Q&A: January 2022

by on January 10, 2022


I’ve been using your sample workouts from the T-nation website and I have never made so much progress as I have with that. I have 2 weeks left of phase 2 and was wondering how a sample phase 3 would go if you could give me a sample that would be amazing. 
 

Andrew Berry
Hi Ranson. Here is a sample leg workout. You can see the number of sets is lower, but the intensity is still high in the first 2 exercises. The phase would last about 2 weeks.

Legs – 10 sets:

Seated leg curls – 3 sets of 12 to warm up, then 3 sets of 10. The first 2 are just “normal” hard sets. It should be hard to get the last few reps. Rest pause every rep. So straighten legs out, pause, then flex and squeeze. With this form, you will get a ton of blood in there. On the 3rd set, after you do 10 reps, drop weight some and do 10 more, then keep weight the same and do 25 partials out of the bottom. 3 total work sets.

Leg press – Warm-ups – do 10 reps a set, adding weight each time until you get to a weight you struggle with for 10. Once you get there, I want you to do 8 reps per set, but only take 90 seconds between each set. You are going to do 4 sets like this. This is brutal. 4 total work sets.

Stretch each quad for 30 seconds. Do 2 stretches on each leg.

Squats – Take your time now. You can slow down on these. I want you to work up to a weight that you can do for probably 12-15. It should only take maybe 2-3 sets. When you get there you are going to do 3 sets of 8, with plenty of time in between. These reps should be pretty explosive. At the end of your sets, you shouldn’t be struggling to complete the set. This is just a way to get a lot of reps with a higher weight and safely. In this case, you are getting 24 reps with what you might do for 1 set of 12. The surprising thing is how sore these will make you. To give you an example…I can do 460ish for 12 reps. On these, I do 370 for my sets of 8. 3 total work sets.


Do you suggest using a fat burner during contest prep (either a compound of misc. things ie green tea, l-Carnitine or an all-in-one)? Or would that mess with ones adrenals too much? 

Cris Edmonds
So to me this all depends on how much fat you are carrying and how lean you need to get. If you are a bodybuilder for example (and need to be peeled) 9x out of 10 I will use fat burners to assist the client so that I don’t have to push them as deep into a calorie deficit and/or increase cardio.  I use them as a tool to get more fat off.  Here is the combo I love: 2 caps Granite Thermo-Burn, 5g Yohimbine and 4000mgs L-Taurine as soon as you wake up before your fasted cardio.  Along with this I like to use VasoBurn on people’s stubborn fat areas.  Be careful this stuff gets very hot.
 
Another supplement we use is L-carnitine, you can use it as an injectable or there is a new version by Nuethix that is a liquid that works very well. Dosing there heavily depends on the size of the person.  John wrote a great article on Injectable L-carn, so please take a look at that for his recommendations.  
 
If you are an enhanced athlete, we will wait to the absolute last minute to call on clen and t3 to really drive to the next level of leanness.  But be very leary of t3……this supp can flatten you out VERY fast if you abuse it.  So, please use it sparingly and I would never exceed 50mcg/per day.  Now let’s say you don’t have access to either of these supplements, the classic ECA stack is still ultra-effective.

When is comes to messing with adrenals…..you just have to realize that unless you abuse these year round, you have nothing to worry about here. And when your show is over, we have 2 options here: come off cold turkey and suffer through being exhausted and some headaches.  Or you can simply start slowly pulling back/eliminating these fat burns as you reverse diet (I much prefer option 2, but know some folks are Blast or Dust). 


 
After training 30 years, we get to know our body, and training age can be an edge in exerting sooner/ stronger after the right warm up. Given this I love the many workouts you have at your site and T-nation and use them as templates but do you feel the need for a training log? There are days I don’t want to leave an exercise and am in the “groove” and other days where all I feel is the joints involved and the pump isn’t happening.

How much leeway do you give seasoned trainees to play with the volume or poundage? Your own experiences?

