AGE: 34 | HEIGHT: 5′ 10″ | WEIGHT: 186
Q. What did you do differently these past 18 weeks that you weren’t capitalizing on in your previous training?
In the past I’ve been a very “go with the flow” type of trainer.
I tended to select my exercises depending on how I felt that day. My variables were what equipment was free, what method (power/strength or size) I used, and the amount of volume in the session.
The only aspect of my plan that was regimented was the split: Monday – Legs; Tuesday – Back; Wednesday – Chest; Thursday – Shoulders; Friday – Arms. Rested on the weekend.
When I started the Beta No Nonsense Muscle Building 2.0 Program I had a plan of exercises to follow and record. From doing this I saw what progressions I was making and also where I was stalling which allowed me to make adjustments.
(Note: I followed phases 1 and 3 of this program; I elected to use a back specialization for phase 2 to address a weakness of mine—more on that later.)
The plan also contained small micro progressions or end-of-set intensifiers to continually shock and stimulate the body into growth. Deload weeks were planned at regular intervals to allow the body to recover and progress.
All of these factors have transformed the way I look at my training and also the importance of recording and evaluating a training plan. If you don’t know where you’re going right or wrong, you can’t make adjustments to the plan to help correct or see why the methods were effective.
Q. I know everyone’s wondering… What was your daily meal plan as well as supplement list?
Currently I am cycling my caloric intake depending on training/rest days (3500kcals/3000kcals). I find that I work best on a balanced diet approach. My breakdown is 40% carb, 30% fat and 30% protein. So my protein intake is a little higher than most people’s RDA but I find that helps me ward off hunger and cravings.
I split my food up into 4 meals as I find that fits in with my daily life. Meal frequency is a tricky concept depending on your goal and dietary system you are following. The best piece of advice I could give someone is find what style and split works best for you and adapt it to suit your needs and goals as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
An example of my daily intake would be:
Meal 1: Omelet, spinach and mushroom, bacon rashers cooked in coconut oil
Meal 2: Venison, broccoli, and rice
Meal 3: Salmon, potatoes and green leafy veggies
Meal 4: Turkey, sweet potato cheesy mash and dark leafy greens
I rotate the meats I have daily not only for mixing up the amino acid profiles, but also for variety. There’s nothing worse than having the same meal over and over again. It becomes a chore to eat and I also believe it starts to make people begin to crave foods they are missing.
Depending on my meal frequency or what time I am training sometimes I use BCAAs/EAAs during my workouts with 40g whey, 5g creatine and coloured salts post-workout. I like to use topical ZMA prior to bed to help with replacing lost magnesium and aiding with sleep and zinc to optimize my testosterone levels. I like to keep things simple, that way I’m more likely to do it.
Overly complicated regimens, for me, are demotivating. For instance, I read an article and started following its protocol which was to have so many BCAA tablets during your workout with x grams of a carb source and then then 1 hour after working out have x grams of carbs and protein. I gave it up after 2 weeks of doing it because I was more worried about if I’d had my pills rather than doing the work required to develop.
Q. Where did you dig down and find the motivation?
I have always been a competitive individual, especially when it comes to team sports. I feel like I have to perform to my best ability or I’ll let the team down. This was especially true with the Del Monte Pro Team, seeing all the guys working out, the meal preps and videos. I didn’t want to be the one lagging on my results or letting the team down. So it enabled me to ramp up my intensity into another gear.
Q. You made a great deal of progress with your back, how did you manage to do so and come in leaner in the process?
I believe my diet helped a lot here with the leanness. I timed my carbs in my meals around my workout so I could fuel and restore pre and post training effectively.
I also reduced my calorie intake on non-training days. This was to increase my ability to burn more fat as fuel on non-training days and I didn’t need any extra energy as I wasn’t training and my protein intake was adequate enough so I knew it wouldn’t eat too much into my muscle mass.
With regards to the growth aspect, I believe training frequency helped me out a lot. I did Vince’s 6-week Back Specialization Program (one of 9 programs in Vince’s Vanity Specialization System) and I think this overload really kicked my growth up a gear. Check out this out-of-the-box, high-frequency split:
Monday: Back Workout A—heavy, full recovery strength work
Tuesday: Back Workout B—ascending and descending pyramids
Wednesday: Back Workout C—post-exhaustion supersets and total rep goal training
Friday: Legs and Abs Maintenance Workout
Saturday: Chest, Shoulders and Arms Maintenance workout
Regardless of the particular program or split you’re following, for maximum growth you need to focus on form, tempo, contraction and keeping the tension all on the muscle you are aiming to work.
Other tools that you could throw in to mix up your routine are drop sets, supersets, negatives, pause reps, constant tension sets and band work, the list is pretty extensive. Stick them on your last set of the exercises and take your man-up pills and go all-out on that set; you’ll be amazed by what progress you can make.
Good, hard work will always be the secret sauce of success. Most people will put the weight down as soon as the movement starts to feel uncomfortable, where in reality this is when the set starts! I find when training people they always have at least 5 more reps in the tank, so if you want to adapt and grow…use them!
Q. Is your back your favorite muscle group to train?
No, it isn’t. I don’t have a favourite body part. I understand and respect that all body parts have a role to play and there needs to be a balance to function effectively. Especially for sporting individuals, if you have imbalances or structural weakness it could lead to injuries or an inability to function at your best which could potentially be the difference between winning and losing.
I do however have favourite and loathing exercises. I used to hate deadlifts, which I respect is a cardinal sin if you want to grow, but I didn’t like the way the movement felt. I found out this was due to having a tight pec minor which internally rotated my shoulder, making the movement feel uncomfortable. After I addressed the issue, the movement feels a lot better and my back development has reached new heights.
I am a big fan of stiff legged deadlifts and glute-ham raises. As a footballer, hamstrings are an area of great tightness and limited range of movement and I believe these 2 loaded stretch exercises help keep the hams supple and stable. This is purely anecdotal but every footballer or fly half I work with has these 2 exercises within their plan and they have less lower-limb injuries than the ones that don’t have it.
Q. You have a crazy schedule—working up to 55 hours each week in addition to running an online coaching business, coaching and playing competitive soccer, and you still find the time to train… dude, how do you do it?
I believe to be successful you need to have a great support network to help keep you on track. This is especially true during those hard restricted days where your body and your mind are running on empty. It’s then when you need that gentle reminder from a loved one that you are on a journey and this is a stepping stone in that journey.
I am eternally grateful that I have a group of people that drives me forward everyday, a group which I don’t want to let down on my quest.
So this is my massive shout out to my little iron lady Charlotte for always reminding me daily of my target, Dave the Dog for always wanting those bloody walks at 4 a.m., my training partner Rob for making me do those last few reps even when I don’t want to and finally my work colleagues and clients that have provided banter and made things lighthearted which has kept my feet firmly on the ground. I salute you!
More from Andy:
- Watch Muscle Camp Season 1, Episode 2 to see Andy interviewed at Powerhouse Gym – Downtown Tampa during the Del Monte Pro Team Weekend, held February 27th-March 1st, 2015.
- Read Andy’s article, 7 Strategies To Sleep Your Way To Faster Muscle Gains, featured on this blog.
Where to connect with Andy:
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