Category Archives for "Bodybuilding"

Live life – Love Training – a structured approach to unstructured training by Ricky Mcfarlane

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Live life – Love Training – a structured approach to unstructured training


There’s no better feeling than training with freedom! Enjoying what you’re doing! Some people enjoy the grind and the drive! And I’m the same. But is it the grind of that particular pursuit that’s attractive, or the aspect of chasing a goal, short term or long term? I feel that coaches and athletes nowadays relay to the general population that you must only chase one goal, and that one goal must be your life! Well what about the people that have more than one goal? Do we just ignore them? I don’t think so! What do you say to someone who may want to run a marathon and compete in a powerlifting contest in the same year, or maybe the people that don’t even want to compete in anything but want their weekly training to be made up of various training styles, and activities? If you are one of those people, then this article is aimed at you. This is for the people that want to run, lift heavy, swim, bike and do gymnastics all in one week. What I am going to show you is how to structure, unstructured training and how to develop your abilities, in the exact activities that you want to. This really is a conjugate lifestyle, changing up your training regime to ultimately achieve the same goal.

The split – Goal getters
No I’m not talking about a bodybuilding routine. But I am talking about a similar concept, which is the action of splitting our weekly workouts up in days, which are dedicated to a specific goal. The only difference being is we are going to perform training style splits rather body part splits. The easiest way to do this is the following. Name your goals for a given time period. This could be 1 month, 6 months, or 2 years. It doesn’t matter. What you have to realize is that if you are going to split your week up then gains in certain areas may be slower than if you were to just train for that activity. So, for example you may set yourself a really varied goal of maybe, a double bodyweight squat, a 15lb clean PR, improve you minute mile, add 4kg of lean mass, and break your 2O mile bike record in 8 months time. You may think that this sounds ridiculous and many will say it is impossible. Well I say impossible is nothing! And if you are like me you are not the sort of person to give up on a challenge then let’s get structuring. Firstly what we have to do is divide your week up into blocks and depending on your scheduled program your week may look something like this if you have 5 days per week to train

Monday – Olympic Weightlifting/lower body strength

Tuesday – upper body strength -light bike training 3O-5O% distance

Wednesday – Long run training

Thursday -Recovery day

Friday -Olympic weightlifting/full body hypertrophy –

Saturday -long bike training

Sunday – Recovery day


Once you have your desired schedule, then it’s time to find the best way to improve your chosen goals. Deciding on the right programming on each day comes down to a number of questions. How important is the goal or training style of each day and what precedence does it have in your chosen list of goals? How much is each training session going to take out of you for the next? How hard can you train in each session to provoke a training response without interrupting the training of other sessions throughout the week, and finally, what is going to be the best bank for your buck in terms of programming?
Once you have these questions answered I believe the progress in each element is actually very possible and the enjoyment you get out of a varied training program will allow for a greater and more successful training experience!

The Everyday Guys

This section is for the people that aren’t really looking to compete in any events but want to change their training up every session. This is a particularly fun concept for me as it defines Freedom! Freedom to do whatever you like! When you like! How you like! However, sometimes when people undertake this methodology sessions become random without progress. What I’m going to show you is how to plan your weeks training to get the best out of each training session. What I’m going to do is use an example of someone that wants to involve as much variety as possible per week.
What we are going to do is split training sessions into blocks like the following

Red Block- high impact/ dynamic training (Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, maximal sprinting, parkour)

Blue block – Strength/ resistance training (powerlifting, hypertrophy, gymnastics)

Green block- low impact cardio (swimming, biking, rock climbing, rowing)

Purple block- higher impact cardio (road running, hiking, trail running, various forms of martial arts, including heavy bag training)

Yellow block- (metabolic conditioning, kettlebell training)

So how do we make unstructured training structured? Well.. What we are going to do is pick the given blocks that you are going to use during a given period of time, And from that you pick the days that you are going to use them, so for example your week could look like the following

