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Thread: Stan Efferding on working with Flex Wheeler

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    Little Guy Adina Zanolli's Avatar
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    Default Stan Efferding on working with Flex Wheeler




    How I was able to put on 30 pounds of competition muscle in 1 year


    I've been competing in bodybuilding and powerlifting for nearly 30 years. During this time I've been an avid reader, researcher, student, coach, competitor, and experimenter in the quest to be my very best.

    I have had the good fortune of working either directly or indirectly with most of the highly regarded "Guru's" in the industry as well as having trained with countless pro's, world record holders and legends.

    I've turned over nearly every rock throughout my journey in search of the "Secret" to success and learned a lot along the way and I'm still learning every day.

    The one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that there is no "Secret".

    There is no mysterious wonder drug or perfectly programmed training regimen or magical diet or super supplement that works for everyone.

    Everyone is different and not everyone responds the same to any of the aforementioned recipes for success.

    Many, if not all, of the best minds in the industry will readily acknowledge that there is a powerful genetic component that will ultimately dictate a given individual's potential irrespective of the stimulus applied.

    Not everyone has the same potential. There are gifted but lazy individuals that can become very good at their sport and there are less gifted but extremely disciplined and hard working athletes that will also become very good.

    Greatness, however, will require both nature and nurture.

    I've always recognized I lacked the genetic gift to be great in bodybuilding. My pops was a buck-sixty and I entered college tipping the scales at 140lbs. Even after three years of training I competed in my first bodybuilding show only weighing 160lbs.

    Although I wasn't aware of it at the time, I was more suited for powerlifting as I was already able to knock out a few ugly reps squatting 500 pounds when I only weighed 160. I didn't know or even care if that was good and it would be another 8 years before I competed in my first powerlifting meet (where I totaled over 2,000 raw weighing 260). Bodybuilding was my first love and all I cared about was being Jacked and I had a long way to go but I was determined!!

    There are often many paths to the same destination and what works for one may not work for another so what I can offer you is simply a tour of the path that worked for me.

    My Journey to becoming an IFBB Pro


    When I met Flex Wheeler, I had already been competing for nearly 25 years. I had studied exercise science, coached high school sports, trained high school, collegiate and professional athletes including NFL, NBA, MLB, Pro Boxing, National Champion and Olympic sprinters and many more.

    I was eager to learn from someone I had admired since I first opened a bodybuilding magazine back in the mid 80's.

    I flew down to Los Angeles about 6 months prior to the 2009 Masters Nationals and sat down with Flex at the Firehouse Restaurant near Golds Gym Venice.

    I had a full yellow pad of paper and my pen ready to document every word. I was finally going to meet the Wizard of Oz and see behind the curtain.

    After an intense and candid hour of grilling Flex with every question imaginable, I looked down at my paper and there was nothing on it. He didn't tell me anything I didn't already know or hadn't heard.

    But what he did tell me made me realize that I was in for the most challenging 6 months of my life. I was going to work harder, be more disciplined and more consistent in EVERY aspect of my contest prep.

    I had never been lazy in the gym and was always disciplined but I would often do too much or over-think the process. Flex allowed me to turn my brain off and just do as I was told and his knowledge and success gave me the confidence I needed not to second guess the process and stick with a solid game plan.

    Although I was training for a powerlifting meet when I met Flex in January, he had me start his "diet" so I would have ample time to reap the benefits. Shortly after the meet, I flew down and trained with Flex every day until the Masters Nationals.

    Let me boil this article down to the 3 biggest things I did different under Flex's guidance that allowed me to bring 30 more pounds of muscle to the 2009 Masters Nationals as compared to the previous year.

    1. "Reverse Dieting"
    2. Increased Volume, Frequency and intensity
    3. No cardio

    1. REVERSE DIETING -

    Of course it wasn't called reverse dieting back then but the term has become popularized as of late, particularly for women trying to preventing post competition rebound.

    Dr. Layne Norton does an excellent job of explaining the concept in this video:



    Chad Nichols also talks about a variation of this concept when he was training Ronnie Coleman. You may recall that Chad also worked with Flex.

