In The Bag

You carry your whole life your gym bag, you might as well get a good one.

By Amanda Burrill, MS


There’s no such thing as the one “one size fits all” for gym bags. You’ll certainly want something that deters odor, is water resistant, durable, and maybe has a separate compartment for food and drink. But your workouts are highly personal, and so should your gear experience.

There are about seven million gym bag options, many of which pass the initial tests. I dragged some of my favorite contenders around smelly, dirty, wet NYC, offering a level of damage bombardment on top of my own beatdown, to help choose the best hardbody handbag.

Apera Performance Duffel

Cost:  $139

Where to buy:

An Apera bag, virtually indestructible, lasted through being my gym bag for a year and then living and traveling abroad in Europe for another. The Performance Duffel, Apera’s best-seller, is my top choice for keeping everything organized especially if you’re a “from work to gym” type. There are two carry handles and a padded shoulder strap. The inner capacity is substantial, with two water bottle holders; a pocket on each end, both big enough for a pair of men’s size 12 shoes; laptop storage; and their signature antimicrobial product protection that resists the formation of bacterial odor. Also to love about Apera, free shipping and hassle-free returns.


MZ Wallace Sutton

Cost: $215–$245

Where to buy:

My love affair with this water- and stain-resistant bag is deep. I first saw it in the Equinox shop and the camo version caught my eye, military gal that I am, and it had leather trim and gold hardware. The next day I saw the actual flagship store in Soho and I knew it was meant to be. Sutton comes in small, medium, and large, and all versions have interior pockets, detachable travel pouches, and an adjustable crossbody strap. What put the last nail in the coffin for me is the incredibly lightweight nylon construction, making it crushable and rollable. My gym stuff weighs enough and I am about to go destroy some steel—I don’t need a bag that adds to my workout. But this one certainly adds to my style.


Six Pack Bags Expedition Backpack 3-Meal

Cost: $160

Where to buy:

As a chef and sponsored athlete, this bag is where my two worlds collide. It’s called “Expedition” because it will take whatever beating you give it, in our out of the gym. This backpack allows you to safely carry three insulated meals, gym gear, and a 15-inch laptop/tablet in a safe separate compartment. The setup comes with three 20-ounce leak-proof meal containers and three freezer packs (two small, one large) that fit snugly into the removable meal core. If you meal prep, you need a Six Pack Bag.


Ogio X-Train 2

Cost:  $90

Where to buy:

This is the ultimate badass urban bag. Some of the features include a removable external helmet-carry strap, side cinch straps perfect for a towel or yoga mat, a dedicated compartment for wet or smelly stuff that is also big enough to fit a pair of shoes, and a hydration pocket with tube port that accommodates a water bladder. Anyone carrying a full load will appreciate the ergonomic fully adjustable padded shoulder straps, sternum strap, padded laptop/tablet compartment, and valuables compartment—aka tech vault—that is uncrushable. Don’t worry about damaging your phone or glasses as you brave the day! This bad boy packs a lot of awesome for a relatively low price.


Herschel Novel Duffle in Nylon

Cost:  $140

Where to buy:

I can’t leave the house without seeing a dozen Herschel bags. Newsflash: Style alone isn’t enough, so I got myself their duffle in the durable nylon construction, and it was boss. The leather handles and details keep it on the dressy side, and the padded shoulder strap adds practicality. The shoe compartment is plenty big for men’s sneakers, and I love the quality construction. The price may seem steep, but this is a bag you will have for a very long time, and it will never go out of style.



Cost:  $60

Where to buy:

This eco-chic Gaiam bag, slightly feminine even in the black, has features galore presented in an understated package that goes from street to gym. Compartments include an exterior zip pocket, an interior elastic pocket, a vented compartment, and a very spacious interior. Adjustable shoulder straps allow for hands-free, as do two side Velcro pockets that double as drink holders, and a cinch cord on the bottom of the bag to stash your yoga mat or towel. I like the vented exterior compartment that can hold shoes or wet items separately. Most of all, I like the price.


Everest Sports Duffel

Cost: $28

Where to buy:

If you don’t care about frills but prioritize function, this can be your huckleberry! This economical duffel has everything you need including a spacious main compartment, two front zippered compartments to separate your valuables, a waterproof pocket for damp or dirty clothes, and a dedicated shoe space. The shoulder strap is padded and comfortable, but you can also carry the bag with the tote handles. The bag comes in black or a choice of black with three different color accents. I imagine the Brawny Man uses this gym bag. He gives zero F’s about being fancy. IM

Immensity Through Intensity

Use these unique training techniques to put your hypertrophy into hyperdrive.

By Eric Broser


If there is one essential lesson that I have learned in my 25-plus years as a competitive bodybuilder, trainer, and contest prep coach, it is that the human body is an incredibly adaptable machine and will rapidly cease to respond to stimuli it is exposed to time and again. This is something that is just built into our physiology and has far greater implications to our very survival than the pursuit of a better physique.

Most people tend to fall into one specific method of training early on and then rarely break this pattern as the years (and workouts) go by. As long as trainees are progressive with the weights and use proper form, this approach will usually manifest some success, at least for the first few of years of training. However, as more time elapses, this one-dimensional system will eventually bring about progressively diminishing returns as far as hypertrophy is concerned and increased levels of frustration. You see, too many misguided lifters use the same exercises, in the same order, with the same tempo, rest between sets, training techniques, and rep ranges, month after month. One of the biggest roadblocks to progress (in anything that we do) often comes down to doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.

In future articles, I will touch upon several different methods of training that I have developed over the years, all of which are meant to keep the body from plateauing and tap into all of the various physiological mechanisms we possess to positively affect muscle growth. In this particular piece I wish to focus my attention on the use of three specific intensity techniques that will provide a powerful stimulus to the target muscle to force new adaptations to take place. And by “adaptations,” I mean “more muscle!”

