Updates, updates and more updates ! But I need opinions ;)

rework7

Well, plenty of updates coming your way on this one, as it promises to be an exciting new time for M.A.S.S. and for myself. Hopefully most, if not all of this stuff can get some of you equally excited to keep following this project. For fun, for motivation or just for the sheer science and free information that’s going to be coming your way in the near future as we get this thing off the ground in its new form. But I need your input, guys and girls. So let your eyes glance over these updates and let us know your thoughts. I love hearing from you guys, whether its a simple hello, a bunch of questions, but especially when you guys give me suggestions. I’m here, there’s a ton I can offer you guys, but I can’t do it all at once, and I don’t know what you want unless you tell me ;)

Site updates

As you can see the website had a slight make-over, it should be slightly more legible in this theme. (Note from webmaster: the previous theme felt like it was made in MS Paint… Because it actually was)
Not a whole lot has changed as of yet, only that up top the articles have been grouped under a single header, because, well, the volume of articles of this nature we can produce isn’t THAT great even when we do have more time, but the categories remain intact and can be consulted in the sidebar for easy searching. We also added a tab “products and services”, probably the first commercial item on this site :p You guys know I’m not exactly a marketing genius, because I’ve always identified more with the consumer than the seller. But at the advice of a few good friends, and after the inquiries by a lot of people, I am starting to get back into the personal training business again, both online and in real life. More about that below. In the future we may add skype sessions and consultancy on specific topics, and in due time be able to add dates and locations for seminars and workshops too. Not interested in the commercial stuff ? No worries, it’s all limited to that section, so just skip it if you are only here for the info ;)

Progress for the WBFF ProAm

Well the wealth of current projects we have planned for the coming months AFTER the ProAm, most of which we want to get off the ground by the New year in some shape or form, has had a dual effect on my preparation. On the one hand it has taken the stress away a bit. My mood has become my most important asset, since I’ll have to stay leaner year round from now on after the competition. I usually bulk up pretty heavy, I weighed 112kg in June, I’ve added a picture of my bulk progress this year as an illustration. So this will be a new thing for me.

progressNovOct

Bulk progress from last year’s London show to this years prep. As you can see I normally pack on a lot of extra weight in the offseason, topping out a whopping 112kg this year (246lbs). So it will be a novel concept for me to stay closer to my weight for shoots and shows this year. But at the same time I’ve come to the conclusion that having to diet for 20 weeks to shed 19kg (42lbs) leads to excess muscle loss. I would have put myself at a solid 15% in the 110kg picture, which would have me competing at 95+kg, and as it turns out I’m now 93.2kg and still somewhat shy of peak conditioning.

On the other hand, the fact that I’m not going to kill myself to squeeze every last ounce out of my body for this opportunity could be the difference between making my goal of a top 10 finish and not making it. But that’s a choice I have to make, and this year’s goal is one that only comes with bragging rights, where what comes afterwards offers more opportunity, as does next year’s goal of making top 3 and getting my pro card.

Today marks 6 days out and the start of peak week. I started decarbing yesterday and started my water loading this morning. Sure, water loading is a debatable topic in fitness/muscle model competition, and possibly unnecessary for some, but I tend to naturally hold a lot of water weight, so for me this can easily be a 3kg (6.5lbs) difference. Plus, as difficult as water loading is, it takes up so much focus that for the first two three days, you just aren’t hungry or worried about much else. At 6 days out that adds a quite unique value, especially paired with low carb and ultra-low calorie days right before the replete. From here on out its purely sticking to the plan, try to remember to smile on stage, and have fun :p If I can do that, the very worst that can happen is that I still get some great shots by Toby Harrison, a photographer I look forward to working with again in 2015. He made some amazing shots last year for my first competition, even though I felt I looked dismal. I weighed 88kg for roughly 7.5% bodyfat then. This year I weigh 93.2kg and am already pushing 6.2%.

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Pictures from last years WBFF fitness and fashion weekend in London, by Toby Harrison, who made me look better than I was I’m afraid to say. 88kg (193 lbs) and around 7.5%.

