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Rob's 2017 Contest Prep Thread


What are the chances! Thats awesome man.


Just caught up reading your thread, Congratulations on the drum corps!

Keep killing it


@robstein, you are able to jump into the RMP shit posting battle but you’re not able to update us on your training and travels? We’ve missed you, man…


@IronAndMetal thanks for the post man! LOL, I know I know, I was waiting until I had a decent chunk of time to post an update after the past couple weeks.

2 weeks on the road in CA, absolutely incredible and busy time, but had a great time running around with my bands out there, being in the CA weather, and had some awesome food experiences.

I was able to train almost every day I was there with the exception of 2 days that were just too busy, where I could have woke up at 5am to train but decided I needed to sleep instead. Every day was pretty intense, waking up around 7, rehearsal, gym then lunch, then rehearsal in the evening, and getting back to my hotel around midnight or later. The first week in So Cal I trained at a Fitness 19, not a ton of equipment but enough to get a good workout in, very clean and well kept and 3min from my hotel. $20 for a week pass. In Nor Cal I was in Morgan Hill, (where I met Flex Wheeler!), and trained at the Morgan Hill Athletic Club. Similar to the Fitness 19, quality equipment, small gym but enough to get it in. Since I usually went to the gym in the middle of the day it was never very crowded.

My first few days in So Cal I had to drive to San Diego from LA, about 2 hours each way but very beautiful drive. Breakfast was typically Finibars and Metabolic Drive, for lunch I found a place called “Flame Broilers” which is a healthy chain with a simple menu. Pick a protein, put it on rice, steamed veggies and salad, and pick small medium or large platter. I always got a big platter of either chicken or steak with white rice, steamed veggies and salad. Dinner was usually some Jimmy Johns, or out with my clients if there was time, and some Halo Top back at the hotel.

Nor Cal, breakfast was amazing, found a local coffeeshop that also made breakfast and lunch from scratch. Freshly ground pour over light roast coffee, with a ham, egg and cheese whole wheat crepe, added spinach and veggies, with a side bowl of fresh fruit, including bananas, strawberries and blueberries. Filling and set me up for a great morning of rehearsal with my group I was with there. I’d train during lunch, I had about 90 minute break, everything was really close to the school. Got my training in, then typically had lunch at Chipotle with a steak or chicken burrito bowl. Dinner was typically a big 'ol turkey, avocado and veggie sandwich from “Erik’s Deli”, or “Pho,” (pronounced “Fuh”) which I’ve never had before in NJ but is really filling, healthy and delicious. Broth with rice noodles and various cuts of meat, and a side plate of veggies to put in there. I usually got flank steak, brisket and beef tendon, which I’ve never had in soup before, but was really good and very high in protein. Typically tendon is super hard, but when cooked in broth for hours become gelatinous, chewy and very flavorful. And of course, Halo Top or Enlightened ice cream before bed.

Diet wise I’m back in a slight deficit and will run that until around New Years, giving myself room for family events and such. I went on a pretty strict diet for the 8 weeks before I left and lost a little over 10lbs, then for the past 3 weeks went into a rough maintenance with a definite surplus on some days, didn’t count calories, just focused on training hard and eating quality foods, which felt great. I haven’t weighed myself yet and probably won’t until next week after things even out a little from my trip, I catch up on sleep, drop any excess water I was definitely holding from travel stress, etc. I do look tighter/fuller/bigger as a result of more carbs and glycogen and definitely can see some solid improvements, I’ll be sure to get some new pics up shortly.

Training wise, I noticed I really enjoyed shorter work outs, as I was typically in a time crunch throughout the trip. My workouts never took more than an hour, and some cases were 40-45 minutes, which for me seems lightning fast, but I got it all done in that amount of time. I enjoy being in the gym and training for long periods of time, but I am noticing recovery wise I feel much better with shorter workouts.

Another training related note, I haven’t barbell squatted in a few months, and I feel so much better in the lower back and especially hips and piriformis. I still go to the chiropractor, but it’s more of a preventative maintenance now, less feeling like I need to. Since I stopped squatting, my piriformis and hip pain is gone, completely. Still hammering away at my leg workouts, just using different exercises that don’t stress my body as much, still making strength gains, but feel so much better.

