T Nation

Leaning Out/Contest Prep Thread


As @The_Mighty_Stu said, drop sets are a great tool to get volume in without all the time straight sets take.

For me, I prefer doing supersets or giant sets. That way, I can do three exercise-sequences, three sets/rounds each and be done. It’s also more cardiovascular intensive, so it gives you a good sweat and makes you feel as though you’re wroking. Plus, it requires more work in a shorter time than you might be used to which causes adaptation in a different way. Here’s some examples of what I like to do with supersets/giant sets:


  1. Arnold Press, Lateral Raises, Bent-Over Rear Delt Lateral Raises (all dumbbell based)
  2. Front Raises, Upright Rows, Bent-Over Rear Delt Rows (all barbell based)


  1. Skull-Crushers, Close-Grip Bench w/ same weight, Barbell Curls (all barbell based)
  2. Bench Dips, Close-Grip Pushups, Curl variation


  1. Flyes, Presses (dumbbells)
  2. Presses, Pushups (although, you could just do dropsets on the presses)


  1. Pulldowns, Reverse-Grip Pulldowns/Pullups, Chinups
  2. Reverse-Grip Bent-Over Rows, Bent-Over Rows or vice-versa


  1. Squats, Romanian Deadlifts
  2. Lunges with right leg forward, lunges with left left forward, stiff legged deadlift with right leg only, stiff legged deadlift with right leg only

Obviously, combining back and chest onto the same day and supersetting those two is also a time saver and an awesome pump.

Whatever…I think I exhausted my own point.


Thank you all for the advice. Some stuff I currently do, and some I will give a try after vacation. As far as my physique, I know I could do well if I had the time, maybe I will in the future. I posted pics, but I’ve never taken a selfie and they were garbage. I’m hoping I have potential to look great, it’s just always been something I’ve wanted to achieve once.


I put the pic back up, it’s a few posts up. I’m 5’11 about 185 in that pic. Ive only just started lifting more along the lines of physique improvement. I will try to get better pics when I have a min.


I think you definitely have the potential to look like a bodybuilder.

I think if you are limited on time in the way you say you are and with limited equipment and not a lot of time per day to train you can definitely change your body and gain strength. You don’t need much to be in good shape, and that’s where you’re at now. Like Rob said or anyone who knows about this stuff would suggest, all you need is a bench, barbell, dumbbells, and a dip-chinup station. If I was in that situation, and I likely someday will be, I would follow a push-pull-legs routine trained over four to five days of the week.

So it would go like this:
Monday: Push
Tuesday: Pull
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Legs
Friday: Push
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off
Monday: Pull
Tuesday: Legs

Actually I am doing that split right now, but I am not limited to a home gym and I use the sequence of push-legs-pull.

I think this split is sort of in between an upper-lower split and a bro-split in terms of how bodybuilderish it is, so to speak.

I will reiterate that there’s a difference between being in very good shape and being a full-blown bodybuilder. There was a guy in the gym the other day who was telling me he wants to get bigger. I asked him, “Well, to what degree?” He replied, “What do you mean?”

“OK, there’s the sort of physique from which people can see you have a nice body with some muscle, and then there’s the sort of physique that makes people think, ‘Who the heck is that guy?’”

This same guy told me that before our conversation, when I was just a stranger to him and preparing for my show last summer, he and his nephew were wondering if I was an athlete or bodybuilder. So I went back to that example.

I think the best way for normal dudes who want to be in shape are those with flexibility, as the split I just mentioned, or an upper-lower split or if needed a two-times per week full body routine (bare minimum). I loved being a bodybuilder despite how so short-lived it was.


Thank you. After reading the last few posts I can see I’m on the right and only path more or less. I’m happy to be where I am physique wise, all things considered. I think when the kids are both in school I might see what I can do. On a side note, your story reminded me of myself in many ways. I remember meeting Gunther, ifbb pro, at a Detroit show in high school. He was guest posing. Huge dude.


I leave for Disney on the 19th of may, after that I’d like to get under 10% through the summer and hold that shape. Then slowly add food and get to about 190 as usual, but hopefully a more muscular 190.


