Olympia Prep (2 of 3)

Wassup muscle nerds! 😉

In an attempt to avoid the boring complacency of a typical blog, I try to add a little value into each of my blogs by giving you something you can USE.
This week, my favorite cardio regiment.( well, second to Wingates, but they weren’t an option in Venice).

First things first.

I was sitting around 293 when I got to Venice at 5 weeks out. My mood was perfect, energy was great, and I was pumped to work with the man again, Charles Glass. I arrived to Venice on a Sunday and got right to work first thing Monday morning.
I woke up to a view of the pacific ocean and Venice Beach, a bodybuilders dream.
I decided to make Monday leg day because I had missed legs on Saturday due to a guest posing. 8am comes and im sitting in my favorite chair… the leg extension! Venice has a great cybex eagle piece that faces the door that usually serves as a warm up for my leg sessions. I wasted no time and got straight to work. 8am can be a social hour in Venice Golds if you let it. Its quite busy and everyone wants to chat about the previous night, especially on Mondays. So, on go the headphones and to work I go.
The reason im telling this story is because what happened next set the stage for an awesome workout. Charles walks up and says “lets go!” I hadn’t planned to meet Charles that day, but when he saw me stroll in, he told his next client that he had double booked by accident and headed straight over to start the workout with me.

As if that didn’t get me a whole lot more motivated for legs, the man whose name is synonymous with greatness was then also standing right behind me as well….Arnold! One word…..BOOM! Needless to say, legs were crushed and I couldn’t see nor stand when I left the gym that morning. 😉

The next few weeks went smoothly. Every workout with Charles was building on the last. I was getting better and better each day. Confidence was growing and Charles, who is a very quiet man most of the time, was getting excited.

At this point I was doing HIIT Cardio in the evening, 20-30 mins, and 40-50mins of cardio in the morning (either after meal one, or after weight training depending on the bodypart).

My cardio regiment of choice was:

Level 5- 5 mins(warm up)
Level 6- 3 mins
Level 7- 2 mins
Level 8- -2mins
Level 9- 1 min
Level 10- 1 mins
Level 11- 1min

Then drop back to level 6 and repeat 2-3times. The 2nd and 3rd times through I would usually start at a higher level(level 7) and go one level higher on the top end as well(12).

This was one of the simple techniques I used that seemed to work well because of the massive accumulation of lactic acid in the last few minutes. It sucks!
I used this method every other time I did cardio. The other HIIT days were the typical 1min high, 2-3mins low and repeat.

By 3 weeks out I was right on target and just needed to tighten up a few more lbs.
Things were looking better than ever.

For anyone that has ever competed at a very high level at anything, you know that as the event approaches your mind is in constant pursuit of a way to be “just a little better”, work just a little more, eat just a little less, be just a little more perfect.
I think I got caught up in this mental struggle and wanted to be just a little extra shredded for the Olympia. Instead of just working a little harder like I normally would. I decided I would drop the carbs a bit. Well, being a large guy to begin with, my body needs calories to train. The issue I have is that im very stubborn. I can run on literal fumes for weeks and still have all the energy I need for amazing workouts. Especially when im training with the legend, Charles Glass.

Sounds like a good thing, but sometimes has become my downfall. I drop the carbs/cals a little too low and flatten right out. It can sometimes take days to recover from over depleting. Since taking time off is not an option, and neither is really high calorie days when youre approaching two weeks from the Olympia, you suck it up and hope your body holds on and doesn’t get too tired/depleted.

Well, im not 100% sure, but this may have been the exact case. I just wasn’t able to load as well once the final week came around. My body didn’t fill out the way it typically did.

As far as training goes for the last 5 weeks, I did 2x/day weight sessions about 4 times a week, and double cardio the other days. Since my condo was about 5 blocks from the gym, getting in there 3 times a day was just a matter of a little stroll down the road.

For those of you wondering how heavy I train going into the last few weeks before a contest, the answer is as heavy as I can handle while using only “safe” exercises.
No heavy squats or deads. Although, I did do both, just lighter toward the end of the workout and less often. The main consideration to keep in mind at that point is that you simply don’t have the calories to build muscle. The goal is to stimulate, volumize, squeeze in some extra hardness and detail, while burning calories and stimulating protein synthesis. Save the hard, muscle building stuff for the offseason.

