T Nation

EyeDentist, How Do You Train?

After some crazy update pics in a thread in GAL, everyone’s curious on your diet, training, and overall philosophy. Give us the rundown on how you achieved such an amazing physique as a natural and how you’ve perfected it over the years.

Training Age?
How you trained early on vs now
Diets you’ve tried and liked
Favorite Training Splits

you stole my idea!

He’s a doctor. That’s his secret sauce.

(all puns/references intended and meant in good jest, to be clear!)

I am truly flattered that people think enough of my physique to ask for a thread like this. Give me a day or two to collect my thoughts, and I’ll be happy to share my training history.

Definitely! One of the more noticeably impressive physiques on the forums IMO.


[quote]Yogi wrote:
you stole my idea![/quote]

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
I am truly flattered that people think enough of my physique to ask for a thread like this. Give me a day or two to collect my thoughts, and I’ll be happy to share my training history.[/quote]

Sweet man! You definitely deserve the recognition. Plus, as a fellow 6’+ natty, I have some vested interest in your methods :slight_smile:

Appreciate you taking the time to respond!


He looks like a friendly Terminator. Watch out, csulli.

Great thread idea. Thanks in advance, EyeDentist.

I think this will be worth the price of admission.

Yeah great idea Spidey.Yogi you were just to slow out of the gate buddy…

I’ll just leave this here. From the GAL check-in thread.

Rather than one long post, I think I’ll divvy it up into three, so folks can skip the parts they’re not interested in. This first one will be my general fitness (and fatness) history. Next, I’ll post about my lifting. Finally, I’ll post about my dieting. Apologies in advance if they all end up tl;dr (am I using that term correctly?).

I got my first set of weights when I was 14, but didn’t do much with them until I was 16. The weights were the plastic concrete-filled sort, along with the concrete-filled skinny metal bar (the ‘mature’ guys know what I’m talking about). The bench was a kit I assembled myself. I was a chunky kid who had discovered beer, and was well on my way to being a fat sloppy mess.

I was inspired to start lifting by a high-school friend who was a year older than me. He was HUGE–I mean, his arms must have been at least 16 inches, and they had a VEIN running down the biceps! I thought he was just this side of being Arnold. He told me I was getting too fat, and needed to do something about it (he was right). With his encouragement, my first w/o plan was a bro-classic–every other day I would do:

Bench: 10x10
Close-grip upright rows: 10x10 (a shoulder-destroying exercise I’ve been paying for ever since)
Curls: You guessed it, 10x10

And being a noob, I made nice gains with this, at least in the few muscle groups I was working. (Lats and triceps? What’s that?)
Around this same time, I read a Sports Illustrated article about Herschel Walker, who was tearing up college football at the time. In the article he mentioned doing 500 sit-ups/day, breaking them up by doing some during commercial breaks while watching TV. I decided to try this, and was soon knocking out 500 sit-ups every evening–3 sets of 100, 2 sets of 75, and one of 50, each done during a different commercial break. My abs responded well to this.

I started college, and my interests shifted from weightlifting to long-distance running. Before long, I looked like I do in this pic, which was taken in 1981, a couple of months before my 19th birthday. I weighed about 165# at the time.


At the end of that summer, my GF was looking to move on, and in a desperate act to keep her, I decided to start weightlifting again, thinking she might stay with me if I were more buff–a plan that was as unsuccessful as it was pathetic. But it helped me rediscover weightlifting, and soon I was hooked. Working out in a real (college) gym for the first time, I discovered Legs, Back, Triceps, etc. I lifted 6 days a week, and ate everything in sight. By the next summer I was a reasonably lean (maybe 15% BF?) ~200#, and was completely obsessed with lifting.

From age 20-25 I worked out like a maniac, and ended up a pretty big guy–254# with a ‘full house’ look (prob 20-25%–sorry, no pics). Except for a brief flirtation with the Cybergenics protocol (again, the older guys know what I’m talking about), I was what y’all would call a permabulker.

