Is test best for growth?

Bodybuilder Josh Goold discusses how to find your optimal testosterone dose

POT OF GOOLD! By Josh Goold

BACK before my time, the thought process of running your weekly testosterone to 1000mg as quickly as possible was thought to be best.

Now we know more about anabolic steroids, progressing cycles and total anabolic load, we understand that this concept is a little outdated.

But there is merit in trying to run your testosterone as high as your body can tolerate, until a modulation of oestrogen is needed. For some this could be 250mg, for others this could be up to 500mg to 600mg.

Testosterone is naturally occurring in the body, so we are used to the hormone. That being said, not to the larger supra-physiological levels.

Exogenous testosterone is one of the most studied anabolic steroids we have at hand. So understanding its abilities, its mechanisms, the potential it can give to us and also the consequences, is very easy to come by.

Testosterone will increase protein synthesis

Testosterone will drive anabolism, recruit protein faster and Increase muscle protein synthesis (MPS). This is just like other compounds, but other compounds are not as widely used in medicine, unlike testosterone.

For me, this gives it merit in attempting to run testosterone as high as your body can tolerate . Find your optimal testosterone dose before looking at modulating oestrogen with a DHT or something else.

So you can see it’s a little different from the early 2000s of racing to a weekly amount of 1000mg. There’s a lot more thought going into it in finding your optimal testosterone dosage.

Now the question is how do we modulate oestrogen (e2) while tapering test.

Well, the idea is to find out how much testosterone you can tolerate without needing to modulate. This is your optimal dosage. You see the likes of bodybuilder John Jewett showing how to taper by 50mg per week. He does this to the point where we see those negative e2 sides appear.

I’m not saying you need to wait for bitch tits (gynecomastia) to grow. But until we start to see noticeable side effects, such as uncomfortable fluid retention and higher blood pressure.

Once you have found your optimal testosterone dose, then we can look at potential methods of modulation. An aromatase inhibitor (AI), SERM or DHT (primobolan or masteron) helps modulate e2 very well.

I will discuss which one is best over the coming weeks. And I will also discuss growth hormone and insulin stacked within a cycle.

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"Prep was easy" says PCA Saxon champion Gomes..."now for the Universe"

NEW PCA Saxon Classic champion Ryan Gomes is targeting victory in the Universe in only his fourth competitive outing saying: "Prep was a breeze."

In only his second competition on Sunday Gomes, 29, blitzed both the bodybuilding short division and the overall with a heavily muscled physique together with decent shape.

He will certainly be one to watch at the PCA Universe on May 26.


He said: "Prep has been about 16 weeks so far but is not finished. This was an early show for me – a "warm up". The proper show will be the PCA South West on April 20.

"Prep was easy, honestly, without sounding like an arse. I've had much more important life things to deal with that occupied the mind way more.

"But I've only competed once at a first timers before this, where I also won the overall. I'm competing in two weeks at the PCA South West and, if all goes well, I plan to prep for the Universe."

If that prep is easy too, then the Universe better watch out...

Completing the overall men's line-up at the PCA Saxon Classic on Sunday was Adam Wallace, who won the Masters Men's Physique division.

In the female classes, Hollie Mansfield took the Overall Bikini title, having shone in the Ladies Wellness class. Maxine McQuillan took the Overall Trained Figure title. Full results can be found in our Directory.

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'It was the hardest thing I've done in my life – so I'm doing it all again this weekend!'

How Junior Bodybuilding champion Tom Rhodes announced himself on the big stage

NEW PCA Junior Bodybuilding and First Timers Overall champion Tom Rhodes says he is heading straight back into battle for Sunday's Saxon Classic before taking two years off to "do some more damage".

The 23-year-old stole the show at the Hull Bonus Arena, dominating his class before tearing up the stage to secure the overall title.

Standing 6ft 2inches, Rhodes displayed razor-sharp conditioning, together with a decent amount of mass and pleasing aesthetics, proving he is definitely one to watch.

DOMINANT: Tom Rhodes (right)

He told "It was a bloody hard prep. My first ever time prepping for a show. I've done multiple mini cuts just on lower cals to tidy up in the past, but never actually took it to the dark places which prep involves.

"Mentally and physically it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, from the rough nights to the struggles of working a 9-5 full-time job throughout the whole of prep. Thankfully I booked peak week off!"

Being on stage is where I belong

Despite his standout physique, Rhodes revealed that he only recently found the confidence to compete, believing he would not "fit in" on a bodybuilding stage.

He said: "I chose to compete because I absolutely love the sport and I’m fully dedicated to it and everything that comes with it.

"I’ve always wanted to compete but never really had the confidence or drive in me to think I’d fit in on stage. Little did I know it’s where I belong.

"I absolutely loved competing, being up there, showing my hard work. Coming off with the result makes me want to push myself now more than ever."

In fact, he enjoyed being in the limelight so much that he plans to compete again this Sunday, despite prep being more difficult than he imagined.

He said: "My plans moving forward are to compete in the PCA Saxon Classic on Sunday. I absolutely smoked the Juniors at the First Timers show – I made most of them look tiny to be honest.

"So I’ll be competing in the Saxon tall men’s classic with the big dogs. Then after that I’ll be going into a two-year year growing phase, with the aim of putting on a lot of mass. I want to come back and hopefully do some damage in the men’s classic scene in 2026."

The classic division has been warned... watch this space.

One response to “'It was the hardest thing I've done in my life – so I'm doing it all again this weekend!'”

  1. James Room avatar
    James Room

    Great one to watch this young man, very nice lines with plenty of time to fill out 💪🏽👌🏽

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Once your kidneys are damaged, it is a downward spiral

PED and blood analysis expert Dave Crosland on the importance of keeping your kidneys healthy

Eval blood testing

BPA and GBA finale offers £40k prize fund – plus more pro cards

Amateur and pro events for October Super Show

THE British Physique Alliance and Global Bodybuilding Alliance have announced a prize find of £40,000 plus a wealth of pro cards for their season finale.

The Super Show will take place at the Thistle Hotel, Heathrow Airport on October 26, with an amateur show in the afternoon followed by a pro competition in the evening.

The BPA, in only its second year, will once again be offering pro cards at its British Finals on September 15.

But the BPA, in collaboration with the GBA, will also be handing out pro cards at its amateur section of the October 26 Super Show – giving winners the opportunity to go on and compete in the evening event.

BPA present Helen O'Reilly, who was Gladiator Panther during the initial series in the 1990s, said: "You will be able to compete as amateur in the afternoon, win some prize money, then possibly get your pro card and go on in the evening to compete in the pro show and again win more money."

You can watch O'Reilly's full BPA video below:

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FLIPPIN' HECK! We have the magic formula!

Heckles takes overall in season opener – and coach says they've nailed the 'bursting full' look in time for pro qualifier

NATHANIEL HECKLES secured a dominant victory in the first show of the season yesterday by winning the overall title at the 2Bros Kingdom Classic.

Heckles came in "bursting full", according to coach Joe Jeffery. And he believes they now have the perfect peak-week formula for their shot at an IFBB pro card.

Jeffery said: "I believe, maybe putting coach's bias to one side as we did hear similar yesterday [Saturday], that it was his best stage look to date. That is great news given this is his first show of the season and we're going to be pressing with everything we have for the pro card.

"We have managed to land him bursting full on stage loads of times. That is where he looks his best. It allows him to show his best attributes. But it has been a difficult balance bringing him in bursting full and having him dry at the same time. Not edging him into being too dry that he starts to flatten out a little bit.

"Judges last season did ask him to come in harder, which we did for the final look of the season. But he was a little bit dwindled down in pushing for that dryness. Nath didn't like the look – I thought the look was great. He placed just as well as he had done all season but that full, bursting, shrink-wrapped look was missing.

"So we put a couple of tweaks on his peak-week structure for this first show, which was a test to see if we could balance that a bit better. And thankfully it came off 100 per cent. He was absolutely peeled and dry and bursting full when he needed to be. So thank God we have the formula for the pro qualifiers.

"It was also a considerable amount of stage weight added considering he only had three or four months off-season."

Heckles will get his first shot at that IFBB pro card when he competes in the 2Bros Ben Weider Classic on April 6.

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6,000-calorie high days and an avalanche of suicidal thoughts

Road to NABBA Britain: 10 weeks out and mental health episode threatens to derail it all

By Gary Chappell

IN our bathroom at home there is sign which reads: 'Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy'.

Often, more times than I can remember in fact, I have no idea what that is.

There is another sign in the hallway. This one reads: 'Families are like fudge, mostly sweet, with a few nuts.'

This sounds rather apt with what I am about to share.

For the past two weeks, I have been overwhelmed with an avalanche of suicidal thoughts. Again.

So suffocating, so enveloping is the blanket of utter despair, that I have shut down all possible outside influence. I give monosyllabic answers to questions I cannot avoid and no answers to many others. Then I avoid eye contact and avoid all conversation where possible. I shut everyone out. Shut everything down. Stop thinking. Stop everything. Leave me alone.

ATTENTION SEEKER? Here I am not seeking attention by taking my clothes off in the gym

Somehow, each day at noon I have found myself in the gym. Don't ask me how I can summon the energy or motivation to get there and train, because I do not have an answer. I didn't want to be there, my training partner can attest to that. But I was there. Even though I wanted to close the curtains and sleep the day away. Hell, sleep the rest of my life away. So well done me, eh?

But the self-loathing, the relentless shot of uselessness coursing through every sinew, is more draining than I can possibly explain in black and white. Explain to your kids, Gary, let them know they will be better off without the negativity. Then for fuck sake stop being a coward and do what you have promised to do for seemingly for ever.

Some have you believe going through with 'it' is actually the coward's way. That argument is open to debate for me right now.

Depression is nothing new for me. The black dog may wander off for a time here and there, but it always returns like the loyal servant I don't want it to be.

I'm now 10 weeks out from the NABBA Britain. And this depressive, dark, nasty phase has nothing to do with the rigours of prep. In fact, there really aren't any rigours of prep right now. Oh, unless you count struggling to get all your meals in on a diet.

I mean, is that actually a thing? Force-feeding yourself on a diet? Some days I have 'only' managed five of my meals instead of the prescribed six. I have a pathetic appetite and a crazy metabolism. Whatever that is a recipe for, I almost certainly won't want to eat that, either.

Cardio is a mere 20 minutes, low intensity steady state, five times a week. No issues there. Walk in the park, almost literally. And I checked the calories on my one weekly high day – and they are close to 6,000. Yes, I am dieting by using one high day a week of 6,000 calories. And 20 minutes cardio. So no, there are no real rigours of contest prep just yet.

Apart from that pesky black dog, of course. Bloody animal. What the trigger was for this mental health episode, I just don't know. But I can tell you that I cannot function as what I describe as a normal human being. Those who see me around probably think I'm rude, weird or both. Maybe they are right.

All I do know is that I do not know why these episodes infect me like they do. And I do feel infected. Infected by a seething self-hatred, an inability to deal with every-day problems like an every-day person.

Maybe it's something to do with whether I eat eggs or sweet potato, as some would have you believe [checks notes: I do eat eggs and sweet potato, so can't be that].

'Oh, you're just trying to seek attention', some might say. On the contrary, I hate attention. I go out of my way to avoid it, unless you count taking off all your clothes and posing in front of strangers. I don't want sympathy and I don't court well-wishing messages because, frankly, I have no idea how to deal with them. In fact, I am more comfortable with criticism than I am being given a compliment. So well-wishing? No, thanks all the same.

All I want to do here is raise the issue of mental health. It is why, partly, this website includes helpline listings for mental health services. It's a thing. People – more people than you think – struggle with it in some way, shape or form.

I do, as you now know. I'm coming out of this mental health episode, but rest assured another will visit soon. It always does. I guess in that regard, I am always in prep. Prepping for the next one.

One response to “6,000-calorie high days and an avalanche of suicidal thoughts”

  1. Gavin morris avatar
    Gavin morris

    Your not alone brother - on mitrazapine for ptsd - it's there lurking in the background all day - worst is bed time it won't let me sleep and does not let me gain control of my thoughts- stay strong its what makes us so good- born fighters -

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Rikki Varney set to return better than ever

PCA Mr Britain and NABBA Mr England overall champion fires warning shot as he plans October return to stage

RIKKI VARNEY has revealed details of what he calls "his most structured off-season ever" as he plans a return to the stage this October.

Varney brushed aside most people last season when winning overall titles at the PCA Britain and NABBA England.

He brought razor-sharp conditioning that others simply could not match, beating much bigger men in the process.

Now he has added more beef to his 5ft 8in frame, with coach Joe Jeffery saying 'the best is yet to come'.

In an instagram post on Tuesday, Varney said: "Weight is creeping up nicely and I’m sitting at 227lbs today. Had a couple of bouts of feeling under the weather over the past three weeks. But I used the time to rest and pull back. On the positive side, my joints are finally feeling good for a change.

"Prep is getting closer and it won’t be long until I transition into that. But for the meantime, I’m staying focused on the current phase I’m in. I’ve hit the point where appetite has lowered significantly. Now it’s about being disciplined to still hit all my planned meals regardless."