Monday -Red Block
Tuesday-green block
Wednesday -off
Thursday – blue block
Friday – purple block
Saturday -blue block/yellow block
Sunday -off

What days you put what blocks in is totally up to you and your schedule as this is a truly a flexible routine. If there are certain days where you have only thirty minutes to workout and others where you have ninety minutes, course accordingly.
So now we have your blocks in place (the structured part), we can now look at the unstructured part or the freedom part. This is where the ones amongst you that want to just do what you feel like that day get some sort of freedom to express yourself. If you wake up on a Monday for example and Mondays are a high impact-conditioning day, you have a choice. Do you feel like running the trails today, hitting hill sprints or going to your BJJ class? Then do it! That’s the beauty of it, as long as you stick to your block for that day you are totally free to train how you like.

The impulse trainer


True, Structured Freedom! Are you one of those people that decide what they are going to do when they walk into the gym? Then don’t worry I’ve got you! It’s a lot simpler than you think. If you wake up and decide you want to do a Met-con on a Monday and you still have 3 other blocks to hit that week, it’s totally fine! As long as you hit your given blocks by the end of that week then you have successfully fulfilled your program. If you have achieved your targets for that week, why are you not going to improve? This is true constructive conjugate freedom!
As I’ve said throughout the article even though there is no rigidity to this style of training we must always look to improve otherwise training will become stagnant. Having monthly or yearly goals and weekly targets is a great way of staying on track. Although this routine exercises freedom I still feel that progressive programming is essential so as long as you hit your programmed lifts or runs etc. for that week progression is still possible.

Great ways of programming when doing this style of training is to set weekly targets that are part of a bigger monthly and yearly target. So for example if we look at the strength block of your training, a great way to program for gains is to run a conjugate style progressive program. My preference would be to hit a given rep max week one, say 1O rep max back squat, then hit a variant of this in weeks 2 and 3 and back to the rep max on week 4. Changing up the exercise to make it more difficult during weeks 2 and 3 is something I’ve personally found very effective. If you want to try this and would like to see how to run it over a period of say 4 months to smash your 5 rep max for example here’s a simple way to do so;

2 weeks GPP
Week 1 1O rep max
Week 2 1O rep max w/ 3-5 sec pause
Week 3 10 rep max w/ 1 second pause
Week 4 1O rep max
Week 5 Deload week 1 x 10 @60% 1Orpm
Week 6 8-rep max
Week 7 8-rep max 3-5 second pause
Week 8 8-rep max 1-second pause
Week 9 8-rep max
Week 1O 1 x 8 @ 60%
Week 11 5-rep max
Week 12 5-rep max 3-5 second pause
Week 13 5-rep max 1-second pause
Week 14 5-rep max test week

Another great way of using is method is to use variants of the target exercises so instead of pauses for the squat you could use the front squat, Beatles squat if your aim is with a belt, squat against bands or chains, there are many possibilities. This is a great way of improving strength when sessions are limited and can be used for most lifts upper or lower.

When programming your endurance work over periods of time like this I find progressively overloading the volume and intensity of the training will aid in increase performance. So for example if the goal was to run a faster 5k, then this is how we could program your sessions over a 4-month period if you had 2 running sessions per week.

Week 1 session 1 – 2.5k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x 4 runs
Week 2 session 1 – 2.75k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x 4 /1 x 250m runs
Week 3 session 1 – 3k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x 5 runs
Week 4 session 1 – 2.5k steady run
Session 2 – off
Week 5 session 1 – 3k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x 4 runs
Week 6 session 1 – 3.5k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x 5 runs
Week 7 session 1 – 3.75k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x5/ 1 x 250m runs
Week 8 session 1 – 3k steady run
Session 2 – off
Week 9 session 1 – 3.5k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x 5 runs
Week 10 session 1 – 3.75k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x 6
Week 11 session 1 – 4k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x 6/ 1 x 250m
Week 12 session 1 – 3.5k steady run
Session 2 – off
Week 14 session 1 – 4k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x 8
Week 15 session 1 – 4.5k steady run
Session 2 – interval runs faster than 5k pace 500m x 8
Week 16 session 1 – 2.5k steady run
Session 2
Week 17- 5k test

The beauty of this style of training is if you set yourself a new goal and need to adapt training, then it’s just a matter of changing some blocks around to stimulate a new training response.
This is something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while and although the purists out there will probably not agree with this article I feel that we have one life and if training is going to be a part of it the. Why not enjoy every moment, in other words, live life, love training!

