Love it or hate it, coffeehouse chain Starbucks can be found in almost every country on the globe and on seemingly every other urban street corner.
Its omnipresence is great when trying to fuel up before the gym or get some post-workout protein in, and, as a bonus, its selections are remarkably nutritious and sourced from ethically sound and diverse suppliers. It’s tough to find anything that’s really horrible to eat at Starbucks as long as you keep clear of the sugary and carb-laden usual suspects such as any of the cakes, doughnuts, muffins, or scones. Some breakfast items can get high in fat, but there are some solid choices, like the new Sous Vide Egg Bites, which are mini soft-boiled egg cups with various ingredients and are high in protein and superlow in carbs.
Other great choices include the chain’s Protein Boxes and Bowls, which have at least 20 grams of protein and are easy to take on the go, and its selection of sandwiches and paninis, which don’t top more than 30 grams of fat and offer an average of around 25 grams of protein. For a little sugar with your protein, you can pick up one of the yogurt mixes, and Starbucks also carries packets of Justin’s nut butters to get an easy and clean way to satiate yourself. Its newest culinary experiment is Starbucks Mercato—now available at only a few select stores—which is a new line of lunch preparations focused on high-protein salads, vegetarian dishes, and hot...
Great bodybuilding champions are admired for the hardware they’ve earned onstage. And rightfully so—being crowned the best at what you do is a testament to hard work, talent, and perseverance.
Still, that reverence comes with an undeniable disconnect. That is, seeing the finished product doesn’t provide a glimpse into the intensive, difficult work that went into it. As when you watch the scoreboard intently instead of the game itself, it can be hard to forge a deep, visceral connection with the stomach-churning, sweat-soaked, exhaustive efforts that went into building and refining the bodies on display.
That’s why, in bodybuilding, strength matters. While few among us can relate to stripping down to posing trunks and stepping before a panel of judges to flex our way to stardom, any one of us can immediately recognize a feat of strength like a 550-pound bench press, an 850-pound deadlift, or an 815-pound squat.
It’s also why the title of “world’s strongest bodybuilder,” despite being a completely arbitrary, unofficial designation, is still a thing. One that has passed from the likes of Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman to Johnnie Jackson and Branch Warren. And now, stepping into that always-heated conversation, there’s IFBB pro Akim Williams—owner of the three personal bests listed above.
For the past 80 years, Muscle & Fitness has established itself as the authoritative voice in fitness publishing. And for the past 35 years, FLEX has done the same in the world of bodybuilding.
Now, both magazines are joining forces.
Beginning with the new May issue (on newsstands April 20), Muscle & Fitness will incorporate a 50-page section dedicated exclusively to FLEX's in-depth bodybuilding coverage and hardcore training programs, becoming a one-stop shop for everything related to training, nutrition, bodybuilding, and living an active lifestyle. The combined print edition, which will continue as Muscle & Fitness, will also be published 12 times a year, up from 11.
“Increasing the page count allows us to cover the entire fitness spectrum and explore new ways to present the information to our readers,” explains executive editor Zack Zeigler. “It’s our goal both in print and online to make Muscle & Fitness the destination for every CrossFitter, strongman, powerlifter, obstacle-course racer, bodybuilder, and fitness enthusiast—as well as for guys who simply want to look better, move better, and feel better."
With an unparalleled depth and breadth of practical training advice and news, the new Muscle & Fitness will be the definitive guide to living an active, healthy lifestyle.
Derek Lunsford has practically none of it because he’s only 24 and has been a competitive bodybuilder for only a few years. At last year’s 212 Olympia, it didn’t seem to matter that he was lacking the “hard and grainy” look that signals a mature physique. Lunsford placed fifth in the loaded lineup, nipping at the heels of seasoned veterans Jose Raymond and David Henry (third and fourth place, and ages 43 and 42, respectively) and beating 40-somethings Ronny Rockel and Charles Dixon.