    Reverse dieting as it was applied to me focused on training my metabolism much the same way you train for a bigger bench press. If your max bench is 315 and want to bench 405, you can't go into the gym tomorrow and load 405 on the bar and ask for a lift-off!! The same is true of your metabolism. You can't read about Ronnie's diet and go to Costco and load up your cart and try to eat all that food. Your body won't be able to handle it.

    Flex had me start with the meal plan I was already on. I was eating 5 meals a day, approximately 300 grams of protein and 4,500 calories. Flex had me measure my intake and then increase my protein by a couple ounces each meal and my carbs by 100g a day.

    I was primarily eating animal proteins such as eggs, milk, steak, chicken and easy to digest carbs such as potatoes and rice although I wasn't terribly particular about the carbs at the time since I was powerlifting so I would eat bread or pasta or oatmeal as I felt.

    Under Flex's program I just added about 500-600 calories a day to my meal plan. I told Flex I was full on these meals and he told me to call him back when I was hungry again. In about 10 days I started getting hungry again. When I called Flex, he told me to add 2 more ounces of protein to each meal and another 100g of carbs per day and add another meal. Then he said to call him back when I was hungry again.

    About 10 days later, I was hungry again. At this time Flex had me increase the number of steak meals and decrease the number of eggs, milk and chicken I ate. He also had me reduce or eliminate the more difficult carbs to digest such as fibrous carbs, wheat and legumes.

    This went on for at least another month until I was eating 7 meals a day, 14oz of steak or chicken per meal and 2 cups of rice or potatoes per meal. I had increased my calories to over 6,000 a day and brought my weight up 10lbs over the previous year to about 272lbs and I was still very lean at this weight.

    Through this gradual process, I was easily able to eat this much quality food and my body was utilizing it very efficiently.

    Flex believed that not only did we need the food to fuel the workouts but we also needed to have something to pull out while dieting without starving the muscle pre-contest.

    It's important to recognize that this process started many months before my contest prep and it was not an offseason "bulking" diet just to eat as much of anything I wanted to put weight on the scale.

    I don't have a dog in the fight over the "clean eating vs IIFYM" discussion but I will say that certain foods just make me feel better and others do not. I tend to avoid heavy foods like pizza, fast food, mayonnaise, cheese, simple sugars, wheat, legumes and anything else that either weighs me down or takes a lot of effort and discomfort to digest. I just feel good eating steak and rice so I eat a lot of it but I'll also throw in chicken, small amounts of cooked vegetables, potatoes etc...

    Flex noticed very quickly while we were training that if I switched from red meat to chicken and fish that I would flatten out so he would tell me to put the red meat back in. Jay Cutler has written about how he responds well to red meat and how he's able to gain and maintain more muscle eating steak as opposed to other protein sources.

    Flex had no protein powders in my diet and eventually took out all eggs and Milk. He felt that eggs and protein powders went through the body too quickly and he wanted foods that would give me a sustainable source of protein.

    It's what worked for him and many others he trained over the years. Interestingly enough, now there's a meta-analysis of the research regarding the post workout window of opportunity that concludes the overall daily intake of protein is more important than the type of protein and the timing.

    Here's the study:
    http://www.jissn.com/content/10/1/53/abstract

    Research also shows that whey isolates may spike nitrogen retention faster and higher but a slower digesting casein protein has a better effect on muscle retention and growth over the long term. It appears the body absorbs and adapts at it's own pace and there's only so much you can do to increase and improve this process.

    That's just a small example of how I always manage to overthink this shit where Flex just does it because he knows it works and could care less why or how many book-worms agree or disagree with him.

    I guess if you win 4 Arnold classics and 5 Ironman Pro's you don't really need to worry what some abstract says about a rat study.

    Here's a great interview with Dr. Stuart Phillips that addresses protein demands and hypertrophy which I will cover later.

    http://www.leanbodiesconsulting.com/articles/the-protein-interview-an-interview-with-dr-stuart-phillips/

    Dr Phillips research as well as many other studies indicate that 8 meals is no better than 4 presuming the calories and macros are the same. My purpose for eating 8 meals is simply because I would never be able to eat such a high quantity of food in just 4 meals.

    I would have to get up at 5 am to eat and go back to sleep then wake up at 8 for another meal in order to get all my calories in for the day. I would also eat post workout, I just didn't have a shake, I had 12-14oz of chicken and a baked potato.

