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| February 2011 »
It’s almost like it happened all of a sudden; one day I was fine and then the brutal hunger set in. Up to now, I would eat every 2.5hrs sometimes every 2hrs because it didn't really matter. In the last couple days it has become 2hrs on the dot like clockwork; to be honest I am counting the minutes sometimes or am trying to find things to keep me busy so I don't have to think about being hungry. I am really close to being ready and am super excited to hit the stage, I really believe this will be my best package yet and it should allow me to stand with anyone on that stage.
The hunger is funny though, it’s kind of like I'm not even really hungry for crap (although I would like it) but just hungry in general. Last night I woke up starving at about 4am, walked over to the cupboard, opened it and just stared at the peanut butter. I don't know why I was staring at it, I knew deep down inside there was no way I was going to cheat but I just kept looking at it…lol. It started to drive me nuts so I opened the fridge, chugged some water and sat down at the computer. Couldn't sleep and was starving so what does someone do when all they can think about is food? I did what anyone would do, I started downloading movies and music. Don't ask me how that helped but I did it long enough that around 5:30am I was able to crash again for a couple hours. That oatmeal meal in the morning has to be one of the best things ever, its amazing how when your starving something like oatmeal can be an absolute treat.
The show is only about 25 days away now and it seems like everyone is really bringing their best to this show. I've talked to Evan and he seems like he's on track and excited; I've seen some pics of Dennis and Ben White and am really impressed by them as well; I hear Pak-Man is really turning up the heat now also; and of course Dexter is the Blade so he's for sure going to be on. There are a lot of competitors and I think when you sacrifice throughout the holidays and miss so many events in a row you really want to make it worth it. I mean think about it, if you miss, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and most football parties the last thing on earth you would want is to show up off.
Not only that, everyone coming into this show wants to get into the ASC or if they’re already in wants to get the momentum jump. It’s also the first show of the season and everyone is watching. I'm a fan just like all of you and after having a few months off without any shows I am excited to get the season started and watch how it unfolds! Its going to be a great show and I appreciate all the emails and messages from all of you wishing me the best. For those of you who are going to be there rooting for me, I am going to do my best to put on a great show for everyone!
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad 'Hoss' Abiad
It’s Sunday, about four weeks out from the show and what am I going through? Well after missing out on Christmas and New Years I was okay, but today is the AFC and NFC championships....I’m not doing so good. I always love celebrating Christmas with friends and my girlfriend but nothing beats NFL playoff time. There is just so much hype and so much enthusiasm from everyone at the gym, the grocery store, it doesn't matter. I walk through the gym and people there are talking about whose going to beat who, I'm waiting in line at the grocery store and the guy in front of me has a cart full of sausages, chips, salsa and wings! It seems like everyone, everywhere is in football mode and it’s my favorite time of year!
So I have two choices: Do I ignore all the people at the gym and the grocery store, asking me about the games and be a grumpy ass bodybuilder or do I suck it up and decide that just because I can't eat and let loose doesn't mean I have to miss out on the fun? This has definitely been the hardest prep I have gone through in all my years of bodybuilding. Not in terms of how hard the diet is, more in terms of social outings. The time of year from November thru March seems to be the busiest with holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and all the football, not to mention Valentine’s Day. All of these are a pass when the task at hand is getting shredded. They all take a backseat normally and I would just stay home and not go anywhere. This year is different, I have decided to do the second of the two options and try and take part as much as possible. I shoot the shit with the guy at the grocery store instead of being grumpy about it, I sit around and talk about the games at the gym and decide that just because I can't eat pizza and wings doesn't mean I can't enjoy life. It’s hard to be part of things but having a great support system of friends around you always makes it easier.
The support system is not important because they're going to sit around and eat fish and broccoli with me but for the fact that they aren't going to bug me about it. They all know my main focus right now is bringing my best to this show and making sure I give it the best I got. People always talk about training partners and how great they are because they show up all the time, but I guess I'm just that much luckier. At four weeks out not only do my partners show up, but they pick me up when I'm slacking. If I think I'm too tired to pose that night after training I might not say anything I might just start heading for the door, my partners will stop me and say, “Hey are we posing tonight or what?” They don't only support me but they make me accountable, almost like they aren't going through all this shit with me just so I can slack and not go the extra mile.
