Roger Estep: Question and Answers

Here’s a great excerption from Roger Estep’s question and answers column. In the 80s fans from the whole world used to send letters to Estep and he answered them. Here’s Estep diet and thoughts about overtraining and motivation. – Mr. Berg

DEAR ROGER: “I’ve been powerlifting and bodybuilding for several years. I really enjoy going to both powerlifting and bodybuilding contests. I have only seen you lift three times in person and I am amazed at your proportions and definition. Do you have a special pre-contest diet? Sincerely yours, Bill Williams

Dear Bill: My pre-contest diet is a six day carbohydrate loading diet. The first day I go through my last workout  before the meet which depletes the carbohydrates stored in my body.

I then go 3 1/2 days with no carbohydrate. My meals for those 3 1/2 day consists 90% of lean meat, broiled chicken, and fish. The next 1 1/2 days I load up on carbohydrates with lots of pasta, ice cream and cola.

During this time I eat anything I want. The theory behind this type of diet is that when you deplete and go for 3 1/2 days without carbohydrates and then saturate you body with carbohydrates, it will over react to this carbohydrate starvation and store more carbohydrates in the muscle tissues in the form of glycogen.

This theory has been validated by physiologists throughout the world. The researcher who developed this diet observed that in a normal diet the average concentration of muscle glycogen ( the sugars stored in muscle for anaerobic work) was 1.75 grams per 100 grams of muscle.

After the 3 1/2 days of the limited diet the glycogen level fell to around 5 grams per 100 grams of muscles.

When the diet was then changed to heavy intake of carbohydrates the level increased to between 3 and 5 grams per 100. You must remember that to use this diet that your body weight must be only a few pounds over your competition weight.

Dear Roger: How do you arrange your schedule to prevent overtraining? Jim Gilling

Dear Jim: Most American amateur athletes are so hungry for success that there is no lack of motivation in their training, but in many cases there is a lack of good sense. In their desire for world records in the shortest possible time the athlete tries to put 10 years of training into 6 months.

Training 6 times a week for 1 year is not the same as training 3 times a week for 2 years. If the powerlifter listens to his body it will tell him when he is over trained. When progress stops, It’s usually a sign of overtraining. The rule of thumb I go by to insure enough recovery time between workouts is simple. Let’s say I have been bench pressing 450 for 4 to 5 singles in my workouts.

One day I come in and 425 is a real effort and on 450 I need help to get it up. Well, I’ve been training long enough that I know it’s not a lock of motivation; so, just write the session off as a bad day.

Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep or my diet might had been poor for a few days. The next time my training calls for bench pressing, I still have my thoughts on going up to 450 or 460 for some singles, but, stop! The same thing happens as the time before. 425 is a ton and 450 won’t go. This tells me I’ve over trained, because I’m an experienced lifter and I don’t have two bad days in a row. I take a day off benching and then take a light workout then a medium one, then back to my 450s.

Formula to prevent overtraining: One poor workout = bad day; two poor workouts = overtraining; three poor workouts = 4 to 6 weeks needed to recover.

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