Meathead Media: Jan 5th Updates and Thoughts

in General Topics, Progress Updates, Uncategorized

Welcome, welcome. Rise from the cesspool of crumbs, turkey, alcohol and flipped schedules.

The holidays are for enjoyment, and I sure as hell hope you enjoyed yourself. The reduced activity on the blog, social networks and email probably indicated that I was having a blast – that indication would be 100% correct.

In fact, my holidays were some of the best I’ve ever had. I can say that with confidence.

I had the chance to take over two weeks “off” and head down to sunny Santa Monica for some business related fun, then back to my family’s house for Christmas.

I say “off” because I was working every day, but in a relaxed sense and on projects I truly enjoy. John Romaniello and I met up for some brainstorming, writing, shooting the shit and engaging buskers in friendly banter. Adam Bornstein, Roman’s co-author and editor of Livestrong.com was supposed to join, along with a few other epic personalities.

Alas, my foreign origin seemed to shift the Santa Monica flow, causing a random plunge into rainy conditions and near-death sickness for Adam. I’m not a very good Canadian, never have been. I hate the cold, the rain, the snow, and hockey is just…OKAY.

Even so, I endured comments along the lines of me “bringing the weather” with me. Whatever, douche bags, it got sunny later in the week and Bornsein is alive and well.

Fuel

Coffee shops, beaches, women, dogs, markets, shopping, buskers who actually have talent, fantastic weather. All of these things are components in a worth-while trip. But that isn’t the crux. Whatever it cost me to be there, Iv’e earned back (or will earn back) 10 fold.

As I, and many others always say: you ARE the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with. One of my missions for 2013 is to take this to a new level, and it started during that week in Santa Monica.

Fuel is needed for any journey. Most vehicles need to stop at some point to refuel and get a bearing on the path ahead. Santa Monica was my pitstop, and oh how powerful it was.

Training Environment

Although I didn’t get to go as much as I liked, the chance to train at Gold’s Gym in Venice was seized with excitement. I felt like a little boy walking through those doors. The lights, pictures, members, atmosphere. Everything you see in countless videos and photo shoots – only better.

Soaking it in for 20 minutes, I strode through the lines of equipment and various rooms, feeling the energy radiate from the floor. Legends have ben built here. Blood spilt, tears shed, and dreams realized.

I cannot place it, and it could be due to a number of compounding factors, but what followed was one of the best training sessions I’ve had all year. Naturally, I was training arms on that Friday evening.

The experience seems insignificant, especially to the outsider. However, the power of atmosphere and state of mind cannot be understated. Most often, you can make a shitty situation shine, and enduring through it is one of the keys to success. Nothing is perfect.

However, toxicity can easily infect. There is no rule that states you must endure a training environment that chews on your success. This is too important of a matter to shrug off. Your training determines your quality of life, to a greater degree than most realize.

Jason Ferrugia (another Santa Monica resident) often says, if you don’t like something, change it. Simple. Hate your gym? Move. Even if it means driving an extra 20 minutes. If it’s important, you MAKE the time.

I know people who commute 90 minutes to train with people who inspire and motivate them. That’s 3 hours total.

Mental Environment

As most of you will have seen, John Romaniello of Roman Fitness Systems has brought me on board for a type of year-long business/writing internship. That fact that I was chosen blows my mind, and the opportunity is not taken lightly.

Santa Monica was a jumping off point. And jump we did, head first.

Through the hustle and electricity of daily routine, it’s easy to convince yourself that “busy” is good.

Busy, is bullshit.

Sitting down with Roman on many occasions over coffee, dinner (Santa Monica’s food makes me want to take my clothes off), or a flurry of tapping keys, we broached an array of subjects. Anything from women, to writing, to missions we both plan to accomplish.

To succeed, busy is thrown out the window. Effectiveness is thy new best friend.

Effectiveness, meet the readers. Readers, meet Effectiveness. You are now soul mates.