So at the end of the day when you see the guys at the top, it’s usually someone or maybe more than one person who keeps them going in one way or another. It’s the girlfriend that listens to your bullshit day in and day out, or she keeps your head up when you’re feeling down. It’s the guy that comes with you to do cardio in the morning even though he's in the middle of the offseason and not only does he show up but even makes sure you do abs and stretch after. It’s the other partner that comes with you to the gym and when you say, “four sets is enough here,” he says, “I don't think five would hurt.” The trainer that calls you every single day, sometimes twice to ask what your weight is and make sure your still on track or the physiotherapist that beats the hell out of you week in and week out just so you can keep training injury free. Last but not ever least are the fans that send me numerous emails, FB messages or PM me on forums about how much they are rooting for me!
All these people are part of the team and all of these people are in this with me. Sure I'm the one that has to miss out on the eating and parties and whatever else but at the end of the day they are all invested somehow in what I am doing. For that reason alone, I will not fail to do the things I am supposed to do that make me the best I can be. I owe it to the people that believe in me to bring the best I can possibly bring to the stage.
Okay, I gotta go, the Steelers are about to shutdown Rex Ryan and the Jets..... (so I think anyway). Oh, if you’re wondering why the one guy in the pic is wearing a pair of coveralls, it’s because he lost a bet.lol.
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad 'Hoss' Abiad
Well there comes a time in every great diet where the two-a-day becomes a part of everyday life. Luckily for me about five years ago I was able to get a gym quality Stairmaster from a gym that was closing. That means I don't have to go to the gym three times a day. I try to break up all my gym work: Morning cardio (50min now) on the Stepmill at the gym; second round at the gym midday for training and posing; and lastly the third session at home on the Stairmaster for 25min before I eat my last meal.
At this stage in the game I am looking at shredding that last 5-8lbs and this is the only way it’s going to get done. Hany has devised a pretty good game plan for this prep and everything we have set out to do has pretty much gone according to plan and we are right where we need to be for four and a half weeks out. Most of you probably think it’s a pain doing all this cardio and work, but to be honest I kind of welcome it at this point. I have lost my attention span; I can't concentrate on anything for more than 20min. I put in a movie the other day and I watched it in like six different segments because every 20min I would get up to go do something. So seeing as I can't focus on anything, I just sit and think about the show. I think about things I have to do and eventually it stresses me out. Luckily, the cardio and training keeps me busy. Besides cardio and training, there is cooking, eating and all the other errands that go along with competition so my day is completely filled. When the day is filled it goes faster, when it goes faster I don't have to worry about hunger or cravings and when the days go faster the show comes up faster!
I have to say, the training is getting tougher at this point as far as strength goes. I realize that not every day is going to be a record breaking day at the gym since I am so depleted right now, so I have to come up with new ways to push the intensity. This was my leg workout yesterday to try and salvage a bad day. Most weeks I am standard with the squat, hack and leg press but yesterday since I felt a little weaker I decided to throw a curve ball into my training and man did it F&% me up! Here it is:
1. Seated Leg Curl - 6 Sets / 20 - 8 Reps **
2. Lying Leg Curl - 4 Sets / 20 -10 Reps **
3. Leg Press - 5 Sets / 25 Reps
4. Hack Squat & Machine Squat Leg Press Superset - 4 Sets / 15-20 Reps on Hacks, then to
failure on Machine Squat **
5. Smith Squat & Walking Lunge Superset - 4 Sets / 12-8 Reps on Smith Squats and about 15
6. Leg Extensions - 3 Sets / 30 Reps
7. Adductor Machine - 3 Sets / 15 Reps
(** exercises are pyramid sets raising the weight and lowering the reps as we go)
It doesn't look pretty and it’s not hardcore, but my legs were and are a mess. Some guys get in the gym and are stubborn about their bodies and how they go about their training; they think every day is a strongman event. We all know from the beginner to the pro that you have days where the muscle just isn't cooperating and those are the days you need to use all that time in the gym to create something your body can use! These are the days where you think back to some of the craziest shit you have seen or learned and think, “ok, if today isn't going to be a record breaking day and I'm not feeling a 500lb squat then how can I beat my legs to death in other ways?'. Think outside the box and I guarantee as long as you hit it hard your muscle will respond!
Well I guess I'm finally dieting. I know that sounds stupid considering I actually started dieting almost eleven weeks ago, but for the first time it really feels like I'm dieting. I had a few flashes of it in the first eleven weeks, but for the most part it’s been pretty easy and I haven't really struggled at all. Staying lean this year in the offseason has allowed me to coast into this show...until now. It was weird; it’s like one day I was fine, workouts were fine, mood was fine, everything just seemed easy, then all of a sudden…diet mode!
