Part II of My Interview with Bret Contreras

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Hope everyone had an awesome Memorial Day weekend. I, on the other hand, had an amazing time in Puerto Rico last week – eating the local cuisine, vegging out poolside, and if you can believe it, busted out a few moves on the dance floor salsa dancing. Granted I failed miserably, but it made the GF happy. By the way, here’s the view we had from our hotel as we ate brunch Sunday morning.

In any case, I attempted to post an interview I did with Bret Contreras while I was away last week, but unfortunately there was some form of coding error, which resulted in those using IE to not be able to see it. I think it’s fixed now, so you can click HERE to check out part I. Below is part II……..enjoy! This better work, or I’m suing Internet Explorer for sucking.

TG: You recently bulked up to a solid 240 lbs. I know there are a lot of guys out there looking to add some meat to their frame, and claim they “eat, like, ALL day,” which we all know is bullshit. Care to elaborate what your plan of attack was? And, as a corollary to that question – what are your top 5 tips for guys looking to add mass?

BC: Sure! I simply ramped up my caloric intake and got stronger. Your protein intake should always remain relatively constant, but carbs and fat are the two macronutrients you should increase when trying to bulk up.

This was very fun, as when you’re packing on pounds your metabolic rate increases and it gets harder and harder to gain weight. I was eating and drinking all the macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, rice, yogurt, milk, orange juice, and fruit my heart (or belly) desired.

I don’t need five tips for guys looking to add mass, I only need three:

  • Keep it relatively clean. There’s a fine line between eating for muscle gain and eating like a fat slob. If all of your increased calories come from high-fructose corn syrup and trans-fats your physique will not look as good as it would if you increased your calories from a variety of carbohydrate and fat sources. The foods I listed above are good for bulking.

Side Note from TG: I’ll also add dates, figs, whole, pastured eggs, and peanut butter/banana sandwiches to the mix as well.

  • Focus on progressive overload. If you’re packing on the pounds you should be getting stronger each week on the big lifts such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, and chin ups. If you gain 20 lbs and don’t get stronger then the weight you put on will consist of a much higher percentage of fat gain. You want to minimize fat gain and maximize muscle gain during bulking phases.
  • Never let yourself get too out of control. You should always be able to see your upper and middle abs. If you are a male and you have above a 15% bodyfat level then you have no business bulking.

Another Note from TG: Couldn’t agree more here. Conversely, if you’re 140 lbs soaking wet, you have no business “cutting.”

TG: Now that you’re known as “the glute guy,” I’m sure you get your fair share of female clients. How, if anything, would you alter your training modalities to fit the needs/wants of a woman?

In my opinion, most women do best on full body routines. This is due to two main reasons. First, full body routines burn a ton of calories and are actually a form of high intensity interval training which elevates EPOC so they burn fat around the clock. I like pairing up a lower body exercise with an upper body or core exercise.

And second, you get to hit the glutes hard during every single training session and can program in a bunch of different types of hip extension and glute exercises throughout the week. If you want to make a woman’s body look good, all you have to do is get her relatively lean and add shape to her booty. It’s that simple.

Conversely, I believe that most men do best with a lower/upper split which is an entirely different topic.

TG: Badda-bing. Well said Bret. Since we’re on the topic, top 3 gluteus maximi out there? You know I had to ask.

BC: Vida Guerra, Jessica Alba, and whoever the heck this girl is. More importantly, who do I need to know to regularly get invited to these kind of parties?

TG: Great, you just got someone fired from their job, Bret. Okay, I like to throw my interviewees a few curve balls, and have some fun. You know, you show my readers that we do have a life outside of strength and conditioning. That said:

- What’s the last movie you watched that rocked your world? Which one made you want to jump off a cliff?

BC: Two weeks ago I saw Ironman II and it was amazing! Not quite as good as the first but still badass. Last week I saw Robin Hood and loved it. Not quite as good as Gladiator or Braveheart but still in the same class. A few weeks ago I rented this movie called The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans. I thought it had potential because it featured Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendez, and Val Kilmer but it was honest to goodness the worst movie I’ve ever seen.

I actually recommend this movie because it will blow you away in terms of how piss-poor it is. Yes, I just ended a sentence with a preposition. I never claimed to be Lou Schuler!