Andrew Berry
While I don’t keep a log written down, I do think it’s a great idea for younger people starting out. What I do is keep a running memory from week to week of roughly what I did the previous week. Keep in mind that Mountaindog Training program exercises change in the rotation pretty frequently, so what I like to see is my weight, intensity, volume or frequency improve in some aspect over time. The point is that load is not the only driver of hypertrophy. You can change the way you perform reps, change rep ranges, add intensifiers like drop sets or static holds, add extra volume in sets or exercises etc. etc.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you are not always training in the same exact state. Whether you lost some sleep in the previous nights, missed a meal, had added stress from work or family, you are never exactly the same every time you step into the gym to train so it’s important to keep that in mind and listen to your body.

Training is as much of an ART as it is a science.


What is your take on clients who choose to indulge in alcohol (say once per month)? I ask, because although it is likely far and few between for you, there were some pics of you enjoying a few drinks at the Arnold. (I honestly thought you guys never drank, haha). Do you see a huge problem, especially with your competitive clients who choose to drink alcohol in the off season even if it is only one time per month? Is there anything you would have them do if they do choose to do so, say an extra cardio session that day, or day after? Lower cals that day or day after?

Not even sure if there is anything extra to do to combat a night of drinking rather than to really re-hydrate the next day?

Cris Edmonds
For me, unless I’m on a tropical island with my wife, I just don’t drink. But I always take that week off completely from lifting, structured cardio and my meal plan is very loose.  Even in college I was the DD and we would jokingly load up the beer bong with my protein shake and I would chug it as a joke.  
I have no issue if a client (who is NOT in prep) enjoying a drink or 2 in the off season with his/her free meal.  The goal there is to kill that “craving” or to let their hair down a bit with their friends/spouse.  Then we get right back on plan. 
But I would never suggest drinking so much where you are puking, can’t think straight or unable to even eat your remaining meal for the night. That destroys your body and if you are paying for coaching, you will simply be wasting all that hard work IMO 


Do you think it would be OK to drink a Granite Recovery first thing in the morning? I usually try to follow a low carb approach first thing in the morning to help with insulin management. 

This is what I usually do in the morning:

7:00am   1 fresh squeezed organic lemon in warm water

7:15 am 1 cup of coffee with grass fed butter in it

8:45am  4 whole cage free eggs, 3/4 cup egg whites, 1/2 avocado, spinach

Do you think adding a Recovery first thing would be beneficial?  Or should I just keep things the way I have them?

Andrew Berry
I love the low carb approach in the morning. You probably notice very clear thinking and mental acuity. While it wouldn’t hurt, I don’t think adding Recovery would make a whole lot of sense here because its designed to be used intra-workout. The carbohydrate content is higher in molecular weight which meals it has a low osmolarity. This allows it to essentially bypass digestion versus something like oats or a potato and directly enter the blood stream. Same thing with the essential amino acids included in the product. This is important during training because we don’t want blood diverted to the gut- we want it to stay in the exercising tissue. So, I would keep your current breakfast and use the Recovery during training.


Well I have been stuck in a rut the last year trying to get lean, I’ve gone up to 1.5 hours a day doing cardio, lifting 6 days a week and eating anywhere from 1200-1400 calories trying to find the perfect the balance. I still have not got to where I want to be. I did a figure show in 2011 and pretty much blew up. I got back down to finally under 120 but not as lean as I’d like to be. I am doing so much cardio to stay this way and eating low cals, what is the best way to get my metabolism back up, do less cardio and be able to eat more while still being able to incorporate a cheat meal? as well as getting leaner.

