Monthly Archives: November 2015
Women think because I train competitors that their diet is some special mix of foods designed only for competitors. Nothing can be further from the truth. Competitors eat like we all should eat to be healthy. The only thing that’s different is that during competition prep the diet is higher in protein than I would recommend for a year round diet… but this is only for a short period of time. The food choices for a competitor are limited only because it’s easier to now exactly what they are eating if the choices are limited, not because there are ‘special’ foods that competitors “Must” eat – for example, chicken is the main staple meat of most competiton diets but you can eat practically any meat as long as you know the calorie count. Below is a diet for a competitor or anyone trying to lose body fat.
Figure Diet: the competition diet is pretty basic. Lean protein, fibrous carbs (vegetables), complex carbs and good fats. The diet should be structured to change as the body gets leaner.
- Meat: Chicken is the food of choice 80% of the time with fish and tuna being eaten 20% of the time. Some competitors switch to fish in the weeks prior to a show to help with fat loss.
- Protein powder: Every competitor uses protein powder each day between, 2-4 scoops. Closer to competition, competitors will replace some of their chicken or fish meals with protein powder to keep fat loss going. You should choose a powder that taste good to you, otherwise you get tired of it real quick.
- Supplements: A multivitamin once a day and protein powder, that’s about it for 95% of my competitors. Creatine should only be taken in the off-season. If i find that someone is taking creatine during precontest training, I will have them stop immediately because it makes you hold water.
- Cheat foods: Peanut butter seems to be the big winner when it comes to cheating. Almost every competitor admits to cheating on the diet. 70% will choose peanut butter. Ice cream is enjoyed by 30% of competitors and potato chips are eaten by 40%. They say the best thing to do is make sure there is none of the ‘offending’ food in the house… otherwise it will be eaten.
- Compliance with the diet: 99% of competitors cheat on the diet. I know a few who I ‘think’ won’t cheat… but I can’t be 100% sure. They often try to lie about it, but i get the truth eventually. Actually cheats are harmless and can be beneficial if kept to a minimum. The brain (psychology) and body (extra energy) benefits from the extra boost a cheat can give them.
- Artificial sweeteners: 60% say they use some sort of artificial sugar or flavoring in their coffee (also about 80% drink coffee). These have to be eliminated the last week of a show because they can hold on to water in your body. You can lose 3 or 4 lbs just by eliminating artificial sweeteners from your diet (depending on how much you use).
I think other trainers and competitors expect me to have some secret food or supplements that I use. I don’t. The only ‘secret’ is how the diet is structured… but the foods are just basic foods.
The charts below are based on my competition diets (http://www.figurecompetitiondiets.com/)
Jody and Laurie ate a diet that we all should follow…
It may be already too late. You probably started off today (Wednesday) thinking that you were going to eat ‘good’ today because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and you want to be able to eat whatever you want. Even if you already threw down on a bunch of carbs today, don’t worry about it – eat whatever you want for the next few days: Thanksgiving and the day after. If you eat exactly like I tell you to, you won’t gain even an ounce. Basically, the two days after your holiday binge you are going to skip breakfast (except for a piece of fruit) and then go low carbs for 3 main meals.
Think of a good meat you like (fish, chicken, beef etc) and think of your favorite vegetables (avoid carrots, legumes, peas and corn for these 2 days). You’re going to eat 3 meals: Lunch – Afternoon – Dinner. If you want to eat Lunch, Dinner and then a meal later at night, that’s fine also.
Breakfast: 1 piece of fruit (your choice) I suggest an apple because they are crunchy and take longer to eat – this gives the sensation of having eaten something of substance, whereas you can eat a banana in about 20-30 seconds and it doesn’t seem like you really ate anything.
- Meal: #1: Meat, Vegetables/with teaspoon of oil
- Meal #2: Meat, Vegetables/with teaspoon of oil
- Meal #3 Meat, Vegetables/with teaspoon of oil
Meat: (chicken, fish, beef, tuna ) Stay away from processed meats, they often contain sugar. You can substitute – Egg Whites, Protein Powder, Cottage Cheese for your meat (if you skip the oil on the vegetables you can have 2 egg yokes with the egg whites). Amount: I’m not giving you an amount of meat to eat because it’s very hard to eat too much meat. (it’s the carbs and fats that we can easily consume too quickly).
Vegetables: 150 grams eat meal – spinach, greens, broccoli, green beans, onions, celery, mushrooms, green/red pepper, asparagus, lettuce, brussels sprouts, – Finish your vegetables at each meal. If you want you can have more vegetables, they are so low in calories that it’s almost impossible to eat too many vegetables.
If you eat badly for one day then follow this for one day… if you ate poorly for 2 days then follow the above diet for two days. It’s really not a diet, it just focuses you away from carbs as your main source of calories.