Intensity Booster #1: Rest/Pause Sets

Although there are actually several versions of this technique floating around the world’s many gyms, I have discovered my own method of rest/pause sets, which does an excellent job of igniting new gains in mass and strength. Once you are warmed up and ready to begin your first all-out set, you should choose a weight that will allow you to reach positive failure between reps seven and nine. At this point you will set the bar down and catch your breath for about 15 seconds. Then, grab the weight and proceed until you once again reach positive failure. Then, you will take a 30-second rest to help recover a final burst of muscular/mental strength, before going to failure again one final time. This is equivalent to one rest/pause set.

Intensity Booster #2: Eccentric Pause Reps

This is a technique I often utilize when looking to bring about some extra muscle-fiber damage and soreness in order to force anabolism to take place. Using the bench press an example, a properly performed eccentric pause rep would go like this: Remove the barbell from the safeties and stabilize your body for pressing the load. Lower the bar about two-thirds of the way down and then hold this position for three full seconds while contracting your pecs. Then, lower the weight down to the chest and forcefully press it back to the top. Repeat this process for about five to seven reps, with the goal of reaching positive muscular failure in that range.

Intensity Booster #3: One And A Half Reps

I love using one and a half reps because they help increase the target muscle’s time under tension, force you to double up on the eccentric contraction, and produce one heck of a monster pump. All of these elements definitely push hypertrophy to new levels. One of my favorite movements to utilize this technique on is the Smith machine incline press. Begin by slowly lowering the bar to your upper chest, just below your clavicle bones. Push back up, but only halfway. Immediately lower the bar once again and then press all the way back to the starting position. That completes a single one and a half rep.


Intensity-Boosted Pec-Punisher Workout

Use these intensity-boosting techniques only once every four weeks for any one muscle. Otheriwise,  burnout can occur. Also, make sure to use a spotter with you when necessary.

  • Rest-Pause Set: Weighted Dip 2 x 7-9

Perform 7-9 reps;  rest 15 seconds, then perform max reps; rest 30 seconds, then do max reps again. Complete that process twice

  • One And A Half Reps Set: Smith Machine Incline Press 3 x 7-9
  • Eccentric Pause Reps Set: Flat Dumbbell Press 3 x 5-7


Muscle/Training Research

Fail First, Then Grow

Should you fail before you even really get started? At least two scientific studies say yes. In the first, published in the July 2015 issue of the European Journal of Applied Physiology, subjects performed one set of leg extensions, using 20 percent of their one-rep max (1RM) and repping to failure. They then did three sets of eight to 12 reps at 75 percent of their 1RM, a routine they repeated twice per week. After eight weeks, the pre-exhaust group increased their 1RM, the cross-sectional area of their quadriceps, and their muscular endurance more so than the control group who just did the three sets of eight to 12. Research published in the January/February 2016 issue of The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness backed those results, but at a higher weight. Subjects in that study did a pre-exhaust leg-extension set at 80 percent of 1RM to failure to lead off their twice-weekly workouts, which consisted of three sets of 15 to 20 reps at 50 percent of 1RM. After eight weeks, those who added the additional pre-exhaust set experienced greater increases in one-rep strength, endurance, and work efficiency—although the quads did not grow more as a result. Still, though, a leadoff set to failure could give you a leg up in your training efforts.

It’s No Big Secret

Here’s why exercise order matters: It can affect hormonal responses, says a 2016 study published in the Asian Journal Of Sports Medicine. Researchers compared the effects of starting with large muscle groups first versus leading off with smaller bodyparts on serum insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), testosterone, and cortisol levels in 25 untrained college-aged men who did three sets of 10 reps maximum to near fatigue in their workouts. While the order didn’t impact the number of reps they could muster, and IGF-1 and testosterone increased immediately post-exercise for both protocols, doing large muscle group exercises first and then progressing to small muscle groups produced greater anabolic hormonal response compared to the reverse sequence in normal-weight men. Of course, in muscle building, hormones matter—so it makes sense to do legs, back, chest, and shoulders before arms, calves, and abs.

Vaporize Vaping With Weights

Got a nasty vaping habit that you’re trying to shake? Consider hitting the weights to help your cause, Brown University researchers suggest. They tested 25 long-term smokers, providing a brief smoking cessation counseling session and the nicotine patch before putting part of the group on a 12-week resistance-training program. According to the report in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, at three months, 46 percent of the resistance-trained group had abstained for seven days from smoking, compared to only 17 percent in the control group. After six months, 38 percent of the resistance-trained group reported seven days without a smoke break, compared to 17 percent of those who weren’t training; more prolonged abstinence rates were 15 percent and eight percent, respectively—almost double. Meanwhile, those training lost 1.3 pounds and half a percent of body fat, while the control group gained approximately that same amount on average.


Five Foods For Muscle

To add more mass, try adding these underrated foods to your plate.

By Team Iron Man


If putting on muscle were simply a matter of eating a lot, there would be a lot more jacked guys and a lot fewer fat guys. The journey of adding muscle is fraught with obstacles, especially when it comes to nutrition. While you’re probably overly familiar with chicken breast, tilapia, and ground turkey, we’ve compiled a list that includes some undercover muscle-building foods. These novel foods are esoteric in nature, providing valuable nutrients either not typically found together in such abundance or are highly specific in their muscle-building properties and favorable effects on the body. These won’t build muscle on their own, but if you have your macronutrient bases covered, they can help speed the journey to a bigger, stronger you.

Hemp Seeds

These seeds are actually a complete protein, a significant source of chlorophyll and fiber and contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Whole hemp seeds contain albumin and edestin (both proteins, the latter found only in hemp seeds), which quickly get to starving muscles. Hemp seeds also contain fiber and minerals, most notably zinc for your immune system and phosphorus and magnesium for bone health.


