Before I get into some Q and A, I wanted to let everyone in Massachusetts and New Hampshire know about an upcoming event to mark on your calendars. You may recall recently that I wrote about New Hampshire bodybuilder Brandon Doherty, recently diagnosed with terminal liver cancer at only 30 years old. His good friend and fellow New Hampshire bodybuilder Stacy Beevers has organized a fundraiser for him here:
Saturday, December 1
1500 Lafayette Road
1 PM until?
Guest will be added but already IFBB Pro Jose Raymond, myself, and national-level Bikini competitor Allyson Gangemi will be on hand to answer all your training and nutrition questions, take photos, sign autographs, etc. I will be selling my book for just $10 (online it's 14.95 plus 5 for shipping), with all proceeds going to Brandon. Other local competitors have already pledged to be there. More names will surely be added to the roster soon as Brendon is a hell of a nice guy and we all want to support him any way we can in this fight. I know the holiday season is a busy one, which is why I am telling you about it now! I hope to see a lot of you guys and girls up there.
Q. I can bench press 400 pounds. But my chest is not as thick as I would like it to be at all. My triceps and shoulders are very decent, but my chest is way behind. What am I doing wrong?
A. What you are doing wrong is what the majority of guys in your situation are also doing. They can't make up their minds whether they want to be the strongest bench presser in the gym, or have the best chest. When I've asked, the guy usually tells me he wants to be both! Unfortunately, you have to either choose one, or choose to be pretty good in terms of both size and strength, but nothing really special at either. The reason is because training to be a great bench presser is a very different type of training from a bodybuilder looking for full development of the pecs. I don't even pretend to know how to train to be a great bench presser, because I never have and truth be told, I never have been overly strong on that exercise even when that was my goal many, many years ago in my teens. But I can tell you that it involves lower reps, long rest periods between sets, and adjusting your technique so that you are able to push the most amount of weight off your chest as possible. An exaggerated arch of the entire back is common to see, and the triceps and shoulders are a large part of the lift. There is no concern with isolating the chest, feeling it work, or in getting a pump. But if you want to build the chest, those are exactly the things you should be concerned with. You still want to train heavy - but heavy is now a relative term. 'Heavy' for 8-12 reps is very different from 'heavy' for 1-3 reps. Rest periods should be kept to two minutes or less so that blood keeps flowing into the area. You want to get a pronounced pump in your chest. You want to feel a stretch and a good contraction on every rep. And you have to forget about being the strongest bench presser. Luckily for me, I stopped caring about that literally decades ago. I see guys in the gym every day who can out-bench me. Since I'm a bodybuilder, I don't even pay attention. What I would notice is if someone at the gym had a better chest than me. Without sounding like an arrogant jerk, I don't see too many of those.
Q. Can I have a shake as a pre-workout meal?
A. You can, but you shouldn't unless that is absolutely your only option. I see recommendations all the time in articles that you should have whey protein and a piece of fruit as your pre-workout 'meal.' The problem is, that's not a meal; it's a snack! If you train hard and your workout is going to take more than 20 minutes, you need something more substantial to hold you over. In my case, I usually eat once before training because I train in the morning. My breakfast is a large meal: an omelet made with 3-4 whole eggs, asparagus, tomatoes, shredded lowfat cheese, and sometimes even bits of chicken or sausage in it, and a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries plus either sliced bananas or strawberries. If it's the weekend, due to either Christian's martial arts class on Saturday morning or church on Sunday morning, I train a little later and get another meal in. That's usually something like a turkey breast burger and a large apple, or a chicken breast and a sweet potato. Regardless, my pre-workout drink is Superpump MAX, which has plenty of BCAA's in it, and I get more of those during the workout with Aminolast, plus good carbs from Glycofuse. But at some point right about 60-90 minutes before the workout begins, I am always finishing a solid meal. I have tried training on a shake as my last meal before the workout, and always found myself running out of steam halfway through. There is never and never will be a substitute for good old-fashioned FOOD!
Talk to you all later!