How my diet is currently set up

Varney continued: "My macros are currently at:

Pro - 285g
Cho - 750g
Fats - 70g
Calories - 4770

"Plus I have an off-plan meal per week. I’ve not been too bothered about this recently and it’s generally been steak and chips or a Pepe’s. Then some KFC cookies for pudding. So nothing over the top.

"This is the most structured I’ve been in an off-season. I’ve still progressed well in the past with a very laid-back approach. So I’m expecting some significant changes when I compete in October. I just need to keep ticking the boxes and trying my best day in day out. I do believe I will be much improved this year."

And speaking with, Varney sounded a warning to rivals thinking they can get one better on him this time.

He said: "What I have in mind in October is a 2bros regional and 2bros British. I would also like to do a show abroad and experience that.

"This is the first structured off-season I’ve had. Even with Justin Harris [previous coach] I would drop off and do my own thing [in the off-season] and hit him up for prep. But I’ve been checking in every week with Joe staying accountable and it’s really paying off.

"So hopefully I’ll have a good showing in the heavyweights. It’s going to be near impossible to top 2023 but I’m not done yet. I’ve still got a goal or two to try and accomplish before I’m done."

Watch this space. Varney was polished and then some in 2023, so cannot wait to see the physique he displays come October.

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WATCH Eddie Sykes' leg session

Bodybuilder who suffered horrific leg press injury reveals full quad session

THE bodybuilder told he might never walk again after a horrific leg press injury has published his new quad training video.

In an exclusive interview with in December, Eddie Sykes detailed the extensive injuries he suffered during a 600kg leg press in 2020. He had broken his pelvis, severed his adductor longus and torn off his pectineus and pyramidalis.

Having been dismissed by the NHS, under pressure from Government protocols during their response to Covid, Sykes paid for private healthcare. It was here when he discovered the true extent of his horrific injuries and the risks he faced.

FULL BLOWN: Eddie Sykes and NABBA judge Steve Johnson

Three years later, he had not only fought back to full fitness, but he had become a British champion and secured second in the NABBA Universe. It was a comeback like no other.

Last month, Sykes spoke to to share his current leg training routine. Because of his leg press injury, Sykes must now use a fraction of the weight he used to lift. Instead, he focuses purely on the movement, the squeeze, tension and pre-exhaustion work. It is actually not possible to go as heavy as he used to.

And now he has published his full routine on his YouTube channel, which is republishing now for you to see.

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Why Sam Sulek is so successful

The reasons behind the astonishing rise within bodybuilding of a 21-year-old who has never competed

COMMENT by Gary Chappell

DURING the recent Arnold Classic, former IFBB Pro and current bodybuilding coach Milos Sarcev posted a picture of himself with Sam Sulek.

Alongside the picture, Sarcev included the caption: "With superstar Sam Sulek. Sensational young bodybuilding prospect that took the world by the storm. Super polite young man."

If you do not know this "superstar" and "sensational young bodybuilding prospect", who is not just polite but "super polite", then some would accuse you of living under a rock. In the world of social media, you are not allowed to have a life outside of bodybuilding. You must have been living under a rock, therefore, had you not been buried pages-deep in social media watching Sam Sulek.

WINNERS' ENCLOSURE: Milos Sarcev (left) and Sam Sulek

Sam Sulek has made a name for himself in the bodybuilding and fitness world via TikTok and YouTube. He has never competed but certainly boasts a physique that looks as though he has.

I made a two-word comment on that post by Sarcev. It simply said: "The world?"

You see, ask 10 people in the street who Sam Sulek is and my guess is eight will say no. That is not "taking the world by storm".

Sulek was so successful he took seven billion people by storm. No perspective allowed

I work in an industry infected with people lost in a seemingly impenetrable bubble. Every sport they attend is "incredible" and anything their interview subjects say are the "best quotes" or "best story ever".

The lack of perspective grows tiresome and so I called for some perspective over Sam Sulek. Hence, yes, while he might have taken the bodybuilding world by storm, he has not taken the world by storm.

Ergo, I am now a "goof", according to social media. A "jealous" goof at that. One who cannot see his potential. One who needs to "sit down, bro".

Playground mentality aside, it leads to a wider point. How is a 21-year-old who has never competed in a bodybuilding show seemingly bodybuilding's next big thing? Why is Sam Sulek so successful? caught up with bodybuilding coach Justin Harris, who offered detailed insight into why Sam Sulek is so successful.

Sulek is so successful because he represents the exact age group who are obsessed with bodybuilding

Harris said:"Sam is successful because he's the exact demographic of the largest portion of people who are currently obsessed with adding muscle mass. Males in their early 20s.

"I used to watch Jay Cutler eat, train, get groceries and send out mail for four hours in those 'days in the life' videos 15 years ago. When you're obsessed with bodybuilding, that's all you think about and you'll watch videos all day long.

"Those people are also of the age who don't have money, so if Sam went the coaching route, it wouldn't have worked as well. But he nailed it. HOURS of YouTube content, frequently posted, of him just training and talking about bodybuilding. And of him showing the bodybuilding lifestyle that a large percentage of 18-26 year old men love. All in a way that they don't have to spend money to access.

"It was brilliant and obvious in hindsight. It also worked because that wasn't Sam's plan. He was also one of those young obsessed men. He wasn't working, he was just having fun filming what he loved to do.

"If he tried to monetise himself out of the gate, it would have gone nowhere. If he tried to monetise his videos (guided them that way) it would have gone nowhere. But because it was real, it was what he loved and it was very high volume – it can't seem like someone is "everywhere" if they're only posting one reel a week, they have to be literally everywhere you go online – it worked brilliantly.

"His is a really cool story in my opinion; young kid follows passion, passion pays off. Thousands of others attempt to replicate it for monetary purposes and they all fail (or will anyway)."

Sam Sulek is certainly successful. He has millions of followers, something ordinarily reserved for champions. He is also now sponsored by Hosstile, the bodybuilding company owned by former IFBB Pro Fouad Abiad. One wonders now whether he will ever compete, however. Maybe now he has too much to lose...

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Prep begins at 200g carbs per meal on high day

How my contest prep for the NABBA Britain is shaping up at 13 weeks out and carbs sky high

By Gary Chappell

LAST Saturday marked 13 weeks out from the NABBA Britain on June 1. And with that, prep officially began. At 5ft 9in, I am roughy 16 stone 10lbs – 234lbs in old money – and arguably leaner than when I began prep for the NABBA UK last November.

In short, despite coming in roughly 14lbs bigger than last time when stepping on stage for that NABBA UK victory, I anticipate being bigger still for June's British Championships. When size was always my weak point, this is a massive step forward for me personally.

Another indicator that I am leaner at this heavier weight is that, last time, we – and when I say we I mean me and my coach Justin Harris of Troponin Nutrition – is the time required for prep.

For the NABBA UK, which marked our first contest working together, Justin and I used 16 weeks. For this, Justin believes we 'only' need about 12 or 13. So what does the first week of my prep look like?

Well, only very slight changes at the moment. Carbs are still very high for prep. We had been using three high days at 1100g carbs each and this has reduced to one. Aside from that, food remains the same – very high generally. In fact, the one high day has increased and now includes 200g of carbs per meal, with the sixth being a cheat meal. That is likely to run very deep into prep, as it did last time.

The only other change is the addition of 20 minutes low-intensity cardio, which I currently do on the treadmill post workout.

During the week, however, my appetite fell off a cliff. I don't have the most voracious appetite at the best of times. And coupled with a "crazy" metabolism [my coach's word, not mine], it makes the rebound and off-season phases very difficult indeed.

So it is something of a blessing that, as we approach the 12-weeks-out mark, I'm now dreading the next meal. Because this should make prep that much easier, as it did last time.

Food still high – especially with carbs

Food wise, protein has been kept fairly moderate. Medium and low days are 40g per meal over six meals. We have 10g protein from EAAs in an intra shake for a total of 250g and 240g respectively.

On high days, protein comes even lower – 30g per meal over six meals. The intra shake is fairly heavy, though, with 20g protein and 50g carbs. Protein totals 200g but carbs are now present in high amounts – 200g per meal over six meals. Including the 50g in the intra, that's 1200g carbs on that single high day. Not something you hear a lot of in prep.

Justin uses a cheat meal on the sixth and final meal that day. And I can tell you, once you down five meals at 200g carbs each, the last thing you want is a cheat meal. Still, let's see if I'm saying the same at four weeks out.

One meal suggestion if you're struggling with carbs in prep

One thing I cling to like a safety blanket is a liquid meal. It is a shake for all intents and purposes, but not just whey. For example, let's use a typical medium-day meal, which is 40g protein 75g carbs and 14g fat. I'd blend 200g egg whites, 30g whey with 95g cream of rice and 27g peanut butter. I'd add a few pinches of salt and some ice cubes too.

Training remains the same and, performance wise, things are positive. Progress continues to be made through reps and/or weight on the bar, with no let up in intensity.

In all honesty, this has been helped by the enthusiasm, drive and extravert personality of my current training partner Nathan Taylor. He is a powerful, rugged 31-year-old who will step on stage for the first time either later this year or early next.

I'm an introvert but we work well together; even though I do find it slightly amusing when he counts down reps and, once he reaches seven and below, his voice gets higher and louder. We train in S6 Gym in Tilbury, Essex, but I do wonder sometimes whether they can hear us in Kent.

Anyway, sleep is a slight issue. I find as I hit 230lbs and above, what appears to be apnea raises its ugly head. I can count on one knuckle how many times I have woken feeling refreshed. I'm either woken by my own choking or shouting for help, having had yet another nightmare.

Still, check-in on Monday which will be 11 weeks, four days. I will update how things go next week.

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Smith Junior targets NABBA England and Universe

Mr Universe title at the top of bodybuilder's priority list as he reveals 2024 plans

DANIEL SMITH JUNIOR says he could target the NABBA England and the NABBA Universe later this year – to make it a quadruple of NABBA titles.

The Class 2 bodybuilder competed 18 times last season, securing 16 victories and 12 overall wins in a stunning campaign.

Not only that, he went straight from prep into a fight camp, knocking out his opponent in just 13 seconds to become a Midlands heavyweight boxing champion.

Now he has revealed tentative plans for the forthcoming bodybuilding campaign – with the NABBA Universe top of his list.

Smith Junior said: "I'll be doing the Universe but, as of now, I'm not sure which show to do in order to qualify for it. I'll be competing in October anyway, so I will be looking at shows around that time. Possibly the NABBA England, because I have never done that show before."

The NABBA England takes place on October 13 and is the final qualifier for the NABBA Universe on November 3.

"I've won the NABBA UK and I've won two regionals, but I have never won the England," said Smith Junior. "I've never done it – so that might be one to do alongside the Universe. And it is kind of like all four isn't it – UK, England, Universe, British, which I won last year, so that will cover all bases."

Smith Junior is also a bodybuilding and fitness coach. He also offers courses if you want to qualify as a coach or personal trainer. To enquire about his services, click here.

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Trials and tribulations of a Men's Physique competitor hunting down IFBB Pro Card

MEN'S Physique athlete Marcus Privett believes he is only 60 per cent close to his best for the UK's season opener on March 23.

But one look at his recent check-in pictures suggests he will be dialled in for his pro qualifier next month.

Privett will return to the stage for the 2Bros Condition Coaches Kingdom Classic show in three weeks, which acts as a regional qualifier for those in the UK wanting to battle it out for an IFBB Pro Card later in the campaign.

Wheeler told Privett he should already be a pro

Privett – once told by the Flex Wheeler that with his shape he should already be gracing an IFBB Pro stage – normally comes in sliced to the bone, with aesthetically pleasing, flowing lines.

He said: "I'm three weeks out but only about 60 per cent [ready] for this one. I don't really feel like I'm "in" this time around. I feel like I'm still quite a while away. Even my pictures are not great and I don't feel that great at the minute, either.

"I lost a lot of size last year and I haven't had the time to put that back on yet. But I need to make a weight category this time, so it's a different way of approaching it than we have done before.

"But I need to get this done. I just don't want to put too much pressure on myself. I will do the regional, then straight to Sweden – which is a pro qualifier – and straight after there is Portugal.

"They are the plans but there are a lot of good guys competing, so we'll see what happens.

"Right now I am hitting individual body parts in training just to get some extra detail. But I need to get tighter without losing any more size."

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I was told I might never walk again after leg press injury

How Class One bodybuilder's leg press injury turned him from big and powerful, to helpless and fragile, after NHS told him scan showed no damage when in fact it was so severe it could have changed his life for ever...

AT the beginning of this video, you will see footage of Eddie Sykes' leg press injury which he suffered in May 2020. This has been reproduced with Eddie's permission and can also be seen alongside his explanation on his YouTube channel here.

In just three years he has experienced the depths of despair after being abandoned by the NHS. He spent thousands on private surgery to avoid permanent life-changing damage to his body. And he suffered with subsequent mental health issues.

But last September he achieved the seemingly impossible – returning to the stage to win the NABBA Mr England and finish runner up at the NABBA Mr Universe.