A 2009 study published in the journal Nutrition brought to light the anti-catabolic powers of this spice, noting that curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) may enhance recovery of damaged muscle tissue. As if that’s not reason enough to consume it, consider that turmeric is a potent antioxidant, aids in fat metabolism, works as an anti-inflammatory, and is a powerhouse when it comes to reducing the risk of many types of cancers. A study done at Kansas State University found that seasoning meat with turmeric reduces heterocyclic amines (cancer-causing chemicals that form in foods cooked at high temps) by up to 40 percent.


This fruit seed contains all eight essential amino acids. It also gets points in the areas of immune health with its antioxidant content; improved digestion and hunger management thanks to its high fiber level; and blood glucose management due to a compound called d-chiro-inositol (a natural metabolite that is part of the vitamin B family), which increases insulin sensitivity. Several studies have shown that buckwheat, which is gluten-free, effectively slows the rate of sarcopenia, which is the natural age-related decline of muscle strength and mass.


Want a better pump? Beets are also one of the richest sources of those same nitrates found in spinach that benefit mitochondria. A study published in the European Journal Of Applied Physiology showed an increase of skeletal muscle protein synthesis with the supplementation of betaine, a chemical compound so named because it was originally discovered in sugar beets. Another benefit is its detoxifying effect: Beet consumption has shown to improve liver function. Beet juice also contains vitamin C, iron, potassium, and copper.


A study published in the British Medical Journal reported that the consumption of cocoa increases nitric oxide production, while another study confirmed that its rich flavanol content is responsible for these impressive effects. Vasodilation occurs through an increase in nitric oxide stimulated by the flavanols, carrying more oxygen to your muscles to provide a bigger pump during training. A third study found that a specific phenol, called epicatechins, helps reverse muscle wasting. Cocoa’s impressive antioxidant content, as well as its ability to reduce inflammation and increase insulin sensitivity, should seal the deal.  


Fat Loss Research

“Cap” The Calories

Turns out the burning sensation you get from chili peppers isn’t just for your taste buds. Capsaicin—the culprit in chili peppers that brings the heat—has been touted as a metabolism booster for years now, with studies to back it up. One interesting paper published by online journal PLOS ONE in 2013 even pinpointed an ideal amount: 2.56 milligrams per meal for those on low-calorie diets. What they found was that approximately a quarter teaspoon of capsaicin, equivalent to 39,050 Scoville heat units, per meal helped somewhat offset the typical energy expenditure decrease that occurs when we’re in lower-calorie mode. The capsaicin also prompted more fat oxidation compared to those who didn’t sprinkle on the hot stuff. While this study isn’t conclusive evidence in favor of chili pepper and fat loss, it can’t hurt to add some to your meals, especially if you’re on an especially restrictive shredding-mode diet.

Early Birds Get The Burn

Bleary eyed, pre-dawn bouts on the treadmill before your first meal may not sound like a ton of fun—but science is proving the practice effective. In a study of multiple studies published in the British Journal Of Nutrition in September 2016, researchers gathered data on 27 trials that compared the metabolic effects of aerobic exercise on those in fasted and “fed” states. Based on measures of plasma concentrations of glucose and insulin in 273 adults, significantly higher fat oxidation—the technical term for “fat burning”—took place in those who were doing cardio on an empty stomach when compared to those with food in their system. If you’re just not a morning person, you can still put these findings to good use by foregoing food a couple of hours before your workout.

Fat-Fighting Fruit

A recent culinary fad may also prove to be a new weapon in the battle of the bulge. Acai, the trendy Brazilian fruit, may help reduce obesity and battle the effects of a high-fat diet on the liver—according to a preliminary study on mice, at least. As detailed in the 2015 paper published in PLOS ONE, mice who consumed a high-fat diet and were given Acai extract didn’t gain weight and showed significantly improved plasma and tissue metabolic profiles. They also maintained liver-fat levels comparable to mice fed a normal diet. The researchers contend that the beneficial effects of acai involve blunting fat formation, increasing cholesterol disposal, and reducing oxidative stress in the liver. The results still need to be corroborated in humans, of course, but at worst, you have a brand-new tasty ingredient to toss into your next protein shake.


Core Values

Doug Miller is serious about bringing transparency, efficacy, and integrity to the supplement industry.

By Mike Carlson


“Necessity is the mother of invention” is a good way to describe Doug Miller’s entry into the supplement  world 12 years ago. Working long hours in management at an economic litigation consulting company, the natural bodybuilding champion relied heavily on meal-replacement products to get him through long work days and tough workouts. But he’d often look at the label and think “Why?”

“At the time I was using Met-RX and Myoplex packets,” Miller says. “They had 40 grams of protein and vitamins and minerals, but the carbs were coming from maltodextrin. Why would I want a meal replacement that has post-workout carbs that will give me an insulin spike? Why would I want that for breakfast or between meals? That didn’t make sense to me.”

Miller decided to do something about it, and with degrees in biochemistry, molecular biology, and economics, it wasn’t long before he created Core MRP, a high-protein, high-fiber meal replacement that utilizes slow-digesting oat and barley fiber as its main source of carbs. Necessity, meet invention.

Over a decade later, Miller has broken free of the golden handcuffs of corporate America and Core is now an international brand with a full range of products, from sleep aids, test boosters, fat burners, and pre-workouts to four of five different types of protein. What has not changed about Core is the refusal to use proprietary blends in their formulas. All Core supplements use clinical doses of active ingredients, with each dose clearly labeled with its gram amounts. It is at the vanguard of a sea change in the supplement industry, and it is a phenomenon that helps Miller sleep very soundly at night.