Thank you for reading

Ricky Mcfarlane
By Ricky McFarlane
Mash Elite Performance writer/coach
Sports performance coach/ Trainer at Spartan Strength and Conditioning, England
Sport exercises science student
Twitter: Ricky_mc90

Gaining Lean Muscle Mass

I want to introduce you all to the latest Mash Mafia sponsored athlete, Corey Reich. Corey is a National level physique competitor having won the 2015 NC NPC State Championships, and he did it drug free. This guys is a wealth of knowledge making his living as a personal trainer. He also owns the company “Carolina Physiques Coach” where he has helped 16 physique and bodybuilding athletes get on the stage. I am hoping that all of you weightlifters and powerlifters can learn a few things from him as well in the nutrition area especially.

Find him on Instagram: @coreyreich

Gaining lean muscle mass


There is a lot of information out there for guys or girls who want to get leaner. What about the person who wants to gain muscle mass but also doesn’t want to get fat? The person who was always skinny or no matter what they ate they couldn’t gain weight. I am here to help you learn how to gain some muscle mass the right way.
Now of course you have to train hard and continue to push yourself everyday in the gym, but it doesn’t stop there. It does involve you staying on top of your nutrition and making sure you get in the right amount of food at the right time of the day. So we need to break this down into three different parts. Training, diet, and supplementation will be the three different areas that you will need to be on point with.

First let’s talk about the training and how to go about making sure we put on some quality muscle. There are tons of different splits out there for you to try and a lot of them will work. What I recommend is you find a routine that you know works best for you and stick to it for 8-12 weeks and do not stray from it. Consistency is key but what about if you don’t know what split is best for you. This is where a coach might come in handy to recommend a split based off your strengths and your weaknesses. A simple split to try would be to train back/biceps on Monday, chest/triceps on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, shoulders on Thursday, and then a chest/back combo on Friday. Saturday can be used to touch on weak areas or hit legs again. This will insure that every body part has been hit with max effort being applied each day. Try to stick to the rep ranges of 8-12 per set as that is where muscle or hypertrophy seems to occur for most athletes. Try and stick to around 16-24 sets per muscle group, wit beginners starting closer to the 16 sets per muscle group range.

Now let’s move on to nutrition where most of the success will come from. This will be an individually based subject because not everyone has the same metabolism, body structure, age, or genetics. What I recommend is that you do not change a thing in your diet for a week but track your macros (carbs, fats, protein) for each meal every day. Once you have established what you currently intake everyday you know that is your baseline for what you need to eat if you want to stay that body weight. Now from there you need to slowly bump up your caloric intake to where you gain no more than one pound per week. Gaining to fast will lead to too much fat gain and it will be harder when you want to lean back down. I also recommend that your intake of macros be split up at least into a 45% carbs /35% protein/20% fat split. So if you eat 2000 calories in a day you will eat 900 calories from carbs, 700 calories from protein, and 400 calories from fat. This will insure that you fuel your body adequately and not fill it with high fatty unhealthy foods. Stick to complex carbohydrates and lean proteins. Get most of your fats from things like almonds, avocados, natural peanut butter and olive oil.


The icing on the cake will be with adding in some supplementation. These are things I recommend for gaining muscle mass on top of correct nutrition and training because no supplements will work if those things are not up to par. Creatine will help make you stronger and pull water into the muscle cell, which is where you want it. Things like fish oil and a good multivitamin to maintain overall health while trying to pack on some weight. If you have trouble eating all your protein then a good whey protein will help you meet your daily requirements. There is a long list of possible supplements to take and it could be a never-ending one if you had endless funds. The ones I listed I believe are a great start and you can move into more advanced things once you train for a while.

