Thursday, December 29, 2011

Adelfo Cerame - Road to Wheelchair Nationals '12: From Man Boobs to Striated Pecs - Looking Back at 2011

Image 1: Looks like Santa's sweet treats
just ricocheted off Adelfo ;-)
Although we are amidst the "holiday season" (you know the time of the year where the term off-season gets a whole new meaning ;-), there is one fellow who must obviously have read my blogpost about the not so amiable gifts Santa has in stock for some of us (cf. "Santa is Coming to Town")... judged by the pictures Adelfo has attached to the latest installment of his amazing "Road to Wheelchair Nationals 2012" series, Santa's sweet treats must have had a fat-burning, muscle-building effect on him. Well, at least this is what you could think, if you did not know how much hard work and dedication it cost him to get to where he is now. But, I guess I will let him tell you the whole story...

Without the "small" things the bigger one's "lose" all their meaning

It has been 12 months, now, hwen I got my medical release from the doctor... 12 months from the day I was finally able to leave the bed and go back to work... and eventually (!) go back to the gym and train! For almost all of 2010, I was confined to being bed-ridde. With the deep MRSA infected ulcer on my behind, I even had to lie on my belly - unable to sit, unable to move for almost a year.
Image 1-2: Looking back at December 2010 - All the abdominal fat and the man boobs that I accumulated after 12 months of being bed-ridden… I just hope that I will never have to go through that again.
That these memories are coming back now, is probably because New Years Eve is approaching. The last days of a year, where I have made a habit of reflecting on the little things that we usually take for granted. Looking back, none of this things, like being able to go to the grocery store, running errands or doing what I love the most, which obviously is going to the gym, was completely out of reach, back in 2010. Isn't it amazing how we always have to lose something until we appreciate its value?
Think about it, wouldn't  "Live life… cherish every moment of it… and be thankful for even the simplest things that this life has to offer!" be a much better new years resolution than the usual "I want to lose 5 pounds of fat!" or "I want to quit smoking"?
For me this (fortunately) temporary loss of mobility and, ultimately, freedom, marked another turning point in my live. I have ever since been trying my best to live life to the fullest, improve and better myself spiritually, mentally and physically. I have begun to cherish the simple things in life, constantly reminding myself that they could be taken away from me (and you!) at any moment. And for me, training, of all these little things, is the one I cherish the most: waking up in the morning, getting into the wheelchair and off the the gym to do the one thing I love the most is something I never want to lose again.

December 2010 to December 2011 = from man boobs to a striated chest

I don't know if you can empathize with the way I feel, when I look at the pictures from 2010, now. I mean, you know that about 8-6 weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to look "as stage ready as can be" at my 12-week mark (which actually is today) and today, after 12 weeks of intermittent fasting, eating whole "real foods", and training heavy and intense (plus minimal cardio and abdominal exercises) the result are eventually paying off:

  • Weight: 141 lb.
  • Waist: 29 in
  • Arms (flexed): 17 ¼” in
  • Chest: 41 in
  • BF%: around 8% [at least that’s what my digital calipers read ;-)]
As you can see from the images from last year… I don’t have the best genetics in the world (I’m more on the endomorphic side of the body types), and I obviously let myself go (not of my choosing, but due to illness), but my point is: No matter what genetic barriers you think or feel you may have, or how far off you’ve let your body and health go, it’s not impossible to achieve the physique of your dreams, with just a little bit of hard work, consistency and balance.

I guess, I can say I’m pretty satisfied with what I have achieved so far and I’m definitely looking far better than I was at the my last show in April @ the INBF Natural Buckeye. Fortunately for me, I have 13 more weeks to improve on my physique and push myself even harder with my training and dieting.

