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Rob's 2017 Contest Prep Thread


Congratulations Rob! You deserve it after all the hard work, this is the best thread on this site and I’m sure it’s a source of great inspiration and knowledge for many.


Thank you so much man, I really appreciate that!


@robstein for the win!

Thanks for showing us how it’s done. Biotest should do a feature on Stu and his athletes. Epic discipline and self control there.


Got back on here after the weekend, congrats on the win, bummer about the pro card (blah blah blah intrinsic motivation and all that haha) great showing and a great finale to a well put together log and prep.


@Basement_Gainz and @Despade thank you so much guys!!



Welcome to Rob’s Recipe Corner. We’ve brought you such hits as “egg white-cereal pancakes,” “bodybuilder chicken salad in the Vitamix” and “two-ingredient no carb protein muffins.” I am now proud to present what I feel is my greatest achievement, the Off-Season Pre Workout Cake!

Now that I’m in the off season, I have a little room to experiment and have some fun. This week I’m sticking with low carbs to even out from the weekend, so some carbs at breakfast, and then pre-workout. If you’ve been reading my log you know my typical pre-workout meal during prep is my cream of rice cakes. I also recently got into cold protein oats, and wondered if I could make a cake/brownie like item using similar ingredients. Yes. Yes I can. And it came out JUST. LIKE. CAKE. Not fake tasting stuff that you convince yourself tastes like real cake. I’m talkin’ about the real thing. Moist, chewy, cake goodness.

STEP 1 - make your proats
-1/2 (48g) organic rolled oats
-enough unsweetened almond milk to cover
-leave in fridge overnight

STEP 2 - add the rest when you’re ready to make your meal
-1 scoop Metabolic Drive Chocolate (gonna try Vanilla tomorrow)
-1TBSP nut butter (I used almond butter, but plan on incorporating some protein nut butters, like the Buff Bake stuff next week)
-15g peanut flour
-1tsp cocoa
-1TBSP liquid egg white
-1/2tsp baking soda
-(opt.) 0 cal sweetener, I used a stevia packet

STEP 3 - mix and microwave
-Pretty easy here. Mix it all together, mine took 2 minutes in the microwave.

Topped with 0cal Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup and a small handful of chocolate sea salt granola

MACROS: 460cal - 44c/42p/15f

Now that I’m in the off season, I can go back to enjoying healthy foods that contribute to my goals without going overboard, which, after a prep, really seems like feasting. I’m really not into binging and eating junk food (aside from the post show weekend of course), I just want to be able to eat large amounts of the good stuff. I ate 2,000 calories yesterday and it felt like 4,000. I’m not being super crazy strict prep-style, but I do keep a spreadsheet of everything I’m eating as I go through the day so I can make sure I keep cals under 2,000, and carbs capped at 70, which is where I was before the show. After things even out this weekend, I’ll slowly start adding more carbs next week.

This pre-workout cake is a great example of finding/making foods that fit your plan, help you achieve your goals and make you “feel” like you’re cheating, which at least for me, helps satisfy my needs and keeps me from going and scarfing down actual sugar filled cake, or feeling like I need to cheat. This pre-workout cake muscle gaining awesomeness.

I will say that starting in a couple weeks I will definitely plan on incorporating some legit cheat meals into my plan, probably one every couple weeks or something. A pizza, burger and fries, whatever it is, I’ve learned not to be food-phobic. As long as I plan for it, it’s all good. So if I decide I want to have a personal BBQ Chicken Bacon Pizza (what we got this weekend, incredible), I’ll just eat lightly during the day, smash legs or back or something, and enjoy my pizza without worrying about it.

Aside from this new amazing discovery, I’m slowly coming back to life and starting feeling normal again, it usually takes 2-3 weeks. Physically I have way more energy, mentally takes a little longer for the hormones to regulate and to feel “with it” all the time. Kind of hard to explain, but the feelings of normalcy are creeping back. Hit the gym hard yesterday for chest, quads and hams and it felt so good to have so much fuel in the tank. Going today for back and bis, and plan on training 5 days this week.

This week I’m going to do my usual split I did on my prep, and next week am going to start a new split, either 4 or 5 days, probably 5. I gotta figure out my program, I’ve been training arms twice a week for a year now so I may go back to hitting them once a week, and splitting up back into two sessions as I did last off season. So many possibilities!

Maple Syrup Strength (littlesleeper)

If I keep my calories below 2,000 I drop weight lol Man is bodybuilding shitty and unfair!!!