I don't cheat on my diet and I never miss workouts, therapy or cardio so what does this all mean? It’s the little mental and physical differences that someone who has never competed before wouldn't really understand. Anyone of you who has done a show, level 1 or pro, when you diet hard the same feelings applies. A couple days ago I was doing chest and all of a sudden I just didn't have the same power I had the day before. The day before I had trained legs and had the same amount of strength I always have. In that instant I lost a whole plate off my bench; it’s almost like the strength was still there but only for a few reps. I know it’s because my body is really getting low in body fat and glycogen (so it’s explainable), but it still wreaks havoc on my mental game. It’s really a test in mental toughness to see your lifts drop week after week and keep a positive outlook on the task at hand. The only thing I have going for me is I have been doing this so long I have learned to cope by using other intensity techniques to make sure the muscle is really being taxed while I'm at the gym.
Along with the strength loss I have noticed a few other things. It’s almost like when I get this close to a show and I'm actually in the dieting mode I turn inward for the last few weeks. I just like chillin at home, watching movies, reading, even writing this blog...lol. Some people are different, when they get into crazy diet mode they get out and do more things to keep themselves occupied, I'd rather be relaxing alone. My mood is definitely changed as well, when I get to the gym lately I am more focused and not as likely to joke and laugh with my training partners. Luckily for me they have competed and also understand me, so I get a pass for being an ass or not having a sense of humor.
Last but not least, cravings have finally set in. Most bodybuilders like to portray this perfect image of a person who is on top of it all, never has cravings, is powerful all the way through and dieting is a breeze. Well, I'm not here to blow smoke up your ass....I want some pizza. Actually I like my McD's so that sounds pretty good right now, but then again I could also go for a Blizzard...wait a minute I think I'm off track...lol. The point I'm trying to make is even though I'm eating about 5000 calories a day, it’s all completely clean and since I am totally strict on my diet the sweet tooth and grease cravings are kicking in. At the end of the day that’s all it is though - just a craving. I would never jeopardize my conditioning but it’s fun to think about.
I just want to talk about one more thing before I go. One of the biggest clichés for bodybuilders when going into a show is this: “I am only competing against myself, I don't care who shows up, I just want to be my best." I can tell you that in my past and I'm pretty sure in a lot of other bodybuilder's pasts, this thought is bullshit. In my past I always tried to find out who was competing, what they looked like, what they weighed…it almost consumed me. When I did the Houston Pro in 2008 I knew the top ten guys who were competing and I thought about them daily when I was dieting and how I could beat them. A couple years ago when I did the Tampa Bay Pro I knew Dennis James was doing it and I thought about how I could beat him every time I trained.
This past year that I have had off I have done a lot of mental study and learning about the psychology of sports and competition. It has been a long year and along with trying to balance out my body I have been trying to balance out my mental approach to bodybuilding. One of the things that I have learned is that the old cliché I mentioned above is true. It took me eleven years of competing to believe it or understand it but finally I do. People tell me all the time, "Aren’t you worried that Dexter's doing the show?" I tell people I don't care who does the show and for the first time in my life I really mean it. I wouldn't care if anyone in the IFBB was competing and that’s not because I think I am the best and I can beat them all; it’s because I realized that being your best will eventually get you to the top. If you are successful at something and you are consistently trying to beat your last performance, eventually you are going to reach YOUR best. Most likely reaching your actual best will coincide with reaching the pinnacle of anything you are doing in our life. I think I am much better than the last time I hit the stage and I am on track to be in much better condition. If those two things are true than what more could I ask for? After I prepare in every way I know how, there is nothing more for me to do but enjoy the ride. In this sport you bring your best and let the judges sort'em out.
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad 'Hoss' Abiad
Well it’s getting closer to the show and each day brings something different. At this point before the show, life turns into a roller coaster: Some days my mind is going nuts and taking me for a ride while I try to hang on, the other days I feel like I am standing on a mountain top. On the tougher days, I think of things like who's doing the show, have I done enough this year, are my muscles flowing the way they should, should I be stronger right now than I feel, am I doing enough to win? All these questions go thru my mind on some days over and over again repeating themselves like a broken record and driving me nuts! One thing experience has taught me is the ego driven thought patterns like these are always loudest when you're about to do something big in your life. The key is knowing how to turn them off and knowing which voice to turn up the loudest.