Cris Edmonds
Ok this situation is no joke and is going to take some serious work to fix.  But here is what we are going to do:
1.     Pull training back to 5 days per week.  My goal here is extra rest for the body as I assume you are WAY over worked.  This sounds counter intuitive, but just try this for the next 6-8 weeks.  Also on your off days I would pull out all carbs and load you on protein, fat and veggies. 
2.     Next, I want to get that cardio coming down.  You are smashing 90 mins per day, lets cut the AM session to 45 mins LISS and then post lift or PM before meal 6, do HIIT on a spin bike for 15 rounds.  This will drastically cut down on total cardio duration and the added rest will allow your body to begin to heal.  I would slowly reduce that to the point of only doing 4 sessions per week LISS at 30 mins. This will take time, but be patient. 
3.     With you diet, I would take your 2 hardest days and give you high carbs, moderate protein and trace fats from lean meats.  This should push your metabolism to cut back on.  Then on the other 3 training days I would heavily carb your peri-workout window, then keep carbs low, protein high and fats moderate on ALL other meals. And as discussed at #1, on off days protein and fat would by high, with carbs as close to zero as possible.
4.     Lastly if you are slamming stims……lets begin to pull back on these as well.  
 
Sadly this is a recurring theme with a lot of people lately and it will take some time and hard work to reverse this. 


What do you think about rice bran oil? The smoke point is 490.

Andrew Berry
While it’s not my first choice, it is pretty good. It has a fair amount of monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, may support healthy blood sugar levels and heart health, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and is easy to add to a diet. It is heavy on the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, but I think it’s still ok to use occasionally and especially if doing higher temperature cooking (though my preference would be primarily saturated fats).


I have really embraced your nutritional theories and love it so far. I have been gaining in strength and size while remaining relatively lean so I am happy. Now, you have emphasized the utmost importance in one’s peri-workout nutrition which would usually consist of some sort of a high branched cyclic dextrin carb source, as well as some whey or casein hydrolysate. My question is, what would you recommend to someone that is highly lactose intolerant? Thanks!

Cris Edmonds
All day long, Granite Recovery.  This product has zero lactose and you will tell zero difference in Casein Hydrolysate and EAA.


I have a question about upper body specialization. I am a guy, who absolutely loves to train. I work out six days a week. I the last couple of months I have improved my leg development. One of my problems is gaining size in my arms.

I must say that I have tried everything out there, and my arms are still the same after three years of training.

Besides my arms, I feel that my chest and back has improved by using some of your workouts.

The Meadows Row, BEST BACK EXERCISE EVER !!!

I would like if you could share a upper body specialization program, or give some tips on that. Especially on arms.

Andrew Berry
For arms, I am against going as heavy as possible. I tend to categorize arm training as pump workouts only. Going too heavy just results in a lot of beat up elbows for most people. When you factor in the heavy rows and presses we do for the upper body, adding in more direct arm work can take a toll on the joints if we are not careful. So, I always think it makes the most sense to chase the pump with arm training in general.

Here’s a tactic I want you to try: plan one regular arm day, 3-4 exercises 10-20 reps for both bis and tris. Then for added volume, add in 6 sets of 10-12 reps of biceps after back and do the same for triceps after chest. Pick exercises you have a good connection with and keep rest to 30-45 seconds. This will limit the weight you can use. Your goal over that 5-6 minutes is to try and force as much blood in the tissue as possible. Afterwards stretch the arms out for a good 45 seconds.


When it comes to non bodybuilding women (e.g.  housewives) do you get them to train in a similar style to competing athletes when the primary goal is fat loss? Or does your training style change completely like full body over splits, circuits, less days, less overall volume etc.

Cris Edmonds
Not even close!!! I train women just as hard, if not harder than my guys.  They tend to handle more volume and intensity with better recovery.  Now the main difference is I only have them do 1, maybe 2 chest exercises per week, put ton more focus on Glutes, Back and Shoulders.  I also don’t have women train their upper traps at all.  Then for arms, it’s very little bc they will get arm work through all the rowing, pulldowns, shoulder pressing, etc.


I currently have maltodextrin and whey isolate stocked up so would it hurt to use these things post workout for now instead of the whey hydrolysate and branch cyclic dextrin? How big a difference does it make?

