bodybuilding

To the Women of Fitness

When I first started training, the gym floor looked like a men's locker room. Women just didn't lift in the co-ed area, that’s if they even worked out at all. Back then you couldn't compete in bikini because it wasn't a category, and #fitchicks didn’t exist because social media wasn't a thing yet. Before there were selfies, online fit challenges, food prep companies, and the only color leggings came in were black, my fitness journey started.

I've been at this game for awhile now, 14 years to be exact. It's been an incredible adventure to where I am today. Being able to travel the world and educate people at all levels about women's health, hormones and performance is something I will always be grateful for. Witnessing the growth of women in all areas of fitness has been absolutely amazing.

At the same time, I can't deny my fears for the current generation of iron sisters. It’s a wild world out there, filled with sex, drugs and reckless ignorance. Before more lives are negatively affected, relationships shattered, bodies devastated, minds broken, and futures altered, I truly wish more women would start to realize that -

You don't need to step on stage to gain muscle. 
You don't need to compete to harness strength. 
You don't need to starve yourself to lose body fat.
You don't need to spend your life savings on a coach.
You don't need to contest prep to make better lifestyle choices.
You don't need to blame prep either for your bad lifestyle choices.
You don't need to sexualize yourself to be seen or heard.
You don't need to wear your insecurities to gain confidence. 
You don't need to compare the 'old' you to prove change.
You don't need to have a perfect physique to be in the industry.
You don't need to pick the gym over family, friends and fun.
You don't need to sacrifice your health to transform your body.
You don't need to build anything but yourself.

Building a body requires you to build ALL of you, from cellular to social -and not just your booty. Focus on building your passion, purpose, future, and health. Build your love for the iron, respect for your body, and I promise you the rest will come.

 

Advices Radio: Muscle & Society

Advices Radio with Scott McNally #69

I had the pleasure of chatting with my good friend Scott McNally from Advices Radio to discuss social aspects of muscle. Going deeper, I was able to talk about the social and historical background on muscle, and provide context why in 2018 female muscularity is still considered as taboo in contemporary culture. 

Click the links below or search "Advices Radio" on podcast apps.

EPISODE LINK:

https://advicesradio.com/track/episode-69

 

ITUNES: 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/advices-radio/id1104299645?mt=2#

 

STITCHER: 

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/scott-mcnally/advices-radio/e/55263302

 

RESOURCES:

The H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sport, 
Located at University of Texas, Austin (see also online archive) 
https://www.starkcenter.org/
(For a glimpse of the center, check out the beginning of this clip: https://vimeo.com/86556787)

History of Physical Culture Library:
Online archives
https://www.davidgentle.com/

"Venus with Biceps: A Pictorial History of Muscular Women"
Book by David Chapman & Patricia Vertinsky:
http://www.arsenalpulp.com/bookinfo.php?index=323

"American Hunks: The Muscular Male Body in Popular Culture, 1860-1970"
Book by David Chapman & Brett Josef Grubisic
http://www.arsenalpulp.com/bookinfo.php?index=299

"Universal Hunks: A Pictorial History of Muscular Men around the World, 1895-1975"
Book by David Chapman & Douglas Brown
https://www.amazon.com/.../15515.../ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_t_1...

VIDEOS:
The Rogue Legends Series - Chapter 1: Eugen Sandow
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-nPD2__e0E

Vice Sports: SWOLE
P2 - The Last of the Iron Sisters:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfcJVJwRgEA

The 90lb Weakling
www.nfb.ca/film/i_was_a_ninety_pound_weakling

FIT: Episodes in the History
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0331493/reference
(it's hard to find but worth a watch if you do find it) 

Pumping Iron II: The Women
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089852/

MORE BOOKS:
"Women of steel: Female bodybuilders and the struggle for self-definition," Maria Lowe (1998)
https://www.amazon.com/Women-Steel.../dp/081475094X

"Physical culture and the body beautiful: Purposive exercise in the lives of American women, 1800-1870," Jan Todd (1998)
https://www.amazon.com/Physical-Culture.../dp/0865545618

"Building Bodies (Perspectives on the Sixties)," Pamela Moore (1997)
https://www.amazon.com/Building-Bodies.../dp/0813524385

"Bodymakers: A Cultural Anatomy of Women's Bodybuilding," Lelsie Heywood (1998)
https://www.amazon.com/Bodyma.../dp/0813524806/ref=sr_1_1...