TG: Hahahaha. I actually have that movie on my Netflix queue, thanks for sparing me two hours of my life. What kind of music do you like to listen to when you train?

BC: Sometimes I just listen to the radio but then I get annoyed at all the commercials which seem to come on right when your max set of squats or deadlifts comes up. So often I throw in a CD. I like anything that gets me pumped up, which could be heavy metal, punk, rap, or even techno. I have two special max deadlifting songs by a band called Rise Against that get me so amped up I swear they boost my strength by at least 5%. The names of the songs are Prayer of the Refugee and Give it All.

- MUST haves for anyone looking to build their own garage gym?

BC: First of all, to anyone who owns a house and loves lifting weights, I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it is to have your own garage gym. Have weak hamstrings? Go out and do glute ham raises for two sessions each day. Weak grip? Go do specialized grip work outs a couple of times per week.

With customized special workouts you can fix a weak link in a matter of a couple of weeks. Tired of waiting for equipment, listening to crappy music, and having to watch people doing stupid stuff in the gym? Don’t like weird looks if you do pull throughs or hip thrusts? Getting sick of people curling in the squat rack? Sad that you’ll never have a chalk bin, a deadlift lever, or a glute ham developer? Equip your garage and you’ll never have to deal with any of it ever again!

And you can keep accumulating cool tools over time to make your workouts even more effective. I’ve got unique equipment that I use quite often in my training which I believe makes a tremendous difference as variety prevents injury and stagnation. Here is what I believe to be the best “waves” in acquiring a comprehensive garage gym. Please note that you could stop after the first wave and be set for life. Anything after than is merely icing on the cake.

1st Wave: Texas power bar, plates, collars, power rack/platform with chin up bar and dip attachments, bench press, jump rope, stereo system, mats, hand towels, timer, foam roller, tiger tail, lacrosse ball.

2nd Wave: dumbbell rack, dumbbells, chalk bin, deadlift lever, box squat box, step up attachment, blast straps or trx system, incline bench, military bench, portable bench, Hampton thick bar pad, 2-board, airex pad, jump stretch bands, chains, JC bands, hip belt, medicine balls, valslides, manta ray, stability ball

3rd Wave: hex bar (trap bar), kettlebells or Hungarian core blaster, sledgehammer, tire, Prowler, safety squat bar, grappler, cambered bar, chest supported row, battle ropes, front squat harness, reverse hyper, glute ham developer, 45 degree back raise

Note from TG: The above is a hex/trap bar. It’s for DEADLIFTING, and is not to be used for doing shrugs or anything similar to it. Thank you, and I appreciate your support.

4th Wave: slideboard, tornado ball, pulling stands, Cook bar, lever squat, dual pulley system with all basic attachments, easy bar, arc barrel, Airdyne, ankle weights, grippers, loading pin, strap harness, Woodway speedboard, leg press

Okay, to fit all of this stuff in a garage comfortably you’d need at least a 3-car garage but it’s nice to have a dream. If you want to train people out of your garage gym, it’s nice to have a refrigerator, water cooler, marker board, scale, and FMS kit. I am lucky enough to have a Skorcher for my garage so I can do stuff like this, which helps explain why my glutes will always be the stronger than yours!

- When are you coming to Boston?

BC: I really want to visit Boston. I hear it’s the best! I’ve been to New York and Chicago and loved both cities. Phoenix has around ten tall buildings in its downtown area and is one of the most pathetic major cities in terms of character and history. Don’t get me wrong, I love Phoenix but it’s fascinating to travel to other major cities. I may be attending the Perform Better 3-Day Functional Training Summit in Providence, RI in early June. Maybe that would be a good time to extend the stay and visit Boston. I’m only coming if you promise to let me train at CP for a day!

TG: You’re on! We tend to have some epic staff lifts, so I’m sure you’d fit right in. Lastly, do you have anything in the works for the near future?

Yes. I’m currently writing a book on my system for developing maximal muscle and strength. I have used and refined this system for many years now and believe it is going to be very beneficial to those who read it.

Thank you very much for the interview Tony! I really appreciate it.

TG: Anytime Bret! Again, to check out more of Bret’s stuff, make sure you check out his blog HERE.

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