And now Sykes has revealed how he trains those legs after such a horror leg press injury.

We urge you to listen to this incredible journey from one of the most charismatic people in bodybuilding:

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Masters Over 45 athlete cuts a monster figure in the gym ahead of NABBA shows

PETE LAWSON has released some video footage of his training as he gears up to compete at this year's NABBA England and NABBA Universe.

Lawson returned to the stage last year, winning the NABBA Britain Masters Over 45, before heading to Italy, where he won the NABBA World Championship.

Now Lawson is ready to tackle the NABBA England on October 13, which acts as the final qualifier for the NABBA Universe in Birmingham on November 3.

The Masters Over 45 category is always extremely competitive, regardless of the federation and Lawson is certainly one athlete to look out for this season.

And let there be no doubt that the NABBA Universe is the one at the top of Lawson's priority list and one he will be keen to take home this November.

If you are looking for bodybuilding or fitness coaching, you can contact Lawson and his wife Sarah Lawson through their website SPL Fit Coaching.

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Road to the NABBA Britain

Juggling prep with three jobs, three kids, three dogs and a training partner who throws up in the bin

By Gary Chappell

BLOGGING about myself as I prepare for the NABBA Britain, on a site I founded and edit fills me with dread. "Who on earth cares about you or your journey"? is one sentence that often rattles through my brain. That inner voice is right, in a sense. Who does?

Well, the point of a bodybuilding website is content about bodybuilding. And, as I am a competitive bodybuilder, I am no less relevant than the athletes who also feature on these pages. That is my justification, anyway.

So given this is one avenue of content I can rely on producing, I'm going to chart my progress to the NABBA Britain on June 1, having already qualified by winning the NABBA UK on November 9 last year.

As of today, Saturday, March 2, there are 13 weeks until the NABBA Britain, which will be held at St George's Hall in Bradford, a mere four-to-five-hour car journey from my home in Thurrock, Essex and one I generally despise after roughly two hours.

For the past 14 months, I have been coached by the brilliant mind of American Justin Harris, of Troponin Nutrition and 1st Detachment. I have only ever used one coach before, during my debut season in 2019 when I competed five times, winning my first two shows. After that, I coached myself for a further nine shows, before realising that, at 46, if I was to ever secure the titles I wanted, I needed further guidance.

At the tail end of the 2022 season, I had won the Masters Over 45 at the NABBA Mr England, but spectacularly failed to place in the top six at the NABBA Universe two weeks later. I finished that season finishing second at the NABBA UK, weighing roughly 187lbs at 5ft 9in.

Bigger but leaner for NABBA Britain

Fast-forward those 14 months and I sit here writing this at 13 weeks out and 235lbs, with prep not due to start until 12 weeks out because, according to Justin Harris himself, I am still very lean and that time is all we will need in order to be ready. This will be the first time I have competed at the NABBA Britain.

So food has been pushed this week in the form of a third high day. We use carb-cycling; three days of varying amounts of carbs, ranging from 300g on a low day, 600g on a medium day and 1100g on a high day. High days fall on leg days, back days and, for me, arm days. Arms are a weak point of mine, you see. Protein reduces by 10g per meal, over six meals, on those high days and there are no added fats whatsoever.

Interestingly, or not perhaps, we do not count calories as such, although we know what they are. Justin adjusts the macro-nutrients and uses pictures to judge progress. So whereas in the past I could tell you off the top of my head how many calories I was consuming each day, now I would have to stop and work it out, but would know the macros off by heart.

So three high days from 14 weeks out and those are likely to continue from 13 weeks out too. Then, at the 12-week mark, full contest prep gets underway. Not being a big eater, I find high days fairly difficult now. Even though 50 per cent of carbs at each meal can come from sugary sources. That amount of food just makes you feel sluggish. I will go into detail in further posts.

How prep is managed

Prep is balanced – juggled may be a more appropriate word – alongside my work as a journalist for three national newspapers, a second Saturday job on a Sunday newspaper and work to grow this website. I also have three children and three miniature cockapoos, although they like dozing on the sofa as much as I do.

My shift begins at 3pm, so that leaves mornings and early afternoons free to train. I do this at 12.45pm each day at S6 Gym in Tilbury, Essex.

How I train for the NABBA Britain

My current training for the NABBA Britain is a five-day split; Chest and shoulders, quads, arms, hamstrings and calves, back and rear delts.

I've always wondered about training, often worrying about whether I train hard enough. I usually train alone but, recently, I have had a few different training partners. And all of them have told me they have never trained this way. I'm not sure what they mean; I just see it as training.

I never subscribed to the mantra offered by Dorian Yates either, that he "knew" there was no one out there training harder than him because it "wasn't possible". There is simply no way he could have known that. I'd suggest also, that he may not have needed to have trained with such intensity. And had he tailored his training slightly differently as he grew older, he may have had more than six Mr Olympia titles by avoiding the injuries which blighted his career.

But anyway, I train as hard as I can. I use progressive overload, recording lifts and trying to better either the weight or the reps each week. On some exercises I use myofibrillar methods; prioritising strength with reps as low as five or six. But for the most part, my training is for sarcoplasmic growth, with reps anywhere from 12 to 20. Sometimes more. My training partner was sick in a bin on Friday after three sets of Dante rows for the lower back. Always a nice touch.

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Great exposure for Masters Mr Universe Mark Taylor – but his lower-protein diet has attracted much attention

NABBA Masters Mr Universe Mark Taylor has received widespread media exposure in the past week – with the BBC even reporting the secret behind his victory last November was a lower-protein diet.

The website also picked up the story, in which Taylor reveals how a switch to a higher carbohydrate and lower-protein diet paved the way for his Universe success.

This is all very good exposure for bodybuilding and excellent for Taylor, but it is worth looking further as just why BBC Scotland decided to look at the sport, especially given the Universe was three months ago.

The story includes quotes from a Professor Lindsay Jaacks, of Global Health and Nutrition at the University of Edinburgh, who appears keen to “debunk” the idea of high-protein diets.

In isolation, there would be nothing wrong with lower-protein diets. But it is worth adding some context.


Right now, Climate Change is being highlighted by governments around the world. You would no doubt have heard the phrase “Net Zero”, which is being trotted out repeatedly at every opportunity.

To achieve Net Zero, those in power believe the farming of meat – protein – must end, or at least be restricted to an absolute minimum. This has led to widespread protests across the globe from farmers, who are being put out of business.

Billionaire Bill Gates, a strong advocate of Net Zero, has also been quoted publicly about his goal of producing lab-grown meat. Gates, it must also be noted, now owns the largest amount of farmland in America. The World Economic Forum has also published reports into what they see as the "benefits of insect protein".

So we “may” have a reason why – seemingly out of the blue – the mainstream media, never a branch of press to cover our sport, are suddenly interested in bodybuilding; because those in power are keen to push lower-protein diets.

Whether you agree with this theory or not, Taylor’s story is nonetheless interesting.

He told frontdouble that he implemented a lower-protein diet by essentially cutting his protein by more than 50 per cent, adding that he “put my carbs through the roof” in a bid to secure the coveted Mr Universe title.

Speaking the BBC Scotland interview, he added: “I got ripped with carbs. I’m delighted and wouldn’t go back to a high-protein diet.

“I had 10 Scotland titles and had all the Mr Scotland titles but I couldn’t progress any further at British level as I wasn’t big enough or hard enough until I met my coach Vicky McCann and she introduced carbs into my diet.

“People don’t believe they need carbs for bodybuilding but this is the most successful I’ve ever been. I wish I had known sooner.

“At first when I started eating a lot more food and carbs I felt in a lot of pain because my body wasn’t used to it as I had been dieting on very little food for so long. In the past on my high protein diet I had felt tired a lot.

“But suddenly on this high-carb diet I had all this energy so I could train for longer and harder and I felt stronger. Then I noticed my muscles looked bigger and fuller and harder, I just couldn’t believe it.”

Frontdouble has reported on this subject before, with American coach Justin Harris of Troponin Nutrition a big believer in high-carb diets. His views on protein, however, are slightly different, with some of his nutrition plans using higher protein – 60g per meal over six meals for some and 30g per meal over six on higher-carb days.

Also speaking in that BBC interview, Prof Jaacks also targeted the use of supplements. While she may well be right on this, supplements are exactly that – to supplement. What is perhaps more true is that they are for convenience; is might be easier for someone to consume protein from whey in a liquid meal alongside blendable carbohydrates and fats than it would be a steak or chicken breast for example.


She said: “I’m not at all surprised if he was restricting carbs in any way that he wasn’t getting very far, because carbs are absolutely the most important of the macros when it comes to thinking about exercise.

“Carbohydrates are absolutely critical because that’s what the brain and the muscles use for energy sources during exercise. You really need to have sufficient carbs if you are going to be exercising particularly at that kind of elite athlete level.

“It is really great to debunk this idea of high protein diets because it’s generally overstated. Even people who are going to the gym a couple of times a week are likely getting perfectly sufficient protein and don’t need to do anything in terms of increasing protein through taking supplements.

“There is a lot of public emphasis on protein and bodybuilding and taking the supplements and protein shakes but really it’s not required for most people even people who are going to the gym a couple of times a day.

“Athletic associations now also emphasise actually a food first approach to getting protein rather than supplements and there are other nutrients in food itself that are good for health.

“So my recommendation is to try to get what you need from food and most people can do that in their usual diets.”

McCann, chairwoman of the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation and Taylor’s coach said: “Bodybuilders will eat slightly elevated protein from your average person because they need muscle growth. However, the way I train my athletes is that we have a much higher percentage of carbohydrates than protein because carbohydrates are muscle sparing.

“When your body is low in energy, if it’s lacking carbohydrates it will use protein as a source of energy, so it means you are actually using your protein as a source of energy rather than a source of growth which is not what you are looking for as a bodybuilder.

“Keeping the carbohydrates high through a diet works. It doesn’t work very well for sedentary people but if you are training hard you do need carbohydrates.”

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How to structure your leg training routine after breaking your pelvis

Class 1 bodybuilder Eddie Sykes details his quad workout after being forced to change the way he trains following horrific injury on the leg press

AFTER a broken pelvis threatened to leave him unable to walk bodybuilder Eddie Sykes has shared the new leg training routine that has helped him return to the stage.

In an exclusive interview with in December, Sykes detailed the extensive injuries he suffered during a 600kg leg press in 2020 and how the NHS, under pressure from the Government's Covid protocols at the time, somehow concluded that his scans showed no damage.

Sykes then paid for private healthcare, with doctors there finding, rightly, that he "needed help and needed help now" or he would struggle to ever walk again, let alone return to bodybuilding. He had broken his pelvis, severed his adductor longus and torn off his pectineus and pyramidalis.

In our December interview, Sykes detailed his incredible return from this injury to winning the NABBA Mr England last September and has now shared the leg routine he uses to ensure there is no repeat of that horrific injury.

Sykes must now use a fraction of the weight he used to lift and instead focuses purely on the movement, the squeeze, tension and pre-exhaustion work – so it is actually not possible to go as heavy as he used to.

One week his leg training routine is quad dominant, as below, with the next being hamstring focused.

His full training video will soon be available on his YouTube channel but below is a sneak preview of his revised leg training routine:


Leg extension – three working sets

1: 15-20 reps

2: Triple drop set 15 reps each

3: 20 reps with a hold

Pendulum squat

Two sets, last one a drop set

Leg press

One set, 100kg, to 100 reps


Three sets, 10-15 reps

Calf raise using leg press

Three sets, 10-15 reps

Why not try this leg workout yourself and let us know in the comments below how you got on.

Eddie Sykes is also available for coaching and his details can be found in our Directory.

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Iconic 'Prepare for Glory' show postponed until 2025

But promotor James Room confirms he could host TWO shows next year as qualifiers for a World Championship and Mr Universe

JAMES ROOM'S iconic Prepare for Glory show will not run this year but is expected to return next season – and with a twist.

In an interview with last month, Room confirmed he was considering cancelling this year's event to concentrate on winning the PCA Masters Over 50 British title.

Room had also moved federations from the IBFA to the NAC last year, but a series of problems at the NAC Universe late last year led to a fall-out.

And last night he confirmed that May's Prepare for Glory show would now be postponed until 2025.

FANS MUST WAIT: James Room's Prepare for Glory show will return in 2025 – and better than ever

He said: "There are a few personal issues that need to be sorted. Plus, I also want it [the show] right for athletes and, after what happened with the NAC, it wasn't enough time to make changes with a different federation in order to move forward.

"I want to include qualification for some sort of world championship, so doing this [postponement] means that, in 2025, we have the possibility of two Prepare for Glory shows; one to qualify for a Worlds and one for a Universe."

Room also revealed in an in-depth interview with this website last month that he suffers from body dysmorphia, saying that looking at himself once he steps off stage makes him "feel sick".

He also explains how, two days prior to flying to Spain for the PCA World Championship, he was rushed to hospital with "stomach pains that brought me to my knees" after suffering an extreme reaction to fibre that almost cost him his life.