Brick, there was a thread years back on here that laid out one posters view on how bodybuilders trained, a bible so to speak. It looks like for the most part your training for your prep matched that, with the one notable exception I could see is that thread was very clear in saying bodybuilders ramped every exercise to one or 2 all out blast sets, where your training recently for your prep you did not do that at all and stuck with straight sets for everything.

Given that that thread is many years old now, do you not agree with that threads viewpoint about ramping? Why or why not?

I apologize if it seems like I’m vague or my wording is weird, I’m not sure how much attention some posters I respect want brought to that thread/time period but I really wanted to see your current perspective and can’t PM you that I know of so this is the best way I could figure out.


That was actually my post with my old screen name.

I think either way works: ramp up to one or two sets to failure, or stop short of failure, and use short rat periods. I tried the latter, and it felt better and I progressed with more volume. But my sets were not set in stone. If I had enough after two sets of squats or RDL’s, I was done.

Like I said before, I started to train more like Jay Cutler and less like Dorian Yates.

Thanks for the post!


Hey Brickhead and Stu!! I made my T-Nation account after lurking this thread for your entire prep. I am SO impressed with Stu’s coaching and Brick’s dedication and physique!! You guys have inspired and motivated me!! I’m currently 207lb and 12% BF, cutting down to 8% so that I can bulk up to 11% and continue to stay in the 8-11% range. I have aspirations to compete and get my pro card in the next few years, and this was a great inspiration to me. Not only that, but it taught me a valuable lesson. That lesson was NOT TO WAIT TOO LONG to compete for the first time! I’m only 22 and I plan on stepping on stage at 24 for the first time! Bodybuilding is my entire life, and I have been lurking this forum lots, so I plan on getting to know both of you very well in the future! CONGRATS on the placing BRICK you guys are AMAZING!


Thank you very much! I wish you well. Feel free to ask all the questions you have or just to talk about all this. I’ve been quite busy lately with my first child born three weeks ago but I am going to try to post in this forum more when I can.


@samul This is my thread that I referred to in my response to you.


Yup, I have been reading through it since yesterday when you mentioned it :slight_smile:

Lots of interesting stuff, and congratulations on the tremendous job you and your coach did


This thread really is a great read. Brad has been a fan Of the sport since he was a kid, and despite his many degrees in sports nutrition, dietetics, and all the other very impressive papers he’s got on his wall, never went full bore into trying his hand at competing himself. So to see him finally take the plunge, find out all the real life realities, and see things work that internet “experts” scream about not working, and stare at himself in the mirror with that “first contest disbelief” where you can’t truly comprehend that you actually look like “that”,… well, it was pretty damn fun just to be along for the ride.



It was an amazing experience! And thank you!


Still cool walking by the trophies though eh? I used to pick one up on occasion,… look at it, feel the weight, and remember how it felt standing onstage, totally dead tired, but exhilarated at the same time, and being handed this shiny, hefty object as a symbol of my personal journey.



Yes! Now I can only remember the day. Other stuff to do now. Like, uh… take care of a kid. :slight_smile:


@BrickHead since your contest have people inquired about coaching via social media. Do you coach anyone? Is it something you actively pursue?


I am unsure if you have been keeping track of us, but Stu and I have been making podcasts, some that have been done with the T-nation forum member and classic physique competitor Arash Rahbar.

Stu coached me for my show and we’ve been friends for quite some time, so we have decided to coach people together and we are currently doing so. We thought that it would be better if we do all this together considering I am an RD with over a decade of experience and he has been coaching bodybuilders and professional athletes for quite some time. Going through a prep myself and getting shredded pieced together some pieces of the puzzle for me as well, considering no amount of other experience or education can take the place of that.


Thats awesome. During your prep were people contacting you? My friend is prepping for a show and people have been dm’ing him a lot asking about services. He thinks it is funny since he could not possibly do it now while focusing on his own programming.


It’s funny, and I don’t mean to answer for Brad here, but for people who don’t know anything about basic training and nutrition, contest prep aside, seeing someone who seemingly has the secret formula really catches their attention.