Q&A: September 2022

by on September 13, 2022


Dennis
Short question I always ask myself. Should I actually dorsiflex my foot when doing lying/seated leg curls or just keep them hanging totally relaxed? Kinda have the feeling that my calves are helping me out on the leg curls whenever I have my foot kind of flexed.

Thanks and greetings from Germany!

Andrew Berry
I’m going to be honest- I don’t even consider what my toes are doing in ham curls but the science and reasoning to dorsiflex (point toes toward shins) does make sense to remove calf activation from the lift. I do have a tip to better activate the hamstrings on lying ham curls though. On the set up, drive your hips into the pad. Actually, flex your glutes like doing a hip thrust to create a more solid connection. This is the opposite of how most people do them with glutes completely relaxed. Now, at the same time while doing the concentric on the curl, try to imagine driving your knees off the pad. The knees shouldn’t actually move! Just the mindfulness to attempt it. Try it this way and tell me that you don’t have to lower the weight while feeling an enhanced contraction.


James
I am considering one of these programs: High Evolutionary, The Grandmaster, or Gamma Bomb.

Over the last couple of years (after discovering John on YouTube) I started with the Baby Groot workout, then moved on to Warlock. I am wondering if any of the above programs would have either 4 days/week or 5 days/week that also kept the workouts to no more than about 90 minutes per session. Based on my overall schedule, I find it difficult to devote more than 90 minutes to the workout itself (not including warmup/cooldown/stretching).

If it matters, I’m 57 years old; while I am focused on hypertrophy training, it’s not for any particular purpose other than my own enjoyment and satisfaction.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

I really appreciate everything John and the whole crew have done for everyone.

Andrew Berry
So first, you should be able to finish all the Mountaindog workouts in 90 minutes or less if you are staying focused. I think a big problem that people have with sticking to a training time comes from being social in the gym and allowing yourself to check your phone between sets. Remember that you are at the gym to train (if hypertrophy is your goal) and to stay focused on the next set. Second, pretty much every single program is set up to train 3-6 days a week and you can adjust it based on your needs. The Mountaindog 1.0 programs are set up to follow legs, chest/delts back and arms and then you could add in a pump day (from the pump workouts included) to put extra focus on lagging body parts if you wanted a 5th day. The Mountaindog 2.0 programs like Gamma Bomb are set up as a 5-day training program but you could easily adjust to cut it to 4. The best thing to do is go to the program comparison chart listed here and come up with a plan that works for you.


Robert 
Hi all, it seems that eccentric leg movements cause me pain and I can only do exercises such as tire flips, sled drags, and 1 leg movements. RDL, and even good mornings hurt, as well as the belt squat. Any idea of what I can do about this? Thanks!

Andrew Berry
So, I think we need a little more information here. In which tissues are the eccentrics causing pain and in which tissues? If your whole body hurts, it’s time for a deload which you can find articles on how to address in the Longevity section of the site. If it’s a particular movement or muscle, I would give that movement of body part a rest and consider seeing a PT to assess the issue. What I have found in working with my PT is that I needed to do more work on antagonizing muscle groups because I had created an imbalance over the years.


Chloe 
Are there any suggestions or considerations for females (both natural or enhanced) when training hard for size? Hormonally speaking, the stress on the body can have health impacts, so are there any modifications or changes that should be made if you are a woman typically pushing the physical limit of exertion on your body? Maintaining higher levels of body fat should be helpful, but it still seems there are negative impacts that develop with time, so I thought you might have some suggestions for the girls out here!

*just wanted to say you are all amazing and appreciate your work.

Cheers

Andrew Berry
A few thoughts come to mind.

First, women are not little men, especially when it comes to PED use. I have picked up far too many female clients that were on cycles written by the boyfriend, the trainer at the gym, or picked up off a Reddit board. What I see is women estimating cycle dosages based on what their male counterparts are taking “you’re half my size, so just use half my dose”- that kind of thinking. Women have “more to lose” when it comes to PED use in terms of virilization, changes in physical appearance, voice changes and more. So, when using compounds, pick wisely and have a plan in place before you start using. Determine what, if any side effects you are ok with and a plan for how you are going to address side effects you are not ok with. Usually this is dose and duration related but the compound being used should be factored in as well.

Second, women, while tougher than men at being able to deal with the rigors of hard training and dieting day in and out, are at much more risk for adrenal issues. Getting stuck in sympathetic overdrive is much more of a risk. Over the years I have learned that deloads are extremely important for a female’s overall progress. I don’t plan them in, but I definitely pay closer attention to their feedback as a training cycle progresses.

Kind of piggy backing off the previous point, natural sex hormones can get out of whack very easily. Maybe this is genetic. Maybe it’s because women spend more time in diet phases then men do typically. Maybe it’s a little of both. But women can become estrogen dominant very easily. This is where your ratio of progesterone to estradiol is lower than it should be (sub-100). This can be from hormonal birth control use, from intense diet and training periods, from yo dieting or from being overweight. What you often see in these cases is women have a hard time losing any weight while pulling calories harder and harder. Or anytime they venture off plan, they gain weight immediately. Often times there are problems with sleep, digestion and other bodily functions like sex drive and energy. The remedy is deloading and pulling back. Dropping training days and intensity. Pulling cardio. Adding in low intensity exercise like walks, yoga, meditation. At the same time feeding up in calories slowly. It’s important to note that you will look worse (increase in body fat) before it gets better in this process, and it takes time to get hormones in range.

So, to wrap this one up, I think that for women it’s important to allow 2 to 3 times the amount of time out of a diet phase as there was in a diet phase. Someone diets for 15 weeks for a show, they need a minimum of 30 and maybe as much as 45 weeks before starting a diet phase again. I have an article up detailing what I like to do with clients, women in particular, following a diet phase to set themselves up for a productive offseason which you can read here.