Hey Rob,

Looking back through your thread again a question came up. I asked you a while back about weight and sets and reps and to me it sounded like you would basically grab a weight and do 3x10-12 or 4x8-12 or whatever on something and keep the weight the same, with the first couple sets probably getting the full 12 reps with a few reps left in the tank but then the last set or so would be pushing pretty close to not being able to get the full 12 reps. But I came across your leg workout way back on January 8th where you seemed liked you kind of worked up to a single top set of a max weight for most exercises, even if the weight was only slightly higher than your first set or two.

Any rhyme or reason for that? Is that how a typical lifting day looks for you? I just realized I couldn’t find another workout breakdown that listed weights and sets like that post, I wouldn’t mind seeing another like that for any other bodyparts. I know you mentioned you were trying to increase your arm strength at one point, did you use more of a work up to a max weight approach for that?


@staystrong hey man, good question! Typically, for smaller single joint movements or isolation exercises, I do find my numbers for the day and ride them out during my working sets. If I’m feeling strong and can move up a little bit while keeping the tension where I want it, I’ll go for it. On bigger, more compound movements, sometimes I like to ramp up, typically with squat, leg press, incline bench (if I feel I can do it), or maybe rack pulls or lat pull downs, or seated DB presses. I like the challenge and as long as I feel I can keep the working muscle activated optimally, I don’t mind going up. Especially for an exercise that uses a lot of weight comparatively, like a squat, leg press, incline or seated press, etc., going up in smaller weight increments isn’t going to be as noticeable as say, doing a set of dumbbell curls with 35’s, then trying to go up to 40’s. Even though it’s just 5lbs it’s a big percentage increase for relatively small muscles, so while I could probably knock out a set or two, I’d probably be using more momentum than I’d like to and wouldn’t be isolating the bicep enough.

For arms specifically, I was doing a 5x5 approach for a bit on my first exercise of barbell bicep curls, or weighted dips and close grip bench, and I’d try to increase numbers if possible during the session, again only if I felt I could to it optimally while keeping tension where I want it. Another reason I don’t keep a journal anymore and like to auto-regulate. I know my typical numbers for my exercises, so I’ll warm up, use my previous numbers as a “starting point”, and if I’m feeling good and strong I’ll try to move up a bit. Some days you feel a little weaker and need to back off 5% or so to keep the muscle working, nothing wrong with that either.

Here’s an example from my last shoulder session a couple days ago:

  1. Seated DB Presses - warm ups, 60x12, 65x10, 65x8, 70x6 (felt good especially after extra food this weekend, didn’t expect to go up but it felt right.)

  2. Alternating DB front raises - 37.5x10, 37.5x10, 40x10 (same thing, felt good so moved up)

  3. Bent over DB rear lateral raises - 20x15, 20x15, 20x15

  4. Rear Pec Deck - 100x10, 110x8, 110x8

  5. 6 point DB raises - 2 sets AMRAP using 10lbs DB, usually between 10-12 reps.

Now that I’m not on prep and am in “off season” mode, this week I’m hitting it hard, and next week I’m going to have a new split, start favoring lower reps, start increasing food more and getting my strength up so I can add some size. I always respond well to switching up to lower reps/more strength combined with more food, I did that at the start of my last off season and had some great gains. I’ll post more about the new training protocol and such once I figure it out this weekend!


Happy Friday!

It’s been 6 days since the show, slowly starting to feel normal again physically, mentally still playing catch up. As I mentioned earlier it usually takes a few weeks for the hormones to regulate. I remember after my competitive season ended last year, after about 10-12 days turning to my wife and saying, “man, I can’t believe how much more normal I’m feeling today, I didn’t even realize I wasn’t feeling normal until today.” It’s such a slow and steady decline during the prep, and on the way back up it’s the same way, it’s not like you have a couple cheat meals and are back to normal. So, just enjoying the process, I know within another couple weeks I’ll feel like my usual self again. Physically though, I have a LOT more energy, I don’t have to psych myself to go up stairs, do errands, and normal daily living and moving around doesn’t hurt anymore or seem like an inconvenience lol.

Weighed myself for the first time in 6 days today, weight is still up more than I thought it would be, 153 today. I’ve been good this week, haven’t had any binges or anything, I did have a pretty good size meal at Whole Foods yesterday and a 240 cal pint of halo top at home. Just meat and veggies from the hot bar, but more food volume than I’d usually eat. But, after my pig out fest last weekend, it’s to be expected. Reading online about how competitors can gain anywhere from 10-25lbs in the week after the show, so I’d consider my current situation to be not too bad. I’m sure I gained a pound or two of fat, but the majority of the weight is water, and after a contest it can take up to 2-3 weeks to lose the water retention depending on the individual.

