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Thread: Mailman Muscle: Story of The Bodybuilding Powerlifter

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Baltimore, MD


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    This week has been hectic, as Iíve worked 10+ hours every work day since Friday. Sunday/Monday were largely tied up with a religious holiday and corresponding family time. On top of this, we were planning and packing for our trip to Columbus, Ohio for the Arnold Sports Festival (which is where Iím updating this log from). We did manage to train on Monday and Tuesday. This was the first time I have done real workouts on consecutive days in a long time. I also squeezed in a bonus workout while at work on Wednesday.

    Since Iím recapping 3 workouts in one post, to keep it brief Iíll exclude the warmups and go straight to the work sets.

    Monday 2/26/24: 5,767 steps, 2.2 miles, 8 floors climbed

    Lower #1, Planet Fitness - modified this (as in reduced) because I didnít start until almost 10:30 pm

    Smith Machine Squat - relatively high bar
    270+ lbs/10 reps

    Leg Extension
    ridiculous set: 75 lbs/12 left + 12 right + 10 left + 10 right + 9 left + 9 right + 135 lbs/11 bilateral

    The reps on the left were done to failure, and then matched on my right side, which probably had 1-2 more reps left each round. The pauses between sides were about 10-20 seconds.

    Seated Leg Curl
    ridiculous set: 60 lbs/8 left + 8 right + 70 lbs/6 left + 6 right + 8 left + 8 right - slightly longer rest after the 6 on the right side
    115/15 bilateral

    Same format as the leg extensions, except I rested too long before the bilateral set to include it with the extended unilateral set.

    Calf Raise - done on the upright leg press
    I didnít write these down, but I did 20-25 total reps. My hamstrings were so pumped that I couldnít feel my calves. I quit and made a mental note to hit them before leaving town (same with abs).

    Tuesday 2/27/24: 14,547 steps, 6.5 miles, 3 floors climbed

    Upper #2, Planet Fitness

    Smith Machine Seated Overhead Press
    120+ lbs/5 reps

    Smith Machine Pendlay Row - This was my first time ever doing these. I think I found a winner. Iíll do a separate post about it.
    180+ lbs/8 reps

    Chest Press Machine - press angle was somewhere between flat and decline bench
    130 lbs/8.25 reps - I tried a 9th rep, and it didnít move much.

    Cable Pulldown - underhand grip on short, straight bar
    drop set: 200 lbs/8 reps + 160/6

    Cable Pressdown - short, straight bar
    drop set: 85 lbs/7 reps + 70/6 + 60/7

    Wednesday 2/28/24: 14,547 steps, 6.3 miles, 8 floors climbed

    Bonus Workout, Planet Fitness

    Hammer Strength Ab Crunch - like ďSuper AbsĒ at Goldís, you crunch down and flex your lower body up, but middle only
    30 lbs/10 reps

    I try to make all abs sets into work sets.

    Calf Press - on upright leg press; slow eccentric with pause and stretch at the bottom
    145 lbs, 15 reps
    245/1 + 30 second hold in the stretch at the bottom

    On to the Arnold Expo!

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Baltimore, MD

    Default Arnold Sports Festival, Day 1

    Friday 3/1/24: 9,413 steps, 3.4 miles, 1 floor climbed

    These are just a few notes and observations from day 1 at the Arnold:

    I found a new, low calorie hack for coffee at my hotel (where itís free 24/7). Itís 4 teaspoons of flavored creamer, 4 tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk, and 2-3 packets of Splenda. This makes 16-20 ounces of coffee remarkably good.

    I met the defending Arnold Classic champion, Samson Dauda. That didnít help my struggle with body dysmorphia. 😄

    A new Arnold Classic Physique champion was crowned, Wesley Vissers. Heís taller than Chris Bumstead. That division will be very interesting at the 2024 Olympia.

    I was happy to see that USA Powerlifting got an upgrade in terms of production value, location, and seating. They used to be in the main concourse of the convention center where the expo is held. Now, theyíre inside the expo with stadium style seating. After this bodybuilding thing, I might have to set my sights on getting back to that platform. I havenít been to The Arnold as a competitor since 2010.

