Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Offseason: 2013/2014 In The Books

My offseason/improvement/bulking/puffy/bloated season is coming to end on February 1. I have learned a lot of things and gained more than just weight (which I am embracing to it's fullest) during the past 5 months.

1- Hands down, the most important thing I learned this off season was to GIVE UP the notion of being stage lean all year round. Oh yea, a shredded stomach is neat but it's not realistic. Your body will more than likely shut down before you spend an entire calendar year stage lean. So the BEST advice i can give someone coming off a competition season is to have a plan in place for off season, get in the right mindset, and buy a bigger pair of pants.

2- This brings me to my next point, I learned that my legs need a size 4 and my waist needs a size 0 and can someone for the love of god please invent jeggings with these measurements. Thank you. So, I have been a size 0 my whole entire life outside of wearing Limited Too pants. A size 0. For a long time, especially in college, that number defined me and my reason for living. Stupid- right? Yea, it is stupid. I was a silly cardio bunny going to the gym to watch the college boys curl and to flip my hair around. Now?? Now you ask??? Now i am ok with buying a size 2- which i did for the first time in my life in December and i nearly had a panic attach but I DID IT. yes, i am very fortunate, genetically. i also work my ass off to so don't sit there and tell me i would be fit if i just played candy crush all day- FALSE. i am thin by DNA, i am fit by determination. anyways, rant over, my waist luckily stayed the same pant size this whole time but the legs grewwwwww!!!!

3- I am a strong person. Mentally strong- yes but I am talking physically strong- let me put it into perspective.  September 14 was my last show last year. At that time, i was STRUGGLING, STRUGGLING i say, to do a set of 30 walking lunges with a 40 lb straight bar on my back. Now- I can do 100lbs for 30. I have increased my weights and reps on every single lift and have been incredible size gains.

4- food food food. I have learned this offseason that I have incredible self control when it comes to good. I ate to hit my macros and that was about 90/10. 90% of the time was healthy food. the other 10% was off season food- yes I ate at least one donut every single day post workout. Will this work for everyone? Nope. (PS- for post-workout carb information- reference my post a few weeks ago titled: Eat A Poptart).

5- never in my wildest dreams would i ever have imagined to be sponsored by 3 amazing companies in my first year of competing- House of Pain, Isolator Fitness, and USPlabs. Talk about an incredible off season to sign with Isolator and USPlabs at the tail end of 2013. There is no luck involved- it's called a partnership and you must WORK to make yourself stand out from the crowd. A thousand people compete so set yourself apart in some way.

6- lastly, i learned this off season that people want to see you do well but they never want to see you do better than them. unfortunately, i learned this the hard way when i lost my training partner/best friend from last year due to jealousy. many things were said about me, to me, and behind my back from someone who i truly trusted. it was a blessing in disguise because now my life is extremely toxic free and so much more positive. circle got smaller- vision got clearer.

So in conclusion, I will be starting this season toxic free and at 135 lbs with 20.8% body fat. My first show is May 10 in columbus, oh and I can NOT wait.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Food Lifestyles

An increasingly high amount of people have been asking me about IIFYM (if it fits your macros). So i decided to dive into all of the popular "diets" right now and give an unbiased summary of them all, with a little bit of science and a lot of sarcasm. Side note, i hate the word "diet" so I am referring to this post as food lifestyles. Take it or leave it.

Let's eat like the cavemen- it really worked out for them, since ya know, there are so many cavemen left. Idiots. Paloe is moronic, Unless you are literally hunting and gathering all the food yourself (which, let's be honest, none of you are), you aren't paleo. Stop trying to make paleo happen- it will never happen! My favorite is when people post on Instagram- my paleo lunch!!!- and there's pictures of dairy, grains, etc. And when was the last time your grocery store had a special on woolly mammoth meat?