"Critical Readings in Bodybuilding," ed. Adam Locks & Niall Richardson (2012)
https://www.amazon.com/Critic.../dp/0415878527/ref=sr_1_1....

"Making the American Body: The Remarkable Saga of the Men and Women Whose Feats, Feuds, and Passions Shaped Fitness History," Jonathan Black (2013)
https://www.amazon.com/Making-American-Body.../dp/0803243707

"Little big men: Bodybuilding subculture and gender construction," Allen Klein (1993)
https://www.amazon.com/Little.../dp/0791415600/ref=sr_1_1...

"Gorilla suit: My adventures in bodybuilding," Bob Paris (1997)
https://www.amazon.com/Gorill.../dp/0312168551/ref=sr_1_1...

 

 

Learn more about Advices Radio:
www.advicesradio.com
FB: @advices.radio
YOUTUBE: Advices Radio

SWIS 2016 Clip: The Prep Myth

A clip from my talk at SWIS 2016 on Muscle Hypertrophy & Fat Loss Nutritional Strategies for Female Competitors. 

 

· · · ·

See more at:  https://swisvideoflix.mykajabi.com/
FB: SWIS Symposium 2016
IG: @SWIS2016 

Ken Kinakin:
FB: Ken Kinakin
IG: @kenkinakin

 

Muscle Expert: Hormone Manipulation & Food as Therapy

Muscle Expert Podcast with Ben Pakulski #58

USING food as a therapeutic tool and hormone manipulation in sports

 

Can’t thank Ben Pakulski enough for having me on The Muscle Expert. I'll admit, I was nervous as all when I found out that I was the first female guest - but I think he managed to keep the entire conversation organic and flowing by not telling me we were even recording! Seriously, though - this was such a good podcast, and it was great to catch up, talk shop and educate on some really critical topics. Thanks again Ben!

 

Key Highlights:

  • How to balance fat ratios.
  • The menstrual cycle myth and why women should be wary of missing their menstrual cycle.
  • Glucose disposal agents, sex hormones, sleep deprivation, post-diet binge eating mitigation strategies.  

 

"Just don't eat like an asshole" 

 

EPISODE LINK:

http://www.benpakulski.com/podcasts/victoria/

 

ITUNES: 

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/ben-pakulski-podcast-muscle/id725296816

 

STITCHER: 

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ben-pakulski-podcast-muscle-expert-interviews-how-to-build/ben-pakulski-podcast-muscle-expert-interviews

 

Learn more about Ben Pakulski & The Muscle Expert podcast:
http://www.benpakulski.com
FB: @IFBBbenpakFANPage
IG: @ifbbbenpak
Youtube: MI40 Muscle Intelligence

 

 

Time Stamps:

4:00 Victoria's dissertation topic, exploring the world of female hormonal manipulation in elite sport.

10:47 Hyperandrogenism in females. 

11: 40 Metformin for women post competition.

13:40 Strategies for women recovering from androgen use. 

16:12 Progestron, chronic inflammation and more.

17:35 Reducing dietary triggers, changing your breakfast and eliminating the major allergenic foods.

20:06 Testing for gut health, food mapping protocols, and biofeedback.

21:50 Using food as a therapeutic tool. 

23:38 Balancing fat ratios. 

25:29 The modern American diet,

25:1 omega 6:3 ratio? 

28:50 Women, the first line of defense to overcome the psychology the binge and purge mindset. 

33:43 Glucose disposal agents, hormones, sleep deprivation. 

38:05 Less is more when it comes to training and more is more when it comes to food.