    I ran into Ed Coan today. Heís still the 🐐

    I saw Dr. Mike Israetel for the 2nd year in a row, and this time, we got to meet his wife too. I showed him our picture from last year and he said he remembered us, and they both gave me some very encouraging words about my upcoming show. That was cool.

    7X Figure Olympia champion Cydney Gillon gave me some good advice about fat burners. I think Iím going to use one for the remainder of prep. I donít know that it will help with ďburning fatĒ directly, but if it helps with appetite control, then it will be worth it to me.

    We got A LOT of free stuff - mostly energy drinks and ready to drink bottles of protein.

    Iím looking forward to Saturday! Iím having one of my two planned cheat meals tomorrow. Thereís a local market here that sells what may be the best fried chicken Iíve ever had. We brought some bagged salad at a grocery store today with some low calorie dressing to eat with it, so I can minimize the damage.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Baltimore, MD

    Default Taking The Field After Halftime

    I didnít get a chance to update my log, but here is a recap of my last day (Sunday) at the Arnold, plus the training session I did immediately after leaving the expo.

    As of today, Iím 9 1/2 weeks out (shout out to Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke, for those old enough to catch that). Iím just past the halfway point of the prep for this show. For a reference point, Iím at least 5í7Ē plus maybe another 1/4-1/2 inch tall. On the last 2 mornings, I weighed 185.8 and 186.0 lbs. My waist is down to between 31.5Ē and 31.75Ē (started at 34Ē). My neck is down to 15.5Ē from 16Ē. The bodyfat calculator Iíve been using says that means Iím down to about 12.5% bodyfat from the 16.6% I started at. I think this scale is still fairly accurate. Iím seeing lines Iíve never seen on myself before, and veins are showing up all over the place, including my shoulders, lower abs and thighs. Itís actually freaking me out a little, but in a good way.

    According to one of the tutorials Iíve been getting guidance from, I should be 10-12% bodyfat at this point, but definitely not at/over 15%. So I think Iím on track, but Iíd rather pick up the pace a little for my own peace of mind. Iím not making drastic changes, but there are a few things that Iíve been holding off on that Iím going to start.

    1. Diet/Supplements
    * Switch to more lower fat protein sources going forward, meaning chicken breast, and switching to 93% lean ground beef instead of the 90% Iíve been eating. 93% lean ground turkey and 92% ground chicken are still in play. Also less egg yolks (1 max per day). Still drinking 1% milk, but only about 12 ounces per day, 16 ounces max.

    * 2 tablespoons of half and half in coffee. I usually drink two cups per day, so that reduction in cream makes a big difference in fat intake. Once we run out of the half and half in the fridge, Iíll start using the flavored creamer hack I discovered in Columbus.

    * I started using one of the fat burners I got at the Arnold.

    2. Training
    * No more rest-pause until after the show. I may not even do drop sets. One or two max effort work sets per exercise. This is more about injury prevention than anything else. I can hear Dorian Yates in my head, reminding me that the injuries he sustained were from continuing to push the intensity and load too high close to the Mr. Olympia competitions.

    * No more trying to increase the weights on exercises, barring some exceptional wave of strength on a given day. If I can increase reps with the same weight I used on something from a previous session, then I will. That will indicate that Iím not getting weaker. But Iím not going to attempt a load that I havenít done in the past few weeks. This is also another injury prevention protocol.

    With all of that said, I got back to work yesterday, and back to the gym tonight. Hereís how that went.

    Tuesday 3/5/24: 14,690 steps, 6.8 miles, 5 floors climbed

    Wednesday 3/6/24: 11,814 steps, 5.2 miles, 6 floors climbed

    Upper #2, Planet Fitness

    Smith Machine Pendlay Row - discovered these in the last week or so - theyíre a keeper
    bar/15 reps
    90 lbs + bar/10 reps
    180+/8 (0:26) - started using Versa Gripps here; last 2 reps didnít touch my stomach
    160+/10 (0:32) - next to last rep didnít touch

    What makes these so effective is the gymís rule against slamming or dropping weights. Since I donít want to make noise, I have to be able to control the weight on the way down, which is very different from the way I remember doing Pendlay rows with a free barbell. ďCatchingĒ the weight at the bottom puts a lot of heavy tension on you in a stretched position, and setting your lats to start each rep from a dead stop still requires you to generate a lot of force on the concentric part.