“Actually, that’s probably one of the things that held me back at the Olympia—a lack of muscle maturity,” says Lunsford, a native of Indiana. “But I love bodybuilding so much that I’m willing to take a lower placing. I think I could have placed a little higher, but I respect the judges’ opinions. Plus, I have so much respect and appreciation for all the work the older guys like Jose Raymond have put in. They’ve put a lot more into it than I have. Ultimately, I just want to see the sport of bodybuilding grow.”
Speaking of growing, the immense size and width of Lunsford’s shoulders must have had something to do with him cracking the Olympia top five on his first try. In the following...
When combined with a clean diet and a rigorous training program, a well-rounded supplement regimen can truly take your gains to the next level. This you know. What you may not know, however, is that some supps are effective, and others are basically worthless. Take branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Even if you’ve been pressing and squatting for just a few months, you’ve probably heard of them. That’s because the building blocks of protein are pretty high on the supplement totem pole, along with protein powder. The idea is that ingesting those three amino acids helps optimize recovery, so your muscles grow more effectively. That’s why you’re told to take them before you train, while you train, after you train, before you go to bed, and even before you and your girl get it on. (OK, we made that last one up.)
But there’s a new set of molecules on the protein-building block, called essential amino acids (EAAs), and everyone interested in strength and muscle should know about them. In other words: EAAs are the badass younger brother of BCAAs. Below, FLEX takes a deep dive into BCAAs and EAAs, so you’ll be armed with all...
Pre- and post workout are the most important times to eat and supplement for maximum gains. Here, we focus on the basics — protein and carbs, the two most critical nutrients of your pre- and post-workout meals — and break them down into three categories: gold (best), silver (second best) and bronze (you get the point).
GOLD: Supplement Combo
■ WHEY PROTEIN — Fastest-digesting protein available
WHEN: Within 30 minutes before workouts
WHY: To boost energy during your workout, decrease muscle breakdown, and enhance recovery and muscle growth post-workout.
HOW MUCH: 20 grams
■ WAXY MAIZE — A slow-digesting, complex carbohydrate product
WHEN: Within 30 minutes before workouts (mix with whey protein)
WHY: Provides long-lasting energy that won’t inhibit fat burning during the workout.
HOW MUCH: 20-40 g
SILVER: Supp/Food Combo
■ WHEY PROTEIN — See above
■ APPLE — A slowdigesting carb
WHEN: Within 30 minutes before workouts
WHY: Slow-digesting fruits provide long-lasting energy for the workout and won't inhibit fat burning. Polyphenols in apples can enhance fat burning and muscle strength.
HOW MUCH: 1 large (110 calories, 0 g protein, 30 g carbs, 0 g fat)
BRONZE: All Food
■ CHUNK LIGHT TUNA — A low-fat, faster-digesting, whole-food protein
WHEN: About 60 minutes before workouts
WHY: Whole food takes longer to digest than whey, so you’ll need to give yourself a solid hour before training to get some of that protein digesting.
If you're going to be competitive in the IFBB Pro League, then you need to understand the principles of nutrition. Universal athlete and 212 bodybuilder Chris Tuttle hasn’t just mastered nutrition as an athlete, he’s made it his profession.
“The importance of nutrition became evident in my life when I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia at the age of 10. I had to quickly learn how to combat this by eating multiple small meals per day containing a balance of complex carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that helped stabilize my blood sugar. This was the start of my real interest in nutrition.”
Tuttle isn’t the only one in his business, or home, interested in nutrition. His wife, Alexia, is his partner both at home and at work. “It has honestly been a dream come true. Most would disagree and need space from their significant other, but we are the opposite. We thrive together. We share the same passions and interests and enjoy helping others reach their goal. We both tend to get carried away with work and average about nine to 11 hours per day six days per week, but we are still able to spend quality time together since both of us are home together.”
While one might believe that Tuttle stays in his lane and focuses on bodybuilders, that isn’t the case. “I work with all types of clients with a variety of nutrition-related goals. I actually cover mostly weight loss, GI disorders [IBD and IBS], food allergies, diabetes management, and athletic...
What are the most common errors made during callouts? Is there something I should be aware of that helps me showcase my physique that competitors often forget in the heat of battle?
