I took to Facebook and asked my friends and followers for questions... here are my answers! If you have more questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below, or get in touch with me!
What rep scheme do you try to follow to maximize hypertrophy?
I like to mix it up - some sessions I'll have reps around 15 - 20. Some times it will only be 5-8. Sometimes, especially if I'm drop-setting, it can be up to 30. Either way, I always try to go to failure. I cycle between a strength focus and higher rep focus, so during my strength phases I will choose compound lifts and go as heavy as possible, which usually only results in 3-5 reps per set. I'll usually add in assistance work following this where my rep ranges are a little higher. During high rep/hypertrophy phases I'm looking more for a pump, a burn, and keeping my heart rate up. I think it's important to mix it up.
With all the hype surrounding protein intake for bodybuilding, as a vegan how much protein do you focus on when bodybuilding?
I personally prefer a "higher" protein diet compared to some vegans I know, however I think it really comes down to what you enjoy eating and what works for you. I usually average around 150g - 200g a day, however I know male vegans who consume much less than that, and they're still jacked!
Scientifically, protein HAS been proven to increase the body's ability to build lean muscle, however we certainly don't need it in the huge amounts that some fitness professionals and bodybuilders are recommending, and we DEFINITELY don't need animal protein. This is a really good, science-based guide to the "optimal" protein intake based on the latest bodybuilding research: bayesianbodybuilding.com/the-myth-of-1glb-optimal-protein-intake-for-bodybuilders
What do you do during peak week?
I'm not a HUGE fan of peak week "tricks" - I feel like if you prep properly, you condition should be on point, and you won't need to do a great deal to come in for the show. The best advice I ever got for peak week was "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" - if what you're doing already is working fine, and you look great, why change that?
However, I have experimented with some approaches in peak week and here are 3 things that I DO find helpful with every prep/peak week:
What are some foods for peak week for a vegan?
How to get started in bodybuilding?
First of all, I HIGHLY recommend getting a PT to start you off, so you can learn your way around the gym, how to use equipment, get a proper pre-exercise screening, and an individualised program made to suit your own body and your own goals. If you can't afford a PT, you can try what I did in the beginning, which was jump on www.bodybuilding.com and have a look at the Exercise Database - there's videos and instructions on how to perform hundreds of exercises in the gym. Start with a beginners program - try going twice a week, and once you form the habit of going regularly, and your recovery between sessions is improving, you can increase the days you train. Don't feel shy or self-conscious in the gym either: the gym community for the most part is very supportive and welcoming. We were all beginners once, and most people in the gym are far to preoccupied with their own goals and training to really care what anyone else is doing!
I also recommend getting involved in the bodybuilding community - go to some shows, help out, chat to competitors, read articles online, and learn as much as you can about the sport before committing to compete, as it's not always for everyone. I see quite a few people who say they "want to do a comp" but have never even been to a show, and don't know anything about bodybuilding! That just doesn't make sense to me!
What style of eating do you incorporate in your program?
Currently I consider myself on a higher-protein diet, simply because this is the way I enjoy to eat, and I feel that, for my training style and the muscle I'm trying to build, this is working for me. If I was more active and did more cardio-intensive workouts, I would probably switch to a higher carb diet, and favour carbs over protein a little more that I am currently. I've seen a variety of diet styles and I think the best one is the one that works for you. If you feel what you're doing isn't working, maybe explore other methods, and see how your body reacts.
Current calories intake for maintaining or bulking and curious on your cutting levels too? What's the best way to shred fat macros and calories wise?
This very much comes down to the individual. My favourite resources for these are the Meal Plan Guide by Anastasia Zinchenko of Science Strength, and Flexible Dieting for Vegans by Dani Taylor of Vegan Proteins and PlantBuilt. I follow these guides to work out how many calories I need to bulk or cut, depending on my weight and/or body fat percentage and lean muscle mass.
A few DEXA and body composition analysis companies will actually be able to help you work our your maintenance calories, muscle building calories or fat loss calories based on your own personal body composition scans, this is probably the easiest and most accurate way to work it out.
I want my arms to grow bigger! Halp!
Haha, sure! Incorporate more compound exercises into your program that involve the arms, as well as other parts of the body - such as close grip bench presses (chest and triceps) reverse-grip lat pull-downs (back and biceps) chin ups (back and biceps) and above all, lift HEAVY and go to failure. If I am doing isolated arm work, I like to do it at the end of a chest or back day, and use it more as a high rep, "pump and burn finisher" to really exhaust the muscle. This is also a good way to increase blood flow in the arms, which in turn will aid muscle recovery, muscle building, and nutrient and oxygen delivery to the muscle.
When I was powerlifting, I was only training 4 days a week, and barely doing any arm training. My arms still grew! This is because the super-heavy lifting I was doing was stimulating the androgen receptors in the muscles throughout my body - not just the ones I was using - and causing muscle growth throughout. So think beyond simple, isolated, light-weight dumbbell curls!
How much do you bench? How much protein do you eat?
My best bench was 70kg when I was powerlifting (I doubt I'll be getting that now though!)
I eat around 150g - 200g of protein a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. I allow myself to be a bit flexible with diet when I'm not in comp prep. In comp prep, I keep my protein high to help preserve muscle mass.
Whats your favourite delt workout and why?
This will be coming in the next blog... ;)