    Low Incline Bench Press - On these benches, the 1 position is flat, and the 7 position is vertical. I had it on 2 for inclines.
    bar/10+ reps
    90 lbs + bar/10 reps
    160+/7 (0:30)
    145+/7 + negative (0:31)
    - I knew this was my last set, and that I couldnít get an 8th rep, so I did a slow negative as low as I could before racking it.

    Rear Delt Machine
    70 lbs/13 reps
    130/18 (0:46) - the last 3 reps were partials

    Pec Dec - done on the same machine as rear delts, facing the opposite way
    85 lbs/12 reps
    145/13 (0:46) - last 2 were partials

    Smith Machine Shrugs - I donít know why I didnít do these after the bench press
    90 lbs + bar/10 reps
    270+/12 (0:32)
    230+/13 (0:35)
    - used Versa Gripps for both work sets

    Arnold Press - weights are per hand
    45 lbs/8 reps
    60/9 (0:45)
    50/10 (0:45)

    I was really happy with this exercise. I havenít done Arnolds since February 19, and that day I used 65ís for 10 reps on the first round of a drop set. That was the first upper body exercise I did that day, and second overall. Iíll take 9 reps with 60ís doing them last as a good sign that strength - and also muscle - is still largely intact.

    If time allows, Iíll do triceps and calves in the gym on my route tomorrow.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Jun 2019


    Ha! I can honestly say that I never would have thought to have run across a reference to that movie in these forums. Well done, Kaisheem!

    Great work! It will be fun to see how you progress over these next couple of months.

    Keep at it!

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Baltimore, MD

    Default Bonus Workout: Triceps, Calves, Abs

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Anders View Post
    Ha! I can honestly say that I never would have thought to have run across a reference to that movie in these forums. Well done, Kaisheem!

    Great work! It will be fun to see how you progress over these next couple of months.

    Keep at it!
    I canít say I had it on my training log bingo card either. 😂. And thank you Bill!

    Here is a link to clips of the top sets reported in yesterdayís post, in sequential order from left to right. If we can embed Instagram posts in here, I donít know how to do it.

    Kaisheem Muhammad on Instagram: "9 1/2 weeks to showtime, which means 9 weeks of training remain. I got back to my normal rotation last night. Things are still moving well, and nothing hurts beyond normal wear and tear. 🤲🏾 in gratitude and 🤲🏾 to continue seeing me through to the end. The Conquer waits for no one.
    Clip 1: my new favorite back exercise, the smith machine Pendlay row! 180 lbs + bar, 8 reps
    Clip 2: low incline bench press, 145 lbs + bar, 7 reps plus a negative
    Clip 3: rear delts, 130 lbs, 18 reps (some partial)
    Clip 4: pec deck, 145 lbs, 13 reps (some partial)
    Clip 5: smith machine shrug, 270 lbs + bar, 12 reps
    Clip 6: Arnold press, 60’s, 9 reps
    #bodybuilding #bodybuilder #ocbbodybuilding #ocbcompetitor #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #mastersbodybuilding #mastersbodybuilder #drugfreebodybuilding #drugfreebodybuilder #menover40 #fitover40 #contestprep #precontest #planetfitness #smithmachine"

    I did manage to get to the PF on my route today for a bonus workout. Triceps, calves, abs. Done in 15 minutes.