Things I never do anymore that used to be staples in my program:
-Barbell bench press

When I started competing, I wasn’t barbell benching, but was doing rack pulls and squatting. After my first year of competing, I took out rack pulls but kept in squats throughout my second year of competing. I now have taken out all three of those, and can’t imagine ever putting them back because I just feel so much better without them, and can still get in everything I need to with other free weights, pin and plate loaded machines. Fortunately my gym is awesome and has a lot of machines and variety of angles, so I can hit everything I need to and feel great. Longevity and health are key. There is no trophy or physique worth constant pain, or surgery that could have been avoided. (Not to me at least, ask Ronnie Coleman and he’ll tell you differently.)

As I look ahead to next year, I still really want to step on stage, although truthfully, it’s looking more likely that I will not sport my posing trunks next year. My business, fortunately, is moving faster than ever, bigger and better opportunities, and I simply can’t prioritize cardio and micro managing a prep over my career and family. I’ve debated in my mind maybe considering putting on some board shorts instead, because after last year, I’m confident I could get into contest shape for physique without entering sufferville, especially if I can get to 150lbs before going into full lockdown mode. Last year I started my official prep at 153lbs, and in 7 weeks I was able to get very lean, down to 146lbs, without morning fasted cardio and keeping carbs relatively high (180g on a medium day and 350g on a high day), until the last 4 weeks before my first show, when I got down to 140lbs. Still considering that, and won’t really be sure until Jan/Feb when I have all of my writing clients solidified for 2018. Until then, I’m going to keep up with the diet and see if I can get down to 150 by Jan 1.


Would be epic to battle out in men’s physique with you! @robstein Glad you are killing it with your business :slight_smile:


Awesome, thanks for the detailed update, Rob! Being so busy with work isn’t a bad thing; I know when things are slow I’m always wishing for more work!

I’m interested in your upcoming weigh-in… I’ve been transitioning from defecit to slight surplus, accompanied by 2 sets of parents-as-houseguests, and all the cocurrent stress, and extra feasting that comes with having them around. I’ve ballooned quickly (in my mind), so I’m curious where you are when you stabilize.

Found these at the market, 4/$5, thought of your previous vacation-post:

So. Damn. Delicious.

Have an awesome week!


@joshbenjamin - Thanks man! As are you!

@FatKidfromFL - me too, lol. Going to weigh in tomorrow and see how far I have to go in the 7 weeks until New Years. I’m guessing I’m around 158.

Good and busy week, gym felt great and enjoyed some good meals out as well. Knowing tomorrow I’m right back on the prep-style diet, I wanted to feel ready. After 4 weeks of not dieting or doing cardio, I feel ready to hit it hard again for 7 weeks.

Plan of Attack
-Typical prep style diet, will have to lock it down to get under 150. I’m guessing I’m around 157-158 right now, so it should be very feasible to get under 150 in 7 weeks. I’ve just never been that lean in the off season, leanest I started prepping was last year at 153, but that was after basically doing the same thing I’m doing now. So, if I can get to 150 by New Years, that’ll be a new off season low and only 10lbs from stage weight.

I’m going to have the usual 5 meals a day. Carbs will be at breakfast, pre workout, and bed. On low days carbs will be pre workout and before bed only. If I need to cut carbs eventually, I’ll eliminate them totally from breakfast. I’ll be aiming for ~130g carbs a day. Last year I prepped successfully down to 147lbs at 180g carbs a day, but since I’m only doing this for 7 weeks and am not on a slow and steady prep, I don’t mind going more aggressive right away.

So, still carb cycling, with 4 medium days, 2 low day and a high day. The high day I’ll basically be doing a medium day, with a free meal in the evening and some halo top.