In the spring of 1989 I decided to drop some weight for my impending summer nuptials. (As an aside, we just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.) I continued to lift as before, but cut back on my eating, made healthier food choices, and started doing some sort of daily aerobic exercise (usually fast walking or stationary bike). Once my weight dropped below 225#, I started jogging again. I ended up in the 200-210 range, probably 12-15% BF, jogging and/or lifting every day. Had a good fitness thing going as I approached my 30th birthday.

Then my wife got pregnant. And I started to eat. And eat.

Every day was a junk-food binge. Whereas she had our son and quickly dropped the baby weight, I continued to eat and gain weight. I put on 30# seemingly overnight. Another 20 followed over the next few years, then 20 more in the years after that. The highest weight I ever saw on the scale was 272#, and as I was not exactly anxious to weigh myself in those days, my true heaviest might have been higher still. To this day, I cannot explain why I let myself go like that. I’m certain the only thing that kept me from tipping over into Type II diabetes is the fact that, through it all, I never stopped lifting and/or doing something aerobic on a daily basis.

Then the event that changed my life. Christmas 2005, I ran into a friend I had not seen since summer 1981 (ie, when I looked like I did in the pic above). She looked EXACTLY the same as she had that summer, and I was a fat mess who had gained 100+ pounds. I was mortified, and resolved that I was going to drop the weight. I lost ~30# in the spring of 2006 simply by not eating ridiculous amounts of junk food every day.

I then decided I’d be ripped at 225#, so I dieted a little harder and got there. I looked better, but ripped was nowhere in sight. OK then, I’ll drop to 210#–surely I’ll be ripped then. Uh, nope. But, I did look a whole lot better, and ended up staying in the 205-215 range for the next several years. (The pics are from Fall 2009; I think I weighed ~208 then.)



In the summer of 2011, shortly before my 49th birthday, I decided to make one final push for getting really lean. (Why? I don’t know. I was probably having a midlife crisis, and couldn’t afford a red sports car.) I felt like my old ‘just eat less’ approach couldn’t take me where I wanted to go, so I contacted a trainer who had been a BBer (at the local level) back in the day.

For ‘only’ $50, he gave me a copy of his top-secret prep diet, which consisted of eating ~1600 cals/d. By the fourth night I couldn’t sleep (elevated cortisol?), and knew this wasn’t going to work. That’s when I discovered TN and other BBing websites, and learned about carb cycling, macros, refeeds, etc (will go into detail in my Diet post). Three years later, here I am.

To anyone who actually made it through this ridiculously long post, thanks for hanging in there. Give me a day or so, and I’ll make a post (much shorter, I swear) about my training.


This is going to be so good.

And the pics are great.

Outstanding! & an easy read.

Great stuff!

Awesome! I can just tell I’m going to have so many questions but I’ll leave it until after you’ve finished.

Don’t worry about writing long posts! You write very well; they’re a pleasure to read.

Great read. Easy and fast. Cool. Excited for more

definitely interested. You have the look I’m aspiring for.

Many thanks for the kind and supportive responses above; I really appreciate it.

This post is about my training, both past and present. First the past. Once I got serious about lifting, I hit upon a few fundamentals that worked very well for me:

  1. a 3/1 split (ie, work everything once over three days, taking the fourth day off);
  2. perform 4-6 sets of 2-3 compound exercises (+/- a ‘finishing’ exercise) per bodypart;
  3. work in the 6-12 rep range (someone wrote on TN recently that ‘bodybuilding is the process of getting stronger in the 6-12 rep range;’ I couldn’t agree more);
  4. structure weight selection in ‘reverse pyramid’ fashion (ie, the first non-warmup set is the heaviest, and the weight is dropped on succeeding sets as needed to stay within the rep range);
  5. take every set to near-positive failure (ie, don’t rack until you can’t do another rep), and
  6. do 1-3 forced reps on the last 1-2 sets of each exercise.