At the end of the day nothing is going to beat hard work and consistency. Once you start on your plan make sure to stick with it day in and day out and I promise you will get the results that you desire. If you guys/girls want extra help or want to kick your muscle building or fat shredding program up a notch feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. Thanks for reading hope I helped pave a way for you to reach your goals.

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Plateaus by Gunnar “The One Pec Wonder” Anderson

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by Gunnar Anderson (Follow him on Instagram @theonepecwonder)


There are very few things in life that go straight up, or straight down without some sort of halting or stopping point. We could be talking about a career, we could be talking about a relationship, or we could be talking about fitness; whatever it may be, there will be a plateau. A plateau is frustrating, and it can dampen the spirits of even the most enthusiastic. But it is important to remember, no matter how severe the plateau, there is always a way to break through.

I have run through several plateaus in life. I have been in relationships that start out great. Everything goes wonderful for a month or two, then all of a sudden things just seem routine. This can happen literally anywhere in life, but especially in the gym.

I love the gym. I have been called a fitness enthusiast, a fitness guru, and a fitness freak. Pretty much everyone can say they see the benefits of working out, but not everyone can say they love doing it. I am one of those weirdos that can say I love it. Not only do I enjoy the training aspect, but also I love the camaraderie. The friends I’ve met at the gym come from all walks of life. Of course you have the Bodybuilders and the trainers, but also orthopedic surgeons, actors, investment bankers, entrepreneurs, writers, scientists, med school students… the list goes on and on.

I am also fascinated by the science of training. The idea of pushing your body past its own limitations and seeing how it responds and adapts is one of the most interesting things in the world to me. Even with all this passion, love and genuine interest in the gym, I still hit plateaus.

A physical plateau is easy to get around. If I have been doing the same type of workouts for a few weeks and eating the same things, all I need to do to jump past the plateau is change things up. I could change up the amount of calories I take in during a day. I could change the number of repetitions I perform on a given exercise. There are tons of ways I could break through. All it takes is slight change.

A mental plateau is an entirely different animal. Hitting a mental plateau can mean many things, but most notably it means you reach a point where you don’t get excited anymore. I have been there before. Suddenly I woke up one day and did not want to go. I felt like I had to go, and I forced myself to the gym. This is one of the worst things to do.

I felt like I’d hit a wall. I couldn’t put my finger on a single factor that made me feel this way, but I knew something wasn’t right. Still, I forced myself to go everyday and continue my training. Eventually I looked into it. I googled things such as “loss of motivation” and “mental plateau.” The results weren’t great, as is usually the case when googling symptoms.

Finally I had had enough. I decided to step away from the gym for a while. I took seven days and planned a mini vacation with a few friends. We went on a spur of the moment beach trip and spent four days lounging in the sand being bums. On the ride home I found myself thinking about training and how excited I was to get back into the routine. It was amazing.

I believe that we can have too much of a good thing. I think that even the things we enjoy the most must be set aside at times to make sure they don’t lose their luster. As it turns out all I needed was time away to mentally reset myself. I walked into the gym the following Monday and had the best workout I’d had in months.

In order to break a mental plateau, you have to remember what is great about what you’re doing. You have to recall what drove you to it in the first place. How could I have ever expected myself to remember why I loved training if I was forcing myself to be there daily? It would’ve been impossible. I’m not advocating that spending four days as a beach bum could solve all of your problems, but take my example and make it applicable to your own needs. Take a step back from things, and try to regain perspective. It saved my love for the gym, and broke through my plateau.


New Direction of Mash Elite Performance and Team Mash Mafia

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New Direction of Mash Elite Performance and Team Mash Mafia


I have always loved the barbell. I love all aspects of the barbell. A lot of people only know me as the Weightlifting Coach of the #2 Team in America Team Mash Mafia, and some still see me as the World Champion Powerlifter. The fact is that I am much more than a lot of you know.