AKA Atkins on steroids- no pun intended. The human body needs at least, on average, 130 grams of carbs per day to ya know- live and function and perform brain activities. Keto calls for less than 30 grams of carbs per day. Low card, in the short term (and by short term I mean like 3 days), can be beneficial. Extremely low carb lifestyles, in the long run, can cause really moody people, increase in heart disease, weakened bones, and not to mention- guess what happens when you start to eat the carbs that you've been depriving your body of for months? Yup- just watch all that weight pile itself back on plus some!

Eating to hit your macros. What does this mean? Eating to hit your calories, carbs, proteins, fats, and fibers that you need to hit your own personal goals based on a number of different factors (height, sex, weight, current activity level, etc). What instagram followers think it means- eating super healthy until 8pm when all the IIFYMers post their "pretty fro yo" pictures with candy, cookies, skinny cow treats, blah blah blah. Cut the bullshit- that's not what it's about. This food lifestyle is based on numbers which is why i like it and why i follow it- it's amazing what the body can you do when you stick to a meal plan that is tailed to you, have one 500 calorie treat meal A WEEK, and look hot AF. And there's some science nonsense behind it AKA what my entire fitness nutrition certification talked about AKA a 200 page book AKA ask me if you have questions.

"Clean" eating. What the hell is that Mr. Clean???!?!? No, despite the name, it's not food that's been covered in bleach hahahaha. Ok, so clean eating is a great concept- eat all healthy foods and you'll be healthy weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. False. If you eat an excess of cucumbers or strawberries or grapes or what the fuck, you will still gain weight because it's in excess. Who cares if it a clean or dirty food if you ate too much damn food. Having a surplus of 2,000 calories of celery or a surplus of 2,000 calories of pizza will cause a weight gain either way. So just because you "eat clean", doesn't mean you will meet your goals (wether that be to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain).

I was a dairy-free vegetarian for almost a year and have been a pescatarian for almost 2. For those of you who can't search "what is a pescatarian"- i only eat fish as an animal protein source. I admire and respect anyone who gives up meat or animal byproducts- it's HARD, very very hard. Getting enough protein to live, let alone lift weights, is a very difficult task especially when you go out to eat. Me, personally, i don't care what you eat- but don't shove your meat in my face (that's what she said). Is it hard to get enough protein with this lifestyle? Yes. Is it impossible? No- just takes a little more planning.

I eat what I want. Ok, next topic.

Intermittent Fasting
Don't eat for 14 hours. Then eat. Then don't eat for 14 hours. The eat. Intermittent fasting is BOOMING right now, and I'm not sure why. Me, personally, if i don't eat for 2 hours i turn into robin williams coaching that football team in the snickers commercial (if you live under a rock, here's the link: Your body needs a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from food to stay healthy. When one fasts, dizziness, dehydration, gallstones, and cold intolerance all come into play. No thanks.

Gluten Free Diet
99% of people didn't know what gluten was until roughly 2 years. The 1% had celiacs disease so, ya know, they actually aren't on a diet- they are on a "i am allergic to fluten as a medical issue and not an oxygen magazine fad" lifestyle. The G-word, glutten. What is it? Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain- thanks wikipedia! If you aren't allergic to gluten- why the fuck are you buying foods that are gluten free? They are twice as expensive and hard to find. Oh, you're just following a fad? Gotcha.

Protein Coffee Cake

Protein Coffee Cake 

Combine the following dry ingredients: 
1 scoop cinnamon graham cracker protein power (or use vanilla protein powder and add 1 tsp of cinnamon)
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1/8 cup almond meal

Add the following wet ingredients: 
1 egg white
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

Mix together

Bake at 350 in a small sprayed bread tin. Set the timer for 10 minutes. 

While this is baking, combine 1 TBSP oats, 1 TBSP cinnamon, 1 TBSP almond meal, and 2 TBSP maple syrup in a bowl. 

Once the 10 minutes has passed, top the semi-baked mixture with the topping. 

