Friday, November 30, 2012

Adventures in Bodybuilding, Part 1

I am known among my friends to get excited, to be "into" stuff for  around three weeks. Whether its a new author or a new Metal group or a movie or TV show, usually three weeks is my interest span. I get real excited, then I get disappointed, then I say f@#k it. Never fails, three weeks. And then I usually say to myself, "Why did I like it or them or that thing so much?"

The exception has always been  lifting weights. I have never stopped lifting weights and even when I was into boxing or Thai Boxing, I always lifted weights no matter what. To me, it has always been my stress release, my get away, a challenge, fun, exhilarating, whatever. It is me, and has been since 7th grade. I was 12 when I started and I haven't stopped.

And I have done different types of lifting,but everyone started out in the late 70's and early 80's admiring Arnold and Franco and then Mentzer and Platz. And the Barbarian Brothers.

 They were bodybuilders, but even if the oiling up and posing turned you off, you didn't really think about it anyway. Those guys were real, with real personalities and they trained heavy and hard. And they trained with the basics. Squats and deadlifts, presses, very little machine work. It was a thrill to get the new Muscle and Fitness and see pictures of those guys training. Any word on Platz after the 1981 Olympia was a big deal. It was like magic reading about those guys, and seeing those pictures in the old Gold's Gym and World Gym. It was different back then. Weider had his bullshit supplements, but you weren't deluged by the NO2 Optimizer crap every page, and it wasn't about the nutrient timing or the carb loading or insulin timing or the weird stuff in today's game.

And Powerlifting? It didn't really exist in my circle. The first guy that I heard of was Kaz and then it was freaky reading about him also. And when I started looking at those guys , they trained similar to Arnold and the boys, lots of heavy basics. Lots of volume and hours in the gym. The only Powerlifting USA magazine that I saw was in my buddy Rick's basement, but it was strange, wasn't glossy, was in black and white, and nobody that I knew competed in powerlifting. And weightlifting wasn't even mentioned at all. You watched it in the Olympics but the guys were so fat, that we just thought it was a freak show. A weird, Russian thing.

So it was bodybuilding, but it wasn't like today. When I look at my old magazines, those guys look like real folks, folks who lifted weights and were massive, but you could still relate to them. Looking at Ronnie Coleman is to see an otherworldly being that aspiring to seems impossible.

And back then I loved bodybuilding, collected all the magazines, read everything that I could get my hands on. I am looking at the January 1982 issue of MuscleMag international right now, and Mike Mentzer is on the cover and he has stretch marks and no tan, he isn't faking it, he is training. And inside of it, Rocky Deferro is training arms in some ratty shirt. Real stuff.

I was thinking about this the other day, but back back then, nobody did CARDIO, as they do it today. The ate high protein and low carbs and lots of fat and once in awhile they re fed with carbs and then it was back to beef again. Rare ground beef in a lot of cases. And eggs. Some went for jogs,  but no treadmill or stairclimbers. And no, there weren't striations in their glutes. But they also didn't pull their trunks up like a thong to see their glutes. Now that's strange to me. Could you see Arnold doing that to his butt cheeks?

I competed in high school in the Teenage Mr. DC Bodybuilding show. It was a brutal thing to do. In three months I went from 218 to 169 pounds of bodyweight, dieting on blueberries and skim milk. The training split was 4 days a week, each bodypart trained twice in the week, 5 sets of 8 reps on everything. Front squats, stiff legged deadlifts, rows, stuff like that, curls with a barbell and dumbell. Damn, I was as miserable as I could be, suffering and weak as hell. I finished second, but I did have this tremendous feeling of accomplishment when I was done with the whole thing.

As the years went on, I still followed bodybuilding, but when Platz retired, it sorta lost its appeal to me, and then when I looked at a magazine a few years later, the guys were from another planet. I couldn't really relate.