And Room also details the story behind the birth of The Spartan, the nickname and persona which Room has adopted since 2015.

You can watch that full intervie by subscribing to our premium model for just £2.99 a month.

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COMMENT: Beware the experts offering secrets

Amid the murky world of the internet the likely truth is that keeping it simple in bodybuilding is the fastest route to success By Gary Chappell SOCIAL MEDIA is awash with so-called experts and thinly veiled attacks but keeping it simple when it comes to bodybuilding is always key. You will see a constant steam...

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INSULIN 101: Guide and protocol for optimal use in bodybuilding

Study on the anabolic hormone with additional tips by coach Justin Harris

MANY people will scare you into believing insulin use in bodybuilding will kill you.

In fact, some find difficulty in obtaining it because of such concern.

Proper insulin use does not kill. Stupidity and recklessness does.

While is not suggesting anyone use insulin, this guide has been set up to outline the most optimal way to use it if you plan to, or if you already are using it.

For those who do not know, insulin is a hormone that is naturally produced in the body by your pancreas. The organ releases insulin into the bloodstream whenever you consume carbohydrates. It does this in order to regulate your blood sugar level. Insulin’s job is to transport that glucose [sugar] from your bloodstream and into your cells.

According to the website healthline: “It also encourages cells to take in amino acids (proteins) and lipids (fats) to a certain extent. Insulin also prevents the breakdown of glycogen, protein and fat in your body.”

In this sense, insulin is anabolic. A study published on Pub Med offers a concise explanation: “Insulin is considered to be an anabolic hormone in that it promotes the synthesis of protein and glycogen and it inhibits the degradation of these compounds in muscle tissue. Glucose normally provides energy sources for tissues of the body, its uptake by muscle requires a secretion of insulin. Insulin stimulates the uptake of amino acids into cells and simulates protein synthesis in muscle tissue.”

In an article for, Dr Jim Stoppani writes: “From the pancreas, insulin enters the bloodstream and travels to various tissues, including muscle tissue.

“The muscle fibers [or cells] are lined with insulin receptors, similar to a docking station. Once the insulin molecule docks on to the receptor, it signals the muscle cell to open up gates.

“This allows allow glucose, amino acids and creatine to enter the muscles. This process is a major reason why insulin is so important for building muscle.

“Insulin also indirectly aids in muscle development by causing the blood vessels to relax and dilate, allowing greater blood flow to the muscles. By increasing blood flow, insulin can help get even more nutrients like glucose and amino acids to the muscles.”

Bodybuilders use insulin to enhance this effect; to store more glucose in the muscle than they would with only the amount produced naturally by the pancreas.

Another decent analogy was described on a recent podcast called 'Blood, Sweat and Gear', with coaches Skip Hill, Andrew Berry and Scott McNally. You can watch what they say from the clip below:

When bodybuilders use insulin, they typically keep their fat intake at a minimum; ie. no added fats at all. The reason is because of fat storage.

For example, in the same way insulin will drive glucose to the muscle for storage, it can also drive fats to the fat cells for storage. Therefore, using a continued insulin protocol over time can lead to fat storage, which is perhaps why you might hear some people suggest ‘insulin makes you fat’. Of course, that is not true. In the same sense of eating fat does not make you fat, insulin use also does not make you fat. What makes you fat is poor use of insulin.

When to use insulin in bodybuilding

Perhaps the most optimal way to use it is within a carb-cycling diet, when the amount of carbs you eat varies each day depending on whether you rest, train or train a significant body part such as legs or back, when typically the most amount of calories are burned.

In a nutshell, insulin use in bodybuilding is most optimal when you are loading carbohydrates, in order to store the most possible as muscle glycogen.

Protocol for insulin use in bodybuilding spoke to renowned coach Justin Harris, of Troponin Nutrition and 1st Detachment. He outlined his protocol for insulin use in bodybuilding, which uses the short-acting form of insulin, which is Humalog or Novorapid.

Harris says: “Insulin use is for high days only [when carbohydrates are at their highest]. We eat six meals on my diets and the dosing protocol is:

“What we are doing here is spreading out the dose over the day, roughly at every other meal more or less. We start at the low end – in my example here that is four international units per dose – and titrate up until you find the doses where you just start to go hypoglycemic on the diet plan.

“You want to stop at the dose where you almost go hypo, but don’t. Going hypoglycemic forces you to drink sugar above the calories in the diet plan – which is why people get fat from insulin.

“We want to find the optimal dose where the diet plan just barely covers the insulin with no hypoglycemia. That amount maximises glycogen storage and maximises amino acid uptake from the diet.

“This gives you about 18 hours per high day where insulin levels are supraphysiological. Compare this with about 15 hours per week if you use it every workout and only those times (5x per week).

“So you get more active hours from one high day than you do using it 5x per week post workout. This minimises any hit to insulin sensitivity and maximises time where levels are elevated.”

3: Why short-acting [Humalog/Novorapid, which starts working 15 after injection] rather than long-acting [Lantus]?

Harris explains: “It's more precise. Lantus works because it’s in your body 24-plus hours, so there’s always insulin. So your blood sugar is well controlled – but it’s like an alcoholic saying that as long as they drink one beer per hour all day, they never get DTs.

“Your blood glucose is controlled because of the lantus – because of the insulin. Your insulin sensitivity is getting worse by the day. But people misunderstand that because blood sugar is controlled.”

The take home message here is that short-acting insulin is more optimal because it offers more windows of opportunity for muscle growth without increasing damage to insulin sensitivity and therefore becoming diabetic.

Insulin is a powerful hormone and misuse/overdosing can result in a quick death.

The website John Doe Bodybuilding says, rather succinctly: “The biggest way to fuck up insulin is incorrect measurement.

“If I tell you to take five units of insulin and you load up 5cc’s as you would a steroid shot, or even load up five units as you would a GH shot, you are probably going to die.

“Five units of insulin means five tiny little lines or “clicks” on an insulin syringe. It will look like hardly anything in the needle – this is powerful shit and it doesn’t take much at all to do it’s job.

“The second biggest way to fuck up insulin is to not eat properly after administering it. As a general rule, for every one unit of insulin you inject, you need to take 10 grams of carbohydrates with it. This needs to be done within 15 minutes of injecting insulin. Depending on what type of insulin you use, you will want another meal within 60-90 minutes after that.”



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GBA founder Adams says 'prep shouldn't change anything' as he heads for Vegas show

Physique coach Matt enters last three weeks ahead of NPC Legends Classic – all while running his new federation

THE founder of the Global Bodybuilding Alliance federation says he will be stepping on stage at the NPC Legends Classic in Las Vegas in just three weeks' time.

Matt Adams, also known to many as the Physique Coach, announced on instagram earlier today, Tuesday, January 24, that he has been in prep for the American show for the past few weeks.

Adams is also expecting to announce some big news involving his new federation, the GBA, in the coming days but believes his work for the coming season has not been affected by his drive to compete.

He told "It's business as usual. Being in prep shouldn’t change the status quo if you manage it properly. People over dramatise it.

"It’s not having any impact on me organising a federation or seeing to my clients. Like I said in my post, most people wouldn’t even know I’m on prep."

Adams, who will be in the Over 50s class at the Legends Classic, last competed in Thailand in December, securing second place in the Masters Over 50s at the PCA Gorilla Classic, having also competed at the NPC European Masters in Milan, Italy in November.

He added: "Don’t get me wrong, there will be times when it [prep] is challenging, But if you manage sleep properly, give yourself enough duration, so it’s not as harsh, then it becomes more routine.

"The goal is just love of the sport and competing somewhere different really. This isn’t a pro qualifier show. I’ll aim for a pro qualifier again in 2025.

"When I last competed in Thailand in December, I knew I could do more, so I put this one in the calendar before I go on a growth phase."

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Scotland and North shows offer prize for best coach to help put federation 'back to where we should be'

NABBA area reps are bidding to bring the federation back to its former glory in the face of fierce competition.

NABBA Scotland and NABBA North are offering a holiday to Marbella for the best coach over two shows. And they will hand a year’s sponsorship by Peak Body to the best athlete. All in a bid to make NABBA more relevant.

It is understood area representatives are trying to bring NABBA back to the top given the number of rival federations.

Those two shows have enlisted one of NABBA's most decorated champions, John Citrone, who works for Peak Body supplements. He will help judge the winners of what they are calling the Twin Peak Challenge.

The Mr & Miss Scotland show on April 13, run by the 2023 Masters Over 45 Mr Universe Mark Taylor and the Mr & Miss North Britain on May 5, run by five-times Mr Universe Eddiy Ellwood, are the two competitions running the new challenge.

NEW PARTNERSHIP: Eddy Ellwood, left, and John Citrone agree on the Twin Peak Challenge

Taylor said: “We just feel that there are so many feds now. We are the original federation. We want to give back to athletes all entry fees and get us back to where we should be.

“The new breed of competitors don’t really know about us. The social media age and online coaches' influence on competitors has changed the landscape.

“So with this Peak Body Challenge, we are trying to get coaches to put their athletes into NABBA.

“Pre-Covid in Scotland, people only got ready for NABBA Scotland. But there are 11 shows in Scotland now – it’s absolutely crazy. And with the influences of coaches, athletes choose PCA and 2Bros.

“There are only probably 60 athletes in Scotland this year competing. Coaches influence their athletes to pick two to three shows tops. We [NABBA] need to be relevant. So hopefully what Eddy and myself have come up with will help.”

Luxury holiday for best coach to help make NABBA relevant

The Twin Peaks Challenge is open to all competitors and all entry fees will go into the prize fund.

Taylor said: “There will be a trophy and a holiday in a £5million villa in Marbella for the best coach.

“There will be a coaches league which will include a point system. The coach with the most points will win this prize.”

As for athletes, all class winners will receive £100 and can enter up to two classes. The overall winner of each show will also be handed £500. In addition, there is a chance to become a sponsored athlete for a year courtesy of Peak Body.

Taylor added: “From the two shows, Peak Body will decide on someone to represent their brand as an ambassador. This will include a professional photo shoot and a year’s sponsorship.”

GRAND PLANS: Mark Taylor, winning the Masters Universe, wants to make NABBA great again

Competition among federations means bodybuilding has never been stronger. There are more than 10 now offering a stage on which to compete.

This month, Tim Rosiek was appointed NABBA area rep for the North West. In what appears to be a break from tradition, he will have a support team behind him. This means he can call on a wide variety of skills and contacts to make his show also stand out.

Rosiek's team plan to be more active on social media and transparent with who will be on the judging panel. There will also be video content of reps attending gyms in order to promote the show. is trying to obtain placing results from NABBA – and other federations – to list as on our bodybuilding directory.

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US bodybuilder: "Once you start steroids, you'll never stop"

Great debate sparked by controversial comments over PEDs

BODYBUILDER Paul Barnett has created a huge debate on social media after saying: "Once you start steroids, you'll never stop."

Barnett, 49, has made incredible progress since his return to the sport five years ago and produces excellent topics on his YouTube channel, Anabolic Bodybuilding.

And he posted a video saying those who take steroids would never stop and would be using them for ever. It was these comments which sparked much interest on the social media platform.

Barnett says he did stop using steroids between ages 32 and 42 and felt like it robbed him of his personalty. He said: "Everything that I thought I was was gone." is reproducing Barnett's steroids video, below, invites you to comment in the section below.

Barnett can also be viewed and followed on instagram here.

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Quad training only, hamstrings and calves on a separate day

Why I find this method more optimal for growth

AT, we want as many training routines, programmes, tips and methods as possible to share with our bodybuilding community. Yes, that includes quad training.

We invite you to record your sessions on our forum, which is part of our premium access for just £2.99 a month. There you can log training and diets and start discussion, with like-minded people, rather than under the glare of social media.

As founder and editor, I have started logging some sessions of my own, as I begin the journey towards the NABBA Britain Masters Over 45.

This site is most definitely not about me, however, and I hope many of my fellow competitors can share some of their methods going forward.

So here is a little snippet from my training journal on the forum, plus some video footage from the session:

It's roughly 18 weeks until the NABBA Britain on June 1 at St George's Hall in Bradford.

Full prep will likely begin the first week in March. I concentrated on a hard rebound out of the UK show and that phase ended about three weeks ago. I put on about two stone [28lbs or so] and I'm still quite lean. I'm expecting a decent jump in stage weight again this time around. I came in roughy 14lbs heavier for the UK show.

Today, Tuesday, was quads. I split my leg training into two sessions; quads, then hamstrings and calves later in the week.

I'm currently training with one of my clients, a 31-year-old called Nathan Taylor, who has bags of potential; big, long muscle bellies, rugged look, excellent shape. He will be an top Class 2/Medium bodybuilder once he gets to the stage.

This quad session is outlined on the forum. Caveat: I'm 47 and I have to manage my knees; I fear one or both of them is going to pop any time soon. 

Nutrition wise, my quad days are always high days. I will outline these down the line but they consist of lower protein; 30g per meal over six meals. Carbs are 200g pre and post, then 175g for the remaining meals. The sixth and last meal is a cheat meal. But by then, I'm pretty stuffed.

