T Nation

Rob's Road to Hercules: Contest Prep


#1


After reading the prep logs of so many outstanding competitors on this site, it's time to hop in the pool. I am prepping ultimately for the WNBF Hercules contest, a super pro-qualifier and a very competitive contest, the oldest natural show in the country. I'm hoping to earn my pro card in the bantamweight or lightweight division, and if the planets are aligned, maybe even the overall.

I'm extremely excited and fortunate to have one of the best in the business, the "Mighty" Stu Yellin, as my coach. While the Hercules contest is about 8 months away in June, we are working towards a WNBF regional contest in NJ as a "warm up show" at the end of March, so about 20 weeks out right now. It seems far, but I wanted as much time as possible to prepare for these contests and do whatever I can to not seem like a rookie on stage.

I've been prepping with Stu for what is now week 5 and we've already seen some great changes. Our goal right now is to maintain and increase calories/carbs while not adding excess adipose, so when I start cutting I hopefully won't be suffering too much as the contest gets closer. My weight has been consistent and steady over the past 5 weeks, but the physique is improving, and today we were able to ADD more carbs and overall cals moving forward, always a good thing!

I'll be posting regular updates, pics and thoughts as the prep continues, and will do my best to be as consistent as possible with this. I am a music teacher during the day, and also have a music writing business outside of that, so this contest prep is going to stretch my spare time to the minimum. I am an amateur with posing, and soon will be heading to meet with Stu to start working on that. I welcome all criticism, any advice is welcome and appreciated!

I've been a long time member of T-Nation, and supporter of Biotest supplements. This website has really had a significant impact on my life. After being a FFB with no exercise experience, I've been training seriously in the gym for just under 4 years now, after floundering around at home with some free weights and a pull up bar, and never would have thought I'd be getting on stage. This community of great competitors and athletes has motivated me to push myself further than I ever thought I could, and I look forward to the journey.

About to head to work, I'll be posting more details soon about training, supplementation, etc., and will do my best to update the thread consistently.

EDIT: Link to my 2017 prep log: https://forums.t-nation.com/t/robs-2017-contest-prep-thread/224871


Rob's 2017 Contest Prep Thread
Rob's Natty Bodybuilding Log / Q&A
#2

Good session today, definitely feeling the additional carbs working. Today was back, abs and calves, longest workout of the week and typically I feel pretty run down by the end, but felt good today. Ended with a nice PR in rack pulls, continuing a slow but consistent strength increase week to week. Tomorrow, Wednesday, is my off day, when I typically see my chiropractor after school, and enjoy spending time with my wife and dog. Low day tomorrow, so no carbs other than veggies, but plenty of calories, so they’re very manageable.

Right now for nutrition we are doing some carb cycling, trying to take advantage of the carbs around the training window, and keeping the carbs/overall calories as high as possible before the cut begins. Having added more carbs yesterday, even though it was a small addition, I could feel them working well during my session, energy and strength were up.

Right now I’m on a 4 day split and hope to keep that going as long as possible, knowing I may need to add in some HIIT/cardio days as the contests get closer.

Current supplements include:
Plazma - By far the best possible pre-peri workout supplementation out there.

Micro-PA - I started this about a year ago when I really got more into the bodybuilding style of training, and made it a priority to add mass. Within a few weeks I started noticing I was looking a little thicker, but more encouragingly, other folks did too, which gave me more confidence. Granted my training style changed also, which of course played a role, but I’m confident Micro-PA is working well.

Indigo - When I first started in the gym a few years ago I started taking a double dose of Indigo daily, to ensure all of the new carbs I was eating would be utilized well. It helped a LOT, and eventually about a year ago I stopped taking it once my supply ran out and just used Micro-PA. I recently started taking Indigo again as we’re trying to up my carbs as much as possible, and so far my conditioning has improved while my weight has remained the same. There are a multitude of things contributing to this, but after my experience with Indigo, and everyone else’s, there’s no doubt it’s going to remain a staple. I think it’ll be especially helpful as I cut to the show to keep all the LBM I can.