The biggest mistake made during callouts is not presenting your body properly. So the first thing is that you need to learn how to pose correctly! This is where plenty of practice before shows is key.
Another mistake: Many competitors take too long to hit the pose after the head judge has called for it. Callouts are for comparisons between the athletes— if everyone else in the lineup has hit the pose and you are still preparing, you may miss the chance to be compared with the others in the group.
Similarly, hitting “extra” poses before going into the requested pose does nothing more than waste time for both you and the judges and definitely should be avoided. Hit the pose that’s asked for in a timely manner, and hold it long enough for all the judges to get a chance to see you.
You also want to make sure you appear confident and relaxed, even if you are feeling nervous and anxious inside. You must look like a winner if you want to be a winner. Remember to smile, and learn to relax your face even while tensing the rest of your body. (This, again, comes with practice.)
We spend one-third of our lives doing it—or at least we should. Sleep bolsters our immune system, and a deficit of it has been linked to such catastrophic health consequences as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart failure. It’s crucial for proper brain functioning, enhancing our ability to learn, memorize, and decide. As we’ll explore, it’s also of paramount importance to bodybuilding, affecting everything from strength and testosterone to pain sensitivity. Yet sleep is something you’re probably not getting enough of to optimize your body, inside and out.
More than 750 scientific studies demonstrate the positive relationship between sleep and athletic performance. Here are just some of the many things known. Sleep for fewer than eight hours nightly, especially fewer than six, and your time to physical exhaustion drops by up to 30% with a similar reduction in aerobic output. Your metabolic, respiratory, and cardiovascular capabilities are hampered. Lactic acid builds up faster. The ability to cool yourself via sweating is impaired. Motor skills are reduced. One study showed the odds of athletic injury were nearly doubled by a two-hour sleep deficit. All of the above can wreck a workout, and that’s before we even address strength. What’s more, research points to the final two hours...
They share more than just a last name. Dexter Jackson and Johnnie Jackson are, in that order, the two men who’ve entered the most IFBB Pro League contests. Collectively, they’ve competed in 167 over the past 19 years, including 25 times in which they shared the same stage. And all the while they de ed Father Time. Johnnie won two pro shows last year at age 46 before retiring, and Dexter, fourth in last year’s Mr. Olympia, is still going strong at 48. In terms of physique, their pecs and traps rank among the best ever. But the similarities end there. Dexter has fuller legs and much larger arms, but Johnnie was substantially wider. J-Jax never bested D-Jax, but even if it’s not close, this clash of ageless wonders is worth seeing one final time.
JACKSON vs. JACKSON
as of March 2018
Most people look for motivation to get them geared up to achieve a goal. Some may need motivation to get to the gym and train day in, day out. It occurred to me early in my life that I didn’t rely on motivation to get things done. Motivation comes and goes. But passion—passion is in you. I never felt that I needed motivation because I had raw passion.
I did what I loved, and one day at the gym turned into two. And I find myself, 40 years later, not missing a beat. I don’t miss a workout, because this is what fuels me. Passion. Sure, some days I’m worn out, and I need a break. So I take one. Sometimes I don’t want to eat clean. So I don’t. It’s like a ladder—a couple of steps up, then one step down. You need that step down to propel yourself forward. I don’t rest because I’m unmotivated. I rest because I’m passionate about being my best, and I know when I need it.
I have wondered for a long time what makes me different. Why is it so easy for me to get up and get it done, when so many other people struggle to stay...
LENTIL- AND BEAN-BASED
You got your eight hours of sleep. You consumed all your meals on time. You took your favorite pre-training supplement about 45 minutes before hitting the gym, and you were all hyped and ready to go the second you took hold of the first dumbbell. The workout was insane! You crushed the weights. Your mind-muscle connection was spot on. Every fiber was thrashed!
It is vital to remember that pumping the iron with ferocious intensity will only set the stage and create the potential for growth. Actually manifesting new muscle will require the perfect step-by-step post-workout plan, or everything you did before will go to waste. Please, don’t make the following mistakes once you finish the final rep, or you will end up just like a gerbil running on a wheel—going absolutely nowhere.