MC: You were a successful corporate guy. What got you into the supplement business?
The reason I started the company in 2004 was because I wasn’t happy with all the crap on the market. I wasn’t happy with fillers, proprietary blends, and cheap ingredients. I started this company with a 100 percent selfish perspective, creating products I wanted to use. To this day, we follow the same principles. We were the first people to make non-proprietary blends a standard. That type of 100 percent transparency was very important to me.

Mike Carlson: Has that resonated with supplement buyers?

Doug Miller: Absolutely. They love it. We find that our consumer base is a very educated consumer base, in terms of people understanding ingredients and why they are dosed as opposed to people who are driven by marketing hype. I think there is a transition right now in the industry that the consumer is demanding. So much so that the bigger marking giants are even switching to non-proprietary blends and marketing it as such.

MC: Are you trying to find the next creatine or simply doing the basics right?
Doing them right. We are looking at products that are proven to work, dosing them correctly, and throwing them in a blend with 12 other clinically dosed ingredients. So it is the synergistic nature of efficacious dose of all those ingredients that makes the products so good.




MC: Clinical dosages make for expensive products. Do you have to defend the cost of Core products to consumers?

DM: I tell people that our products are not cheap in both senses: They are not cheap to make and not cheap to sell. However, they are a phenomenal value. For example, Core ABC is 54 dollars. People are like, “Fifty-four dollars for a BCAA? That is expensive!” But most BCAAS are 300-, 400-, or maybe 500-gram tubs, and they sell for well over half the price for ours. We have 1,000 grams in our BCAA product. When you break it down to per servings, our product is a phenomenal value. If you look at our pre-workout, you’re getting 29 servings of a product that has a 16-gram scoop. What other pre-workout gives you five grams of creatine monohydrate? And that’s just one ingredient. If you tried to make that product up yourself by buying commodity products and making your own Core Fury, you are going to spend 90 dollars.

MC: You sponsor a lot of natural bodybuilders. Why is that?
I’m a natural bodybuilder. I have won the World Championships a couple times, and that is my passion. I don’t have anything against people using PEDS as long as they’re not trying to compete in the natural organizations. For me, it is really important to have natural athletes on the team. If a supplement company puts a ’roided-out guy on an ad, that’s just false advertising for the 16-year-old who’s getting into bodybuilding. Also, if we are beta-testing products, I don’t want someone who’s on cycle trying my products and giving me feedback, because who knows if it’s effective when you have so much other stuff going on.

MC: What are Core’s flagship products?
I would say our two flagships are Core ABC and Core Fury Extreme. Core ABC is our intra-workout BCAA product. We can’t keep it in stock and we can’t make it fast enough. It’s probably 25 percent of our sales. The other one is out pre-workout, Core Fury Extreme. It’s fully loaded with clinical doses. A scooper in this looks like a protein scooper. You would never take more than one scoop of this product. This past year, these products won Intra-Workout Of The Year and Pre-Workout Of The Year in Australia.

MC: What is a typical day like for you?

DM: It’s all over the place—I wear many hats. I have a chain of retail stores on the East Coast called The Nutrition Corners. We are about to open up our sixth and seventh stores. I’m in the books every day because I think it’s important for leaders and CEOs to understand where you’re making money and where you’re losing money. But most of my time is spent on the Core side of things, from talking about marketing initiatives to formulating new products. Literally, I do everything.

MC: How do you find time to train?
Not training is never an option for me. I train every day. That is what I do. People relate me and Core together, so it’s important that I train. And I love it. I started this company to make my training better. Sometimes I tell people I’m in a meeting. Well, that meeting might be me in the gym. It’s that important to me. IM



Fall Guy

By Amanda Burrill, MS


The holidays are approaching and out to try and derail your diet, but there are ways around it! For example, go hide and don’t come out until January. Just kidding. We welcome the fall flavors of rich candied sweet potato, pumpkin, and the associated spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves (or pumpkin pie spice for the lazy ones) without fear.

I made a shake this month with a tart and tangy twist as a fresh play on an old classic: sweet potato pie. Most anyone on top of their meal-prep game has sweet potatoes hanging around. When I was prepping for my first competition and eliminated candy, sweet potatoes probably saved my sanity.

The key ingredients of this recovery shake capture fall’s colors, right down to the healthy fat we’re toying with this month: red palm oil. This rich, buttery culinary oil’s color reveals its abundance of antioxidant vitamins A and E. Further experimentation with this ingredient proved it to be a great additive to soups and sautées and stir-frys. You can even pop popcorn in it—much like coconut oil—to get a tasty twist on an otherwise bland snack.

This concoction satisfies that protein-carb requirement after a great workout. And if you’re hitting it high intensity, these starchy sweet potato carbs are a more direct replenishment of muscle glycogen than fruit carbs. Honestly, I don’t know how bodybuilders would survive without sweet potatoes. I don’t toss religious rhetoric around, but they’re certainly proof of a higher power.

This protein smoothie reminds of me the batter of sweet potato pie before you bake it. Wait, you don’t usually taste batters with raw eggs? Sissy.


1 small container Greek yogurt (about 5 ounces)

½ roasted sweet potato (about ½ cup)

1 teaspoon red palm oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon clove

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Handful ice

Water to thin, if necessary

Total: 374 calories, 30 g carbs, 37 g protein, 11 g fat, 4 g fiber


Combine all ingredients in a blender, beginning with the liquid to avoid sticky protein-powder clumps. Blend until smooth.



Sweet Potato

We know that sweet potatoes are revered for their beta carotene content, just look at that bright hue. But how about that fiber? They contain twice the amount as other types of potatoes. This high fiber content moves slowly through your system so their caloric energy gets burned much more efficiently. They also contain choline, a nutrient that helps muscle movement and assists in maintaining the structure of cellular membranes.

