Thursday, October 13, 2011

Adelfo Cerame - Road to The Wheelchair Nationals '12: After the Famine the Training Starts to Escalate!

Image 1: Adelfo Cerame Jr. survived the famine ;-)
Another Thursday, a busy one that is not over with this blog post, but will go overtime on Carl Lenore's Super Human Radio, where, today at 12pm EST, you will be able to hear Adelfo Cerame Jr. and my humble self, Dr. Andro, chitchatting with Carl about Adelfo's contest prep, his raw foods diet, intermittent fasting and much more. So don't forget to tune in live (update: click here to download podcast) And in case your boss doesn't like it when you listen to Internet ratio shows in the office, I will post the link to the podcast, as soon as it is going to be available. In the meantime, I'd suggest you read up on whether or not Adelfo survived the self-inflicted famine that had befallen him in the last week ;-)

Low calories + low protein = no hunger, no sluggishness, no visible muscle loss and no acne!

As those of you who have been following my weekly updates (a new installment appears every Thursday) here on SuppVersity know, I picked up a technique I read about in Rob Regish's Blueprint and kicked the hot phase of my contest prep off with a famine/detox protocol. The idea behind this initially counter-intuitive dietary intervention was to give my digestive tract, as well as "Mr. mTOR" on his "AMPK/mTOR seesaw" (if you aren't familar with "Mr. mTOR" and his unique "toy", you got to read up on Dr. Andro's latest blogposts on Intermittent Fasting) a well-deserved rest, in order to reset and improve my body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients more efficiently. In combination with strenuous training, the famine signal, which is obviously a novelty for a bodybuilder who has been focusing almost religiously on getting his share of protein in every few hours for years, is supposed to shock and alarm the body. It's similar to what a beginner will experience, when he is first hitting the gym - stress-induced super-compensation is the name of the game.
Figure 1: Macronutrient break down (protein, carbs, fats in g) famine and regular training day - what a difference!
With a calorie intake way below what it will look like even at the end of my contest prep, I expected to be hungry all the time. Much to my surprise (yet actually in accordance with what I had read in Rob Regish's "Blue Print"), the 5 days on fresh pineapples, raw carrots and vegetable juice (V8) weren't so bad at all. Being an "Intermittent Faster" for quite some time now and thusly accustomed to going without food for longer periods of time, I did not even feel particularly hungry. My performance in the gym did not suck and I did not feel sluggish, either. What I did notice, though, was how my skin cleared up. By day three on this low calorie, low protein diet the acne on my chest and back had cleared up - quite astonishing for someone like me who has had issues with body acne for most of his life!

A Guru of my own - wandering in Gironda's footsteps

I broke the famine/detox on Saturday afternoon and treated myself to a Brazilian BBQ buffet. If you’ve never been to a Brazilian BBQ restaurant… it’s a meatgasm of all you can eat: cuts of rib eye, sirloin, brisket, lamb, duck, rabbit… and the list goes on! For the first 48 hours I loaded up on protein and quality carbohydrates, drank lots of water and popped liver tablets throughout the day. "Liver tabs, what's that?", if you are now asking yourselves that question, you probably belong to the post-Gironda generation. Vince Gironda, the "Iron Guru", himself, swore by those dessicated liver tabs for their high content of quality protein and highly bioavailable vitamins and micronutrients. While this may have been in the days before protein powders, BCAA caps and mega-dosed vitamin supplements became widely available, I feel like this completely natural nutrient blend still has its merit. As of Monday, I went back to my daily maintenance calories.
Image 2: This is what a  Brazilian BBQ looks like. Certainly, a decent contrast to a famine. So, just in case you ever happen to be starving, I guess now you know where to go to refeed yourself ;-)
When I first started experimenting with IF last month, I mentioned that I wasn’t really keeping track of my calories or numbers. This has obviously changed with the beginning of my contest prep. After all, intermittent fasting is a dietary strategy, but no magic bullet that will give you the body of a bodybuilder if you eat like a pig - when on stage 0.1% body fat make the difference, between victory and defeat, calories begin to count again. Accordingly, I began keeping track of my calories and macronutrients, again, in order to make sure that I am hitting my numbers: For the next two weeks my goal is to keep my calories around my caloric maintenance to take advantage of the super-compensation process I hope to have triggered by the short famine phase.

