Planning is Key to Success in Life and Bodybuilding

By: Ray Binkowski
Magazine 10 #4

Over the past 6 years I have competed 9 times. Every year I seem to have more and more going on. When I started all I had to worry about during competition prep was school (my first competition was my last semester of college). Then there was work. Then travel for work and owning a business. Today my plate is loaded with international travel for work, two businesses and operating a website (FitWorkz.com). Toss in the joys of home ownership, a puppy and a social life and my life gets pretty busy.

With every year and competition I learn new lessons. But every year I also relearn that there is no escaping the basics. Regardless of my schedule I still rely on the same basic steps to getting on stage. The same steps Beverly uses with their clients and the same we use with ours (FitWorkz.com.) In fact if you have ever been good at anything in life you already know these steps and just need to apply them to become a successful bodybuilder as well.

Everything starts with a clearly defined goal. Once you set your goal, develop a plan. From there, get organized and start following the plan. No matter how much you have going on, to be successful at bodybuilding or anything it comes down to this – A Goal and a Plan.

Ray with Ultra size Muscle provider

Here’s How I Do It

I set my sites on an upcoming competition. Armed with my goal the next thing I need is a plan. I send an email to Beverly outlining my goals, current 9-site body fat, current diet and training. Then, Beverly sends me the plan. For my last competition I was five months out and had plenty of time to get ready when I sent my info to Beverly. Roger sent me a reply. "You’re ahead of schedule and should increase calories to gain some extra muscle before focusing on dropping the fat." My proposed meal plan would rotate between a gaining week and hardening week.

This was an approach Beverly had used with Todd Jackson, and having just seen Todd’s pictures and article in Body Muscle I was pumped and ready to add a few pounds of lean mass and drop fat. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow it as well as I should have, but I’m including it for informative purposes in case you want to give it a try. It’s perfect for anyone who is relatively lean and wants to add 3-4 lbs of quality muscle while improving definition.

double bicep pose

For the next 5 weeks I thought about following my diet. I was stressed to the max, not sleeping much and nursing two injuries. Excuses to not eat were easy to come by. My lack of attention to my nutrition and reduced training intensity were catching up with me. Supplement-wise, even my staples Ultra 40 and Mass Aminos were only being taken 85% of the time at best.

I was not even aware of all these little breaks in my plan until I got my next body fat check.

My skin fold reading increased and the scale stayed the same. This was definitely not part of the plan. What happened? Fatter and NOW BEHIND schedule I emailed my update to Roger.

Here was his response,

"I need to know if you followed the 1 week high – 1 week low diet at 100% – 90% or to what extent. You are the first who we’ve encountered increasing skin folds on this program. What did you do weight wise? Can you send a comparison of current to January skin folds and bodyweight?"

This forced me to take an honest inventory of what I did or did not do, which I sent back to Roger. I told him that in all honesty I did not follow the plan as it was written. I had become "that guy", the one who asks for help, gets it, and does nothing with it. Those six weeks were not going to be given back. The only course of action was to wait for his reply, and follow it, 110%.

A reply came with a new diet. 9 weeks was still enough time to prep but with no room for error. Now, I had to lose four millimeters off of my 9-site skin fold reading every week. This meant playing fat loss catch up and a switch to the effective twice-weekly carb up a little sooner than normal.

My training improved as soon as I started to honestly follow my diet. Kind of funny how your energy increases when you are no longer deficient in vitamins and minerals (Super Pak) and eating enough. The Ultra 40 seemed to increase my vascularity over night and definitely contributed to an energy increase. Vascularity may never be judged in a competition but it definitely has a positive psychological effect. I was getting a nice pump in my workouts from the Glutamine Select and Muscle Mass. Overall I felt good and was enjoying the prep process.

Four weeks passed and I had the chance to go to Beverly and have my body-fat checked. My skin folds had dropped 21 mm (that’s over 5 mm per week, so I was ahead of the game.) My lean body mass went up 3 pounds and I lost 6 pounds of fat. Now that I was following the plan 100% everything was working. Clearly gaining muscle and losing fat while dieting was possible. I left and could not help but think how different things would have been if I had not piddle-paddled with my first 5-week plan.

