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Q: I’m a 27-year bodybuilding enthusiast. My fitness journey started when I was 15. I was a fat kid until one day I decided to make a change. I lost more than 45 pounds, taking my weight from 180 to somewhere in the 130s. While I lost the weight, I became borderline obsessive about my diet. Eventually, I snapped out of it, and my weight hovered around 140 at my high school graduation. During college I began lifting weights and even joined the rowing team. I graduated with a bodyweight of about 175. When I moved on to law school, my bodybuilding goal was to get bigger, but no matter how hard I tried’using various routines and diets’my body didn’t really go anywhere, and neither did my strength. I was taking in about 3,400 calories per day. If I gained weight, it was usually in my stomach, and given my previous fat-kid syndrome, it drove me nuts. I graduated from law school at a bodyweight of about 183 and entered the United States Army as a JAG lawyer.

The Army completely changed my fitness goals. They wanted me lighter and leaner, so I began running. My bodyweight is now about 168, but I still don’t have a true six-pack. I am, however, just as strong as I was at 183. By Army standards I’m in great shape. My two-mile run is 11:30, and I can perform 95 pushups in two minutes and 90 situps in two minutes.

I still lift weights four days a week at night and attend mandatory P.T. five days a week in the morning. I usually run four to five miles in a formation three days per week and do some military muscle-failure workouts two days per week using bodyweight. I try to eat every two to three hours. I get at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, and my total calorie intake is 2,700 to 2,800 per day.

My current workout is four days per week, using all the basic exercises. I train each bodypart twice per week, eight to 12 sets per bodypart on a heavy/light system. I usually throw in an extra three-to-four-mile run on Sunday. My strength is average. I squat 245 for 20 reps on light day, and my max is around 315. I bench 185 for 10 reps, and my max is 225.

My goal is to be ripped because the Army doesn’t want a bigger soldier; however, I want to continue to gain strength. Although bodyfat is low, I’m not ripped. What am I doing wrong? Overtraining? Undereating? Overeating?

A: You’re obviously in great shape to be able to run five miles a day five days a week plus calisthenics in addition to four days a week of weight training and your extra run on Sunday. I don’t know exactly what your diet consists of, but I’m guessing that you may be overtraining and possibly undereating in your quest to lose more bodyfat and get that ripped look.

Running is notorious for eating up muscle tissue, and most bodybuilders stay away from it as a method of getting leaner. Running is too intense an aerobic exercise, and too much of it can break down muscle for energy. If you want to preserve muscle while losing fat, perform your cardio activity with moderate intensity.

Since you’re required to run as part of your job with the military, you need to adjust your diet and supplement program. Eating the right nutrients at the right time can help prevent tissue loss.

You mentioned that you’re eating approximately 2,800 calories a day, including one gram of protein for each pound of bodyweight. What you’re eating and the timing of those meals are critical for losing bodyfat and adding muscle tissue.

If you’re not doing it already, I definitely recommend that you eat a good meal consisting of high-quality protein and complex carbs before your early-morning run and P.T. training. The amino acids from the protein and the glycogen from the carbohydrate will help preserve muscle tissue during your workout. You should also take a tablespoon of glutamine before and after your training to help prevent tissue breakdown. After your morning session eat another meal consisting of protein and carbs. I recommend lean beef or chicken with a sweet potato and vegetables. The nutrients from those foods will help you build and repair muscle tissue. ALL Continue to eat meals like that throughout the day, alternating protein drinks with whole-food meals. I make my protein drinks with Pro-Fusion protein powder or Muscle Meals meal-replacement powders, both of which contain high-quality whey, egg and micellar casein proteins. I mix the powder in water with a tablespoon of flaxseed oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids.

If you eat the right foods, you can probably increase your calories without increasing your bodyfat. You’ll have to keep track of your progress, but I’m confident that you’ll raise your metabolism by eating more often to balance out your high activity level.

I also recommend getting more protein. Instead of getting one gram for each pound of bodyweight, bump it up to 1.5 grams of protein for each pound of bodyweight. The amino acids from the protein will help prevent muscle tissue breakdown from the weight-training and cardio workouts.

Here’s a sample diet you can try:

Breakfast (1 hour before your morning workout): 1 egg, 8 egg whites, 1 cup oatmeal, 1 cup blueberries.
Postworkout meal: 5 ounces chicken breast, 150 grams sweet potato, 3 ounces broccoli.
Protein drink (2 hours after postworkout meal): 2 cups water, 2 servings Pro-Fusion protein powder, 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil.
Midafternoon meal (2 hours after protein drink): 5 ounces steak, 150 grams sweet potato, asparagus.
Protein drink (2 hours after midafternoon meal): Muscle Meals meal replacement.
Preworkout drink (30 minutes before your weight-training session): 1 serving whey protein mixed with 1 serving CreaSol titrated creatine powder.
Postworkout meal (immediately after weight-training session): 3 scoops RecoverX mixed with 1 serving CreaSol titrated creatine powder.
Last meal (one hour before bed): 2 cups water, 2 servings Pro-Fusion protein powder plus 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter.

That diet gives you almost 3,000 calories, with 343 grams of protein, 250 grams of carbs and 64 grams of fat. It’s probably more food than you’re currently eating, but I think you need the extra calories because of your activity. The protein is high to prevent muscle breakdown, and the carbohydrates are moderately high to help fuel your high-intensity workouts.

More important than the number of calories, though, is the quality of the food you eat. That sample diet has eight small meals that will feed both metabolism and muscle tissues throughout the day. Increasing your metabolism is really the key to shedding excess bodyfat and creating a lean, muscular physique.

I also suggest you modify your weight-training program so you don’t train too many bodyparts in one workout. You could train your whole body in three days instead of two and keep your workouts shorter with fewer overall sets. That way you’re doing fewer than 25 sets a workout, which would really help with your recuperation. Here’s how your new workout schedule would look:

First week. Monday: chest, biceps, triceps; Tuesday: abs, legs; Wednesday: off; Thursday: delts, back; Friday or Saturday: chest, biceps, triceps

Second week. Monday: abs, legs; Tuesday: delts, back; Wednesday: off; Thursday: chest, arms; Friday: abs, legs

Third week. Monday: delts, back; Tuesday: chest, arms; Wednesday: off; Thursday: abs, legs; Friday or Saturday: delts, back And so on. That routine will enable you to train heavy (six to 10 reps) every workout because your muscles will be getting more days of rest than your present routine gives you before you train them again. It doesn’t make sense to train more often and have to compromise by having a light day as the second workout of the week. It’s better to train heavy and then fully recuperate before training with growth-producing intensity again.

