An Interview with Forum Member, Unholy – Part 3

If you’ve read parts one and two of this interview, you’ll know that forum member Unholy (Paul in real life) has transformed himself from an overweight, out-of-shape 295 lbs to a fit and lean 190 lbs (actually, now that’s 177 lbs). Not only that, but he is on track to compete in his first bodybuilding competition!

This third interview will shed some light on how Paul is preparing to come in for his first show, which is now just 17 days away.

Before we get going, I would like to urge all of our readers to pop over to Paul’s Training Journal (My Road to the INBF and OCB NY State Bodybuilding Championships) and give him some words of support and encouragement. It’s awesome to see one of our own make such an incredible transformation and to take it as far as the bodybuilding stage, so let’s really get behind him for the next couple of weeks!

Ok, so let’s get rolling.

Wannabebig: Welcome back to the spotlight, buddy…are you nervous?

Unholy: Nah, well…I guess I am a bit…but not in a bad way. I’m just naturally excited and a little anxious about hitting the big stage. I think you’d be non-human if you didn’t have a bit of nerves and anxiousness at this stage. And with the changes to exactly what I will be competing in, I guess it’s a touch unsettling. But now that we have things nailed down, everything is clear.

Wannabebig: So there’s been a change as to when and what you will compete in, right?

Unholy: Yep. I was originally going to compete in two shows, the OCB and INBF NYS Natural Championships. Now my focus is 100% on the INBF/WNBF World Championships in NYC on November 14th.

There are a few reasons for this. First, my trainer recommended doing one show and making sure I peak for it 100%. I was also not aware that there is an INBF portion of the World Championships in NYC on Nov 14th. I am eligible, it gives me an extra week to dial in, and it means I don’t have to drive 350 miles to compete. Oh, and it’s an extremely well run show with tons of sponsors and web/magazine coverage. It’s a win-win all around.

Wannabebig: Gotcha…that makes sense. So where are you at right now then?

Unholy: I’m sitting at 177 lbs and hovering between 4.5-5% bodyfat. And naturally, I’m a little hungry…lol! As per usual, here are a couple of pics of me at 177 lbs:

Unholy – 177 lbs and between 4.5-5% bodyfat

Wannabebig: Awesome…things are really coming together for you and your side abdominals are completely sick. Good job! Although again, I’m not sold on the boxer shorts…lol.

Where do you want to be for the big day and how far are you out?

Unholy: I need to be 175 lbs and 4% bodyfat – carbed up and filled out after a proper peak week. I am now officially 2 1/2 weeks out (Oct. 27th).

Wannabebig: How have things been since we last spoke?

Unholy: Very good. I’ve kept my training heavy and intense. I’m now up to 35 minutes of low intensity cardio seven days a week, as well as one HIIT session a week.

The key change is that my diet has been tightened up and, in particular, my food choices are starting to matter more and more due to satiety issues.

I’m also finding that different variables are producing daily changes to my physique and it’s very interesting to watch and learn. This is going to be incredibly useful for me when I compete again in the future as I’ll be able to know beforehand how my body is likely to react to certain things, and that’ll help me better plan my pre-contest strategy.

Going back to the diet, an absolutely fundamental change I made was bringing in Alberto Nunez to work with me for the last eight weeks of prep.

Wannabebig: Yeah, I noticed that…what gives?

Unholy: It was probably the smartest thing I have done this entire period. Berto is not only a WNBF Natural Pro and a smart guy with the know-how to get a natural competitor really dialled in and ready for a show, but he is an all around good guy to have in your corner. I turned to him after becoming dissatisfied with Phil Hernon and the change was like night and day. I received individual attention, with daily communications between us, and he got me on a straight path for the last eight weeks of prep.

He also gave me an individualized diet to follow and we have been making tweaks and changes on a weekly basis based on progress pictures and how my weight and physique have responded to refeeds. I have learned a ton working with him these past six weeks.

The most recent change he made was swapping +30 g carbs for -30 g protein, putting me at 35f/165c/200p. I’ve responded well to these changes and Berto definitely knows what he is doing.

As you can see below, Alberto has gotten his own conditioning into some sick shape before, so I am in good hands:

Alberto Nunez

Wannabebig: How has your training been since we last spoke?

Unholy: Fantastic! My strength is holding up despite the fact that I’m eating less than my 93-lb girlfriend. I’ve stuck to the higher frequency/low volume routine I outlined in the first interview…no need to change something that is working and working well to boot.  We recently added ten minutes onto all LISS (Low Intensity Solid State) cardio sessions as well as my HIIT cool down.

