Friday, September 27, 2013

Last Scenario: New Champ On His First Attempt

The last scenario I've got for y'all is Big Ramy winning the whole thing on his first try. Not even Phil Heath did that. Or Arnold. Or Ronnie. Larry Scott, the first Mr. Olympia did it back in 1965. So it would be really, really cool for someone to come in to the Mr. Olympia and win the whole thing.

Big Ramy qualified for the Mr. Olympia by winning the IFBB Amateur Olympia last year. He made his pro debut in May at the New York Pro and pretty much shocked the bodybuilding world. He won that competition and even knocked off Victor Martinez in the process.

This guy has only been training about 3-4 years. I believe he's only 25 and he is HUGE! He has decent conditioning and a small waist to boot. Can he win the Mr. Olympia this year on his first try? Maybe. But his win will depend on all the other guys not being on target. I think he could win in this situation, but it isn't likely. Big Ramy needs more separation and refinement to take it all this year.

Personally, I would have liked him to wait a year or two to compete in the Olympia like Heath and Evan did. With two more years of training and dieting and figuring out how his body reacts, he could dominate the field just like Ronnie did. I'll go out on limb and predict MORE than Ronnie, but that's if Ramy stays healthy and keeps making stellar progress. With youth on his side, Ramy has a very bright future ahead of him.

Judging is tonight and only about 12 hours away! I'll give you a clue as to who I think is going to win it this year: I am wearing a black shirt that has a design on the front that looks like the Obama Hope poster... but it isn't Obama and it doesn't say HOPE.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Movie Review

As promised here is my review of "Generation Iron" after watching it last night.

First of all, it wasn't showing at any local theaters so I had to search for a theater that was showing it. The closest was in Monterey Park, which is more than an hour away down in Los Angeles. My buddy Mike Harris and I went down to watch it with me.

Both Mike and I enjoyed the movie. It sort of had the look of the original movie "Pumping Iron" but it didn't have the same feel. "Generation Iron" seemed a little darker than "Pumping Iron" in the way it told the story and Mickey Rourke's gravelly voice attributed to that as well. I think another voice would have been better.

I did enjoy the training sequences. They were shot in a more artistic way than the hundreds of online videos of pros training. The cinematography did a great job of capturing the effort and the blood, sweat and tears of workouts. They aren't always pretty and the productive workouts do not look like posed magazine photo shoots.

The storytelling was good and most of the editing was top notch, but a few scenes were a bit awkward in the way b-roll was used. It seemed choppy and out of place at times.

The documentary was slanted towards Kai being the underdog much like Big Lou Ferrigno in the original. I guess you could say Phil Heath reprised the role of Arnold in this film. Heath was shown to be sort of an arrogant guy who thinks his natural talent goes further with hard work and because of that he won't lose to Kai or anyone else. My guess is that footage was edited in order to portray that more than what Phil intended. I'm pretty sure much of it was taken out of context.

Speaking of out of context, in the final match-up at the Mr. Olympia when Phil and Kai are waiting for the emcee to announce the winner, the emcee made a joke that there was only one point separating...  fourth and fifth place in an earlier division before the men's Mr. Olympia. The movie made it sound like there was only one point separating Phil and Kai. The actual scores reflected that Phil had almost all straight first place votes from the judges and it really wasn't that close. But that's a documentary for you. They try to build up drama and present a view that might not be accurate. Lots of documentaries do that.

I liked the personal side of the bodybuilders that the movie revealed. They were shown as real people instead of super heroes like the magazines portray them sometimes.

If the movie wasn't more than an hour away, I'd go see it again. It gets a thumbs-up from me. I will definitely buy the DVD when it comes out. Actually I'll probably pick up the Blue-Ray, which will finally give me an excuse to buy a Blue-Ray player.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Generation Iron

I'm going to see it tonight. I'll have my review here in a couple days.

Scenario #3: Kai Dethrones Phil

Many fans thought Kai won last year's Mr. Olympia. When he was announced in second place the message boards and forums lit up with disapproval. If you were AT the competition, however, the reaction wasn't the same. From my seats it was obvious that Phil was going to win. Kai deflated like a balloon and Phil came on strong. I was surprised to see how many conspiracy theorists popped up and thought Kai blew Phil away because I thought Phil won fairly easily.

Compared to his 2009 AC showing, Kai looked skinny and flat. Yes, I thought Kai looked good, but I didn't think it was enough to outmuscle Phil. And yes, Kai pushed him until the last minute with a good challenge, but Kai's deflated look and lack of traps were the deciding factor for me. Heath rightfully won.

Bu this is bodybuilding and not everyone sees the same thing. Lots of people thought Kai was good enough to win. (I won't even get into the ridiculous "stepping over the line" argument. I've never seen anyone DQ'ed for that... ever.)