But then in 2001, my wife, then girlfriend decided to do a bodybuilding show, so I trained with her, and I dieted down from the 240's to under 220. My intention was to do the show with her, but one day, I remember this so clearly, I was out walking my dog, and I thought, damn, this is so stupid! Why am I doing it? I bought trunks and everything and looked in the mirror and I felt so silly and thought that I looked like crap anyway, no matter what everyone else was saying, so I went out and bought a bag of Barbecue Frito's and some Oreo's and I went to powerlifting. Back to 268 pounds and having a blast.

But it always, always gnawed on me that I didn't finish out that show in 2001. It ate at me and has eaten at me ever since.

 And the years moved on. My bodyweight went up and down, depending on what I was training for at the time. I have been as high as 312 pounds, a miserable fat ass. I was pretty strong, though. But that is no way to live. You cant breath and everything is a monumental chore. I went down to 198 after that, using the Anabolic Diet. That took me about a year or so. Then back to 240, 260, 219, on and on. Usually low carb. I have always responded well to that, most people do, they just have to eat fat and not limit the fat, which is hard to get folks to understand. On the low carb I was eating bacon and eggs and steak and ground beef and cheese. My cholesterol was fine(if that matters) and my energy was through the roof. The Anabolic, to me , is genius stuff.

Every year, my family and I vacation on the Eastern Shore of Delaware, and I usually decide to drop some poundage like 4 weeks before we go. I am usually carrying too much bodyweight at the time and and it always gives me a goal, get in shape, some semblance of shape for the beach. Screw it, I am as vain as the next guy. So I usually drop my carbs and go to bed hungry and voila, it drops off of me at a pretty good pace.

This year, I started dieting at around 250-255 pounds, and the weight came off a little faster than usual, and I was enjoying my training, so I figured I would keep going. My body started shaping up some, and I started thinking, maybe I could revisit  a bodybuilding show one of these days. I took some pics and sent them to my friend Rich Salke who is a trainer and former great and he was encouraging. So I pushed the diet even harder.

I decided that I would eat when I was hungry, only when I was hungry. No, I didn't know that I was Intermittent Fasting.

 Some days, It was noon or even 2 o'clock before I ate anything. Then I would have a small protein meal and maybe a couple of beers(usually a couple of beers. All the time a couple of beers) and that would be it.  My calories were pretty low, for sure. But night time is when I get hungry, so that is when I ate. I didn't cut out carbs altogether like in the past. But it was still relatively low carb. I'd buy 3 McDonald's grilled chicken sandwiches and have them with no mayo or honey mustard, something like that would be a dinner. Or I would have chicken and broccoli with a small serving of rice and no sauce. Maybe two orders if I was hungry. If I felt like eating ice cream I did, but just once in awhile and not binging on it. Beer tastes better than ice cream anyway. I rode the exercise bike for 30 minutes a day or walked for 30 minutes a  day. Before I knew it, around September, I was under 240 for the first time in awhile.

In the weight room, I still squatted, benched, deadlifted , pressed, dipped, and bent over rowed. I did no machine work except a lat pull here or there. NONE. No Smith Machine with your feet at a certain angle to hit the Vastus or cable crossovers. I can't make make myself do that stuff anyway, its too boring. It's crap, and its all a myth and it's a joke.  Shape the muscle. Yeah, okay, you can do that, anatomy be damned!

Although I like the Yates Row. Not because its a great machine, but because Dorian used it.

I usually trained in the summer like this- Sunday-squats.multiple sets of 6. Did some 12's for awhile, but I lose my form, so 6x6 is much better for me. Monday- Presses and shoulder assistance.. Tuesday-Bench or Db bench and dips. Wednesday- deadlift or bent over row. Thursday off, and Friday arm stuff, usually extensions, more dips and dumbell and hammer curls. I have always disliked doing biceps, because my shoulders and forearms always take over and I have to go super light to get anything out of them. Off on Saturday. 15 sets a body part on the big stuff, 10 sets on arms, usually 6-12 reps on every set. I was feeling good, still dieting as the Fall came. Things were coming along.

Stay Tuned for Part 2

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.