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Natural Mr. Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Visit his Web site at www .naturalolympia.com. You can write to him at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561, or call toll-free (800) 900-UNIV (8648). His new book, Natural Bodybuilding, is now available from Human Kinetics Publishing. IM

About John Hansen

Naturally Huge

Your nutrition program is absolutely vital to achieving peak condition and attaining a ripped physique. Unfortunately, the diet that worked for you once may no longer be applicable as you age. Like it or not, your metabolism slows down when you reach middle age. Fat accumulates much more easily, and the hard-earned muscle mass that you work so diligently to achieve finds little reason to stick around. More fat and less muscle do not equate to the ideal bodybuilding physique.

I experienced that changing-physique phenomenon over the past few years as I attempted to reach peak condition for the natural bodybuilding competitions I entered from 2001 to ’04, which I discussed in last month’s column. After trying and failing two years in a row’01 and ’02’I knew I needed to make adjustments to my precontest diet to achieve my goal.

Having won the Natural Mr. Universe contest twice (’92 and ’96), as well as taken first place in the Natural Olympia (’98) and achieved victory in many local and regional competitions, I thought I had the dieting thing down. Then, after tearing my biceps in 2000, I had a very difficult time getting back to the type of condition I once displayed. The fact is, my body started changing right around the time I turned 35, which was in 1998. My Natural Mr. Universe precontest diet contained a high percentage of complex carbohydrates, moderate protein and very little fat’approximately 60 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 10 percent fat. To prepare for the Natural Olympia, I decided to make some slight changes. I kept my precontest calories the same’approximately 2,800 to 3,000’but I increased fats while slightly decreasing carbs. The breakdown of that diet was 38 percent protein, 47 percent carb and 16 percent fat.

Both of those diets worked great for me. I followed both for 12 to 16 weeks and was able to compete in ripped condition, and I won first place in both competitions.

When I came back to competition in 2001, after a three-year layoff, I decided to follow the same diet that had brought me such great results in ’98. I wasn’t buying into the low-carb craze that everyone seemed to be following because I knew what had worked for me in the past. I believed that a bodybuilder needed to eat a certain amount of carbohydrates to conserve muscle tissue. Carbs are said to be protein sparing, which means that the body uses them for energy. That leaves more protein for rebuilding muscle. During a low-carbohydrate diet the body may be forced to break down protein to use as an energy source after its carbs have become depleted.

I knew bodybuilders who successfully followed a low-carb diet for competitions, and they looked fantastic, but they were all using steroids. The drugs enabled them to maintain muscle tissue no matter how few carbs they consumed. I believed that as a natural bodybuilder I would surely sacrifice muscle tissue following a diet like that.

So what happened? When I competed in 2001 and 2002, my results were disappointing, to say the least. The fat came off much more slowly, and I failed to reach peak condition in time for the competitions despite the fact that I gave myself 20 weeks.

Injuries forced me to forgo competing in ’03, but I decided to make another attempt at reaching peak condition again in ’04. This time I purposely avoided bulking up in the off-season so I wouldn’t have as much fat to lose.

I began my precontest diet on May 1, a full 24 weeks before my first competition, which was scheduled for October 23. I weighed 230 pounds, and I planned on competing at approximately 205. If I lost only one pound a week, I would weigh 206 pounds for the contest.

Here’s how my menu looked when I began my precontest diet:

Meal 1: 1 egg, 9 egg whites, 1 cup oatmeal, half cup blueberries
Meal 2 (protein drink): 2 servings Pro-Fusion protein powder in water, 70 grams banana, 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
Meal 3: 5 ounces extra-lean turkey, half cup brown rice, 3 tablespoons salsa, 1 cup turkey chili
Meal 4 (preworkout drink): 1 serving whey protein, 1 serving creatine
Meal 5 (postworkout drink): 3 scoops RecoverX in water
Meal 6 (protein drink): Muscle Meals meal replacement, 90 grams banana, half cup oat bran, half cup blueberries
Meal 7: 7 ounces round steak, 1 cup green beans

Totals: 3,133 calories, 323 grams protein, 313 grams carbohydrate, 63 grams fat
Breakdown: 41 percent protein, 40 percent carb, 19 percent fat ALL I was now eating a diet consisting of more protein and fat but slightly fewer carbohydrates. I kept my calories between 2,800 and 3,100 per day’more on workout days’for a weekly average of 2,950 calories. My carbohydrate consumption averaged approximately 300 grams per day. I ate a little more than 300 grams of carbs on my weight-training days and 250 grams on my days off.

Despite my strict adherence to the diet, my fat loss was very slow and frustrating. I measured my progress by the circumference of my waist along with my bodyweight, both of which I recorded first thing every morning. I knew my weight wasn’t as important as what I looked like, so I was more concerned with my waist measurement than I was my bodyweight.

I also knew from my previous wins at the Natural Universe and Natural Olympia that a waist measurement of 32 to 33 inches was ideal for my physique. At 230 pounds I had a bulky 37-inch waist, which meant that I’d need to lose a minimum of four inches before I was ready to step onstage. I decided to give myself a little more time than the minimum of 16 weeks, just in case I needed it.

On August 14, 2004, after 15 weeks of dieting, my bodyweight was down to 215 pounds, and my waist was at 35 inches. I’d lost 15 pounds and two inches off my waist. I only had nine weeks left, and I still needed to lose a minimum of two more inches off my waist. My weekly average of calories per day was now at 2,800, and my carbohydrate average had dropped to 270 grams per day.

When I was only six weeks away from my first contest, I decided to make some changes to my diet. I went to my friend and fellow competitor Joe Silzer. Joe competes on the national level and is obviously aware of what the judges look for.

At that point my bodyweight was down to 213.5 pounds with a 34-inch waist. My progress had been very slow, and my waist had not lost any fat for the past three weeks. I had Joe take some pictures of me that day, and we both had the same view. I needed to get much harder’and quick!’or I would not be ready in time.

My first solution was to increase my cardio. I’d been doing cardio three to four days a week, so I decided to increase it to a minimum of six days per week to accelerate the fat loss. After four days of nonstop cardio, my waist stubbornly remained at 34 inches, and my bodyweight also refused to budge.

I called Joe up, and we went over my diet, meal by meal. Joe advised me to drop my carbohydrate intake even lower in order to get harder. Here are the changes we decided to make:

Meal 1: same

Meal 2: eliminate the banana

Meal 3: change to 6-ounce chicken breast, 120 grams sweet potato, 3 ounces broccoli or asparagus Instead of extra-lean turkey, I began eating chicken breast, which is a little bit higher in fat and calories. I dropped the half cup of brown rice and replaced it with a small sweet potato, which has a lower glycemic-index number than the brown rice. I also eliminated the turkey chili, which was high in fiber and contained no sugar but was too high in carbs. I substituted very low-calorie broccoli or asparagus, which was also high in fiber but contained a fraction of the carbohydrate.