I have learned in my eleven years of competing that fear based thought have no business entering my mind at six weeks out. There is no good that can come from these thought patterns, so just as quickly as they enter my mind I send them packing. The one voice that is turned up the loudest is the one that says, “you’re doing everything you can do right now, you have done everything you were supposed to do in the offseason, keep pushing and the outcome will be what it is.” “The universe will not let you work this hard for nothing.” I thrive on this type of craziness; I almost need it to know that I have something important coming up. I guess what I have realized is the day I do a show and I don't feel this way or feel these thoughts it means I'm perfect, or more likely I no longer love the sport. A lot of us fear pressure as something that is overtaking us and try to get rid of it like the plague; I was like that as well. Slowly I have learned that pressure means growth - if you’re always in your comfort zone you’re never getting better.
So, what about the good days? Man, the good days are awesome! Everything falls right into place, I go to the grocery store, don't forget anything I need and there is no one in line, awesome! I drive to the gym, tanning or whatever errands I have that day and there is no traffic, awesome! I get to the gym and I am a beast, lifting heavier weights than I lift in the middle of the offseason, again, awesome! I get into my posing practice after my workout and I am hitting shots and holding them without gasping for air or breaking a sweat, awesome! The entire day things just come easy, I am able to visualize the stage and the guys I am competing against and it’s a total rush of excitement instead of panic.
What I have noticed this year more than any other year is the good days are definitely outweighing the bad days. In fact there aren't even any bad days; it’s more like a few bad moments here and there. I welcome the stage this year and am excited to hit it again. It’s been a LONG offseason and I hate not competing, I promise myself never to take this kind of break again but it was needed to make improvements. Everyday I practice my mandatory’s and picture that day hitting the stage and being under the bright lights again with some of the best in the world. In my mind, I am standing in that first call out and....I guess I'll keep the rest to myself, we'll have to see what happens the day of the show…
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad 'Hoss' Abiad
So we're six and a half weeks out from the Flex Pro and I am feeling better than ever this close to a show. I am not yelling at people on the road, fighting with friends, and not nagging my girlfriend too badly. I think things are going pretty smoothly, the weight is coming down slowly, the waist gets tighter everyday and my strength has dropped a little but still not bad at all. What more could I ask for: An easy prep has been unheard of for me. In saying all this I know the next six weeks are going to be more hellish than the last ten but so be it, I am going to do my best to maintain my bubbly disposition...lol.
I mentioned the waist getting tighter and I believe it’s from something that I did way back when I was getting ready for my first show and then after that I began to take my stomach for granted. When I did my first show I did abs every single day of my prep, nothing crazy. I would do about six sets total all to failure of varying exercises; nothing too intense but enough to give them a burn. I did this every day and the day of the show I had a tight waist, shredded up and down the sides and actually I believe it helped me win that first show.
Fouad's First Show
After that I took for granted like most pros that my abs would just be there from all the heavy lifting. Like most pros they were there but they weren't as tight, the lines all around my waist weren't as deep and it definitely was not a strong point after my first two shows. So naturally I have gone back to my roots and it’s actually become an obsessive thing for me because it feels so good. Every morning after my cardio I hit the ab section where there are the fitness men are and I try to copy them. It doesn't look so pretty all the time and most likely I look like a gorilla trying to act like a cat , but when I'm done my waist is tighter and the lines are deeper. Whoever says 'oh don't do abs they'll be there anyway' has never done them for a show. Those people are right your abs will be there but think about how much better they could be if you took the time to etch in crazy details. If you don't believe me just ask any of the bodybuilders from the 80's how they feel about it, or better yet just watch some old Shawn Ray videos and you will get it.
I guess the larger point to all this is never to just accept someone else's opinion as gospel. Sure pro bodybuilders have tons of experience under their belt and they have more knowledge about training than the average person, but in saying that you have to remember that all of us are different and what works for me won't always work for someone else. My opinion is to always try something, give it a real honest effort for one or two months and see what the result is. If it hasn't helped you than drop it; if it does than go with it and be thankful that someone helped you along the way in your journey. I see people in the gym all the time doing certain things because they saw it in a video or were told to do it or better yet NOT to do it. Just remember bodybuilding is about creating the best physique YOU can possibly create, so how is copying someone else suppose to help? Try different things and always be open to new ideas, but at the end of the day remember that your physique is your physique and the mirror will not lie to you if you should keep doing something or not.
Sacrifice Without Regret,
Fouad 'Hoss' Abiad