Before the Q & A's, just a quick note on the benefit this past Saturday for bodybuilder Brandon Doherty in his battle against cancer held at the GNC in Portsmouth, NH. The event was a big success, and it was amazing to see so many of my fellow competitors and fitness enthusiasts come out to show their support for one of our own. Also wanted to let you all know that a Facebook page has been created where you can follow along with Brandon, titled
'Brandon Doherty's Road to Recovery.' Whether you personally know him or not, you can draw inspiration from his courage in the face of this challenge.
Over the years of training and reading I've come to the conclusion that 3
exercises for biceps, triceps, hamstrings, calves and abs. 4 exercises for chest, shoulders, quadriceps and 5 exercises for back. What in your opinion is the proper combo for an overall development?
I go into this subject in my book in greater detail. We are all different, and some of us respond better to lesser or greater volume than average. There are ‘easy-gainers’ out there just as there are ‘hardgainers.’ It all comes down to how well a person responds to certain amounts of physical work. Some guys will thrive on training for a couple hours up to six days a week, while some will overtrain on anything more than about forty minutes, three times a week. It also has a lot to do with how well you are eating, your supplementation, both over the counter and otherwise, and how much rest you get. Generally speaking, most bodybuilders do best with this amount of volume per bodypart (these totals do not include warm-ups):
Chest: 8-12 Sets
Back: 10-16 sets
Legs: 10-16 sets
Shoulders: 8-12 sets
Biceps: 6-9 sets
Triceps: 9-12 sets
Calves: 4-6 sets
Overlap is also something to think about. You don’t want to waste precious time and energy performing exercises that work the muscle the same way as something else you already did. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to do both incline dumbbell and incline barbell presses in the same chest workout, or chin-ups and lat pulldowns. Here is a brief list of how I feel most bodybuilders should structure their workouts for each bodypart:
Quadriceps a leg extension, any pressing movement (squats, leg press, etc)
Hamstrings a leg curl, a stiff-leg deadlift
Back: a row, a chin, a shrug, and a lower back movement such as hyperextensions or good mornings. Deadlifts are also advised for those seeking maximum mass and power in the back.
Chest: a flat or decline press, a flye movement, an incline press
Shoulders: an overhead press, a side lateral movement, a rear lateral movement
Biceps: any palms-up curl, and any reverse or hammer grip curl
Triceps: any extension, plus either dips or close-grip bench press
Calves: standing or donkey calf raise, and seated calf raise
Abs: any exercise that brings the knees to the torso, and any
exercise that brings the torso to the knees
Can you add exercises to that list? For back or legs, another exercise or two probably won’t be a bad thing if you’re addressing all your recovery issues like nutrition, supplementation, and rest to the very best of your abilities. But the temptation for we bodybuilders with our ‘more is better’ way of thinking is to add more and more to our workouts. Most of the time, it’s better to work very hard on just a few exercises rather than drag the workout out past the point of productivity.
Hey Ron, I have a question for you for the next time I diet down. That won’t be until around next March for a show in June, but I wanted to get something straight. I just got a job bouncing at a club on Friday and Saturday nights. When I dieted in the past, I would have my last meal at around 11 at night. However, with new the job, I get home at 3 in the morning. What do I do in the time in between on those weekend nights? Should I have another meal when I get home, or is that going to interfere with my trying to lose fat?
When it comes to shedding bodyfat, often we hear advice that we should not eat after a certain time of day, or that we shouldn’t have carbohydrates in particular after a specific time like 5 or 6 P.M. As with any advice, you must carefully consider how it applies to you and whether you need to alter it to better suit your own needs. For instance, much of the general recommendations of this type are based on the assumption that you work an average 9-5 job. But many of us these days are either self-employed or work at shifts that can be along the lines of 2-11 PM, or even 11 PM-7 AM. I do feel that when trying to get ripped, carbohydrates should only be eating in the pre-workout meal and post-workout. Depending on when you train, that could be just about any time of day or night. The same would apply to when to eat your final meal. I strongly believe that the final meal should be a solid protein like whole eggs, steak, chicken breast, or fish, and that it should be eaten very near to bedtime along with some fibrous carbohydrates (raw vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, or string beans) to slow digestion even more and assure that your body will have adequate amino acids circulating during sleep. That being said, if you go to sleep at 11 PM, that’s when you should have your last meal. If you don’t retire until 3 AM, eat your final meal then. Don’t let something so random as the time of day dictate when you eat. That would be like only filling up the gas tank in your car on a certain day of the week or at a certain time. Give your body the fuel it needs whenever it happens to need it, because ‘running on empty’ while dieting is a surefire way to both lose muscle mass and preserve bodyfat stores!