Cardio - last year I had a lot of success with some LISS post weights, 1 weekly HIIT workout, and a long cardio session on Sunday. I also hate cardio. So, I’m planning on doing as little as possible while keeping momentum going. This will consist of 20min LISS post weights 3x per week, 1 weekly HIIT workout, and a semi-fasted Sunday with no cardio. Here’s the plan:

Monday (Medium) - Chest, 20min LISS
Tuesday (Medium) - Back, calves
Wednesday (Medium) - Delts, abs, 20min LISS
Thursday (Low) - HIIT (8 intervals, followed by 15min LISS)
Friday (High) - Legs
Saturday (Medium) - Arms, 20min LISS
Sunday (Low) - OFF, NO CARDIO. P+F breakfast, couple servings of Mag-10 throughout the day, protein and veggie dinner, small serving of carbs before bed. ~1200 cals for the day.

I’ll make further adjustments if needed, but I think this will get the job done.

Rough macros will be 150c, 180p, 55f = 1800 cals

Meal 1 - 1 whole egg, 3/4 cup egg whites, veggies, ~30g carbs, either from Ezekiel bread, Van’s Lite Waffles, or fruit

Meal 2 - Big ass salad with either lunch meat or tuna, 1.5oz mixed nuts (cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts and Brazil nuts). Fortunately the grocery store near me sells this mix pre made.

Meal 3 - Pre workout - 1.5 Finibars microwaved, 1/2 scoop Metabolic Drive in unsweetened Almond Milk

Meal 4 - Post workout - Meat and veggies. Chicken thigh, ground turkey, lean steak, etc.

Meal 5 - Pre bed - “Blueberry Ice Cream” shake, or cottage cheese with some Metabolic Drive and Ezekiel Cereal.

Thought I’d post this food update as well. This was on my trip in CA, in San Jose my buddy took me to a place called the “Orchard City Kitchen”, one of the most epic food experiences ever, pricey but worth it! Incredibly delicious small plates meant for sharing, everything is top notch. We had:
-“BBB” (Biscuits, butter and bacon) This was a highlight!
-Roasted cauliflower
-Brisket burger and fries
-KFC (Korean fried chicken)
-“Midnight Run” dessert, peanut butter soft serve, candied bacon, chopped peanuts and bruleed bananas

A rare occasion when I let myself eat purely for taste. It felt, and tasted, so good.


Alright, the “prep” has started. While there’s no show coming up, I’m on a prep regimen until I get to 8-9% body fat, so this will probably go past New Years. I’m going to do it until I get to within 10lbs of stage weight, at which point I’ll be in a great place to either pull the trigger on a show, or just be ripped and enjoy it. Based on previous experience, ~148lbs is about 9% body fat, where I can get to without feeling too inconvenienced, wrecked, or hating life.

A little over a month ago I was 155lbs after dieting down from 165lbs. The 155lbs was relatively depleted of glycogen as I was low on carbs all week, except Fridays. Weighed in yesterday at 160lbs even, so up 5lbs in 4 weeks. I know a little bit of that is water/glycogen as I most definitely was not low carbs for the past 4 weeks, but I did eat clean and kept training hard. So, I’m assuming some of that is muscle as well. Even if just a pound or two is LBM, that would be excellent. In sticking with my cyclical bulking/cyclical dieting method, I know that after 7 weeks of cardio and low carbs, my body was ready to utilize more carbs well and enjoyed the extra recovery by removing cardio.

Yesterday was chest and cardio, strength was up and felt great.
Incline DB Presses - 95’s x12, 100’s x10, 105’s x8, 105’s x8
Low to high cables - 50 x15, 55x12, 55x12
Pec Deck - 110 x15, 120 x15, 130x12. I really go slow on the negative and have a hard squeeze at the peak of each rep.
Plate Loaded Hammer Strength flat press - 90 (each side) x8, 90 x8, 90x7

20min max incline treadmill walk at 3.0 pace.

Still looking fuller and tighter at 160 than I ever have, usually at this weight I’m fairly puffy. I’m very excited and interested to see the progress I’ve made since my last show as I continue to get leaner. From year 1 to 2 the progress was pretty surprising, I came in 8lbs lighter on stage but looked way bigger, and significantly brought up my back, shoulders and arms. After putting on 25lbs from May-October, and dieting back down, pumped to see what’s under the hood.

Breakfast today did something different for carbs with some pan fried potatoes. My wife got some from the farm the other day, just cut them up and sautéed in the pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Had them with 1 egg, a cup of egg whites, and fresh asparagus, peppers, broccoli and sprouts. Sugar free ketchup was perfect with the potatoes, 200g weighed pre cooking.