Meal 4: same

Meal 5: same

Meal 6 (protein drink): 2 servings Pro-Fusion, 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter I also drastically changed this meal, which I had about 30 minutes following my RecoverX drink. Instead of the Muscle Meals shake with a banana, I used two scoops of Pro-Fusion and no banana. That contains half the carbs of a packet of Muscle Meals (only six grams of carbs compared to 12 in the Muscle Meals), and cutting out the banana reduced my total carbohydrate intake even further. I also eliminated the oat bran and blueberries, using a tablespoon of natural peanut butter instead.

Meal 7: same

Meal 8 (protein drink): 2 scoops of Pro-Fusion with 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil. The flaxseed oil supplied more essential fatty acids and helped slow down the digestion of the protein drink. Since I wouldn’t be eating anything until the next morning, it was important to keep the muscle cells saturated with the growth-producing amino acids from the protein drink. Taking in a fast-acting form of protein such as whey before retiring would have been a mistake.

The diet provided me with approximately 2,800 calories, 340 to 350 grams of protein, 200 grams of carb and 65 to 70 grams of fat. Although the calories were the same as the diet that I’d been following for the previous 18 weeks, the macronutrient percentages were different. My carbohydrate intake dropped by 100 grams per day. Instead of getting 250 to 300 grams of carbs, I dropped to 150 to 200. To keep the calories the same, I slightly increased my protein from 320 to 350 grams per day, and I also increased my fat from approximately 55 grams per day to 70.

It was necessary to get more fat because of the carb decrease. I knew I’d risk losing muscle size and fullness if I reduced the carbs but kept the fat the same. The added flaxseed oil and the tablespoon or two of natural peanut butter a day helped me maintain my muscle mass while I was eliminating bodyfat.

So how did my experiment work? Like a charm! I started losing fat almost immediately. I changed my diet on a Wednesday; by that Saturday my waist had dropped half an inch, and my bodyweight was down by two pounds. Even better, my progress from that point was consistent. I lost 1.5 to two pounds each week, and my waist got smaller.

By the time my competition arrived, I was in the best shape I’d been since taking the Natural Olympia in ’98. Six years is a long time between winnings, but that was how long I had to wait. On October 23, 2004, my drought finally ended as I took the overall at the Natural America’s Cup competition. My bodyweight was at 205 pounds, and my waist was down to 33 inches, very close to peak condition.

Four weeks later, on November 21, 2004, I’d reduced my bodyfat even more. I competed in the Natural Mr. Universe weighing 200 pounds. It was the best I’d looked in more than five years, and it was a far cry from the lackluster physique I’d displayed in the previous few years.

What was amazing about this new, improved version of my diet was that I was able to retain all of my muscle mass while losing the fat. My beliefs regarding the importance of carbohydrates in a precontest diet drastically changed. I now believe that it’s possible to eat fewer carbs and maintain your muscle mass and strength, even if you’re a natural bodybuilder.

The key to my diet was finding the right number of calories I needed to lose weight and keeping that calorie intake the same while changing the percentages of the macronutrients. When I decided to reduce my carbohydrates by 100 grams per day, I simultaneously had to increase my protein and fats so my calories didn’t drop. If they had by a significant amount, I no doubt would have sacrificed muscle tissue due to the heavy weight-training workouts and the four to five sessions of cardio per week. When you’re a natural bodybuilder, your energy has to come from somewhere. Eating fewer carbs necessitates getting more fats and protein just as a higher carb intake demands a much lower fat intake.

If you’re attempting to get lean and feel that it’s no longer possible because you’re not as young as you were, don’t give up and head for the couch. You may just need to change the percentages of protein, carbs and fats that you’re getting in order to get results. Record your diet in a journal each day, and keep experimenting until your body responds. Once you find the right diet, a ripped physique may be right around the corner.

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Natural Mr. Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Visit his Web site at www .naturalolympia.com. You can write to him at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561, or call toll-free (800) 900-UNIV (8648). His new book, Natural Bodybuilding, is now available from Human Kinetics Publishing. IM

About John Hansen

Naturally Huge

Q: I’m 34 years old, looking to make my last push at putting on some real size. I’m 6′, weigh 220 pounds and probably at 20 percent bodyfat. I’m currently deployed overseas on a civilian contract with the Air Force. I picked up a copy of the September ’04 IRON MAN and read the Quick-Hit Mass Split routine in your Naturally Huge column. I noticed it was written for a 15-year-old football player with a limited amount of training time. I have plenty of time, but the routine looked pretty good. I have a few nagging injuries but nothing prohibiting me from doing squats or deadlifts. Would you recommend that routine to me?

A: The routine I recommended to the 15-year-old football player was a great one for putting mass on an intermediate bodybuilder. It involved training each bodypart twice per week, focusing on the basic exercises that are so effective at building size and strength.

If training each muscle group twice per week suits you, you can use that routine. Many advanced bodybuilders feel they need more recuperation and train each bodypart only once every six or seven days. When you’re young and still developing muscle size and strength, your body can handle more work and doesn’t need as much recuperation. After you’ve reached a more advanced stage, you need more time to recuperate in order to grow. Advanced bodybuilders use more resistance in their training along with greater intensity, which usually increases the need for rest.

If building size is your primary focus, you want to train each muscle group with as much resistance as possible and with the basic movements, which involve several bodyparts. Using basic exercises with the maximum amount of weight for the recommended six to 10 reps will force the muscles to grow bigger and stronger. If you’re using the right exercises with enough intensity and getting enough rest between workouts, then you should be on your way to developing maximum muscle.

If you’re past the intermediate stage but still want a training program that will focus on building more mass, you can use a two-days-on/one-day-off/one-day-on/two-days-off split routine. Here’s an example:
Day 1: Chest, arms
Day 2: Abs, legs
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Delts, back
Days 5 and 6: Rest
Day 7: Cycle begins again.

That rotation of bodyparts gives you six days of rest for each. You train your whole body over three days, but you take three days of rest before repeating the routine. That provides plenty of recuperation, which the muscles will need if you’re training them heavy and hard enough. Here’s an example of a program that fits that split:

Day 1
Bench presses 4 x 6-10
Incline dumbbell presses 3 x 6-8
Flyes 2-3 x 6-10
Pushdowns 3 x 6-10
Decline extensions 3 x 6-8
Incline curls 3 x 6-10
Barbell curls 2-3 x 6-8

Day 2
Hanging knee raises 3 x 20-30
Crunches 3 x 30-40
Squats 4-5 x 6-12
Hack squats 3-4 x 8-12
Leg curls 3 x 6-10
Stiff-legged deadlifts 3 x 8-10
Seated calf raises 3 x 12-15
Donkey calf raises 3 x 15-25

Day 3: Rest

Day 4
Seated military presses 4 x 6-10
Upright rows 3 x 6-10
Bent-over laterals 3 x 6-10
Barbell shrugs 4 x 6-12
Wide-grip chins 3 x 8-10
Barbell rows 4 x 6-10
Deadlifts 3 x 6-10

Day 5 and 6: Rest ALL In addition to using the best training routine, you’ll also need to work on your diet. You said that you’re at 20 percent bodyfat, which is pretty high. I don’t know the method you’re using to measure it, but if you believe that you’re too fat, you can change that.