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Super-heavyweight Josh Goold slams social media influencers in passionate rant

BODYBUILDING is being tarnished by so-called 'influencers' who have not earned the right to offer advice about the correct way to train.

That is according to super-heavyweight bodybuilder Josh Goold, who has taken to instagram himself to warn young, impressionable bodybuilders not to listen to these so-called 'educators'.

Goold, an online coach himself and who is coached by IFBB pro Sas Heirati, said: "This isn't the bodybuilders, this is little kids who haven't trained and are getting a lot of attention.

"It's embarrassing. Yes educate, but being outlandish by being like, 'I'm going to get this many clicks', that is not bodybuilding, it's not educating and it is not helping."

Agree with Goold? Watch this video here and comment below:

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"Dysmorphia so severe I feel sick looking at myself ripped"

James Room details battle with body dysmorphia, how he almost died two days before PCA Worlds and tells the story behind The Spartan

BODYBUILDER James Room says he cannot stand looking at himself in show condition when stepping off stage because his severe body dysmorphia makes him "feel sick".

The Masters Over 50 icon, promotor of the Prepare for Glory shows in the Midlands, has suffered from severe body dysmorphia since his school days. He used to describe himself as a skinny teenager.

Room also details the row with the NAC, which ended his association with the federation after one year.

He also explains how, two days prior to flying to Spain for the PCA World Championship, he was rushed to hospital with "stomach pains that brought me to my knees". He had suffered an extreme reaction to fibre that almost cost him his life.

And Room also details the story behind The Spartan, the nickname and persona which he has adopted since 2015.

Recently Room announced he was postponing his 2024 version of Prepare for Glory to concentrate on winning the PCA Britain.

But added: "There are a few personal issues that need to be sorted. Plus, I also want it [the show] right for athletes. And after what happened with the NAC, it wasn't enough time to make changes with a different federation.

"I want to include qualification for some sort of world championship. Ao doing this [postponement] means that, in 2025, we have the possibility of two Prepare for Glory shows. One to qualify for a Worlds and one for a Universe."

Watch Room's full interview for free here:

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Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin plus electrolytes make it a must have


LAST month ran an article on the benefits of using Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (HBDC) in your intra-workout shake. Gaspari Nutrition are now here in the UK and one of their finest products is Glycofuse.

Glycofuse contains Cluster Dextrin – the same as HBCD – at 25g per serving, which in this case is 29g of product.

What is better than most HBCD powders out there, however, is that Gaspari Glycofuse also contains an electrolyte formula, including Calcium Potassium Phosphate Citrate and Pink Himalayan Salt. This is ideal for intra-workout hydration and the transporting of nutrients to the cell.

Gaspari Nutrition say: "Original Glycofuse was never intended to be a supplement for the novice. Its design was only concerned with the elite, experienced athlete.

"The original was met with praise but there were also suggestions from our loyal customers on how it could be better. So we listened and upgraded the formula.

"New Gaspari Glycofuse provides 25g of carbohydrates from pure, low glycemic, Cluster Dextrins, which eliminate insulin spikes, giving you sustained energy over prolonged workouts.

"Gastric emptying is also enhanced, which eliminates stomach upset, bloating and gets those carbs to the muscle faster."

Why? Well, as explained in our article which is linked above, using simple sugars in your intra is just not optimal. It will ignite a quick insulin spike and you will see your energy crash pretty quickly.

This does not happen with HBCD.

Click this link to get 15 per cent off: 

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Promotor says he is working with other federations but nothing guaranteed for 2024 version

JAMES ROOM'S iconic Prepare for Glory show in Wolverhampton may not run this year after a row with the NAC.

Room, who teamed up with the federation last year after six years linked to the IBFA, told the NAC in November that he would never work with them again when he and another British athlete were disqualified from the NAC Universe in Germany for wearing the wrong trunks – despite spending time backstage with the president Eugene Laviscount.

In an exclusive interview with soon to be published, Room said: "I went back down to see Eugene after being disqualified and asked him about it. He said, 'well, didn't you read the rules'?

"I said, 'read the rules? I've just been down here standing with you for an hour.

"If our UK president isn't going to stand up and say something to us straight away, or know the rules himself, then there's no good me sending competitors over to have the same thing done again.

"I've just basically told him [Laviscount], if you don't fight for me, then you can forget me getting competitors and me being part of the NAC.

"So we are no longer part of the NAC and the reason being [apart from the trunks issue] is that there was no team UK. We were one of the only countries with no team tracksuit, no team T-shirts to say we were from the UK.

"I even took Union Jack flags out there for Eugene to give to competitors when they were in the top five. It never happened. It just was wrong all the way through."

Asked what would happen with the show, normally held in May, Room said he had been talking to other federations but could even postpone it for a year to concentrate on his own competitive ventures.

He said: "I'm even considering taking a year away from me and bringing it back. Because, I'll be honest, I'd love to be able to concentrate on myself for a year."

The NAC have been contacted for comment.


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"Wearing socks felt uncomfortable, bending down felt uncomfortable – everything felt uncomfortable"

Josh Goold shares details of his off-season under coach Sas Heirati as he targets pro qualifier in 2024, saying: "Hopefully I'll have the shape and size to do some damage..."

AS 2023 draws to a close one top amateur has revealed the brutal extremes he has endured in a bid to hang some serious muscle on his frame come his return to the stage next year.

Josh Goold, coached by IFBB pro Sasan Heirati, last competed in 2021 and has pushed his body through a long period of serious eating, as he targets a pro qualifier at the tail end of 2024.

A coach himself and creator of one of the most watchable and enjoyable YouTube channels available right now, with the correct balance of education and humour, [here] Goold threatens to cause a serious shake up in the super-heavyweights.

Speaking to frontdouble, he said: "It has been a long off-season. I was last on stage in 2021 and, coming off of that goal, it was very evident that I'm not a light-heavyweight and I need to be in the supers. If I want to really give it some, I need to build a pro-level physique – you need to have that size.

NO PUSHOVER: Goold at 270lbs, standing at 5ft 9in, is hoping to be a serious danger next year

"So going into the off-season, starting at the back end of that prep, it was a case of, 'right, let's put this size on and spend some time growing and getting bigger. We still have a little bit left of this off-season because I won't be looking to compete until September/October time when there is that little run of pro qualifiers to see how I price up. We've really just been eating a ton of food, lifting big and getting big, progressing lifts and just really enjoying the off-season and embracing it.

"We have cleaned up nicely after being the heaviest I got so far, which was 285lbs [from his last stage weight of roughly 200lbs]. The first push I got to 265lbs, then we cleaned up and I got to about 240 something. Then we pushed back up and I tapped out at 275lbs. Then we pulled back and did another push which is when we hit 285lbs, then we come back. But each time I have been getting heavier and heavier.

"I started this push at 256/257lbs and at the minute I am 270.8lbs – but the leanest 270.8lbs I've been. I should be able to push an extra 15lbs no problem. If I'm not competing until September that gives me a good blast to be able to put that on. I may even get 290lbs, you never know."

Goold has often been vocal about what he calls "getting comfortable with being uncomfortable" in terms of off-season growth.

SUPER SIZE ME: Goold rocking 285lbs – and even kept on the 'uncomfortable' socks

He said: "I felt really heavy – to the point where my heels all cracked because of the sheer weight of me and because I wasn't looking after my dry skin on the back of my feet. The water retention at that weight was not nice, even wearing socks felt uncomfortable, bending down felt uncomfortable – everything felt uncomfortable.

"I'm 5ft 9in, I'm not very tall – well, I'm 5ft 10 with my hair gelled up – but getting up on your tip-toes to get something, your calves get pumped and your lower back gets pumped. It is uncomfortable and some people say it is miserable, but you know what, we live for this s**t and it's the feeling of being uncomfortable that is living on the edge – this is it!

"Some people like driving fast cars, some of us like putting on lots of f*****g muscle and hopefully when we get on to the stage next year it presents itself as,'f**k me, who's that monster?!' That's it – that's what we want, right?

"Hopefully I have kept my shape all right so I'll a bit of shape, bit of size and hopefully I can do some damage."

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Amateur bodybuilding is on the rise and is riding the crest of a wave right now

FEDERATIONS are clambering over themselves to be the best out there and that means one thing: The athletes are the winners.

There has never been a better time to be involved in competitive bodybuilding. With the increase in federations comes with it competition. Competition for entrants; athletes who pay good money to compete. Not to mention sponsors, who also pay good money to promote their brands.

An increasing number of federations are now offering prize money or expenses as awards for class and overall winners, plus a host of other incentives to compete with them.

Trophies, with the exception of a handful of federations, are being improved year on year, with some incredible pieces on offer for those who place – for those people who put every last drop of sweat into this venture, every little detail counts.

Some bodybuilders are coming out of retirement to compete again, those people well into their 40s and 50s. And there are more and more teenagers giving it a go too. There is no other sport quite like it; few other sports can offer a competitive environment to athletes from their teens all the way into their 50s and beyond.

This is why frontdouble believes this coming year, 2024, will be the finest season yet to be a competitive bodybuilder.


DURING this season frontdouble will be highlighting as many of you athletes as possible.

Be it in-depth premium interviews, going into the real-life stories behind bodybuilders – much like we did with the brilliant Eddie Sykes – training, nutrition and health advice from those athletes is working in collaboration with, or showing training footage, it is our goal to work alongside you and grow together.

Our work in progress is our directory, which we plan to build into a comprehensive bodybuilding database; a one-stop shop of all your needs – show calendar, federations and their contact details; a list of coaches you can hire, tanning services, photographers, blood analysis details and a list of mental health helplines and emails.

WATCH – Eddie Sykes interview trailer:

If you would like to share your training footage, you can email us at:, with a brief explanation of your routine and background and we will feature you on these pages.

In addition, if you are also an online coach, for just £2.99 a month we can promote your business by listing your services and contact details in our directory. The price also includes access to all of our premium content. You see, the more finance we have behind us, the increasing number of in-depth interviews we can put together and the better the content can become.

An alternative way to be listed as a coach in our directory, if you decide that premium content is not for you, is to help us out with content itself. will thrive on hearing your stories, your philosophies and we want to share as many of them as possible with as many people as possible, thus helping both of us going forward. Again, any ideas you have please email us at:


SCROLLING through many forms of social media as we brainstorm for content ideas, frontdouble sees many debates on training and nutrition.

What is the best training routine; how many sets are optimal for muscle growth etc, etc.

And that is not to mention the growing number of so-called 'influencers' highlighting a specific exercise as 'the best way to build shoulders, arms, back, chest or whatever' as they somehow hope people believe they have reinvented the wheel.

But let's bring this debate here, to one central place, where we can all bounce ideas off each other. We have the frontdouble forum in the premium section, or you can comment on our posts. Failing that, as mentioned above, email us with suggestions for debate at:

So join the debate – here, at The home of amateur bodybuilding.

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Veteran Steve Johnson provides valuable insight into how the judging process works

LOOK on social media after a show and you will always find a disappointed competitor, along with their friends, saying they were robbed by bodybuilding judges.

In reality, however, there will be specific reasons why they were beaten by someone.

So I would like to share a few things with you about bodybuilding judges, the judging and the process. Federations may differ slightly but, in general, all of them follow similar guidelines.

At top amateur shows there can be many ‘acting judges’ for a category running into double figures. The idea is to get the best possible average score from a number of judges. And to make sure no judge can influence the final placings if their judgment is out of alignment with others.

So you should rest assured that, if there is a judge you don’t like and they judge out of line with others, their score will be discounted. This is because the numerators – those adding up the scoresheets – knock one highest score and one lowest off each competitor. This prevents any favouritism, or opposite, having any effect on the outcome.


When you first come out on stage in front of the judges, they decide who they are going to call out for the comparisons. This is where the quarter turns are crucial, so please make sure you practice and nail these.

When called out in the comparisons, the head judge will take you through your compulsory poses. The other judges will then be deciding their scoring by comparing you to your fellow athletes.


It is important you stand out in these compulsories, as it is here where shows are won and lost. Check on the federation you are competing with for specific compulsory poses as they can differ from time to time.

Judges may request many call outs to compare certain athletes to ensure they are happy with their decisions. Don’t be caught out – you need to execute your final comparison just as good as your first.

When on stage, try and listen to the direction given by the head bodybuilding judge as they call the poses. If they need you to pose in a particular manner and are requested to change, do this before a warning.

Once judges have decided their placings scorecards are folded over and handed to the numerator to add up the scores.

As a point of information, judges do not see their fellow judges’ scorecards.

Remember, the judge’s job is to decide the fair and correct placing – without bias – according to criteria. Judges generally are very experienced and know a lot more about bodybuilding than your friends. So request and listen to their feedback for constructive criticism to become a better bodybuilder in future.

If you don’t agree with anything I have said, my advice would be to become a judge and go through the qualification process. Then see how many athletes still think your opinion is correct.

Bodybuilding is a sport based on opinions, so you have to accept the rough with the smooth and come back better each time.

