Thursday, March 1, 2012

Adelfo Cerame - Road to Wheelchair Nationals '12: Pose Your Way to Better Workouts & a Freakier Physique! Plus: How to Take Photos that Will Do Your Physique Justice

Image 1: It goes without saying that the changes you see here go well beyond what the best Photoshop artist can do
For the unsuspecting out there, this is already the big week: After all, it is the week of the Arnold! But let's be honest, there is the most important name missing from the line-up. I mean who are Fouad Abiad, Gustavo Badell, Lionel Beyeke, Matthias Botthof, Evan Centopani, Eduardo Correa, Brandon Curry, Dexter Jackson, Michael Kefalianos, Ben Pakulski, Shawn Rhoden, Branch Warren, Ben White and Dennis Wolf if you can get Adelfo Cerame Jr. right here at the SuppVersity?

All jokes aside, less than 21 days and it's going to be "the day" for Adelfo. Personally, I believe that he has more than just a "fair chance" to take his pro-card, but you never know how the competitors will come in... I just hope they don't read the all the tips Adelfo is giving away here, week by week. I mean those are for you - and no one else ;-)

Three more to go to the big show!

If we wanted to be uber-correc, the subheading should actually read "2 ½ more to go to the big show!", but that would not rhyme and with me being 100% on track as far as my nutrition and training are concerned, it does not actually matter all too much. After all, I am not going to take any risk and try to make some radical last-minute changes to my regimen. I’ve learned from reading articles and blogs from seasoned bodybuilders such as guys like Dr. Layne Norton, and Ken “Skip” Hill, that it isn’t wise to make hasty changes during your final weeks of prep, just 'cause you feel that "doing X could make me come out even harder" - just stay the course, and stick to the foundation and staples you used throughout the prep to get you where you are. If you are not lean enough 2 ½ out, you made a mistake and there is no magic trick that would get you down into the low single digit body fat percent range by show time. No matter if you decrease or increase your water intake, carb load, play with my sodium and potassium or do whatever else any bro is telling you will get you ripped in no time - it is not going to do the trick, when you have not done your homework. And if you have done those, you won't need any of those tricks, anyway ;-)

Posing and flexing the key to a freaky physique, even for the "average gymrat"

I guess this may sound kind of weird at first, but if you think about it, you will have to concede: Whether you are a bodybuilder or not, flexing is something that all athletes do from time to time - often without even noticing it. I mean look at the guys in image 2, none of them is a competitive bodybuilder, yet still they flex their muscles as if there was no tomorrow.
Image 2: These guys aren’t bodybuilders, but they sure know how to instinctively throw a pose ;-)
To show off that you are not the same dud as the average grandpa competing in your sport and to sell your merchandise, to scare dangerous and sometimes imaginary enemies away or to celebrate a victory or to celebrate a touchdown are only three examples of occasions where hitting a pose it "totally human" - don't worry folks posing is also "100% paleo" ;-)

For bodybuilders, on the other hand, posing is an essential, or I should say, an obligatory part of the sport. Therefore I have increased the time I spent posing over the last couple of weeks from my usual "check your progress" and "get a feeling for your muscles" posing to training my actual routine for the night show. In that, hitting the right poses is yet only part of the game... bodybuilding is all about looks, so as the show approaches I am also laying out my plans as far as tanning, clothes, shoes and even haircut are concerned - I guess, you are smiling or even literally "rolling on the floor", now, but all that can make the difference between victory and defeat... Shit! I even clean and shine my wheelchair the night before!

Pose your way to better workouts and a freakier physique!

I know that most of you probably believe that anyone who is not training for a bodybuilding competition and still hits his poses in the gym is an arrogant jerk, ...and in 90% of the cases you may be right, the other 10% however may just be aware of how important and useful this practice actually is. I mean, I also felt awkward, when I started posing - and that despite the fact that I always knew that I wanted to get on stage - but when I realized how my muscles began to get harder, to lose some of the subcutaneous water and to be - I guess, the best word to describe it is "more responsive" to my commands, I suddenly realized that there is actually much more to those forceful maximal contractions than just "showing off".
Recipe of the week:  
My godchild's Pepperoni Sushi is an
innovative treat for your re-feed
Pepperoni Sushi:

  • Pepperoni or turkey pepperoni
  • Sushi rice (eg. from Sprouts or Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/3 cup of Rice vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbs. of sugar
  • 1-2 tsp. of sea salt
Credits: I must admit that the original idea to this recipe comes from my godson, who inspired me to make re-feed meal out of what he calls his "pepperoni sushi".