Red Palm Oil

First off, let’s get this straight: Red palm fruit oil is different than palm kernel oil. The red oil is derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree and is, you guessed it, red. The kernel oil is derived from the seed and is very high in saturated fat. The red palm oil from the fruit has been used by many civilizations, going back to ancient Egyptians. The red in the “good” palm oil is evidence of its high carotene content, the same antioxidants that give tomatoes and carrots their rich coloring. But red palm fruit oil contains even more and also provides tocotrienols, which are a powerful form of vitamin E.


Those crazy Egyptians—cinnamon goes back to them, too! While it used to be a rare gift fit for a king, it’s now nice and cheap. This fragrant spice is well known for lowering blood-sugar levels. Aside from beneficial effects on insulin resistance, it lowers blood sugar in other ways. For example, studies show the spice decreases the amount of glucose that goes into the bloodstream after a meal by interfering with digestive enzymes, slowing the carb breakdown through the digestive tract. The inner bark of a tree never tasted so good!



What The Pros Take

Five world-class athletes share their daily supplement programs.

By Mike Carlson


The quest for a lean and muscular body is served well by a meticulous, dependable routine. That’s one reason why supplements are so popular among physique athletes. They make that habitual clockwork lifestyle a bit easier. But while weighing food and counting calories is a strict practice of hard numbers and science that is a slave to the law of thermodynamics, supplements inject a bit of Chaos Theory into the equation. They are influenced by individuality to a surprising degree.

Building muscle is a science, but there is also a certain amount of art to the process, a human factor that comes from being in the gym every day for years. Bodybuilding has always been a combination of both worlds, melding clinical research with raw experience. Finding the right supplements for your own individual goals is the art that allows the science to happen.

Here we have pulled back the curtain on of the supplement closet of five elite athletes. They discuss when, what, and how they take their supplements in hopes of sharing the sum of their clinical knowledge and hard-earned wisdom.


Mike Hildebrandt

Age: 30

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 198 pounds (contest), 215 pounds (off-season)

Lives: Boise, Idaho

Sponsor: Dymatize




A 10-year veteran of the NPC, first in bodybuilding and then Men’s Physique, Hildebrandt is the area director of fitness for Axiom Fitness health clubs. He has been dieting and supplementing seriously for the last decade, and in his career he has tried just about every supplement in both the sports-nutrition sphere and the crunchier alternative health field. Hildebrandt has been using a version of the following regimen for about two years.

Upon waking: Sixteen ounces of water mixed with five drops of lemon essential oil, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, one scoop of Dymatize MPS BCAA and whey protein isolate formula, and 10 grams of Dymatize Glutamine. Hildebrandt likes this combination for digestion, liver support, and Ph balance.

With breakfast (post-cardio): Multivitamin, omega-3 fish oils, 1,000 IU vitamin D, probiotics, 1,000 milligrams of Dymatize CLA.

Late morning: Dymatize Amino Pro with caffeine.

Pre-workout: One scoop of Dymatize M.P.ACT pre-workout formula, one serving of Dymatize Liquid L-Carnitine 1100.

Intra-workout: 2.5 scoops of Dymatize Amino Pro (caffeine-free formula) mixed in a half-gallon of water.

Post-workout: Immediately after the workout, Hildebrandt takes 1.5 scoops of Dymatize Iso-100 hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, five grams of Dymatize Creatine Monohydrate, 10 grams of Dymatize Glutamine, and one more dose of Dymatize CLA.

Afternoon: One serving of Dymatize Liquid L-Carnitine 1100.

6:00 p.m.: 1.5 scoops of Dymatize Iso-100 hydrolyzed whey protein isolate mixed with two tablespoons of powdered peanut butter.

Evening: Between his 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. feedings, Hildebrandt mixes two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with five drops of lemon essential oils and some coconut water.

With 8:00 p.m. meal: Multivitamin, probiotics, omega-3 fish oils, 1,000 IU vitamin D.

Bedtime: Hildebradt will usually eat a whole foods meal before bed, but twice a week or so he will make a shake with Dymatize Elite Casein, along with 1,000 milligrams of Dymatize CLA, one serving of Dymatize Amino Pro, and 10 grams of Dymatize Glutamine.




Do you have a specific philosophy on supplements? Supplements are very useful at accelerating recovery and results when you fill in any gaps that you have in your nutrition plan. I am a huge believer in being habitual about nutrition and supplements. Meals have to be at the same time every day, and the same thing with supplements.

Have you ever tried a supplement that worked for you and not other people, or vice versa? Pre-workouts in general are very person-to-person. The perfect pre-workout for me might make someone else feel nothing and vice-versa. I have had that happen a number of times. Creatine and protein are going to work on just about everybody, but when it comes to central nervous system stimulants and vasodilators, I think people metabolize those differently.

If you could only take three supplements, what would they be? Dymatize Iso-100 in fudge brownie flavor, Dymatize Amino Pro, and Dymatize Elite Casein. 


AJ Ellison

Age: 40

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 197 pounds (contest)

Lives: Kansas City, Missouri

Sponsor: Magnum Nutraceuticals




AJ Ellison has been an elite athlete for most of his life. As a college track star, he was once ranked as the 14th fastest runner in the US for the 800 meters. After his collegiate athletic career ended, he got serious about mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Six years ago he dove into physique competitions and became the WBFF Muscle Model World Champion in 2013 and 2016.

Upon waking: Oatmeal blended with Magnum Nutraceuticals Quattro, a four-stage protein blend that contains whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate, micellar casein, and egg protein isolate; and a dose of Magnum Nutraceuticals Performance Greens powder. He also takes a dose of Magnum Nutraceuticals Big C, a bend of four different types of creatine, as well as herbs to improve uptake.

Morning: Magnum Nutraceuticals Heat, a thermogenic formula without caffeine; and Magnum Nutraceuticals Carne Diem, a pharmaceutical-grade form of L-carnitine.

