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Author

Chris Harrison

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Lifting weight has come a long way over the years. From archaically lifting the biggest stones we could find to deadlifting with steel weights that have been calibrated with absolute precision. Yet, one question has remained. How much weight do we need to lift to gain the most amount of muscle?

It isn’t a secret that lifting weights can take its toll on the body. Especially, when we turn our modern logical brain off, our caveman thought processes on, and toss around the largest amount of weight around possible. This can lead to joint problems, torn tendons, broken bones, herniated disks, etc.

I’m not going to lie, I have done all of these. I was forced to learn and adapt in order to give myself longevity in the lifting game. To my surprise, I am now gaining MORE muscle than ever before.

Here are 3 ways to pack on that muscle mass while significantly preventing injury:

  • Control The Tempo

I’m not talking about shaking your hips to the tunes blaring through your headphones. I’m talking about the speed at which you lift and lower your weights. For example, you may be able to bench press 225lbs for 10 reps. However, you’ll likely only be able to do 3 – 4 repetitions if I tell you to take 3 seconds to lift the weight and 5 seconds to lower it.

The loss of momentum forces maximum resistance onto the muscle tissues, activating more muscle fibres which result in increased muscle growth

  • Isoholds

An isohold is when you hold the weight/resistance in a static position for a predetermined amount of time. For example, if you’re performing a bicep curl, hold one arm at a 90-degree angle while performing 5 repetitions with the other arm then immediately swap arms until you complete your designated repetitions.

This will increase the time under tension of the muscle required less weight to push the muscle to the max.

  • Decreasing Rest Times

The muscle requires adequate rest in order to recover between sets to perform at its max. When we shorten the rest time the muscle requires to recover, we can reduce the weight needed to push the muscle beyond its limits. This will achieve massive progress while significantly reducing injury.

If we want longevity in the sport, and life in general, we must train smarter. We have access to an unbelievable amount of information that can help keep us safe to enjoy one of the greatest sports on earth. Time to utilize it and become the best version of ourselves possible without ending up injured.

Photo By: Sean Davidoff

When we think about investments, we usually automatically jump to stock markets, cryptocurrencies or RRSPs. Health is usually the last thing that we think of as an investment.

Why do most of the society continue to put their health on the back burner? We’re more inclined to spend 40 dollars ordering Skip the Dishes three times a week than using that income on nutrition that will provide a true benefit to our health.

So how is our health investment and how do we measure the gains or losses?

First, when we’re ignoring the signs of poor health, our quality of life slowly descends until we find ourselves in the depths of chronic illness and depression. We’re sitting in a constant state of fatigue and anxiety. We become short-tempered and impatient. Our recovery is poor, motivation is nowhere to be found, and any light has incredible difficulty breaking through the thickness of our brain fog.

Let’s take a moment and imagine how all of this is negatively affecting our lives. If we’re falling into illness on a consistent basis, we’re likely having to take time off work to recover. This means a decrease in income and those losses quickly add up.

If we’re feeling like a sundried cow patty on a consistent basis, our patience is thinner than tooth floss and the slightest inconvenience will send us into a mental tailspin. Think about how this affects our relationships. Do you think our friends, family or spouse is going to want to deal with that kind of attitude? A divorce or a broken relationship is going to cost a heck of a lot more than taking proper care of our health.

The single most important thing in life is your HEALTH.  IF you are going to invent in one thing, this is it.

How about our professional relationships? Do you think potential customers, clients, business partners, etc. want to be in business with an individual with high anxiety, brain fog, impatience, a short temper and a lack of motivation? It’s highly unlikely.

The negative ramifications are massive when we put our health on the back burner. Now this is where we can see the enormous ROI investing in our health can give us.

Less time off work from illness means minimal income loss. Increased self-esteem, confidence and lowered stress result in healthier and happier personal relationships. A clear mind, decrease anxiety, increased patience and motivation, givingusthe ability to significantly increase our potential for a raise, a promotion or to sign that whale of a client. Again, leading to increased income. With that new income you could dramatically influence your other monetary investments.

Like all other investments, investing in your health is a long-term game. We likely won’t see an immediate return but with time, the compounded returns are gargantuan. It makes you think a little bit differently about hiring a trainer or coach, like myself, for only ameasly few hundred dollars a month.

Without health, all the money in the world is worthless. Without health, our love dies. Without health, our positive impact on the world vanishes. It’s time to rethink how we view our bodies and health.

If we want to simultaneously level up in all areas of our life, we must start at the source and that source is US.

We needed off the last article on a very controversial topic. My mind was fighting between whether I stick to my beliefs and sacrifice my career or risk my health by taking the experimental Covid-19 vaccine?

After many emotional nights with my wife and some deep thought, the decision was made to proceed with my career and get the vaccination. I’ve worked too hard to get where I’m at to be strong-armed into losing it all. So now that is done, time to let it be the past and stay focused on the future.

Unfortunately, the path forward didn’t last long. I need up in Urgent Care 7 days after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine with chest pains. They started out light and hardly noticeable. Day after day, the pains continued to worsen. They reach the point where the shooting pains were taking my breath away. I was hooked up to ECG machines, had X-rays and so much blood work done. I was surprised I didn’t need a transfusion.

Although we had a little speed bump, we’re more focused than ever. There is a job that needs to be done and we’re working every day to make sure we make it happen. I’m noticing daily changes in my body composition, which is substantially helping with my motivation and pushing through the tough moments during this contest prep.

