Lean Machine



This article has been written for Canadian Physique Alliance – Nov/Dec 2022 Edition

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Hello friends, clients, athletes, subscribers, all of you machines, who are reading this. First, thank you to everyone who sent me all of your awesome questions and comments on my last article “Recomp”. Also thank you to all the new subscribers, I appreciate your support and I’m looking forward to your further questions, once “Lean Machine” has been digested.

In my last piece, we covered at some pretty great lengths, body composition. Huge lean and shredded, and the inverse Huge soft and obese. Breaking down the importance, of really understanding body composition, and the polarity yet similarities in both these extremes. Since that article was published in The Canadian Physique Alliance newsletter, and on my website and sent out to all of our readers from our subscriber list. I have gotten an enormous amount of questions and comments regarding a few key points in the article I addressed. Pertaining to the importance of staying lean, but not shredded all year. No not grainy, but lean, simply “not fat” still seeing your abs, not looking at yourself and feeling uncomfortable in your skin, that I don’t want to see my reflection naked feeling. This, uncomfortable in my skin feeling, in essence, pertains to all human beings, all year.

What is a Lean Machine?

Of course, this “leanness” is subject to seasonal progression when stage athletes, have to go from being in a progression portion of the season for growth and development. From Lean gains, into getting peeled to the bone for the stage. Equally for film and stage professionals who must change composition for a role. But then also, getting back to being lean (not shredded) all year, to the rest of us who do not compete or have a physical image to present to an audience of many for any special reasons.

So, awesome questions thank you all, and so many. So, I figured it best to write this article as a follow-up, a pseudo-part two. Peeling back the layers, and addressing the nuances of why staying lean is so important to not just the athletes, actors, and influencers my friends, but all us humans out here. To all of us, across-the-board, people who like to train like they compete yet who’ve retired, or choose not to but still pursue looking the part, exercise enthusiasts of all kinds, professionals whose physical fitness is part, directly of their job. First responders, Police, Rescue techs, SWAT, and our veterans (staying fit) and getting fit for all active military service members. To every one of you who has not yet started your fitness journey and those who just have begun. Now, am I missing someone? Yes of course I probably am, please put yourself in here as I mean to include absolutely everyone, this is for us all.

Hey everyone in our bodybuilding/physique community, all of you awesome athletes out there, from bikini to the super heavy weights and everybody in between. Classic, wellness, men’s and women’s physique, figure. Those who haven’t yet decided or been advised what category to pursue, and are stepping into the waters of this life and lifestyle. Yes, some of you who might be thinking…

“If stay lean all year, I won’t be able to grow”. Or “staying lean all year will be so hard, I’ll have to DIET all year?” “So, I’ll be in prep all year, doing arduous amounts of cardio all year long?”. Ok, so this does circle back to some questions from my last article.  So, I thought it fair to preface. “To those of you who may be thinking”.

So why would the competitive stage athlete, actor influencer etc? Why would you want to do this? Ok, that’s first and the caveat to that is… Why is this utterly essential? Yes, that’s right, simply it’s not just a choice for physical image maintenance or progression, it is a necessary, and critical part of your body’s health, mobility, growth and development of the mind body and spirit journey.  That is of course if you desire to do this most effectively and treat your body right. Circling back, I say again, this does not mean staying shredded all year not whatsoever. Simply, lean is not shredded, it just means you’re not fat. Out of shape so far from the stage that you, are out and can’t see your abs, and you have to diet off 40+ pounds.

Yeah, I know some of you out there read that and think wow that’s a lot of weight. For the competitive athlete that has the experience, you read this, 40 pounds isn’t much and we all know people in our community of Machines that have dieted off double that for a show and more, yes and more. I pulled a guy down from 330 lbs super fat to 227lbs over prep and he took second in heavies at the 2014 southern Alberta’s. (No super heavy category that year). Did he suffer? YES, necessarily? Yes, if he was to get in shape. Did he look good? Yes, he did, but could he have looked better if he didn’t have to drop 100 + pounds? without a doubt. In the above or similar scenario, muscle is comprised and the body is overworked. No matter what. The response, and result of said scenario is never optimal. Ever.

agingBelieve me, I speak from thorough experience on both sides of the stage. I too have been there, if you read my articles you’ll know, if you have not, read “The Evolution of Aging” for a satirical, yet pragmatic and boldly honest insight into some of my own mind-body-spirit fitness journey. So from my experience as a competitor for a decade and coach for 19 years now. From my journey both on and off the stage. I’ve done and continue to do (my own little meta-study). I have formulated a pretty strong analysis. I also say, zero outcome bias, just the respect and care for my fellow human beings and what can help protect our body mind and soul connection and our longevity of health and mobility in this life, this thing we are so passionate about, our fitness journey.