Pre-workout: Magnum Nutraceuticals Limitless pre-workout formula and Magnum Nutraceuticals Opus, a mix of leucine, vitamins, minerals, and other amino acids. He also takes Magnum Nutraceuticals Volume, a pre-workout capsule that gives insane pumps, and one more does of Magnum Nutraceuticals Heat.

Post-workout: One serving of Magnum Nutraceuticals Quattro along with some rice cakes.

Before meals: Ellison will swallow a couple capsules of of Magnum Nutraceuticals Mimic before carb-heavy meals. The matrix of insulin-mimicking ingredients helps his body shuttle carbs to hungry muscles instead of storing them as body fat.

Nighttime: Magnum Nutraceuticals After Burner is a fat-burning thermogenic but with no stimulants, so you can take it before you sleep. Ellison will combine that with Magnum Nutraceuticals E-Brake to help combat estrogen and push out excess water. He’ll also blend up one more serving each of Quattro and Performance Greens.




Do you have a specific philosophy on supplements? I’m a big whole-foods advocate. If you’re diet isn’t on point, it doesn’t matter how great your supplements are. Supplements are meant to be “in addition to.” When your diet is on point, supplements give you that extra added boost.

Have you ever tried a supplement that worked for you and not other people, or vice-versa? A lot of physique athletes take protein powders out of their diets during their prep, but I drink Quattro all the way up to my show. It digests very well for me. I also take Big C [creatine] the whole time. I don’t bloat off of Big C. It’s in my system, my body has adapted to it, why would I cut it out at the end of my prep?

If you could only take three supplements, what would they be? Magnum Nutraceuticals Quattro, Magnum Nutraceuticals Performance Greens, and Magnum Nutraceuticals Volume.


Brandon Hendrickson

Age: 29

Height: 5’8”

Weight: 185 pounds (contest)

Lives: Chicago, Illinois

Sponsor: Beast Sports Nutrition

One of the brightest stars of the IFBB Men’s Physique division, Brandon Hendrickson is the 2016 Arnold Sports Weekend champion and a fourth-place finisher at the 2016 Olympia Weekend. A first-generation American whose parents hail from Trinidad and Tobago, Hendrickson has a physique that presents much bigger onstage than he actually is. Hendrickson competes at 185 pounds (less than 10 pounds more than Olympia champion Jeremy Buendia), but most people guess he’s at least 200 pounds.




Upon waking: Beast Sports Nutrition Beast Pack multivitamin and mineral, 2,000 milligrams Beast Sports Nutrition CLA, 1,000 milligrams Beast Sports Nutrition Carnitine, 1,000 milligrams cinnamon extract, 500 milligrams chromium, B-complex vitamins.

Between meals one and two: 2,000 milligrams arginine, 15 milligrams zinc.

With meal two: One dose of digestive enzymes.

With meal three: 1,000 milligrams cinnamon extract.

10 minutes before meal four: Stack of ephedra, caffeine, and aspirin (ECA); 2,000 milligrams of Beast Sports Nutrition CLA; 1,000 milligrams of Beast Sports Nutrition Carnitine, vitamin A complex; vitamin B complex.

Pre-workout: Beast Mode Black.

Intra-workout: Aminolytes by Beast Sports Nutrition, a BCAA formula with extra amino acids and electrolytes. “I need the electrolytes because I am always sweating. I start training with hoodie on, and by the end of my workout I’m drenched,” he says.

Post-workout:  Two scoops (50 grams) of Beast Protein whey blend with water, and five strawberries.

With meal five: One dose of digestive enzymes.

Between meal five and meal six:  2,000 milligrams arginine, 15 milligrams zinc.




Do you have a specific philosophy on supplements? I go by what my coach tells me to take. Most of the things I take are provided by Beast Sports Nutrition. The other supplements I take are vitamins and things for overall health. Before I started bodybuilding I hardly did any supplements. I am very old school. I try to rely on my diet.

What is different about your supplement regimen than most people? I take a lot of digestive enzymes. Sometime I have a bloat issue, so when I do take them it helps a lot.

If you could only take three supplements, what would they be? Beast Sports Nutrition Protein, Beast Sports Nutrition Aminolytes, and Beast Pack multivitamin.


Brandon Cass

Age: 42

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 220 pounds

Lives: Blue Springs, Missouri

Sponsor: Core Nutritionals

Brandon Cass is the owner of Cass Strength, a master trainer, powerlifting coach, and contest prep coach. He is also the all-time American record holder of the conventional raw deadlift, pulling 844 pounds at a bodyweight of 217.  He has held over 12 world records in various powerlifting federations. Unlike powerlifters of old, Cass stays lean and athletic, maintaining a body-fat level of nine to 11 percent.




Meal one: A shake made with Core Nutritionals Pro sustained-release protein blend and Core Nutritionals HMB.

Pre-workout: Before his 8:00 a.m. training session, Cass will take five grams of Core Nutritionals Creatine Monohydrate and a serving of Core Nutritionals Fury Extreme pre-workout, which also contains five grams of creatine. Around this time Cass will also take a serving of Core Nutritionals Flex, a joint health product that contains MSM, glucosamine, and chondroitin.

Intra-workout Core Nutritionals ABC, a BCAA formula that also contains beta-alanine, glutamine, and citrulline malate.

Post-workout:  A low-carb Gatorade G2 mixed with Core Nutritionals Taurine.

Afternoon: One serving of Core Nutritionals Grow, a nutrient-dense mass-gainer formula with 40 grams of whey protein, a blend of slow-digesting carbs, and a mix of digestive enzymes.

Nighttime: One serving of Core Nutritionals ZZZ sleep formula.




Other supplements: Cass takes a Flintstones Chewable multivitamin every day. When he was a child he was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease, a congenital condition of the colon. This makes his digestion a little tricky, and he’s found that chewable vitamins absorb much better than traditional pills.

