The Road to Nationals – Stripping Glutes

I’m back in the land of delicious espresso, mango kombucha,
grimy gyms, fast internet, and I couldn’t be happier.


#ProjectThighland is officially in the books, I’ve returned to the great lands of ‘Murica and Canadia (at last), and at the time of publishing, I’m sitting at approximately 3.5 weeks out from the big dance. Which means it’s high time for a fresh contest prep update as The Road to Nationals rolls on.

Last week I shared a pithy post giving you a glimpse into where my head is at with this contest prep, and how I feel things have been going. With the 4 week out threshold a few days past, it’s time for a “hard” update with all the dirty details on all the goods.

So lets go.


I’ve just wrapped up the first week of what will be my training setup until peak week hits.

Here’s my current training split:

  • Day 1 – Legs
  • Day 2 – Back, Shoulders, Biceps
  • Day 3 – OFF
  • Day 4 – Chest & Triceps
  • Day 5 – Legs
  • Day 6 – OFF
  • Day 7 – Back & Biceps
  • Day 8 – Chest & Shoulders
  • Day 9 – OFF

…and I’m loving it. After spending 3 weeks in a brutal metabolic phase that was nothing but giant sets, it’s been a breath of fresh air to move back to a classic bodybuilding split

Thanks to falling energy levels, overall volume in each session has come down quite a bit (about 20-22 working sets per session), but the intensity has gone up a bit.

Meaning, each session consists of at least one “fun” intensification technique, and about as wicked of a pump as I can get at this point (pumps become tough to come by as energy levels drop and perma-depletion sets it).

That said, it’s all fun and games whenever I feel my skin stretch so tight it feels as if it’s going to rip.


As I brought up in the #ProjectThighland update, my nutrition over the course of this prep has been wildly different in comparison to last year, and made things much more pleasant.

While calories are obviously quite low, my meals are all planned out to support training sessions as best they can, and I’ve been making a point of eating all of the veggies. Who knew I’d actually start to enjoy salads so much?

All the veggies I’ve been eating has had a few interesting, positive side-effects, as well.

  • My digestion is holding strong, and not breaking down like it did last year.
  • I’m having very few issues with bloating or stomach upset.
  • My skin, hair, and nails are all in excellent condition (last year I started breaking out a lot, my nails started to get brittle, and I was getting psoriasis-like sores on my back and sides of my head).

This year, it’s been the polar-opposite.

Thanks to being roughly 90% ready to step on stage already, I’ve been able to have small refeeds every 5-7 days for the past 4 weeks (give or take). The goal of these structured refeeds is three-fold:

  • Give my metabolism a small kick to keep pushing fat loss.
  • Inject a bit of glycogen to push through the higher intensity that this training phase calls for.
  • A small psychological date from the monotony of meat, veggies, and small amounts of rice.

Under doctor’s coach’s orders, each refeed day has clocked in at 180g protein / 200g carbs / trace fats.

Much more better than cycling between 0-25-50g of carbs for 6 weeks like I did last year.


Part of what makes me love the process of stepping on stage so much, is that I actually enjoy my morning cardio sessions on most days.

As it stands right now (and what I’ve been running for the past few weeks), my cardio protocol has been:

  • 4-6 days of fasted steady-state for 40-55 minutes (we’ve kept the “type” the same, but tweaked the volume)
  • 4 sessions of post-workout intervals for 5-8 minutes, followed up with steady-state incline walks for 15 minutes

And that’s all she wrote. It’s been enough to keep the fat melting off, but not leave me feeling destroyed after a few days.

The nearly-nekkeds

Ahh, perhaps the best part of these updates.

The shots below are from my check in yesterday morning:

stripping glutes

stripping glutes

It’s worth noting – mostly because I’m super excited about it – that I’m currently 11 pounds heavier than when I was on stage last year, and in far better conditioning.

The proof is in the pudding…

stripping glutes

Left: 15 days out. Right: 33 days out.

All that remains now is to carry on with stripping the last shreds of fat from my glutes and hamstrings, douse myself in spray tan, and fuel up bagels, jam, and rice.

The final reps

I’ve mentioned this to those who have asked, but I’ve gotta say…

I’m able to count on one hand the amount of days where I’ve truly felt the weight of what contest prep can bring in terms of tanked energy levels, brain fog, and feeling like I’ve got two feet and a bicep in the grave. Which is something I both can’t quite believe (in comparison to last year), and am immensely thankful for.

That’s not to say that training sessions haven’t felt like a drag many days, but being able to function at a relatively “normal” level has been fantastic.

Tomorrow I’m hopping on a plane and heading to Edmonton, Alberta where I’m posting up for the final 3.5 weeks, with nothing on my mind aside from stripping the last bit of fat from my glutes and hamstrings, and tightening up across the board.

And the Road to Nationals rolls on…

PS. 4 out of 5 lifters will let their rationalization hamster run wild. Convincing themselves they’re making progress…yet you build no muscle, and burn no fat. The 5th lifter joined the MASSthetics Clan and put the information within the (free) Hypertrophy Handbook to good use. He no longer has to rationalize his progress. It simply happens. Click here to become the 5th lifter, and let me know where to send the prestigious Hypertrophy Handbook.