VIDEO: Off-Season Muscle Building Part I - Nutrition

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By Ron 

This series is for those wanting to put on some muscle mass during the triathlon off-season.  If you are a triathlete looking for the maximum performance per the training time that you have, then this program isn't for you.  This program will definitely not help you to count laps in the pool either.

This is for the triathletes that would like to gain some muscularity and definition.  This is also for those triathletes that came from a bodybuilding background that still love to throw around some heavy weight from time-to-time.

This entire series will encompass:

  1. Nutritional/Rest requirements Part I
  2. Muscle Conditioning program (1 month) Part II
  3. The main muscle-building program which will have several monthly updates. Part III

Specifically, this article addresses some nutritional requirements for this off-season, muscle building program.

This program may be only for about 5-10% of you.  Usually people don't spend a lot of time writing to the minority audience, but triathlon training and bodybuilding are my two loves.  I can't have one without the other.  Due to this love, I realize that I will never place well in my AG.  That's ok.  I love the training and racing of triathlons, plus I just like throwing around heavy weight and being somewhat muscular.

I designed this program mainly from the principles I learned when I was peaking in lifting and training for my first Olympic triathlon many years ago-see avatar. After that first triathlon, the years have not been nice to my physique due to family, school, career and less emphasis on training.  The former six-pack now has this strange, protective layer over it.  If I look at it just right, I can just barely make it out.  Being that it is getting cold here, this is now a perfect time to get back on that program and I hope to bring some of you with me.

You should know that there is MUCH debate among nutritionists, sports nutritionists, scientists, trainers and lifters as to how much protein is needed to put on some mass.  Much of this debate also centers around the safety of high amounts of protein.

The recommended daily allowance for protein (RDA) for an average 25+ year old male is about .36g/lb of bodyweight.  For a 180lb person such as myself, that is about 65g of protein per day.

But what about for bodybuilding?  That is where the great debate starts.  The average consensus on the LOW end seems to be 1g/lb of bodyweight.  That is a threefold increase over RDA recommendations.  But this figure is on the low end of what bodybuilders generally consume in protein.  Surfing the net, you will find many recommendations in bodybuilding articles of 1.0-1.5g/lb of bodyweight.  That would put a guy like me at 180-270g protein/lb bodyweight.  A few articles on the most popular bodybuilding website, Bodybuilding.com calculates me as needing 360g of protein/day.  That is a whopping 3.6g/lb bodyweight.  And if you are on steroids, then its 3.6-5.4g/lb bodyweight.

So in this video article, I will stay to the middle-of-the-road and go by the 1.0g protein/lb of bodyweight per day.  Face it, we're not pure bodybuilders, BUT we just want a little extra mass.  We don't want to 'overly' bulk-up as that will have a negative consequence to our triathlon training.  1.0g protein/lb of bodyweight is what Nancy Clark's article recommended as 'generous' for bodybuilders.  You can even do this program in 0.75g/lb of bodyweight and cut out the supplements.  This will put you at about 20-25% of your calories as coming from protein.

Remember the Atkins diet?  Due to restricted carbohydrate intake, a sample menu of the Atkins diet has ~35% of your daily calories coming from protein.  You all have probably heard about the negative press on that.  This program still keeps us around 20-25% of our calories from protein.

High protein diets are usually considered acceptable for healthy individuals by those in the medical field, well, at least the writers on WebMD and Mayoclinic.com but they will not be good if you already have compromised kidney or liver function.  A few numbers thrown around on the web are that anything above 0.9g protein/lb bodyweight may have long-term effects on kidney function.  I have not read about anyone in the medical profession promoting over 1.0g protein/lb of bodyweight in a healthy person due to possible long-term kidney issues.  Though I have read many people aligned with the bodybuilding field (trainers, etc) saying that high protein levels above my recommendation isn't an issue in a healthy individual.

At this point you may then be wondering about what exactly is a 'high protein' diet?  It's murky water!  For the purposes of this program, we will use 0.75-1.0g protein per lb of bodyweight-this is what has worked excellent for me in the past and is what I am doing now.  This is what I consider to be conservative (from all of the literature out there) to put on some mass. 

Note, I do not directly address carbohydrate intake.  But don't leave them out!  You're going to need plenty of cabs to fuel your strength training and endurance workouts.  The article PROTEIN: The Pros, Cons, and Confusion gives some more tips on carbohydrate intake.

Do your homework first and foremost.  If you will be significantly changing your diet and activity for this program, please consult your doctor first.

----> Next is the Off-Season Muscle Building Part II - Conditioning Phase

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date: October 11, 2007