Bake for an additional 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine ¼ scoop vanilla protein powder and enough almond milk to make a paste. Enjoy! Macros: 400 calories, 9 grams of fat, 20 net carbs, 40 grams of protein.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Infamous Muscle Pump

You work out. You lift heavy things and you put them down. But, do you achieve THE PUMP?!?!?!

As our fearless leader Arnold once said, "the best activities for your health are pumping and humping".

So we all take about the pump and we all say we have it when we work out, but what is it? And what does it do?

To demonstrate, I took my thigh measurements last night before my leg workout. That's the picture on the left. 2 hours later, I took my thigh measurement again- that's the picture on the right. Almost a 2 inch difference. No, you freaks, I didn't gain 2 inches of permanent leg size in 2 hours. It's from blood flow. Lots and lots of blood flow that says bye bye to other places in my body and goes right to the body part that you are isolating.

Science time.

A good pump is something all bodybuilders should aim for- it signals effectiveness of training and muscle growth. Proper weight training is the stimulus for an effective pump. Inability to achieve a pump also means the conditions necessary for muscle growth are not in place. The pump = barometer of future growth.

Working muscles need blood to supply them with oxygen and nutrients and remove waste products (mainly lactic acid and carbon dioxide). When a muscle is properly trained, blood flow is diverted from many other bodily processes to supply this muscle with what it needs to perform at its max.

Over time, the pump will also create a greater number of capillaries, which will, in turn, provide the muscles with more nutrients and oxygen and allow for larger pumps and more growth in the long term.


So.... if you are working out shoulders and triceps on the same day- to be most effective- you should not go back and forth with shoulder and tricep exercises. The blood will be beep bopping all over the place, which results in an ineffective pump and overall ineffective muscle growth.


Adding in supplements (such as a preworkout with nitric oxide) will aid in the overall pump and added blood to the muscles.

Adequate weight + proper form + supplementation = great pump.

Double woof.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Last week, I was lucky enough to do a podcast interview with Aesthetics on Fire.

Here is the direct link:!22-sarah-bakian/cl9v

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Supplement Guide

Supplement Guide 101

This is my personal take on the most important supplements, what they do, why you need them, when to take them, how much to take, etc. 

Branched Chain Amino Acids are a combination of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. All three of these essential amino acids have a branched-chain molecular structure (remember, we all learned about this stuff in chemistry and thought we would never need it again). The combination of these three aminos is especially important because they muscle metabolizes them, not the liver- nom nom nom. 

BCAAs can be used to build new protein or used as energy. Muscles are super high branched chain amino acids so adding in a BCAA supplement can help build muscle, aids in recovery, and reduces the risk of overtraining.

BCAAs are great throughout the day if you want your muscles to nom on aminos all day long and especially beneficial while you are lifting. Powder BCAAs are extremely delicious but they also come in pill form too. 

Pre Workout
A pre workout supplement is basically a stimulant formulated to give you energy to power you through your workouts. The energy usually comes from caffeine and other herbal compounds. Many pre workouts are formulated to help your mental focus as well as boost your energy. Many are nitric oxide boosters (reference the arginine post later in this blog) and that helps improve circulation and the muscular pumps you will get during your workout. Summary- it's freaking bad ass and makes your muscles fill with blood and get super big and strong.

This one is easy, take one scoop 30 minutes before your workout. And then love life. 

So this guy can be found in food and whey protein but to harness it's amazing powers, it needs to be free form (cue free fallin background music). L-Glutamine is very important in protein metabolism and can reduce the amount of muscle deterioration that occurs when other tissue in your body needs glutamine- damn selfish tissues (kidding but not really).

It's important to re-stock your body full of glutamine and the best way to do that is either taking pure glutamine either in pill or powder form. It's best on an empty stomach, as mentioned above, it's absorbed best when it's the only thing in your tummy. 

This amino acid, like L-Glutamine, is a semi-essential amino acid. They are both building blocks of protein and L-Arginine is also known as a precursor of the gas nitric oxide (which is partially what preworkout is for). Arginine's is very popular due to its nitric oxide producing ability, its ability to scavenge free radicals, as well as its ability to signal muscle cells, release growth hormone, remove bad cholesterol, helps regulate salt levels, and enhance fat metabolism. 

