Muscular Development – February 2016

Akim Williams graces the cover this month. Never heard of the guy before, but he’s placed in the league of Power-Bodybuilders who are as strong as they look. Why is it that this new breed all look like one and the same person with no distinguishing features? Williams, Lockett, Max Charles? They may as well be one and the same person for anyone cares

The pro-panel give their reaction on the new classic division. Shawn Ray welcomes the opportunity for the shift back to

“a place where hopefully, we can revisit the likes of a 190-pound Frank Zane or a 180-pound Lee Labrada, and reminisce about the beauty they brought to the stage and the pageantry of a complete package.”

zane samir

Time to start bringing sexy back

Ray likes it more than the legs-concealing Physique division and feels it gives competitors a platform to compete without the extreme risks required by the sport’s upper echelons. Yates puts it down to simple evolution catering to the market’s shifting tastes and demand for something less extreme. Levrone thinks the new classic requirements definitively cater for those pursuing that Classic Era look, but also feels that hardcore bodybuilding will always exist as a fringe option for those pursuing pure mass-mastery.


Levrone looking pretty classical himself

dirty bulkI’m predicting the IFBB’s new division to be a hit with many of today’s lifters.

Bob Chicherello discusses the Lee Thompson fiasco of 2015 relating his renegade breakaway from the IFBB to form the new NPC Global. Chich says that he welcomes the competition because it’s great for the athletes financially – yeah, Chich, it really worked out well for those IFBB athletes who defected to the WBF and then tried to return cap in hand only to be competitively snubbed.

aaron baker

Chich should ask Aaron Baker how leaving to compete in another organsisation against the crushing IFBB steamroller of the 90’s worked our for him.

“The question I’m asked most often is, “Why is it so difficult for other companies to make any waves against the NPC/ IFBB?” The answer is simple: PRESTIGE. Athletes in any capacity ultimately love to compete. If you are going to put the time, money and effort into getting onstage, then you want to compete against the BEST, not the REST.”

No Chich, the answer is “strangehold monopoly” that the Weiders fought tooth and nail to apply crushing any kind of competition or athlete who dared question their often inane policies. When you’re the only circus tent in town, the options to become a paid clown are limited.


Former (now deceased) president of the IFBB and Schmoe Weirder’s brother, Ben, was obsessed with Napoleon and even co-authored a book on the topic of his hero….if that’s not a warning sign, I don’t know what is. 

If Phil is number one in the world, then who’s number 2? Dan Solomon says that without a doubt, it ain’t Kai (anymore).

“Let’s put this debate to rest. The second-best bodybuilder in the world is the guy who showed up! It’s the guy who put it all on the line, recently winning his 24th professional title, proving time and time again that he loves to compete, never missing an opportunity to settle a score. Dexter Jackson will go down as one of the greatest of all time … and, make no mistake about it— he begins 2016 as the number-two bodybuilder in the world, four years away from his 50th birthday.”

dexter bis.jpg

Woody Allen said it best, “80% of success in life is just showing up.”

Peter McGough revisits the controversial 1996 Arnold Classic where a very “off” Kevin Levrone bested a very “on” Flex Wheeler”. McGough’s summary is that there was no fuckin’ doubt. Wheeler should have won that contest and the judges, once again, got it very wrong.  Pics and videos don’t often tell the full story, but you can judge for yourself here.

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A waterlogged fat man with droopy tits won the day. 

No mention of Yates from McGough this month, so here’s some pics from one of his first comps at 23 years old to make us through till next month.

DLB talks post competition depression and cites some strategies for overcoming the funk that often follows. Her tips:

  1. Be realistic – you can’t maintain that look forever; so expect some post-comp rebound. Don’t use it as an excuse to blow-out and put on 30lbs however.
  2. Take a fucking break –  2-3 days at the minimum; “take a break from the gym and a break from the clockwork diet. As much as you actually may want to go

    to the gym or do cardio, or feel obligated/brainwashed to, don’t! Take a f**king break! I know it seems weird, but seriously, quit being so obsessive and take a couple of days off to relax. Your adrenal glands have been working overtime these last couple of months. These glands are responsible for releasing hormones like cortisol that kick in when you’re stressed. Adrenal fatigue can occur after long periods of stress, like competition prep. So you need to give your body a break in order to restore your system.”