39:00 The menstrual cycle myth.

42:10 Victoria's book, nonhormonal ways to fix hormonal imbalances. 

45:50 The critical biopsychosocial physical ecological model of dynamic relations. 

52:00 Finding gratitude and acceptance.

56:42 Managing variables. 

1:00:20 Morning routines and avoiding emails.  

 

 

 

SWIS 2016 Clip: Post-Comp Strategies

From my talk at the 2016 SWIS Symposium on Female Competitor Health. In this clip from the SWIS 2016 Video library,  I discuss post competition strategies, and introduce the cconcept of changing your training strategy to re-frame how you think about your body post-show. 

See more at: http://swisvideo.com/collections/all

Learn more about SWIS:
http://swis.ca/
Access to SWIS videos
FB: Swis Video
 

SWIS 2016 Clip: PCOS

From my talk at the 2016 SWIS Symposium on Female Competitor Health. In this clip from the SWIS 2016 Video library,  I discuss PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and the steroid list women may take for competition ... aka pixiedust. 

 

Learn more about SWIS:
http://swis.ca/
Access to SWIS videos
FB: Swis Video
 

SARMs for Women

In this Q&A I tackle a question about SARMs for women, but in doing so open up a bigger conversation about the "new" kids on the anabolic block and the importance of information literacy.

When bodybuilding is your passion, not your life.

From the VF Vault. 

competition blog.jpg

June 24, 2014,


Time to chat about something that recently has been grinding my gears. No one puts this baby in the corner.

Bodybuilding is my passion, hobby and escape but it is NOT my life. I love to create, sculpt and mold myself into the body that I PERSONALLY please. Does this make me any less of a bodybuilder? Hell no. Simply put, I am NOT a competitive bodybuilder. Last time I checked each meal I eat, every cardio session completed and weight lifted is a part of a collective journey of building-my-body.

I have been a pupil of physique artistry and athletics since age 16. I have had amazing opportunities, learned from many bright, successful people in the industry - combined with my Kinesiology degree and other certifications I am guided both educationally and experientially in this journey. For that I am truly blessed.

I have had my setbacks. I have overcome bulimia and anorexia, and continue to work with the lingering effects of failed adrenals, hypothyroidism and a little autoimmune disease called celiacs. I have battled depression and will always be challenged by my other crazies. Those experiences have helped me become the "bodybuilder" I am today. They are written on my physique, both internally & externally - in doing so they have made me continually rethink my goals and redefine the bodybuilder that I want to be.

I have had the opportunity to work with many amazing athletes, and live vicariously through those who I have helped reach the stage. The relationships I build with them are always built on trust and fostered by respect. I continue to learn and grow with each and every one of them. 

Now to the point of this long rant. Does the fact that I am NOT a competitive bodybuilder make me any less of a "coach"? In my personal and professional opinion the answer is crystal clear. 


For the first time I've revealed what's hidden under my sweaty men's large t-shirts as proof to those that have questioned my abilities and success as a bodybuilder.

This is the life I love. Bodybuilding is my art, not my sport. Lifting weights is my passion, not my sport. I acknowledge and respect all those who may differ in my philosophies and pedagogy - if we all had the same ideas the industry would be rather bland.

In my opinion, bodybuilding isn't just about building bodies. It is about building a lifestyle. It is about building relationships, ideas, passions and knowledge, because I think we all know that how we look on the outside is only a small fraction of who we really are. 

Many years ago I made a commitment to myself to always dream for more, believe in myself and work to inspire others. If I have done anything by showing my backside on social media I sincerely hope that I have done just that. 

Dream, believe and inspire. Never let anyone define who you are and what your passions are.

 

With love & gratitude, 

Victoria Felkar

 

 

The 'Secondary' Side Effects of Steroids.