Today is back day, no cardio today.


Good back session yesterday, had a PR on lat pull downs and didn’t do cardio. Good stuff!

Weight is holding steady at 160, we’ll see what it looks like at the end of the week. I still have cardio, HIIT and a fasted day coming at me, usually takes my body a couple weeks to start moving along.

I’m thinking about trying a 24 hour fast on Sundays (well, Saturday night into Sunday night, 24 hours total.) I recently watched a documentary on Amazon Prime called “The Science of Fasting,” very interesting stuff backed by solid research. I highly recommend it, very informative. So, on Saturday night, I’ll eat dinner, and not eat again until Sunday night, drinking only water, black coffee and maybe some green tea. Could be a good protocol to do once a week, we’ll see how it goes!

Today is medium day, delts and cardio.


Technically IF. Some do 16/8, others 5/2. Usually the two are separated. Leangains is big on the IF. Interested to hear about your experience.


John Meadows seems to be into the once a week 24 hour fasts talks a bit more about here in this video.


John Meadows is putting out some incredible content right now.

Check out the videos he’s done with Dr. Eric Serrano.

EDIT: My bad - didn’t realise that actually was one of the videos with Serrano!


@The_Myth - Yeah I never thought I’d be into it, but the evidence seems very concrete that it’s good for the body. I don’t think I’d adopt a consistent daily IF schedule, but a 5/2 situation seems appealing, going to try on Sunday and see how it goes.

@ostij and @Yogi1 - Thanks for the info guys! Watched the entire video, great info.


Week 1 almost done, pretty typical week. Medium days Monday-Wednesday, and yesterday was low day HIIT day. HIIT felt surprisingly good (as good as HIIT can feel), had some caffeine free Brain Candy before hand and it definitely helped, felt much more ready to go and positive mindset throughout the session.

So far lost 1lb of scale weight, good for me so far, I expect to probably lose another .5-1 lb by end of the weekend. Ultimately, since I’m not in a time crunch, I don’t plan on digging in any more or making adjustments to this plan until I’m close to 150lbs. I know this plan works for me as it’s what I did last year during my prep, and if anything it should work a little faster as my carb intake is lower than it was last year.

Side note, it’s always funny to get a reminder than most people just have no idea what it’s like to get super lean, or how lean that really is. There’s a guy that goes to my gym, I’ve written about him here before, who came to me after floating around with two other guys who just didn’t have a grasp of how to get lean, for a natty at least. So, we’ve been working together about 10 weeks, he’s lost 20lbs of scale weight (the first 6lbs or so was definitely water), but is really looking great. He’s got a lot of muscle, and is probably sitting about 11-12% body fat right now. So, for the average gym goer, he’s jacked. Ready for the stage? Definitely not, still 12-13lbs to go I’m guessing. He’s learning that he’s not as close as he thought, but other people have been making comments lately as they tend to do when they see someone getting really lean. “So, you’re coaching this guy huh? Man, he looks amazing, another pound or two and he’ll be ready!” or, “Man he is shredded!” He certainly looks good, but definitely not near stage ready yet.

Another guy in the locker room asks me about competing, he’s probably sitting 13-14% body fat, and then he says “yeah I’m probably close to my competing weight now, another few pounds maybe.” I told him, politely, that he looks great but realistically is probably 20lbs from being stage ready, he couldn’t believe it. At that point, I tell them to feel their lower back, to pinch the upper arm at the top of the tricep, and remind them the goal is for your entire body to feel like the back of your hand. Eye opening for sure lol.

Not saying this to be discouraging, it’s just hard to realize what’s really necessary to look shredded until you do it. Same happened to me my first year competing, I figured at 150lbs I’d be ready, and it actually took another 10lbs after that!

Side note, got the confirm I’ll be going to the Baltimore Ravens game on Sunday, Dec 3. Wife and I are making a vacation out of it in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, another benefit of dieting without doing a prep for a contest right now, being able to go on vacations!


After trying this, i don’t think I’ve ever felt so not lean. That’s okay though, PL permabulk is calling my name


:smiley: it’s all relative brother! If you wanna look great compared to average folks, that’s one thing. The stage? Where people live and breath this shit and truly love and embrace knowing they suffered more than anyone else? That’s a whole 'nother world!