When I asked if his recent trip to Hawaii was enjoyed, he shrugged and said,

“Meh, to be honest, it’s too slow. I don’t understand. I could never handle being so complacent, so bored, so stagnant. I need to build a legacy.”

Half way through his sentence, I was grinning ear to ear. Finally, someone who understands. Although sitting on a beach all day is wonderful, it’s not the end goal. Simply having the opportunity to forget about all else for a few days, spew my guts and fill my cup, means 2013 is off with a bang.

One of my hopes is that many of you are off to as strong a start as well. Ripping up missions, setting benchmarks, staying accountable, knowing your passions and only doing tasks that align with them. If not, have no fear. I’m half way through writing my own process that has been patched together from some of the greatest minds in every industry across the world. Sign up with your email in the sidebar to get first access to the document. The aim is to help you organize your thoughts in every area of importance to you. Your body, business, relationships, whatever.

The difference here is that this isn’t a once per year event determined by an arbitrary date. This is to be started and maintained every damn day.

Enough with the drivel, onto the updates.

Thoughts From Last Phase

1) Bruce Lee is a smart guy. Flow like water, especially within your training. On the road from Toronto to Santa Monica, then to Vancouver Island before rounding back to the big city again, consistency in training environments can be difficult to maintain. This is a shit excuse to throw up your arms, flustered as if you missed another episode of Thursday night Vampire Diaries.

When on the road, things are rarely perfect. Any bodybuilder, figure, bikini or fitness model who travels for shoots, expos and competitions will tell you the same. Sometimes, the fern wielding, grape feeding slaves are simply unavailable. A shame, I know.

With basic strength programs, these problems rarely arise. The primary use of barbells and dumbbells lends itself to versatility. With more advanced bodybuilding training, however, specific machines and set-ups can be employed on top of (not instead of) the basics. The nomad intermediate to advanced lifter is oft faced with limited access to a desired machine. Far from home, the solace and comfort of routine is broken.

Such is life, but if you employ some intelligent problem solving in regards to strength curves, your sessions can flow smoothly.

A prime example is that of the Machine Scott (or Preacher) Curl. Employed to overload and hold the contraction at the peak of the movement, the Machine Scott Curl allows for constant resistance and a differing strength curve than when using a barbell.

The goal was to hold the peak contraction for 2 seconds, followed by a 4 second negative. However, when training in my home town in the Comox Valley, the machine of choice was nowhere to be found. A quick look around the gym floor solved my problem. All I sought was constant resistance with a similar strength curve, and a Low Cable Scott Curl set up at the right angle was perfect.

Like any zealous sculptor, I carted the seated Scott Bench across the floor and got to work on my five sets, alternated with weighted Triceps Dips.

Obviously, this wasn’t a problem when training at Gold’s in Venice.

Think critically about your program and what it is trying to achieve. If a professional has designed it for you, everything should be there for a reason. Ask for advice on exercise substitutions, as an Incline Wide Dumbbell Curl is far different than a Cambered 45 degree Scott Curl.

2)Systems are at the crux of every successful mission, especially nutrition. 16 days on the road? Santa Monica? Surely, your beloved nutrition program is doomed to a miserable failure. Not so, sweetheart.

This warrants another blog post, so I will be swift and merry with my words.

Establish a system. A system so powerful, not even the perils of airport security, delayed flights, awkward hotels and clueless locals can thwart your journey to becoming walking eye-candy.

This includes systems for eating out, and not worrying about it. Knowing where grocery stores are, being mindful of what you need, planning ahead, and allowing yourself to relax.

Five nights out of seven, I demolished a variety of gourmet steaks, potatoes, greens, and adventurous starters. Most would think it impossible to progress with such habits. Most would be wrong.

Because I have highly tuned systems in place for myself, I know exactly what I’m doing.