Ive been getting numerous emails a day asking me to blog more often, give you guys more valuable information you can actually use. Well, im happy to do so, just make sure you take the time to comment below so I know what you think, what you want to see, and that youre actually reading them.

Also, take a minute to use those MEDIA SHARE buttons. The more people we get following the blog, the more likely I am to do them all the time. Supply and demand peeps 😉

Love and focus,

What Do You Think?

By |2017-04-16T00:00:34+00:00October 16th, 2012|


  1. Nicholas Villarreal October 16, 2012 at 1:40 am - Reply

    I really enjoy reading your posts Ben. Although your physique may not be the best in the world (yet), I respect you the most out of any bodybuilder. Your scientific, methodical, and energetic approach to sculpting a physique is refreshing.

    I followed MI40 and I had great results! Definitely a program that I’ll be revisiting. I’m going to have to give that HIIT routine a try. I have always preferred high intensity cardio over LSD any day.

    As a new personal trainer , I’m always trying to improve my knowledge and skills so that I can provide even more value to my clients. Thanks for taking the time to blog and connect with your fans! I wish you the best year yet, Pak Man!

  2. Andrew Farrar October 16, 2012 at 1:42 am - Reply

    I appreciate the fact you at your level still have your idols. You share so much of what you do and show us what it takes to get where your at. Also the fact that your willing to admit what might have gone wrong.. Do you monitor your nitrogen output (waste) ketones and blood sugar?

  3. Moose October 16, 2012 at 1:51 am - Reply

    Love your work Pakman! When we going to see you down in Australia? XD

  4. Rick T October 16, 2012 at 1:52 am - Reply

    Thanks for the insight Ben. By all means, keep it coming. It’s like reading your journal. All good stuff. Curious what your HIIT schedule is like in the “off-season”. Thanks again and when can we expect Bpak t-shirts???

  5. Jason October 16, 2012 at 1:55 am - Reply

    BPak, too be honest with you I never really had an interest in bodybuilding, as a coach and former athlete, I never knew where the way you train and athletics met. Until MI40, now I am hooked!! My joints feel better than they have in years, I can finally see how to train properly and better to prepare athletes for their future beyond sports. Thanks for your passion and dedication to doing things the right way! You are truly an inspiring individual. Keep the blogs coming I enjoy reading them, and hopefully see you in Columbus at the Arnold’s in 2013!!!

  6. Stephen Obar October 16, 2012 at 2:02 am - Reply

    I love these blogs and posts!
    Even a one liner on FB or Twitter about what you’re doing seems to get people fired up.

    keep it up B-Pak


  7. Jason October 16, 2012 at 2:09 am - Reply

    Great post Dude.

    I love hearing about the behind the scenes stuff with training, guys you’re working with, and surprise meetings (Arnold!).

    I can’t wait to see part 3.

  8. Sri October 16, 2012 at 4:07 am - Reply

    I have to say as an aspiring bodybuilder in college(majoring in the medical field),I really enjoy reading your blogs,especially the scientific part of it and make a point to research what you say,which has given me lot of ideas on different projects tht I want to do in the future.


  9. Ahamed Nuzhan October 16, 2012 at 4:37 am - Reply

    Excellent post Pakman!

    I have a question. How do you minimize muscle loss in the lagging body parts on a pre-contest diet?

    • benpakulski October 16, 2012 at 5:01 am - Reply

      Train it more frequently

      • Ahamed Nuzhan October 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm - Reply

        Thank you Ben. Your articles have been top class 🙂

  10. WMD October 16, 2012 at 4:52 am - Reply

    I appreciate you taking the time to offer detailed information that many pros might be reluctant to release for public consumption. I always read articles, even if the person might not have the same goals as myself, in the hopes that I might come away with at least 1 piece of information that makes me say “ah ha”.