If everyone who reads this article ate like this for a week, just a week, they would lose 5lbs… easily!
More and more I get questions from women who are in their 30’s or 40’s who’ve been working out for some time and would like to compete, but they are afraid that they won’t be able to compete with younger competitors. The other day I had a 39 year old woman come to my gym telling me how ‘everyone‘ said she could never compete with younger figure girls. I showed her pictures from a recent show in which all of my competitors were 35 or over (35-45). They won mutiple classes and one of my competitors missed a pro card by 1 point.
Just look at the ages of some of the current bikini pros! A woman’s body doesn’t mature until she is in her 30’s!
The really great thing about this sport is that age is not the hindrance that it is in many other sports. Recently while watching the Olympics I would hear the commentators praise competitors who are in their 30’s… for still competing with the younger athletes. In figure, age brings about wisdom, grace and often a better physique. I explained to this potential figure competitor that the over 35 competitor makes up the backbone of my entire team. I explained to her that each competitor from the recent show, besides leadership, brings something different to the table.
Then I hear this: “Won’t the judges always go for the younger competitor?” It doesn’t matter what your age is… if you have the best physique you will win, besides, judges respect the over 35 competitor… most judges are former competitors, and they know how much hard work goes into getting onstage at 40 or 45’s, when your metabolism starts to slow down, your skin is not quite as tight as it use to be and you have more life responsibilities which makes it more difficult to find enough time to train for a show…. they respect that.
So don’t listen to the naysayers… most don’t know what they’re talking about. If a trainer says you are too old, then find s trainer who is knowledgeable and willing to work with you – the truth is, a lot of trainers only want to train ‘easy’ competitors women who are 24 years old and in shape, who may have competed and done well in the past. They don’t want to start from square one with a woman who is 37 and never competed before… Ironically, as is often the case… that 37 year old will find another trainer (I hope it’s me) and show up at a competition and kick the other trainers competitor’s butt! Nothing like a little sweet revenge!
So without my ‘veterans’ …there would be no “Stokes Crew”
Since the explosion of women athletics in colleges, along with the increased number of women in gyms… doctors have noticed that women have a much higher percentge of knee injuries than men. There are a number of reasons for this… but one of them is squatting technique – either in preparation to jump (as in basketball or volley ball) or in the gym doing squats, lunges etc., and not being careful with technique. Below (video) is something I see much too often that can lead to injury, if done on a regular basis: “The Bounce”
Bouncing at the bottom of a squat makes it easier to get out of the lower squat positions – similar to bouncing the bar off your chest while bench pressing. The problem is that the knee tendons/ligaments are under a lot of strain during this bounce. Tendons are very strong and designed to handle more stress that the actual muscle the are attached to… BUT, you don’t want to repeatedly test their strength.
In the video below, the first few reps are done correctly (…no bouncing at the bottom). The remaining reps are done INCORRECTLY (bouncing at the bottom). Ideally, you should try to pause for a split second at the bottom of your squat to eliminate any possible bouncing. This is not only safer, but you get a better workout, because your leg muscle have to do ALL the work …with no help from the much stronger tendons.
Bouncing has always been a problem when doing regular bar squats, but it is even more of a problem now with the many plyometric based exercise programs that use jump squats and simiular types of movements – it’s very important to stay in control of these movements especially when you are tired or going for speed (form can become very sloppy wheh trying to ‘beat the clock’). Figure competitors must always keep in mind that an injury will make it very diffcult to reach competition condition… especially if your legs/knees are affected – because trying to do jump squats, cardio etc., on an injured knee is next to impossible.
What Type Of Equipment Do I Need To Lose Body Fat?
A lot of figure and bikini competitors think they need the latest high tech equipment or training philsophy to get ready for a show. I’ve always gone low-tech when I train clients. I use to work in large gyms with hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment…. but I would only need a corner of the gym, a few dumbells, a bench, a bosu ball and a few other low-tech pieces of equipment. My clients ALWAYS got the best results! This is why I developed my diets and training program… to dispell all of the misinformation out there about training, diet, and exactly what it takes to get ready for a figure or bikini show. I also realized that most of your training will be done on you own, without a trainer looking over you shoulder (if you’re lucky enough to get a knowledgeable trainer)
The other day, I received the following email from a Julie Valencia who used by online program to get ready for her first show in Toronto Canada. She prepared in her house without fancy equpiment or a trainer. She proves that determination goes a lot further than the latest piece of exercise equipment or DVD fad workout.
Then I received the following email a few days later…..
What Program Should I use?
