With a slight waver in his voice, Paul a tall, lanky 6’2" 160-pounder reaffirmed his desire for bodybuilding glory, his voice resonating more deeply as he continued to speak. He assured me that it had been his life’s dream and he would do whatever it took to make that dream materialize.
The reality of the situation though, was that I was working a sixty-hour week running a World Gym, putting in five intense workouts a week (I had my own outlandish dreams to chase), and was spending at least an hour a day on my food prep. There was only so much time and energy that I could devote and after going through this a few dozen times, I found it was best to test the convictions of my new charges before investing too much energy into them. The test was two-tiered. Both stages involved pain thresholds.
"So you’re ready to get
serious?" I said, trying to
disguise the smirk that was
threatening to take over my
face. "Lets jump into things.
We’ll start with legs!" My
standard intro "Trial by Fire"
leg workout was simple: 1) a
warm-up, 2) two sets of heavy
twenty-rep Breathing Squats,
3) two supersets of Leg
followed with Frog Leg
Presses, with 3-4 forced reps
at the end of each set of
presses. It wasn’t a great deal
of volume but it was definitely
As I mentioned, this test was actually on two fronts. First, how well would they "hang" during the workout. This was the easy part because masculine pride will take one far into the pain zone as long as you know it’s a temporary thing. The second aspect of the test took place over the following three to four days, when the constant throbbing agony of muscles, yanked awake from years of sedentary grogginess, feel as though they have been turned inside out, sautéed in a light butter sauce and then gently diced into bite-sized cubes before being forcibly jammed back into roughly the same place they previously slumbered. This was where most starry-eyed neophytes fell off the grid.
So I was caught off guard the next day when tall, lanky Paul came slowly walking into the gym for our second appointment. He was strutting like a saddle-sore roughrider, desperately trying to keep his inner thighs from accidentally grazing against one another and sending another wave of pain through his traumatized body. This kid had some heart.
"Therein lie the answers to all of your questions." (Fortunately, I left off the corny-sounding "my son" from the end of the sentence.) He flipped through the pages, trying to soak it all in.
Getting a bit carried away with my mentor role, I continued on with my proselytizing. "Avoid the newsstand muscle mags, ignore Internet bodybuilding sites. This is real in-the-trenches info written by normal people that have succeeded at doing the very thing you are trying to do." I gave him the three most recent issues of Beverly International’s No Nonsense Newsletter and showed him how to sign up for his own subscription. I felt Paul was well on his path.
Since then I have made the same recommendation countless times. I can honestly say I don’t think there is a better source of bodybuilding info than the articles in the No Nonsense Newsletter (and its Irish twin the BodyMuscle Journal). If you are new to these publications, you will see that they are an ideal blend of inspiration, information and practical real world info. I jokingly refer to the collected issues as The Summa Hypertrophica, in reference to Thomas Aquinas’ famous religious text of a similar name.
A thorough review of all of the back issues will cause a lifechanging leap in your level of bodybuilding knowledge similar to a Masters degree in "Muscleology." The shared life experience of hundreds of successful lifters can save you years of effort. As pro fitness competitor and Beverly disciple Liz Maurice said,1 "Now I’ve been taking Beverly so long, following their plans and reading their literature, that I’m the gym guru." You can use these invaluable references to become an expert too. Here are just a small handful of the basic principles that I have learned, relearned, discovered and had reinforced through the Beverly magazines. Enjoy the recap.
The Beverly Publications were strong proponents of powerbodybuilding — mixing bodybuilding and powerlifting techniques to increase strength in basic exercises. In one issue, Greg Daniels recounts,4 "I was again reminded how much fun deadlifts, dips and military presses were and how much more powerful I felt doing multi-joint exercises versus moving a weight stack up and down via an attached cable."
"I believe in ‘controlled heavy training." Shane Smith says,5 "I train with the heaviest weight I can control through the fullest range of motion." Brenda Smith (no relation) concurs,6 recommending that lifters "... maintain high intensity levels with [their] training in order to incite new muscle growth."
The very core of size and strength building involves a slow, steady increase in poundages or, as Roger Riedinger says,7 "continuous incremental improvement." Joe Fogarty echoes this philosophy when he says,8 "... trying to beat my previous best in perfect form encouraged me to get stronger every workout." Forcing the body to constantly adapt to greater poundages in basic exercises would have to be considered the number one priority. After all, this is the stimulus that sets everything else in motion.
"Believe it or not, for most people, 50% Protein, 20% Carbohydrate, and 30% Fat is optimal."
