Gaspari Nutrition

Ron Harris


Less carbs on non-training days, the best training system, and squats
11/17/2012

Q.

Hey, I was just wondering how does your daily diet differ from training days to non-training days? I was told to cut back on the carbs and eat more protein. I am also pretty curious in all of your years training what would you say would have to be your best type of training routine that gave you the best results? Thanks for your time, Tim

A.

Tim, the answer to your question depends on whether I am in off-season or contest prep mode. In the off-season, my goal is to build as much muscle as possible. This requires a surplus of calories. With that in mind, I eat carbs with nearly every meal except usually the final one about an hour or so before going to bed. I try to make most of these ‘good carbs’ like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, or rice. I will even have an apple with a protein shake. If I find I am starting to gain more bodyfat than I am comfortable with, I simply cut back on the carbs a bit, particularly anything that follows my post-workout meal. Once I switch into contest prep mode, my goal changes to losing as much bodyfat as possible while maintaining as much of my muscle mass as I can. On training days, I will have carbs in the form of oatmeal in my breakfast, then go train about 90 minutes later. Immediately after the workout I have a shake, SizeOn Max Performance from Gaspari. The meal that follows about an hour later will be a lean protein like chicken breast or tilapia fish along with a complex carb like a sweet potato or rice. Any meals that follow will not contain carbohydrates, only protein and fats. Examples would be salmon and asparagus, whole eggs and broccoli, or a lean cut of steak and mixed vegetables. If I have a protein shake as a meal replacement, I will have a half-cup of cashews or mixed nuts with it. Since I don’t want to drop my overall calories too much, I will boost my protein up as I reduce my carbs. Toward the final weeks of my contest diet, I gradually cut back more on the carbs at those three meals: breakfast, post-workout shake, and post-workout meal. I never take my carbs down to zero, as I think it’s not a good idea for bodybuilders. I feel much better with some carbs, and I definitely have much better workouts.

As for which type of training routine has given me the best results, I would honestly have to say that several types of routines have been very productive, but sooner or later I grew stale on each either mentally, physically, or both. HIT training along the old Nautilus guidelines worked well for a time, as did standard bodybuilding training. DC Training was great for about two years, but I found with my various shoulder and elbow problems that progressing in weight every workout was just not happening. German Volume Training (10 sets of 10 of an exercise) seemed to spur new gains for a little while. FST-7 by Hany Rambod is another training system I have experimented with and would encourage others to as well. When you look at the big picture, you will see that there are thousands of bodybuilders out there training with many different styles, and most of them make gains. I think the true key to progress is training hard and consistently, challenging yourself to train with more intensity and heavier weights (to a point), while supporting that training with proper rest, nutrition, and quality supplements. Virtually any type of hard training will be effective for a certain amount of time, at which point your body will have fully adapted to it. That’s when it’s time to move on and try something new. That doesn’t mean you can’t go back later to s style of training that used to work. Often you will find that taking a long break from something (like DC) primes your mind and body to get results once again when you return to it. Hope that helps!

Q.

Quick question when I do Squats usually go 135x6 for 2 warm-up sets, then 185x6, 225x6, and finish with 265 for 3-5. So my question is, how much should you jump in poundage for your last set? Is there a limit that you shouldn’t make jumps beyond, like a max of 50 pounds or more? I am really working hard to build my thighs and would appreciate any advice.

A.

There really is no standard guideline that I know of regarding how much weight to add from set to set. I know a lot of guys that move up in increments of 45-pound plates. They will do 135, 225, 315, 405, etc. Others will go with quarters in between, as in 135, 185, 225, 275, etc. If you are aiming for a maximum attempt, you always have to walk a fine line between warming up enough and not overly tiring yourself out on warm-ups. In those cases, the warm-ups are usually only for 3-4 reps, if not singles or doubles. Since you mentioned that you are squatting with the goal of increasing your leg mass, I really don’t think you should be so concerned about hitting a max, like a powerlifter would. Instead, I think you would get more out of squats if you do higher reps. Higher-rep squats, in the range of 10-20, are probably about the hardest thing you will ever do in the gym, but they have an almost magical ability to make legs grow huge. The great Tom Platz was known not for heavy sets of a few reps, but the incredible things he could do for reps. He would take 225 and squat for 10 minutes non-stop, and he also was known at times to do 405 pounds for 50 reps. No wonder he had the greatest quads of all time! Based on the weights you listed, it may take you a couple months to work up to doing these weights and reps, but this squat routine would be a killer for you:

95 x 15

135 x 10 (warm-ups)

185 x 20

225 x 15

245 x 12

265 x 10

Something like that would work better to stimulate growth. Good luck!

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