Flameout - Duh

Curcumin - Two daily, one in the am and one post training to help with soreness and recovery, plus the health benefits.

ElitePro Minerals - A relatively new addition as of earlier in the summer, I can’t believe it took me so long. I don’t take all 7 caps before bed, I tried but I think the magnesium raised my body temp a bit, I kept waking up hot. I now take 4 capsules after breakfast, and 3 with dinner after training.

Finibars - Perfect pre-workout, I have it about an hour before training tacked on to the end of my lunch.

Vitamins - Vitamin B complex, C, D (5000IU)

Z-12 - 2 caps when needed for sleep if I just don’t feel tired when bed time rolls around.


#3

good luck, man. Mad jealous of your shoulder width


#4

Get those shoulders down in your front relaxed pose . And do the same in a rear relaxed .


#5

[quote]Yogi wrote:
good luck, man. Mad jealous of your shoulder width[/quote]

Thanks Yogi, much appreciated man.

I have to be careful with my shoulders, these days I stick to mostly lateral movements, with the exception of some seated heavy dumbbell presses towards the end of the shoulder workout. When I was doing Thib’s Indigo Hypertrophy program a couple of years ago, with the high frequency of barbell shoulder pressing, eventually I got to a point where I started feeling some nerve pain in my left shoulder, shooting down to my fingers. I would feel it every time I would rack the bar, down my arm, causing my fingers to go numb sometimes even when not in the gym. I took that as a sign that barbell pressing might not be a good angle for my shoulders, and at that point switched to mostly lateral movements. I also took about 5-6 weeks off of direct shoulder work, until that sensation went away.

I also really started seeing some significant shoulder progress when I went a little lighter with the weights, and really focused on initiating the movement from the delt, and keeping constant tensions on the delt only during the movement. Any feeling of tension in the elbow, I’d go lighter and slower, more controlled. Looking around the gym, a lot of people seem to go just too heavy with shoulders in general, I would imagine it’s one of the reasons shoulder injuries are so common, in addition to the tendency most have to involve their shoulders too much chest and bicep work.


#6

[quote]GrindOverMatter wrote:
Get those shoulders down in your front relaxed pose . And do the same in a rear relaxed .[/quote]

@Grindovermatter, thanks for the tips, I’ll definitely keep that in mind this weekend and will post new pics. Hoping to be as shredded on stage as you brother.


#7

[quote]robstein wrote:

[quote]GrindOverMatter wrote:
Get those shoulders down in your front relaxed pose . And do the same in a rear relaxed .[/quote]

@Grindovermatter, thanks for the tips, I’ll definitely keep that in mind this weekend and will post new pics. Hoping to be as shredded on stage as you brother.[/quote]

You’ll do it man ! Stu will get you there , just don’t be afraid to embrace the suffering !!!


#8

You have plenty of time, solid coaching and good spirits…these will take you far. Will be following along!


#9

[quote]Myosin wrote:
You have plenty of time, solid coaching and good spirits…these will take you far. Will be following along![/quote]

Thanks Myosin, glad you’ll be following the thread man!


#10

Thought you guys would get a kick out of this. I’m at my chiropractor’s office yesterday, he’s a great guy and I actually met him in my last gym. He’s always been into bodybuilding, we always talk about it during my sessions, he’s even been to a few Olympias. After our session, he walks into his office, and comes out with this! He said Arnold has an affiliation with the National Chiropractic Association (or whatever it’s called) and at one of their conventions years ago, he was there and you could take a pic with him for a few bucks. Pretty cool!


#11

subbed. Contest prep threads are the bestest.


#12

[quote]flipcollar wrote:
subbed. Contest prep threads are the bestest.[/quote]

Awesome flip, glad to have your knowledge and experience on the thread!


#13

The posing will come. I know that you’ve already developed a much better MMC in regard to your training.

S


#14

[quote]robstein wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
good luck, man. Mad jealous of your shoulder width[/quote]

Thanks Yogi, much appreciated man.