For example, I am a strength and conditioning coach that has coached hundreds of Division I athletes and several NFL and NBA athletes. I still enjoy coaching my sports athletes, and I am coaching a heck of a group. Working with these athletes from all different sports will always be one of my passions. There is nothing better than watching these athletes perform on the field and knowing that helped them reach their goals.

I started this journey fascinated with bodybuilding. I grew up watching “The Incredible Hulk” starring Lou Ferrigno. One day my Uncle Delano told me that the Incredible Hulk was a real person. He told me who Lou Ferrigno was, and he told me that he got that way from lifting weights and eating properly. That was the day that sparked the rest of my life. I wanted in!!!

My local gym wouldn’t let me start because I was too young at the time. They finally allowed me to start at eleven-years-old, and I never looked back. The barbell transformed my life. It helped me improve as an athlete, and now it helps me teach others to reach their goals.

This year I was introduced to Grid and some CrossFit, and I love that too. It’s a whole new world, and it’s a new way of moving the barbell. Moving moderately heavy weight weight for multiple reps is the hardest thing that I have ever done. I also learned a lot of the gymnastics movements, and that really added some excitement to the workout. The cool thing about functional fitness is that there is always something new to learn or get better at.

I tell you all of this because our gym consists of a lot of weightlifters, some strength and conditioning athletes, a few powerlifters, and a couple of general fitness clients. We have one of the best weightlifting teams in America. We want to form the best powerlifting team in America. I miss my powerlifting roots, and I am excited to lead my army into battle. I have coached hundreds of powerlifters in my experience, and I have even helped coach one to the World Championships. I want to take everything that I learned while competing and all the things that I have learned over the years, and give it all back to the athletes that want to rule the sport as I did.

We are doing the same with bodybuilding and our Mash Jacked Team of Eze Onwurah and Gunnar Anderson. Both of these guys are seasoned fitness athletes, and they live the lifestyle. They have the classic bodies that I grew up admiring, and I believe that they are going to have massive impacts on not only bodybuilding but also fitness in general. I want them to lead people down the road of health and fitness, and I want our gym packed with these physique athletes.


Labor Day weekend we hosted the first Mash Strength Spectacular on our farm in Mocksville, NC. We had over 1,000 people from all over the world visit our little farm in the middle of nowhere, NC. It was awesome! People competed in weightlifting, powerlifting, Grid, and strongman. It was just a bunch of people that loved picking up heavy stuff all in the same place, and we learned to love and respect each other.


When the Mash Strength Spectacular kicked off, I realized at that moment a dream had come true right before my very eyes. People from all the strength sports that I had loved my whole life were competing together, laughing together, and cheering together. It was a barbell dream come true.

At that very moment, another dream was forming in my brain. I wanted this experience everyday of my life with bodybuilding added. That is what we are going to do in 2016. With the help of my partner Loren Pinilis, we are going to change the look of our gym and our online teams.

I want it all! Why not? It is going to take some time, but that’s ok. I want a community like that has never been seen before. Imagine it: weightlifters going to cheer on bodybuilders, bodybuilders cheering on powerlifters, and powerlifters cheering on Grid. It’s a beautiful thing!

How awesome is that for our high school athletes? They get to learn from all the disciplines, and they will learn how each applies to their sport. The environment will be a Barbell Utopia. The community of the gym and the online team will host the most unique environment in Barbell History.

I am excited to coach all the different disciplines as well as learn from all the expert coaches that we are going to bring on board. This new environment will match my attention levels and keep me excited for years to come. My problem has always been boredom. As an athlete, I have always looked for new challenges with powerlifting, weightlifting, bobsled, and Grid. As a coach, I have always enjoyed athletes that like multiple sports.