Some days you will get a placing your opponents disagree with, so try and accept and move on for the love of the sport. BODYBUILDING JUDGE: "JUDGES ALWAYS KNOW BEST"

Steve Johnson is also a renowned bodybuilding and fitness coach. You can enquire about his services here.

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It stimulates appetite allowing you eat more food, improves your lung capacity while training and keeps the fat off – but leading coach Aceto disagrees

IN his book ‘Championship Bodybuilding’ leading coach Chris Aceto says: “No bodybuilder who wishes to gain muscle mass should ever do aerobics in the off-season.”

Granted, the book was first published in 1996 and Aceto’s ‘opinion’ might have changed, but it has had at least 24 printings, with the most recent being 2019.

Remember, Aceto is regarded as one of the best coaches in the business, working with the likes of Britain's Sas Heirati among others.

In his book, Aceto writes: “I don’t like cardio exercise for bodybuilding. When I tell people that at seminars, I usually irritate someone in the audience, who gets angry. 

“They say bodybuilders need to do cardio work for the heart. I disagree. First, a low level of body fat that can be achieved with a good diet and hard weight training is the best preventor of heart disease. 

“Anyone who has heart problems or borderline diabetes knows the first bit of advice the doctor gives is to lose some weight. Body fat plays havoc with your body.

“In my opinion, no bodybuilder who wishes to gain muscle mass should ever do aerobics in the off season. Weight training is an activity that creates an anabolic state. Aerobic training creates a catabolic state.

“Weight training will improve and increase the release of anabolic hormones in the body to support growth, while aerobic training can counteract this by decreasing the output of these hormones.

“A myth in bodybuilding is off-season cardio will stimulate the metabolism. Bodybuilders often do aerobic work in the off-season in the hope of staying leaner. Dead wrong!

“First, aerobic activity does not burn as many calories as most believe. However, weight training adds muscle to the body, which causes the body to burn more calories even at rest.

“Both weight training and cardio work will stimulate the metabolism for a few hours following a workout.

“However, weight training stimulates muscle breakdown and remodelling. The act of recovery and muscle anabolism, stimulated from hard training, increases the need for calories.”

It is an interesting point. And one that is disputed by many.

For example. six-times Mr Olympia Dorian Yates implemented cardio in his off-season. In an article for Muscle & Fitness he once wrote: “I advocate that bodybuilders at all levels initiate an aerobics program, because it has many benefits.

“First, it enhances general cardiovascular fitness and being healthy in heart and lung efficiency is a boon for a competing bodybuilder.

“Second, this better level of general fitness increases metabolism. This makes your system much more efficient (than would be the case if you were sedentary) at assimilating the heavy protein intake necessary for bodybuilders.

“Third (and the reason I did cardio year-round when I was competing), it increases endurance so that when I launched into my contest-prep period where I started to train faster, I was ready for the pace from a fitness standpoint. The fourth main benefit is that doing cardio all year means you are able to take in a few more calories on a daily basis than would be the case if all you did was lift.

“In the offseason, I completed 30-minute power-walking sessions four times a week, first thing in the morning soon after I awoke and before breakfast. I just drank some water and then off I’d go.

“After having not eaten for 10 hours or so, I was in a low-carb state and, therefore, my body would more readily turn to fat for fuel.

“The pace was brisk, so I was breathing hard quickly. I took long strides and swung my arms to encourage general cardio stimulation.

“Writer Peter McGough once watched me power walking back to my house and he said that with my brisk pace, long strides and swinging arms, plus the fact that I weighed 275lbs, I looked like Frankenstein on speed. Moments like that make it all worthwhile!”

Coach and Class 2 bodybuilder Tim Rosiek believes off-season cardio is person dependent, however, saying: “It all depends on the individual; if they stay lean, then it’s not necessary. But if they’re carb sensitive, then it would be a good shout doing low impact cardio during the off-season.

“For example, I don’t do cardio in the off season mainly because I eat very clean and I’m lucky my genetics let me get away with not putting much fat on.

“But if I was unlucky and laid fat down quickly, I would do walking only, because fat burning requires oxygen and anything requiring more energy would deplete your glycogen and make you tired, which would affect your workout strength – and that is counter-productive to your growing period.”

American coach Justin Harris is a strong advocate of off-season cardio and explains how he uses it to mimic the respiratory strain of a 20-rep set of squats and, despite what Aceto believes, to stimulate appetite.

Harris utilises high intensity interval training for his off-season cardio at just 12 minutes. This takes the form of one minute low intensity, one minute high intensity, which over the duration of the session is considered six sets.

He says: “The harder you push in those high-intensity segments, the deeper into elevated post exercise oxygen consumption [EPOC].

“Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption [EPOC, informally called afterburn] is a measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity.

“We need to perform in the gym and what is the hardest set in the gym? It is a high rep set of squats; 20 on squats or 12 on deadlifts. You don’t do them very often but when you do, you don’t want your lungs to be the failure point.

“So I have people do one minute hard, one minute light and it’s kind of self-deciding how hard you push because you have to work hard for that minute, but it can’t be so hard that you can’t recover in the next minute.

“I have people do about 12 minutes of that three or four times a week [in the off-season] and that is replacing 20 minutes of pretty decently hard cardio. So we know in the gym that are muscles are the failure point, not our lungs. You’re not progressing if your lungs are the failure point on a set of deadlifts rather than your back.

“But then on top of that, the appetite stimulation is so enormous and it is that which allows people to continue to eat more and more food.

“And no one wants to believe it because everyone who wants to get big thinks cardio is going to do the opposite.

“But in case after case after case, my clients who are religious with that just progress rapidly because we are able to continually add food – and they are doing this thing that’s also helping us keep some of the fat off in the process.”

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Footage of leg press horror ahead of exclusive frontdouble interview

THREE years ago bodybuilder Eddie Sykes broke his pelvis during a 645kg leg press exercise. He was initially told that he had suffered no damage. Further, private, health tests confirmed he had severed his adductor longus and torn off his pectineus and pyramidalis . He was told he might never walk unassisted ever again, let alone train legs.

In September this year, Sykes won the Class 1 category in the NABBA Mr England. It is a turnaround like no other.

Frontdouble sat down with Sykes recently to discuss in detail exactly what happened and the range of deep emotions he went through during that time, his recovery and his determination to get back to the stage.

Here, with Eddie;s consent, we are reproducing part of his YouTube video, which shows footage of the moment his world fell apart.

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Growth Hormone doses: Just how much?

Stories of up to 16iu a day, Dave Palumbo's size 15, 16 and 17 shoes and why today's bodybuilders are leaner but don't look it

HOW much growth hormone to take for optimal results is a debate with no ending.

Some say doses of 2iu a day is plenty, others advise to take as much as you can tolerate.

American bodybuilder Paul Barnett is one person very open with his usage.

Recently he revealed on social media that had worked up to 16iu of GH per day.

He told “I talk to quite a few pros behind the scenes and the saying I’ve heard a lot is, ‘Take as much as you can afford and tolerate’.

“Until this year the most I ran was 9iu. I’m currently at 16 and I do see a difference in fullness and density.”

One thing he also revealed on his social media posts, however, was his lethargy, writing: “I’m tired all day. Still trying to figure that out.”

Former bodybuilder and coach and host of Rx Muscle, Dave Palumbo, does not see much benefit in running higher doses.

Speaking to, he said: “I feel 2-4iu per day is deal for maximum muscle growth with least side effects. Length of time on GH is more important than how much you use daily.”

But whether the man himself adhered to such growth hormone doses during his competitive days is another question. Research and you can find a few memories of when he sold his old shoes. They started at size 15, then 16, then 17.

Maybe Palumbo discovered the ‘most side effects’ from higher doses for him was excessive foot growth and that is why he is now advocating lower-dose use. Maybe that will remain a mystery.

There is no one size fits all for growth hormone doses

The point is, however, that as usual these things are person dependent. What works for one may not work for another. It is a case of trial and error.

In the case of Barnett, for example, while he might be lethargic on 16iu a day, some might be OK.

On the tiredness issue, coach Justin Harris of Troponin Nutrition and 1st Detachment said: “It’s probably due to insulinogenic nature of IGF-1. Similar to how you feel sleepy after a large high carb meal.”

COMPARISON ROUND: How bodybuilders looked at the 1999 British GP (top) v the 2015 Mr Olympia

One difficulty for people considering their GH dose is often the debate around how bodybuilders looked in the 1990s compared to today.

You will often hear criticism from 90s bodybuilders about the condition of today’s athletes. Dorian Yates, John Hodgson, Flex Wheeler and Rich Gaspari have been particularly vocal about how ‘their day’ showed more granite-like physiques in comparison to today’s line-ups.

Harris says: “Long term high-dose GH use is the reason people think the 90s bodybuilers looked better. Guys today are leaner than they were back then, but the GH thickens skin so much at high doses that, even though everyone is leaner than they used to be, their conditioning doesn’t seem better – and often seems worse.

“It’s understandably hard as an athlete to know that about the 1990s guys and today’s guys and make the decision to use low-dose GH when, for any short-term timeframe, your look will always be better with higher dose GH; rounder muscles, fuller muscles, lower body fat, higher body weight, etc.

“It’s only with long-term use of high doses that the thicker skin, structural changes, reduced glycogen storage (likely due to insulin resistance) etc start to develop and then it’s even harder to go to 2iu GH because you’re losing your look – and dropping the GH dose will only accelerate that.”

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Bodybuilding coach and Class 2 athlete discusses the key word in the sport and how genetics are more than they seem

THERE is a lot of talk about genetics in bodybuilding but there is perhaps more to the word than you think.

Yes, genetics play an important part in the sport – and this is the reason we all are not all top IFBB professionals. 

But what are they, exactly?

Well, genetics are the reason why some people have great body parts despite barely training them and why some people will train weak body parts seemingly for ever with hardly any results.

You must know someone who has the most amazing calves without ever having trained them, or the most monstrous traps with seemingly any effort.

Genetics will not only be a major part in your ability to grow muscle but also how balanced they are. For example, is your left bicep the same shape and size as your right? Are your abs the perfect shape and evenness creating the perfect six pack? Or are they irregular in appearance, with a large gap down the middle?

Genetics will ultimately be the driver for how your physique will turn out, how balanced you will grow, how fast you will grow, how lean you will be in the off-season and on stage. And this is the case no matter how many performance-enhancing drugs you may choose to take.

You have to ask yourself, why are top IFBB pros on the Olympia stage? It’s not that they train any harder than many of us, or they eat better than many of us [although they probably do], or even take more gear than many of us.

Their bodies are just blessed with the ability to grow faster, more even and symmetrical and keep leaner than us.

But that is genetics on the surface. When a fellow gym-goer says something like, ‘he’s just got good genetics’, they are talking about all we have discussed above.

But in truth, genetics run much deeper than that.

How is your appetite, for example? Are you able to force down thousands of calories of good, clean good in the off-season when you are not hungry? Or, having eaten four of five meals already, do you wince at the thought of another meal?

This is genetics.

And what about your metabolism? Do you, as people are fond of saying, ‘put on 10lbs just by looking at a carb’, or can you eat like there is no tomorrow and barely add an ounce of bodyweight?

This is genetics.

How do you respond to gear? Do you suffer from all sorts of side effects using the bare minimum? Or can you tolerate moderate to high doses with relative comfort? What about compounds such as clenbuterol? Can you cope with high doses, or do you shake like a leaf with the bare minimum?

This too is genetics.

And how disciplined are you with your nutrition? Can you accept some suffering during a contest prep, or do you run to the cupboard for a snack each time you fill a twinge of hunger?

You are either genetically predisposed to being extremely disciplined, or you might get close, but never close enough.

All genetics.

This is something the more mature bodybuilder understands but perhaps not the younger generation. They all want to be professionals in a year or two – you must have heard countless people in the gym saying: “I want to get my pro card”, as if was as easy as going to the shops and buying it.

But you must have at the very least favourable genetics or you will never reach the stage, let alone win a pro card. 

If you look at Lee Priest for example, he won the Mr Australia when he was only 18 years of age. So why isn’t there loads of monstrous 18-year-olds wondering the planet? Because there are certainly more 18-year-olds training than ever before. 

Ronnie Coleman competed natural until he was 30 years of age. Have you ever seen a picture of him on his pro debut in 1992? He was a monster and still natural. This is not the norm but just superior genetics. 

So why do these pros grow better than most of us mere mortals? Well, they have the ability to synthesise protein more rapidly, recover quicker and have naturally higher levels of hormones.

There is some evidence that some of these top bodybuilders have a gene defect with myostatin. This gene stops you growing past a certain given point. Have you ever seen a Belgium blue cow? They literally just eat grass and the amount of lean muscle mass is ridiculous.

What we are certain of is that better genetics for growing will make you grow faster from training and utilise your food better. Your body will make better use of the drugs so, in theory, you will need less of them to build muscle. All this and the ability to grow your muscles evenly and symmetrical too, appetite, metabolism, discipline etc.

I have seen so many amazing genetically gifted bodybuilders not make the stage because they can’t take dieting or the training is too much. 