    Thursday 3/8/24: 10,908 steps, 4.8 miles, 3 floors climbed

    Cable Pressdown - with V handle
    30 lbs/10 reps
    80/1 - nope, my elbows asked if I was crazy

    Triceps Press Machine - basically a seated dip machine
    130 lbs/10 reps

    Calf Press - on seated upright leg press
    145 lbs/13 reps

    Hammer Ab Crunch Machine
    50 lbs/15 reps

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Baltimore, MD

    Default Unintended Refeed ó> Unexpected Result

    Friday 3/8/24: 15,313 steps, 6.9 miles, 8 floors climbed

    Yesterday, I was dragging from the moment I got out of bed, and not the normal drowsiness because I didnít sleep enough. It was straight up lethargy. My daily wake up weigh in was 184.8 lbs, up 0.2 lbs from the day before - essentially no change. I had a hunch that the culprit for the lack of energy was a lack of carbs on Thursday. By dinner time, which for me is always late (after 8-9 pm), I had only consumed 115 of the 205 grams so was allotted for the day. But because of a recurring problem with the gas supply to our house (itís inconvenient, not dangerous), we were unable to cook what we planned for dinner or for my workday food on Friday. So my wife and I ran out to get salads from MOD Pizza (theyíre an amazing value by fast food standards) before they closed.

    The salad had plenty of protein and just enough fat, but very few non-fibrous carbs. So I wasnít hungry when I woke up. I just didnít want to move. Once I finished loading my mail truck, I decided to go to the Subway near the post office and get a footlong rotisserie chicken sandwich. I figured the bread would be a good start to getting some desperately needed carbs.

    I think I was right, because I started feeling better almost immediately after I started eating. But once I started, it seemed like I couldnít stop. I didnít eat any one thing that would wreck a diet, but I kept nibbling at stuff like beef jerky, ďbootlegĒ peanut butter (made out of Great Value PB Fit), rice cakes, and some other pre packed stuff I had. By the end of the night, I was way over all of my macros for the day.

    I would attach a screenshot from the app, but Iím being told that the file is too large. I wanted to show that while I was prescribed 190 protein, 50 fat, 250 carbs (all in grams), I landed on 245/80/235.

    I was sure that I must have lost some ground on the fat loss. Somehow, I woke up at 183.0 lbs, which I canít make any sense of. I donít think I excreted enough water or anything else to account for more than a pound and a half in one day.

    Whatever happened, my bodyfat calculates between 11.5 and 12% now. The plan is lower body training and posing at Goldís tonight after work. Iím exactly 9 weeks out from showtime.

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Baltimore, MD

    Default Fasting & Dieting

    The month of Ramadan began at sunset tonight, which means tomorrow is the first day Iíll be striving to fast over the next 29-30 days. For those who arenít familiar, the fast of Ramadan is a daily practice during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, which includes among other things, abstaining from food and drink during the daytime hours (essentially sunrise to sunset). On the east coast of the United States, thatís going to be roughly a 12 hour fasting window at the start of the month, and approaching 13 hours by the end. Ideally, I would not stack this fast on top of a contest prep - especially since Iíve never done a contest prep - but the date of my best show option necessitated it. So here we go.

    My plan is to consume 1/4-1/3 of my daily macros in the morning before the fast starts, then another 1/4-1/3 when the fast ends, then the remainder later in the evening. If itís a training day, then weíll hit the gym between the first and second post-fasting meals. Iíll probably consume shakes more than I have been in the past few weeks because Iíll have less time to chew food. My primary focus is protein - if I am hitting that target within my feeding window from the sources Iím down to now, then the is likely to take care of itself.
    Besides, based on what I see in the diet app, I donít have too many macros to worry about. 😬

    Saturday 3/9/24: 13,277 steps, 5.9 miles, 7 floors climbed

    Lower #2, Goldís

    This was our first time at Goldís in about 2 weeks or more. In that time, they got rid of the vertical leg press, which I LOVED. So Iím pissed about that. They also got rid of what I thought was the best of their two pendulum squats. My wife and I both planned to do smith machine good mornings, but for what may be the first time since weíve wanted to use one, all of the smith machines at Goldís were in use. So we did them on the reverse hack squat. At least they got a new one with a better platform angle than the one weíve done these on before.

    Standing Calf Raise - outside the locker rooms, get them out of the way
    10 reps each with 100, 140, 180, 200, and 160 lbs

    I didnít plan on doing 5 sets of these, but my wife took a little extra time coming out of the locker room, so I kept going

    Good Morning - on a reverse hack squat
    47.5 lbs/10-12 reps - I realized after doing several reps to get a feel for the machine that a 45 and a 2.5 lbs plate were loaded on it
    - I used the belt for these work sets.