Danny 
First off I want to thank everyone at team mountaindog for putting out new content and keeping this site running.

Whats the status of the Black Widow training program? I remember seeing it mentioned on the FB page a few times. Did John have his hand in the creation of the Black Widow program?

Thanks

Cris Edmonds
You are very welcome Danny!! Our goal is to have Black Widow wrapped up and ready for purchase on October 14th (my Birthday).

And yes, this was the final project John and I worked on together before his passing. Its why this has taken me so long to wrap up. Every time I sit down to work, I get super emotional and its hard to focus on doing anything but missing my friend.

When this is over, all of our work together will be done. Which is beyond difficult to deal with mentally. Thank you for patience and I promise to have this done for the MD community.


Erick 
First and foremost thanks for keeping Team MountainDog up and running love all the information that you all put out there. My question is, how do you overcome muscle imbalances? I understand we all will always have one side that’s dominant than the other (one bicep bigger than the other etc) but I’ve noticed that now that I’ve been progressing through my training, my left arm is at least 1 inch smaller than the other and so is my left leg (mainly anterior) is significantly smaller. What can I do to overcome that?

Cris Edmonds
To me the first question I would ask is, when is the last time you have had tissue work done to the left side. I have found with clients with this issue, the smaller size is unable to fully volumize bc it lacks blood flow from bound up tissue.

Next, I would look to have a chiropractic adjustment done, so that you ensure its not a bound-up nerve.

If both of those do not fix your issue, I would simply tack on 3 sets of left arm only work (3 for bis after back training, then 3 for tris after chest/shoulders) then I would do a full on arm day where its mostly cables and dbs (no barbells) I want those arms to fully work independently during your direct arm sessions.


Abdul 
Hi Cris,

In regards to your peri-workout protocol, does it differ if that person is 150lbs vs 200lbs male. Differ in terms of the amount of protein/carbs for pre/intra/post.

Thanks.

Cris Edmonds
Without a doubt the size of the person will matter, along with what their goals are. Let me fully flesh this out so you can see what I mean.

150 pound male:

  • Prewrokout meal: 40g protein/50g carbs/8g fat
  • Intra: 10g EAA/20g Carbs/5g creatine monohydrate (1 scoop Granite Recovery)
  • Post lift meal: 40g protein/60g carbs

200 pound male:

  • Preworkout meal: 50g protein/75g carbs/10g fat
  • Intra: 15g EAA/30g Carbs/10g creatine monohydrate (1.5 scoops Granite Recovery)
  • Post lift meal: 50g protein/80g carbs

This is assuming they both are around 10-12% bodyfat with the goal so gain lean muscle tissue. Food sources will be what they love to eat and digest optimally.


Osif 
What exercise I can do instead of dips?

Cris Edmonds
I’m assuming you mean parallel bar dips and you are wanting to grow triceps (not chest). But lets do both bc I love to talk training.

Triceps replacement: machine dips, JM press (in smith machine or barbell), close grip bench press or some db extensions where you pause the head of the db on your front delt. All of those would be great options. Now lets say your elbows are beat to shit, I would opt of a cable overhead rope extension if that were the case.

Chest replacement: all day long I would go with stretch pushups. And if you don’t want to do a ton of reps, throw some chains around your neck

Another great option here is the Hammer Strength Wide Chest Press. To me this simulates a dip to the T, but not all gyms have them sadly.


Cecilia 
Coming from a background with eating disorder (anorexia), what would be your thought about my ability to gain muscle when I’m gaining weight (now BMI 16 and very little muscle)? How should I increase my metabolism in order to be able to eat more?
Thanks!

Cris Edmonds
So my best advise here is to start slow and just gradually build up. What you have to remember is to have a healthy mindset towards food, bc you do not want to slip back into your old patterns of behavior.

What do I mean by start slow?? Let’s say right now you are eating 3x a day and they are on the lighter side in terms of volume and substance. I’d simply add in a 4th feeding of say a protein shake, 100g berries and 20g mixed nuts. Give that a week or two and see how you look in the mirror as well as how your performance changed in the gym. Are you stronger? Feel like you have more endurance? Are your pumps better? If the answer is yes to all of the above, we are on the right path.

Next, lets start building up those 3 base meals. Let’s assume here are your base meals (in red):

  • Meal 1: 1 whole egg, 2 egg whites, 20g oats
  • Meal 2: 3oz chicken breast, 100g rice, ½ tbs EVOO, 50g broccoli
  • Meal 3: 3oz steak, 3oz sweet potatoes, small salad

Updated meals:

  • Meal 1: 2 whole egg, 3 egg whites, 40g oats, 100g fruit of chioce
  • Meal 2: 4oz chicken breast, 150g rice, 1 tbs EVOO, 100g broccoli
  • Meal 3: 4oz steak, 5oz sweet potatoes, 6g coconut oil, medium salad

See what I did there…..nothing MAJOR, kept all the same food sources that you love, but slowly increased the amounts of protein/carbs/fat/veg.

From there I would just slowly add food to the 3 base meals, then look to add a 2nd snack of another protein shake, some rice cakes and almond butter.

Lastly would be to add a 6th feeding when you start getting hungry at night, bc its coming. By this point you will be smashing the weigth room, which will create a demand for more food in order to recover.

One final note here……this situation would be highly beneficial to hire a professional. This way the additions of food are on the coaches timeline and they will have an outside the box look, where most people who try to do this themselves, obsess like crazy over this. That obsession leads to poor decision making, which kills progress. Good luck and if you want further help please feel free to reach out to me.