Friday, November 11, 2011

Profile: Greg Plitt

Greg Plitt

Birthdate:  November 3, 1979
Height: 6'11"
Weight: 195lb

Athletic Background: In various interviews, Greg has described his family as being quite athletic.  His grandfather was a pro in two sports (hockey and baseball) and his dad was drafted by the Mets.  Greg said he started playing hockey at age 3.  At age 7, he could do 100 laps in the pool, 300 situps, and 300 pushups in a day.  In the sixth grade, his dad bought a home gym, and from that point on Greg became a fitness buff. 

In high school, Greg was an all-American wrestler in the 189lb class, and won titles of Maryland state champion and 2nd overall in the United States.  Greg was nominated to attend and his application was accepted to West Point, where he surpassed the Army's physical fitness test bycompleting 168 pushups and 142 situps in two minutes.  Greg graduated from West Point in 2000 and served as a captain in the army Rangers.  

Training Routine:
  • Greg follows a 5-day split; 1: chest, 2: back, 3: arms, 4: shoulders, 5: legs.
  • 8 exercises/muscle group, 4 sets/exercise, 10-20 reps/set.
  • In the gym at 5:30am for ~1.5 hours/day, 7 days/week. 
  • Always finishes with 10 minutes of ab exercises. 
  • Performs cardio at night (11pm-midnight): running 15-20miles/4 days a week.
Nutrition: Greg eats one huge meal a day between 1 and 5pm, sometimes two pizzas, sometimes 5 pound of chicken.

Training Philosophy/Goals: Greg says his goals are performance and muscular definition rather than mass.  "I never go in there looking to lit a certain weight.  I lift to find that burn."  "I'm not looking for size, I'm looking to stay lean and shredded."


Ward Patrick, personal trainer, retired marine

My husband Chris and I recently visited my cousin and her husband in Austin.  She is in a nutrition graduate program, and Chris mentioned to her that I've been reading about and trying various supplementation regimens for weight training.  She mentioned a quite pointer on vitamin supplementation that has helped me alter when and how I take which vitamins.

Vitamins can be classified as water- or fat-soluble.  As the classifications imply, these vitamins are absorbed by the body by combination with water or fats, but they are also retained differently.

 Water-soluble vitamins must be consumed with water in order for the body to absorb them during digestion.  This is not a hard thing to come by in my diet, as I drink a lot water throughout the day.  However, it is also important to note that water-soluble vitamins are not stored by the body; upon digestion, these vitamins are transferred to the bloodstream and distributed throughout the body, they are then immediately filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and passed out of the body in urine.  This is why you "piss gold" after taking a multivitamin--it's all the water-soluble vitamins exiting the body.

Water-Soluble Vitamins
B and C

As the name implies, fat-soluble vitamins must be consumed with fats in order for the body to absorb them.  This bit of knowledge has changed my vitamin supplementation timing slightly.  I used to take a vitamin C & E supplement immediately after training with my post-workout shake.  That's fine for the vitamin C, which is water soluble, but its a waste for the vitamin E, which must dissolve in fats in order to be absorbed by the body.  I usually avoid fats for an hour or so after training in order to not slow down my digestion of the protein and carbs I take postworkout.  So now I've cut out the vitamin E supplementation immediately after working out and delayed it to until my first postworkout meal, in which I always try to include good fats.

But there's more.  Unlike water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body in the liver for several days.  For people like me who supplement their normal diet with additional fat-soluble vitamins, there is a chance of over-supplementation.  It is possible to saturate the liver with too much of one or more fat-soluble vitamins, leading to various liver conditions.  So be careful.  My takeaway from this is to follow the vitamin supplementation amounts recommended by sports medicine experts (see the excellent book Nutrition Timing), and to be careful to reduce or stop supplementation with fat-soluble vitamins when I am taking time off from training.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins
A, D, E, and K

Back in the Saddle

 James "Flex" Lewis, IFBB Pro

Wow, so this is the first post of 2011?  I've been sucking at this blog!  But I'm happy to report that I haven't been sucking in the gym.  I've been training on a regular basis, setting and achieving goals (damn it feels great when that happens), experimenting with different training methods/exercise configurations, and generally feeling great. 

I am loving training.  It's honestly one of the top three best things going in my life.  When my alarm goes off at 4:45am, I'm excited about getting up and out the door and moving some iron around.  I love the sights and sounds and smell and feel of the gym. 

I'm trying to make the most of it while I'm still young and able to train--I know life is short and before I know it I'll be older and weaker.  But for now I'm grateful to be mobile, and I feel like the shit looking back over the last year of my exercise logs watching the poundages gradually moving upward.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 Reading

Useful books I have read this year.