Ok, now you get super out of shape 40+ pounds over your competition weight because you think that you’re going to do your body a service to gaining an exceptional amount of muscle right? or you go off the rails and you justify eating crap and not giving your nutrition a check because you think well, I’ll diet it off in prep and if I need, I have a lot of helping hands that I can put into my body to force an outcome. Well, I’m happy to say, not sorry. You are mistaken you’re 40+ pounds that you gain in the off-season trying to put on mass or being undisciplined and irresponsible, abusive to your body. This MASS is mostly fluid and fat, the muscle that you’ve gained all be it may be some, is immature migratory stem cells “satellite cells “that have not been present with your

Pre-existing maturing muscle, long enough to withstand the increasingly negative impact of your extreme preps. Fat burning ancillary use of compounds, and caloric deficit strategies complete with oh yes, all the cardio. Absolutely annihilates the new muscles are trying to establish as mature, and in many cases actually eats into your pre-existing mature muscle mass. Why? Doing a lot of cardio which can be very catabolic, when coupled with eating in a very stringent low-calorie low carb or zero-carb cycle for great lengths, but the diet and cardio is necessary to unlock all that stored fat to be used as energy. Especially at the end of your prep, I repeat this EATS YOUR MUSCLE TISSUE.

Yes, friends, contrary to labels, fat burners are extremely catabolic when coupled with the above myriad of extreme prep tactics. Essentially you’re going to be doing everything to your body that is not promotive of muscle preservation. Besides whatever a person may choose, to put into their body to increase anabolism and to stave off massive and ever-ramping catabolic tissue Loss. Not good people, certain things have their place if, so chosen. But responsibility with that is paramount. Justification of more and more compounds to mitigate catastrophic catabolism unleashed by the above scenario. This is a toxic mentality, it literally says you have to take more and more of something that can do potential, and long-term harm to your body to protect your body, from that which you did to harm it in the first place, by letting yourself get so out of shape. It’s like drinking poison knowingly because you think you have an endless supply of antidote at hand. This is absolutely bananas.

“Dirty bulk”, and “Eat Clen, Tren Dirty” are a couple of popular slogans I observed on T-shirts and of course the Internet in the last few years. Literally promoting this kind of behaviour and mentality, to the most susceptible, our young people. Those with little to no experience, that are coming into this experience, seeing high calories and drugs. As some formula that’s relevant. Anyway, this is to say the least, very disturbing. Now before I get too deep in the weeds on that topic, I’ll come back and say, to those people who think it’s the thing you need to do.

For example, you may have started dieting last time at 230 LBS, and competed at 190-195 lbs. So, it makes sense to you to get up to 265lbs or 270lbs. You think, or worse you are advised to do so. Because gotta GET HUGE right? How do I get huge? I eat everything I possibly can and take a lot of things that make my body grow, no matter what the side effects or short/long term consequences are. We all know this mentality, more and more means it’s better. Wrong! Although there’s a simple logic to it I understand, if one is good more is better. This is flawed monstrously. Irresponsible, ill-planned zero effective strategies. Yup, it’s pretty easy to Roll down the very steep hill. Which otherwise you would have to dig in hard, focus, dedicate and climb up. Mostly that reason is “I want to eat crap, pay no attention to my diet I’ll worry about it when I prep, cause GOTTA BE HUGE”.