The mindset of a champion is genetic too, to a point. It is very possible for an athlete with poorer genetics to beat a genetially gifted bodybuilder because they can train harder, be more consistent, eat better, suffer that little bit more to get leaner than the rest.

Now have a think about yourself. Which genetics are strong for you. And which is your genetic limitation.

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Watch bodybuilding boxer Daniel Smith Junior's 13-second knockout victory

After 16 wins from 18 shows, 32-year-old becomes Midlands heavyweight champion in just his fifth fight – but reveals he almost had to pull out due to mounting problems

BODYBUILDER Daniel Smith Junior floored his opponent with a fierce combination and devastating right hand in just 13 seconds of the first round on Saturday night.

It means Smith is now unbeaten in five fights, with this latest victory making him the Midlands heavyweight champion – all just weeks after finishing a gruelling bodybuilding season in which he competed in 18 shows, winning 16 and securing 12 overall titles.

But speaking to, Smith Junior has revealed how a series of issues to his body almost made him withdraw from the fight.

He said: "It was a good outcome in the end, but leading into it there were all kinds of trials and tribulations. I had a pain in my shoulder, so I assessed it in the gym and any movement from ground to above parallel to the shoulder was painful.

"If I hit something above shoulder height with my left, which is my main hand, it was going to be a problem. So I had to factor that into the game plan.

"Then there was my asthma. My asthma kicked off about 10 days before. That was a problem. So we were training the fitness side four times as much as I would normally, just hoping that it would subside closer to the fight. Luckily it did – but I don't know how much, because I didn't have to push it [the fitness] past any kind of length of time.

"I was just pushing myself a lot more. When I was doing intervals, I was doing two-minute intervals. But I was starting to be experience shortness of breath at, say, 10 seconds initially, then it would get better, you know, 20 and 30 seconds. It just meant that the last remaining part was hell.

"As I got closer towards the fight, it became better, it would kind of feel like normal fatigue. So I went from, let's say for example, when the asthma was at its peak, I was doing the whole two-minute intervals under extreme pain and pressure. It was just shortness of breath, as if I was having an asthma episode.

"It first happened two years ago – it was triggered after a competition. When you're not on supplements and stuff, these things can happen. So it triggered, but it only lasted a week, so I was sure that it wasn't going to last too long this time. And if it did, it did.

"So I was pushing myself hard fitness-wise – harder than I usually would – anticipating that hopefully it would get better. But in order to get fit, we just had to train even harder."

"Everything was telling me not to do the fight..."

The issues kept mounting for Smith Junior, however, and in the end it was only his sheer drive and determination that pulled him through; a clear case of mind over matter.

He said: "Then I had basically some compensation, because my left side was experiencing pain, I was doing more power on my right side – and then I got a trapped nerve on that side, just for the over-compensation in trying to be smart.

"So a lot of the work was with mobility and flexibility, I was doing tons of it. On the actual fight day. I spent about six hours stretching and mobilising, just because of everything overall to make sure I gave myself a fighting chance. But everything was starting to get a little bit better.

"I was taking medications like cold and flu things because I did get the flu as well. So everything was telling me not to do it, but in my min, I was like, 'no, this is just a bigger challenge'. I actually felt – and especially because it was for the belts and against someone who is experienced fighter – that there was probably about an 80 per cent chance that I was going to lose the fight.

"But I want to end the year knowing that I faced my fear. It was no longer about the victory, or getting the belt, it was about facing a fear, because you can imagine all those things factored in and you were against a powerful fighter - all heavyweights pretty much are – it became one of those things where it was more about facing my fears.

"It was the first time ever [that I felt like that]. I don't go into fights or confrontations fearful. But this one I was like, 'I don't know what's going to happen'. But thankfully it paid off.

"It enabled me to really learn about changing the plan around and the things you can do, rather than the things you can't do. And then trying to accommodate for the things you can't do, with things such as medications and just wrapping up warm and so forth.

"Thankfully I recovered in time, well, as much as I could, but I won't know how much because I didn't get past the first 13 seconds. But it's just a great way to finish the year.

"The guy was great guy. He was really friendly about it and we had a laugh afterwards, so he was a really cool guy.

"It's just given me a good feeling of self-confidence and motivation. But I'm just going to relax a little bit. training is going to be relaxed and I'll probably train once, twice, three times a week, however I feel, for the remaining of the month until the new year and just eat healthy alongside it.

"I'm happy I did it, happy I got the belt and onwards and upwards."

LISTEN to Daniel Smith Junior's revealing interview by subscribing for only £2.99 a month – less than the old Flex, Muscle & Fitness and Musclemag magazines, but with you as the stars.

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Eighteen shows in one season, now Daniel Smith Junior is preparing for his fifth fight as a boxer

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Masters athlete reveals history and inspiration behind the best routine on the circuit

MASTERS bodybuilder James Room has revealed the secret behind his incredible posing routines – doing the 'robot' as an 11-year-old and attending Halloween raves.

Room's routines are incredible to watch and get the crowd going like no other on the circuit right now. Starting in tradition bodybuilding guise, the music soon changes to a quicker beat – and this is where Room shines; breakdancing and making moves that a 20-year-old would be proud of, let alone someone in his fifties.

Speaking to, he said: "I did this type of dancing as a teenager, but started with the robot at about 11 or 12 years old. It was all self-taught back then and was more 'popper' or 'electric boogaloo' than breakdancing.

"I recently danced on stage at a rave for Hallowwen after guest posing at the NAC Britain. I must have lost about 4kg in weight! The crowd loved it.

"I couldn't walk for two days after. The youngsters love it too. We had [junior bodybuilder] Kian Mills as a DJ and we all went dressed as Michael Myers [from the film 'Halloween']."

Room's latest exploits came at the PCA World Championships in Spain, where he added a twist for the locals based on Flamenco dancing.


The video for the inspiration behind this Spanish version can be found by clicking here.

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How I ate 1000g carbs plus an ice cream sundae one week before winning NABBA UK

Why you might be paying for an expensive carb source

By Gary Chappell

SPEAK to some people, and they will convince you carbs are sent from the depths of hell to torch your gains and make you an eternal slave to fat gain.

“I can’t even look at a carb without gaining weight” is one favourite you might hear from the doom-mongers of this particular macro.

But let me tell you this: working alongside Justin Harris of Troponin Nutrition and 1st Detachment, I stepped on stage at a shredded four or five percent body fat, eating 1000g of carbs at least once a week through my 16-week contest prep.

And I could do that even after a peak off-season that included three of these 1000g ‘high days’ a week – with meal six on each of those a cheat meal of my choosing.

I reached a point where food from carbohydrates was so high I wanted to ‘cheat’ on my diet by not eating.

A week out from stepping on stage, I ate my cheat meal in a restaurant to celebrate my nine-year-old son’s birthday, tucking into a ‘dirty burger’ complete with a giant ice-cream sundae. I could scarcely believe it myself.

Oh – and I won my competition, the Masters Over 45 class at the NABBA UK here in Britain.

The thinking behind such a diet is carb-cycling, consuming carbs at their highest amount when you need them most and reducing them accordingly when you don’t.

It is also linked to protein and how much your body uses to build muscle, which is surprisingly little.

Justin Harris explains it arguably better than anyone else in the industry; if a person were to synthesise (use protein to build muscle tissue) just 19g of protein per day, they would gain 50 lbs. per year.

No athlete is doing that, particularly year on year. So, what is the rest of this protein being used for? Well, if you are not eating enough carbs, it is being turned into them through gluconeogenesis. In short, you are paying for very expensive carbohydrates.

Eat enough carbs, and you can reduce the amount your body is turning protein into fuel, ensuring more of it is available to build muscle tissue.

Cycling also prevents giant leaps in fat gain. For example, any rest day is called a ‘low-day’; protein is higher to compensate for the lower carbohydrate intake. We do not need as much fuel because our output is generally lower due to not working out. Fats are also added to help with energy.

We also have medium days, generally, any workout days that are anything except back or leg days. Here, carbs are moderate enough to fuel workouts and supplement protein intake that they can be used to repair and grow.

High days (generally a leg day, often leg and back days) are used when output is at its highest and glycogen stores need replenishing. The previous low and medium-day cycling means most, if not all, of these high-day carbs can be stored as muscle glycogen rather than fat. It is a win-win.

With such a high amount of carbs, you might think an athlete would run into issues with insulin sensitivity, but there are supplements to mitigate such factors, including Suppressor Max.

1st Detachment has been able to include ingredients such as berberine HCI at 97 per cent, cinnamon powder, and R-Alpha Lipoic Acid (R-ALA), which help enhance insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar control.

Justin Harris is the authority on carb-cycling nutrition and I implore you to watch as many educational videos as possible to improve your knowledge base. He has helped me more than I could have imagined.

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How Mark Taylor and Kyle Fleming became the ONLY Scottish athletes in history to win Masters and Junior class at the NABBA Universe... and did it in the same year

TWO athletes were more than a little surprised to see the statistics from last month's Mr Universe when sent them from NABBA.

Already buzzing from their titles of Junior and Masters Over 45 Mr Universe, Mark Taylor, below, and Kyle Fleming, from Fife, were given another admirable accolade – they are the only Scotsmen in history to win these respective classes at the prestigious competition.


Speaking exclusively to, Taylor said: "I got sent the list from NABBA archives and it was amazing to see I was only Scot in history to win the Master's Over 40/45 class.

"Young Kyle [below], who I prep and train with, was also the only junior in history to win that class. It is a great feeling and achievement. When you see the lists of all the winners of these two classes, it is awesome for Scotland."


Here are the list of winners from those two classes, going back to when they were introduced:

Junior bodybuilding:

Masters Over 45:


What to watch during your cardio sessions

WHETHER it is passing the time doing cardio or seeking to learn more about the sport, all of us indulge in a little YouTube once in a while.

So has put together its current five channels worth watching.

In no particular order:


Bodybuilders are not professional in the strictest sense but we are all professionals in this sport

COMMENT By Gary Chappell

WELCOME to – the new home of amateur bodybuilding. This website has been created because there is nothing currently serving the growing community of amateur bodybuilders. Here, you are the main attraction. You are the stars of the show.

Most of us know the professional game; who won the Mr Olympia, the Arnold etc. We all hear stories of what those pros are doing, inside and outside of the gym. There are many websites catering for those people.

But the amateur game is arguably much bigger. And it is far more accessible. We are seeing teenagers as young as 14 compete. And Masters all the way up to over 60.

Not every one will become an IFBB Pro. And not everyone wants to. And the number of federations open to amateur bodybuilders now is huge. So this is why was created. To be the home of amateur bodybuilding.


But let us make one thing clear. None of us are amateurs. The word sometimes implies 'second rate', not good at what they do. This is clearly a case of semantics.

Look, 'professional' in the strictest sense of the word, means 'someone who earns a living from what they do'. I have been a journalist for more than 25 years. It is how I earn my living. I am a professional. Some might say otherwise depending on what I have written, but that is another story...

Even most professional bodybuilders are not professional; they do not earn a living solely from competing. They earn money from sponsorship deals and other aspects linked to their career.

Bodybuilders like us – me included – are amateurs in that we do not earn a living from competing, either.

But let me tell you this: anyone who manages to step on stage in true competitive condition needs a professional outlook and dedication like nothing else. No other sport requires such commitment in the gym or outside of the gym, to any aspect of off-season or prep, than bodybuilding does.

So while this is the home of amateur bodybuilding, remember this: We are all professionals.


But honestly, get the rest of your nutrition sorted first before worrying about what powder is next

MANY gym-goers love an intra-shake. You only have to look around to notice all the different coloured drinks bottles to know that.

Some belief this powder and that powder is the route to gains, to looking ‘swole’.

In fact, an intra-shake probably makes roughly a three per cent difference to whatever it is you are trying to achieve.

Now if that is winning a show, that three per cent could be quite significant.

Generally speaking, however, a gym-goer would be better placed concentrating on the remaining 97 per cent of their nutrition – outside of the gym where discipline is somehow that much harder.

But if you are using an intra-shake, perhaps the standout so-called magic powder is Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (HBCD).

Unlike most carbohydrate powders, HBCD does not sit in the stomach. A blog written on the website of American supplement company Hostile reported: “In a study focused on the rate of gastric emptying of sports drinks, it was found that HBCD was able to maintain a low osmotic pressure in the drink (approximately 59 to 160 m0sm), yielding a high rate of gastric emptying.”

In short, this means it moves very quickly from the stomach into the intestine to be absorbed.

Referencing another American website, Muscle Mentor, which was created by coach Justin Harris, who said in a previous article: “The stomach has osmo-receptors that sense osmolality of the incoming solutions.

“The higher the osmolality, the slower the gastric emptying rate. So the high sugar solution is actually held up longer in the stomach while the HBCD’s travel like a bowling ball through your stomach into the intestine to be absorbed.”


Again, in short, using simple sugars in your intra is just not optimal. In fact, because of the quick spike in insulin using these will ignite, you will see your energy crash pretty quickly.

This does not happen with HBCD.

