by Dr. Andro: It is when you are "lean and mean", as Adelfo artistically put it, when you benefit (and even need) refeeds the most. With your insulin sensitivity maxed out and your adipose tissues almost empty, little aromatase converting your valuable testosterone into estrogen etc. this is the best time for an intermittent (high carb) overfeed that will set the anti-catabolic + protein synthetic machinery into overdrive and convince your body that he can, with a clear conscious, spend those last few triglycerides he has still held back for "the real bad times" in the course of your next intermittent fasts ;-)

Thor is back in the gym - not doing Hammer curls, though ;-)

Since pictures, and even more videos, usually say more than a thousand words and because I suppose that you are curious what exactly I am doing at the gym that produces these outstanding changes, I shot another video tonight (cf. video 1). It's a biceps + triceps EDT block [comment Dr. Andro: You can find the best exercises for biceps, triceps and all other body parts in the SuppVersity EMG Series]. The same fundamental concept as with the other body parts: You have 20 minutes, in the course of which you have to complete as many cycles of two given exercises as you can. Personally, I usually do 2-3 EDT block exercises every training session; and mostly, I end my workouts on a biceps and triceps block… well, you know, this is just my favorite ;-)

The calorie spiral starts turning

As I mentioned last week, this is going to be my first week with a slight caloric deficit. For the first month I stayed within my caloric maintenance just to see if my body would lean out or make any improvements. This month I’m going to drop down to 1900 calories/day, which would equal a 350 kcal deficit, which isn’t that much but things are going to well, currently that anything more than that would be plainout stupid. After all, I have repeatedly hinted at the advantage of being able to gradually drop your calories, whenever it becomes necessary in my previous blogposts... my whole contest prep is built around this idea - start early lean down gradually, but consistently and avoid the flattening crash at the end of the prep that cost so many aspiring bodybuilders their procard.
Recipe of the Week: Yet to be named Porky Potato Post Workout Meal: As you see, I have not forgotten last week's promise to have a recipe of the week in each and every of the upcoming installments of my contest prep log. This week's recipe is actually so brand new that I have yet to come up with a catchy name for it. It's easy to prepare and for me it is a post workout meal.

Image 2: Yet to be named Porky Potato Post Workout Meal
Ingredients:
  • 2 lean pork loin chops (about 4 oz each)
  • 4 oz sweet potato
  • 6 baby carrots
  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • 1 medium banana (about 3 oz)
  • 1 tbs. honey
Macros: 48g protein/ 65g carbs/ 17g fat

A quick tip: Pork is naturally salty, so I don’t even season it with salt; I just use garlic, pepper and spices. And the banana and honey over the cottage cheese makes for a great dessert after the meal!
When you drastically cut calories, be that at the beginning or the end of your prep, this is like... juicing, when you are still a complete beginner... or like premature ejaculation, if you like that comparison, better. Drop your calories too low and you are done. There is nothing you can do anymore, when your body stops responding. So I'm going to drop as much body fat as I can with my 1900 calories and when I realize I'm hitting a wall, it will be time to drop down to 1800. And so on…

"If being able to buy a month worth supply of eggs for $25 ain't an argument for not investing another $60 into protein powder, what then? "

What is every bodybuilder's worst nightmare? Correct! Running out of protein. And guess what happened to me this very week? Correct! I ran out of protein. And since I don’t get paid till’ this Friday, this wasn't going to change for the rest of the week. I usually use protein to fortify my foods and include it as a drink with my whole food meals to help me reach my daily macros for protein. As I was browsing around through my local grocery store thinking about what other sources of protein I could possibly use - one that has a decent amino acid profile and is yet economical and won't turn me into an eunuch (so no soy, obviously ;-), my eyes fell on a five dozen eggs (for all mathematical geniuses out there, five dozen = 5x12 = 60) for $8 and some change! What better way to get your protein than from eggs? So instead of using a protein shake, I just popped a couple of these bad boys throughout my feeding hours to help me reach my macros for protein (I just take out the yolk if I would be missing my fat macros, otherwise)… that did actually work so well, that I am considering to to this in the future, as well. After all, the 5-dozen eggs lasted a little over a week.
Image 3: 5 dozen eggs for $8? And a gallon of chocolate milk for $4? Bodybuilder what else can you ask for? The protein supplements will have to take a back seat, for now.
I also started using low fat chocolate milk as my post workout shake (low fat, to avoid the slowing effect of the fat on protein & carb digestion). I was reading an article that Dr. Andro posted a while back (cf. table 2) about how chocolate milk was just as good a PWO shake as any other, so I figured" why not?" - I ran out of protein anyway.

And since we’re on the topic of budgeting and being economical, I decided to cut most of the raw meats out of my diet and stick to conventional cuts for the majority of my prep. In order to eat raw, the sources have to be the best quality such as grass-fed or cage-free, and along with quality (unfortunately) comes an expensive price. To me, who was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, it just makes sense to spend $7 on 7 pieces of chicken breast, rather than $7 on 1 piece of grass-fed NY steak. I will still do raw milk and cheeses (and raw eggs from time to time) though. Fortunately, the place where I get my raw milk and cheeses hooks me up. And in case you are now thinking to yourselves: "Man that goes completely against his quality over quantity mantra", let me tell you this: Yes, I am downgrading the quality of my meats, but I still eat whole “nutrient dense” foods, I train everyday, and keep my calories and macronutrients in check, and right now that’s all that matters.

Competitive Wheelchair Bodybuilding

Image 4: Jason Greer took 2nd at the 1st 2011 IFBB Pro Wheelchair Championchips. Be honest, guys. If there is anything freaky about Jason, that it is his freakin' awesome physique and I am happy that RX Muscle covered the show pretty extensively and would love to see Dave Palumbo and the rest of the team vocer the NPC Wheelchair Nationals, as well (note: this is my = Dr. Andro's comment).
Now let's get to a much less depressing topic: Wheelchair Bodybuilding! For those of you that may not know, there is a small and growing community of bodybuilders that are in wheelchairs. We train and diet just as hard as our able body counter parts... well, I guess minus the legs ;-). We don’t roll on stage for pity claps, most of us train and diet hard and put our bodies through the grind of training and dieting year round. We look at ourselves as serious athletes in a sport we love to compete in.

The disabilities of the competitors range from multiple sclerosis over cerebral palsy, spina bifida to spinal cord injuries such as paraplegics and quadriplegics. The type of disability and level of injury eventually determine wheelchair bodybuilder's mobility and function: For wheelchair bodybuilders, who were injured above the waistline, for example, it is particularly hard to build their abdominal muscles. Other wheelchair bodybuilders have limited function on all four limbs, so they have to work twice as hard just to train and build muscle. Some can do certain exercises, others can’t. It just all depends on the disability and injury level. For those of who want to know more about us, I've compiled a few links:
For those of you that may be reading this and are in chairs and curious about competing or those of you who are interested in going to a show, here are the three major wheelchair bodybuilding competitions I know of...
  • the NPC Wheelchair Nationals in Florida - taking place every march,
  • the NPC USA’s in New Orleans - taking place in June, and
  • the INBF Natural Buckeye in Ohio, which just started a wheelchair division last year. 
There are other shows and organizations that have wheelchair classes, but most of the time the competition is slim or - even worse ! - competition is just you against yourself and that’s no fun! In my first competition I was the only competitor and I hated the fact that I took first place by default! Lol. I’d rather lose to someone than take a 1st place trophy because I was the only competitor... but hey you know, neither of this is going to happen at the Nationals in Florida and if you want to know why, come back next week ;-)