My Professional Home Gym Is Finally Gone

Everything is gone, the entire home gym, save for the mirrors, and I have a semi-firm commitment from a guy that says he’ll come by and pick them up on Tuesday (election day, don’t forget!).

All the bars and bumper plates went to a guy who owns a strongman-themed gym in New London, CT. The power rack, leg press, large dumbbell set and other varia went to a male nurse (I think – not the maleness, I know the guy’s a dude, but him being a nurse) from Hartford, CT (you still need to pick up the rest of the dumbbells, Rob). The small dumbbell set and various plates went to a doctor from Shelton, CT. A cop from Massachusetts bought a pulldown/lat row machine. All the rest was just picked up by a Ghanese lawyer and his buddy currently living in MA who are buying up stuff left and right for a planned commercial gym in Accra, Ghana (I kid you not).

When all is said and done I figure I got the minimum I was willing to accept when I first advertised the home gym for sale back in August (not counting the damage to my garage caused by the Ghanese lawyer trying to back in a van that just wouldn’t fit), and I got figuratively raped on several occasions.

Thanks to everybody who came to my house whether you bought something or not, and to those who did, I hope the equipment will bring you joy and happiness and big muscles and stuff (a free banana for the first person who gets the reference). To those who made an appointment and never showed up: SUCK A BAG OF DICKS!

This marks the end of an era for me. At 54 (55 in a few weeks) I have abandoned all ambition of making any sort of comeback in the bodybuilding field. I’m just too fucking old and have too many injuries. Not to say that I’ll never work out again, but I have nothing left to prove. I’ll be content being a moderately fit senior citizen. There’s a new Edge Fitness location just a few miles down the road from where I live and I might just sign up. Even if I hate chain gyms.

Bodybuilding For Beginners

My wife’s nephew contacted me today for some advice regarding weight training and nutritional supplements for the young, novice trainee who aspires to put on some clean weight without necessarily pursuing a career as a competitive bodybuilder. Rather than write him a long private message in reply, I’ve decided to make a post of it here on my Old Man Blog since I know a lot of younger guys are interested and it’s easy to get confused by all the advice and info out there from self-proclaimed experts, friends, coaches, magazines and advertisements for the latest wonder supplement. I also have some experience on the subject, am a recognized expert and an established Internet personality, and I also have a blog with a Bodybuilding & Fitness category in need of content, so it’s a win-win-win.

I’ll answer my wife’s nephew’s (let’s call him “Martin”, no, his name really is Martin) Martin’s questions specifically, but the answers are pretty universal and should apply to most anybody unless you suffer from a medical condition that would dictate otherwise, in which case consult with your doctor (for those of you lucky enough to have decent health care coverage) before getting into any kind of training/dietary regimen.

Martin is about 20 y/o I think and on the tall and gangly side (the last time I saw him he was short and chubby). He hasn’t given me any details about his training regimen, but claims to have put on 15 lbs. in the 2 weeks he’s been into it. I don’t know anything about his diet, but he supplements it with something called Horsepower X which a Google search revealed is a pre-workout concoction comprised of creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, l-citronella, torabolic and caffeine. Basically your run-of-the-mill pre-workout pump- and energy booster. He also takes creatine monohydrate, BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) and a protein supplement separately.

Creatine, in all its forms is IMO a worthless product. All it does is force water into the muscle cells, bloating them up. No actual muscle tissue is added. As soon as you stop taking the creatine, the water, the weight, and the illusion of muscle gain disappears, literally pissing it down the toilet. A lot of people also get serious gastrointestinal discomfort from creatine.

The components in Horsepower X overlap the creatine you are already taking; the other ingredients are meant to give energy (caffeine) and improve your “pump“, that feeling of fullness and distendedness you have in a muscle after you’ve trained it due to increased nitric oxide retention in your blood. These ingredients might also cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some sensitive individuals. While a good pump is certainly a very satisfactory and desirable feeling, it is in no way necessarily an indicator of muscle growth, or the muscle growth inducing effect of a workout. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Horsepower X (and other similar products) should be more aptly named Horseshit X, but for the novice trainee I see little value in them. If you’ve got the spare change and it makes you feel good, by all means go for it, but don’t expect any particular benefits from it, and certainly nothing remotely like the ad claims. A real tight pump feels good, but it’s temporary, and, like I said, not necessarily indicative of permanent growth in size or gain in strength.

Arnold Schwarzenegger enjoying multiple orgasms while pumping iron.