With all that being said, Kai does look like he'll be coming in with added size this year and if his conditioning is on par with his best, Kai could place ahead of Phil --  if Phil is off.

This scenario has a strong possibility and having a new champ this year would be exciting. I do think Phil will pull off another win, but Kai winning is my second guess. 

(As an added note: I've never been one to spout off about  politics this and politics that in bodybuilding. Many times guys with no basis or knowledge spout this stuff off all the time. An example would be one year people claimed a competitor won because they were under contract by MuscleTech. That was the year MuscleTech wasn't even a sponsor and didn't have a booth at the expo either. So I don't put too much stock in the political arguments.)

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Comeback Kid... Again! Scenario #2

Okay, technically Jay Cutler has turned 40 and really is no longer a kid, but I liked the title so therefore Cutler is the kid. And if he were to come back and win the Mr. Olympia a second time after losing it, that would again make bodybuilding history. He will become the only man to do it twice. No one else besides Jay has ever done it.

After sustaining a severe bicep injury shortly before the 2011 Mr. Olympia where he ended up placing second to Phil Heath, Jay took a year off. The injury required surgery and it sidelined him for the 2012 Mr. Olympia. With the go-ahead from his doctors earlier this year, Jay committed to another run for his fifth Mr. Olympia title. He has steadily added mass in the past few months and looks much bigger than his "recovery look" of 2012. Judging from pre-contest photos, he looks lean, but not quite as big as in previous years.

Jay has had some symmetry issues in the past. His right leg and arm is noticeably smaller than the left side's. His lower lats seem to vanishing a bit more each year. And, of course, there's the bicep mentioned earlier.

In 2009 Jay did something to minimize his symmetry issues and came in huge, full and shredded. If he can somehow pull that off again, he could win the title back, but that would mean Kai and Phil both need to be off and that isn't too likely. Not impossible, but most likely improbable. It did happen, though, in 2009 to Phil and 2010 to Kai.

Can Jay do it? Can he win his fifth and with a second career comeback? Yes, it could happen. Jay has a way of making himself look better on stage and controlling and commanding the mandatory round. I've seen him do it several times now. The crowd gets behind him and all attention is on him, including the attention of the judges. (Photos never reveal those sort of things!) Jay is the Vegas hometown boy and the crowd loves him.

Although I don't think Jay will pull off his fifth win, I would love to see him do it. He's one guy you can never count out or write off.

Scenario #1: Dynasty

I spoke with Phil Heath at the Fit Expo earlier this year. He was charged up and pumped up to win his third Mr. Olympia and therefore give himself a dynasty (three straight wins). He repeated the word dynasty several times in our brief conversation; it was obviously important to him. It would establish him with a couple of the Mr. Olympias from decades ago. Frank Zane and Sergio had three straight wins each. (Cutler won two, lost, and then won 2 more.)

Can Phil Heath hold onto his title? The short answer is yes, but the longer answer involves a few variables. If Heath comes in looking just like he did in 2011, he will win. If he improves on that 2011 form, he wins. It will not matter what anyone else looks like or what kind of shape they show up in. A 2011 or better Heath beats everyone.

If Heath comes in looking a little smoother like he did during the judging...
And Kai shows up in his 2009 AC form, Kai might knock him off the pedestal.
And if Cutler comes in looking like he did in 2009, Heath will place behind Cutler.
And if Rhoden comes in his best ever form (one we still haven't seen) I think a 2012 smoother Heath will still place ahead of him.

Personally, I think this scenario has a strong possibility and with these variables, it is probable that Heath will win his third Mr. Olympia and gain his dynasty.

Olympia Week!

This Friday, September 27, the judging for the 2013 Mr. Olympia gets underway. It is was one of the most highly anticipated competitions in years and the line-up is totally stacked!  Unfortunately I will not be attending this year's event. 2004 was my first year of making the September trek to Vegas, but this year my schedule didn't allow it. There have been too many things going on this month.

But I'm still a fan and I am very excited to see how things pan out and find out the last men standing on the Olympia stage this year. I've looked at previews and predictions from various sites and the opinions are varied. The top five guy I see in predictions are Heath, Greene, Cutler, Rhoden and Big Ramy.

Across the boards I've seen predictions by fans for their favorites. Die-hard Cutler fans think he will make his second big comeback just like he did in 2009. They believe he won't lose and he'll blow every guy off the stage. 

Kai has a big following after last year's second place performance and many still think he was the rightful winner. The Predator's fans think, of course, he will dethrone Phil. Fans of the Phil "The Gift" Heath, however, think he will win the Mr. Olympia title again this year.