Make sure you eat plenty of protein to help rebuild the muscle tissue you’ll be tearing down during your workouts. I suggest a minimum of six meals per day, with a substantial amount of protein in each. I try to eat three whole-food meals a day and three protein drinks. That lets me fit all my meals into my work schedule and get plenty of muscle-building protein.

Eat complete-protein foods, such as eggs, egg whites, chicken, fish, tuna, turkey, steak and lean red meat for your whole-food meals. I typically have egg whites for breakfast, chicken for lunch and steak or fish for dinner. Between those meals have a protein drink. Use a high-quality protein powder that includes whey, casein and egg proteins. That combination provides a slow release of amino acids into the bloodstream, which continuously feeds the muscles the nutrients they need to grow. (Muscle Meals is a good meal replacement; see page 140.)

You also need to eat enough carbohydrates so you have energy for your workouts as well as for recuperation. The glycogen from carbohydrate not only is stored in the muscle cells for energy for your workouts but also helps to prevent muscle-tissue breakdown by replenishing the muscles’ glycogen stores after each training session.

Concentrate on complex carbohydrates that will break down slowly, thus preventing any big fluctuations in your blood sugar level. Oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans and brown rice are the best choices. Vegetables are also excellent sources, so you want to eat plenty of them as well.

You also need a postworkout drink such as Muscle-Link’s RecoverX to feed the muscle cells the protein and carbohydrates they crave immediately following a workout. Taking advantage of that window of opportunity will enable you to rebuild muscle tissue quicker and create an anabolic edge for developing mass. I take three scoops of RecoverX mixed in water after each workout. (For more information see page 120.)

Finally, don’t forget to eat enough essential fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids will make the muscle cells more insulin sensitive, which will attract carbohydrates to enter them instead of the fat cells. Good sources include flaxseed oil and salmon. Research also indicates that having a little bit of saturated fat in the diet increases testosterone, so include some whole eggs and red meat in your menu as well.

To sum up: Eat a minimum of six meals per day and include plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates along with essential fatty acids. I recommend a diet consisting of 40 percent of calories coming from protein, 40 percent from carbohydrates and 20 percent from fats.

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Natural Mr. Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Visit his Web site at www .naturalolympia.com. You can write to him at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561, or call toll-free (800) 900-UNIV (8648). His new book, Natural Bodybuilding, is now available from Human Kinetics Publishing. IM

About John Hansen

Naturally Huge

Q: I enjoy your articles, especially your recent over-40 training insights. I’m 39 and have trained sporadically for the past 20 years. I’m recovering from rotator cuff surgery at the moment, but as soon as I’m able to start training, I’d like to get in my best shape. Considering my age, should I split my workout so I train each muscle group every six or seven days, or should I start with a three-day split, using a two-on/one-off routine?

A: If you’ve been away from training for a while, you should probably begin with a limited number of exercises and train each muscle group twice a week using a two-on/one-off routine. It’s always better to start out slowly when coming back from a layoff. Your body will respond best to a limited amount of training.

After a few months of training consistently on that schedule, you could spread your training over three days as opposed to two. Try a two-days-on/one-day-off/one-day-on/one-day-off schedule. That gives you five days of rest between workouts for each bodypart. You’ll need that extra rest because you’ll be training each muscle group much harder and with more sets than you did during the first routine. Here’s one example of how you could divide your muscle groups for that training split:

Day 1: Chest, arms, calves
Day 2: Abs, legs
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Shoulders, back, calves
Day 5: Rest

Stay with that routine as long as you feel you’re getting results. If your training intensity increases to the point that you don’t feel you’re getting the recuperation you need, schedule more rest days. You could take a day off after each training session, which would increase your days off between workouts for each bodypart to six days instead of five.

Another option is to divide your bodyparts over four days instead of three. You could train two days in a row, followed by a day off, and then repeat that cycle until you cover your whole body. Here’s one example that gives you six days of rest for each bodypart:

Day 1: Chest, triceps, calves
Day 2: Abs, upper legs
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Shoulders, calves
Day 5: Back, biceps, abs
Day 6: Rest

Begin slowly and train each bodypart twice per week. As your poundages go up and your intensity increases, begin dividing your body over three days, and increase the amount of rest between workouts for each bodypart to five days. Stick with each routine as long as it produces results. After six months of consistent training, you can increase your rest between workouts for each bodypart to six days if you feel you need it.

Q: I’m 17 years old, and I have two questions. I’ve been searching the Web for answers for about three weeks. Everyone has something different to say’and most of them are on steroids. Some people are telling me I should just take pro-hormones. I know drugs aren’t the way to go, so here are my questions: 1) What’s the best rep range for building muscle size? 2) What are the best supplements?

A: The best range of repetitions for building muscle is typically between six and 10. That range has been shown to thicken the muscle fibers and increase the size of the muscles while also pumping blood into the muscle tissues.

After your warmup sets with lighter weights and higher reps, use a weight that limits your reps to six to 10. The reps should be very difficult to perform. If you can do 12 to 15 reps by really pushing it, then you need to use more weight for maximum muscle growth.

Lower repetitions’one to four’will build more strength than muscle mass. That’s because the tendons and ligaments take over more of the load. Powerlifters and other athletes primarily aiming to increase their strength often do sets with a resistance that limits their reps to between one and five. A higher rep range’six to 10’gives you more of a pump in your muscles, which is a big factor in muscle tissue growth.

Going in the other direction and doing very high repetitions’15 to 20’doesn’t provide enough resistance to thicken muscle fibers. A set performed with low resistance and higher reps will definitely pump up the muscle, but you need heavier loads to build muscle fibers. ALL Some muscle groups may respond better to more or fewer reps than the recommended six to 10. The calf muscles, for example, seem to respond better to a resistance that permits anywhere from 12 to 30 reps. I like using both high and moderate reps for calves, as the higher-rep sets pump more growth-producing blood into the muscle, which helps them grow.
v The quadriceps also appear to respond to slightly higher reps. The leg muscles can handle a lot of work, more than some of the smaller muscles in the upper body. I’ve found that it’s beneficial to train the legs with both heavy weights and high reps’12 to 15. It’s a brutal combination that can produce growth for bodybuilders who have a difficult time developing quads.