Before landing in LA, I searched for the nearest grocery stores to where I was staying. Every morning between 6 and 8, I walked to Whole Foods to stockpile for my daily fuel needs. Efficienct is the name of the game, and I knew exacly how much of each item I needed.

Can’t cook? Neither could I for the first 4 days. Rotissere chickens are your friends.

When a kitchen arose, the two young gun bachelors I was staying with didn’t own bowls, a spatula, cooking supplies, or tupperware. Really, I should write ANOTHER blog post on this, but refer to my article on kitchen essentials to review how to live like a real person in the mean time.

Armed with a fork to cook with, and plastic bags to store, I trucked forward with delicious food and smashed my training 5 days per week. Business as usual, bitches.

Systems, systems, systems.

3)To reach new territory, you must, at some point, lose sight of the shore. Apply this to everything. 

In regards to my training, most of what I’m doing is new to my body, far from the safety of familiar shores. Having the trust to cast off into the unknown has led to the most impressive results, while having an absolute blast in the process. By embracing this, new windows of opportunity and progress have emerged.

Extracting from it and utilizing Bruce Lee’s principle of taking what is useful and leaving the rest, I’m now developing some systems and programs for clients that will knock them on their newly sculpted ass.

Next Phase Training

Riding a high from the last phase of training, this next 4 week cycle is ramped up once again. Utilizing the same 5 day split, some emphasis has been shifted.

The basic premiss of nearly every session is to kick off by establishing blood flow through medium rep sets. With a pump going in the prime movers, risk of injury is reduced, and the joints are thoroughly lubricated.

From there, it’s all about destroying the high threshold motor units (HTMU) through low rep, high set exercises. Often, these will be on a machine to ensure safety. With a pump already established, the target muscles scream under the heavy loads.

After these low rep sets, the full spectrum of motor units is thrashed. Moving anywhere from 5×5 to 4×30-40, the result is a gruelling battle every time I step foot in the gym. Throw in double 1/4 reps, 1/2 reps from the bottom, 10 second eccentrics, 30 second rest periods and ungodly amounts of thick-handle training – those not willing to embrace pain need not apply.

The Weekly Breakdown

Monday: Chest- Following the outline above, this battle runs through the full spectrum of rep ranges from 2 to 40.

Tuesday: Back- Some unique exercises I had yet to try before this phase, namely Pulldowns to the chest using a Thick Handles Rope. A very unique and wonderfully uncomfortable contraction. Snatch Grip Deadlifts for sets of 15 kick this baby off.

Wednesday: Delts and Calves- A natural “ebb” in the flow of the week. In theory. In reality, this is equally as difficult. Something new is the inclusion of front raises, which I can safely say have never found their way into my own programs.

Thursday: Legs- It’s clear now. Last month it was merely a hunch, a gut feeling. But now it is brutally clear: Mike Demeter wants to kill me.

That’s fine by me. Starting with Barbell Walking Lunges, enduring a battle across the full spectrum of motor units, and ending with a final set of 50 Walking Dumbbell Lunges…per leg. Wondrous bliss and shaking bodies.

Friday: Arms- Just a bundle of ego-boosting joy. My favourite exercise here is, without a doubt, the Standing Unilateral BARBELL Thick-Grip Curls. 5 second eccentrics, low rep sets, a stimulus unlike any other.

Saturday:- Rest, stretch, therapy and my weekly trek to St.Lawrence Market.

Sunday-: 60 minutes of posing, mentally preparing for the week to come.

Cardio Protocol: A total of zero minutes

Nutrition

As mentioned earlier in the post, four nights out of seven in Santa Monica were spent dining out. On top of this, when at home at my family’s house there were some “inconsistencies” in the set plan.

Regardless, I enjoyed myself, but managed to stay within 85% of my norm.

Because of the minor deviance from my nutrition protocol as set out by John Meadows, I’ll be going one week back on my original plan from December to establish some “normality”.

Despite indulging, I suspect some days resulted in less protein being consumed than needed. A minor bump in the road, and irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. What matters is where I am now.