    3. Try something new for the sake of mental and physical novelty.

    Training Research

    In a study, “100 test subjects performed squats for 15 minutes. Heat or cold was applied immediately after exercise or after 24 hours. Heat or cold promoted strength recovery compared to no treatment. Cold was superior to heat for reducing pain. Researchers concluded that heat or cold could prevent post-exercise pain and muscle damage. Other studies have questioned the use of cold for injured muscles because cold decreases inflammation, which is critical for tissue repair.” (Journal Strength and Conditioning, 29: 3245-3252, 2015)

    Brad Schoenfeld’s research into high load vs light load for strength and hypertrophy found that heavier load training builds more strength. Wow, who woulda thought lifting heavy ass weights for as many reps as possible would do such a thing?

    ronnie weights

    Heavy weights lifted many times. This isn’t rocket science, but it’s easier studied than done. 

    Forced reps can have some benefit to enhancing muscle growth, but should be used sparingly for their potential to overtrain and possibly injure those that overuse them. (Strength and Conditioning Journal, 37(5): 14-20, 2015)

    forced reps .jpg

    Weider’s Forced Reps Principle….riggght, because it took a genius to figure out that fingers on the bar can help someone eke out a few extra reps.

    The Journal Strength Conditioning Research, (29: 3079-3083, 2015) reports that resting longer between sets of heavy bench presses promotes facilitates better inter-set recovery leading to more reps? Is Captain Obvious driving the research topics this month or something??

    Do bile acids have anything to do with metabolic rate in actual humans, and can they promote fat loss? An interesting article on the possibility of the fat burning properties of bile acids is explained (in great technical detail) by Dr Dan Gwartney which definitely went over my head and required a few readings to pare down the meaning. In 2012, a study looking at normal adult subjects, and those with cirrhosis (severe liver dam-age), showed that the level of bile acids in the blood was directly correlated to the metabolic rate. It was also shown that the postprandial (after a meal) increase in bile acids is associated with a decrease in TSH, the pituitary-stimulating hormone to the thyroid. New research further shows that the administration of chenodeoxycholic acid was effective in increasing energy expenditure in adults.

    “Further, when researchers administered chenodeoxycholic acid, other bile acids as well as TGR5-agonist drugs in development to brown fat taken from adult humans, they demonstrated an uncoupling effect at the mitochondria (wasting fat calories) and an increase in the D2 enzyme. This is near to being the holy grail of fat loss— effortless fat loss by activating brown fat and skeletal muscle to just waste extra calories on demand. Unfortunately, the effect is somewhat limited, increasing the metabolic rate in brown fat by only 40 percent.”


    The best nutrients for power and strength lists a number of things that might be use in the arsenal of serious lifters. Creatine we all know, but the author also promotes betaine, ATP, caffeine, and citruline malate.


    One of the most common sights seen in any gym is the two man bench press where one guy struggles isometrically against a weight which his partner deadlifts off his chest screaming “it’s all fucking you man; c’mon dawg! you got 5 more in you!” This technique, for centuries, commonly referred to as “fucking stupidity” also comes under the neologism “forced reps”. But does it work? The studies are scarce, but one recent investigation looked at the effects of forced reps on strength and hypertrophy and did see some gains attributable to the method. This may have been due to the hormonal response triggered by using this technique.

    arthur jones.jpg

    Arthur Jones method of forced reps was rumoured to be holding his loaded pistol to many a bodybuilder’s head. 

    “A study by Ahtiainen et al. clearly showed test subjects performing forced repetitions not only increased the production of lactic acid, but they also showed much higher GH levels shortly after working out, relative to the control group that performed a similar training routine that did not include forced repetitions.”

    Liberal use of forced reps also elevates cortisol which could mitigate most of the positive hormonal effects derived, not to mention the the higher levels of accumulated muscular fatigue. I know personally use of forced reps fucking kills me; so it really depends on the recovery and tolerance of the individual.

    Schoenfeld looks at the best rest period ranges for growth. As alluded to in the research section, longer rest times logically lead to better performance in any lift with 3 minutes being about ideal for moderate rep inter-set recovery. Alternatively, shorter rest periods of a minute or so theoretically drives anabolism due to the creation of higher levels of exercise-induced metabolic stress. The studies, as always it seems, are conflicting.

    “Ahtiainen et al.showed no differences in hypertrophy between two- versus five- minute rest periods. Conversely, Buresh et al.found that a rest period of 2.5 minutes produced greater growth in the arms compared to those who rested one minute. Further confounding matters, Villanueva et al.reported superior increases in lean body mass when training with one- versus four-minute rest periods.”