    I have had more “ah ha” moments from your stuff than any other single person I can think of. There has been a ton of great stuff, but there’s a moment in the MI40 abs video where you talk about squeezing a big ball behind your legs in order to contract your hamstrings, which takes the hip flexors out of the movement. That little snippet of information is probably one of the top 3 “what the hell have I’m been doing with my life, if I had only known that sooner…” tips I’ve ever heard or read in my life. It has made a huge difference in the relatively short time I’ve incorporated that technique.

  11. Eero October 16, 2012 at 5:46 am - Reply

    i say you should have been in top 10. But you will get em next year!!

  12. Anthony October 16, 2012 at 3:57 am - Reply

    Hey B-Pak!

    First of all, thank you for taking the time to write this! I know I only speak for myself, but I love reading everything you tell us about your contest prep! I truly enjoy and appreciate your experiences and perspective, as your strategies really do stand out from what we typically hear from top-level bodybuilders.

    So, based on what you wrote here, it looks like you only did HIIT cardio – no LISS. Do I follow you correctly there?

    Thanks, again!

  13. eamonn harford October 16, 2012 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Loving the blog maybe a blog about your work with poliquin

  14. Halyn October 16, 2012 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Ben what you do here is a clear example that you appreciate your followers/fans and not only for the show and money(like Cutler or Heath). and please stop saying Cutler is one of your favorite bodybuilders cause that guy is lying and bragging more then all bodybuilders on this planet combined. Ok i want to ask you a simple question. Do you use in the pre-contest phase any sweetners? like aspartame splenda or the one that everyone says is the healthiest Stevia? which one you think is the best to use while cutting down just to make a limonade or something sweet to give you a little taste beside all that chicken oats and rice? Thx Bro

    • benpakulski October 16, 2012 at 2:25 pm - Reply

      Ive got nothing negative to say about Jay bro. He is a smart guy and works his ass off. I use stevia only whether training
      for a contest or offseason.

  15. andrew farrar October 16, 2012 at 11:15 am - Reply

    I didn’t know if because of how in tune pro bodybuilders are with their intake that they used any of those test methods on a regular basis….. I havent been able to find a lot of info other than ketosis strips. Found some old info where Weider used to sell strips to detect nitrogen output to know if protein levels are optimum. How do we know when we are taking too much protein from food or shake sources ?

  16. matt turner October 17, 2012 at 4:41 am - Reply

    Great blog! you always share the best videos and your training methods! the best is when you break down your cardio and diet prep. Ive learned more from following you then any other pros i follow. With your knowledge and drive one day you will be Mr. O!

  17. Jaakko Korvola October 17, 2012 at 9:58 am - Reply


    Excellent blog post! Keep it up big man! It´s nice to read about your training and the logic behind your decisions. It´s very encouraging to know that we have to always make rationalized decisions.

    P.S Proud to be Hypertrophy Max member!

  18. Cody Moxley October 17, 2012 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Thanks for posting Ben! I never thought of using a pyramiding technique for HIIT. I usually stick to the alternating high-low routine (varying intensity of course). I’m going to try your method in my next lifting cycle. I love all your info in MI40 as well. Thanks again!

  19. Juuso Korvola October 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Great content man! It’s really fascinating to read about your journey to the olympia. The content you deliver is priceless, keep it coming!

  20. Andrew October 21, 2012 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Love the post man – appreciate it.
    (Interesting on the avoid the squat and deads close to contest prep).

    I was browsing your facebook wall and came across a lecture you had about deads and squats being the makeup of your college routine for the hormone increase.. man that was a gift!

    I’m doing some tweeking and trying things around myself.. but adding deads and squats and focusing on bench.. has literally been great for me (add to that Ronnie recently was asked why he had a harder.. denser grainy look.. and he said it was because he thinks it comes from the harder but ballsier exercises (squat dead bench bent row, etc). and thats why him and branch have that type of look and muscle mass).

    Anyway, I went with it.. and I feel the hormones.. I almost feel like Sunday is hormone replacement therapy day.. because it just revs the testosterone for a while.. and it gets the week started off right.. and I feel it.. and I’ve been growing.., and its just annihiliation but amazing..

    anyway appreciate all the tips and incites and the protocals.