Could be other things but this is just most prominent in my experience. Ah, the easy way… people think the easy way, so you may feel like you suffer less now, but you will certainly and guaranteed suffer later on and much worse. It’s like when you’re on your way to hell but you’re rolling the red carpet out for yourself and nobody is checking you. Looking down at your feet at the 1-yard line, instead of the long game. Yes, unfortunately, “the easy way” is often chosen.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a pop tart or if it’s brown rice it’s just a carb, right? If it’s deli meat or grass-fed bison it’s just a macro it’s all protein, right? Oh fat, this product disguised as food has fat calories in it. Oh, it’s only 9 calories per gram. That’s a macro right doesn’t matter if it’s fat in this food product from oxidized seed, oil, or packaged garbage, or if it’s DHA and EPA from deep sea Atlantic Krill oil, and that’s if people look even that deep into it. However wrong totally, completely antithetical to how those different examples of macronutrients would affect the body.

Yes, ladies I know, I know that I have been covering the male bodybuilder as much of the premise for my examples. I’ve not forgotten about you. Well, here are specs for y’all, For all you amazing female machines out there. You may have already connected the dots, yup the exact same scenario applies. But the amount of off-season muscle gain necessary is substantially less for all of you. Comparably, it is not uncommon for the 40+ pound scenario to take place with the men equally the women.

Alas, this drives home even more of my point, the monumental and unnecessary exercise in futility, of gaining an exceptional amount of body fat in the off-season or between shows.

This futile “reasoning”. A bumbling formula so deeply flawed, so desperately unhealthy, toxic and what’s most disturbing? It is so easily avoided, it makes me even more passionate about getting this information out there, to you all, to help in any way I can. Also “reasoning”, I am sorry about, Because this reasoning above it’s just so damn common. This Reasoning is no effective formula, this bumbling of I’ll plan irresponsible treatment of our body comes from, FUD. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. Finally with justification. Friends’ preparedness is key to all things in life. When planning the development of our physiques to get to higher levels of achievement, it is paramount. For if we do not, and we just look down at our feet bumbling forward, the rest is just pasta (or) fill-in-the-blanks thrown at the wall, and seeing what sticks.

The myriad of issues mind body and health problems, body dysmorphic disorders, physical, physiological mental stress. The stressors that arise from this kind of yo-yo off-season to prep diet scenario, are so terribly destructive to the female and male athletes. Those of you ladies out there who have experienced this understand vehemently what I address here above. To you ladies that have not yet, well, I only touched on a few. There are so many that I could write a whole article just, about the detriment of the yo-yo approach.

If you do this toxic yo-yo dance friends, you do not put your body in an accelerated place of effective tissue building, resulting in progression and the preservation of that tissue, creating an evolving physique to get better and better each show. To succeed at your goal of being more balanced, leaner, more symmetrical, and bigger. An overall better package when you get on stage next. Simply you lose the majority of the muscle that you’ve gained while your body is going through a stressful time, trying to get off all the excess unnecessary body fat and fluid, you put on eating un discipline irresponsibly, and not paying attention to your health components. Most of the year you feel like crap and don’t like what you see in the mirror, you cover up and stay the majority of the year in that existence until a few brief weeks when you finally like the package because you’re finally leaving enough to see your abs.

So, consider this. It’s Like receiving a black eye from a twisted partner who is saying they love you. I use the analogy above very seriously. To outline why we don’t treat our bodies like we’re in an abusive relationship. No, I’m not the diet police, I’m saying that you don’t eat takeout, fast food junk food just calories based on a certain number daily when you’re trying to make improvements. Yes, cheat meals are awesome and effective and it’s a super important part of this whole process. Just don’t treat your body disrespectfully.

You don’t fill it with junk for several months out of the year and expect to have awesome workouts amazing energy, like what you see in the mirror and a steady solid confident self-loving mindset. Just isn’t possible. Yet if you Treat your body with the kind of discipline necessary, showing yourself true self-love, through consistent formative actions, creating the desired result, distinctly creating the result that you have set up to achieve. You will be very happy with the package you bring. You will feel good in your skin all year. You will have amazing, energy, consistent, workouts, better than you ever have steadily, and your recovery will be maximized.

leanAlas if you eat strategically clean high calories, cycled carbohydrates, cycle calories, programmed nutrition and cardio and training to Potentate your insulin sensitivity, your carbohydrate tolerance, your metabolic resources will be able to switch between fuels rapidly readily and effectively. (Check out my article, “Metabolic Resetting” for more info on that. You don’t only produce more muscle with less body fat gain, substantially less, but you influence the body in the way of healthy metabolism and longevity don’t forget (fertility) for both ladies and gents, that set your future successes not just on the stage but in life because one-day competing ends… what then? Exactly!