After those two weeks, I will evaluate my physique, take measurements and go from there. In that I will diverge from the usual approach, where you are gradually decreasing your calorie intake from week to week, and use what you may call "caloric zig zagging" instead. In essence, I hope to be able to forestall metabolic adaptation processes (it should be obvious that we are talking about reductions in energy expenditure, here) by keeping my energy/calorie intake up during my training days and using my off days to create the caloric deficit which simply is a necessary prerequisite to bring your body fat level down into the unquestionably unnatural lower single-digit range, where veins start popping and striations begin to show, where "normal" people would not even know they had muscles ;-) ... but as I said, I’ll figure out the details, based on the results of the next two weeks.

EDT = Escalating Density Training - well, why not give it a shot!?

Image 3: Adelfo's personal EDT blueprint right from his secret training diary ;-)
I have also decided to make a major change in my training routine: For the next couple of weeks, I will be experimenting with static holds and EDT, i.e. escalating density training. At first I was very hesitant, because I am so used to common split routines, muscle-isolation and all those specialization and isolation stuff you read about in the muscle mags. After some conversations with Rob Regish, who happens to offer additional advice to all readers of his "Blueprint" on the Blueprint Forum, and some research of my own, I have convinced myself that the intense antagonistic training style of EDT could work particularly well for someone like me, who, partly due to my handicap, usually doesn't do any regular "cardio" training during his contest prep and wants to rely on strength training and nutrition, exclusively, when dieting for a show. Being short and intense it could help burn off calories while building or maintaining the muscle mass I already carry.

A pros pos intense: EDT is a program or training system that challenges you to do the most work per unit of time, which is supposed to be an optimal stimulus for muscle growth. Each session consists of two antagonistic or push/ pull exercises (for example, 1 chest exercise superset w/ 1 back exercise and 1 biceps exercise superset w/1 triceps exercise). You have 20 minutes for each exercise (which is called the PR Zone or personal record zone), to perform as many reps as you can. The goal is to try and beat your personal or PR zone, every workout session. Now, if you have not tried it yourself, two exercises, 40 minutes of training... that may not sound very intense... believe me, my experience from Monday's workout tought me otherwise: EDT is fast paced and intense. I was sweating and breathing hard, like I was running sprints back and fourth for 20 minutes. I haven’t felt like that in a long time from a weight training session…

And for those of you that are wondering. "Hey, and what about your other body parts? Deltoids, triceps, the individual heads, etc.?" Honestly, when you’re hammering your chest and back constantly within those 20 minutes… I can assure you that you WILL feel that your deltoid, triceps, and biceps are getting hammered just as well. And FYI… you cannot change the shape of your muscles or restructure your muscle bellies by exercising body parts from certain different angles - you may be able to make up for minor imbalances, but when it's all said and done, all you can do is shed off the body fat and showcase what you have made out of the body God gave you.

Abs, abs, abs,... is that all people want?

You think you could use some advice on your own training, diet and supplementation regimen and want it from someone who obviously knows what it takes to build muscle and lose fat? You can reach out to Adelfo via Facebook.
Before we close this weeks update, a brief note on a topic many of you appear to be interested in: My, or I actually I think you are more interested in YOUR abs ;-) I get a lot of compliments and questions on how I get my abs so defined, people ask me what type of exercises I do or think that I spend the whole day working them out. To be honest, I don’t do any special exercises or different varieties of abdominal workouts, as you see some people do. I keep my abdominal workout simple, just your basic cable crunches using a rope. People don’t realize that everybody exercise his abdominals on a daily basis... you cannot do squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses, benches, etc. without them! During each rep, your abs got to work - they are stabilizing your body, whether you realize it or not, your abs will gets their share of stimulation.

Now, obviously, I depend a lot more on my core to hold me up and balance myself, since I cannot use my gluteus and legs. When it comes to "training" abs, this is an advantage, because I am utilizing my core more than most "healthy" people do, just to keep my posture up and balanced... I let my diet take care of the rest!  Always remember: Abdominals are built in the kitchen, but that’s stuff for one of the next installments ;-)