Whether I make my goals, this year or the next, or I ultimately don’t get anything out of it, I have to say I really love competing in the WBFF. There is so much less politics than in local IFBB chapters, the venue and organization was awesome for the first London show last year, and the comradery and sense of belonging is heartwarming. Can’t wait to get back out there. But most of all you’ll get a fair shake. They are quite clear about what they are looking for and you aren’t left with huge questions about why you placed where you placed. Everyone was amazing, from the athletes down to the organizers Paul Dillet and Shaun Stafford.

The return of the PT

There has been an unusual demand for me to get back into personal training. A lot from aspiring athletes too, where in the past I almost exclusively worked with top amateurs and professionals. That wasn’t necessarily by choice, they are simply the only people who value true knowledge over a good body. So I’m guessing most of the demand is due to my practice-what-you-preach approach this year and showing that even when training a wimp like myself, I can get pretty good results. To be fair, I’ve always felt that was my strength as a personal trainer. Most people get into the business because they are good at sports and think they can live the dream by working as a personal trainer, only to find out that the people they have to get results aren’t really as motivated or passionately in love with the sport, or genetically gifted. I’m about as genetically gifted as the average snail :p I weighed a mere 57kg (125lbs) for the same height as now (184cm or 6’1”) when I started out at age 17. I have the attention span of a gnat and the discipline and willpower of Oprah in a candy-shop. I get results for one simple reason : if I can do it, literally anyone can.

17now

Left : My grandmother and I at the beachfront in 1996 weighing a whopping 57kg (125lbs) for 184cm (6’1″). Right : Me, 3 weeks ago weighing in at 93.2kg for the same height.

No one is going to get a standardized workout plan of diet from me. Standardized or prescribed precise diets aren’t even legal where I live. They are the purview of the dietician, which is a protected and regulated profession. PT’s prescribing meals and amounts are actually committing a criminal offense. That’s not how I work. I work with the client, to learn his normal lifestyle, and build a routine starting from what I learn so as to get it as close to his normal routine as possible. I’m so sick of PT’s telling people they need iron discipline. Of blaming the client for not being able to stick to a diet of lean, dry meat and steamed veggies. If they were capable of doing that, why would they need a PT in the first place ? Now, you don’t get anything for free in life, getting results means a degree of sacrifice, but it should not, in any way be affecting your quality of life. I’m 6 days out from the competition. I had a durum last night. I ate Chinese twice last week. I eat chocolate every damn day. Don’t make the mistake of thinking where I am now is easy, I’m on way too few calories for my size right now, something I need to correct by next year for my own health’s sake, but it’s not like I’m killing myself here. For instance I can’t remember the last time I did cardio. I consider it, outside minor health benefits, to be a most inefficient way to lose weight.

For people who might be interested in such services once my schedule clears up, keep an eye on the products and services page. I can already tell you that my online services come with unlimited access, you can always reach me by mail or various apps, for questions, schedule skype sessions if you are stuck with multiple issues, and comes with planning and follow up of a diet and training attuned to your lifestyle. I’m very strict about just two things : routine and consistency. But I also give you the tools to make sure it doesn’t take a lot of effort to stick with the plan or sacrifice your time. The first 4 to 8 weeks can be quite intense, as we would need almost daily contact through mail or social media before we come to an ironclad plan, but after that follow up and adjustment should be really minimal. In fact, very curious clients, who ask a lot of questions, and who don’t compete or aren’t working toward a particular event will likely opt out after 6 months as they feel they can perfectly monitor and improve themselves after that period.

Sun12(6)

My youngest son Ciarán, born august 21st, and I. I have two older boys as well, Brennan (7yo) and Aedan (5yo). They mean the world to me.

It’s a good time for me to pick this up again as well. Many people who meet me, and especially those that have been around long enough to know me and my past body of work, just assume that I’m somehow still very active in this industry and making my money doing something sports related as it is. But that’s just not the case. I’m a biochemist by trade and I work a full time job at a lab. My job, alas, hasn’t been as rewarding as it was in the past, and while there’s plenty more interesting and well paying jobs in my line of work, sadly they all require that I work further from home. A sacrifice I’m loathe to make in light of my current situation, where I want to keep focusing on my own training, and my family. Last summer saw the birth of my third son, and making time for my three boys is really becoming important for me.