Even with the usual “experts,” personal trainers and even some coaches. I just had a client compete and I pushed him hard. He took 3rd in a tough open middleweight class. Flashback to a over a month ago and he emails me how another “prep coach” felt he already looked a week out and that because I didn’t, and was expecting more, he knew he was working with the right guy -lol.

Don’t jump in the deep end if you don’t know what swimming even looks like.



LOL, the only time this ever works is like a week out of a show, otherwise it’s just a test to see how bad you can feel about your conditioning lol. Enjoy the permabulk brother!

Yeah, it truly is! And ya can’t blame people for not knowing, the only folks who know really how hard it is to get shredded, and how lean you have to be to actually look shredded, are people who have done it. The guy I’m working with now that I wrote about, when we started he was 180, he figured by 160 he’d be there and he simply couldn’t, and wouldn’t believe me, when I told him it would more likely be at least 150 or even less. Currently he’s 159, and has learned a lot, and is now saying things like, “I’m still not even close but getting there,” tells me he’s more on the right track mentally.


Alright, one week down of the diet, went well, down 2lbs on the scale. The 24 hour fast went well, not at hard as I thought it would be, though I did start feeling some “keto brain” effects in the last 4 hours and was noticeably tired for a while, but then bounced back for the two or so hours until it was time to eat again. I went from 5pm Saturday to 5pm Sunday, having only water, green tea and black coffee w stevia. Mid way through Sunday I checked my weight and was at 156.4, didn’t get too excited since I knew it was mostly because I hadn’t eaten anything, but this morning was 158, so from my starting weight of 160 last week, down 2lbs.

This is pretty sweet, because Friday night I really enjoyed myself on my free meal. Met some family at a fancy Italian restaurant, my cousin works there so we got 50% off of the food bill, so I wasn’t not going to take advantage of it!

2 large grilled pork chops, roasted veggies and a broiled lobster tail:

Not pictured:
-Glass of red wine (first drink I’ve had in like a year)
-A few slices of bread with a little butter
-The Bruschetta sampler, which would not have passed a drug test, it was bruschetta on steroids. Big slices of delicious home made bread, melted butter and cheese, with various toppings, including balsamic filet mignon, grilled shrimp, and caprese style.
-The multiple desserts we got and all shared, including bruleed cheesecake and bread pudding with ice cream.

As it was my “free meal” on my high day I didn’t worry about it, also only had carbs pre workout that day to leave extra room. It was absolutely awesome, Saturday ate lightly and did the 24 hour fast through Sunday evening.

Wife and I both did the fast together, last night to end it we ate a half portion of a dinner platter from our favorite Greek place around the corner, which was grilled chicken, greek salad with sautéed peppers and onions, and some homemade bean soup. Ate that at 5pm, then at 8pm we had some Halo Top.

The fast wasn’t challenging, and it’s an enjoyable way to spend Friday-Saturday. Eat an enjoyable cheat meal on Friday, eat lightly Saturday with a fast, then have a large healthy meal Sunday and not worry about it. Going to try this again this weekend, might move everything up a day and try the fast the day after Thanksgiving.

Today is medium day, chest and 20min LISS.

Almost forgot! Found a new really tasty and clean snack, they make a few flavors. Salt and pepper, and chocolate, are my faves. I like to add these to my big salads to sub croutons, healthy fats, carbs and proteins:


What’s your fasting strategy as it relates to training? Are you trying to do the fasting during non-training day/time period only? Or would you do train at the end of the fast and then eat your big meal? I can’t foresee anyone wanting to train at the beginning of a fast and then not eat again for 20 hours…


Definitely on a non-training time period. On the day I start the fast, I’ll train. So Saturday, I’ll eat normally the first couple meals, hit the gym, and have a bigger than usual post workout meal. This past Saturday I had a clean but good size meal before the fast, about 800 cals, at 5pm. This made it easier to get through the rest of the night without being hungry. Then Sunday, I’m not doing too much physically; hanging around the house working, or going out with the wife, take a walk or some easy LISS, but not a typical training session.