    That's the basics on how I ate differently which allowed me to start at a higher body mass than the previous year and how I was able to continue to fuel that mass while I increased my workload to burn fat.

    You have to be at a calories deficit to lose weight. That can be done either by decreasing calories or increasing workload or, god forbid, both. We increased workload and maintained the calories as long as we could so I was losing fat but not losing muscle nor a significant amount of body weight.

    I only lost 12 pounds in the 8 weeks that I was in San Jose training with Flex. The other 6-7 pounds was just water weight I stripped off for stage. I was 250lbs the morning of the show.

    Quite simply, Flex just had me eat more food, more often than I ever had before.

    2. INCREASED TRAINING VOLUME, FREQUENCY AND INTENSITY:

    Flex designed a training program that included more sets, more reps and more workouts than I had employed in the past. He also decreased the rest time and included some high rep failure sets to burn out the muscles.

    We trained six days straight. It was a 3 on/3 on 1/off. A push/pull/legs split. We trained twice a day. Typically a large bodypart in the morning and a smaller part in the evening.

    Day 1:
    am - chest
    pm - shoulders
    Day 2:
    am - Back
    pm - arms
    Day 3:
    am - Quads
    pm - Hams/calves

    Repeat

    The last 30 days we added a 30 minute posing session each night and it was grueling. We worked up to 8 rounds of quarter turns and mandatories holding each pose for 15 seconds. We were under hot lights and drank a half gallon of water during the session. Keith actually passed out in a pool of sweat during a session.

    Flex believed in high volume. Basically a "pounds-per-hour" approach. We hit the ground running with 4 sets of 5 different exercises in the 15-20 rep range with 60 second rest periods on small parts and 90-120 seconds on large parts. We never trained more than an hour.

    Initially, oxygen debt was the limiting factor so the poundages dropped significantly from what I was use to lifting. As my conditioning improved, the weights began to increase for the same reps and rest periods. That was the progressive component of the equation that allowed for hypertrophy. More pounds per hour.

    Flex also selected exercises and rep ranges that had less eccentric load so I was able to recover more quickly from the workouts as compared to powerlifting. We didn't squat, deadlift or flat bench. We did leg presses, rows and dumbbell presses etc...

    In addition to progressively increasing volume, another key component to hypertrophy as discussed by Dr Phillips in the article above is "maximal or near maximal muscle fiber activation". He didn't say maximal weights, just maximal activation. In order to recruit the greatest amount of muscle fiber, particularly fast twitch fibers, you have to train closer to or beyond failure. This may include a couple of forced reps with a training partner and a negative.

    Now I'm not saying you can use the pink dumbbels and get results. It's generally agreed that there still has to be an effective load component which is loosely believed to be about 60-65% of your 1RM or higher. Even with these loads, training to failure will yield similar hypertrophy results as the 80-85% rep range. Not strength, but size.

    Dorian Yates has some videos on YouTube demonstrating this style of training.

    Tom Platz was famously known for his grueling high rep sets to failure. Check out his recent YouTube video detailing his leg training program and pay special attention to how he transitions from full reps to partials as he progresses through the stages of failure during an exercise.



    Branch Warren and Johnnie Jackson take a lot of heat from the "proper form police" but you can't argue with their results. Partial reps allow them to use more weight and break down the muscle at it's strongest leverage point in the movement.

    Flex had a similar approach where he would spot me through a couple reps then do drop sets by peeling weight off the leg press or grabbing lighter db's for bench or curls etc...
    Not every set, but there was always a failure component included in every exercise, typically the last set.

    Volume, frequency and intensity. Plain and simple, he just made me do more work, more often and train harder than I ever had before. No secret there!

    One important caveat to this style of training is that you have to have all components of the program working in order to adequately recover. I've always been in the camp that believes "there's no such thing as overtraining, just under-eating". This is an oversimplified way of saying what you do outside the gym will determine your ability to continue to progress inside the gym. I was eating 8 times a day, sleeping at least 8 hours every night and taking a nap after each workout. Must be nice, huh!!

    3. No Cardio

    This one should need no explanation but I still see competitors slogging away on treadmills and stairs steppers for 2 hours a day. It's called body-BUILDING!! Get off the treadmill. If you got fat in the off season then start earlier and get un-fat so you can decrease the cardio as you get leaner, not increase it.