After my first show 8 weeks ago, I only had the post show meal and some snacks at night, the very next day I was back on my prep plan and it took 10 days for my scale weight to get back down to where it was. After the show last weekend with the addition of my Sunday pizza-fest, I’m sure it’ll take a little longer.

So, I’m not gonna worry about it, going to keep on the nutrition, still slowly start adding food/carbs, make sure I’m drinking plenty of water and not binge, and I’m sure over the next week I’ll continue to lose the water. Shoulders and arms are still pretty tight and vascular but especially in the mid section/abs, looking blurry.

Have a good weekend all!


Had some great workouts the past couple of days, strength has been way up! It feels so good to be enjoying training again, and having gas in the tank to really kill it. I trained every day this week in the gym except for one off day on Wednesday, did a few LISS cardio sessions, good opportunity to get ready to change programs and make use of all the extra food I’ve been eating. It’s not a ton, but the body is so sensitive after a contest prep. I haven’t been super prep strict this week, but I haven’t binged, and am just eating larger quantities of healthy food, with some halo top every now and then of course, keeping calories at 2000-2100 depending on the day. I think it’s important to let your body start recovering post contest and get more food in there, some people take a week or so off the gym after a show. There are certainly benefits to that, but in my opinion adding more food plus stopping training will potentially add more fat than keeping the training up, for me it definitely will.

Weight/bloating is going down, down 3lbs from yesterday, abs are reappearing again and looking/feeling leaner. I’m anticipating another week maybe before it’s all out, I’m hoping to settle around 145-146 by next weekend. I’m thinking that 155 would be my ideal maintanence, but I definitely want to add some size slowly and steadily. So, if I get to 160 that’d be fine, but I may pull back to 155-156 if I get that high.


Hey Rob,

I just had a small question for you.

Where do you fall in terms of meal frequency or duration between meals? Do you not have any qualms so long as at the end of the day the macros are hit or do you split your meals up into 6 small ones or eat every x hours?

Love to hear your thoughts!



@pitbull97 - I hope all is well with you man! Regarding your question, I think the “get all your macros by end of the day” is most important, but is very basic, and there are definitely advantages to finding the best meal/nutrient timing that works for you, your schedule, metabolism, etc.

“All your macros by end of the day” I think does have some flaws. For example, I don’t think it would be optimal to have one or two big meals a day, as your body probably wouldn’t be processing everything most efficiently. I think the whole “30g of protein at once” isn’t accurate and you can handle more, but IMO 5-6 feedings of 30-40g protein per day is far superior to two feedings of 80-100g protein per day for satiety, and muscle repair/growth.

Ultimately, I think splitting up your macros into 5-6 meals is ideal, because it allows a steady supply of energy to your brain, body and muscle repair/growth and allows you to eat roughly every 3 hours or so. How often you eat is up to you and depends on what works best for your schedule and body. Personally eating every 3 hours for me works well, I can stretch it to 4 if I have a big meal.

If eating 3 or 4 meals a day works for you, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that and ultimately won’t make much a difference in body composition compared to 5 or 6 meals. But, you may find you function better on more frequent smaller feedings, or larger, less frequent feedings. For me personally, in the prep season I like 6 meals. Off season I can swing 5 meals because they’re bigger as I have more cals to play with, but personally I need a least 5 meals a day, 6 is my sweet spot.

Hoe this helps man please let me know if I can elaborate further!


It’s amazing how quickly strength starts coming back in the gym. This week I’ve had great workouts, yesterday I was setting PR’s on chest with incline DB press and flat plate loaded press. Typically I DB incline press between 90’s and 105’s for my working sets. By the end of the prep two weeks ago I was incline pressing 75’s, sometimes 80’s, because the strength and energy just wasn’t there. Strength was solid through most of the prep but the last few weeks when body fat, carbs and cals got very low, it took a dive. No glycogen, totally running on fumes. Yesterday I did 5 working sets, and was able to get my last 3 sets of 8 with 100’s and it felt great. It’s just awesome to be back in the gym, enjoying training, feeling the pump again and like I can move some serious weight, with plenty of gas in the tank.