    Schoenfeld’s own recent research is perhaps a little more conclusive:

    “….there was a clear benefit to using longer rest intervals from a strength perspective; significantly greater increases in one-repetition maximum (1RM) were noted in both the squat and bench press. No real surprise there. However, contrary to current hypertrophy guidelines, the data suggested that longer rest periods were beneficial to muscle growth, as well.”

    The reasons for the correlation between longer rest and growth could be attributed to greater ability to handle more volume – a key driver in hypertrophy.

    “Simply stated, the longer rest allowed subjects to maintain a higher percentage of their load, resulting in a greater total volume load over time, which seemingly enhanced muscle growth.”

    2 minutes seems to be about key – especially on the compound movements, Schonfeld argues. BUT BUT BUT BUT – don’t neglect shorter rest periods, particularly on the isolation movements due to their ability to “improve buffering capacity, potentially enhancing your ability to increase the number of repetitions performed at a given moderate-rep load.”

    sets rest.jpeg

    The real Bro-fessor

    There’s a certain level of respect reserved for those bodybuilders who not only look strong, but have the strength to back it up. In the minds of many, the ability to hoist heavy iron equates to “hard-work”; a trait seemingly more respectable than prize genetics. Compare people’s feelings towards Phil Heath to someone like Ronnie Coleman. Cover boy Akim Williams joins the ranks of others like Franco Columbo, Yates, Warren, and Coleman who have put up some serious numbers in the gym, developing that brutal, thick look along with it.

    In his first outing to the gym, the then 147 pound Williams benched 225 for 6. Within a month he was squatting 315 for 10. Benching 3 times a week, his goal was to hit 405. That took him a year and half of training to do. He says he trains in the rep range of 3-6 because anything over that and he begins to lose size.

    “For me, going a little lighter and doing more reps actually made me look worse,” Akim states. “I lost that dense, hard look my muscles had, and I got 11th place (at the 2014 New York Pro.”

    Akim doesn’t train delts directly and foregoes the use of lifting gear except wrist wraps. He gives the nod to Ronnie Coleman as being the GOAT, but not without inserting himself into the equation as being a contender for strongest bodybuilder of our time however…

    “Ronnie did that 800-pound squat with a squat suit, a belt and knee wraps, but I did 765 with none of those,” he points out. “But I still bow down to Ronnie. He’s the man!”

    Akim Squatting – dude is definitely a beast

     Michael Lockett is compared to a modern day version of Bertil Fox with perhaps even more brutal genetics than the aforementioned Brit. Teased as a young kid for being “too muscular”, Lockett parlayed his obvious athleticism to kicking ass as a boxer for many years. After winning the 2006 Team Universe “without the use of any supplements” or contest prep whatsoever, he took 6 years off the sport while battling a gambling addiction. Now, he’s’ more serious, eats 6000 cals a day and sets  his sights on cementing his legacy in the sport.

    Future powerhouse, Michael Lockett?

    Peter McGough relates a cool story about Sergio Olivia Jnr’s first time on a bodybuilding stage as newborn baby only 2 weeks old:

“The three-time Mr. Olympia’s (1967-’69) participation was the biggest storyline of the 1984 Mr Olympia. In the end he finished eighth, which was devastating for him and his fans. The crowd was in uproar and as he processed that eighth place, a frown swept across his face. He started to amble toward the front of the stage, asking for the microphone. Given the political fireworks that Sergio and the IFBB had been involved in 12 years earlier, many were convinced he was going to go ballistic, something not alien to his hot-blooded temperament.

Sensing the potential for ugliness, legendary bodybuilding journalist Rick Wayne (who nicknamed Sergio The Myth) leapt from his front-row seat and moved toward Sergio’s wife, Arleen, who was holding 2-week-old Sergio Jr. Wayne picked the infant up and handed him onstage to Sergio Sr. The 43-year-old former Mr. Olympia cradled his son in his arms and declared to an expectant audience, “No matter what happened tonight, eighth, 17th or 20th, I’ll forever be The Myth. And I hold in my arms Sergio Jr., the next Myth.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 11.35.59 am.png

The circle of lifeeeeeee

From that time on, his dad did whatever he could to dissuade the young Sergio from getting involved in bodybuilding, even swaying many gym owners with his influence from allowing his son in a gym. From interviews I’ve watched, Sergio’s relationship with his now deceased father seemed fractured at best. I don’t know if he has the chops to compete with today’s standard personally, but it’s interesting to see someone carry the legacy of a former great into the new era, all the same.

sergio swag.jpg

Serge Jnr can never hope to match his dad in the swag department.