Being successful and having an awesome physique while you’re doing this is no less as important as being healthy. Also, for in shape an awesome physique with longevity when you’re done. The long game, you have your whole life in front of you, so it’s like planning financially for the future… See what I mean? So, you may have a lot of money right now but if you spend it all, maybe your 65 and without the ability to work and you spent all your money. DOH!! (Good ole homer), that’s looking at your feet (hoping you can still see them). But if you invest, strategize and diversify properly, you have the opportunity to live old, and healthy, warm and comfortable till the end of your days.

The majority of your gains are reliable, and not going to be devoured by the body like in the scenario of you being 40+ pounds out of shape. When you’re a lean machine, and you don’t put on that unnecessary excess fat, muscle is less susceptible to catabolism when your diet. Circling back to what I wrote above if you have to do excessive cardio take tons of fat burners and be on a heavily calorie-restricted calorie cycling low-calorie program to get lean for a peak weekday of show to be successful. Your body will gobble up that muscle. But if you only have to lose even 20 lbs preferably, to be in shape and you work for seven or eight months putting on 25-30 pounds.

Your effective strategy detailed from your coach that knows absolutely how to work with your body, and wants you to pay attention to keep you lean gaining, 5-10 pounds will be muscle 10-15 will be fat and water. In Myles. Gains phase into prep then, proper post to show rebound, and off-season strategy. I’ve put 24 lbs of muscle tissue over a 3-year period in a 50–53-year-old man. 10 lbs the first year, 7 pounds the second and 7 lbs the third and final year on a starting. When we started, and he had not trained in 10 years, turns 50 wanted to jump back on stage so we began immediately “Lean Gains”. Yes, he was a lean machine each year. Now his circumstances were only unique to his dedication and his genetics (his look onstage) muscle shape, dimension, symmetry, size, etc.

Before you all jump up and yell genetics in capitals, lol. The fact is, as it is, with everyone that understands genetics in the competitive athlete and otherwise humans. His genetics we’re not determining factor in his ability to get lean or strong or athletic. His genetics dictate what his muscles look like when he shredded, and contribute to some other finite points of how grainy and deep, his muscle separation looked.

Yes, with his work ethic and his resolve to be disciplined, we’re at the highest caliber, he was one of the hardest-working guys, I’ve ever worked with in 19 years. However, that does not have to be unique. As it is within each of us, the ability to have the highest resolve for continued, dedicated disciplined formative action. Simply we can all get as lean as we want. We just may not look symmetrically or structured like the elite-level athlete. Or be the same as someone who has the “look” of stage calibre genetics. Friends, there is again, in each of us, the ability to be lean, strong fit, athletically badass, a total Lean machine. Especially if the inverse of that, is catastrophic health, mobility, and neurological (yes, Alzheimer’s is on the rise and recent studies show it’s directly linked to processed refined sugars) all of these issues, extrapolate as we get older.

So, what happened with the 53-year-old lean machine, ultimately, we won his class open middleweight and masters and overall, first show, and then open middleweights and over 50-second show. To third show winning Open middleweights at nationals and 2nd in masters, first in over 50. Yes, 50-53 years old, built and retained 24 lbs total dense muscle. This is a potent example, and it is an astronomical achievement for anyone of that age alone any age. So put that to scale, and recognize that every one of us has such powerful potential no matter our age.

So, when looking at the benefits of prep. Losing 25 pounds over 12 or 16 weeks is a cinch, food is high cardio is moderate to even low depending on individual metabolic factoring. You have awesome cheat /refeed days. You preserve the muscle you don’t have to take insane amounts of fat loss agents or muscle preservation agents or even high amounts at all AT ALL. Or any AT ALL! This is the long game, where will I be competing in five years 10 years, if I do it this way in five years? I have the potential of having a much more significant amount of muscle, maturing and not easily lost, grainy hard muscle and my body are healthy!