    Prone Leg Curl
    90 lbs/12 reps
    140/18 - really 14 plus 4 partials

    Reverse Leg Press

    This is a new addition to the gym. It functions like a hack squat, but it looks like a leg press in reverse, with the platform on the bottom and the back pad/seat on the top. I donít know what itís actually called, or what the empty sled weighs.

    sled/15 reps
    300+/8 plus negative after the last rep

    I used a belt on the last set. I also found with the empty sled that Iím not trapped if I bottom out the sled. So once I knew I couldnít make another rep, I did a slow negative and climbed out of the machine at the bottom.

    Leg Extension
    65 lbs/8 reps + 110/8 - paused long enough to change the pin
    left only: 80/13

    ďSuper AbsĒ Machine
    125 lbs/25 - left side
    125/15 + 10 - right side

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Baltimore, MD


    As of today, I have 8 weeks and 4 days until the stage. And after 2 days of fasting, I think 2 outcomes are possible. One is that the journey to diet fatigue is accelerated. The other is that once Ramadan ends, being able to spread my ever shrinking daily allotment of macros out over the day will give me a boost to close this thing out by managing hunger better. Iím clearly hoping for the latter.

    Iím also trying to be more active on YouTube. Hereís a video I uploaded today with me going through my upper body session from last week (3/6/24). Iím talking through my work sets of Pendlay rows, incline bench and shrugs in the smith machine, plus Arnold press, pec deck and rear delts.

    Catching up on everything elseÖ

    Sunday, 3/10/24: 5,389 steps, 2.1 miles, 4 floors climbed

    Monday, 3/11/24: 5,654 steps, 2.2 miles, 15 floors climbed (!?!)

    Upper, Planet Fitness - It was so crowded in there last night, that I donít know how this fits into my rotation. I just did work.

    Cable Pulldown - neutral grip, fairly wide

    55 lbs/14 reps
    200/10 - more like 9 1/2, started using Versa Gripps on this set

    Straight Arm Pulldown - makeshift pullovers, shoulder width grip on the short/straight bar

    55 lbs/5 reps
    80/0 - nope, wouldnít have gotten enough reps

    Chest Press Machine - put the seat to mimic a very slight incline bench path

    55 lbs/12 reps - not sure why I was stuck on this weight for first warmup sets
    145/5 - started a 6th rep, and bailed after maybe 1/4 rep

    I have always found this machine to be deceptively difficult, but I was a bit disappointed with this. I wanted to do this exercise first, but both machines were in use. Had I been able to start with this, would I have gotten 6-7 reps with that top set? I donít know.

    Rear Delt Machine
    30 lbs/5 reps
    145/17 - a lot of these were partials

    Pec Deck - same machine, facing the other way
    145 lbs/11 reps

    Upright Row - did these with the fixed weight barbells
    50 lbs/15 reps - probably could/should count this as a work set, but I know I had some reps in the tank
    60/17 - slight cheat on the last 2 reps

    Cable Curl - cable set at the floor, short/straight bar
    50 lbs/12 reps

    Cable Pressdown - moved the same cable to the top setting, same bar
    50 lbs/4 reps

    Believe it or not, I got all of that done in 36 minutes. I didnít record any of this, and my wife and I did not do any of these exercises together, even though we did a few of the same exercises. Considering our shortened eating/drinking window, we werenít mad about a shorter gym trip.

    Tuesday, 3/12/24: 10,744 steps, 4.8 miles, 5 floors climbed

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Jun 2019


    It's going to be interesting to see how you fare through Ramadan with your goals. While we don't have anyone in the gym observing, we do have a couple of folks who, for various reasons, are on cuts of their own. Since they don't have the overnight make-up period that you do, it's fascinating to see from session to session how their energy levels wax and wane and how they can make gains one day and come up way short the next.

    Keep at it, Kaisheem!

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Jul 2023
    New York, NY


    starting strength coach development program
    Peace Kaisheem. I remember reading some of your posts from back in the day and checking out your YouTube videos. Good stuff. Glad youíre back here on the forums and best wishes training during Ramadan

    How do you like the diet app?

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