What is the least effective supplement you ever took? There was a product that came out that was supposed to a testosterone booster. This was in the 1990s. It was called “Beefed In A Bottle.” It was sublingual product, so it had a dropper and you put it under your tongue and held it there for two minutes. It tasted like complete ass, and it was like $60 a bottle.

What is different about your supplement regimen than most people? A good joint product works for me. I don’t care what age you are, that is something that should be in your supplement regimen. And you’ll never be able to convince me that creatine doesn’t work. I don’t care if you’re a UPS driver or a hardcore weightlifter, it will make a difference in how you feel, how you perform.

If you could only take three supplements, what would they be? Core Nutritionals Creatine, Core Nutritionals Pro, and Core Nutritionals HMB.


Narmin Assria
Age: 27

Height: 5’0”

Weight: 103 pounds

Lives: Southern California

Sponsors: BMR Sports Nutrition




Tiny but mighty, Bikini Pro Narmin Assria trains like a heavyweight bodybuilder. While most of her peers are focused on dieting and getting lean, this Southern California native pushes heavy weights year-round in order to get more muscular. Assria turned pro at a slight 85 pounds. Since then she has added more than 20 percent of her bodyweight in the form of muscle. Clearly, she is doing something right.

Upon waking: One capsule of the BMR Tartarus fat burner formula, before her fasted cardio.

Morning: Woman’s multivitamin, digestive enzymes, fish oils, CLA, and GLA. Assria also takes a shot of apple cider vinegar every morning.

Pre-workout: One scoop of BMR 4CE 30 minutes prior to going to the gym.

Intra-workout: “I always bring a shaker with my BMR BCAAs and I sip on it while I’m training—the best way to keep the muscles full and stay hydrated,” she says.

Post-workout: “I always make it a point to have protein on me at all times after a workout. It is so important to make sure you eat right after a session. I usually always have a protein shake ready to go in my car from BMR Sports Nutrition. My favorite protein shake is their strawberry flavor with strawberry chunks. It tastes so amazing,” she says.

Afternoon: More BMR BCAAs.




What is different about your supplement regimen than most people? Throughout the day I’ll consume BCAAs from BMR Sports Nutrition. BCAAS have become my key to keeping my muscles full and hydrated. I won’t allow any workout to go to waste, and when it tastes amazing it’s easy to keep drinking your BCAAs. I usually take in a gallon of water a day, so when I get to flavor my water it makes it that much easier.

Do you have a specific philosophy on supplements? I believe providing your body with high-end supplements is very important. You wouldn’t put cheap gas in a Ferrari, so why would you feed your body something negative? Supplements just give you that extra help—sometimes you don’t get all what your body needs in food. For example, I’ll be first to admit I don’t get all my greens in, so I substitute that with a powder supplement. There’s always ways to give your body those extra benefits, you just have to go out there and experiment.

If you could only take three supplements, what would they be? BMR BCAAs, BMR Protein powder, BMR 4CE pre-workout.



ThreePeat or Mr. Consistent

Olympia Men’s Physique champion Jeremy Buendia makes history—again.

By Mike Carlson


PQ: “It is our responsibility to be a good representation of this sport and help this sport grow. Twenty years from now, we are going to be the Arnolds and Francos of this division.”

PQ: “I have consistently been getting better every single year and consistently working hard. That has proven to a lot of people that I am here to stay.”

Four days after Jeremy Buendia made history by winning the Mr. Olympia Men’s Physique contest for the third year in a row, the champ is sick. He’s subdued by the kind of respiratory tract infection that plagues fighters and marathoners, athletes who deplete themselves in preparation for battle. Buendia’s win was a dogfight after all, the closest contest in the history of the Men’s Physique division. He won by a single point, and only three points separated the second runner-up. Buendia’s composed demeanor isn’t just the bug, though. He’s different. Buendia is humbler, quick to give credit and share his accolades with trainer Hany Rambod and girlfriend Narmin Assria. It’s a shift in perspective, he says, that comes not from winning a third title but in doing what it took to capture the belt.

“It was a team effort this year. I had to fall back on people to get me the help I needed to get me through,” he says. “It was something I had never done before because I had always tried to do everything myself. It opened my eyes that you can lean on people who support you. In the end it only makes you better.”

Mike Carlson: Did winning this Olympia feel different than the other two?

Jeremy Buendia: Getting the first and second wins were amazing, but three in a row? There is no taking that away from me. There is no luck. It was just hard work. Coming out on top again proved to a lot of people that I am the best in my sport. It meant a lot to earn that respect from everybody. And it definitely showed out there. People have come up to me and given me appreciation, respect, and acknowledgement for how hard I have worked. I have consistently been getting better every single year and consistently working hard. That has proven to a lot of people that I am here to stay.

MC: Did you have a lot of doubters?

JB: There were. I have been doubted all my preps. This year, not as much. I had a lot of people thinking I was going to do very well this year. But I got pushed this year. There were a lot of great athletes on the stage. This was the closest Olympia I ever had.

MC: Why was it so close?

JB: I made some mistakes in my posing and it hurt me onstage. I wasn’t engaging my obliques on my signature shot, which is that angled front pose. People thought I wasn’t as conditioned this year, but that wasn’t the case. I was just posing incorrectly. When Hany saw that he told me. I went back out for the second comparisons, and when I hit that shot they moved me right to the middle and they didn’t move me after that. Had I hit that pose correctly from the get-go, would it have been that close? I don’t think so.

MC: Why did the posing mistake happen?

JB: I was concerned with having my abs compared to Ryan Terry’s. He has a great midsection. I didn’t want my front abs to be washed out. Sometimes when I hit my middle six abs my obliques wash out, and I was super focused on trying to keep my middle six abs popping the whole time because I have brought them up significantly from last year—I wanted the judges to see that. I just didn’t engage them correctly. It could have been lack of practice posing, it could have been nerves, it could have been sweat. I started sweating really bad the first go-round and it kind of stressed me out onstage because that had never happened to me before. We were all sweating, but I was sweating the most out of everybody. My abs started looking more washed out because the tanner was dripping. I saw Hany in the audience and he told me to wipe my stomach. It blended my abs back in and they popped that much more and looked that much better.