How to prepare it:
Read the directions on the back of the bag! Lol. J/p… Well not really… If my little nephew can make it, then I’m pretty sure you intelligent suppversity readers can read the instructions in the back of a bag of rice…  And the picture is pretty self-explanatory on how to prepare it ;-)
Nothing, not even the DHT-based prohormones, the bros recommend for this puprose, builds and strengthens the "mind-muscle connection" like hitting your poses - hard and regularly. You will be amazed how this practice will exponentiate the gains you are making in the gym. It will help you to finally understand what the real "pros" (not the aforementioned bros) are talking about, when they say that they try to "make a light weight as heavy as they can, to really exhaust the muscle" - the mind-muscle connection is what distinguishes lifting weight from body building (just in case you wonder, I intentionally wrote this in two words). I don’t know - and honestly don't really care - if there is any truth or science to it - I just know that it works.

Posing is commonly overlooked prerequisite to objectively evaluate your progress

Image 3: Obviously you can tell the difference from 24 weeks out to 6 weeks out, but from then on, the details and the changes are very minute. The only thing you’ll probably notice is the tanning I’ve been doing the last 2 weeks - which, by the way, is something that may not improve your physique (although the vitamin D may), but certainly your look :-)
At this point in my contest preparation, knowing where I am at, progress-wise, if of paramount importance. At the same time, however, this is getting increasingly more difficult, after all the "progress" you make should - assuming that you did your homework in the weeks before - be getting more an more subtle as the big day approaches (I outlined the reasons above)... in fact, I am now at the point, where I can hardly tell anymore if my body is making any forward progress, at all.

It's always easy to see progression, when you are still losing 2lbs of water per week, in the early days of a prep just from dropping your carb-intake. In the course of any diet, regardless of whether you are dieting for a contest, or, as Dr. Andro would probably write "just to look good naked" *lol* there will be the point, where you suddenly feel that you are stuck. And while this may actually be the case for some of you, often the scale or the measuring tape or whatever tool you have been using is just fooling you. This is why I believe in taking progress pics. They won't fool you, but you have to make sure that you take them under identical conditions, and that mean...
  1. identical lighting - nothing changes the way you look like different lighting conditions, and I am not referring to taking pics in the dark here; go and take two shots of yourself, one with light right from the front and one with a light source right above your head,... you will be surprised how fast you can "improve your physique"
  2. identical camera - this should actually be obvious but some of my clients send me a picture they took with their old iPhone and one they took with their shiny new digi cam; how can you tell what is a technical and what a physical difference between the two?
  3. identical time - now, this is something I myself have long neglected, but especially when you are getting leaner, the time you take the photo can make a huge difference; you will have to figure out at what time of what day you look best (obviously you want to judge your progress by the "best you can look on a given day") and for me this is usually either on Monday’s, right after my Sunday re-feeds, or right after my 20min HIIT sessions, in the course of which I usually consume 12 oz of water with ~1 tbs. of sea salt in it (The image under 4 weeks out was on a Wednesday morning after experimenting with the 12 oz of water and sodium, and the image under 3 weeks out was the morning after my Sunday re-feed).
  4. identical stomach content - contrary to your body water, where it is hard to tell if being watery is just a temporary thing or something related to your diet and/or training (which would obviously be important for your evaluation), the content of your stomach is something you should actually be well aware of and I guess, it should be evident that posing and taking pictures right after your Sunday re-feed binge is not the best idea of all ;-)
Still, even if you follow all these rules, your photos will be worthless if you do not alway hit the exact same poses and that (and this should go without saying) will not work, if you don't practice them, right?

Unfortunate but true: Just being in the shape of your live won't cut it!

Although people like Dave Palumbo always repeat that "conditioning wins a show", the latter is by no means all about being lean. It is about as important to look conditioned as to be conditioned... What? I know that may sound dumb, but if the tanning or the lighting are off, even Phil Heath will look like the average bro form your local  gym - well, sort of ;-)
Image 4: You need better definition in your abs? Just click "improve lighting" in your favorite image processing software and you are good to go; original image (left); digitally improved lighting (right)
That being said, did you ever wonder why individuals with darker complexions (assuming that they are fairly lean and muscular), seem to have better-looking physiques? The reason is the light, or rather the way it interacts with the color (or paleness ;-) of your skin - if you are tanned, it will underline your muscularity, if you are white like a ghost, it will expose your weaknesses.

Homework assignment: Shine the right light on your tanned physique

If you have ever seen (either in person or on TV) one of those celebrity photoshootings, you may have noticed the the camera assistants running up and down the scence, carrying with strange small lblack boxes in their hands. Those are light meters, they use to stage J.Lo, Brett Pitt and Co in a way that will minimize the workload for the Photoshop guys, who will later spot out the fat pads, the spider veins, the cellulite, the acne and all the other nasty blemishes on their computers. Trust me, go get a tan, find a place with a good lighting, take a photo and use the standard "improve lighting" functions of your average graphics software - you will be amazed about the progress you made within hours ;-)