Brian Shaw has just successfully deadlifted 985lb / 448kg whilst training for the 2013 Worlds Strongest Man (WSM) competition. Brian was focusing on single rep deadlifts during the WMS workout and after warming up he started his first single at 725lb / 330kg. Admittedly I was surprised he managed 985lb given his height (6ft 8) and the speed he got from his earlier lifts in the clip. Brian Shaw is edging ever so close to the overall world record raw deadlift of 1015lbs / 461kg currently held by Benedikt Magnusson. It certainly looks like he has potential to take the world record deadlift, but in order to qualify he would need to lose the straps and ensure he doesn’t hitch at the top of the lift (easier said than done.)

If you’re struggling to decide on what cheat meal to eat then you’ve come to the right place. This post is here to offer you inspiration for your next dietary binge. (Without getting into debate about macro nutrient splits, if there is really any need for cheat meals if you’re following something like IFFYM (if it fits your macros) or whether some of these really constitute cheat meals.)  For those of you not wishing to go full bulk mode, I have split the list into two sections; full cheat mode and what ‘could’ be considered healthy. Lets start with the full cheat mode though, I’m not someone who likes to do things by halves.

Full Cheat Mode

All You Can Eat Buffet

Why not eat yourself into a food coma? Probably the most cost effective way of stuffing yourself silly. I have fond memories of eating chilled watermelon and chocolate cake between plates full of chicken curry and duck rolls. Chinese, Indian, Italian, Brazilian, Mexican and international restaurants etc all make great choices.

Peaking Duck

The only bad thing about these is the amount of labor that goes into perfectly distributing the crispy duck, spring onion etc and sauce before making that perfect fold.

Cake

Who doesn’t like cake? Chocolate cake, Carrot cake or Victoria sponge it’s all dam tasty.

Pizza

Personal favorites being Pizza Express chicken or Waitrose roast vegetable pizzas.

Healthier Cheat Meals

If you’re looking for relatively healthy cheat meals, I suggest the following:

Homemade beef burgers

In a lovely wholemeal bap/roll with cheese, lettuce, onions and a flavorsome condiment.

Subway

Great on the go, high in protein and relatively healthy. I often opt for a wholemeal foot long chicken breast sub with cheese, salad and ranch sauce.

burritos/wraps

Cheap, relatively quick to prepare and taste great.

Steak, chips and peppercorn sauce

You can always exchange the chips for Sweet potato or new potatoes, but then again, that wouldn’t be cheating would it?

Ice cream milkshake

Calorific liquid’y goodness. It’s also very easy to add whey protein.

Is Rob Riches a natural bodybuilder? The UKBFF (UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation) says no. In April 2013, Rob Riches entered the under 178cm Men’s Physique National Championship competition held in Leamington Spa, England. A clear favorite to win on the day, Rob was announced as the 1st place winner. Unfortunately for ‘Natty Riches’ it was later found he failed the drugs tests after testing positive for a mystery substance, this led to the title being stripped from him and awarded to Ryan Terry who previously placed second in the UKBFF Men’s Physique Championship.

Rob Richard and Ryan Terry on stage

Rob Richard and Ryan Terry on stage at the 2013 UKBFF Mens Fitness Competition (under 178cm)

An entire year later and UKBFF have not released any further information of why Rob Riches failed and I can only assume that this is most likely to minimize the damage to their federation, Robs reputation and whats left of natural bodybuilding.

When the bodybuilding and fitness community found out, many claimed Rob Riches was found to test positive for an anabolic oral steroid substance known as oxandrolone, but much better known as anavar. Oxandrolone like most other orals is 17-alkylated to avoid ingestion at the first pass of the liver. It is quite a weak compound and often used when cutting and to help ‘hardern’ muscles. One of anavars most notable features is that very little water weight is gained unlike some other orals such dbol. It should also be noted that like many other orals, it has a short half-life in the body (around 8-9 hours), which means within less than 24 hours of consumption it would have cleared your system. There are numerous other WADA banned compounds and unnatural compounds that either enter and leave your body within as little as 3-4 hours or simply can’t be tested for. Many bodybuilders and fitness athletes believe that Rob has never been natural and has always used oral steroids in low dosages and possibly human growth hormone (HGH).

Rob Riches came out publicly on his personal blog and attempted to explain about why he was disqualified from the UKBFF competition. He claimed that it was because he took a pre-workout supplement known as ‘Craze’ that contains an unlisted methamphetamine analog known as N-alpha-diethyl-benzeneethanamine. Then in an attempt to validate his claim, he links to Patrick Arnolds blog post ‘craziness over craze‘ and states it MUST have been the Craze. (Funnily enough a brand he is not associated with or sponsored by.) Worse still the packaging states clearly that if you are a drugs tested athlete you not take the supplement as it may cause false positives. What tested athlete wouldn’t check the packaging of supplements and medicine they are about to take?

The media later picked up the ‘methamphetamine’ containing Craze and the company who make the supplement, Driven Sports have since released a number of blog posts defending the supplement including laboratory reports showing proof that the supplement did not contain amphetamines. View part 3 here.

However, by around October 2013 it was ‘banned’ in the US and UK and the manufacturer Driven Sports stopped selling it. Driven Sports have since replaced Craze with a new squeal known as Frenzy.