So, ladies Scale this back, from male athletes, and say you need to have more glutes or back development. In the example of wellness and Figure, that means 2 to 3 pounds more muscle in your butt or 5 pounds of muscle in your back let’s say. So instead of putting on 40 + pounds, your off-season approach is 20 to 25 pounds out of Contest shape max. Imagine this, you love! how you look. Every day super stoked by all the clothes that you wear, because not only do you still have abs but you look awesome in everything and especially most importantly you feel awesome in your skin year around. looking good is great, but feeling it deep in your soul inside your heart that you know you’re doing all the right things that show on the exterior of your body the reflection that you’re so happy with.

Gentlemen, yes guys, this equally affects us, even if you say on the surface, it does not. Guys, we are as much susceptible to body image disorder, issues, insecurities, and feeling less than awesome when we are not happy with how we look and the way it makes us feel. We are taught to overlook it, ignore it. Yet it’s out there, and it’s inside us, we are very much influenced by all of the same metrics as you ladies. We just hide it, are not encouraged to speak of it, simply just to pretend that it doesn’t affect us.

The confidence and self-respect, self-love that comes with doing things that treat our bodies, in such empowering ways is the foundation. The way we look is a result, of all of our essential stimuli, it is the result, again long-term, sustainable, internal well-being is the purpose. I think it’s such a powerful and magnificent thing that we can create such beautiful, strong, powerful, and prepared physiques, I treat ourselves with deep self-love and respect. Our confidence of image, mind-body connection and body image is directly correlated to how we feed and exercise our body make no mistake. If you treat your body good, you sustain long-term healthy mind-body connection.

Friends this is no small thing. Feeling good in your body is a huge part and directly connected to your body‘s ability to not only gain appropriate muscle tissue but to get lean and preserve the muscle tissue while getting as necessary lean as you have to. Feeling like crap about the way you look and hating the way you feel influences your body from a negative outlook. You feel crappy, self-doubting and loathing with RAMP catabolic hormones. So for the ladies your store survival fat around your reproductive organs and in your glutes and legs and eats muscle.

For the guys, your body is in a heightened state of muscle wasting, and fat deposition in your genetically pre-ordained areas, love handles. Yep, crazy fat storage scenario from the stress hormones now add to that Eating all the carbs unchecked, simple processed refined sugars, oxidized seed oils, packaged materials food products. Because you feel crappy, and we all know that people eat crappy things to comfort themselves when they feel crappy about looking and feeling crappy. Junk food, fast food and crap cannot be processed by the body properly and digested effectively, nutrient are partitioned the way that our athletic bodies need and everybody’s bodies rely on in general. A tragic and vicious cycle. We create a huge inflammatory response, we’re bloated were full of water we don’t heal and recover faster, the acidic continent of a pH is Pro cancerous (yes, cancer feeds on acid and cannot survive an alkaline environment, simple, refined, processed sugars are the most acidic thing we can put into our body, not only that, but they synthesize a higher level of acidic response crushing our ph., completing calcium from our body to neutralize the acid. Yes, that is called osteoporosis friends. Acid reflux, poor sleeping, sleep apnoea, erectile dysfunction, low sex drive. ALL of this avoided if WE MAKE OURSELVES A LEAN MACHINE.

Now, about those of you who don’t compete, I know I went on quite the length of detail about these examples, because this was the majority of my comments, questions and interest from the last article.

Let’s dig into how this relates to the the non competitor. So thanks for sticking around through the above, and you’ll see a strong parallel between us all. Really? You ask. or maybe you’ve already picked up on a lot of the nuance above! How does this correlate to you? Consider this, and ask yourself. Do I feel good enough in my skin? Do I like putting on clothes and wearing things that reveal my body? Do I like standing nude in front of my husband, wife, or partner and showing them how sexy and proud of my body I am? Do they look at me and tell me how sexy and attractive I am to them? Yes, probably they do. I’d hope so anyway. Thing is if they do. DO YOU BELIEVE THEM? Or do you feel unattractive when they say you are and feel like they’re saying it to you, because they love you, and they’re being a good partner by being loving and complementary to you. Do you feel like no matter when they say this, no matter how sincere they are honest and true…? you don’t feel it in the representation of your body. You, don’t believe them. Think about it. Nothing worse, well yes ok many things that are worse, but it is super crappy when someone says you look sexy, and you feel like crap because you’re not comfortable in your skin or like your body’s reflection in the mirror.