As Harris explained in that Muscle Mentor article: “The beauty is that these molecules are so interlinked and complex, it takes a long time to hydrolyse (break down) the glucose bonds, therefore resulting in a rapid but sustainable release of glucose into the bloodstream. This helps avoid insulin spikes and resultant blood-sugar crashes.”

People also use maltodextrin, perhaps a cheaper carbohydrate powder than HBCD.

The issue is one of osmolality, as we explained above.

A study by Furuyashiki et al. (2014) compared Cyclic Dextrin to maltodextrin using 24 participants, who cycled for 90 minutes, 30 minutes at 40 per cent of their V02 max (refers to the maximum amount of oxygen your body can absorb and use during exercise) and another hour at 60 per cent of their V02 max. One hour into cycling, one group was given a drink containing 15g of Cyclic Dextrin, while the other was given a drink containing 15g of maltodextrin.  

“The study found that those given the Cyclic Dextrin had significantly lower RPE’s (Rating of Perceived Exertion) than the maltodextrin group. 

In short, the exercise felt easier.

In conclusion, if you are using an intra – and whether or not you are on top of the remaining 97 per cent of you nutrition – the most optimal choice is HBCD.

Links/further reading:

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PCA consider Masters Pro class as NABBA announce 'Three Peak Challenge'

TWO federations announced some potential big changes to their 2024 shows this week.

The PCA asked social media followers whether they should launch a Masters Pro division, with the overwhelming response being that they should.

The PCA offer a few thousand to the top three athletes in their Pro divisions, but any Masters competitors who are awarded a Pro Card must currently compete in other classes.

In an Instagram post, the PCA wrote:

“PCA have always prided ourselves on being inclusive and accommodating, yet in recent times we are increasingly asked ‘Do PCA offer a Masters Pro Category’?
This isn’t something we have offered previously but we identify there has been a marked increase in the number of Bodybuilding & Bikini Masters athletes. As always PCA welcome open discussions and love to hear our athletes opinions.”

While the PCA were testing the water before committing to any change, NABBA did announce some concrete updates to their 2024 calendar.

They will make every area show open to all athletes from across the UK, with competitors able to enter two classes.

In addition, they are teaming up with Peak Body to offer what they call the Three Peak Challenge. This involves the NABBA Scotland, North-West and NABBA North shows, with a chance to win £100 per class and £500 per overall victory.

The shows will be judged by Peak Body and the winner of this title will have the chance of a 12-month sponsorship with the company.

There will also be an award for the best online coach, including £1000 of supplements and a villa holiday in Marbella.

Full details are expected to be announced by NABBA in the coming weeks.


DAVE CROSLAND is considered the UK’s No1 authority on bodybuilding health and performance-enhancing drugs. He is the director of Croslands Harm Reduction Services and Under Construction Films. He is a personal trainer and bodybuilding coach and the founder of e-Val, a company offering private bloodwork analysis.

IN the first of a series of bodybuilding health and PED-related topics for MuscleMatters, DAVE CROSLAND explains the importance of keeping your body in the best possible shape.

Eval blood testing

  • DAVE CROSLAND is also available for coaching. Anyone interested can contact Dave at or via instagram or facebook


How the waters have been muddied over post-show phase

MANY of us have finished our competitive seasons and two words are already circling social media like sharks ready to eat your gains: reverse dieting.

The theory is that you ease food back into your system so as not to add unwanted body fat to the physique you have carved, instead of eating everything in sight. Sounds fair enough.

This method undoubtedly has its place – but that is normally when an athlete requires a period of time to get their health back in check; perhaps they have bounced from one competition to another and need to allow their body to recover.

But many people are using reverse dieting simply to avoid getting fat – and end up wasting the chance to make the most of your body being at its most anabolic.

Consider this from American nutrition expert and coach Justin Harris, who says that a typical male bodybuilder is most anabolic between body-fat range of about five and 12 per cent.

And that about 75 per cent of your total gains for the entire year can be made in the first six weeks post competition.

Now imagine how much muscle tissue you might be missing out on by reverse dieting when you don’t need to, effectively tip-toeing your way into your off-season instead of starting it at a point very possibly heavier and in better condition than when you finished the last one.

When you are within a body-fat range of five and 12 per cent, you are more likely to store carbs as muscle glycogen and use protein to build muscle tissue than at any other point.

Rise above 12 per cent and the scale weight you see creeping up each week is more likely to be fat. Insulin sensitivity decreases and so does testosterone production.

I too was once concerned with ‘losing the abs’ and so on post contest. I wanted to add size, one thing I had been lacking, but I really did not know how far to push the food post show.

Speaking to me in late November last year, Harris (above left) said: “You have to eat. This is the one period of time where you have the appetite to eat incredible amounts of clean food and the one time of year where you have some leeway with body-fat addition before you get sloppy.”

Let’s explore that a little further. In a recent podcast with Team Troponin colleagues David and Dani LaMartina, Harris said: “I’m pretty adamant with my post-contest approach, which is a calorie burst for up to a week immediately after the show, sticking to clean food as much as possible, with some cheats thrown in to allow you to stick to the diet at the times when we need to knowing that there’s that freedom at the end of the day.

“That’s what I have found to be the quickest way for most people to get back on a structured eating plan, where we can control the calories and can control the macros.

“It just so happens that it’s the best way to add size very quickly, providing you stay on anabolics.”

In a video from his old website Muscle Mentor, Harris explains further his philosophy for an ideal post-show rebound, from the perspective of setting up what he sees as the ideal off-season.

He said: “Post show, you step off stage, go eat anything you want. Sunday, what do you do, eat anything you want – all day. The next five days after that are going to be high-carb days with a cheat meal as the last meal of the day, because if you cheat at any other meal, the rest of the day is going to turn into a cheat day.

“For your first five days after the show, if you are using fat burners, they are kept in at the normal dose. Over the next five days you are going to cut your doses in half. The next five days you are going to cut those doses in half, so effectively you’re at 25 per cent. Then 15 days after the contest all fat burners are gone, so we taper down while you go through that bloat phase.

“We keep light cardio in and after that week we are on a very strict off-season diet. If you have two days of pigging out and five high days with a cheat meal, if you’re not ready to get back into the plan after that, then it’s probably not the sport for you.”

Sound good to you? Or do you disagree. Let us know in the comments.

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JUDGE JOHNSON: Don’t ruin your chances of success by not nailing these simple areas...

YOU have spent the best part of 16 weeks preparing for this one moment. The hard work is done. Or so you believe. Actually, some competitors can win or lose a show based on their stage presence. Don’t fall into that trap. Here, STEVE JOHNSON offers his advice for adding that final gloss:

First and foremost, you only get one chance to make a first impression on the judges, so please look like you are enjoying yourself. Nobody wants to watch someone who looks miserable, but a big smile and body demeanour that makes you look like you’re enjoying yourself will always attract the eye of the judges.

As a judge, I regularly see athletes unintentionally hide their body from the judges and to be fair it’s frustrating at times. It can make a difference to your placing, as the judges can only judge what they can see and not what they can’t. You are judged on the shapes you create on the day and not what your body is really like. For example: if someone has a huge wide back but doesn’t open it on their lat spreads and the guy at side of him does, even though you know he is not as developed, you have to judge with the guy who’s back looks best in front of you. This is why its so important these days to practice posing as much as training and getting a posing coach if necessary. Your aim is to create the illusion you are better than what you are.


Make sure you practice your tan in advance of the show and that it is applied by someone who knows what they are doing. You are trying to avoid streaks and tans that will run onstage under hot lighting. There are many different tans out there as well as many different skin types, so choose appropriate tanning (and glaze) that will enhance your physique/figure. Even on the judging table (close-up view) a physique can fade into the background if too light in colour. Some federations allow instant tans backstage and some don’t, so always check up on this and follow the pre-tanning protocols for skin preparation.

One thing that is off putting to a judge is body hair, so please make sure you remove visible hair as necessary. Guys need to be more on point with this than girls and I have seen many athletes do a partial job and its very distracting to the eye and ruins the professionalism of your overall appearance. I have seen it this year and, although in this case it didn’t affect placing (they won) it is the one thing I will remember him for and not his physique. In this instance it was shaved thighs but unshaven glutes and calves. Also, I have seen underarm hair left which again just ruins the look of the physique. This might sound pedantic but if a judge is trying to find a reason to split two athletes because it’s a close decision, then this could indeed come into their way of thinking (right or wrong).

These are just some very basic tips as there are many other things I see on a regular basis and in particular with posing, which I can cover at another time.

Don’t ruin your chances of success by not nailing these simple areas.

Best wishes Steve Johnson (32 years a judge)

Teamtops Coaching: 


How Dorian Yates trained as an amateur

MANY gym-goers put more effort into thinking about what routine is best than they do in actually training.

There are many philosophies – if you can call them that – with bodybuilders such as Jordan Peters claiming you need to “do your time” with routines such as full body before moving on to an upper/lower split, to Lee Priest who, in his style, says: “Just f***ing” train.

Others suggest you could “train like a pussy” and, if your nutrition is on point, you could still get good results, citing bodybuilders such as Paul Dillett, who reportedly was not someone who trained with maximum effort but looked incredible.

Dorian Yates began with a modest full body split, which he used for six months before progressing to an upper-lower [he makes no apology to Jordan Peters…], a routine he kept until winning his IFBB Pro card at the then EFBB British Championships in October 1986.

Writing in his book, A Warrior’s Story, Yates says: “When I began split-routine training, I weighed 180lbs and I kept on it for two years right through to my first novice contest in 1985, when I weighed 210lbs.

“In fact, I didn’t abandon this program until after I won the British heavyweight division in October 1986. I can give my first split routine no higher recommendation than, if I had to do it all over again, I would follow the same program.”

Initially, Yates implemented his upper/lower routine over four days a week, but said: “After a week and a half of adhering to this schedule, I felt tired and stressed out, as if my nervous system was out of whack.

“I was obviously doing too much and my body was sending me a distress signal. The schedule was revised so that I trained every other day, but even that proved too ambitious for my body’s reserves. Eventually, I settled on training three days a week, which meant that, over a 14-day period, I worked each half of my body three times.”

What is interesting is when he talks about what cycle the body follows. Many people like to count how many times a week they train to find out how many times over a year they are hitting each muscle group.

But Yates argues: “The premise that a training program should be in sync with a seven-day cycle was almost sacred back in 1983, but I had no qualms about breaking that tradition. Human physiology ticks to a 24-hour clock, not a seven-day calendar and I was doing what was best for Dorian Yates.”

It seems that premise is sacred even now in 2023 and it appears the fact your body does follow a 24-hour cycle is often forgotten. Indeed, so is the value of nutrition.

How often do you hear or have conversations about nutrition and diet versus the amount of times you are asked about training splits or which exercise is best for this or that? Even versus what anabolic cycle is best.

Look around your gym and most people are doing the same sort of training using the same exercises. But not everyone in that gym looks like a bodybuilder.

And that is because very few want to pay the attention outside of it to their nutrition.

Those who do invariably look how they want to look.

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Keep your post-show cookies and treats – I never want to see food again

How contest prep under Troponin Nutrition and 1st Detachment changed everything

By Gary Chappell

SOCIAL media is awash with pictures of cookies caked in fancy icing, exotically flavoured doughnuts dripping in every sugary sauce possible and men and women alike shovelling as much of them down their necks as possible the second they step off stage.

Well, you know what? I’m two days out from competing at my only show of this year, the Masters Over 45s at the NABBA UK – and if I never saw food again it would be too soon.

That is honestly how I feel.

Since December, I have been working with one of the finest minds in bodybuilding, renowned coach Justin Harris (below) of Troponin Nutrition.

We rebounded out of my final show of last year, again the NABBA UK, where I finished runner-up to Matthew Hughes in the Over 45s, and enjoyed much success with Justin’s heavy carb-cycling approach.

The issue – some may consider it a blessing – is that I now struggle to eat. Anything.

I have zero cravings, something you might expect to have going into the final weeks of content preparation. In fact, rewind four years and at one show I was so impossibly depleted I drove to the supermarket post-show and spent £40 on junk food.

Now, I would happily pay £40 never to have to eat again.

Granted, the lack of appetite has made preparing for this competition pretty straightforward in terms of hunger – simply because there hasn’t been any. Yes, I still suffered with tiredness, prep brain and all the usual low-energy effects of single-digit body fat.

But hunger pangs, cravings etc? None. Perhaps my appetite is my genetic limitation.

The final few days of trying to fill out have been tricky for me because my appetite is almost non-existent. And that makes making the most of the post-show rebound – where Justin says 75 per cent of your total gains for the entire year can be made in the first six weeks after competition – fairly daunting.

I can detail in future articles here what a typical rebound, off-season and prep diet is when working with Justin, but I can tell you now that post-show on Saturday and the following day will be ‘free’ eating days, with the following week being a high day [1000g of carbs] every day – plus a cheat meal every night.

Sounds good, eh? Yes, if you are anyone but me.

Perhaps it really is a blessing in disguise, though. Because Justin has certainly made prep easier.

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