I want my athletes to do whatever they want. If they want to medal in the Olympic, let’s go. If they want to win the world championships in powerlifting, let’s do that too. If they want to compete in powerlifting and weightlifting, I am cool with that as well. It’s just a mathematical equation that we need to figure out.

I spent all day yesterday reading “Hybrid Athlete” by Alex Viada. I recommend his book all day long. He makes great points about cutting out all the fat if one wants to lift hard and be an endurance athlete. That means if an exercise isn’t absolutely necessary, get rid of it. Volume is volume, so if you add something, something else needs to be subtracted. Wisdom right there!

Having all of these athletes under one roof will allow all the coaches to work together. It will be beautiful. The Mash Mafia Online Teams are open right now to all athletes. We will be making a more formal announcement soon. However, if you are a powerlifter, you can sign up now. I am ready to lead you guys into the future.

Let’s go!!!

If you are interested in joining the expanding Mash Mafia Online Team, click the link below:

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Junior Lifters

Breaking the Plateau By Gunnar Anderson

Gunnar Anderson is one of my first athletes in North Carolina. He is one of the few that actually fell in love with working out, and then decided to take it to a new level. Gunnar is one of the most courageous people that I know because he is choosing to compete in Physique Competition even though he was born without his right pec major. Talk about Black Sheep! Enjoy!

Breaking the Plateau
By Gunnar Anderson

Gunnar 1

The plateau is something we all dread, but is unavoidable. Whether you’ve been lifting for years or started yesterday, you will experience it if you haven’t already. I have been training in the gym with various goals for about six years now, and I have experienced my fair share. These are a few tips to help you break the plateau and move forward with your training. They’ve worked well for me and I hope that you can find them useful as well.

Firstly, a plateau is when your body hits a wall. Your training is going well and then all of a sudden your body says, “I know your tricks. I know your training. I don’t have to do anything but go through the motions.” It essentially means that your body is used to your current plan, and without any new shocks, it doesn’t need to grow. It can happen with anything. Your muscle gains can plateau, your strength gains can plateau, and your fat loss can plateau. Whatever it may be, it is incredibly frustrating. The only way to break a plateau is change. Some of us, me included, don’t like changing our routines. Since a plateau is your body in its comfort zone, you have to force it out. There are tons of ways to do it, and I’ve tried quite a few with great success.

1) Changing your training:
Changing your training principles can be terrifying, especially if you’ve been seeing results on a specific program in the past. Say, for example, you’ve been training at a low volume with heavy weights for the past month. If I am training low volume, I really enjoy 5×5 workouts. It allows you to go heavy with only five reps, but after the fifth set you are burnt out. Eventually, your body will learn the trick and the shock of heavy weight will wear off. You will be able to lift the weight you’ve been using, but you won’t be able to go up. In turn, your muscles won’t respond the same as they did in the beginning and will not grow. Take a couple weeks and drop your weight and increase the volume. Instead of five sets of five, try 4 sets of twelve to fifteen. You will be sore as can be, but your muscles will react and be forced to grow. When muscles misbehave and refuse to cooperate, they must be punished. Throw them out of their comfort zone and pump out high reps until they twitch and cramp. Then they will behave; then they will grow. I switched from a 5×5 based routine to a 10×10 based routine (German Volume Training) and saw significant growth. It doesn’t matter so much what you change, more so that you just change something.

Gunnar 3

2) Change your diet:
When I want to cut, the first thing to go is sugar. If you are in a bulking phase and you hit a point where your body will not take on any more weight, put yourself through a four week cycle of cutting. Take the sugar out of your diet and refine your meals to a more disciplined plan. Another great thing you can do is switch your carbs. If you are eating sweet potatoes and brown rice, switch to white potatoes and white rice. These carbs have a much higher glycemic index and will shock your body with insulin a lot faster. These carbs can be particularly effective immediately after a workout during your anabolic window. Of course the reverse of that is adding to your diet. If you’re trying to bulk up and you think you’re eating enough, push through and add another protein shake here and there. When I was at my heaviest (and I didn’t look that great) I added a mass gainer called Serious Mass by Optimum Nutrition to my diet. I would wake up and drink the shake, which was 1,200 calories alone, then wait a while and eat a full breakfast, four egg whites, four whole eggs, two cups oatmeal and a small glass of milk. After this I would roll myself to class, but not long after I would be hungry again. The first couple weeks are brutal when you’re changing your diet because you are either miserably full or terribly hungry. But after your body adjusts you will notice the changes almost immediately.