If you would like to view Rob Riches appearance and commentary surrounding the competition, its been posted on YouTube and I’ve embedded it below:

There is also an ironic video of one of the biggest ‘natural’ bodybuilding frauds ‘Alon Gabbay’ calling out Rob Riches for failing a drugs test. http://www.youtube.com/embed/EH4n9Vo6kyI

 

 

Whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, athlete or just want to get fit, you may have often wondered what is the most important factor is when it comes to success.. Well I can tell you now, the most important factor is consistency and you either have it or you don’t. Those that don’t soon struggle to make progress. They’ll plateau in training and their body will remain the same.

So what do I mean by consistency?

  • Diet (food+water)
  • Training
  • Sleep

Diet

This is by far the most important factor of consistency. You can’t gain weight if you aren’t eating enough and you can’t lose weight if you’re eating too much. Tracking your macro nutrient intake is vital and depending on your goals you’ll struggle to make progress unless you’re eating right. Food gives you the energy to fuel your work outs and ensures your body is able to recover. Even if you’re looking to maintain your weight you’ll need work out how many calories you should be eating to balance out the calories burnt during exercise. However, what you must ensure is that you should always vary your diet to ensure you always get a full range of nutrients. It’s easy to end up deficient in zinc (critical for natural testosterone) if you eat the same things day in day out without much thought.

Training

You should never stick to the same training routine day in, day out. Depending on your routine and if you use periodisation or train in a particular way such as ‘westside’ it’s likely you should look to completely change your routine at the very least every 3 months. The longer I’ve been training the more I’ve accepted that it’s critical to change up your routine. You don’t HAVE to bench every week, yes you may lose some benching specific strength but if your focus is on size and you bench for ego forget about it.

Sleep

You may or may not be surprised at how a lack of sleep can cause your training to go out the window. Don’t worry though, we all struggle to sleep as much as we’d like to due to external commitments. It’s often best to purposely go a bit lighter on a day you feel tired and just use the session as a ‘dynamic effort’ workout.

Introduction

This blog post outlines the exercises most important to the development of your ‘upper chest’ and the common downfalls experienced when trying to develop size.

chest muscle structure

Upper Chest Exercises

Barbell Incline

Possibly the most important exercise for developing your ‘upper chest’ is the incline barbell bench press. You will benefit from the bench being set as shallow as a 10 degree incline right up until the bench is about vertical. I generally look to set the bench at approximately 30-40 degrees, however if incline is your core chest exercise you may want to use a shallower angle to avoid being too reliant on your front deltoids. Chose your grip wisely on incline barbell and do not be afraid of stopping around an inch before touching your chest if its uncomfortable. Also be aware that going too wide on your grip can put an extraordinary amount of stress on your deltoids.

Whilst usually I would suggest against flaring your elbows out so they are horizontally aligned, I do enjoyed the added stress to the top of my chest. The difference I felt in stimulation from incline dumbbell to incline barbell was phenomenal and if you rarely perform barbell incline then I suggest focusing on it. 

incline barbell bench

incline barbell bench pressing the right way (no flare)

Reverse grip barbell bench press

This is a relatively uncommon exercise across any weight lifting disciple and if you’re able you execute the exercise properly, it will probably become your new favorite chest exercise. Experiment with around 30-50% of your 1 rep max, using a variety of grip widths and get a feel for how you tuck your elbows in your or flare them out to stimulate your chest. I would also advise lowering the bar to align with your nipples, although find what works for you. If you are uncomfortable with using a barbell or you just “aren’t feeling it”, I strongly suggest repeating the same steps using a smith machine.

reserve grip bench press

reserve grip bench press

Cable flyes/cross overs

Having training a power lifting gym and home gym for a number of years, my access to a decent set of weighted cable machines was rather rare. I’ve found cables are fantastic for stressing different parts of the chest and have forced the development of the upper region of my chest. Be careful on this exercise stretching out too far or using straightened arms can put a phenomenal amount of stress on your joints. Flyes are a large cause of shoulder injuries.

incline cable flyes

incline cable flyes

Incline Dumbbell press

Almost anyone you watch incline dumbbell press will be using a different form, and whilst some of this is down to their bio-mechanical structure, many people just end up doing what seems natural. There is a vast variety of different forms that can be used when doing db press, but I suggest holding the dumbbells at an angle so they are not horizontally inline with each other throughout the press. Keeping them horizontal puts far too much pressure on the deltoids and reduces chest activation.

incline dumbbell bench press

incline dumbbell bench pressing the wrong way. (Putting stress on your shoulders)

Making gains

If like me, your ‘upper chest’ is non-existent, I suggest ditching flat barbell bench press unless you are a powerlifter. In fact  even if you have the best ‘upper chest’ in the world, I suggest ditching flat barbel unless you are a powerlifter or lust egotistical number. I also suggest training chest twice a week with a certain focus on movements to stimulate your ‘upper chest’. Some people claim you can’t train your upper chest but the reality is some exercises stimulate muscle fibers located at the top of your chest much more than those located further down. If you’ve ever brought up a lagging muscle group before you will often notice a rapid growth.

Summary
– Look to train chest twice a week.
– Ditch flat barbell bench press.
– Focus on reverse grip and incline barbell bench.
– Watch your chest grow!