I like records to be broken, set and tied. I  like champs to win a gain and champs to be dethroned. Comeback wins are great and so a first-time victories. In the next few days before the big event, I will write out a few of the scenarios that could take place this year. Lots of fun stuff could happen and, thankfully, we only have a few more days to wait until it is in the history books once again.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Going Catabolic

The bodybuilding lifestyle has a tendency to be extreme. Guys eat every 2.5 hours and carry a gallon jug of water with them at all times. Everything in life can revolve around the training time and the umpteen times during the day guys use for re-feeding and re-fueling periods.

Social events are dismissed or postponed if they interfere with a planned workout or if one is one a cutting phase to get ripped for a competition. Relationships can suffer as a result of the extra "sacrifices" made in the quest for more quality muscle.

Over the years I've heard many theories of things that can be done to keep the muscles growing. Trying to keep the body in an anabolic state, just a fancy way of saying to keep the body in a state where it is growing, is a priority. The opposite of anabolic is catabolic and that is the bodybuilder's worst nightmare. If you go catabolic, your muscles are wasting away and therefore shrinking or staying the same. No bodybuilder wants to go catabolic -- ever!

Sadly many guys live in fear of going catabolic. I've read how some guys say the body goes catabolic overnight because you haven't eaten in a few hours. If you don't eat immediately upon arising, you risk losing muscle. Heaven forbid! To prevent that, some guys drink a protein shake in the middle of the night. They even set their alarm!

Here's my advice to that: don't be an idiot! Sleeping is one of the best things you can do to promote muscle growth. Don't screw it up by setting your alarm and deprive yourself of growth-producing REMs. The same crew might want to cut back on water later in evening too so you can sleep through the night without going pee.

As for going catabolic upon arising, you can wait a bit to eat without worrying about your muscles shrinking. The body is much more efficient than bodybuilding "experts" give it credit. If you're hungry and want to eat first thing, go ahead. If you want to shave, shower and get ready first and maybe read the morning paper or check Facebook or e-mail, go ahead. Those few minutes are not going to make one bit of difference. Enjoy life a little and ease up. Trust me. You'll be okay... and your muscles won't look any different.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New York Pro

This Saturday, May 25, 2013 is the IFBB New York Pro. It has both the men's open and 212 divisions. This event has a few things that are actually cool when it comes to pro bodybuilding competitions.

Cool thing number one:
Victor Martinez makes his return to the stage in New York. After winning the 20ll Arnold Classic in Europe, Victor ran into some immigration problems upon his return to the US. He's originally from the Dominican Republic and his papers weren't in order for international travel. He ended up six months in jail waiting for things to be resolved. After his release in April of 2012 he broke his arm a few months later during an impromptu arm wrestling match. After months of healing, he is back and ready to stand on stage again. He won the New York show about 10 years ago and it was one of the best showings he's ever had. Will he win this year? I have no idea. I don't know what he looks like. We most likely won't see the 2003 version of Victor, but he might be just good enough to win... maybe.

Cool thing number two:
Mamdouh Big Ramy Elssbiay from Kuwait is making his pro debut. New guys make pro debuts all the time. They get their feet wet and if they make the top 10, it's considered an achievement. Some guys, like Evan Centopani for instance, have won the NY Pro in their debut.
Here's the thing with Ramy, though. He's only been training about three years and he won his pro card at the Amateur Olympia last fall. That win qualified him to compete in the Mr. Olympia in Las Vegas. All that is impressive in itself, but the guy is HUGE! He's five feet 10 and weighed 298 at 10 days out from the NY Pro. If he is conditioned enough, he might actually win the show. It's a possibility. Take a look at the dude here:

Cool thing number three:
Aaron Clark is also making his pro debut too. He is in superb condition and decided to drop a couple more pounds and do the 212 instead of the men's open class. Aaron will be up against Mark Dugdale, Jose Raymond, Sami the Blacksmith and more. It'll be very interesting to see how he stacks up against some of the IFBBs best in the 212.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Keeping it real

Two things: people don't like to be told what to wear or what to eat.

Company dress codes are a good example of the first point. Dress codes do have their place, but when a small company tries to impose rules like they are a big company, people do not like it. Or if the code is out of touch with the actual work that is done, people become disgruntled.

For example, years ago I worked at a company that designed and produced phone books. It didn't pay much but I didn't mind working there. It was a good group of people to work with. Most hated the dress code, though. We were an art department that needed to dress up every day. Ties were not required but slacks, dress shoes, polos or collared shirts were required. No jeans or sneakers. As an art department we hated it.

The vice-president of personnel established a panel of people (the dress code police) to help decide what articles of clothing was appropriate and what wasn't. As you can guess they were not a very popular group in the company. Most of the panel were hand-picked and were the people wishing the code would be even stricter. Needless to say, the panel became the joke of the company and a strong attitude of "no one's going to tell me what to wear!" became the norm.