Bodybuilders love arginine for the fact that it regulates salt levels and is well known for muscle growth due to its ability to participate in protein synthesis.

Again, pill or powder- follow the directions on the type that you purchase.

Multi Vitamin
If you, as human, want to perform at your peak, start taking a damn multi vitamin. It can even be the Flinstones chewy gummy ones- it's better than what you are currently taking- nothing. Multi vitamins are vital as they contain a ton of stuff you need like minerals and vitamins. Majority, like 99% of us, are deficient in something- therefore, supplementing with a multi guarantees that there is always a presence of vitamins and minerals in your body. 

Protein Powder
Protein is, without a doubt, the best supplement for building muscle. 60-70% of your body protein is in your muscle. You can NOT build muscle without protein- protein literally builds muscles. There are many different types of protein, but out of the top five (whey, casein, soy, egg, and milk), whey protein ranks supreme. Whey protein is very high in BCAA's (mentioned above) and contains an almost perfect combination of muscle-building amino acids (nothing is 100% perfect). On average, it takes the body 2 hours to digest compared to casein, which can take up to 7 hours. 

The amount of protein you should be consuming per day is dependent on your macros (mentioned above). Some athletes may get enough protein on their own without supplementing, but for many, whey protein shakes are the way to go. They are best absorbed within 1 hour post workout with a simple carb. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Women: Lifting Won't Make You Bulky

Ok, seriously, can we all drop the word "tone" when we reference fitness goals. TONE DOES NOT EXIST. IT IS NOT REAL. This "tone"concept that most women set as a goal (which isn't really a goal because a goal needs to be measurable- rant in a different blog post) is a combination of gaining muscle mass and reducing excess body fat. It's that simple and that complicated.

This mainstream, bullshit view about "muscle tone" does not reflect any concept of reality or how to achieve it. You ALL have seen the magazine covers with a women lifting a 3lb pink dumbbell with the headline "tone your muscles now". Sorry, but lifting a dumbbell that weighs less than your purse for 3 sets of 100 will not achieve the look you're going for- unless of course, that look is flabby and leaves you with little to no results.

Ok, science time: Muscles are fixed at all ends by tendons and bone. Ok, that's simple. Muscles do not magically assume different shapes- obvious right, this isn't Hogwarts.  Sets of 2-3 reps do NOT product the shape of a triangle while 10-12 reps product the shape of a sphere. Muscles aren't Picasao, they aren't artistic.

Honestly, if I had a dollar for every woman who told me they wanted to "tone", I could fly out on my personal jet and train you all in person.

Back to science- muscles do change shape by GROWING in response to exercise. That's part 1 of the equation in achieving what most people want when they reference muscle tone: LARGER MUSCLES. Ladies, YES- when you talk about getting "toned" you really are saying two things- I want to lose fat and I want BIGGER MUSCLES.

Don't lose your sports bras- women simply do not possess the hormonal profile needed to mass up under heavy weight (that EWWW i don't want to be bulky and look like a man mentality). WOMEN DO NOT POSSESS ENOUGH TESTOSTERONE. So, point blank, if you are a woman and you are lifting heavy and gaining dirty size or dirty mass then you are either eating shit, taking steroids, or both. Dirty size and dirty mass are different than a clean bulk.

We like easy. Easy is good. But easy doesn't get you results.

The second half of "toning": body fat is all that really determines how well your muscles can be seen. And the VISUAL of a lean, sculpted, muscular body is what most women want when they say that stupid word. The truth is- diet is the dominant factor controlling your body fat. Abs are made in the kitchen- not on an Abmat. Lifting heavy won't make you gain size, but everything anything and everything in sight surely will.

To summarize:
1. Stop calling it muscle tone. You want bigger muscles and less body fat covering them.
2. Eat to meet your goals
3. Pick up a barbell. NOW LIFT