The revival and renewal of the facebook page – let your voice be heard !

As many of you have seen, and I’m really glad to welcome a ton of new interested faces as well, the facebook page has seen a revival. It’s getting reworked as more than an appendage to the website where I post when new articles or blogs are available, since it hasn’t really been used, at all, in the past year. Instead, under the impulse of my friend Alexander Pauwels, I’m using it more as a personal page, where I will try and keep up the content daily. This means less intense scientific updates in the same vein as what MASS has brought you before (we do intend to stay a quality science-minded information site) and hopefully some new very in-depth pieces again in the coming month, but also lighter motivational posts, interactive content (I’m really hoping to get our followers involved, sharing their opinion), and progress updates on my own progress throughout the year (and if the PT thing picks up, clients who wish to share their progress as well). With time, over the next two months we also want to add a youtube channel where we can share anything from motivational videos (people seem to favour motivational content) and seminars to instructional videos and quick updates. Meanwhile I’m trying to get the hang of other social media outlets as well, but that may take me a bit to get the hang of :p I did the twitter thing for a bit, but it seems like a lot of work for little return, and I can’t type on a touchscreen, so my current smartphone is only equipped with a 2MP camera so that Instagram isn’t really an option. At least not yet :p

Because of the large influx of people, who’ve all been really kind, I’m really hoping to be able to offer some freebies or offers of some kind pretty soon too, maybe around the time we get to 10.000 likes or something, because I really do value an audience that can get my message of sane, science-minded physique enhancement out there. I don’t want to be the next youtube jockey screaming “beast mode” and “hardcore dedication”. I want to be the voice of reason, showing you that you can do anything with just a little effort. It’s time to stop pretending like physical fitness and a beautiful body can only be attained by the lucky few born with great genetics and iron willpower. I’m here to show you what we can all achieve. And this time I’m putting my money where my mouth is, this time I’m doing it myself.

But most of all I want to repay you guys by giving you all the content you want. So send me some messages, respond to posts you like, let me know what you think. Do you want more Q&A ? Insight into my life, training and routines ? Are you a fan of the first hour and really only interested in the hardcore science of things ? Don’t be shy, let me know. This may be my site, and my page, but it’s here for everyone else. So help me make it what the majority needs and wants it to be.

So where’s the science, bro ? Where have you been ?

Yes, it’s been eerily quiet on the MASS site for a bit now, safe for GetXXL’s in-depth pieces on the biochemistry of creatine. Simple fact of the matter is that the sort of in-depth pieces MASS is known to provide are quite labor-intensive, and the past year hasn’t been extremely kind to our time and motivation. Apart from having a baby last august (and doing your last 10 weeks of prep with a newborn around isn’t really conducive to your focus :p) I was also dealing with some issues between March and the summer that were affecting my health. You also shouldn’t expect a new piece in the first month now, since I have the ProAm next weekend, then some well-earned R&R, and a lot of work getting all these projects off the ground. Likewise GetXXL has had a full slate of work lately. But for both of us time should be clearing up and we are very motivated to get some of this new stuff off the ground, which in turn lets us get our old stuff, the real science stuff, out there for all to see, so no worries, those pieces too are making their way back to the site. In fact I already have an excellent outline for a piece on L-carnitine, a product that’s been around for ages but somehow seems to continually be associated with futile efforts to lose weight, while it may be a key component in helping you sprout new muscle, or so the science says ;)

So hold tight. It’s only going to get better from here on out, and we are happy to have all of you along for the ride.

I’m going to try and get a blog update out once a week, and perhaps some opinion pieces, and if there is any demand (and sufficient questions) some Q&A as well. But remember guys, I don’t know whether I should do it if you don’t let us know, so be sure to tell us. Leave your comments here, on the facebook page or just send us a message on facebook.