Andrew Berry
First, it depends on whether you digest those two products well. If so, there is no problem using these things for a post training shake. But, if you follow the preferred intra-workout nutrition programming where we use intra-workout cyclic dextrin and essential amino acids (Granite Recovery) you don’t need to rush to get a post training meal in immediately. Instead, I prefer to eat a solid meal 45-60 minutes after training consisting of something like beef, rice and fruit.

I can’t easily get hold of raw milk in sunny England so would coconut milk be a decent alternative?

Andrew Berry
These are totally different things with different but positive benefits but yes, coconut milk is great in a diet.


What is your opinion regarding whether calorie intake or hormonal manipulation is more important regarding fat loss? Books like Good Calories, Bad Calories seem to suggest that weight gain and obesity is due to chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin as opposed to excessive calories.,.. However, I am yet to see significant fat loss occur without a caloric deficit in place.

Cris EdmondsI would say these 2 work very close together. This is like asking me, “what’s more important, training hard or following a diet plan for fat loss?” My answer all day long is BOTH.  
Hormones play such a huge role in fat loss.  I’ve seen guys and girls work their selves into the ground with very little progress and then, after repeated attempts at me suggesting getting blood work, they listen.  Finally, we get the hard answers and once they are supplied with the right hormonal environment for progress their results take off. I compare this to treading water with a weight vest.  Can you keep your head above water, yes…..but its much harder. 
 
Now at the same time, most people will have to be in a deficit to lose bodyfat.  Just the facts of life right? 
So ideally your hormones will be in optimal ranges along with your diet being spot on based on your activity and metabolic level. 


What are your thoughts on a beginner being able to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time naturally? I am starting out at 165 lbs. but 18% bodyfat so I need to put on size but don’t want to put on any more fat. How would you approach a recomp in this situation?

I am currently going down the route of cutting on small deficit and 40% protein, 35% fats and 25% carbs.

Andrew Berry
Yes, you can absolutely gain muscle and drop body fat at the same time. I see it with new and experienced trainers alike all the time. I would structure your diet to place all your carbs before, during and right after training with the rest of the meals being protein, fat and veggies.

Let’s say that your 25% carbs gives you 125 grams of carbs total. I would structure this so the pretraining meal has about 40 grams of carbs, intraworkout I would consume 20 grams of carbs from a scoop of Granite Recovery and then post training I would consume the remaining 65 grams.


How would you handle someone’s split if they have really bad arms? I really want to improve them and will do whatever you suggest.

Cris Edmonds
First I would as you to look at what you are currently doing and really analyze it:
·      Is the exercise selection poor for your body type
·      Is the exercise sequencing not optimal
·      Are your elbows beat to shit
·      How is the mind muscle connection
·      Do you get a pump
·      What rep range are you training in
·      What is your rest periods like
So if you answer all those, we can begin to break down what I suggest, but since I don’t have those answers this is what I’m going to recommend for split if you don’t have a mind/muscle connection problem (if this is the case more frequent training isn’t going to work bc you cant connect with them.  You are essentially beating a dead horse.  You first must practice feeling your bis and tris stretch and contract):
 
Monday: Pull (6-8 sets of bis)
Tuesday: Push (6-8 sets of tris)
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday: Legs
Friday: Arms (10-12 sets of bis, 10-12 sets of Tris)
Saturday and Sunday: OFF
 
For arms I like to move at a fast pace (45-60 second rest breaks) with higher rep ranges 12-15 reps per set.  To me its all about blood flow, now heavy weight.  The funny thing is, I see guys with tiny arms lifting the most weight and I was super guilty of this as a young bber.  I used to straight bar curl 135 for sets of 10 all day long, but all that did was make my elbows and forearms hurt.  So moderate load, feel every inch of the movement and make it burn like crazy. 
 
I am a huge believer I starting with 2 cable movements, then moving onto dbs and bbs.  But again, for arms its all about pump for me.  Give that a try and report back to me.