Wasn’t it just that holiday, with the blooming roses and chocolates, and now stuffing and turkey, that are gluttonously thrust upon us? And as such, the holidays are an easy time to write off the remaining portion of the year, in regards to keeping our waistlines in check. Of course, you’ve put in a diligent year. Of course, the holidays are a time to celebrate, reflect and indulge. And of course, New Year’s resolutions are, quite literally, around the corner.
But what happens when one maintains not merely maintenance, but peaks their physique for a special day? What can happen when one harnesses all that strength and knowledge into one ripped and ready weapon of mass appreciation before year’s end?
Very recently, I had the honor and duty of whipping myself into stellar shape for an upcoming project, (TBA), that occurred around the commencement of the holidays. Upon acceptance of said project, I expressed my gratitude and thanks, but had to cite the true reason I was excited about this challenge. For upon its’ completion, the first stop I would make was to go to Katz’s Deli, on East Houston Street, in NYC, my original home and sight of my last meal on earth if ever granted one!
Upon arriving with my oversized gym bag in one hand and extra pair of sneakers in the other, I pondered, this must have been what Columbus felt like upon discovering America. Only my finding had rows of corned beef, brisket and pastrami instead of corn husks and land. This was indeed the holy meat trinity that, (no offense Los Angeles), 7 plus years living in LA, I was missing. After my friend and I stuffed ourselves, silly, and as I looked down upon my now distended belly with blurred definition and rippling garden hose vein running through my biceps, Hollis had indeed come home.
Okay, the food was good, but nothing feels as great as being in shape, nothing. Many of my past columns have touched on nutrition, supplementation and even peaking, but this time, I wish to take, with your kind permission, you, the reader, on a strange journey into what exactly I did the final week to ready myself. Although there exists many unique body types and we may respond differently to stimuli, (some react to lower carbohydrates, some higher fats and some must rely on countless hours of cardio and lower carbs to peak their physique), there are indeed lessons for all herein.
Having been involved in the physique game since 1989, I chose to stick with what brought me to the dance in the first place. It always amazes me the lack of patience many exhibit in regards to changing their physique. Never reverse thyself by resorting to would-be quick-fix artistry. If I was to get into proper shape, I was to call upon the old standbys.
About a week and a half before the shoot, a friend grabbed my midsection and voiced concern. Although I admit 6 weeks was not much time to allow for optimal condition, I voiced no audible concerns for the base work had been completed and by adhering to my 10 proven commandments, a decent peak was achieved. 2012 will bring about a return trip, (and subsequent shoot), and I have vowed to enter onto my sacred home ground in even better shape, right before heading to Katz’s Deli for round 2!
1. Time – As mentioned, I allotted myself about 6 weeks to get into shape. This was exactly half the time I devoted in the past to getting myself into competition shape, which differs from photograph shape, whereby both goals call for differing degrees of muscular separation to the body. For this challenge, I needed to look aesthetically pleasing while displaying some semblance of abdominal definition without being deemed overly muscular for more of a mass audience appeal.
2. Pic on Fridge – I have cited this advice for years now and it applies just as well to teachers as to students. When the job calls for me to get into my best possible shape, a pic of an athlete who has achieved this condition, (and then some), in this case, Flex Wheeler, circa 1998, goes right up on my fridge.
3. Up the Cardio – My normal cardiovascular baseline is 5, 30 minute low intense cardiovascular sessions weekly and generally year round to keep my body fat levels in check and help to keep my heart strong, pumping blood more efficiently, thusly improving blood flow to all parts of my body. But maintenance and peaking are two different beasts. I upped my daily sessions to 45 minutes (low intensity) and added a sixth cardio day on Saturdays’ also for 45 minutes, the extra exercise allotted to burn excessive adipose, (fat), stores.
4. The Cut Back – Anyone who knows me knows that Wednesday’s and Saturday’s are holy days whereby I allot myself one cheat meal on those days, (in addition to my regular meals), to become the human vacuum cleaner, devouring any high-caloric entity in my way. Peak shape calls for one of those meals to be jettisoned. Alas, my one and only weekly cheat meal on Saturday remained and I made it calorically count!
5. Posing – Or Isotension as it is called, not only allows one to have more control over their muscles, (perfect for a long photo shoot), it also hardens the physique. I would pick a 5 minute song every night, (usually “Pantera” or “Megadeth”), after work and put my body through the paces. The remaining 5 action items were completed the very last week to bring about optimal definition and I do not recommend them but am simply providing an overview of things I did to achieve a temporary and extreme condition.
6. Sodium Overload – Since I am not prone to high blood pressure, the addition of excessive sodium in my diet, (temporarily), does not pose any threats. The idea being that by heavily introducing sodium for a few days and then restricting, along with moving it out of my system with at least a gallon of water per day, helps to make for optimal definition in my muscles by a flushing effect from the body. I salted from Monday through Wednesday and removed all condiments and the like from Thursday through show day on Saturday.
7. Diuretic/Asparagus – An over the counter natural peaking supplement, (the diuretic), and naturally occurring vegetable, (asparagus), which I take three days before an event and with plenty of water. I wake up Saturday with my skin tight and my veins prominent. Alas, once sodium and carbs are re-introduced, the super cuts disperse.
8. Flying with Food – Perhaps my one major concern regarding travel for this event, (LAX to Newark Liberty International Airport), would my diet food, (chicken breasts, yams, asparagus, protein powder and brown rice cakes), be allowed on board? Survey said, solids: yes, liquids: no.
9. Post Pics on Facebook – That night upon arrival, I snapped a few pics and posted one on Facebook for opinions and approval, (which we can all use), and the response was overwhelming and kind. Thanks everybody!
10. Relax – High levels of cortisol can actually smooth out muscular definition and inhibit an otherwise peaked physique. Relaxation is key to keep levels in check. Since all of my prep work was complete and I arrived in my hotel room the day before the event, all I needed to do was relax and let my deep cuts shine through.
What can be done differently to bring a tighter package to the next photo shoot? Plenty. I will allow for a few more weeks dieting for starters. 1-2 pounds of fat loss per week is optimal. The extra few weeks will allow me to lose extra body fat while retaining precious muscle tissue. I may also decide to stagger the cardiovascular work; that is, instead of 6, 45 minute sessions, I may split the cardio up into 2 daily sessions of say 25-30 minutes so my body has two bridge points instead of one for keeping the fat burning furnace going steadily throughout the day. No additional resistance work will be added. 4, 1 hour sessions weekly has always served me very well, efficiently breaking the muscles down so they may grow back stronger without the onset of overtraining rearing its’ ugly head.
Keep yourself on track through the holiday season with consistent training and nutrition. Do not undo what you have accomplished through the calendar year.
A block of pre-paid training at holliswashere.com for friends, family and yourself makes an excellent holiday gift and a great leap toward a head start on 2012 now!
Happy and Safe Holidays