Diet and Nutrition

Rag on the Mags #2 – Flex: July 2010

‘Rag on the Mags’ is a feature in which we will to review the current crop of Muscle and Powerlifting publications as they come out each month (normally before they hit the newsstands).

The basic idea here is that we will present you with the CliffsNotes® of the pertinent info, allowing you to determine if it’s worthwhile for you to run a comb through your hair, head into civilization, and plunk down roughly six-bucks for the issue.

You can be assured that I have no agenda to give the thumbs up or down for a particular issue, I’ll just tell it how it is.

Flex: July 2010

The July issue of Flex has big Zack Khan on the cover showing a huge bicep and a deltoid roughly the same size as his head as he concentration curls a 60-pound dumbbell.

The editorial, “Birth of a Rivalry” by Allan Donnelly (pg 24) has to do with Phil Heath vs. Kai Greene as these two (Weider/AMI exclusive athletes) battle for well… the number two spot, since Jay Cutler has moved on over to Muscular Development, which sort of takes away from the significance of the rivalry.

The PH vs. KG rivalry is mentioned further in the “Hard Times” gossip column (pg 53). I wonder if Phil or Kai has even considered it?  This is the typical flavor of Weider hype (and no one does this sort of thing better) which does a great job of getting teenage lifters excited about the upcoming pro season. Veterans of the game look at it and yawn.

In “The Blueprint: Part 1” (pg 132), Hany Rambod gives us his offseason gameplan. It’s hard to get too excited about any of the current trainer/nutritionists when they act as though their programs are innovative since we can see where they have picked and chosen aspects from previous gurus. His program (which supposedly begins right after a physique contest diet) involves a six-week rebound period, with higher calories. He advocates one week off from training, and two cheat meals A DAY, with low-level 30-minute/ 3-4 times a week cardio to keep you from getting too sloppy.

We see a picture of Brandon Curry doing front squats and, while I could be wrong, I don’t think they are a regular part of his training, as his “knuckles touching under his chin” form looks as awkward as I have ever witnessed.

The workout is a five-way split:

  • Day 1: AM: quads; PM: hams and calves
  • Day 2: chest and triceps
  • Day 3: off
  • Day 4: back and biceps
  • Day 5: shoulders, traps and rear delts
  • Day 6: rest
  • Day 7: biceps and triceps again).

He incorporates forced reps, partial reps, drop sets and has you wrap up a few of your weaker bodyparts with his “sevens” — seven pump sets of 8-12 reps with short rest periods followed by fascial stretching. Week Five is similar with some minor tweaking of the order of exercises and “pre-loaded/reloaded sevens” so that he has you doing the seven set pump protocol at both the beginning and end of each bodypart. I’m not sure the logic of this other than to dazzle people with innovation and to bury anyone that did not bail due to overtraining in the first four weeks (with the take-home message that perhaps you are just not cut from sturdy enough stock).

His nutrition program covers all the bases with 4,560 calories a day (467 grams of protein, 407 grams of carbs and 113 grams of fat), using the typical foods and a food prep schedule virtually impossible for  anyone with a full-time job.

His supplement recommendations agree with my own with BCAAs, added vitamin C, probiotics and digestive enzymes added to the other typical staples. He also gives useful advice about things such as “remaining camera-ready for photo-shoots” after our contest, which makes me wonder who in the hell he thinks is reading this?

Now Greg Merritt deserves a firm slap on the wrist for lack of creativity on his “Rated Hardcore” article (pg 158), and this is one I can’t help but take a little personally. Greg’s article ranks the ten most hardcore bodybuilders from the past couple decades. The article includes a paragraph or two explaining why they were chosen, a defining quote from that lifter and there is also a sidebar of “honorable mentions.” Pretty good idea, right? Certainly not the type of creativity Flex has been known for. The problem is… one creative author (by the name of Stevoreno Colescott published an online article on November 28, 2009 called “The Hardcore Twelve” that, guess what? …listed the twelve most hardcore and inspirational lifters of the past couple decades, in a remarkably similar format, including listing a defining quote for each athlete and a sidebar of “honorable mentions.”

My article (The Hardcore Twelve) had some different athletes, as I included some powerlifters and strongman competitors, but the concept was an obvious steal. Their ten includes four of the same athletes as me, with three of my honorable mentions being promoted up to their list in place of the strength athletes they omitted. I guess I should feel complimented. I’m glad to see you are a fan of my work, Greg. I can’t say the same about yours!

Shawn Perine writes an article called “Hardcore Sweat Shops” (pg 182) that features ten blue-collar gyms. We have seen this sort of things dozens of times but I enjoy these stories since this is the core of grassroots lifting. We have some of the old standard gyms here (Bev Francis’ Powerhouse, Diamond Gym in Jersey, Gold’s Venice, Quad’s Gym in Chi-town, Metroflex- Arlington, Bonham’s Strong & Shapely) but they also threw in USA Gym (Bridgeview, IL), Doug’s Gym (Dallas), Super Training Gym (Sacramento) and Loprinzi’s Gym (Portland, OR) so there was some freshness, although there are quite a few gyms I would have ranked higher. Their radar seems to be based on knowing a Flex-guy that trains in a particular place. There are gyms teaming with hungry amateur bodybuilders and powerlifters that they will be forever oblivious to.