I do believe BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids), more specifically leucine, isoleucine and valine have some value for the advanced trainee, but for the novice such as Martin there is so much to be gained by simpler methods, I wouldn’t recommend it. Remember, you are starting from scratch and can only go one way – up – and whatever marginal effect you might get from BCAAs wouldn’t be worth the money.

Now a good quality protein powder supplement is another story altogether. Don’t worry too much about what kind of protein it is (so long as it’s not just soy and a lot of sugar; caveat emptor; read the labels), whey, casein, egg, whatever; it’s all good and you should aim at getting 250-300 grams/day (including what you get from food). It’s a good rule of thumb to have a shake shortly after your workout (combined with some carb source) when your body is most in need of repair and receptive to the value of good supplementation and nutrition.

So in a nutshell, the only supplementation I would recommend for a newbie is a quality protein powder. Not even vitamin pills. If your diet is otherwise sound you just don’t need it. As for your 15 lbs weight gain in only 2 weeks, I’m sorry to disappoint you; I would almost with 100% certainty attribute that to water retention from the creatine. It is humanly impossible to put on that much muscle weight in that short amount of time (unless you have a friend who works at a pharmacy).

As far as training goes, the biggest mistake most beginners make is training too much and not getting enough rest. Remember, when you train, you are “breaking down” muscle tissue. The actual growth occurs in between workouts when you rest and eat. So keep your workouts brief, intense and infrequent. Three, max four, workouts/week not lasting more than one hour each. If you still feel like training after an hour you haven’t trained hard enough. Stick with compound exercises rather than isolation exercises. Lots of squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses and heavy rows. Five sets each, 8-12 reps/set. Two exercises for large muscle groups, one or none at all for smaller muscles since they assist in the larger, compound exercises anyway. Save the concentration curls and side laterals and other detail work for a year or two down the road. If you have a coach/trainer who knows his business, the power clean is IMO one of the best all-round exercises to pack on the beef. There’s a learning curve for most people, but it’s worth it.

Regarding diet I’m gonna keep this very short so as not to turn this into a novel. Stay away from the junk food and eat healthy, normal food supplemented with a good protein powder. Make every calorie count. Many small meals spread out over the day is better (much better!) than a few large meals. The principle of junk in, junk out applies here. You can have the best training regimen in the world, a personal trainer (would advise against it) and state of the art supplementation, even illegal performance enhancing drugs, but if you do most of your eating at McDonald’s, it won’t do shit for you.

Markus Ruhl before

Markus Ruh after.

German ├╝ber champ Markus Ruhl before and after. No shit! It’s amazing what 20 years of dedicated training and lots and lots of testosterone, anabolic steroids and human growth hormone can do!

Joe Weider, Trainer Of Champions, AKA “The Master Blaster” Dead At 93

Joe Weider died yesterday of heart failure at the age of 93. Although he never knew, he played an integral part in my life. For those of you who don’t know who he was, he, along with his late brother Ben, popularized the sport of bodybuilding. Without him there would be no Arnold Schwarzenegger, no IFBB and no Mr Olympia. Regarding Arnold, that might have been a good thing depending on where you stand.

In my opinion bodybuilding has been ruined in the later decades as the Champions became like freakish chemical monsters. Back in the day, while there may have been some steroids, it was more a true culture of fitness and physique perfection. Today it’s a carnival sideshow.

Joe was in some ways a controversial figure, and many considered him to be a ruthless business man. When all is said and done, at the end of the day, I think the world is a better place because of him. I do not hold him responsible for the status of bodybuilding today.

I’m too lazy to write a proper eulogy for Joe, so I’ll just link to his Wikipedia page and post a picture of him.

Joe Weider

Joe Weider, “The Master Blaster”, passes away at the age of 93

CHOPDEWEY.COM

I’m thinking maybe I should resurrect ChopDewey.com. Same shit, new and extended packaging. A complete CMS w/message board, user-and self-generated articles, plus content aggregated from across the web (AKA as “theft”, but everybody does it, including the big guys, so it must be OK). Show of hands, waddayall think? I already own the license for the message board, but will have to shell out a few hundred extra for the complete CMS (if I decide to go with a platform I’m familiar with, i.e. vBulletin). I could also go with something completely free and open source such as Joomla, but I’d have to learn how to use it and also dig around the web for plugins and extensions to get all the functionality I want.

Now I really regret taking down the original ChopDewey without saving the email list, since I had so many friends there I’d like to contact and invite should my new project come to life (that was an insider joke).