As fat loss slowed I added more supplements. That way I maximized the effect of the supplements while controlling cost.

At 4-weeks out I still had quite a few fat loss rabbits in the hat and it was time to pull them out. From experience I knew that Energy Reserve and GH Factor would work wonders to accelerate fat loss during the last few weeks of contest prep so I added them to my regime. I started with one Energy Reserve and 2 GH Factor three times a day. The next week I went up to 3 Energy Reserve and 3 GH Factor per dose. Then for the final two weeks I took 4 Energy Reserve and 4 GH Factor three times daily. I also knew from my personal experience and having worked with power lifters that Muscle Synergy** would make sure my numbers (weights and reps) were going up in the gym – even on a strict diet.

**For this reason there was no planned time to add Muscle Synergy. At 2.5 weeks out my workouts started to backslide so I added Muscle Synergy. Just the kick I needed, I recall repping 120 pound dumbbells in the bench press the day after adding Synergy, at 2.5 weeks out (and I’m not really a big guy)!

Below is what training looked like at 5 weeks out. This program has parts pirated from a Mark Ritter article in an old No Nonsense Newsletter and Roger’s Natural Muscle 18 Minute Leg workout that has 144 reps done in, well 18 minutes.

4-6 Weeks Out Training Tips

  • An increase in Supplements allows for increased training Intensity or Volume.
  • I can handle a few weeks of training that borders on overtraining. The trick is don’t overdo it too soon. Even at 8-9 weeks out I was training 4 days per week, doing just 3 sets per exercise with only the last set approaching failure. The increased supplement intake and the 7-10 days off from hard training immediately before a competition allow my body to recover and realize the gains it previously could not from overtraining.
  • Increase training frequency to burn more calories, I switched to a 3 on 1 off program noted above.
  • Super Sets, now is the time to pair up exercises, keep the heart rate up and maximize growth hormone production, See Legs 2 as an example.
  • If fat loss is still a bit slow, take a look at supersetting ALL muscle groups by pairing push-pull exercises. Back/Chest, Bi’s/Tri’s, Quad’s/Ham’s, etc..
  • At 7-10 Days out back off on training. No heavy quad work at 10 days out and all other training should be moderate or even EASY. We do this with our power lifting and athletic clients as well. The last week or so is the time to allow the body to fully recover. Time to reap the fruit of your labor.
  • Switching to a 4 On – 1 Off after a week or two on a 3 On 1 Off can also help increase fat loss. Remember there tends to be a short window pre comp where a Natural Trainee can sneak by with this much training.
Ray front big bar front squat

Notes from My Journal

"Four weeks out and the fat is coming off – but still my legs are not separating. This has always been an issue for me, big legs with little separation. Cardio, specifically running stairs will be used to stretch and separate my quads. I’m off and running, literally. 4 Very Short HIIT sessions a week, no more, no less. Nutrition and supplements for fat loss, the stairs will handle my quads separation."

"Getting stronger in the gym and looking leaner by the week. Time for another body fat check. My skin folds went up! No way. I look great, my pants are falling off me, my wheels are getting lines and I’m getting stronger. How can this be? Am I really putting fat on? A potential set back, psychologically maybe. In reality I look good regardless of what the calipers say"

Setbacks happen, the worst thing to do is to panic and do something drastic. Competitive bodybuilding is about one day on stage. The best course of action is to get right back on your plan. I just kept following my plan, with one change... Roger suggested no more calipers. He said, sometimes it’s best to just look in the mirror every morning and forget the calipers once you hit your hardest diet plan. So instead of panicking and make another diet change I just kept doing what I could see was working – regardless of my caliper reading.


Here Is What I Did the Last Week

Saturday, 1 week out

Normal meals (still following the 4-week out diet plan) – I look good, even my legs for a change!

Sunday and Monday - same

Tuesday

Load Creatine Select

** The pure creatine, potassium, and sodium in Creatine Select worked to fill me out without causing me to hold water. It also helps during the carb up on the next two days.

Wednesday

Increased the regular Wednesday carb meal by 50%

Thursday

Normal day, plus another regular carb up as a sixth meal

99mg of Potassium every hour

Friday

8 oz beef and one-half grapefruit every 2-3hours.