1. FAILING TO STRETCH TARGETED MUSCLES
Once the workout is complete you should forcefully stretch the muscles that were just targeted. For example, after training the chest, grab a pair of moderately heavy dumbbells and hold the bottom position of a ye for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat this process two or three more times. This will help them recover more quickly and keep you more limber, but it has also...
Did you have surgery after the 2017 Olympia?
Yes, I did. I had surgery for a double hernia less than a week after the Olympia. I can’t say that I felt anything at the O, but I suspected something was off. I don’t think it affected my prep or my performance, but in hindsight, I have to wonder. I mean, on the one hand, it’s pretty impressive that I was able to do what I did having that going on inside me, and it makes me feel that I’m going to be able to do that much better next year without that kind of stress in my system.
You did a post-Olympia FLEX leg workout photo shoot in that condition?
Yeah, I worked right through it. But I’ve got to say, pre-surgery and post-surgery were a huge difference. It was pretty humbling to go from intense O prep to competing in and winning the O to five days later not being able to pick up and carry my own luggage to three weeks later and I’m at 40 to 50% of my normal strength.
What about guest-posing appearances, like the Phil Heath Yellowstone Classic (which happened mid-October)?
Unfortunately, I was in a post-surgery phase, so guest...
Coach M, what is your opinion on loud screaming during the last few reps of a set? I ask because I remain relatively quiet no matter how hard I am pushing, but my partner yells and screams. He tells me I am “not being intense enough.”
This is an amusing question because every time I am in the gym and hear someone screaming at the top of his lungs it is usually some skinny dude leg pressing 20 plates but only moving the weight a few inches— or a novice lifter with no chest doing his 10th set of cable crossovers. There are only three legitimate reasons for screaming out loud while in the gym:
Other than that, I believe that anyone who is yelling, screaming, and carrying on so the entire gym can hear is simply looking to draw attention to himself in an attempt to appear more “hardcore.” So, unless your partner is Phil Heath or Big Ramy, I can guarantee that others are regarding him only as being foolish and annoying.
Water serves many functions in the body, and it’s particularly critical for bodybuilders because training and nutrition regimens really increase the need for it.
Here are the primary benefits of drinking enough water.
Bodybuilders often underestimate the importance of keeping themselves well hydrated — hydration status can have a direct impact on bodybuilding progress. Try to drink 16 to 20 ounces of water a half hour or so before you train (and continue to drink water while you train). You may be surprised to notice that you seem a little stronger that day. By increasing your water consumption before training, you increase your blood volume, helping to pump up your muscles. Having fuller muscles can help you lift more weight or pump out an extra rep or two. Over time, this can enhance your gains.
On the other hand, if you don’t have enough water in your system, you might feel sluggish and weak. Staying underhydrated can affect your immune response and ultimately your ability to recover from your training, negatively impacting your gains.
People often think of water as devoid of nutritional value. Nothing could be further from the truth. Water contains minerals — either added or occurring naturally, including sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium — and other beneficial components such as bicarbonates. Due to their size and because of the loss of minerals through sweating while working out, bodybuilders need to take in more minerals than the average person. Water helps replenish these and other vital nutrients...
Let's break a rule. One training tenet that seems sacrosanct is to allow at least two days before hitting the same body part again. Most bodybuilders more than double this minimal recommendation, and many work muscles only once weekly. Such splits allow for ample time for recovering and growth. But what happens if you hit the body part twice per day and then give it time to grow? As a short-term strategy, such rule breaking can boost growth and recharge your workouts.
When it comes to training frequency and style, there’s no rule that can’t be broken— on occasion. That caveat is the key because you can not only sometimes rep outside the box but also should, at least at the advanced level. For example, if you’ve stuck to eight to 12 reps per set for the past year, a workout filled with 50- to 100-rep endurance tests can shock complacent muscles. But if you do it day after day, your gains will likely stall. Break rules, but only occasionally.
This is especially true for doubling up on the same body part in a single day. Repeating regularly and intensely can generate the dreaded overtraining, stalling or reversing progress. We’re not talking about...