The split I used (and which I would NOT recommend–more below) was:

Day 1: Chest and Back
Day 2: Legs and Shoulders
Day 3: Arms
Day 4: Off
Lather, rinse, repeat.

While I made great gains on this program, it had a significant flaw that I failed to recognize (until it was too late)–it seriously overstressed my biceps tendons. It’s so obvious in retrospect–heavy rowing and flies one day, heavy upright rows the next, heavy curls the day after that. It wasn’t long before I developed a nagging pain in my proximal forearms. However, because of its location, I (mis)interpreted the pain as brachioradialis irritation, and shrugged it off as a nuisance injury. Then, in the summer of 2001, while–of all things!–playing 4-Square with some kids at the church camp where my wife and I volunteer, I spiked the ball with my left hand, and felt a searing pain in that forearm. In an instant, I realized that:

  1. I had ruptured my distal biceps tendon;
  2. all those years of ‘brachioradialis’ pain had in fact been biceps tendonitis;
  3. my workout split had been absurdly biceps-intensive; and
  4. I was an idiot for not recognizing all of this prior to that moment.

While my left biceps tendon has done well post-repair, my right insertion aches still, and every workout-related decision must address the question ‘How will my biceps tendon respond to this?’ If I could go back in time and talk to young me…Other than correcting some awful fashion decisions (a Member’s Only jacket? Really?), and helping me step up my Game, I would implore me to use a more biceps-friendly split. (Not that I would have listened to an old guy like me, of course.)

Now the present. My thought process regarding workout programming changed dramatically after I did a 12-week program with John Meadows. He made me realize that a joint/tendon-friendly workout scheme is actually the opposite of the ‘heavy compound movement first, isolation finisher last’ approach I had followed for so long. Here is the blueprint I follow for each muscle group now:

  1. The purpose of the first exercise is to begin getting blood into the muscle without putting undo stress on the tendons and joints. To do this, an isolation exercise is employed, light loads are used, and the ROM is limited to the final third (ie, approaching the fully contracted position) portion of the movement. The stretched position is avoided at all costs. For example, my first chest exercise is the pec deck. The weight is very light, allowing me to easily complete 20-or-so reps. The pads never travel farther than 45 degrees away from the midline (ie, if you looked down on me from directly above, my upper arms would form a 90o angle with respect to one other). As I start feeling warmed up, I begin to emphasize holding and squeezing my pecs in the fully contracted position. I will pyramid the weight for 4 working sets, but never to the point where it feels like a ‘heavy’ exercise.

  2. The next exercise(s) is/are the ‘main course.’ It is a compound exercise, and the only portion of the workout that feels heavy (reps will be in the 8-12 range). It is also the exercise on which I will use intensification techniques (drop sets, rest/pause, etc). The ROM will be the middle third of the movement; the stretch position is (still) avoided to minimize the risk of injury, and the lockout position is avoided to keep continuous tension on the muscle. For Chest, this will be 4 sets of an incline movement and 4 sets of a decline movement. I do these on the Smith machine as it 1) allows me to precisely control the depth of the movement, and 2) frees me from balancing the bar, thereby allowing me to focus more on the movement itself.

  3. The purpose of the last exercise is twofold. First, it serves to drive as much blood as possible into the muscle; second, the now-fully-warmed-up muscle can (and should) be safely stretched by working throughout its FROM. For Chest, I use a bench-press machine that allows my hands to move back past my torso. The loads are light again (reps are 12-20 range), and I am careful to get a full stretch on every rep before accelerating the handles into the fully-contracted position, at which time I squeeze the muscles tight. Four sets, and done!

It seems I oversold my ability to keep the workout post brief! Apologies for the logorrhea. I’ll stop here for now, and make a separate post about the specific workouts (and conditioning/aerobics stuff) I’ve been doing during my cut.