As for your second question, I recommend that before you stock up on supplements, you make sure your diet is sound. You should be eating at least six meals per day with enough of the three macronutrients’protein, carbohydrates and fats’to promote growth. The first supplement I recommend is a good protein powder and/or meal replacement. To keep your muscles in a positive nitrogen balance, you need to eat protein every

2 1/2 to three hours. That gives you the amino acids your muscles require to grow. Since it’s highly impractical to eat a whole-food meal every three hours, protein and meal-replacement drinks help you fit in those meals more conveniently. I normally drink at least three protein or meal-replacement shakes each day.

I use Muscle-Link’s Pro-Fusion protein powder and Muscle Meals meal replacement. The reason I prefer that brand over others is its formulation of micellar casein along with whey and egg proteins. That superior combination makes for a slower amino acid release, giving the muscles a continuous flow of the building blocks they need.

I also highly recommend a postworkout drink to speed your recovery as well as aid in muscle growth. I take RecoverX, which has 40 grams of whey protein’fast-acting protein, so it’s quickly absorbed by the muscle cells’along with 60 grams of simple carbs. That’s the perfect combination for feeding your depleted muscles the nutrients they crave right after a hard training session.

The other two supplements that I highly recommend are creatine and glutamine. Creatine is a great supplement to keep your strength and energy levels high during a heavy training session. I take a serving of Muscle-Link’s CreaSol titrated creatine before and after my workouts. Glutamine is invaluable in building the immune system and helping with recuperation and muscle growth. When I’m in heavy precompetition training, I take five grams of glutamine when I wake up, before and after my workout and immediately before bed.

Note: For a great discount offer on RecoverX and CreaSol, visit www.x-rep.com/xdiet.htm.

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Natural Mr. Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Visit his Web site at www .naturalolympia.com. You can write to him at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561, or call toll-free (800) 900-UNIV (8648). IM

About John Hansen

Naturally Huge

Q: I’m 39 years old and married. I’ve been weight-training drug-free for 15 years, but I’ve never lost the huge amount of bodyfat that’s around my waist. How do I reduce the fat around my waist without losing any lean-muscle mass? Right now I have a 36-inch waist, and I weigh 215 pounds.

A: Losing bodyfat without sacrificing muscle mass requires the right training program combined with an optimum nutrition plan. You are smart to try to lose only bodyfat while maintaining muscle mass, as that’s the key to looking lean and muscular. So many people try to lose fat at any cost and end up losing just as much muscle as fat, which does little to change the look of the physique.

I recommend that you start by writing down what you eat every day. Knowing exactly what you’re eating each day will really help you understand where you are now and help you get where you want to be. Be sure to figure out how many calories you’re eating, as well as how many grams of protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Your diet is the deciding factor when it comes to losing bodyfat. It’s important to eat at least five meals per day to keep your metabolism stimulated. You also need to eat enough calories to maintain the muscle tissue; however, your calorie intake should be just below what you need to maintain your bodyweight. It may take a bit of experimentation to figure out what the correct amount is, but if you keep recording your diet each day, you’ll arrive at the right number soon.

As far as the optimum ratio of the macronutrients, I prefer to eat 40 percent protein, 40 to 45 percent carbohydrates and 15 to 20 percent fats. That gives me enough protein to build muscle tissue, enough energy from the carbohydrates to train hard and a good amount of essential fatty acids from omega-3 fats. If I’m eating slightly below my maintenance level of calories, I slowly lose bodyfat while maintaining my muscle mass. Your training routine is extremely important when you’re attempting to drop bodyfat. You need to continue to train heavy and hard to maintain the muscle tissue. If you train with light weights or decrease the intensity, you’ll most likely lose muscle along with the fat. Less muscle tissue equates to a slower metabolism, which will make the fat-loss process even more difficult.

You should attempt to train your muscles intensely with only a moderate number of sets. Too much volume in a workout or training too many days of the week will result in overtraining, which may lead to sacrificing more muscle tissue. The possibility of overtraining is greater when you’re dieting and reducing your calories.

In addition to your weight workouts, you can add cardio to aid in your fat-loss efforts. Performing cardio immediately after your workout or first thing in the morning on an empty stomach will help burn more bodyfat. I believe in using cardio in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and an intense weight-training program. It would be a mistake to rely only on cardio or only on your diet to lose bodyfat. The best results will come from a combination of weight training, diet and cardio.

Q. In a recent column you suggested a twice-per-week routine, with chest, back and shoulders at the first workout and legs and arms at the second. I took your advice and lift on Monday and Friday. My only concern is that training my arms on Friday and then my chest and shoulders on Monday will result in overtraining my triceps. I’ve been at it seven weeks now, and I notice that on Mondays my triceps seem to give out sooner than they should. I guess my question is, Should I train my triceps on the same day as I bench-press, or should I flip the days and give my triceps three days of rest instead of two before I do my bench presses?

A: I think either of your suggestions would work. Switch the bodyparts you train to the opposite days. Training your chest, back and delts on Friday and then working your legs and arms on Monday may eliminate the overtrained feeling in your triceps. It sounds as if you need the three days of rest after your triceps workout instead of the other way around.

If you want to switch the routine around to train your triceps with your chest, I recommend that you change to a three-day split. Train chest and arms on the first day and legs by themselves on the second day. Take a day off, and finish with delts and back the following day. Take another day off, and then start the cycle again. That routine provides five days of rest for each bodypart. It’s a more advanced version of the routine you’re now using because you train the body over three days instead of two and you get only five days of rest between workouts for each bodypart instead of seven.

If you feel that you need seven days of rest between bodypart hits but you still want to try the above routine, simply add more rest days. Train chest and arms on the first day, take the second day off, train legs on the third day, take two days off, and then train delts and back on the sixth day, followed by another day off. Repeat the cycle the following week. That’s the routine I follow when I begin training again after a competition. It provides plenty of recuperation, which enables me to train heavy and build more size during the off-season.

How much rest you require between training sessions for each bodypart usually depends on where you are as a bodybuilder. A beginner has yet to develop the neuromuscular efficiency that’s so important in training the muscles with intensity. A novice trainer doesn’t have the ability to train as intensely as an advanced bodybuilder due to the nerve-to-muscle connection. That’s why a beginner can train each bodypart three times per week without fear of overtraining (provided you also keep the sets low).

As bodybuilders advance and become more efficient at increasing their training intensity, they require more recuperation time between workouts for each bodypart. That’s why I recommend training each bodypart once every seven days for an advanced bodybuilder who’s using heavy poundages and high intensity. An intermediate bodybuilder (someone who’s been training at least one or two years) will probably need four to five days of rest between bodyparts. Intermediates will be using heavier poundages and training the muscles more intensely than they did as beginners. Determine where you are, and set up your training program accordingly.