The most important factors in training to lose body fat or a show are hard work, the proper diet and smart training. Don’t get caught up in the newest piece of gym equipment, cardio machine or new fangled exercise DVD that promises to burn 3x as many calories as the last exercise craze. Whatever program you decide to follow, just make sure it burns enough calories and preserves the muscle you already have and it will work, as long as you train hard enough. The unfortunate part is that many of the workout programs I see, either don’t burn enough calories or don’t put enough load on the muscle (which may lead to muscle loss during the fat loss process). So pick your programs wisely. …..Terry Stokes
The most often asked question of me is: “How do I build bigger, tighter, rounder etc… Glutes?”
I see so many magazine articles, online workouts and totally ridiculous infomercials showing how you should target the glutes. Most people know that most infomercials are nonsense but the magazine and online articles carry a lot more weight with women. The problem is that many of these ‘glute’ workouts/programs that I see is will build bigger quads and have little effect on your glutes. Understanding why this happens is the important so that you can avoid it… and target the glutes instead of the quads.
Everyone wants great glutes, but the location of them makes it very difficult to target them. Muscles like the biceps are very easy to target. You could do just one exercise like dumbbell bicep curls 3 x week and build nice biceps. You could even do them seated… it really wouldn’t matter. The glutes are a much different story. Because of their location/attachments, the glutes are hard to target without building the quads just as much. Good glute exercises such as lunges involve a lot of quads also. I see the magazine articles with these ‘glute’ workouts that, in actuality, will build bigger quads, than glutes.
What I’ve done is developed a system for training glutes that minimizes the quad involvement in these exercises. Don’t get me wrong, the quads still have to work… but the balance is shifted so that the glutes get more of the benefit. Pre-exhaustion is KEY when trying to target the glutes!
Pre-Exhaustion makes the glutes ‘temporarily’ weaker than the quads. When trained in this ‘weakend’ state, the glutes will have to work much harder during any exercise that involves them such a lunges or step-ps. The goal is to target the deeper muscle fibers of the glutes which normally are not worked hard, because the quads dominate the exercise. This may sound a bit confusing… but trust me, IT WORKS very well!
Women use pre-exhaustion for glutes and guys use it for pecs:
Very few people understand or use pre-exhaust techniques in training. It can be used for any body part. For example, with men, the chest is a body part that some have trouble building because their shoulders take a lot of the load (shoulder dominant). These guys often have big shoulders but small pecs. Pre-exhaustion can shift the ‘load’ of certain exercises, such as the bench press, and place it more-so on the chest.
Glutes and Genetics:
Just like any other body part, glute development depends a lot of genetics. The problem is that most women NEVER realize their true potential because they can’t ‘reach’ their glutes enough with traditional exercises. They just say something like: “I’ll never be able to build my glutes!” That’s nonsense! If you can build your biceps you can build your glutes.
If you want to try this technique out, this is the only glute workout program that uses pre-exhaustion for building glutes: http://www.ultimatebikinibutt.com/
(the article below was originally written for a course I ran for figure competitors… But this is actually the same advice I give anyone who has reached a plateau in their weight loss efforts. it’s simple advice but it comes from training hundreds of women)
One of the most frustrating things about getting ready for a figure competition is when you encounter a fat loss plateau. As a competitor you understand that there is no buffer for not getting in shape – you either hit your mark on contest day… or you don’t (then you kick yourself for training and dieting for 12 weeks and not getting in your best condition). So when you get to a point that fat loss slows or stops, it’s easy to go into panic mode. Slashing calories in half is what some competitors do. For those who decide to do that, they are going to have a miserable time mentally and physically as their body tries to adjust to 50% less calories. This is something you definitely want to avoid at all costs.
When overcoming a fat loss plateau you must attack it from 3 sides:
Diet: First you must tighten up your diet. This may mean cutting your diet by as few as 100 calories a day. You want to avoid cutting too many calories because this may cause your metabolism to slow down and go into ‘starvation’ mode. Once this happens, it’s hard to fire the metabolism up again.
Workout: You must increase the intensity of your workouts. Basically train harder: (1) lift heavier weights, (2) perform your normal workouts (same reps and sets) in less time, (3) add on an extra 15-20 minutes to your normal workout time, (4) take less time between sets so that the workout is more cardio-like etc. There are many ways to increase workout intensity. The important thing is not to ‘coast’ but make sure each workout is at a high intensity level.
Cardio: Step up your cardio intensity. This may mean just going harder for the same amount of time, for example, you may be able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes. What you want to do is try and run 3.2 miles in the same 30 minutes, then eventually 3.5 miles in that 30 minutes.
– Or you may change from a less effective form of cardio cardio workout (ex elliptical machine) to a more effective form of cardio (treadmill or outside running). This is a very effective way to increase the amount of calories you burn in a workout.
One mistake I see is when competitors try to do it all by slashing calories… DON’T do that! You will lose weight initially but your metabolism will slow down too much and all progress will stop. This will make it very difficult to lose further body fat. It’s much wiser to attack it a little from all 3 factors instead of just one.
