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Troubleshooting November 2012

on Monday, 14 April 2014.

I am time poor and an intermediate trainee. Do you have any useful suggestions as to how I could allocate my training time optimally?

If you are an intermediate trainee and time poor then I would opt for a two day split. This is ideal because you can get really good results with only three days a week of training. If you are not a competitive bodybuilder and you simply want to stay fit, healthy, lean and look good on the beach, then you could conceivably stay with this program indefinitely (although if your goal is to put on some serious muscle mass or compete in a bodybuilding competition, you'll definitely need to move up to a three of four day split eventually).
This two day split can be set up on a three day or four day per week program, depending on your schedule and total time allowance. The three day per week variant of this program may look familiar if you have ever read Bill Phillip's book Body For Life. He didn't invent this routine but he certainly popularised it- it's an oldie but a goodie.

Two Day Split: Body Part Groupings
Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs
Day 2: Legs, Back, Biceps, Calves

Variant One: Four Day Routine (more aggressive)
Works each muscle once every three to four days

Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
Chest Legs Off Chest Off Legs Off
Should Back Should Back
Tri Bi Tri Bi
Abs Calve Abs Calves
Repeat each week exactly as above.
Variant Two: Three Day Routine (more conservative)
Works each muscle once each four to five days
Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
Chest Off Legs Off Chest Off Off
Shoul Back Shoul
Tri Bi Tri
Abs Calves Abs

Intermediate workout: sample exercises
Chest, Shoulder, Triceps, Abs (Day One)
1. Flat Bench Press, dumbbell, barbell or machine
2. Incline DB flyes or pec deck flye machine
3. Military Press
4. Dumbell side lateral raise
5. Tricep Pushdown
6. Overhead Tricep extensions with dumbells
7. Rope Crunches
8. Hanging Raises

Legs, Back, Biceps, Calves (Day 2)
1. Leg Press machine
2. Hack Squat
3. Stiff-Leg Deadlift
4. Goodmornings
5. Chin ups
6. Seated Cable Rows
7. Barbell Curls
8. Seated Alternate DB Hammer Curls
9. Seated Calf Machine
10. Standing Calf Machine

Should I do my cardio and my weights in the same session or in separate sessions?
My belief is when you do your training is not nearly as important as just doing it consistently. Timing is a secondary and highly overrated factor. Don't lose sleep or get too caught up in arguments over which and when to do what is better? However if you are doing cardio and weights on the same day and your schedule allows it, it's probably ideal to split your cardio and weights into separate sessions (especially if you are interested in gaining muscle as well as losing fat). For example, you could do 30-40 minutes of cardio early in the am, and 40 minutes of weight training at noon, or in the evening. This twice a day schedule has several potential benefits:

1. It allows you to get a meal quickly after your weights, which maximises recovery and muscle growth (very important if muscle growth is one of your prime goals)
2. It gives the body a double boost in metabolism instead of a single post exercise metabolic increase
3. It allows you to get the benefits of fasted morning cardio
4. It gives you more energy for each individual session, instead of one long-energy draining session. When you do your weights and cardio together, whichever you do last tends to suffer because your energy levels start to decline.
5. It maximises hormonal response to exercise for maximal fat loss and muscle growth
6. It minimises the possibility of overtraining.
However twice per day training isn't always practical or an option. If two sessions a days doesn't fit into your schedule, then doing your cardio immediately after your weight training is also effective. The only drawback to doing weights and cardio in the same session is that the workouts can become very long and tiring; sometimes 75-90 minutes

At the moment my priority is gaining size. I want to put on as much quality lean muscle as possible. Currently I am happy with my training partner and our workouts. I seem to be responding well to our choices of exercises, sets and reps. The area of nutrition is not my strong point, can you give me your best hints for what my shopping list should look like.

Maintaining optimal nutrition is essential to building a strong, massive physique, yet it is the most neglected element in the average lifters program. Without super nutrition, all training efforts are a waste of time- clearly food plays a major role in the acquisition of muscle mass.

The first thing you need to with your nutritional approach is get excited about it! A person needs to be super motivated or you just won't follow through. If the enthusiasm isn't there you might follow the diet for a week or two; real gains come from following the diet for months and even years.

Regular trips to the supermarket are a must. The following is a list of the type of food that I would recommend if you are eating to grow:
• Sweet potato
• Eggs
• Grapefruits
• Bananas
• Chicken breasts
• Ground beef and steak
• Cottage cheese
• Milk
• Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
• Brown rice
• Pasta
• Oats
• Vegetables
• Wholegrain bread
• Flaxseed Oil

The major problem with this kind of "diet" is finding time to eat all the food, much less prepare it. I have provided you with a sample meal program that would work for someone who does a typical office job and has no access to a kitchen. Therefore planning is the only way you are going to get proper meals in! You can bake your sweet potatoes all at once for example whilst you watch TV at night-they are great plain and cold! Eating right will be easy if you are prepared.

It's also helpful if you can eat the same things almost every day. Here is a sample of a daily meal schedule:

Meal 1: 4 egg whites, 1 whole grapefruit, 250 grams of cottage cheese, 1 large bowl of oats, 2 pieces of whole bread and 2 cups of milk
Meal 2: Tin of tuna and 1 plain baked sweet potato, large serve of vegetables
Meal 3: Chicken breast, bowl of pasta, 1 cup of juice, 1 baked sweet potato, 1 piece of fresh fruit
Meal 4: Chicken breast, piece of fruit, 1 baked sweet potato
Meal 5: 1 large bowl of salad, piece of steak or ground beef, large serve of vegetables, 2 wholegrain slices
Meal 6: 1 tub of yoghurt and 8 egg whites

This is merely an example of what your diet may look like whilst trying to make gains. You have to base it around your lifestyle and your food preferences. You could make a lot of substitutions and still be on the right track. Turkey could replace chicken for example.

You will notice that the program has an abundance of nutrient dense food. I am familiar with a number of athletes who consume high calorie diets and complain that they just get fat. This is because they consume nutrient dilute foods or empty calories if you will. Notice that this sample diet incorporates many aspects of an excellent nutritional program. Among those are: adequate intake of nutrients, balance of nutrients, low intake in sugar, fats and salt, and a variety of food sources. Notice that this sample diet also consists of foods that are economical, convenient and very available. They also have outstanding nutritional value. Every self-respecting bodybuilder should try to incorporate all of these aspects into their own personal nutrition program.
Evidence has shown that without frequent, nutritious meals, muscular hypertrophy cannot be maximised. There is no doubt that optimum nutrition is essential to superior athletic performance as well as health.

Ingrid if I wished to compete in a bodybuilding show (I am a female and wish to compete in figure) how far out from contest date do you suggest I start dieting?

Without knowing you and your stats this is a very important and loaded question. The typical pre-contest diet is usually 12 weeks out from a show. However depending on how much body fat you have to lose it could be longer or shorter. If your body fat is higher than about 22% you may require much longer and if you are really lean all year round, say less than 14% you may get away with as little as 8 weeks.
In my opinion these would be the body fat guidelines that I would use:

Over 22% 14 week plus diet*
20-18% 12 week diet
17%-15% 10 week diet
14%-12% 8 week diet

However as I have asterisked, and this is only my personal belief recently developed out of witnessing many horror stories of metabolic havoc post-competition, if a woman is 23% body fat or higher I don't believe she should be dieting for a show. The reason is simple. Their metabolism is simply not dictating that they are ready too.

A show is not a dieting strategy and this is where many women run into huge eating/metabolic and adrenal issues. This is an area that I delve deeply into in my brand new E Book "Figure It Out" that can be found on my website if you would like to know more.