Chopsticks For Gains

One nugget of wisdom I picked up this month is learning to eat with chopsticks as often as possible. It effectively reduces bite size, speed of ingestion, and encourages mindful eating. Now, this gets thrown out the window entirely when time is of the essence. Thus, scheduling time for meals is essential, especailly with a full client load.

Again, this comes down to systems.

Just be sure not to become a chopstick wielding ninja. Once a certain level of skill is achieved, if seen alarming amounts of food pounded in a matter of seconds.

Mental Warfare

In my own endeavours, my mind has only grown stronger. Iv’e met some incredible people over the last month and been privy to rare opportunities. Combine this with my plans for the year ahead, and I’m one happy panda.

Fostering a growth-based mindset has been paramount. I see many friends, colleagues and co-workers dwelling in a limited mindset, slowly sinking deeper into complacency. A few have found something to hold on to, something to drive them forward with an appetite for more. This, above all else, makes me smile.

Growth in business. Growth in education. Growth in relationships, skills, state of mind, body, health and any number of important areas in your life needs to be a perpetual process.

If you are not moving forward, you’re dying. Not everything moves at once. Instead, focus on 1 to 3 aspects at a time and maliciously attack them like your life and body depend on it.

Your life and body DO depend on it.

Be on the look-out for that “mission planner” post coming soon. Sign up for free on the right sidebar and get instant updates.

Stats

Height- 5’10″ (still haven’t grown in four years. I think it’s time to give up)

Weight- 199lbs (90.5kg for all the UK and Aussie brothers and sisters) I was 201lbs at one point over the holidays, but the 200lb mark seems to haunt me. Let this be the push to break through the ceiling once and for all…

Body Fat %- Notably leaner, with my “priority” site having dropped 2mm. This wasn’t the goal at all, but it’s a nice side effect, especially as I’m heavier than the last Meathead Media.

My estimate is 10% right now. To be honest, the absolute number is not important. When on stage, the judges have no idea what body fat percentage you are. What’s important is the trending direction of the number, and staying consistent with measurement techniques.

Once I’m closer to competition in May and June, I’ll begin to dial in the measurements with full reports to make sure everything is on track.

The mirror, how clothes fit, pictures and “feeling” all have extreme value. Beware of using the scale as your sole tracking tool…

End of December Progress Pictures

Here we go. Snapped a few at the end of my trip to get an honest look.

 Although somewhat dark, this highlights the progress I’ve made in my chest.

Apparently, I like shooting from the left side…I just realized this, and should probably incorporate some freaking variety.

That’s All For Today

As you can see, looking back at my previous progression posts, things have moved forward streadily. The goal is to maintain class, lines, aesthetics and desirability in the physique. Implementing some very interesting training and nutrition approaches over the next couple of weeks will hopefully accelerate things. An epic journey lies ahead over the next 5 months, and I’m dying to get back into the gym.

Keep an eye out this week and next for some new posts on “Mission Planning”, “Female Physique Training”, and new developments on the video production front.

And so, I turn the mic to you, dear reader:

1)What specifically would you like seen profiled on video? Food prep? Workouts? Q&A? General discussion? You name it, I’ll spit it.

2)Right now, what do you feel is the biggest limiting factor between you and some of the biggest goals you’ve set for yourself this year?

3)How about some leg and back shot photos next time? I think so, too.

Now. Hit that Tweet, Like and Share button. Go kick some ass. Then, come back and tell me about it.

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen Lindmeyer January 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Ben Harris January 8, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Hey josh, as ever a great read.

Replying to your questions,

1) food prep and training structure

I feel food prep is key I know In Canada you may have a few things that we in the up cant get but it would be great to get your take on breakfast, even from a clients prospective I find this to be the most challenging for some. Meat and nut is heaven for us but for those that don’t or won’t even try what recommendations do you give?