Beverly staff members wellknown
for keeping a close hands-on
contact with their clients, shared
the following story,7 "Marc
[Sanguiliano] is always ripped and
has won a lot of shows, but this time
even while twelve-pounds heavier
than just a year ago, he was razor
sharp and shredded! Marc swore
that the only thing he did differently
this year was to take either Muscle
Provider or Ultra Size, Mass and
Ultra 40 around the ‘waking clock’
— with meals, as a meal, in
between meals, etc." This is very
similar to some of the daily protein
consumption techniques used by
Vince Gironda, Rheo H. Blair and
the top bodybuilders of the sixties
and seventies. It is obviously still an
Supplementation with additional amino or liver sources is also an important recurring theme in all of the stories. Adding 4-6 Ultra 40 liver tabs and Mass Aminos with each meal seems to improve muscle size and hardness, as well as assisting in the prevention of muscle loss while on a fat-loss diet. Darren Salmons mentions another interesting use for these musclebuilding tablets,13 "For any meal where I am a little short on protein I merely pop the number of liver or aminos I need to bring my protein grams up to the precise level I desire." It is precisely these types of common sense ideas that make the Beverly publications so useful.
As a contest diet progresses, it is common to gradually replace carbohydrate calories with protein calories, depending on the aesthetic needs of the particular athlete. Steven Wade shared his tried-andtrue technique for this,16 "My general rule of thumb was if I cut carbs by more than 75 grams one week, I would add that amount in protein."
Brenda Smith learned that proper nutrition is 80% of the successful figure contestant equation.
Proper carbohydrate consumption is not only based on timing of consumption but serving size and composition. Kristina Henn touches on this when she says,18 "I»ve learned the difference between good and bad carbs (with respect to Glycemic index), and what one serving of carbs really is. It’s much smaller than what I was used to!" Mike Matson explains his carb choices in more detail,19 "The carbohydrates were of the low Glycemic variety consisting of grapefruit, strawberries, red beans and salad vegetables." Many other athletes, such as Brenda Smith, explain how this fits into their holistic eating approach,6 "I began eating five to six smaller meals containing quality protein, green vegetables, slow burning carbohydrates and essential fats."
One of the best aspects of the No Nonsense Newsletter and BodyMuscle Journal is that they allow us to learn from the mistakes of others, allowing us to have a much easier, faster path towards our goals. One excellent lesson that Beverly has taught us is the proper place for cardio work in our program. Since most of us tend to hate cardio, the news is good. They have found that proper eating and hard training should be our focus, with minimal cardio work as a "finishing touch." Jason Theobald tells us,26"...like many first-timers, I got nervous at the end and added a bunch of extra cardio, causing too much weight loss."
Jacqueline Frere enforces this conclusion when she states,27 "I did just three 30-minute cardio sessions per week and let my diet and Beverly supplements do the rest." Trainer Adam Wotherspoon found the same while dealing with his clients. While describing the program he designed for client Kevin Koshuta, he says,28 "Kevin’s cardio consisted of just two to three sessions per week at 15-20 minutes a sessions. With his strict dieting and intense training he didn’t need anymore."
The correct strategy, and one championed by the Beverly Training and Nutrition System, is to be strict enough in your off-season program so that you have a proper starting point for a diet. "I found that if I keep my bodyfat in check by improving my nutrition, I do not need to do endless hours of cardio to get ready for a contest," says Dave Diana.23 "I ate double the amount of calories this time around and cardio was not even an issue."
The trick here, it seems, is to make your cardio work short but intense. Scott Griffin explains how he worked up to higher intensity levels as he progressed but did not spend a lot of time with cardio.20 "Before starting my Beverly International program I ran three to five miles five days a week; now three or four 20-30 minute sessions did the trick," he recalls. Mark Dal shares a similar story.25 "I was killing myself with cardio, starving to death and my progress had come to a dead stop."
Shane Smith describes his 20-
30 minutes cardio sessions,5 "My
goal is 400kcal per session. I vary
the activity so I don’t get bored... I
try to maintain my heart rate at 75-
85% of my predicted maximum
Using calories burned as a gauge for volume is a simple and workable solution, but needs are going to vary from individual to individual, based on their metabolism, goals and fitness levels. Perhaps the most helpful piece of cardio advice came from a standard Beverly staff member, when they describe their logical system for building to the proper volume.
Record the calories expended at each session for a week. As an example go 200 calories a day the first week for a total expenditure of 1400. For the following weeks, set a goal to increase by 10%. Get into the high intensity realm by keeping the time constant and increasing the intensity level each week. Add 10% per week to your total calories expended for the entire eight weeks, like 1400, 1540, 1700, 1870, 2100, 2300, 2530 and 2800 in week eight. This is about 400 calories each session for 7 days and this is what most bodybuilders peaking tend to do.
Mark Dal points out that high intensity interval training holds other benefits over the long, slow marathon type of work once popular by lifters longing to lose bodyfat.25 "Roger instructed me to do intervals, as well to run hills and sprints. It has done wonders for my leg separation."
With the hectic pace of our world, it is not easy. When comparing the fitness lifestyle to other sports, Greg Daniels says,4 "Bodybuilding, however, requires that you live it both on and off the field." This level of commitment is not for everyone but the rewards are exceptional. While trying to fit contest training into his rigorous collegiate schedule, Sean Andros concluded,22 "It probably was not the best time, but there may not be a best time." Sean, Greg and the other athletes that have appeared in the magazines made the time and enhanced their lives in the process.