198 mg Potassium every hour

Upped Ultra 40 to 10 per meal. The increased Ultra 40 kept me passing water, increased my vascularity, and will give me a great pump come Saturday.

Saturday, Day of Competition

99 mg Potassium every hour

Meals same as every other low carb day in my meal plan above. Before leaving for the competition I took about 20 Ultra 40. Before pumping up I took a mega dose of Energy Reserve, Muscle Synergy, Creatine Select and Glutamine Select along with a King Size Snickers bar. How much of each supplement? A handful of Energy Reserve, at least 25 Muscle Synergy, 2 scoops of Creatine Select and 4 scoops of Glutamine Select.

**No sodium manipulation, it took care of itself on Friday.

**Water normal every day. Many manipulate water. In working with others and from personal experience there is little to be gained by doing so. Muscle is 70% water, why cut it?

My last week was pretty easy. Nothing drastic. Drastic changes can mean drastic disaster. No water or sodium restriction was used. I believe that if I look good 1 week out I will look at least as good one week later, probably better.** So why change anything? I bounced this question off Roger and here is his reply.

“We have been telling everyone who we think will listen and not think we are keeping "our secrets" for the more advanced guys to treat the final week as any other week… especially if you are looking better every day.”

** I have used this advice with a number of my bodybuilding clients, same result, including some overall wins!

I took the stage at 163 or so. The end of the article and no mention of my weight or the scale, that was intentional as I never focused on making a given weight class. As it turned out, I won the open middleweights. Still no overall win. But that is fine, I did what I set out to do. “Look better than ever and separate my quads.” My quads once a detriment are becoming an asset. This sport takes patience and dedication to a plan, even if that is a multi year plan.

Bodybuilding is not my life, it is just one part of my life that happens to make everything I do better. I have my own house and all the responsibilities that come with it. I own two businesses, TPM Global (tpmglobal.com) and Ergoteknix Inc. (fitworkz.com, I maintain the site and write all the content.) TPM Global Inc. is an import/export of engineering, design and manufacturing. Ergoteknix Inc. is a personal training and supplement sales business. Our clients - baby boomers recapturing their youth, stay at home moms, a number of successful bodybuilders and 7 World Champion Powerlifters.

I also work full time as sales manager for a manufacturing company, responsible for business development, growth, and maintaining existing sales. In the last 12 months I have traveled to Hong Kong, China, Canada and all over the US for both my sales job and TPM Global.

Most of the year my workout time is limited to 30-40 minutes per day, 3-4 days a week. This time is budgeted just as tightly as my daily business schedule. I have a girlfriend, a puppy and on weekends, weather permitting, ride motocross.

One thing I do not do is watch much TV (the average American watches up to 50 days of TV annually.) No plan and my day will be shot, as there will not be enough time to get everything done. My point, if I can do this, so can you. You set the goal; Beverly will help you develop the plan.

Ray Binkowski personal profile
Age: 29
Occupation: Sales Manager Action Tool, CEO Ergoteknix Inc, CEO TPM Global Inc., Owner/Operator FitWorkz.com, Author
Education: BS Mechanical Engineering, Certified Fitness Trainer
Marital Status: Dating
Current Residence: DeKalb, IL09:49:09 PM Sun, Apr 28 2013
Gym: The Wright Athletic Club, WrightAthletic.com
Height: 5′ 8″
Off Season Weight: 175-180 lbs. at 10 percent body-fat
Contest Weight: 16? lbs, it keeps creeping up
Favorite Cheat Food: Hamburgers
Favorite Meal: Hamburger, Cold Beer
Most Inspiring People (outside bodybuilding): Those that continue to do the impossible! The list is way too long.
In my CD Player: Kenny Chesney, Dave Mathews, Kid Rock, Black Label Society, a little of everything!
Other Interests: Reading business books and periodicals, Participating in Global Business, All things health and fitness, motocross,
Words to live by: Do what other can or wont do, do it best and do it with a smile!
Most Inspiring Words: "You Can’t Do that!" …No better inspiration than being told you can not do something or that something is impossible.

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