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Natural Mr. Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Visit his Web site at www.naturalolympia.com. You can write to him at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561, or call toll-free (800) 900-UNIV (8648). IM

About John Hansen

Naturally Huge

Q: I’ve been reading a lot about what I believe to be one of the major gain killers in natural bodybuilding: decompensation, or detraining. From what I’ve learned and also from what I’ve been noticing in my workouts, I can only conclude that when I train a muscle once a week, it recovers before I work it again. My muscles seem to decompensate after about the fifth day, so I end up spinning my wheels in terms of progress. If I add any intensity and/or volume, however, I’m exhausted all the time. That same thing happens if I train more often. My question is, How can I hit a bodypart often enough to keep it from detraining but at the same time keep my nervous system from overtraining?

A: Muscle recovery and recuperation are unique to each individual. Although factors such as nutrition, sleep, training experience and workout intensity play major roles in how much recuperation a bodybuilder requires, everyone must decide for him- or herself the ideal amount of time to take before training a muscle group again.

Unfortunately, you didn’t detail how you split up your body during a typical week of training, but it sounds as if you may be spreading your bodyparts over too many days. That can lead to too many days of rest.

Some bodybuilders prefer to train only one major muscle group each day and split their bodyparts up over six days. For example, they may train chest on Monday, quadriceps on Tuesday, shoulders on Wednesday, back on Thursday, arms on Friday and hamstrings on Saturday. I don’t like that because you’re forced to train every day, which doesn’t let the body as a whole get any rest. Anyone who’s done a very intense workout knows how important it is to rest the following day.

If you train every bodypart once every five days, you can split your body over three days and take the fourth day off. That’s a good method, and I can’t imagine the muscle decompensating after only five days.

It’s possible that you’re using the wrong exercises or not using enough resistance. Stick with the hard but effective exercises that require barbells and dumbbells’barbell squats, barbell rows, deadlifts, bench presses and incline presses (with barbells and dumbbells), military presses, barbell curls, dips, lying triceps extensions and so on. Those are best for building muscle mass and power. Selecting a weight that limits you to six to 10 reps will ensure that you train with enough intensity to stress the muscles.

If you’re doing the most effective exercises with the proper amount of resistance and you’re making an effort to increase the intensity each week by doing more repetitions with the same weight or using more weight for the same number of reps, your muscles will need at least five days of rest. You won’t need to worry about decompensation, only that the muscles are getting enough rest and recuperation before you hit them again.

If you’re an intermediate bodybuilder looking to gain more size and strength, try the following program. It has the same three-days-on/one-off split suggested above:

Day 1: Chest, arms, calves
Bench presses 4 x 6-10
Incline presses 3 x 6-8
Flyes 2-3 x 6-8
Lying triceps extensions 3 x 6-10
Dips 3 x 6-8
Barbell curls 3 x 6-10
Incline curls 2-3 x 6-8
Seated calf raises 4 x 8-15

Day 2: Abs, legs
Hanging knee raises 2-3 x 30
Crunches 2-3 x 30
Squats 4 x 6-10
Leg presses 3 x 8-12
Leg curls 3 x 6-10
Stiff-legged deadlifts 3 x 8-10

Day 3: Shoulders, back, calves
Military presses 3 x 6-10
Lateral raises 3 x 8-10
Barbell shrugs 3 x 6-10
Wide-grip chins 3 x 8-12
Barbell rows 3 x 6-10
Seated cable rows 3 x 8-10
Donkey calf raises 4 x 15-30

After three days of training you’ll have hit every major muscle group and be ready for a day of rest. When you resume training on the fifth day, the bodyparts you train will have had four days of rest.

If you discover that you’re feeling overtrained or overworked after your day off, you can add another day of recuperation. Train two days in a row, take a day of rest, train one more day and then take another day of rest. Your revised training routine would look something like this:

Day 1: Chest, arms, calves
Day 2: Legs, abs
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Shoulders, back, calves
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Cycle begins again
It’s possible to become overtrained if you don’t give your muscles enough time off before training them again or if you train too many days in a row before taking a day off. It’s also quite possible to undertrain by taking too much rest between sessions or by not training intensely enough. Try the above routine, give it 100 percent, and you should have no problem with the undertraining issue.

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Natural Mr. Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Visit his Web site at www .naturalolympia .com. You can write to him at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561, or call toll-free (800) 900-UNIV (8648). IM

About John Hansen

Naturally Huge

Q: I have a problem with my diet. I weigh 265 pounds at 6’2′, and I find it very difficult to eat 530 grams of protein a day. I get 275 to 300 grams per day, and I know that’s not enough to grow. I’m hoping you can give me an outline to go by. I look in books, but they usually discuss needs of people only up to 220 pounds. I want to eat enough to grow but still stay pretty lean so my midsection doesn’t get out of control. I’m pretty tight now, but I want to get up to 320 pounds so I can cut back down to 280. I am 100 percent natural, and I only take ZMA and creatine. My chest is 51 1/2 inches, legs 29 inches, arms 19 inches and calves 18 inches. I realize that these dimensions aren’t good enough for my height.

A: First of all, I think it’s a fallacy that you need to eat more than 500 grams of protein a day in order to grow muscle; 530 grams of protein works out to two grams for each pound of bodyweight in your case. It would be very difficult to assimilate that much protein every day unless you’re using steroids. One of the benefits of steroids is that they aid in protein assimilation. Since you’re a natural bodybuilder, you don’t have that advantage.

I always recommend eating 1.25 to 1.5 grams of protein for each pound of bodyweight. If you weigh 265 pounds, you should be eating between 331 and 400 grams of protein. If you eat six meals a day’which you should be doing’you’d need approximately 55 grams of protein at each meal to hit 331 grams per day. If you’re having trouble getting that much protein, try adding a few protein drinks to your daily diet. Two scoops of Pro-Fusion protein powder supply 45 grams of high-quality micellar-casein, whey and egg protein that you could easily drink between meals.

Once you’ve met your protein requirements, make sure the rest of your diet is up to standard. If you’re trying to gain more size, you need to eat plenty of complex carbohydrates. Foods such as potatoes, rice, oatmeal, oat bran, pasta and bread will provide the calories you need to pack on some muscle.

I recommend eating between two and 2.5 grams of carbohydrates for each pound of bodyweight. In your case you should be eating 530 to 662 grams of carbohydrates each day. If you’re trying to stay lean while you gain bodyweight, you can adjust your carbohydrate intake according to your energy needs. Eat fewer carbs on your off days and more on your training days.

You contradicted yourself when you said you want to get up to 320 pounds (a gain of 55 pounds) but still want to stay lean as you get bigger. If you gain that much weight, you’ll definitely gain some fat in the process. If you want to stay lean as you gain muscle, it’ll be a much slower progression.

Adding 10 pounds of lean muscle tissue will make you look much bigger than adding 55 pounds of fat and muscle. You’ll definitely be bigger by gaining 55 pounds, but you’ll look bigger by staying lean and gaining 10 to 15 pounds of muscle. It all depends on what you want to do. I suggest you figure out how many calories you need to slowly gain muscle without adding too much bodyfat. I believe that a little bodyfat is acceptable when you’re gaining muscle; however, you don’t want to keep adding more and more bodyfat as you attempt to add muscle mass.