The weight training aspect is probably the easiest part of this whole thing. I am quite pleased with the lack of strength drops.

You can check out full details of my workouts in my Training Log, by the way.

Wannabebig: And what supplements have really helped you in the lead up to the big day and how?

Unholy: Anyone following my journal lately will know that I have been cooking up a storm using Nitrean Protein over the past few weeks. With only 35 g of fats in my daily diet, creativity in the kitchen has been clutch.  Chocolate Nitrean Protein tastes absolutely amazing, not only in shakes, but in all of my brownie/cake/oatmeal recipes.

As far as energy goes, I’ve been taking the Fat Burner Nitor twice a day for a morning pick-me-up and before a heavy training session. Occasionally, I’ll forget to take it and I can notice the difference. I’ve put ETS in charge of sleep. Hands down, it’s an amazing supplement for anyone looking to reduce DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and get some shut-eye. Those vivid dreams are backfiring though… the other night I woke up in a cold sweat after dreaming about pounding an entire box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I was ok after I realized it was only a dream!

Wannabebig: How has your weight changed in the last eight weeks? Has it been easy to pull it down to where you wanted?

Unholy: Lol…nothing has come easy these last eight weeks.

Wannabebig: Hah, ok. Let me rephrase that: how challenging has it been to get your weight down to where you wanted!?!

Unholy: Well, Every ½ lb at this point is a struggle. Unfortunately, the scale doesn’t always tell the whole tale. My weight loves to fluctuate, but the trend is downwards and that’s what’s important. Two days ago, I did dip down to my lowest weight yet, 175.0 lbs, so it’s certainly heading in the right direction.

Wannabebig: And what has been the toughest challenge in the last eight weeks?

Unholy: It’s definitely been staying away from my pantry late at night when the cravings are the worst. Even thinking about it now is killing me!

Wannabebig: Yeah, that sounds tempting! Have there been any hiccups or has it been plain sailing?

Unholy: A few minor bumps in the road but nothing major. A few weeks ago I killed an entire jar of pickles, not realizing at the time what 33,000 mg of sodium would do to my physique in its fragile state!

Wannabebig: I don’t think some readers will actually understand the level of dedication required to get into this type of shape – can you give them an idea of a normal day for you?

Unholy: Assuming I don’t have class/work on given day. I wake up around 8 AM and have my pre-LISS cardio meal, which consists of 10 g BCAAs and 10-15 g carbs. I drive my girlfriend to school and I either do LISS outside or go to the gym and get about 35-40 minutes of cardio in. I usually go home and chug some Nitrean in water, then shower, and prep a few meals in advance.

Food prep also involves sitting on www.fitday.com planning everything out and making sure it fits my 35/160/200 macro split. I have a nice solid breakfast, which is laughable because my meals are around 300 calories each.

I hit the gym in the early afternoon or late evening for training. The remainder of my calories is split between pre/post workout where I eat bulk of my carbs and a few low carb higher fat meals to keep me “full”. I have to do this stuff every single day on top of school, work, and life outside of bodybuilding. It is pretty time consuming but I fell in love with the lifestyle.

I also try to get a solid 20-30 minutes a day in practicing my mandatory poses and perfecting my individual routine for the night portion of the show.

Wannabebig: Damn…never again will I moan about fitting in an hour of exercise in a day. Nailing that day in/day out is a fantastic achievement and shows how badly you want it…great job!

Unholy: Thanks, but as I said, I love the lifestyle and I’d have it no other way.

Wannabebig: Ok, let’s handle the most important question of the interview. Do you think you should buy some new boxer shorts? You’ve got a…err….unique collection there. Lol, I mean, check out what we’ve seen already:

A range of Unholy’s bright boxer shorts!

Unholy: Ha ha…definitely not! My bright colourful boxers put a big goofy smile on my face 😉

Wannabebig: And ours!

On a more serious note, even though you have clearly taken your fat loss mission to a slightly different level than most of the folks here at Wannabebig, I wanted to ask you what would you say are the three biggest things that have helped you in respect to your conditioning.

Unholy: Nutrition is key and the calorie is king! If you are serious about your goals, the first place you need to focus the most work on is in the kitchen, no matter what the goal!

Creativity in the kitchen would be next. Cutting on such low calories means that drinking calories and eating calorie-dense foods are not an option if you want to prevent hunger pangs from taking over your life. I learned to use “boring” clean foods and whip up tasty filling meals.