3 things I want to try and improve on within the next 13 weeks…
    You think you could use some advice on your  training, diet and supplementation regimen from someone who knows what it takes to build muscle and lose fat? Reach out to Adelfo via Facebook.
  1. Vascularity… I want people to (figuratively ;-) throw up because they’re so disgusted with how many veins are popping out through my skin. Genetics aside, pushing my body-fat level to the lower limit will be the major factor in achieving that.
  2. Maintaining muscle mass and maybe even possibly gaining a little bit more… When you are dieting it is already difficult not to lose at least some of the fullness you have in the off-season. Putting on extra mass, on the other hand, is near impossible. Yet, although I have been dieting hard (and with visible results), I have been getting stronger throughout my prep and those strength gains are still coming... and though we all know that there is no 1:1 (or other quantifiable) relation between strength- and size-gains, I would expect to see at least increases in what people call "muscle density" or "maturity", if I can keep upping the weight on all my major lifts.
  3. Strength… I just don’t want to look the part, but I also want to be strong also. As I already mentioned, this is the first prep I’ve had, where I have not noticed any decline in strength. I partly ascribe this to the combination of intermittent fasting, raw and whole foods eating, and some of the training methods I have used from Rob Regish’s Blueprint, which have really taken the variety of my workout routines to the next level. And I hope that the latest addition of Anadraulic State, Creapure (creatine monohydrate), D-Pol (d-Aspartic acid) and Recycle (a herbal natural test booster) to my supplement regimen will help me with lifting (increasingly) heavy(-ier) lifts throughout the rest of my contest-prep.
For the time being, I am on my pre-planned last week of the year famine/detox. Those of you who have followed the whole series will remember that I have been quite skeptical about whether the theoretically sensible (cf. Famine/Detox Episode), yet for any bodybuilder totally counter-intuitive idea from Robb Regish's blueprint would work, but the results I had back in October were so convincing that I decided to make it a staple within every macro-cycle of my training. And now, after 12 weeks of intense training and dieting, the time seems to be right.
Image 4: Example of a "detox meal"
Recipe of the week: Spartan Detox Food (example meal) - Eat this (or a similar meal) 3x a day to benefit from a simulated "famine".
  • cucumbers, 
  • a handful of fruits, and 
  • a cup of vegetable juice from Trader Joe’s…
During my last detox, going extremely low on both calories as well as protein and fat worked quite well for me, but in general Rob's protocol allows for a  maximum of 1,200kcal (for you bigger guys out there) and <50g of protein, fill up the rest with veggies, fruit and a lot of water and you are good to go ;-)
During the 12 weeks, my body has eventually adapted to my diet and training, and is pretty much in an exhausted state, where gains in size and strength usually stall. In order for me to get my body back into a growth state, I have to shock the whole system by putting my body through a mild state of tissue breakdown with added stress (think of it as triggering the alarm). The mild tissue breakdown and added stress through training during the famine phase will accelerate the entire protein turnover cycle. So basically I want to get my body back into a phase where it feels like I just started lifting weights and training for the very first time in order to be in that growth state again, so that, even at an average calorie intake of roughly 1,400 calories per day, I can still maintain (or hopefully build on) the muscle

Final thoughts... at least for this year ;-)

Image 4:  No clue what "intermittent fasting is all about"? I suggest you start with reading the first installments of the Intermittent Thoughts, then (click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and more)
If there is one thing that I have really come to appreciate during the past weeks, it is yet neither the famine, nor the detox or the different training techniques I have learned. The one thing, I believe has made the biggest difference was intermittent fasting - all I can say is… I love it! The protocol is simple and easy to follow and I was able to tweak it to my liking by applying other methods that have worked for me in the course of the last 4 years of competing. And the results are mind-boggling. I mean, this has by far been the easiest prep I have ever had! Without being distracted with having to prepare meals, I got to focus more on training, school, and fun stuff like social events. Add to that the amazing results I have (and still am) seeing in the mirror and you know why I believe that “IF” is definitely something I can, and will do long-term.

I will leave it to that for today, and even the year 2011 and wish all of you a happy and safe New Year! And just in case you happen to be one of those people who like to make "New Year's Resolutions"… Good Luck! Let me know how that works out for ya in a week or two? Hahaha! Just kiddin'! But seriously… You shouldn’t have to wait till New Years to make resolutions and set goals ;-)