Let’s look at the numbers we’ve put together so far. If you eat 331 grams of protein, that will be 1,324 calories (four calories per gram of protein x 331). If you eat two grams of carbohydrates for each pound of bodyweight, that will be 2,120 calories (four calories per gram of carbohydrates x 530). Add another 60 grams of fat, both from essential fats such as flaxseed oil and from foods such as beef and fish, and you can add another 540 calories to the total (nine calories per gram of fat x 60). That adds up to approximately 4,000 calories per day.

If you ate 4,000 calories per day, with 1,324 grams of protein, 2,120 grams of carbohydrates and 60 grams of fat, that breaks down to 33 percent protein, 53 percent carbohydrates and 14 percent fat. Give that diet a try and see what happens. If you find that you’re putting on too much fat, you could decrease your calories while maintaining the same amount of protein. Just cut back slightly on your carbohydrate intake, especially on your low-activity days. ALL Q: I’m 24 years old, 5’10’ and weigh 200 pounds. I work out four days a week’two on/one off, two on/two off. I eat six well-balanced meals, including protein bars, and supplement with whey protein and creatine. I’ve made some impressive gains with these supplements. My workout partner, who’s the same age and height and was the same weight, is getting bigger than ever. We work out the same and eat exactly the same thing. I told him that I want to make bigger gains, the way he’s doing, and he said to get off the supplements and start taking Equabuterol or D-bol [Dianabol, or methandrostenolone]. Equabuterol is what he uses. He said that it’s a legal steroid used for horses that has no side effects in humans. Here are my questions: Is that true? What are these products? Are they safe, and should I try them? Will they produce the big body I’m looking for? Should I tell him that he’s full of crap or not? He is making huge gains.

A: Let me ask you something. If a steroid is designed to make a horse bigger and stronger, how in the world could you possibly think it’s safe for a human being to take the same drug and experience no side effects? What your workout partner is doing is taking a steroid (and no, it’s not legal) that is basically an artificial form of testosterone, the predominately male hormone that is responsible for muscle mass and strength gains. The reason he’s making such great progress is that he’s got more testosterone than you could possibly produce naturally, thanks to the drugs.

Your partner is definitely mistaken if he thinks that these powerful drugs won’t produce any side effects. As IRONMAN publisher John Balik is fond of saying, ‘There’s no free lunch.’ In other words, you can’t just take a ‘magic pill’ and expect to get bigger and stronger without any consequences.

The common side effects of anabolic steroids are kidney and liver damage, increased LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), decreased HDL cholesterol (the good kind), water retention, possible male-pattern baldness and gynecomastia. In general, taking an outside source of testosterone will disrupt your hormonal levels, and many of the short-term side effects take place when your body tries to keep everything in balance.

So, to answer your question: Yes, these drugs will work for you just as they do for your partner, but not without side effects. Most side effects from anabolic steroids are dose- and frequency-related. In other words, the more you take and the longer you take them, the more you increase your risk of health-related consequences.

In my opinion, as a natural bodybuilder you should keep doing what you’ve been doing. You said you’re making good progress. I say, stay with that game plan and continue to progress naturally. That way you can be assured that the muscle mass you add to your frame is yours and yours alone’not a result of artificial hormones that you’re pumping into your body.

I realize that it’s frustrating to watch your training partner pass you up in size and strength gains, but you have to understand where that progress is coming from. Once he stops taking the drugs (and he will have to stop eventually), he’ll lose the size and strength that he acquired while he was on them. In fact, he might actually go through a period of lower-than-normal testosterone output, depending on how long he continues to take the drugs.

I’ve said it before in this space, but I’ll say it again. The real purpose of bodybuilding is to create a new body through weight training, nutrition and supplementation. You’re not only developing your physique, but you’re building your health and longevity as well. Any drugs that accelerate the process take away from the whole idea of bodybuilding. You’re on the right track by building your body naturally. Keep up the great work and follow your own path. Years from now you’ll be glad you did.

Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Natural Mr. Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Visit his Web site at www .naturalolympia.com. You can write to him at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561, or call toll-free 1-800-900-UNIV (8648). IM

About John Hansen

Naturally Huge

Q: I’m currently 200 to 210 pounds at 5’11’, but only six months ago I was 280 pounds. I started lifting a year ago, trying all sorts of routines. I never found the right one for me. The problem now is that I look like a lineman. I feel I need to be 170 pounds in order to see some definition. I have decent arms but no real peak. My legs are almost fat free and vascular. My gut is nowhere near a six-pack, but my delts and traps are coming in nicely. I eat six times a day and do cardio. All my max poundages have gone down since I started dieting, but all I did was cut out junk food and start using meal-replacement bars and shakes and eating tons of meat and veggies. What’s a good shopping list for supplements? What products should I buy and when should I take them? Are pro-hormones worth the money? I really need a speed boost. I hate my body, and I would love to be able to wear a tank top. No shirt is out of the question.

A: Congratulations on your huge weight loss in the past six months. Unfortunately, you may have sacrificed some muscle in your rush to lose weight. How much muscle vs. fat you lose on a reduced-calorie diet depends on the type of diet you use and what type of exercise program you follow.

You didn’t really go into detail about what foods you’re eating on your new diet. You mentioned that you’ve eliminated junk food and replaced it with meal-replacement bars, shakes and a ton of meat and veggies. I think you need to focus on the foods that you eat every day before worrying about what supplements to take.

Instead of shopping at the health-food store, let’s go to the grocery store first. It takes more than meat and vegetables to maintain your muscle tissue while you lose bodyfat. Extreme low-carb diets don’t work in the long term for most bodybuilders. You need to eat a balance of high-quality protein foods, complex, fibrous carbohydrates and essential fats. The fact that your workout poundages have dropped indicates to me that you’ve definitely lost some muscle.

Let’s concentrate on protein first. Pick up some eggs’lots of them. I normally eat 10 to 12 eggs every morning for breakfast. I’ll have one to two whole eggs, and the rest will be egg whites.

Now, push your shopping cart over to the meat section. Pick out some high-protein, lowfat foods such as chicken breasts, extra-lean ground turkey, flank steak and some coldwater fish that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon or mackerel). That should satisfy your protein needs. Carbohydrates are next. You need carbs that are high in fiber so they’ll be digested slowly and provide you with a sustained release of energy. Pick up some oatmeal (make sure it’s just oatmeal, not the kind with added sugar), oat bran, sweet potatoes, brown rice’and don’t forget those veggies. I usually buy romaine lettuce, carrots and broccoli for salads.

I also like chili, believe it or not, while I’m dieting. You’ll probably find some all-natural turkey chili that’s low in fat, high in fiber and protein and contains no artificial ingredients.

