Q: Hi François,
I see from your photos on SeriousAboutMuscle.com and on Facebook that you’ve made great improvements since last year. I would like to know about your training program leading up to the IDFA International Championships. How many days per week did you train? What kind of split did you use? Any other information you’re willing to provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
. . . Leo S.
A: Hi Leo,
When yo train naturally, that is, without drugs, you must find some other ways to improve your physique and muscle mass. What I like to do at the end of each year is to take the time to make a retrospective of the year. I look at my symmetry, my improvements over previous years, my attitude, my energy level, and I plan how I can improve the way I train, eat, rest, and use supplements.
Last year, I made some mistakes that cost me a lot at the IDFA Pro Universe competition (water retention, tiredness, softness, and maybe loss of muscle mass). I had to consider this before going further in the sport.
In 2011, I changed my sleeping pattern first. The big part of muscle gain and fat loss happens during your sleep; if you don’t get enough sleep, go to the bed too late, or wake up too early, you don’t maximize your gains. So I time myself to get a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night and stay asleep until 5:30 am. Your sleep can be divided into two parts: physical recovery and emotional recovery. The physical recovery happens during first part of your sleep and the emotional recovery is done during the early hours of the morning. So I slept more than last year, which allowed me to get a better recovery. It’s a little point that made a big difference.
Then I looked at my dieting pattern. To get more ripped, you have to increase your metabolism and then cut down your calories and see what happens. Before dieting, I didn’t know what my breaking point was to maintain 8 percent body fat; I found that I could maintain 8 percent at 3200-3500 calories per day. Knowing this makes it easier to track progress, cut down fat, and minimize loss of muscle tissue.
I also managed my calorie intake during my contest prep in a way that didn’t tire my body. I shifted to a stricter diet only three weeks before the show (to a “depletion” diet, meaning mostly protein) and got onstage in really good condition with high energy level. Last year, I spent too much time on a depletion diet and tired my adrenal glands. When you tax them, your body becomes tired. You have water retention, you gain fat and lose muscle, and you secrete more cortisol – and cortisol is not your friend in a contest prep.
An important aspect of my 2011 contest prep was that I didn’t make any big changes in my training and dieting patterns between my off season and my contest prep. I cut down 500-600 calories in phase 1 of my diet. This allowed me to drop my body fat from 8 percent to 6 percent. As I said, I changed my diet in only the last three weeks of my prep. My body was ready for this change and responded to it very well. Never forget this: when you starve yourself, you body secretes more natural growth hormone (GH). This doesn’t mean that I stopped eating completely, but I managed my body’s natural GH production to get extra results. Unfortunately this dieting part of my prep is “Top Secret.”
My training program was the same as my off-season preparation. I am a bodybuilder who likes training heavily with low reps. I don’t like tri-sets or quad-sets (or all those patterns that make you run around the gym). I like to feel the pump in my muscles. So, last year, I tired my body out by training too much per week, and with no regard for the training my body prefers. Moreover, I notice that bodybuilders are probably those who train less in a week compared to, say, an Olympic athlete. We are always afraid of overtraining. So I decided to increase the volume of training on each body part, especially my shoulders, which are a weak point. My split training was something like this:
- Day 1: legs
- Day 2: chest, back and rear delts
- Day 3: arms
- Day 4: off
- Day 5: shoulders, traps
- Day 6: off
- Day 7: start over
In the last weeks of my contest prep, I added cardio, more volume on legs, and “triple drop sets” to really cut down the fat on quad and hamstrings, and to get what we call a “Christmas tree” in my lower back. Why a triple drop set? My body responds well to heavy weight, so this routine allowed me to add more weight and get more than 45 seconds under tension, an effective way to lose fat.
Finally, I have been sponsored by ATP (Athletic-Therapeutic-Pharma) Laboratories and have started using their supplements. They are a Canadian supplement company and are GMP-certified in Canada. Their standards exceed those set by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) organization. I use all their supplement range to fuel every cell in my body and ensure the delivery of high-quality nutrients. This helps me to recover, detoxify and cleanse my body, boost my testosterone and GH level naturally, and increase the effectiveness of my CNS (central nervous system) that improves my mind-muscle connection. The supplements I used from XPN are glutamine, a multivitamin, and whey-isolate powder. The supplements I used from ATP Laboratories are:
- IGF2: Alpha GPC, or acetylcholine, is also the chemical secreted in the myoneural junctions found in skeletal muscle, which controls muscular contraction. Without acetylcholine, you couldn’t contract your muscles, which would make training a bit difficult, not to mention breathing! Moreover Alpha GPC may be one of the most effective nutrient GH boosters available. It increases growth hormone release through two known mechanisms: 1) Increased synthesis of acetylcholine, which inhibits the release of the GH-blunting somatostatin; and 2) promotes increased secretion of GHRH through increased activity of various cellular second messenger systems that results in increased hormonal secretion--in this case GHRH.,
- T-Andro: increases testosterone naturally,
- Estro-Control: controls estrogen levels naturally
- Omega 3: for all the benefits of omega-3 oil but with a better concentration than caps.
- IBCAA: anti-catabolic agent that enhances recovery, increases endurance and muscle mass.
I hope that this information answers your question.
. . . François Beauregard, IDFA Pro