In “Hardcore Nutrition,” Jordana Brown writes (pg 192) about a day’s perfect eating. I generally tend to like her work and flip through looking for articles authored by either her or Jim Stoppani. Both authors present a great distillation of research to realistic application in bodybuilding. This is a pretty high-carb itinerary which would serve the teenage readership of Flex well, provided they can talk their parents into the daily steak and salmon. She does a nice job explaining her choices and readers will pick up a lot from this even if they choose not to go with such a high-carb approach.

“Recover Returns” (pg 200) by Sommer Robertson is the supplement recommendations section of this issue’s Hardcore theme. Their seven picks are whey, casein, BCAAs, creatine, carb powder, glutamine and alpha-lipoic acid. While buying a stand-alone carb powder is something only hyper-metabolic skinny teens might need (perhaps a majority of the Flex readership), most young guys might be better served with an inexpensive canister of oatmeal so they can invest more in additional servings of protein and weight gainer.

Zack Khan is the subject of the “Bloody Hell Part 1” photos feature (pg 218) by Greg Merritt. Kevin Horton (famous for the” Dorian Yates in his socks” amazing transformation pics) is the photographer. The photos here are so/so, which is unfortunate because Khan is a monstrous freak that has potential to pick up the mass-monster mantle from Markus Rühl. It almost looks like the gym was so small that they could only get photos from the side, which is great for story-telling purposes, but not so much for a photo-shoot. The article claims that Khan was to make his pro debut at the Tampa Pro, but the word is that he suffered a hammie injury. Hopefully we will see him on stage (and in shape) in 2010.

The Monstrous Freak: Zack Khan

Kevin Horton redeemed himself photographically in his Greg Merritt penned article on power-bodybuilder Stan Efferding. “Pec Power Play” (pg 232) which details the White Rhino’s program that earned him entrance into both the IFBB pro ranks and the 600-pound bench press (raw) club. Efferding explains why a pump would hurt max strength so he keeps reps between 3 and 5 in his bench warm-up sets (135 to 405 in ninety-pound jumps) and gives himself three minutes between sets.

The 42-year old powerhouse also gives useful advice on setting your bench stance and grip. After four heavy sets of bench, he does incline dumbbell presses (typically with 200-pounders), parallel-bar dips with a hundred-pound dumbbell added for resistance. After warm-ups, he does just six sets but obviously it works for him.


Stan Efferding - Incline pressing 210-pounders for reps

Shawn Perine writes “ContrOversy” (pg 248) and this is exactly the type of historical retrospective in which he excels (although it also serves as an ad for 2010 Olympia tickets). This recounts the five most controversial Olympias. First up, is the 2007 contest in which Victor Martinez (in perhaps the best shape we will ever see him) lost by one point to a “not at his best” Jay Cutler. In #4 is the 1990 Battle of Lees with a flawless Labrada not upsetting an off-form Haney, despite the two-point lead after the pre-judging. Number 3 is 2001, where Cutler showed he was a serious contender and many felt he out-posed Coleman.

The two remaining controversial events were 1981 (in which the limbless torso of Columbo stole a Sandow) and 1980, where Arnold tarnished his competitor rep and undid some of his efforts to build the sport, by stealing the Olympia with a physique maybe 80% of his previous best. While people are still outraged over that one, it’s the Columbo farce that burns me.

In “Delts that Deliver” (pg262) Zack Zeigler (with photos by Pavel “I’d like to buy a vowel” Ythjall) gives us Dexter Jackson’s shoulder training routine. The program is pretty generic. The exception? He does his lateral raises seated sideways on a 45° incline bench. Why? His trainer told him to. I’m guessing it’s really just because he’s lazy. There is not much to learn here but Dex is in great shape and the photos were taken at Metro Fitness, which used to be the main World Gym in North Columbus owned by Jim Lorimer. I trained there for a couple of year and Mike Francois runs his training biz at this gym.

The same team (Zeigler/Ythjall) does a photo profile on figure competitor Terri Turner, who looks a bit like Rachel McLish (without the snooty ‘tude). I didn’t really read this but she was fun to look at. To stay with the T&A theme, we get a five-page bikini spread by Ian Spanier and Mike Mader. They drop the pretext of telling us about these women and give us photos with minimal text.

 ‘Figure Competitor Terri Turner was fun to look at’

So that’s it. A fairly meaty issue of Flex with a few informative articles. Younger guys may want to pick this up for the Hardcore Nutrition article or the Efferding training feature. And Gregg Merritt needs to make it a point not to blatantly poach my ideas in the future!

Written by Steve Colescott

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums - Rag on the Mags #2 – Flex: July 2010 discussion thread.

About Steve Colescott

Known as the Guerrilla Journalist, Steve Colescott has written over a hundred published articles for many major bodybuilding publications, including Peak Training Journal, the innovative and well-respected magazine in which he served as Publishing Editor.

He is currently a staff writer for and has been a consultant to a number of top sports nutrition companies.

With his company, Colescott Metabolic Solutions, he has transformed the physiques of scores of average businesspeople, weekend athletes and housewives beyond their wildest expectations. Steve lives in Akron, Ohio and trains at the ultra-hardcore Body Builders Gym, an Ohio musclehead landmark.