I add some simple sugars, such as blueberries and bananas, to my shopping cart. I use the blueberries on top of my oatmeal and oat bran, and I add half a banana to my protein drinks. I also pick up some pineapple juice for breakfast. When I’m dieting, I limit myself to only half a cup, but that little bit of sugar gets me going in the morning and helps me digest those tasty egg whites.

Putting it all together, here’s a sample of what I would eat while trying to lose bodyfat:
Breakfast: 1 egg, 10 egg whites, 1 cup oatmeal, 3/4 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup pineapple juice.
Protein drink: 2 cups water, 2 servings Pro-Fusion protein powder, 1/2 banana, 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil.
Lunch: 4-5 ounces extra-lean turkey breast, 1 cup brown rice, 1 cup of lowfat turkey chili.

Midafternoon: Meal replacement drink (2 cups water, Muscle Meals meal replacement, 1/2 banana), 1/2 cup oat bran with 1/2 cup blueberries. Postworkout drink: three scoops of RecoverX with two servings of CreaSol creatine.

Dinner: 4 ounces flank steak or salmon, vegetable salad made with romaine lettuce, broccoli and carrots, 2 tablespoons fat-free dressing. That provides me with plenty of calories, protein, carbs and essential fats to lose bodyfat while still retaining my muscle mass. It also supplies me with enough energy to power through my heavy workouts and enough nutrients to help me recuperate from those training sessions; however, the calorie total of that diet is below what I would need to gain or even maintain my bodyweight. As a result, I lose fat. ALL I often suggest counting all your calories when you’re attempting to gain or lose weight. By counting everything you eat on a daily basis, you know exactly how many calories you need to eat to lose bodyfat slowly without losing muscle tissue. To diet any other way is merely guessing and almost certain to fail.

As for supplements, there are quite a few that I think are very important for building muscle mass and losing bodyfat. Protein powders such as Pro-Fusion and meal replacements such as Muscle Meals are ideal because they provide a combination of whey, micellar casein and egg proteins to ensure the best assimilation of amino acids.

A postworkout supplement such as RecoverX is absolutely invaluable for taking advantage of the anabolic window that occurs immediately following an intense training session. I also add creatine and ribose to my after workout menu. [Note: See IRONMAN Research Team on page 120 for a special deal on that triple-threat postworkout blast.]

If you’re trying to lose bodyfat, you could also try a fat-burning supplement such as Hydroxycut. It won’t take the place of a good diet, but it does help when used in conjunction with one.

I also get plenty of glutamine in my diet. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the muscle cell, and it helps build the immune system. I take the peptide form before and after my workouts as well as when I wake up and go to bed. It really helps preserve muscle mass while dieting to lose bodyfat. [Note: Pro-Fusion and Muscle Meals contain glutamine peptides.]

In general, I think you need to add more real food to your diet to help build your muscle mass while you continue to diet to lose bodyfat. Cut down on the bars and shakes and replace them with egg whites, turkey and brown rice. Your body will respond by adding more muscle and shedding more fat.

As for your training, continue to train heavy and hard. Don’t make the mistake of cutting back on your poundages in the belief that light training will help you add definition. If you do cardio, don’t do it more than three days per week. The combination of low calories and excessive cardio will eat up your muscle tissue faster than a bodybuilder wolfing down a deep-dish pizza after a contest.

Q: I’ve been lifting seriously for three years, but I’ve made only minimal gains. I’ve also been a vegetarian all that time. My question is, Do I need to eat meat to get big? I use supplements, as I’ve been told that as long as I get enough protein, meat isn’t an issue. I work out five to six days per week for 1 1/2 to two hours, and I do five sets of everything and keep it logged in a notebook.

A: You ask an interesting question. I’m not a vegetarian, so I can’t answer your question from experience, but I do know of a few bodybuilders who were able to build incredible physiques and win several big international titles as vegetarians.

The most famous vegetarian bodybuilder is the legendary Bill Pearl. Bill won the Mr. Universe title four times. His most noteworthy victory was at the ’71 NABBA Pro Mr. Universe in London, at the age of 41. Bill beat the Myth himself, Sergio Oliva, as well as Reg Park and Frank Zane. He weighed 242 pounds at a height of 5’10’, and his arms measured 21 inches. Bill also claimed that he was not using steroids for that competition since he’d stopped using them in ’61.

Another famous vegetarian bodybuilder is Andreas Cahling. Andreas competed in the late ’70s and early ’80s and was renowned for displaying incredible muscularity every time he stepped onstage. I saw Andreas win the IFBB Mr. International title, and I vividly remember his sharp definition. Andreas attributed a large part of his fat-free physique to his vegetarian lifestyle. Both Pearl and Cahling were lacto-ovo vegetarians, which means they ate eggs and dairy products as part of their bodybuilding diets. I think that’s important because eggs and dairy products are complete-protein foods’they contain all of the essential amino acids that are not supplied by the body. The only way to obtain the eight essential amino acids is through your diet. If you’re not eating foods from the meat or dairy food groups, you won’t be able to get any complete sources of protein from your diet.

If your diet allows you to include eggs and dairy products as well as protein powders and meal-replacement powders, I see no reason you can’t add a substantial amount of muscle mass to your physique. In order to get enough protein in your diet (1.25 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight), I include some type of complete-protein food with each meal. You could alternate eggs, egg whites, skim milk and protein powder. Red meat does offer some distinct nutritional advantages. In addition to being a great source of complete protein, it also offers plenty of iron, B vitamins and creatine. I usually include it in my diet every day, as do many other bodybuilders. The fact that Pearl and Cahling were vegetarians, however, should show you that it is possible to build a great physique without meat.

You mentioned that you’ve made only minimal gains the past three years. You should look at your workouts closely and see if that’s where the problem is. The initial stimulus for muscle, after all, comes from training. You need to keep adding more resistance. If the workouts aren’t intense enough, even the most perfect bodybuilding diet won’t add any new muscle tissue.

Begin by cutting down your training sessions from six to four days a week. That will enable you to recuperate better and make more gains. Remember, you grow during rest, not during training.

You said that you do five sets per exercise, but you didn’t say how many exercises you’re using for each bodypart or how many total sets you are performing. Concentrate on using the basic exercises for the fewest number of sets it takes to get the job done. The basic exercises give you more bang for the buck, so you don’t need to do endless sets.

The intensity you bring to each workout determines the amount of muscle you add to your frame. Many bodybuilders spend too much time looking for a magic supplement that will transform their physiques when they should be simply training harder.

Editor’s note: John Hansen is the ’98 Natural Mr. Olympia and a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Visit his Web site at www.naturalolympia.com. You can write to him at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561, or call toll-free 1-800-900-UNIV (8648). IM

About John Hansen

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