Anatomy of Exercise has been a simple but helpful reference tool for me in exercise selection.  The book is a collection of common exercises and shows a person working out side-by-side with a computer rendering of a human body with the skin removed.  The primary and secondary muscles recruited are identified and highlighted on the rendered body.  I have used this book to create a massive spreadsheet showing the primary muscles involved in exercises and assign a compound muscle "score" to each, thereby helping me select exercises with the most muscle activation for early in my workouts and with lower activation for later in my workouts.
Nutrient Timing is a phenomenal book on supplementation written by two Ph.D.s on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin.  Drawing on literally hundreds of academic studies, the authors discuss (1) how much protein, amino acid, carbohydrates, and vitamins to take for optimal development of muscle mass and (2) when to take them.  The book is a breath of fresh air from the ad-driven supplement articles in the magazines and the broscience in the gym.  Read this book

Big Beyond Belief was written in the 90s by a Ph.D. and a pro bodybuilder.  I was initially concerned by the gimmicky-sounding title, but the book turned out to be top-notch.  In particular, the book discusses the variables in any workout plan (training time, frequency, exercise selection, weight, reps, rep speed, rest intervals, intensity), and presents several 8-week training plans with strategic variation of the variables over the course of the 8 weeks.  The book explains in detail why split training should be discarded in favor of  circuit training.  I just finished 8 weeks on one of these training plans and set personal records on several exercises in the process.  After 8 weeks, I believe I've concluded the frequency and/or reps in the training plan was slightly higher than optimal for my body, which I have taken as further information learned from reading and implementing this book.

Muscle Gaining Secrets is an e-book of lessons learned by a guy who considers himself a "hard gainer" and has spent a decades training.  I discovered the author, Jason Ferruggia, from his blog Renegade Strength & Conditioning (link in sidebar).  I've followed his blog and discovered that just about everything he has recommended on his blog has paid off in my workouts.  The book dovetails nicely with Big Beyond Belief, as he discusses the same training variables and goes on to recommend the amounts of each of the variables that are most effective for classic "hard gainers".  I am presently working through a 12-week training plan in the book and I'm noticing significant strength gains already.  Also included is very helpful review of supplements: what is crap and what is useful.  Good stuff.  Just a warning: the website where you purchase this e-book is kinda cheesy--so much so that it originally put me off from my buying it for months.  But over that time, I kept finding the stuff Jason wrote on his blog to be effective in my training, so when he announced a sale on the book to celebrate his recent engagement, I went ahead and bought it.  I was not disappointed.  If you are a "hardgainer", I believe you will find this book extremely helpful.

So that's what I've been reading.  What have you read that you have found effective?

Many Think This Way, and Many Fail

Most people who attempt to build a good deal of muscle fail. Sure, almost everyone is able to gain a small amount of muscle, but many never get beyond a slight level of development, despite focused efforts, years in the gym, supplementation, adequate diet, and--not least among these--an abundance of desire. There are reasons for the widespread failure, the most common being the plain, simple, and unfortunate fact that the majority of weight trainers don't know what they're doing. The exceedingly rudimentary nature of the undertaking suggests that an equally simple approach will suffice: Just lift weights many think to themselves as they hit the gym and unleash a furious, nonsensical workout. Just lift weights and good things will happen. The muscles will grow. Work a little harder and they'll grow a little more. The idea is intuitive and simple. The act couldn't be simpler. Many think this way, and many fail.

This is the second paragraph of Chapter 1: The Problem of Gordon LaValle's book Training for Mass. It perfectly captures the mindset I had when I first set foot in a gym. I knew what I wanted: to build a bigger physique. And I thought I knew how--just lift weights, right? And initially this was true. Like virtually all beginner trainers, I saw some modest immediate gains. It excited me, but I wanted more.

Figuring out how to pack on more muscle mass has taken me quite a long time. Why? Because I spent too much time following bullshit magazine workouts and obeying broscience advice I heard on TV or from a friend. I won't embarrass myself now by telling you about the two years I spent doing machine-only workouts and forcing myself to run miles at at time, multiple times a week.

I learned something from that experience, though. I learned one approach to exercise that does not lead to muscle mass gain. I've learned a lot of other approaches that don't work, and I'll probably get around to describing them at some point. But what I'd prefer to focus this blog on is what I have found does work: the training, nutrition, recovery, and supplementation necessary to build a chiseled physique.

I've got several blog posts in process already and a list of other ones I'm planning to write. I planning to review blogs, websites, and books I've found helpful; talk a lot about nutrition and a little about supplementation; post some quotes, excerpts, and videos I've found inspirational; tell you what's on my workout playlist; and occasionally just rant about the latest crazy thing Chatty Guy McGee has interrupted one of my sets at the gym to tell me.

I'm definitely still learning. I've grown a lot in 2010--honestly, more than I imagined I could a year ago. I'm hooked. I want to grow more.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shoulders Training with Rob Riches

British natural fitness model Rob Riches. At age 27, he has been training for 12 years. He's got some great training videos on his YouTube channel:

Hamstrings & Glutes with Rob Riches

British natural fitness model Rob Riches. At age 27, he has been training for 12 years. He's got some great training videos on his YouTube channel: