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Old 09-01-2011, 12:58 PM   #1
Doberman
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How to make a comeback

I've been getting a lot of emails and inquiries on how I made my comeback to bodybuilding after a 15 year break and how I rehabbed after some moderate to annoying injuries. Instead of replying to each email with in depth answers, since I don't know any other way, I've decided to write an ongoing article detailing my journey from a depressed overweight "bodybuilder" to a competitiv NPC athlete. Hopefully I can give you some useful information for your own training issues and I can show you that most boundaries are just mental. Thanks for visiting. There is a lot more to come.
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Old 09-01-2011, 01:28 PM   #2
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sounds interesting. I am kinda in a comeback situation myself.

Never a competitor, but took a while off, due to life, faimly, career, nagging injuries ect. Now just starting back up again a feel like a complete newb. And a fat one at that.

Right now running Greyskull LP. Super simple linear progression, starting very very light. Lots of foam rolling nursing my injured/tight hip flexors, shoulder, wrist, and elbow tendonitis.. and a bothersome MCL in my left knee
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Old 09-01-2011, 01:33 PM   #3
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I am looking towards to this.
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Old 09-01-2011, 01:38 PM   #4
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Chapter 1 The Early Years

I've always worked out. It's just a part of who I am. I grew up being a wrestler, but at 16 I was pulled towards the iron. I loved the sound of plate smacking together and the feeling when I hit a new PR. Although I continued with wresting I was always more focused on lifting. Throughout my early training I was definitely a volume trainer, but I never went too crazy. I think my highest volume workout was 12 sets. Eventually training wasn't enough. I was an athlete. I had to test myself.

I decided to compete in a local contest. I actually did the reverse of what a lot of people do and started my diet high. Amazingly some of my best lifts happened during this period even though I had no Godly clue what I was doing. I hit 405 on squat for 8 and 275 for 8 on BB Bench at around 165. Later I would find that although heavy weights are important, how you lift those weights is even more important.

The diet I used for my prep was basically what the pros were using at the time which included high carbs, low fat. Interestingly enough I used processed carbs during the entire prep since I didn't have an idea that you shouldn't. I figured that as long as it was low fat it didn't matter. After the show I learned about "clean" carbs, but now I've come full circle and include processed carbs in my diets. One thing I did do wrong was kill the cardio. I would do up to two 2 hour cardio sessions a day. Overkill to say the least.

I used Michael Colgan's book for my final week prep. At the time I felt that it did the job well. When the contest day came I was 143 lbs at 5'5". I was lean, but no where near what I would consider shredded today. I was in my best shape to date and was happy to place fourth. In retrospect, I with my lack of knowledge on diet, training, and posing, I was very lucky to do as well as I did.

After this show I was riding a high. Although I didn't win I knew that if I learned more and worked hard eventually I could...all I needed was more size. This fueled my training, but unfortunately fuled my diet and led me in the wrong direction.
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Last edited by Doberman; 09-01-2011 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 09-01-2011, 02:24 PM   #5
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Chapter 2 Damn I'm fat!

Fastforward...a bunch. I spent the last 15 years bouncing from diet to diet and routine to routine. I kept thinking there was some magic formula that would get me looking like a bodybuilder. The only secret I was missing was consistency.

After suffering through a divorce and the many other obstacles that life can put in your way I met my current wife. I was again happy, but sometimes that can be just as dangerous as depression. I continued with my puddle jumping strategy of diet and training, but now was "off diet" more than I was on. I decided that I had enough and had to see where I stood.

I went to a doctor that specializes in athletes and is one himself. I got a full physical and a Bod Pod. I figured I was out of shape, but not really bad. I guessed I was about 20-22% bodyfat. Wrong. After my evaluation my doctor said he had some good news and some bad news. He wrapped them up in one statement, "Your the healthiest fat guy I've seen." Then he let me have it, "Your 36% bodyfat. At 235 lbs that means you have 84 pounds of fat. You need to do something about this."

This is what led me on my journey to figure out the real secret to being my best.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:49 PM   #6
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I like this a bunch, and I'm eager to hear more
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Old 09-02-2011, 02:27 PM   #7
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Great read Doberman. Please keep it goin.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Doberman View Post
I spent the last 15 years bouncing from diet to diet and routine to routine. I kept thinking there was some magic formula that would get me looking like a bodybuilder. The only secret I was missing was consistency.
Siged. This is something I've realized only recently.
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:53 PM   #8
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Keep em coming...good stuff.
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:20 PM   #9
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Chapter 3 The Reckoning

By the way did I mention I was fat? I was mortified to say the least. A couple years earlier I made a halfhearted run at getting in shape. I employed the help of Jeremiah Forster, a national level competitor at the time. The guy was great and although we were roughly the same age his knowledge was beyond his years. Unfortunately, I wasn't ready. That's something I tell everyone; you have to be ready and I wasn't. In fact, this is when I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil with a failed marriage and 60 hour work weeks.

As I mentioned earlier I eventually found happiness, but I also found some extra adipose tissue. After talking with my doctor I contacted Jeremiah. We put together a comprehensive plan of attack.

We were using a high intensity training approach employing rest pause sets. Larger muscle groups received 6-8 total sets to failure with a rest pause of 3-6 reps. Smaller muscle groups were 2-4 sets in the same fashion. This is how it broke down:

Hamstrings/Calves/Abs

Leg Curls 2x12+2-4
Wide Stance Leg Press 2x12+2-4
Stiff Legged Deadlift 2x12+3-6
Standing Calves 2x10+4+2 (I alternated between the two exercise each workout. Each set included a 5 second hold in the contracted position
and a 5 second negative.
Leg Raises (total of 50 reps)

Tuesday (Lat Width/Shoulder Width)

Pullups 2x12+4
Side Laterals 2x8+4
DB Pullovers 2x12+4
Upright Rows 2x8+4
*exercises could be supersetted to save time.

Wednesday (Chest/Arms)

BB Incline Bench 2x8+2-4
Flat DB Bench 2x8+2-4
Machine chest Press 2x8+2-4
Alternating Curls 2x10+4 (This is similar to the calves. I would hold one in the contracted position for 5 seconds while the other arm lowered the weight.)
Parallel Dips 2x8+4
Press downs 1-2x8+4

Thursday (Quads/Calves/Abs)

Squats 2x12+4-6
Leg Press 2x12+4-6
Leg Extentions 2x12+4-6
Seated Calves 2x10 (same cadence as standing calves)
Crunches 2(total of 100 reps)

Friday (Back Thickness/Shoulder Thickness)

Rack Pulls 2x12+4
BB Rows or any rowing variation 2x12+4
Standing BB Press 2x8+2-4
DB Press 2x8+2-4

Cardio stated out easy. We did 30 minutes LISS after each training session. This usually entailed walking. My fat was melting off like never before. Next we added a 30 minutes session every morning in a fasted state. This was also a LISS session. After a while we needed to do something to kick it up so 2-3 times a week we substituted HIIT cardio. After a 5-10 minute warm-up I would get on the treadmill at a high incline and max speed. I would sprint for 15-20 seconds and then jump off. We started at 15 intervals and then worked up to 20 with a 5-10 minute cool down.

Things were going great. I had abs for the first time in almost a decade. I couldn't believe how great I was feeling. I was surpassing my shape as a 21 year old kid and I was now in my mid thirties. Although the workouts, especially the cardio was kicking my ass, I was was poised to kick butt in my first show in 15 years. I was set to do the Monster Mash in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A month out I met a friend at his gym and had a great workout. On the way to my car I felt a twinge like someone had grazed me in the family jewels. I didn't think much about it, but then I got home and noticed a bulge. This had to be bad news...and it was.
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Last edited by Doberman; 09-02-2011 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:24 PM   #10
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Chapter 4 Are those your guts hanging out or are you just happy to see me?

Yes, it was my guts. Unfortunately, I had suffered from a inguinal hernia. A month out from my show and it was over. Almost 8 months of sweat, blood, and tears down the toilet. I was now 162 lbs at under 9% fat, but with a major hernia. After consulting with the doctor I realized I could not train the way I needed to for the show, but he encouraged me and told me that within a month I would be training light and within two months I'd be back to heavy weights. He even told me that the injury would be stronger than before. As a side not the injury was the result of a week lining of the abdominal wall which, according to my doctor is a hereditary trait, and may have nothing to do with my training. I was still devastated, but I decided to take it day by day.

The day of the surgery could not come soon enough. Eventually, there I was lying on the operating table ready to get this over with. Right before they put me out I was laying there completely exposed and the nurse said, "Dave?, do you remember me." My first thought was, "Oh crap is this an ex I wronged." It ended up being a girl I grew up with. Weird, to say the least. An hour or so after the surgery I woke up. My first thought was to yell for a nurse. The nurse came over, and I said, "Is Christine still here?". She said, "No." I told her, "Can you make sure she realizes how cold the operating room was?". My wife turned beat red, "Will you shut up?" I hear that a lot.

After sitting on my butt for two weeks that doctor said that I could do some light walking. A week after that I could do some light lifting. Jeremiah came up with a rehab program. It was the single most boring 6 weeks of training I've done, but probably the most important. We need to go light, but we also needed to strengthen my core and work my stabilizer muscles. After analyzing my muscular imbalances we put together a comprehensive program to cover all areas. Here is how it looked:

10 minute light warm up on treadmill

Stabilization Exercise

Step ups to balance (2-5 second hold) 2x15

Reactive Exercise

Butt Kicks 2x15

Core Work

Planks 2x30-60 seconds

Weight Training
Squat to Press 2x15
Stability Ball DB Press 2x15
Bosu DB Row 2x15
Bosu Standing Shoulder Press 2x15
Stability Ball Squat (against wall) 2x15
Bosu BB Curls 2x15
Bosu Standing Overhead tricep extentions 2x15

*This was done as a circuit with little to no rest. Weights are very light. Cadence is 412, meaning a 4 second negative, a one second pause, and a 2 second positive.

15 Minute LISS Cool Down

I was really happy to be training again, but I have to say working with 10 lb weights is extremely boring. Surprisingly this training was difficult and usually left me soaked in sweat. Little did I know that this slow, light, boring training would lead me on the right track and open my mind to new forms of training. I was now out of the box.
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Old 09-02-2011, 01:38 PM   #11
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I had the same hernia and surgery and I am looking to make a comeback so I will be following along
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Old 09-02-2011, 03:28 PM   #12
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Thanks guys. I may be on hiatus for about a week, but I'll try to squeeze in the next chapter tonight. I hope this doesn't sound too narcissistic. I realize I'm not at the level of a Skip or Homon, but I thought this might help anyone that is stuck with injuries or just being out of shape and doesn't know where to go next.
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Old 09-02-2011, 04:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doberman View Post
Thanks guys. I may be on hiatus for about a week, but I'll try to squeeze in the next chapter tonight. I hope this doesn't sound too narcissistic. I realize I'm not at the level of a Skip or Homon, but I thought this might help anyone that is stuck with injuries or just being out of shape and doesn't know where to go next.
I don't see any narcissism in here, bro. On the other hand, the intended inspiration for motivation, even though you're not done with all the writing, is clearly here for all to see.
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Old 09-02-2011, 05:38 PM   #14
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You are not coming off vaine at all.

I love this.. great info!!!!
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:14 PM   #15
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Thanks for the support fellas
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:48 PM   #16
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Chapter 5 WTF?

Ok, I just finished my every other day rehab training. I maintained decent shape, but was about 10lbs heavier. I had no illusions. I knew that this was going to be a difficult road. The weights are going to feel like they weigh a ton. After all, the heaviest weight I worked with during my rehab time was 45lbs.

We started back with the same routine we ended with. I started with all straight sets the first workout and decided to use half the weight. The first workout I remember thinking this feels really light, so I bumped the weight up. This again felt light, so I bumped it up again. I did this until I was back to my weights I had used before. Which for most people might not seem like a big deal, but I actually got stronger going into my show and was using some decent poundages. Each subsequent workout was the same, although I held back on legs since I was still very nervous about the surgery.