All the results came back as inconclusive and nothing wrong was found with my cardiovascular system. This, of course, was relieving news, however frustrating considering the circumstances of the situation. Since then, the chest pains have dissipated and now we’re back training to full intensity.

Although we had a little speed bump, we’re more focused than ever. There is a job that needs to be done and we’re working every day to make sure we make it happen. I’m noticing daily changes in my body composition, which is substantially helping with my motivation and pushing through the tough moments during this contest prep. Like dragging my butt out of bed in the morning to do an hour of fasted cardio or eating the same plain meals day in and day out. I’m starting to become ravenous between meals and I am having to spread them further and further apart in order to maintain some kind of satiety throughout the day.

This is starting to play its toll. The physical and mental stress of controlled starvation aka contest prep is quickly wearing me down. I couldn’t attend my family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year. One of many sacrifices that must be made during contest prep. My grandparent hosted the dinner and was leaving for Arizona soon after the gathering. Unfortunately, I was unable to see them before they left. Yet another sacrifice that had to be made for my success.

Surprisingly, they weren’t disappointed. They told me that after reading my book (The Good, The Bad, And The Heavy–The Bold Truth About Bodybuilding) that they completely understood why I couldn’t come. Experiencing that moment alone was worth publishing the book.

The relationship between my wife and me is starting to become divided. She is prepping for the same show as I am, and it’s most certainly challenging the strength of our relationship. We’re both quickly becoming increasingly more exhausted by each passing day. Our patience, even with the smallest of things, is becoming more fragile than my grandmother’s china.

Our conversations have become short with little to no emotion. We’re both starving and living in a constant state of unease. Both of us can see that one of our emotional rubber bands is about to snap. We haven’t been on a date for months. Between the amount of training, cardio, careers, food prep and exhaustion, we haven’t been able to spend any quality time together. With the persistent, almost permanent, state of exhaustion, both of our sex drives have completely tanked and we haven’t been able to have any intimacy for weeks.

As you can see, if either one of us wasn’t involved in the industry to understand exactly how it feels physically and emotionally through a high-end contest prep, how it can easily turn the strongest relationship into dust. I have become now become exhausted to the point that I have never felt before and the concern for my physical health is crossing my mind.

I have now pushed my body beyond its limits and it’s starting to shut down. I’ve crashed. With only 6 weeks left, what do I do now?

Out of a 16-week prep, I can’t believe we’ve already created the 6-week mark. This must be one of the fastest preps that I’ve ever been through, but I can’t say that it hasn’t had its challenges.

In the previous article, I, unfortunately, had to return my sleep apnea machine which dramatically affected the quality of my sleep and recovery. I was waking up multiple times a night leaving me feeling hungover in the morning. I was becoming moody, impatient, and the smallest things were getting under my skin.

I was getting worried that it was going to affect my prep. In the long term, it most certainly would have, however, I was only without the machine for a week as I was able to source another machine. We’re back getting high-quality sleep and my recovery has improved dramatically. Problem Solved.

The first week without a cheat meal is always the most difficult but once that’s conquered, the cravings tend to calm down significantly or until you drive by a McDonalds and smell the french fries in the air.

We’ve dropped some calories from the diet and now I can really start to feel the depletion of prep. Energy is becoming low, memory is becoming affected. I’m needing more and more motivation to complete even the smallest of tasks like putting the dishes away or even showering.

All my cheat meals have been pulled and we are now only refeeding when absolutely necessary. The first week without a cheat meal is always the most difficult but once that’s conquered, the cravings tend to calm down significantly or until you drive by a McDonalds and smell the french fries in the air.

A few interesting things are starting to happen. First, I’m finding myself licking the tablespoon of peanut butter that I get before bed more and more hoping the peanut butter will magically reappear. Also, the other day I went to pour myself a glass of water but instead of pouring the water into a glass, I poured it into my bowl of food. This is what’s called “Prep Brain”. It usually doesn’t hit me until 2-3 weeks out of the contest but apparently, Christmas came early this year.

My wife is competing at the same show I am. When two people in a relationship are prepping together, things can get a little dicey. Mostly because everyone is hungry, tired, depleted, and grumpy and any little thing can throw someone into a fit. However, we’re good so far, so let’s keep this up.

I’m noticing that I’m starting to separate myself from the world. I get up, train, come home, work and sleep. I don’t want to do anything else. I’m cancelling or denying plans with friends and family just because I want to stay focused. Also, I don’t want to see or smell food that’s not on my plan. That makes prep life so much more difficult. I find it easier to tell everyone that I’m not available for a couple of months until prep is over and then safely re-introduce myself into society again.

We ran into a major issue now. Of course, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Canada just announced that no citizen is allowed to travel via air, rail, or boat without being fully vaccinated. We’re also not allowed to attend large events without the vaccinations.

This means that as a healthy male with a strong immune system, who’s recovered from covid twice, that has strong natural anti-bodies, in an age group that’s a very low risk, I must make a major decision. Choose between losing the career that I’ve spent 31 years building or taking an experimental vaccine that I don’t need.

The stress in this decision is unbearable. This is a decision that I never thought I would need to make. I don’t mention this to cause debate or ruffle feathers. I only mention it because it’s the truth and it’s what I’m currently facing along with millions of others.

So time to decide. Do I stick to my beliefs and sacrifice my career, or do I get the vaccination and risk my health?

LET’S DO THIS!!!

Photo By: Sean Davidoff