My usual is that if I defrost the meat I will cook in bulk in the morning and sometimes will be working as early as 7am. If I’m in a rush then I will either have a shake and nuts, or worst case a protein bar.

I understand that cortisol is elevated in the morning so sugars should be avoided or limited.

Programming

I have attended program design seminars at winning health solutions in southampton and learnt that mainly strength is one of the most underrated qualities in program’s. contrary to this I have also seen Tom Crudgington at body development in bath another great gym. Toms argument is that why train strength if your goal is to look good. Fair point, however it would be great to get your opinion on this.

Any tips on advanced programming would be much appreciated.

2) biggest limiting factor!? Food prep!

I have a six pack bag for ease however never get in the habit of using this everyday. I will 3-4 days a week use it then on the others eat as semi PALEO as possible within the confines of work sometimes (gym) thank god.

3) definite back and leg shots looks like mike Demeter is doing a great job.

Again always appreciate advise, help and criticism.

Keep up the great work, Training hard, eating lean.

Ben

Josh January 8, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Hey Ben,

Thanks for the feedback. Appreciate you reading.

Regarding this:I feel food prep is key I know In Canada you may have a few things that we in the up cant get but it would be great to get your take on breakfast, even from a clients prospective I find this to be the most challenging for some. Meat and nut is heaven for us but for those that don’t or won’t even try what recommendations do you give?

Stay on the look-out, as I’ll have post up on different approaches to food prep within a couple of weeks. In short, though, the most common answer for time restricted clients is “get up earlier”…Not entirely creative, but simplicity is often best. However, I tend to cook everything the night before, and either eat it cold, or throw it in the pan for 5 minutes first thing if it’s meat.

On variety: Meat and Nuts is simply a guideline. The neurotransmitter optimization and blood sugar regulation can usually be accomplished by other means. “Protein and Fat” throws a wider blanket, and gives some more leeway. Eggs, with some veggies, coconut oil, avocado and whatever else is a fine choice, and one I’m currently using, as my breakfasts tend to be a little lighter (6:30am clients).

Another option as far as shakes go, is a blend of sorts. Chocolate casein powder (slower releasing), heavy whipping cream (half&half could suffice), some nut butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and ice makes a delicious concoction. Don’t worry about the “insulin release”…All protein elevates insulin, but in this case, blood sugar levels are maintained at a minimum.

Hope that helps some…

Regarding this:I have attended program design seminars at winning health solutions in southampton and learnt that mainly strength is one of the most underrated qualities in program’s. contrary to this I have also seen Tom Crudgington at body development in bath another great gym. Toms argument is that why train strength if your goal is to look good. Fair point, however it would be great to get your opinion on this.

Strength is always important, but when training for a look, or strictly physique-based goals, strength becomes a secondary factor in my opinion. So, I would tend to agree with Tom at BD on this one.

“Reactivity” when training a client or yourself for a “look” is essential. Periodization can be hashed out initially, but you never can be sure how the body will adapt to a certain training style. Strength and performance athletes, however, can usually be periodized in a predictable manner, as it’s usually about chasing numbers.

I feel the “art” of training shows up a bit more in physique training. Blending the maximal recruitment and thrashing of muscle fibers across the spectrum, optimizing recovery, analyzing how the body reacts, avoiding certain exercises, and overall more variety, lends itself to an extremely individualized situation.

I’ve spoken with Mike Demeter on this subject at length as well, and he agrees, that if strength is the goal, train for strength. If the creation and maintenance of lines, exaggerated extremities, optimized ratios and a stunning silhouette is the goal, take a VERY specific approach to it and disregard the numbers to an extent. Ego’s have no place in that arena ;) I speak from experience in the shocking amount (or lack thereof) of weight being used in some movements…

Iv’e been getting A LOT of emails about food prep, so that’s next on the docket. Keep doing your best. Remember, SYSTEMS ARE KEY.

Thanks again for the comments, Ben.

Josh

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