As time went on I kept getting stronger and beat all my prior PR's. I figured well, I'll stay with this and maybe in a year I'll try to get ready for a show again. My coach called me and I told him my thoughts. He said, "How about in August?" Mind you it was February and I didn't feel like making this commitment again so soon and this guy's telling me to do one sooner. Somehow I agreed. Jeremiah is good at that, but he's also good at motivation.

Next thing you know I'm on a high carb diet and kicking butt in the gym. I was really happy with the way things were progressing. I was at about 180, but looked pretty lean. Then Jeremiah introduced me to the UP DAY/DOWN Day diet. This basically included a high day (high carbs, low fat), and a low day (high protein, low fat). Training oddly enough would be on the down day.

Here is an example of a low day:
-2 eggs, 4 whites, a grapefruit, and 3 fish oil
-2 scoops of protein
-5 oz of ground beef, a ton of broccali, and 3 fish oil
-2 scoops of protein

The next day was:
-75 grams of oatmeal,1 whole egg, 165 grams of egg beaters
-65 grams of oatmeal, 55 grams of protein powder
-175 grams of extra lean beef, 300 grams of potato, and 1 cup of broccoli
-65 grams of oatmeal, 55 grams of protein
-300 grams of sweet potato, 1 tbsp of butter, 1 banana, 85 grams of oatmeal and 1 cup of broccoli

At this point I decided I better learn how to pose. So I began working with Natural Pro Rich Lauro from Beyond Limits Gym in Columbus, Ohio. I worked hard 3 times a week starting at 12 weeks out. If you are thinking of doing a show don't neglect this part of your training. It's much harder than you think physically and technically. Fortunately for me Rich really knows his stuff when it comes to posing. He's also an incredible trainer. If you ever come to the Arnold try to get in to his gym. It will remind you of the gym scenes from Pumping Iron.

We also added in HIIT cardio post weight training and a circuit every other day on the high day:

200 total reps of calves, 200 reps of abs, 50 reps of pull ups, and 100 reps of push-ups. Each one would be done till failure and then I would go to the next exercise until I completed the total amount of reps. This really improved my back a ton.

The workout changed a bit as well. We went with a heavy/light system with a hybrid of FST-7. Here is how it looked:

Day 1 (Heavy Legs, Light arms)

1a.Alternating db curls 3x10-15
1b.Cable preacher curls 3x10-15
1c.Cable curls 3x10-15
1d.Tricep pressdown 3x10-15
1e.Skull crushers 3x10-15
1f.Close Grip Bench Press 3x10-15
*All exercises were completed as one giant circuit. I then took a short rest and went again until I completed 3 circuits.
1. Hack Squat 2x12+3-6 rest paused reps
2. Leg Press 1x12+3-6
3. Squat 1x12+3-6
4. Leg extension 7x8-12
1. DB Leg Curl 1x12+3-6
2. Seated Leg Curl 1x12+3-6
3. Wide Stance leg press 2x12+3-6
4. Standing Leg curl 7x8-12 (FST-7 Style, with 30 seconds rest)

Day 2 (Heavy Chest/Back, Light Shoulders)
1a. Calve Machine Shrugs 4x10-15
1b. Side Laterals 4x10-15
1c.Upright rows 4x10-15

1a. Incline DB Fly 1x8+3-6
1b. Wide Grip Pullups 1x12+3-6
2a. Incline DB Press 1x8+3-6
2b. Close Grip Pulldown 1x12+3-6
3a. Flat DB Fly 1x8+3-6
3b. Barbell Rows 1x12+3-6
4a. Flat DB Press 1x8+3-6
4b. T-bar or Cable rows 1x12+3-6
5a. Cable Flys 7x8-12
5b. Lat straight arm pushdowns 7x8-12 (FST-7 Style, with 30 seconds rest)
*Back and Chest are done in a superset to maintain intensity for both muscle groups.

Day 3 Light Legs, Heavy Arms
1a. Hack Squats 6x12
1b. Leg Press 6x12
1c. Lying Db leg curls on a decline bench 6x12
1d. Seated leg curls 6x12

1a. Alternating DB curls (alternate each arm while one are is curling keep the other in the contracted position) 1x10+3-6
1b. Overhead DB extention 1x8+3-6
2a. Standing Ez bar curls (hold weight in contracted position for 5 seconds and lower in 5 with an explosive positive) 1x10+3-6
2b. Dips 2x8+3-6
3a. Standing Double Bicep pose curls in cross over machine 7x8-12
3b. Pressdowns 7x8-12 (FST-7 Style, with 30 seconds rest)

* Biceps and Triceps are done in a superset to maintain intensity for both muscle groups.