MC: Your trainer Hany seems like a clutch piece of your puzzle.

JB: Hany has been clutch all prep for me! That guy cared so much for me this prep. It was unbelievable. Every morning he calls me: “What’s your weight? How do you look?” Every single morning. It was a team effort between me and him this year. My girlfriend, too. Narmin [Assria] has come through for me every single day, going through everything with me. I had to fall back on God this prep, too, and ask God for the strength to get me through. I couldn’t do it on my own this year. He made me realize that. He played an instrumental part in the last three weeks of my prep.


MC: When you were onstage, could you feel that the competition was co close?

JB: Absolutely. I was being moved in and out constantly. I knew the guys I was standing next to had amazing physiques. Ryan Terry, Jeremy Potvin, Andre Ferguson, all the top five. Brandon Hendrickson looked friggin’ sharp! Jeremy Potvin looked amazing all prep. I knew we were going to get compared a lot because we shared the same name, same ethnicity, and a similar look. I knew they were going to compare me and Brandon onstage, and me and Ryan. I got to stand next to every single person in the top five. Everyone had a chance to stand next to each other and be compared.

MC: What did you do differently in your prep this year?

JB:  It was a matter of staying on point all year long. I only had about six weeks of the year where I was out of shape. I stayed in shape through all my traveling, and I stayed on my diet. Narmin competed all year round, so I was working and training and dieting with her. I just stayed focused. I was working all year long. A very high-up somebody in the supplement and social media world texted me yesterday to say, “There are a lot of people who talk about how hard they work, and only a few who show how hard they work, and you are one of them.”

MC: When did you know you had first place?

JB:  I felt pretty confident after pre-judging. It was stressful when they said “Jeremy” for third place, but then they said “Potvin”! I heard “Jeremy” and my heart dropped. When they called his name I knew I had it. Potvin and I had our problems on social media and other personal issues. But we came to a reconciliation the day after the Olympia, and he came up to me and we rekindled our friendship. He went out to dinner with us the last night. We are all coming together. This sport has given us all so much. It is our responsibility to be a good representation of this sport and help this sport grow. Twenty years from now, we are going to be the Arnolds and Francos of this division.

MC: You just accomplished something in this sport that may never be replicated, but you sound humble. Tell me about that.

JB: It is my perspective on my purpose right now. I have grown a lot during this prep and realized the person I am, my purpose in the sport, and the platform I am given. This is a gift, to be on top of the sport and have all of these people know who I am. It is not just for me. God has given me a purpose in this life. My purpose is to be in front of these people on this platform and show people how great life can be when you have God in your life. I am never going to be the Jesus freak that is in your face screaming at you. I just want people to see how good He has been to me and how He has been able to enlighten my life and my mind and spirit.

MC: Is your attitude better because life is so good, or is life good because you changed your attitude?

JB: Things are better because of my attitude. God opened my eyes in a lot of ways the last three weeks. It is a whole different feeling I have within me. I get up with a different energy now and with a different purpose. It is not about me anymore. If you don’t make everything about yourself, things aren’t as stressful.

MC: Who do you consider to be your biggest competitors in 2017?

JB: I think Ryan Terry and Jeremy Potvin are going to be threats. People really like the “Jeremy versus Jeremy” hype. It’s cool and it’s good for the sport. And he is a tremendous competitor. And Ryan Terry was on point. He’s always a competitor. I think it’s going to be a very similar top three next year. IM



Name:  Jeremy Buendia
Age: 26

Contest Weight: 176 pounds

Lives: Murrieta, CA

Profession: IFBB Pro

Favorite Drink: Diet Coke

Go-To Website: Instagram

Desert Island Exercises: Push-ups, pull-ups, lunges

Binge TV Show: The Walking Dead

Sponsors: Evogen Nutrition, Meal Prep Kingz

Instagram: @jeremy_buendia


Arms Done Right Workout: A Guide To Building Bigger Arms

Do you want bigger arms? Many people go wrong about training arms, try this arm workout and build bigger and fuller biceps and triceps.

Arm training day is without doubt one of the most favored workout days, everyone who ever steps foot inside the gym wants to build big arms, no matter which group you train biceps and triceps will always be the favored combo. However, the question you must ask yourself is are you getting the most out of your biceps and triceps workout? This guide willl give you a quick anatomy and biomechanics of this popular muscle combo.


There are many muscles that control the movement of the arm, however we will stick to the basic muscles that control the major flexion and extension of the arm for now. The tricep muscles are made up of three heads including lateral, long, and medial heads (shown in the image below). The biceps are made up of three muscles including the long and short heads, and the brachialis all which make up the front of the arm. There are many muscles that control the arms, however most gym goers will only usually focus on the muscles mentioned above.


The muscle you work in the arm can vary, depending on the angle, grip and exercise used. The short head of your biceps works alongside with the deltoids to raise the shoulders (know as shoulder flexion). The biceps and the brachialis both work in supinating the wrist (twisting the palm up). On the other side of your arm lay the triceps, the bigger of the two muscle groups. Now the long head of the triceps works in two ways, first being fully streatched when the arm is raised for exercise like overhead extensions, while it also works when the shoulder is extended in movement such as pullovers. The medial head tends to work more with a pronated grip (when your palms are facing down) with exercises such as pressdowns, finally the lateral head works with the reversed grip (palms facing up or with your palms facing) such as reverse pushdowns or rope pushdowns. Now you know how the arms work lets get to the workout!

The post Arms Done Right Workout: A Guide To Building Bigger Arms appeared first on About Muscle.