4 thoughts on “Updates, updates and more updates ! But I need opinions ;)

  • E says:

    I’m really looking forward to new content.

  • Mathias says:

    Great to see you guys back, I regularly checked this website and now finally there is some life again! :D

    First of all congratulations on your new born son, and good luck with your competition.

    Now for some suggestions, I always like the scientific part of training, nutrition and the body in general. So first of all I would like to see part 2 of the biochemical principles of skeletal hypertrophy. For most people, including me, this is incredibly hard to understand, but very interesting and valuable nonetheless.

    Next to that I’m intensively following John Meadows which you guys probably have heard of. Lot’s of his nutrition and training knowledge that he shares is something I also apply myself, it seems like he knows what he’s talking about and often it’s out of the box thinking, which I like. That brings me to his thoughts about intra-workout nutrition, mainly consisting of Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrins (HBCD) and Peptopro/EAA’s to improve recovery. Now this is something that interests me a lot, but at the same time I have been reading more and more articles about the lack of evidence for nutrition timing. John states it greatly improved his recovery from workouts, allowing him to train more often. I know you guys have already written about pre and post workout nutrition, and maybe I should read it again, but this may be an interesting subject.

    Next to that John Meadows makes use of lots of intensification techniques, like dropsets, rest-pause, isotension, forced stretching, negatives with extra resistance and all kind of stuff like that. These techniques feel great and allow you to train with less weight, but make you just as sore (safer), but I don’t think there are many articles that objectively describe what are the actual benefits of these kind of techniques ? Maybe something interesting, what actually is the worth of these kind techniques, or is it’s more a gimmick that gives a good burn.

    Hope you like some of the ideas and when something else pops up I will give a shout. :D

    • thebodypolitic says:

      Absolutely, we love all feedback and questions ;)

      The competition went so-so by the way, but I was very happy, since I am on track for the final goal next year, so no complaints. And since the competition i’ve finally had some time for the newest addition to our family ;)

      Part 2 of the biochemical principles is slated, but no definitive date for it, because it is a fairly massive undertaking that will demand some consecutive days off for me to even get it written, let alone edited. So couldn’t put a timeframe on that since several projects, including the rework of MASS have me sleeping a lot less than i should be at this point :p But it will come to fruition eventually, I promise ! In the mean time if its something you delve into yourself feel free to post questions over on the facebook page. And the matters are extremely complicated when written out, because its a lot of weird acronyms that are employed solely because everything needs a unique name. But in my head it is incredibly simple, because its almost like a scematic, or maybe a better analogy is a half finished puzzle. It may help to read the pieces one by one and form a mental image, then you will see better how one paragraph fits into the next, and everything into the whole.

      We do know of John Meadows, but i personally don’t follow too many people in the industry, mostly due to lack of time. So I don’t know who is out there saying what, but I will definitely have a look with regards to what you stated here. It is true that not only is there not a lot of proof for the whole pre-, intra-, post-shenanigans people use to sell you things like Huighly Branched cyclic dextrins, the body is simply not THAT selective, or it wouldn’t be able to survive and thrive in so many circumstances. In fact our stance is that there is a definitive need for nutritional simplification. Mind you, purely biochemically speaking you can make a case for many things being better than others, but when it comes to practice you will often find that going too niche into things doesn’t improve things by a whole lot, while the personal cost in terms of both finances and discomfort can be quite huge, and have an adverse effect.

      Intensity techniques, at least most of them, are a good way to intensify your training and keep it interesting. Things like drop sets can extend time under tension without lowering initial load, so there is a very sound basis for using these techniques. Others are a little less useful in terms of contribution, but don’t forget that if your workout is more interesting, that is a major plus too. All I can say is use them sparingly to avoid injury and overtraining. But pre-fatigue sets, drop sets, supersets, lower end partials and several others are things I usually incorporate quite often. Individual research on them in terms of how much of a boost you get in EMG activity etc are sadly not available, simply because no one is going to get funding for that sort of research on a decent sized scale. But that does make this a great topic for a an article that is perhaps less intensive to write ;)

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