For this week I’ve settled on 2,000 cals a day split up between 6 meals, and it really feels like a feast compared to what I was doing. Carbs are at 160. Here’s my typical daily menu:

1. Egg whites, bacon, veggies, 2 pieces of Dave’s Killer Powerseed Toast with fat free cream cheese and sugar free jelly

2. Bowl of hot ezekiel cereal, either with some peanut butter and cottage cheese, or a chicken sausage

3. Big ass turkey salad

4. Pre workout meal - the oatmeal cake I posted earlier, consisting of oats, Metabolic Drive protein, nut butter, little baking soda and some egg white, usually topped with sugar free jelly. So good, filling, and fuels me up right. If the schedule requires something quicker, Finibars!

5. Meat and veggies with 1/2 cup brown rice

6. Protein muffin - 2TBSP almond butter, 1 scoop Metabolic Drive protein, plus 4 Flameout

Takes me to 2000 cals, 194p, 160c and 55f

Last off season I was able to make my way up to 2,400 cals and about 300g carbs a day while maintaining weight and abs, so I’d like to make my way back up there. For now, it’s a slow and steady ride there, but I already feel SO MUCH better, I don’t mind waiting, and getting there too quickly would add way too much fat at this point.

Mentally still slowly getting back to normal, but much better physically, and it just feels great to be feeling more “alive” again, have more emotions and not be so dulled, and enjoying not obsessing about prepping. Prepping for a show really does take over your life, and your brain. Especially as the show gets closer, it’s all you think about. So, it’s nice to be able to focus mentally on my wife, my pups, my family, my career and just enjoying life. Last year as soon as I stepped off stage I knew I was competing again this year. It was well worth it to have such an intense and regulated off season, my 2017 was much more productive, efficient and rewarding because of it. Currently, while I’m not sure if/when I’ll compete again, I do know it won’t be for at least a couple of years, just feels good to not be worrying about it, eating healthy, training hard and staying lean because I enjoy it, rather than feeling any sense of obligation.


I just wanna chime in that some people are much more subjective to fluctuations in blood sugar levels. If I don’t eat frequently, I can actually get a bit woozy and downright irritable as a result. Now realize that all the available science (as limited as it is mind you) points to there being no real difference in terms of meal #s or timing (“don’t eat before bed or you’ll get fat!”), BUT in the real world, you will notice how such approaches can affect you quite noticeably.



Dude I couldn’t agree more! The exhaustion of just getting them into place deep into a prep sucks so bad!


First off, congrats on the show. You were ridiculous looking. What are the dumbell /barbell movements you feel do the job of best building the targeted muscle? All I have are dumbbells/barbells and I’m curious what I might have overlooked, or am possibly performing incorrectly. Thanks in advance.


In your opinion, what is your best/ favorites splits to add size ?
How frequency influence your progress ? (mainly on off season)
Do you prefer standards BB programs or stuff like PPL and high frequency?
Thanks for sharing all of this man


@eric_reichelt and @humblelifter thanks for posting guys! I’m sorry I haven’t had time to respond yet, I want to make sure I give thorough enough answers and I’ve been crazy busy catching up on my music. Just wanted to let you know I saw your posts and will get back to you ASAP!


@eric_reichelt thank you very much man! Regarding your question on dumbbell/barbell, happy to offer my input. Personally I don’t use a barbell anymore for anything other than squatting, and sometimes rack pulls. I used to do a lot of barbell military pressing and benching, and eventually starting experiencing some shoulder impingement pain and finger numbness. So, I stopped there, and moved to dumbbells for all of my free weight movements. I like dumbbells better because:
-Works limbs individually, harder for one side to take over.
-The hands aren’t in a fixed position like they are on a barbell, so you can really manipulate the movement to make sure you’re contracting your muscles and getting a good MMC. For example on barbell bench, as you push up you can’t really contract your pecs at the top, versus if I’m using dumbbells or a hammerstrength type machine, the hands will come closer together at the top, getting a better squeeze and pump in the pecs. I think for developing a muscle for bodybuilding purposes, dumbbells are a better tool than barbell. Not like you can’t build muscle using a barbell, I just think dumbbells have advantages.

Alright, now that’s out of the way, if you’re limited to barbells and dumbbells, hopefully you have a bench also? I’ll list some exercises I like using that equipment that I feel does a good job developing the targeted muscle, there are of course others but I’ll list my preferences. Also, keep in mind what will ultimately determine if you’ll build muscle with these exercises or not will be your execution of them, maintaining a good MMC, training with intensity and supporting your growth with optimal nutrition and recovery.