The “Thunder from Down Under”, Josh Lenartowicz appeared on the scene in 2015 like a bolt from the blue, amassing some impressive, Yates like gains and competing in some respectable lineups to garner a 2016 Olympia qualification. Weighing 315lbs at 5’10 and shredding down to 260 come competition time it will be interesting to see how he fares at this year’s Arnold outings.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 7.14.13 am.png


Dr. Dan Gwartney reports on the best steroids for power, strength and size:

“The AAS that generally serve the roles of power, strength and size enhancers are trenbolone acetate, Anadrol-50 and testosterone propionate, respectively.”

“Trenbolone, chemically related to THG, serves to enhance muscle growth and differentiation of satellite cells with subsequent fusion of myoblasts to muscle fibers.10,11 It is also a “dry” steroid in that it will not add a great deal of body mass aside from muscle growth.”

“Anadrol-50 is an extremely potent oral AAS that provides rapid increases in both size and strength, and can be dosed to peak immediately prior to or following training.”

“Testosterone propionate is an aromatizable AAS, and it has the greatest variation in peaks and troughs following injection.”

test prop trenbolene anadrol

The Big Three

Testosterone propionate is an aromatizable AAS, and it has the greatest variation in peaks and troughs following injection.

Llewellen profiles, a crowdfunded steroid testing lab I mentioned  a while ago that assays a range of underground labs for the product purity.

Using Anavar (oxandrolene) has been proving an effective treatment for those suffering CMT disease – a fairly common neurological disorder.

“Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1 (CMT1)— a neurological disorder characterized by a progressive loss of muscle strength and motor control in the peripheral nerves. Over time, CMT is usually characterized by difficulties walking and using one’s hands, even speaking. It is a serious disease, and also one of the most common hereditary neurological disorders. It actually affects about one in 2,500 Americans.”

“A course of treatment was oxandrolone, given at a dose of 20 milligrams per day for three months. This was combined with strength training three times per week. The result was a significant improvement in muscle strength and functional (walking) ability. Muscle biopsy also showed there was a remarkable improvement in muscle fiber composition and nerve density. The drug seemed to be directly countering (reversing) some of the physiological effects of the disease on the muscles.”

The steroid blackmarket is a crap-shoot these days, but when shopping for legititmate gear, test enanthate is probably your best bet because it’s cheap to produce and not often faked. Anavar on the other hand is highly sought after and very often faked which could be disastarous for women seeking a low-risk drug such as oxandrolone.

Masterdrol Black has made a return to the British market. It was a popular prohormone product containing ” two synthetic anabolic steroids, methasteron (better known as Superdrol) and Trenavar (trendione). Trendione might technically be classified as a prohormone, given that it should have low intrinsic activity and does assumedly convert to trenbolone in the body, to some degree. Methasteron, however, is a long-known and highly potent oral anabolic steroid.”

It’s scheduled in most other countries however, so buyer beware.

Masterdrol Black

High velocity training, i.e. accelerating the weight (usually 3o%RM) for speed repetitions was a very effective technique for increasing one’s bench press maxes. Training the bench in its strongest range of motion was also an effective method of overcoming sticking points.

power factor

Bench press partials have their place

Cluster sets similarly work very well at boosting squat strength, as does doing more sets in general.

“Researchers showed that subjects performing eight sets of squats at 80 percent of their 1RM had the greatest increase in strength, of almost 25 percent. The other two groups in this study doing only one set and four sets showed an increase in strength of only 10 percent and 14 percent, respectively. While this is only one study, the results clearly indicate that performing as many as eight sets at a relatively high intensity produces a significantly greater improvement in strength.”

Kai’s low placings in the Team Universe comps earlier on in his career almost prompted him to quit the sport entirely.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 8.31.31 am.png

Kai as a natty Team Universe competitor.

Justin Compton is known for his strict adherence to dieting without ever taking a break. Twelve weeks out he starts to drop down from his daily consumption of 7000 calories (!!!) and adopts a simple, but spartan approach:



Compton’s 5 years apart before and afters are striking in more ways than one.