Another Mistake I see is competitors who decide to double their cardio in order to lose body fat. This will work initially but it may take a toll on your body and mind… this can lead to burnout (mental and physical exhaustion).
So, If you do experience a plateau, don’t panic and do something drastic that will cause your metabolism to shut down or that will cause you to burnout… Just use moderation in adjusting your diet and training. This is the one ‘secret’ behind my success in training fitness and physique competitors over the past 10 years.
Negative accentuated exercises:
Negative accentuated exercises means going slower during the eccentric (negative) portion of an exercise. The negative portion is also called the lowering phase, examples are:
- lowering a barbell from the top of the curl position to the bottom (arms straight)
- lowering the bar from the top of the bench press exercise down to your chest
- during a pushup – when you lower yourself from the top position to the ground
Look at most people and they totally neglect this portion of the exercise with sloppy technique:
- during bicep curls – they let the bar fall from the top to the bottom instead of controlling it on the way down
- during bench press – they let the bar fall to their chest and sometimes let it bounce off to make the next rep easier
You are actually stronger during this phase of an exercise (the negative/lowering phase) than you are during the actual lifting of the weight.
- In a bicep curl – you can lower more weight than you can curl upward
- in the bench press – you can lower weight than you can push up from your chest
- etc, etc…
If you are stronger during the negative phase this means that there is the potential for more size and strength gains if you focus on that phase of the movement.
this holds true for any exercise – this concept (negative accentuated exercise) is one of the most important in all of weight training, whether you are trying to gain size, strength or increase the number of reps you can perform in a particular exercise.
For now just concentrate on lowering the dumbbell/barbell slower during the negative phase of all exercises. You will find that you won’t be able to perform as many reps but your muscles will be more exhausted after a set. In a later article i will go into more advanced negative accentuated techniques.
Don’t get carried away: start out slow with negatives, they place increase strain on ligaments and tendons, therefore don’t do a bunch of them the next time you workout out, do a few sets per muscle group where you really focus on the negative phase then perform the rest of your sets as you normally would. Eventually all of your sets should be done in the negative accentuated manner. You should notice some soreness the day after if you do them correctly.
When someone tells me that they’re eating good but are not seeing the results they want (usually fat loss), the first thing I do is watch them workout… because when it comes to results, what matters most is effort and the amount of work that is actually done during a workout. Many times a competitor may think they are training hard, they talk about how hard they are training, how many hours they spend in the gym… and even tell others how to train… but in reality they should be working out much harder themselves.
Take a look at the video below. The first few reps of the squat rows look ok… but in reality Laurie could lift heavier weight, which would give her a much better workout.
When Laurie increases the weight from 55lbs. to 140lbs for the last 12 reps, this greatly increases the amount of work she is doing.
Let’s compare the two:
- 12 reps with 55 lbs = 660 lbs
- 12 reps with 140 lbs = 1,680 lbs
Imagine the difference in someone’s physique if they used the heavier weight for 3 months, instead of the lighter weights. This is why I always tell figure competitors to put their work in early in competition prep because there is no making up for lost time …. you can’t catch-up if you slack (at the lower weight) for 11 weeks and think that there is some magical trick that will ‘bring it all together’ the last week before a show – sorry but it’s not going to happen! So train hard everyday so you get the results you want …and so that you don’t have to spend all day in the gym.
One of the biggest misconceptions in physique sports is that it’s possible to build muscle and lose body fat at the same time. Sorry to go against all of the ‘experts’ out there, but this is impossible to do! Whether it’s a trainer telling a client, someone selling a book or someone repeating what they heard another person say, it’s just not possible.
Basically in order to lose weight you need to take in LESS calories than your body needs to maintain it’s current weight. The exact opposite is true of someone trying to gain muscle/weight: you need to take in MORE calories than your body needs to maintain it’s current weight.
Can’t count the number of time I’ve read something online about someone losing body fat and gaining muscle at the same time….. STOP please! This sport is filled with nonsense – from competitors believing that if they aren’t champion material by the beginning of the final week before a show, that there are some secret prep-week tricks that will get them into championship condition by show… uhhh No! Or the 110lb figure competitor who thinks dehydration will make her look leaner before a show – in actuality she will become a 105lb figure competitor who will look flat onstage because she just sucked the water out of her muscles! ….I could go on for hours!
Back to muscle building and fat loss: I just don’t understand why this simple concept is not more easily understood among those in this field. Sometimes you just have to tell the truth to clients/competitors: “No you will not be gaining any muscle while losing body fat, what you can do is maintain your existing muscle as you lose body fat by doing resistance exercises.” It may not be what a client or competitor wants to hear, but it’s the truth, and you should never lie just to attract or keep clients.