Part 1 of 3.
My preparation for the 2012 Mr Olympia really began about 24 weeks prior to the contest. I started training my back 4 times a week(two days-twice a day each time), started ensuring I was getting at least 6 good meals a day(and a few not so good ones). The goal was to make sure I was consuming enough high quality protein to grow. I can hear many of you right now…”how much protein?” well, truthfully that changes according to how often and how hard im training. I will usually increase my protein intake on days when I train twice, and for 24 hrs after those days. Off days, my calories drop down a bit.
This prep was very unique for me. It was the first with my amazing incredible wonderful handsome son(he was born 6 weeks before the Arnold classic this year, but this is my first full prep). It was also my first prep without the man who had become my biggest role model, educator, mentor, and best friend who tragically passed away 12 weeks from the contest(RIP Peter). The man changed the way I look at the sport of bodybuilding, training, and life itself. Many of the methodology, and training techniques I use in the gym were either taught to me by him, or at least explained to me in such a way that made it much more clear as to why certain things were meant to be done one way, versus what most people out there are doing.
At 12 weeks out, cardio started. Usually only about 30mins, 4 times a week. One of the simplest ideas I have ever employed is to allow my body to change as much as possible by making as little change as possible.
In an ideal world, a pro bodybuilder(or any one aspiring for a very lean physique) would be able to eat whatever they want and stay very lean. Then, by making some slight dietary changes be able to drop bodyfat and get contest ready (your body would look best being as close as possible to its natural homeostasis- aka wherever you are in the “offseason”). Unfortunately for most of us, myself included, this is not the case. Although there are many times when I try to convince myself I CAN eat whatever I want and stay shredded, it just doesn’t happen for me.
I try to do as little cardio as possible offseason, so eating clean most of the time is the only way I can maintain a somewhat lean appearance and continue to consume enough high quality calories to grow. Trust me, if I could eat burgers and pizza like most pros, stay under 8% and diet for 6 weeks, life would be a whole lot easier. (Although Ive never been one to take the easy road! ) That being said, most of them might not be able to add as much mass as I can….we always want what we don’t have. The idea behind getting your body to change without making drastic changes is something that stems from years of observing competitive bodybuilders do what I call “backing themselves into a corner”. This can most often be observed with amateur and female physique athletes whereby they start their diet 16 weeks out, doing 2hrs of cardio and zero carbs. My question has always been, “what the heck do you do from there?” Once your body stops responding to the stimulus you subject it to, and it ALWAYS will, where do you go from there? So starting with 20mins of cardio 4 times a week, then 30, then 40, just made the most sense to me. It is constantly offering a new stimulus, and your body is basically forced to adapt-provided your diet is consistent. This approach is also one of the reasons that most of my drastic changes occur in the last 4 weeks before a contest. I really haven’t done anything drastic, or varied from my offseason all that much by this point. Other than eliminating cheat meals and adding in a small amount of cardio, I am trying to stay as close to my homeostasis as possible.
THE TRICK then, is attempting to shift my “homeostasis” each year so that im slightly closer to contest shape. Just a little leaner, and little bigger each year. Train your body to improve the efficiency with which it uses nutrients little by little each year.
Its no secret that I have never used carbohydrates as well as most top IFBB pros. Poor dietary habits as a child and as a young bodybuilder(on top of poor genetics) have led me to have very poor insulin sensitivity. However, learning the intricacies of proper nutrition and supplementation have allowed me to make incremental changes each year, and improve my body composition one year at a time.
Enough of my tangent.
At 5 weeks out, many of you know by now, I made my way to train in Golds Gym Venice California from my normal stomping grounds of Tampa FL.
Here is my exact diet at 5 weeks from the Mr Olympia:
12oz lean beef
2tablespoons coconut oil
2cups fennel/kale/spinach salad.
2 scoops Allmax Muscleprime
10am TRAIN w Charles Glass.
1130am Post workout
2g Vitamin C
50g carbs from Allmax Krush or Dextrose powder
12pm 1scoop ISOFLEX Choc Peanut Butter.
75g carbs from quinoa flakes or rice
75g carbs from quinoa flakes or rice(opposite of last meal)
**Many days I train Twice. In which case it would fall here with cardio after training.
75g of carbs from sweet potato
***9pm Cardio 40mins(if I don’t train in the evening)
16 egg whites
2oz macadamia nuts.
Make sure to comment below and let me know what you want to hear about from my prep.
In part 2 of the blog I share my favorite HIIT cardio program and in part 3 my exact carb load protocol for the OLYMPIA! Don’t miss it, THIS WEEK!
Lots more to come in Part 2