Last, but certainly not least, it helps to have a prep log to hold myself accountable and to look back on when motivation seems to take a hit. It’s very helpful and the input/critique I have received along the way has been extremely valuable.

Wannabebig: Hey, you can’t go around telling us you are Mr. Creative in the kitchen without sharing a couple of recipes! Hoooooooooooook us up!

Unholy: Sure thing 🙂 I’ll share my top two with you – No Bake Brownies and Egg White Crepes

No Bake Brownies

Ingredients

  • 3 scoops chocolate Nitrean Protein
  • 1 package (4 serving) sf/ff Chocolate pudding mix
  • 10g unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • 5 packets splenda
  • 50-100g rolled oats (optional but makes chewier brownies)
  • Semi sweet chocolate baking morsels (optional but makes brownies Nom
    Nom Nom good)

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl wit the exception of chocolate chips
  2. Add boiling water a little at a time while mixing until you reach a
    thick brownie batter consistency
  3. Coat some microwave safe soup/cereal bowls with cooking spray
  4. Distribute batter into 3-4 bowls evenly
  5. Top with chocolate chips, press them into the mix somewhat
  6. Nuke each for ~3 minutes
  7. Allow to cool completely

They will come out looking kind of spongy and moist but once they cool they are heavenly. I love to top mine with Peanut Butter, SF Jam and Cool Whip Free. You can get creative as you like.

Egg White Crepes

Note: The below should make 3-4 pan sized crepes.

Ingredients

  • 1/2c Egg Whites/ Egg Beaters
  • 1/2 Scoop of Nitrean Protein (Van or Choc)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Splash of Milk
  • Splenda to Taste
  • Either Cocoa powder or Van extract/cinnamon depending on flavor of whey.

Instructions

  1. Use a hand mixer or wisk to mix ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Heat a pan, spray with cooking spray.
  3. Pour some batter in the center and swird around to get a fairly thin coat
  4. When they start bubbling around the edges after 45-60 seconds flip.
  5. Cook another 30 seconds.

You can fill these with just about anything that fits your macros. Depending on what I need for the day some favorites include Peanut Butter, SF Jam+Pam fried banana slices or FF Cream cheese mixed with splenda and half thawed frozen blueberries mashed together.

So, there you go. My top two recipes – tasty AND healthy.

Wannabebig: Superb, our readers will love them! How’s the posing coming along?

Unholy: Pretty good. I’ve met up with Gerry Triano for some in-person consults, which have helped. I also am lucky enough to have a top notch competitor running my gym and he has helped me through my mandatories. Posing is an art; it’s certainly not something you master overnight.

Wannabebig: Ok, the big question….Honestly, how do you think you will fare on the big day?

Unholy: Well, considering that I am competing at what is probably the biggest show the INBF has to offer, I know the competition will be stiff. I’ll be working diligently over the next three weeks to make sure I look my best that day. Who else may show up? No one knows. I’m ready to pose my butt off and show off the hard work that I put into this prep. All I know is that I’ll be prepared, and that’s all I can control.

Wannabebig: Well, it goes without saying that we’ll be rooting for you and wishing you the very best of luck on the big day. You’ve been and will continue to be an inspiration to many WBB members, and we’ll be back towards the end of November with the last in our series of interviews to find out how you got on at the competition with some pics from the big day!

Unholy: I look forward to it!

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – An Inspiring Interview with Forum Member, Unholy – Part 3 discussion thread.

Kettlebells for the Uninitiated

If you’ve been busting your ass with barbells and dumbbells for the past few years and are looking for something new to help add slabs of muscle to your body and improve your overall conditioning, it may be time to add something new to your training tool box.

Enter the kettlebell…

Sure, it’s a little funny-looking, but training with the kettlebell – a large, cannonball-shaped piece of steel with a tall handle protruding out of the top is no laughing matter.

Although it was first designed as a counterweight for outdoor markets in Russia in the early 1700’s, throwing and swinging the kettlebell quickly became the exercise of choice for a few of the locals. A couple of decades later, the kettlebell was introduced to the Russian military where it gained much popularity.

Just to give you an idea of how obsessed the Russians were with kettlebells, I learned that the Russian military did ten consecutive minutes of single-arm snatches with a 53 pound kettlebell for their conditioning tests. In the U.S., we do push-ups (it’s not too difficult to tell who may be in better shape).