Chest - on pressing movements I typically stop just before lockout and maintain a brief pause and squeeze, making sure I’m keeping the tension in my pecs. If you lock the arms out straight at the top tension will transfer more to elbows and shoulders, and you won’t be maximizing TUT for your pecs.
-Incline barbell or dumbbell presses
-Flat barbell or dumbbell presses
-power flyes (I personally don’t like doing full extended arm flyes with dumbbells, I’ll do them with cables though.)
-floor press

-barbell rows, I usually alternate pronated and supinated each session- really make sure to initiate the movement with the back and not the arms
-1 arm dumbbell rows
-chest supported dumbbell rows
-rack pulls

-Seated dumbbell press
-dumbbell clean and press
-upright rows
-front raises - alternate hands pronated and neutral position
-lateral raises
-leaning 1 arm lateral raises
-bent over rear lat raises
-6 point raises for a finisher

-barbell curls - can play with hand width, like hands in front of shoulders, or wider grip
-dumbbell curls
-concentration curls
-seated incline dumbbell curls
-seated top half barbell curls - sit on the edge of the bench with a barbell resting on your lap with arms at 90 degrees, and perform the top half of a curl with a big squeeze. Come down, lightly rest the barbell on the lap, and repeat.
-reverse curls
-hammer curls
-cross body curls

-close grip barbell bench
-kick backs
-decline bench dumbbell extensions
-overhead 1 arm dumbbell extensions

-barbell squats
-lunge variations - forward, back, side, walking lunges with barbell overhead, on your back, or dumbbells in your hands
-bulgarian split squat

Again, these are just my favorites. Hope this helps!

@humblelifter - thanks for posting! If the main goal is to add size, I like a 5 day split, with 2 off days for recovery/growth. It’s extremely important to give ample enough recovery time in a growth phase, because that’s when the body grows! Any way you like to split up the muscles are fine, you could do something like:

  1. Chest
  2. Back
  3. Off
  4. Delts, abs and calves
  5. Legs
  6. Arms
  7. Off

or if you have a specific area you’re trying to bring up, you could alter the split to train twice. For me it was arms all year, I’ve been training them twice a week for a year, so you could do something like:

  1. Chest and triceps
  2. Back and biceps
  3. off
  4. Delts, abs and calves
  5. Legs
  6. Arms
  7. Off

But again for adding size definitely a 4 or 5 day split, 5 is my preference.

I think if you’re trying to bring up a muscle group or groups, raising frequency is a great way to do it. Right from the beginning of my last off season in June, I started training shoulders and arms, and also back, twice a week and did that for 5 months, and once my prep started I continued training arms twice a week. I saw significant improvements in my back, shoulders, and arms in that time, and continued through my prep. So, I think raising frequency for a specific goal can be very beneficial. More isn’t always better, you still need to allow enough time for recovery. So, if you do train a muscle group directly twice in one week, ideally they’d be 3 or so days apart.

It’s also important to adjust your volume of each session, remembering the point of training is to recover from training which is when the growth happens. So, if you’re training back or shoulders twice a week, you can’t train them each session like you’re only training them once a week, with a lot of volume and potentially going to fail. So, if you’d normally have 15 working sets in a shoulder workout once a week, then maybe do 10-12 sets at most during the double sessions, totaling 20-24 sets. IMO increasing volume somewhat is a good thing and can lead to more growth, but if it’s too much to optimally recover from, you won’t see the benefits of the raised frequency.

For me this initially took some adjusting of my training intensity, because especially if you’ve been training long enough, sure you could go into the gym and work shoulders for two hours and still be able to move some weight around. But, the key is to know how much you need to do, execute with everything you’ve got, maximum intensity with great MMC, and then focus on nutrition and recovery. [quote=“humblelifter, post:628, topic:224871”]
Do you prefer standards BB programs or stuff like PPL and high frequency?
Personally I prefer a standard bodybuilding template, because it just works, provided you are training consistently and know how to train. By “know how to train”, I mean establishing a great MMC, really working the contracted muscle and actively improving, rather than just moving weight around. I am in no way discrediting other types of programs, I just like a regular bodybuilding split, modified as needed.

If I want to work on a specific muscle group, I’ll adjust the split or frequency of my training, go to a 6 day split, or 7 for a few weeks, etc. It’s important to make adjustments in phases and programming to make sure you keep progressing. For example during my prep I trained every day, and towards the last 4 weeks had to go down in weights because strength/energy was diving. Now prep is done, so now I’m moving to a 5 day split for more recovery, focusing on heavier weights, lots of 5x5 to start my sessions and keeping everything 8-10 reps at most for a little while. After 6-8 weeks of that I’ll make more adjustments to ensure progress, they might be changes in exercises, sequencing, rep ranges, frequency of different muscle groups, etc.

Hope this helps man, anything else I can blab about for a while please let me know!