3) Change your supplements
No one wants to change their supplements; at least I don’t enjoy doing it. In a perfect world I could take the same pre workout forever and feel the same results. Unfortunately this isn’t possible. Just like old training principles, your body will adjust to your supplements. Pre workouts are something I use on a daily basis. I love the energy kick from them. I drink no other caffeine throughout the day so they really hit hard. The best pre workout I’ve ever tried is the N.0. Extreme by Cellucor. It is creatine free and provides an incredible pump and energy boost. I would strongly urge anyone who hasn’t tried it to try it immediately. However, after going through a whole container, it begins to lose its potency. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad product, it just means I’m used to it. This means it’s time for a new one. If you are on a bulking plan, try introducing creatine to your array of supplements. Conversely, if you are on a bulking plan and you’ve been using creatine, take it out for a couple weeks. You won’t lose anything but a bit of water weight, and when you reintroduce it to your system the effect will be like the first time you tried it. This principle is the same for tons of supplements. I got extremely tolerant to beta alanine, one of my favorite ingredients. When I removed it from my plan for a couple weeks, then reintroduced it, my system freaked out and I felt like I was going to scratch off my skin.

The point is that when your body isn’t used to something the reaction is more extreme. In this sport, you want the reaction to be as extreme as possible. If you are stuck in a rut and aren’t sure why, it is simply because you’ve hit a plateau and until you change something, your body won’t change anything. They are frustrating and can step all over your confidence, but with a few tweaks they can be easily beaten. Remember, muscles that misbehave deserve to be punished. You have an array of torture devices at your disposal to ensure the muscle learns its lesson. Use them.

Follow Gunnar’s Progress on Instagram @theonepecwonder

Gunnar 2

I have two more Learn 2 Lifts this Year and both are with my man Zach Even-Esh. We are in New Jersey in this weekend, and then back in North Carolina in October. Find our more below:

Underground Strength and Learn 2 Lift Cert

On the Way to My First Competition by Gunnar Anderson

Below is an article written by one of my first young athlete, Gunnar Anderson. This young guy has overcome some major adversity by becoming a bodybuilder even though he was born without a right pec major. Talk about “I Do What I Want”! I love this kid, and I am sure that you will all love him as well. Enjoy!

On the Way to My First Competition
By Gunnar Anderson

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I started working out when I was about seventeen with Travis Mash. I was one of his first young athletes, something I pride myself on to this day. In the beginning it was about injury prevention. Quickly it evolved to strength training when he saw potential. When I left for college I was strong, but my goals had changed from strength, to size. For years I worked to get as big as I possibly could. Heavy training to volume training, cardio to no cardio, I went through a ton of phases and I thought I had done it all. But in the summer of 2015 everything changed.

I decided I wanted to compete. I had built a solid foundation over the previous five years and I wanted to see how it would fair in competition. I knew quite a bit about bodybuilding training principles and proper nutrition and supplementation, but only enough to get where I was at that point. To push myself further, I needed more. I needed a coach. I hadn’t had a trainer in five years so adhering to someone else’s workout routine wasn’t something I was terribly excited to do, but I understood the necessity. I had worked my butt off so how much different could it be?

I decided to reach out to IFBB Pro Malcolm Marshall for my training. When I met with him I explained my goals, my unique physique situation (with the missing pec), and what I was willing and unwilling to do. I was willing to do anything that it took to have the best shot at winning, except use steroids. I have nothing against those who do and I understand their necessity, I just personally want to see how far I can go naturally. I told him that I wanted to build a physique with the golden era of bodybuilding in mind. I think Frank Zane had one of the best physiques of all time, so I used that as my reference. He measured my body fat at around eight percent, and said he could tell “I had some mileage in the gym.” I agreed to train with him for the seventeen weeks leading up to my competition. Again, how hard could it be?