But kettlebells aren’t only for the militant! Dozens of European track and field teams have been trained exclusively with kettlebells and have frequently achieved personal bests in their event after using this archaic-looking tool…no fancy equipment needed.

Additionally, in the very recent past, major universities across the world have begun using kettlebells to complement the training programs for their sprinters and throwers. And do I even have to mention the current fitness craze? I mean, hell, you can find pink kettlebells in Wal-Mart!

The good news is you don’t have to become a card-carrying member of the Russian Kettlebell Club to reap the benefits of training with ‘bells.

We weren’t joking – you really can buy Pink Kettlebells!

But what are those benefits?

Well, you can learn to generate incredible power while adding some muscle to your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

You can markedly increase your core and shoulder stability.

If you’re feeling frisky, you can throw in some circuits for a quick fat loss routine that will have you sucking air, lying on the floor, and possibly gently cooing for your mommy.

Just pick it up and go!

Sure, there are a lot of movements that will take months, if not years, of dedicated practice, but the nice thing about the kettlebell is the shallow learning curve on some of the most basic and effective movements.

Movements like the kettlebell swing, one-hand swing, side swing, front squat, goblet squat, and press are easy to learn within your first five minutes. These movements will also establish a fundamental base that you can build on.

I’ll lay out some pictures, descriptions, and sample program templates a little later on,  but first, let’s say you don’t give a damn about conditioning. How could you incorporate kettlebells into your strength program?

Let’s assume you’re in the gym for your lower-body day. You can simply add a few rounds of kettlebell swings and front squats to your program, or just pick an exercise and swap your barbell for a kettlebell.

Here are just a few exercises you can substitute:

Lower body

Exercise to replace Substitute with
Romanian Deadlifts

Single-Leg RDLs

Back Extensions

Hamstring Curls

Double or Single-Hand Kettlebell Swing
Back Squats

Front Squats

Lunges

Leg Extensions

Kettlebell Front Squats

Goblet Squats

Reverse Lunges

Upper body

Exercise to replace Substitute with
Chest-Supported Row

Seated Row

Dumbbell Row

Bent-Over Rows

Kettlebell Renegade Row

Ballistic Row

Seated Dumbbell Press

Standing Military Barbell Press

Kettlebell Press

Just to be clear – any of the exercises in the left-hand darker blue columns can be substituted with those in the right-hand lighter blue columns.

So for example, Chest-supported rows, Seated rows, Dumbbell rows or Bent-over rows can all be replaced with either a Kettlebell renegade row or a Ballistic row.

Are you more of a visual person?

Well, here’s a sample two-day template…I’ll give the “traditional” version first and the kettlebell-infused version second.

Example Current Resistance Plan:

Lower body Push/Pull

1) Explosive box jump 4 x 3
2) Scissor Sprint 4 x 10
3) Back Squat 5 x 4
4) Single Leg RDLs 3 x 8
5) Leg Extensions 3 x 15
6) Prone Leg Curl 4 x 8

Upper Body Push/Pull

1) Standing Military Barbell Press 4 x 6
2) Neutral Pull Down 4 x 6
3) Wide Grip Bench Press 4 x 6
4) Chest Supported Row 3 x 8
5) Upright Row 3 x 8
6) Blast Strap Pushup 3 x failure
7) Russian Barbell Twist 3 x 20

Kettlebell Infusion:

Lower Body Push/Pull

1) Explosive box jump 4 x 3
2) Scissor Sprint 4 x 10
3) Back Squat 5 x 4
4) Single Leg RDLs 3 x 8
5) *KB Front Squat 3 x 10
6) *KB Swing (two hands) 4 x 20

Upper Body Push/Pull

1) *Standing KB Press 4 x 8
2) Neutral Pull Down 4 x 6
3) Wide Grip Bench Press 4 x 6
4) *KB Renegade Row 3 x 8
5) Upright Row 3 x 8
6) Blast Strap Pushup 3 x failure
7) *Alternating KB Side Swing 3 x 20

Once you pop, you can’t stop!

Try adding a few kettlebell movements per training session and I bet you’ll want to keep adding more and more, especially once you see the increased mobility, muscular endurance, and aesthetic improvements.

The benefits and ease of implementation of this tool is truly what makes the kettlebell so appealing. You just can’t go wrong.

Alright, Mike…but what about conditioning?

The beauty of kettlebell conditioning is that you can move from movement to movement with amazing quickness and ease. This obviously takes some practice, but considering that an individual can move through ten or more compound movements in less than thirty seconds makes the journey well worthwhile. 