Even if bodybuilding is your top priority, the necessities of survival in the modern world often require work, family and other obligations to come first. As Liz Maurice says,1 "Since I don’t have the luxury of planning my life around my training, I plan my training around my life." Planning that time intelligently may be the difference between success and failure.
Being maximally efficient with your time and pre-planning is the key to making bodybuilding work in your life. "Another time-saving technique is preparing my food early in the week," Says Roger Schei.29 "I usually pick Sunday evenings and cook in bulk." Once or twice weekly food prep sessions will ensure that your clean, musclebuilding foods are always available when needed.
Professional fitness competitor Julie Lohre adds,30 "When you prepare your own food, you pay closer attention to what is in it." This guarantees that hidden chemicals, sugars or other additives don’t derail your otherwise clean eating. In order to avoid fast food, Julie simply makes sure that she is never stuck in a situation in which bodybuilding is known as a very isolated avocation, I have rarely seen anyone succeed at it without a strong support team. This is as it should be, for why endeavor to great ends without people with whom to share your success?
The lesson of this is to
appreciate those people in your life
now (don’t wait until you’re being
profiled in an issue to let them
know). If you currently do not have
that type of support network,
consider exactly what you are
missing out on and the enrichment
to your life (and, by extension, your
bodybuilding) from developing
those type of deep meaningful
These are just a handful of the most commonly repeated and interesting lessons I noticed in my review of the Beverly library of publications. If you’ve read even two or three issues, certain patterns emerge. Take these seriously as these are the very strong indicators of areas that can help you reach your bodybuilding goals.
REFERENCES 1) Liz Maurice. "Liz Maurice Wins Her Pro Card... Naturally" NNN Vol. VIII #4. 2) Aram Hamparian. "How I Took My Physique (and Life) to a Higher Level." NNN Vol. IX #1. 3) J.R. McKinney. "How I Increased My Competition Weight Eight Pounds Yet Still Came in Harder." NNN Winter 1996. 4) Greg Daniels. "Advanced Muscle Mass Plateau Buster." NNN Vol. VIII, #4. 5) Shane Smith. "Advice to the Bodybuilder." NNN. Vol. IX #1. 6) Brenda Smith. "Making a Dream Come True." NNN. Vol. IX, No. 1 7) Roger Riedinger and staff. "BodyMuscle Forum." BMJ Vol. #5 8) Joe Fogarty. "I Turned My Dream Into Reality with Precision Nutrition and Training." NNN. Vol. IX, No. 3. 9) Roger Riedinger and Dr. Eric Serrano. "Building Muscle Faster" NNN Vol.7 #2 10) J.R. McKinney. "How I Increased My Competition Weight Eight Pounds Yet Still Came in Harder" NNN. Winter 1996. 11) Dave Uhlman. "Blast Workout for Herculean Muscle Quality" BMJ Vol. #5 12) Todd Jackson. "Matrix Revisited for Maximum Power and a National Championship." NNN. Vol. IX # 2. 13) Darren Salmons. "Straight Up: Supplementing Can Facilitate Faster Results with Quality Muscle." NNN Summer 1996) 14) Al Short. "Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks" NNN Summer 1996. 15) Roger Riedinger. "Protein and Whipping Cream?" NNN Fall 1995) 16) Steven Wade. "Guaranteed Formula for Fat Loss and Muscle Preservation." NNN Fall 1995 17) Mike Milas. "Putting It All Together—My Best Year in Bodybuilding." NNN Vol. IX #3. 18) Kristina Henn. "Dedication, Commitment and Desire — My Recipe for Success." NNN Vol. IX #4. 19) Mike Matson. "A Different Approach to Contest Dieting." NNN Fall 1995. 20) Scott Griffin. "Timeline to Bodybuilding Success." NNN Vol. IX #1. 21) Dan Johnson. "Three Shows, Three Wins in a Row" NNN Vol.7 #2. 22) Sean Andros. "Finding the Way with Beverly" NNN Vol. IX #4. 23) Dave Diana. "Countdown to Bodybuilding Success" NNN Vol. VIII #4. 24) Scot Mendelson. "Cycling Nutrition: Rapid Muscle Growth, Rapid Fat Loss" Body Muscle Vol. #5 25) Mark Dal. "Mark Dal, Drug Free Pro Bodybuilder" NNN Vol. IX #4. 26) Jason Theobald. "First to Fourth in Less Than a Year… Beverly Style." NNN Vol. IX #2. 27) Jacqueline Frere. "Beverly by Accident — Winning by Design." NNN Vol.7 #2 28) Adam Wotherspoon. "INTENSITY Spells success for Kevin Koshuta." NNN Winter 1996 29) Roger Schei. "Training and Nutrition Tips for the Time Challenged." NNN Vol. IX #2. 30) Julie Lohre. "Childbirth to Figure Champion in just Five Months." NNN Vol. IX #1.