    This was the big mistake that Trey Brewer made on the advice of some lame trainer who always boasted about Trey's weight like it was an accomplishment. He, like many others, just got too fat in the off season and lost too much muscle trying to calorie restrict and perform endless bouts of cardio. Not casting dispersions, just stating the facts. Don't get caught up looking at the scale. Look in the mirror!!

    Big Jon Ward could and should have won the USA's and/or the Nationals this year but I believe he makes the same mistake getting up to 330lbs in the off season. I hope you're listening Jon, put down the Ben & Jerry's and call Flex!!

    Gaining all that weight completely changes the way your body manufactures and utilizes insulin and how it absorbs and stores calories. A more gradual process of reverse dieting will allow for muscle gain without the fat accumulation and keep you within reach of stage weight so you can avoid drastic cuts.

    Flex used training frequency and volume as a fat-burning method. He believed if I had any extra energy or time to do cardio, I'd be better off using that time to lift weights. He also got my metabolism very efficient early on with the reverse dieting so I didn't need cardio to burn calories.

    Clearly there's many other important aspects that go into training and nutrition but these 3 were the game changers that allowed me to earn my IFBB Pro Card.

    If you're ready to do what's necessary to take your training to the next level, I'd recommend reaching out to Flex at:

    "TeamFlexWheeler.com"

    Thanks Flex,
    "Rhino"

  2. #2

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    Good read. I like stan he's a monster

  3. #3
    Colemanesque Beti ona's Avatar
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    Wow, this is too good, thanks Adina!

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    Flex's increased volume is straight out of Arnold's Encyclopedia.

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    Barbarian
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    Great read!

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    Barbarian Rabbit_Racer's Avatar
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    As much as I would give my left nut to look like Flex Wheeler in his prime I really doubt he has much knowledge as a coach or guru. Chad Nicholls says when Flex worked with him he would always cheat on his diet, saying he was attacked by ninjas so he wouldn't have to compete etc. Secondly Flex had probably the best genetics ever seen in Bodybuilding and guys like that grow no matter what they do. Most average people with average genetics would probably learn a lot more from someone like John Meadows rather than a genetic mutant like Flex.

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    Pretty sure 30lbs of stage weight in a year seems like Flex knew something of helping someone put on muscle. Idk maybe i'm missing something ....

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    Barbarian Rabbit_Racer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ampamp75 View Post
    Pretty sure 30lbs of stage weight in a year seems like Flex knew something of helping someone put on muscle. Idk maybe i'm missing something ....
    Yes, Flex helped Stan get a super secret drug that turned off his myostatin and he gained 30 lbs of muscle because of that.

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    Forum Leader: Training Journals tjoe's Avatar
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    yep, cool article.
    4-6-13 100% RAW Powerlifting/ALL RAW Powerlifting
    Open 242 (weighed 235) 534.6/385.8/644.8 T = 1565.2

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    Forum Leader: No Bull Carnage's Avatar
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    very cool article Adina!

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    Good article but I disagree with some things like no cardio, cardio is good for overall health and shouldn't be avoided.. also helps with metabolism and appetide
    DEDICATED FOR LIFE.

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    Barbarian -DNTS-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkwire View Post
    Good article but I disagree with some things like no cardio, cardio is good for overall health and shouldn't be avoided.. also helps with metabolism and appetide
    Try to do 4 sets of 5 exercises 15-20 reps in no more than 1 hour 12 times!!! a week and tell me if you need cardio after a week

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    Quote Originally Posted by -DNTS- View Post
    Try to do 4 sets of 5 exercises 15-20 reps in no more than 1 hour 12 times!!! a week and tell me if you need cardio after a week
    Trust me, I more harcdore then everyone I see. My rest between sets is NO more then 1 min exept maybe on squats etc. I was saying cardio for vascular health not necceserly to get shredded.
    DEDICATED FOR LIFE.

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    Colemanesque Beti ona's Avatar
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    I feel like a lot of cardio shrink my legs, next time i'll try a approach similar to Stann.

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    Iron Addict Bully God's Avatar
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    cool article pimping Flex as a guru for hire!!

  16. #16

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    Adina, Flex isn't with MD anymore...

    thanks anyways..
    IFBB PRO- ​Darkwire.. from ICELAND..lmaooo

  17. #17

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    Good read

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