Much Confusion There Is…

Hopefully you all had a great Christmas and got everything your heart desired, or at least protein, protein is always good.
 
In the local coffee shop I was chatting to a friend yesterday about her endeavours in training for her first bikini comp. She is clearly excited but after a short chat she asked my opinion on training for such an event this is where things got interesting.
 
I will be the first to admit that training people for that style of comp is not something that massively interests me because when people start cutting (for their first anyway) they can end up making themselves ill. I’ve seen plenty of people in prep look great 4-6weeks out and then crash hard. They start to get even leaner and even lose muscle, this is not a good thing as once they rebound after the show typically there is a fair amount of fat gain.
 
Obviously everyone has to start somewhere and learn form their experiences but from what can be seen in many first time competitors, they fall victim to an extreme and end up doing themselves some damage (hormonally, metabolically & mentally) because they drop calories too low too fast and us incorrect macro ratios. This is why I would always advise hiring an EXPERIENCED coach for prep because they will help you avoid this pitfall.
 
^^ Eric Helms – The Muscle & Strength Nutrition Pyramid, a great book for naturals and nutrition for comps, buy it.
 
Sorry, went off topic there. It just concerns me that people end up hurting themselves in an effort to impress others and follow a trend because they think their first show must be perfect, it doesn’t. Front he good Bodybuilders, Physique Athletes I know they said it took them anywhere from 5-10 shows onwards before they knew their body well enough to avoid problems (they all had coaches as well).
 
Right, I will get to the point now.
 
The confusion mentioned above was in regards to training, she asked my opinion on what she should do in her bulk (the phase she is in), here is what I had to say:
 
“While not my strong point, I would personally say to focus on at least 1 heavy exercise 2-6 reps for 15-25 reps total at 85%+ 1RM or RPE of 9.5, then for accessory work 2 exercises with 6-8 reps for 50 reps total with an RPE of 9-10 (last set being all out, and most sets being close to it), then maybe another 1-2 exercises on a weak point focus or isolation with perhaps 3xfail or 3×8-12 – RPE 8-10.
 
A standard Pull-Push-Legs Split on rotating days if possible or a body part split with adequate crossover planned in. As for CV it’s not massive on a bulk as it just makes things harder, perhaps 1 or 2 walks per week just for health purposes but that’s up to you. All in all it cals in the supposed ‘optimal’ guidelines for hypertrophy based on current writings and also what I’ve read/seen over the years in anecdote.”
 
^^ Eric Helms – Muscle & Strength Pyramid, Brad Schoenfeld – Science & Development of Muscular Hypertrophy, Christian Thibaudeau – High Threshold Muscle Building, Charles Poliquin – The Poliquin Principles. Books worth buying for all the knowledge.
 
It was at that point I could see her internally screaming.
She explained how what I said is different from what her current personal trainer says (12+ reps on everything, moderate weights – not terrible advice) and what he says different again from what her comp coach she is using says as well (12-15 reps +, lifting light).
 
^^ Pertty logical when cutting to help keep up volume but I’m personally not too sure that’s the best way to be on a bulk, it’s also been quite well documented that natural lifters will soon burn out on the stupidly high volume programs that the pro’s use on a regular basis. Check out PowerBuilding – this is something worth looking in to as a great many well known pros do this (Bradley Martin, Mike O-hearn etc)
 
Poor lady.
 
Now technically everyone is right because provided the volume was equated correctly to provide the stimulus she needed, plus correct nutrition/rest etc, growth would occur, however the strength gained would be the differing factor.
 
 
I told her to simply listen to her comp coach to avoid any further confusion and that my opinion was just that, my opinion and not to be taken over her current coach.
 
It’s interesting that there are so many schools of thought to which is the most optimal route to go for building muscle for a comp, however if you look at many of the successful champions they all have/had one thing in common, do you know what it was?
 
No, not steroids, although that’s true for most past a certain level.
 
They were all brutally strong and you can get strong lifting piddly weights, not really. They all built a massive amount of muscle before they stepped foot on stage, just look at what they used to lift, Reg Park could press a total of 235lbs (two dumbbells) for multiple reps in the strict overhead press, Arnie had a 700lbs deadlift, Grimek has a 400lbs+ overhead press, Tom Platz could squat 500lbs for 23 reps, you get the picture.
 
Many people who have admirable physiques put in plenty of time getting strong in the 2-6 rep range and building a density of muscle and used 8-12 for their volume so they could have the biggest piece of granite to chisel in to the perfect sculptures you see on stage. After all, you can’t carve a goliath master piece out of a pebble.
 
Just something to think about.
 
Almost every method will work to some degree and almost every method will work for some one. If you want to avoid confusion look for trends, you know, the majority and similarities of successful people (they all lift heavy when not cutting, and keep a small portion of heavy lifting when they do cut as well) and that my friends is one way to reduce your confusion, or increase it dramatically, sorry in advance.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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