Even with the small arsenal of kettlebell movements discussed in this article, you can put together amazing cardio-crushing intervals without having to move more than three feet. 

Fair warning: if you’re going to use kettlebells for conditioning, be prepared to be humbled. I’ve worked with athletes from all over the spectrum, from high-level athletes, college guys, and ultra-marathoners to some badass soccer moms who’d put most guys to shame. But when it comes to intensive kettlebell work, these athletes don’t even know what hit them! Kettlebell conditioning is truly one of the best ways to torment the body into becoming hyper-metabolic, burning fat, and increasing the body’s ability to move with supreme efficiency. 

Here’s a simple kettlebell conditioning protocol you can try the next time you get into the gym.

Each round is performed hands-on.  In other words, your hands don’t leave the kettlebell unless it’s airborne!

Round 1

  • KB Russian Swing x 6
  • KB American Swing x 6
  • KB Russian Swing Alternating Hands x 6
  • KB Alternating Side Swing x 6
  • 60 Second Break

Round 2

  • KB Russian Swing x 7
  • KB American Swing x 7
  • KB Russian Swing Alternating Hands x 7
  • KB Alternating Side Swing x 7
  • 60 Second Break

Keep going for three more rounds, adding one more rep to each exercise with each round. You should end by doing 10 reps on every exercise.

Please note, I don’t recommend this workout directly after or before a lower body strength training day.

Performing The Movements

Loading the Kettlebell

When loading the kettlebell for any type of press or top mounted position, make a pocket with the forearm and upper arm with your wrist slightly bent.  Measure your elbow placement by bringing both forearms together in front of the chest (guys with more chest development will not be able to close the gap as well as others).  Keep the elbows tucked tight into the body, and try to prevent separation from arm and body throughout your movement.

Kettlebell Press

Load the kettlebells tightly into the body.  Squeeze the glutes and tuck the hips prior to beginning your press.  Press directly upward, driving the elbow almost directly past the ear.  This is not a dumbbell press!  The elbows should stay tight to the center of the body.  Your hands and elbows will rotate out at the peak of the movement.  Bring the kettlebells back down quickly; the bell should nearly drop back into the original pocket. 

Kettlebell Reverse Lunge

Top mount your kettlebell on one side only, following the previous instructions.  Stride back into a reverse lunge, moving the loaded leg backwards and driving forward off of your stationary heel. 

Kettlebell Front Squat

Load both bells in the top mount position.  Stand with feet shoulder width apart, and drive the hips back and down while maintaining a neutral position with the lower back.  Attempt to keep your elbows pressed into your sides; however, if doing so compromises your low back position (causes rounding of low and upper back), then allow some space to become present.  Drive upward out of the heels and repeat.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Hold one bell at the top of the chest with two hands, cradling it like a globe.  Stand with feet shoulder width apart, and drive the hips back and down while maintaining a neutral position with the lower back.  Attempt to keep your elbows pressed into your sides; however, if doing so compromises low back position (causes rounding of low and upper back), then allow some space to become present.  Drive upward out of the heels and repeat.

Kettlebell Renegade Row

Place two bells about 1 foot apart on the floor.  Place hands on both bells and get into a pushup position.  Be sure that your bells lie directly under the chest and not the shoulders.  Push one elbow back tightly to the outer ribs while maintaining a flat body position.  Return the bell to the floor and switch sides.  Keep in mind that you can elevate your feet some if necessary.

Double Kettlebell Swing

American Swing

Russian Swing

Side KettleBell Swing

Alternating Single Swing

Wrap-up

Let’s face it…your program probably needs some spice. Kettlebells are becoming a trend among moms, actors, political figures, and the general layman, but they have more to offer to the avid weight lifter.

If your gym doesn’t have kettlebells, find a new gym, or go to your local fitness store and buy one (but please don’t get a pink one).

Written by Mike Scialabba

About Mike Scialabba

Mike is the Director and Owner of the Missoula Underground Strength Training Center located in Missoula, Montana.

He’s an Expert Strength Coach and has been in the business for nearly a decade working with hundreds of individuals utilizing conventional and unconventional training methods. 

Michael has sent over a dozen kids to collegiate football and basketball and has spent endless hours in the trenches getting dirty with real training and real results.

Be sure to check out his blog!

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Kettlebells for the Uninitiated discussion thread.

Well, you can learn to generate incredible power while adding some muscle to your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.