I have to be careful with my shoulders, these days I stick to mostly lateral movements, with the exception of some seated heavy dumbbell presses towards the end of the shoulder workout. When I was doing Thib’s Indigo Hypertrophy program a couple of years ago, with the high frequency of barbell shoulder pressing, eventually I got to a point where I started feeling some nerve pain in my left shoulder, shooting down to my fingers. I would feel it every time I would rack the bar, down my arm, causing my fingers to go numb sometimes even when not in the gym. I took that as a sign that barbell pressing might not be a good angle for my shoulders, and at that point switched to mostly lateral movements. I also took about 5-6 weeks off of direct shoulder work, until that sensation went away.

I also really started seeing some significant shoulder progress when I went a little lighter with the weights, and really focused on initiating the movement from the delt, and keeping constant tensions on the delt only during the movement. Any feeling of tension in the elbow, I’d go lighter and slower, more controlled. Looking around the gym, a lot of people seem to go just too heavy with shoulders in general, I would imagine it’s one of the reasons shoulder injuries are so common, in addition to the tendency most have to involve their shoulders too much chest and bicep work.[/quote]

yeah man, I totally agree with all of your thoughts on shoulder training. I’ve managed to build quite a bit of meat on my delts, but lucky assholes like you with decent clavicular width will always be a source of some jealousy from me! haha


#15

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
The posing will come. I know that you’ve already developed a much better MMC in regard to your training.

S
[/quote]

Definitely, always trying to improve with the MMC, every session is an opportunity to get better. It was a tough transition to make a year ago from my initial powerlifting focus to bodybuilding, more isolation exercises, and feeling the working muscle, chasing the “pump.” The weight in the hands is only a tool to get the muscle to work and contract/stretch maximally, each exercise turned into kind of a puzzle.

What do I need to do to feel the pump, to feel this muscle and only this muscle working? A small change of hand position, range of motion, or even just thinking harder about feeling the pump in the muscle.

I’m a fan of Ben Pakulski, I really like his methods and approach to training. Some I like more than others, but I’ve been able to learn a lot watching his videos. While there are of course many people that advocate the same thing, one aspect he emphasizes is initiating the movement with the targeted muscle, to really think about the movement starting with that muscle, and creating tension at both the start and finish of each rep.

If I’m ever in the middle of a set that I’m not feeling, thinking of this almost always does the trick. The optimal range of motion will also differ for each person, so really learning my tendencies for each exercise and what works best for me has been very helpful. But, overall having the ability to separate yourself from the weight and see it as a tool, not being hesitant to lower a weight if it’s not being felt properly, etc., and feeling the pump/stretch as top priority will really change your physique. It’s all about the MMC!


#16

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]robstein wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
good luck, man. Mad jealous of your shoulder width[/quote]

Thanks Yogi, much appreciated man.

I have to be careful with my shoulders, these days I stick to mostly lateral movements, with the exception of some seated heavy dumbbell presses towards the end of the shoulder workout. When I was doing Thib’s Indigo Hypertrophy program a couple of years ago, with the high frequency of barbell shoulder pressing, eventually I got to a point where I started feeling some nerve pain in my left shoulder, shooting down to my fingers. I would feel it every time I would rack the bar, down my arm, causing my fingers to go numb sometimes even when not in the gym. I took that as a sign that barbell pressing might not be a good angle for my shoulders, and at that point switched to mostly lateral movements. I also took about 5-6 weeks off of direct shoulder work, until that sensation went away.

I also really started seeing some significant shoulder progress when I went a little lighter with the weights, and really focused on initiating the movement from the delt, and keeping constant tensions on the delt only during the movement. Any feeling of tension in the elbow, I’d go lighter and slower, more controlled. Looking around the gym, a lot of people seem to go just too heavy with shoulders in general, I would imagine it’s one of the reasons shoulder injuries are so common, in addition to the tendency most have to involve their shoulders too much chest and bicep work.[/quote]

yeah man, I totally agree with all of your thoughts on shoulder training. I’ve managed to build quite a bit of meat on my delts, but lucky assholes like you with decent clavicular width will always be a source of some jealousy from me! haha
[/quote]

Lol I hear ya Yogi! I like to think I’ve been given some decent genetics for bodybuilding in return for being “vertically challenged,” 5’4". I thought if I can’t grow taller, I may as well try to get a little wider lol.