The second thing people don't like is to be told what to eat. "Eat your beans!" "Finish your vegetables! They are GOOD for you!" What's that you say? Your mom said these commands to you? How did I know? I'm psychic like Shawn Spencer.

As adults, people do not want to be told by anyone what they can eat -- including their doctor or mother. People want to eat what they want to eat and when they want to eat it.

So the lady in the Production Dept. in your company who scolds her co-workers for eating various types of food, isn't well liked because people don't want to be told what to eat.

It's not only in the workplace or at social gatherings that people scold others for what they eat. Oh no! Facebook has opened the door to allow people to post their diets and photos of all the healthy food they eat -- and, of course, what everyone else should be eating too!

So now I'll get to the point...

I discovered years ago when I was in high school that my classmates really didn't care what vitamins or minerals were in certain foods or which foods were best to consume after a sports practice. They also didn't care how many calories, carbs or fats are in particular foods. After a few comments that they didn't care, I took the hint and shut my mouth.

Those people are now adults and I can say confidently that they do not want someone scolding them like their mother about what they shouldn't eat. I've seen the "mothers" out there scolding adults and it is never received well.

Why is it then that fitness-oriented or recently-converted-health-nut people think they have to fill their Facebook timelines and albums with photos of what they eat everyday? Or let people know they are working hard to achieve their fitness goals and you should too? Or how horrible aspartame is? Or how bad non-organic food is? Or what you need to eat so you don't get cancer? Or you shouldn't chew gum? Or you shouldn't eat meat?

Honestly, it does little to motivate me when I see someone telling others what to eat when those others haven't ASKED the person what to eat. I think eating healthy is important, of course, but it needs to encouraged. Scolding never works. Sorry, it just doesn't. It only makes the scoldee upset and the scolder looks like one of those stereotypical arrogant fitness or health nuts. (You know the type.)

Lead by example. Do your thing. Eat your food. Do your workouts, but always keep in mind that the other person probably doesn't want to be a CrossFit champ or a Mr. America. Or the next paleo vegan. If they do, they'll ask you for help and advice. Until then, my fitness-nut brothers and sisters, carefully consider what you post on social networks or what you say about what YOU think others should do when it comes to eating and exercise.

And for crying out loud, don't tell them how they should dress either!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Old Dog and New Tricks

It's coming close to that time of year again when the New Years Resolutionists will be leaving gyms all around the country. They won't return until next January... if they ever do return.

I've been working out for more than 30 years and I really do enjoy it. I look forward to getting up early and pushing some heavy weights and challenging myself in every workout. It's just fun. How else do explain that?

I've treated this part of my life as a journey and I've doen things differently over the years to improve performance, get stronger, get leaner, and ultimately to make my mescles keep growing.

I follow trends to see if they work. If they don't, I stop and move onto try something else. In the 1980s most bosybuilders trained 6 days a week like Arnold and Haney. Body parts were hit twice a week.

The Yates era was in the 1990s and it became normal for body parts to be trained just once a week with a lot less volume. I did that too... and got really sore all the time from forced reps and negatives.

In the early 2000s I started deadlifting again because Ronnie Coleman did them. Everyone started doing deadlifts again because of Ronnie. (I don't do them much any more because of the aches and pains I'd constantly live with when doing them. Life is easier when you can bend and move.)

Along the way I've discovered what works and what doesn't.

These days this old dog is  using some unique exercises and utilizing bands and having some really fun workouts and I'm gaining size and strength from those workouts. I've also concentrated on stretching my shoulders and I feel like I've breathed new life into my chest workouts because of that.

This journey has been fun. Can't wait for tomorrow. It's back and chest day. I haven't combined those two bodyparts in a workout for years. Reverse-band low-incline presses are the bomb. So are one-arm t-bar rows.

Should be fun!

And then legs on Monday. Oh, man! What a perfect way to start the week!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Random thoughts...

The Arnold Classic is coming up the end of next month. I'm putting together travel plans to cover the event for again this year. I'm alos looking forward to seeing my nephew, Joe Swartz, compete in the Arnold Amateur in the Classic Bodybuilding division.

I've been reading lots of stuff by John Meadows lately. He has some new and different training techniques I've been incorporating into my workouts. I've always thought that using the big rubber bands were kind of silly for serious workouts, but now that I've tried them, I am hooked! Chest workouts will never be the same.

Anyone sick of all the internet experts on diet and training? I sure am. Science proves this. This study proves that. Guys who weigh a buck fifty soaking wet are claiming to be experts and know everything about getting ripped because of some study they've read. Most of them have never stepped on stage and have been training for less than five years.

I'm all for science being helpful in gaining muscle and burning fat, but there are just some things that have worked for years and all the good bodybuilders have discovered the same things. But some guy always wants to argue and prove they have evidence of the "right" way to do it. And it's the guy who has arms taping a mighty 14 inches after five years of training.

Enough for today.