“I don’t remember the exact diet, but my food was very simple: oatmeal, brown rice, white rice, yams, and red potatoes as my carb sources, and I eat 90/10 ground beef (sometimes sirloin steak), chicken and whey isolate as my protein. My fats come from oils at that time. I cut the fats back and switch over to more fish as I get closer to showtime, but again, it all depends on how my body is responding.”

The two-day Olympia format has saved Phil’s ass on more than one outing. He considers Friday “his warmup” to the main event, which IMO is a pretty disrespectful way of approaching things. Dexter nailed both days, so again, in my opinion probably should have got the nod over “pancake-flat” Phil in 2015. He also mentioned that he would like to do the USA Arnold’s and the follow up Australian Arnold Classic, but at the time of release, Heath’s name is not on the competitor list for this year.

phil pose.jpg

2D and 3D Heath – you never know which one you’re gonna get.

Jay Cutler believes that cardio on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea for everyone. If you’re overweight, then it could serve you well. But, if you’re already in good shape then cardio is merely a tool to crank the metabolism and assist the fat burning process. Too much fasted cardio can start to eat your hard earned muscle. Have a shake or small meal first.

Jay also doesn’t mind mixing carbs and fats for a few meals usually around the workout, but will keep the rest of his meals protein and carbs with minimum fat the rest of the time.


Big Ron’s Signature Series brand was featured as the number one supplement company by Inc 500 with 2014 sales of 10.4 million and a 3 year growth rate of 2,043%. Those sales seem kinda low to me….

Ron also mentions that his training has evolved to high rep (20-30 reps) light weight training. He also finds training at Metroflex more annoying as the years have crept by due to the increasing tourist element seeking him out for chats and meets. He tries to keep his training times to late at night now – 10:30pm being his usual hours of business these days.


Dorian mentions that he has worked with a few people including Zack Khan and Chris Cormier with his Blood & Guts style training. He insists that if Cormier had trained with him earlier in his career, he would have won a Mr O for certain.

dorian and chris

Dorian’s new “up to his nuts in guts” style Training with Chris Cormier. 

Yates also argues that gyms of today are catering to wimps with much of the old equipment being replaced with shit stuff to make pussies feel better about themselves. Hammer Strength, Yates equipment of choice interestingly enough, was designed by the son of Arthur Jones which I never knew. Doz also thinks the steroids of today are substandard and would only use gear if he had it lab-tested first.

yates mentzer.png

Yates and Mentzer on Nautilus preacher curls.

Calves have always been Dexter Jackson’s self admitted weak point so he trains them 3 times a week.

Dexter Jackson might use higher reps and machines exclusively in his training NOW, but admits that if he didn’t use free weights and lower reps earlier on, he wouldn’t have come near to maxing out his muscular potential.

dex jackson bw

I see no weak points….but then this pic is cropped at the calves…

Farah is a fan of hydrolysed protein upon waking and post workout but thinks isolate and concentrate is fine to use at other times. I can honestly say that I notice a night and day difference in recovery using hydrolysed casein during and after the workout.

The media loves a good viral scare campaign, and it seems that the latest bullshit fests cite a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that 23,000 people go the emergency room (ER) annually due to supplements. Rick Collins digs deeper saying that 23,000 isn’t an actual number, but a projected estimate.

“These projections improperly included products that are not dietary supplements at all,such as eyedrops, eardrops,homeopathic products and skin creams.”

Of that, 20% are kids under 4 digging into their parents’ stacks. Another 20% is old geezers choking on the pills.

“The estimate for actual hospitalizations is less than 2,200 per year— startlingly low…and most of these are the result of three factors: accidents, people not consulting with their doctor, or misuse of a product combined with other health factors. Supplements are safe, which is why millions of Americans use them every day.”

Of those products that do cause problems, stimulant and weight loss supplements seem to be the main culprits.


And that’s it for this month!


  2 comments for “Muscular Development – February 2016

  1. January 17, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    awesome post! I can’t wait to see the new classic physique era and what the judges are looking for!


    • January 18, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Definitely an exciting time. It’s funny, because I was writing a blog post of possible contenders for the Classic Division title and then the Generation Iron Youtube channel beat me to the punch releasing a video with practically the same guys I had listed in my article.

      Ideally, someone like Calum Von Moger would be a great draw card and representative for the Classic Division. Apart from being the second coming of Arnold, he has that appealing personality and charisma that is extremely marketable and draws people in.

      Thanks for reading – I checked out your blog and you have some great results!


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