#17

High day today, leg day. Right now we have one high day a week on leg day, and with the recent bump in carbs I really get to eat up today. Just finished a great breakfast of protein cereal (1.5 servings of ezekiel cereal, almond milk mixed with 2 scoops MD protein) and an apple.

We have a day off of school today, so I’ll be hitting the gym late morning as opposed to the usual late afternoon. I always feel better training later in the day, but the schedule today requires an earlier session. My legs are by far the worst when it comes to soreness post training, so I have to be very careful with my warm ups and getting into the session. Typically on a leg day I’ll sit in the sauna for 5-7 minutes in the locker room before heading onto the floor, a couple minutes of just sitting and then some light stretching for 5 minutes or so, it really warms up the legs nicely. I also do some light stretching between sets, and some foam rolling when I get home as well as before bed. I still get sore, but it’s much more manageable. Weekends I’ll usually have some BCAA’s in the morning and maybe between meals to help with soreness and recovery, also very helpful.


#18

Pics from this morning, I usually do them Saturday or Sunday before breakfast, no pump or food. A good week of workouts, last week I was starting to feel a little run down by the end of the sessions, additional carbs this week helped a lot. I figure I have about 4-5 weeks left before I need to start cutting, enjoying it while I can but looking forward to the discipline and rigors of the cut.

Had a nice epsom salt bath this morning, and have a massage scheduled for tomorrow at a local place my parents got me a gift card for. Also saw my chiropractor this morning, and he referred me to someone he used to go for massages, a massage therapist and apparently used to be a competitive bodybuilder. I’m looking forward to getting in touch with him, planning on going once a month if possible.


#19

We added a second leg day during the week to bring up the legs, specifically hamstrings are lagging a bit. So, now a 5 day split instead of a 4 day split, looking forward to seeing the progress there. Also switched out back squats for hack squats due to some lower back pain I’ve been having, chiropractor is helping but especially with 2 leg days now per week, I think hacks will be better for longevity. They’re typically not in my workout and they killed my quads like never before, so I’m looking forward to adding them in and saving my back a bit.

During longer car rides on weekends there are a few podcasts I listen to, Iron Radio is a favorite with Lonnie Lowery. (Here’s a great T-Nation article featuring some of his research: https://www.T-Nation.com/training/ultimate-cardio-solution-disclosed .) Another one of them is Ben Pakulski’s “How To Build Muscle”, typically featuring Dr. Jacob Wilson and John Meadows, T-Nation favorites. VERY informative stuff, some stuff I like more than others but I can always take something away.

One thing mentioned on the latest podcast, was that while genetics may play a role in a weak body part, sometimes people have less MMC with that body part than other parts. While this isn’t a fact for everyone of course, I found this was true for me. I could feel tension in my hamstrings, and even though I’d really focus tension and initiating from the muscle during the exercises, I was not creating as much tension as I thought; at least not the same concentrated tension that I can feel in biceps or quads or whatever else.

So, I made it my goal in the session to figure it out and really connect more and feel tension only in the hams, made good progress there. Each exercise I developed new cues small changes, big improvements in the MMC with the hams. Here’s the podcast, I highly recommend it! https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/muscle-expert-podcast-ben/id725296816?mt=2


#20

Check these out! They’re called “performance pins” and they’re made locally in my neighborhood by a guy who also makes various equipment and specialty cable attachments. They’re used for drop sets to eliminate any time it takes to switch the pin. You set them in the weight you want, with the machine pin on the weight for the last set. They’re spring loaded, when the plates touch the bottom one pops out. Absolutely awesome tools! Steve, the creator, was shooting a video for his promo booth at the Arnold Classic last year in the gym I went to at the time, I bought a pair on the spot. If anyone is interested in a pair, send me a message, I can get you a little discount.