I hadn’t puked after a back workout in quite a while, and let me tell you, after my first session I puked my guts out. The volume was more intense than anything I had ever done. I almost laughed when he put a 25lbs plate on the T-Bar for rows, but after twenty reps wide and twenty reps close with no rest that thought had vanished completely. He also introduced me to 1,1,10’s. This exercise is a bent over row holding a light weight in each hand. You do one row with your right arm, one row with your left, and then ten together. Perform this ten times for one rep. It is brutal. Nearly every exercise is performed with a rep range of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, all done without rest making one set, and usually doing four sets. This type of training was new to me, and my body responded drastically.

The diet was also new to me. Before I had been eating around five meals a day, with a protein shake after a workout. Now I am eating eight meals. In the morning I have eight egg whites and two cups of oatmeal. Mid-morning I have a protein shake and a teaspoon of peanut butter. For lunch I have eight ounces of chicken, one cup of white rice, two cups of broccoli and a large mixed greens salad. About two hours after that I drink another protein shake with another teaspoon of peanut butter. Amazingly not long after that, I find myself ready to eat my next meal. The fifth meal of the day is eight ounces of chicken, one cup of white potatoes, two cups of broccoli and another large mixed greens salad. The sixth meal, eaten immediately after my workout in the afternoon is eight ounces of chicken, one cup white rice, and one cup of broccoli. Later in the evening, the seventh meal is steak or bison, around ten ounces, with a large salad. Right before bed, I have a casein protein shake and a teaspoon of peanut butter. All this, and two gallons of water daily.

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Most people would think that this was a bulking diet, but I was shredding up like crazy! The meals every two hours kept my metabolism running like a well-oiled machine and I was hungry all the time. The high glycemic index of the white rice is perfect for getting your insulin levels up quickly, and it sits in my muscle bellies quite well. After only four weeks on the diet I was craving even more food, but I knew I couldn’t have it. I allowed myself one cheat meal a week until the six week point, and writing this now I am at seven weeks out.

The supplementation is not much different than what I had been doing. A multivitamin, fish oil, calcium, CLA and a fat burner in the morning, a fat burner with lunch, BCAA’s throughout the day, whey and casein protein shakes, and a creatine free pre workout. Each one is absolutely essential for what I need to do to my body since I am on such a strict diet.

With fat being a close second, my ego was the first thing to go. I had never put 25lbs plates on the barbell for bench press before, but with the volume of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 I had no choice but to start there. My chest aches after each workout and is sharpening up nicely. There is no room for ego in this sport. Prepping for a competition has nothing to do with how much weight you can move. All that you can show for the work you’ve put in is the physique that you bring to the stage. This was hard for me to grasp at first. I have prided myself for being able to go moderately heavy through workouts for a long time and completely phasing out of that was tough. My strength has gone down, but it will return in the off season. Muscle memory will account for that.

I want to bring the very best that I can to the stage, and for that reason I am willing to adapt to new training principles and a strict diet. I have the discipline needed to achieve my goal. Part of that discipline comes from a genuine passion for the sport. Currently I am at about 187lbs and five percent body fat. I am right where I need to be at the seven week mark, and I cannot wait to see the final product. This has not been easy, but it sure has been fun. I enjoy a challenge. I enjoy pushing myself. I enjoy seeing what I’m made of. These are all things that I have to do on a daily basis. To do this you have to push yourself to your absolute limit, then a little bit further. You’ll ache, you’ll puke, you’ll crave, but you’ll look in the mirror and smile. This is the first of many competitions I will compete in, and the beginning of my journey into the fitness industry. To see my progress follow me on Instagram @theonepecwonder , and on snapchat at gunnar_anderson.

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