Day 4 Light Chest/Light Back, heavy shoulders
1a. Straight-arm cable pullovers 4x10-15
1b. Lat pulldowns (wide) 4x10-15
1c. Reverse grip pulldowns 4x10-15
1d. DB Incline Flys 4x10-15
1e. DB Incline Press 4x10-15
2a. Neurtral Grip cable row 4x10-15
2b. Wide Grip cable row to chest 4x10-15
2c. Machine Chest Press 4x15

1. Military Presses 2x8, then 3-6 push presses
2. DB Presses or Hammer Machine 2x8, then 3-6 cheat reps
3. Front Cable or dumbell raises 2x8-12 (FST-7 Style, with 30 seconds rest)
4. Side Cable or dumbell Raises 2x8-12
5. Rear cable or dumbell Raises 2x8-12

*Weight training was done every other day.

As crazy as this routine looks it brought me into the show in the best shape of my life to date. The final weeks were a pain though. To get the extra conditioning I needed we resorted to 2 down days and then at the very end 3 down days.

Next was show time. I had done everything I could, but was it enough?
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Last edited by Doberman; 09-03-2011 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 09-03-2011, 10:54 AM   #17
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this is good stuff dobes...keep it coming!
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Old 09-03-2011, 07:50 PM   #18
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Thanks Bro. I'll try to finish this up next week. More good stuff to come.
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Old 09-04-2011, 12:23 PM   #19
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As others have commented, this is a great (and entertaining read). I think many of us "Joes" can relate to at least one issue you have mentioned. I had hernia surgery in Sep 2009 and ended up competing in June 2010 winning my class, bigger/stronger than previously (with the help of Skip, of course).

Looking forward to the next chapter...

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Old 09-04-2011, 12:38 PM   #20
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Yeah hernias suck, but not as bad as you think it's going to be. I'll be back with more after my vacation....half of which is getting the tale end of the huricane in the Gulf!
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Old 09-05-2011, 09:10 PM   #21
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Enjoy the vacation dobe!
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Old 09-07-2011, 09:43 AM   #22
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Those are some crazy workouts, how long did they generally take you?

When you say you eventually had to get to 2 and 3 low days, do you mean in a row before another high day, or total for the week? From what I calculated it seemed to be about 1100 on low days (!!..lol) and 2700 on high days.

Have you tried incorporating skiploads?
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Old 09-13-2011, 12:36 AM   #23
Doberman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumped340 View Post
Those are some crazy workouts, how long did they generally take you?

When you say you eventually had to get to 2 and 3 low days, do you mean in a row before another high day, or total for the week? From what I calculated it seemed to be about 1100 on low days (!!..lol) and 2700 on high days.

Have you tried incorporating skiploads?
They didn't take as long as you would think. Keep in mind that I didn't rest long especially during the light workouts and many of the exercises are done in a giant set fashion. 1 minute would be the max. As far as the low days yes I would have 2 or 3 of those in a row. Keep in mind that this was towards the very end and we were trying to shed every ounce of fat we could. The prep I did after this we didn't only did a week of 2 down days, and one 3 down day at the end.

That being said we have come up with an easier, much more fun and, I believe, a more effective way to do the diet . I have not incorporated Skiploads, but at some point when I have time to experiment (maybe next year after my shows) I may try it. So far though I'm very happy with my current diet.
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Old 09-13-2011, 07:36 AM   #24
Pumped340
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Originally Posted by Doberman View Post

That being said we have come up with an easier, much more fun and, I believe, a more effective way to do the diet .
Is that method something you can/will share?

Very cool/interesting that posing is what took you over the top to beat that other guy
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Old 09-06-2011, 08:48 PM   #25
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For me this really hit home.
I have had several injuries and also have made great gains@ 28 years old
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