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My Alchemy, Volume 2

Training is the fucking easy part. The further along you come in your development; you’ll find ways of becoming more efficient and generating greater intensity. Focused and motivated, you’ll rip through your workout like a rabid wolverine frothing at the mouth and be slumped in your whip driving home in less than an hour. Depending on your split, that usually translates to 3-6 gym trips a week (4 in my case)… Man, I spend more time squatting on the shitter every week or standing in the supermarket staring at the beef.

The real work is done waging the daily battle of the fork and knife. Shopping cart pushed, nuker blazed, shaker cup shook, cooler packed… Like your life in meals played on a loop. There is no way around it if this is the life you chose. Yeah bodybuilding is a sport but it’s not a fucking game. Personally I learned that the hard way. I’ve been serious and dedicated since I first picked up a weight, but learning the nutrition side of the lifestyle takes a while. Shit, I’ve been at it for 10 years now and I’m still figuring it all out.

Around 18, I started eating ultra clean and making solid, steady but slow gains but staying at a relatively low bodyfat at all times. This progressed into my protein shake addiction which had me banging down 2 grams per lb of bodyweight daily, but taking in a meager number of calories. Yeah, you’ll be hard that way, but don’t plan on gaining any appreciable size or strength in a reasonable period of time. The only way to grow to the fullest extent is to overeat. I know that isn’t the politically correct, healthy, balanced approach in the era of childhood obesity and “Super Size Me”, but in bodybuilding terms it is a fact.

I didn’t really start growing till I stopped eating like a bitch and manned up. Heed these words--there is no substance in nature or science fiction more anabolic than food. I’ve seen cats on tons of super supplements with no work ethic and guys clean as a whistle who trained like beasts of burden, but the only guys who grew consistently regardless of outside factors are the ones who ate like it was their job and beyond that ate like hardworking, heavy lifting male athletes… Not like precontest figure competitors. For the purposes of full disclosure, I was a skinny kid growing up… One with a racehorse metabolism who certainly erred on the side of mesomorphia, so I do have certain genetic predispositions and was lucky when they handed out the metabolisms in utero.

That is why it has long chapped my ass when I hear kids bitch about being “hardgainers”. Boo-fucking-hoo. First of all, you’re already defeated having lost the battle in your mind before you ever go to war in the gym. Secondly, and more importantly, you are complaining about an amazing blessing. What a shame, you are thin and healthy with a fast metabolism. You have a difficulty gaining fat and you can eat to your heart’s content. Shit, we have it tough, don’t we… Give me a goddamn break. Try being morbidly obese before you have the motor skills to ride a tricycle like some poor little kids. Then come and bitch to me about not being able to gain weight.

So what is my plan of attack? How do I get it done? I keep it simple. I pepper my system with supplements, shakes and above all else, nutrient-dense calories all day long. Depending on what particular phase I’m in, be it on a bulking blast or period of refinement, I make certain dietary choices like gainers vs. whey or limiting my weekly number of dessert or cheat meals based on my current conditioning. Beyond that, the grind remains the same. Ground beef and canned tuna or sirloin and sushi depending on how broke I happen to be that particular period of the fiscal year. I make a couple of pounds of rice or pasta and an equivalent amount of ever-alternating protein sources (beef, chicken or turkey) a couple of days ahead of time and break them down into pre-portioned tupperware meals. I load up on cottage cheese, eggs, yogurt and milk as I’m a big believer in the gaining power of the dairy aisle, and use oats and fruit to carb up preworkout.

When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m not hungry, I eat. If that means I need to hit that drive thru for some burgers or tacos to keep my sanity, so be it. I’m just sure to prioritize protein even in my cheat meals and to surround feedings lacking in nutrient quality with some supplemental nutrition… Meaning that if I’m eating a pepperoni and mushroom pizza or a half a box of cold cereal, I’m chasing that shit with an 80g protein shake in order to stay in a muscle-building state.

My diet on training days tends to be more rigid and regimented. I feel that a thoroughbred racehorse or an indy car tends to perform better of premium fuel. On my off days, I tend to relax slightly using the recuperative power of fats, sugar and sodium to help me recover, replace glycogen and replenish fluids. Regardless, my mass assault demands 1.5g of protein and 18-25 calories per lb of desired bodyweight. Some days, those numbers look like a Powerball payout.

In Volume 3 of “My Alchemy” I’ll close up shop by showing you how I take the shit, dirt and muck of everyday life and boil that wizard’s cauldron til it’s teeming with gold bullion. Next time, we’ll take a look the tangible elements of supplementation and the more abstract factors of lifestyle and philosophy.

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