All the compliments in the world all the likes on the Internet, none of that matters as much as how you feel inside your skin, under your clothes, or in the reflection of your mirrors when you look upon your image. So, ask yourself, do I hide in camouflage of clothes, loose non-fitted clothing? Do I get uncomfortable in a bathing suit when I go to the beach? Now Think about the physical side of mobility and athleticism for all kinds of play, fun, and of course, any work that must be done physically. Ask yourself do I avoid things like going out and playing football with my son, going running, or hiking with my daughter?

Lastly, think of this, no easy one here but the core of relevance. Do you avoid intimacy with your husband or wife or partner with the lights on, does that terrify you or make you feel all kinds of ways you don’t even want to admit to yourself…?

OK, so these are questions to ask yourself about current time and place. Yet, here’s a real critical one, think about getting older and older and not paying close attention to food and exercise. Think about the catastrophic events so quickly to take place, with all of those that you know around, you are older, overweight, and do not focus on good nutrition and exercise. Think about the series of events, not just dying from heart disease or all of the comorbidities connected to heart disease and cancer, which is responsible for 80% of our mortality rate in North America. Directly linked to, unhealthy body composition, food choices, and no exercise. I think about the pain and suffering you choose to experience as you get older by being on a myriad of prescriptions to numb the pain as you treat the symptoms from what you did to your body, by the way, you chose to eat and not focus on healthy lifestyle earlier in life. Yes, harsh, right? No not harsh, Simple truth. No matter how much our world or Internet, reinforces obese, overweight, unhealthy eat irresponsibly whatever I want lifestyles. No matter how colourful, this lie is and how good it makes people feel temporarily. It is nevertheless a lie. Truth may be a wake-up call, not meant to be harsh just corrective.

Friends, it’s very important that we just don’t focus on positive reinforcement of what will happen in the good, if we change our lifestyle. focussing on the long-term outcome of how great things will be once I achieve the highest standard it’s a great way to get started. But it is actually a very poor way of maintaining discipline to your course. We must use positive reinforcement, responsibly, and carefully. The inverse of focussing on the positive outcome is actually the most powerful way to keep you on course. We must boldly understand the consequences of not doing the work necessary. The pain, the suffering, the real tragedy we can inflict upon ourselves, by not correcting our course. Now, this is only in ourselves, think about the people around us that love us our family friends loved ones, watching us fall apart and deteriorate because we chose not to cut out processed food, eat the way our bodies deserve (not feeding neurochemical dopamine stimulus from sugar, addiction, and processed foods and toxic seed oils, and to start exercising earlier. See folks? that’s the parallel, the only separating factor here is some of those who I’m writing to choose to compete or

Present their bodies to an audience of either recognition or judgment for competitive or professional purposes, and some of you don’t. But the overarching essential, and necessary influence, on each and every one of our bodies, from doing what is biologically and physiologically, correct to have a healthy, lean, strong and athletic body, year-round are exactly the same.

My personal opinion and my professional opinion are that it is not a choice we owe it to ourselves first, and we owe it to our family to simply seek health and well-being. No this doesn’t mean being in an irresponsible nutritionally hedonistic chase a good feeling well-being scenario, folks, friends, athletes’ readers, my Ohana out there. This means taking charge and taking hold right now, not waiting another week month, or year. No, it is taking a close, honest, pragmatic and hard look at yourself, and in that analysis, and upon your evaluation, you see you too, have the ability to become a lien machine.

Something I read, over half a lifetime ago has stuck with me through these decades, “exercise and eat right every day, and die healthier”.

We must look at the long game, even though the possibility lies in front of us that the ref could blow the whistle at any moment. We must look at the long game, not the 1-yard line, down at our feet, hopefully, we can see them. In all seriousness friends, if we can’t see them, help is there and lasting changes are right in front of us. All we have to do is choose, and seek it. We can all be lean machines.