    (Just for fun.. on cardio days I’ve done lots of running in the past, step mill, elliptical, you name it.. HIT.. whatever.. and noticed the higher I get up minute wise the less strength gains I make .. the worse the muscles grow.. the lower the hormones.. I’ve had some success so far just going balls out 30 seconds on.. 30 seconds jog.. for springs.. for only 5-6 minutes.. than 5 minutes of balls out ellitiptical and 5 minutes balls out something else.. and I’m using the protocal from a study done with max benchers and a 60 second max cycling test (after going balls out for 60 seconds and attempting a max their lift was up 103%).. usually after those 15 minutes I go in and try to finish on some heavy arm lifts (sounds lame) with forearm bbell curls and heavy dumbell curls and I just feel the testosterone RAGING.. it feels GREAT.. I leave like a monster.. soaked.. metabolism on fire..
    but hey trial in errors, we’ll see what happens.. I dont know what my body will say tomorrow so!

    • Andrew October 21, 2012 at 8:29 am - Reply

      (meant to say.. sunday = hormone replacement therapy day.. because its balls out *legs*.. and only certain exercises do it..)

      and the HIT protocal was 30 seconds on 30 seconds off.. *sprints* treadmill only for 6 minutes..

      I can feel the testosterone when it gets there.. my voice gets deeper.. I feel cockier (lol).. I could walk in the gym lift a 45 lb plate and it feels a certain way.. after certain lifts I pick it up and its like picking up chalk.. MONSTER.. gotta love it

  21. Cameron W October 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Thanks again for your great insight.
    I’m just finishing my first time through MI40 (which I absolutely love) and was wondering what you recommend for training after? Should I take a few days off and re start MI40?
    Also what would you recommend exercise wise for Traps? I have been training them like Calves and Core keeping them under tension longer. Would love to know if this is incorrect.
    Congrats on your first of many Mr. Olympia’s.

    Pro Patria

  22. Dan October 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    Another great, and refreshing post. I like your non-preachy, journal type writing style. Keep going

  23. amber November 4, 2012 at 5:48 am - Reply

    Ben! Thank you, you have truly been a HUGE inspiration in my training. 2weeks into MI40 and this cardio tip is definitely going into action soon. I woul love your in put on 2 a day leg/gluts training.

  24. John December 27, 2012 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Another great article mate. I look forward to reading more. Your no bs approach is definitely appreciated, especially from someone of your stature in this notoriously secretive and misleading industry. Well done my man, hope to see more in the lead up to the Arnold!

  25. Dan March 29, 2013 at 3:54 am - Reply

    Hey Ben! I love reading your story to the Olympics, theres no place like Venice. I started working out at World Gym after Joe Gold sold his GOLDs Gym and opened the World Franchise. Traded an Olympic set of weights for my first membership. Joe left us in 2004 sad to see him go. This was in the Golden Age of bodybuilding before your time. Still training at 65 Thanks for the inspiration. keep up the good work. You’ll be Number one soon.

  26. Karim August 20, 2013 at 6:16 am - Reply

    So grateful for Ben taking the time to put this out publicly and for free. Very little books offer this kind of knowledge and especially useful knowledge. Its also awesome that Ben (a person with all this knowledge) who most people don’t have access to and also a pro with responsibilities takes the time to share all this while other pros who stay at home and eat and train just do videos for their sponsor giving the same usual answers about their training and nutrition with no reason to anything at all which is totally useless. I think it would be great if there was a sort of guide to the common foods in a bodybuilding diet and their functions so that the average person can create their own program not just based by macros but also by functions of foods and their roles and effects. For example, how avocados are a great source of healthy fats and minerals or as coconut oil is great for healthy fats and helps your immune system and so on and so forth.

  27. Jared November 19, 2013 at 4:41 am - Reply

    Thanks for all the great information and no BS approach to training! I learn more by reading your blog posts, facebook posts, and watching your youtube channel than any other information source out there. Thanks again and can/t wait to see what you bring in 2014 !

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