The Secondary Side Effects of Steroids: Sex, Gender and the ‘Unnatural’ Female Sporting Body

IN PROCESS

For over half a century controversy has swirled around the use of anabolic androgen steroids (AAS) by athletes and bodybuilders. They have received significant media and political attention though both the academic and clinical literature are sparse. Robert Goldman’s Death in the Locker Room (1984) helped to create and perpetuate hysteria and panic surrounding steroids, especially their use by women. Focusing on what he calls, “The New Unisex – Female Athletes Turning Male,” Goldman describes anabolic steroids as exclusively “masculine hormones,” and suggests that women who take them are ‘unnatural’, resulting in a ‘bastardization of the female form.’ Goldman is not alone in his concern for the female use of anabolic steroids. The little research that surrounds women and steroids tends to endorse powerful cultural norms about a ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ female sporting body. Often, discussions of female athlete steroid use echo long standing beliefs about the appropriate appearance, health and abilities of the female sporting body.

This project will examine why there has been so little attention to female steroid use and discuss the underlying assumptions on which biological determinism, sex, gender, and the ‘natural’ body have been built into the steroid discourse. As Nelly Oudshroon pointed out, ideas regarding the function of hormones, and the terminology surrounding these chemical messengers have embodied rigid cultural ideas about sex, gender, and the body. Although hormones, including synthetic hormones, do not possess an inherent sex or gender, the debate over anabolic-androgen steroids use in sports continues to distinguish anatomical and physiological differences in the ‘male’ and ‘female’ sporting body.

Despite recent scholarship on gender verification, sex testing and the female athletic body that challenge dominant ideas about ‘normal’ levels of ‘natural’ endogenous androgen levels in female athletes, little research has addressed exogenous androgens, women and AAS use in sport, or the gendering of synthetic sex hormones. Furthermore, although there is a growing body of critical literature on anabolic steroids, the gendering of synthetic sex hormones has not gained the same level of critical inquiry as other aspects of the topic, such as the reframing the philosophical debates of ‘fairness’, debating doping-control measures, or the unsubstantiated physiological and/or psychological ‘risks’ associated with male athlete use.

Drawing upon historical and contemporary medical and popular literature, this project will explore the interplay around the construction of biological sex, gender and hormones, with misrepresentations and myths about the use of steroids by female athletes. It aims to address the current ‘science’ of steroids as it relates to the sporting female body, and show how presumptions about what a ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ female should look like underscores much of the discourse around women’s use of AAS.

 

Want to learn more? Contact me for details. 

The Iron Bar

 

Winner of the International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport Essay & Junior Scholar Award; Published in STADION – International Journal of the History of Sport; Master Thesis.


The Iron Bar: The Modern History of Prison Physical Culture and the Ban on Correctional Weightlifting.
 

From representations of prison physical culture in movies and televisions shows, mainstream workout regimes, exercise programs, even exercise names such as the “prisoner squat” – muscles and strength building exercises have become associated with the prisoner’s body in various, and often negative ways. Rarely mentioned are discussions about appropriate or health promoting sport and daily recreation programs for prisoners or inmate involvement in prison organized and self-guided bodyweight exercise programs or calisthenics routines. Popular culture tends to show prisoner’s bodybuilding with heavy barbells and dumbbells though in fact there has been a federal weightlifting ban on such activities in the United States since the early 1990’s.

Utilizing a Foucauldian perspective, the aim of this research study was to explore the modern history of prison physical culture to better understand how popular perceptions of the muscular inmate body - embedded within the disciplines of criminology and penology - influence opportunities for physical activity in correctional facilities. I focused on the recent correctional weightlifting ban enacted in the United States to gain insight into the potential influence of body typing theories, specifically somatotyping (suggesting a link between criminality and muscular physiques), on the construction of contemporary prison physical culture. Working from a critical socio-historical perspective, I worked to add to the limited knowledge of prison physical culture, research on types of physical activity available in correctional facilities and the corporeal experience of those confined to prison.

Overall very little information exists to illuminate general attitudes toward prison physical culture and measure opportunities for physical activity in correctional facilities. The following research questions will guide my study: (1) How have historical perceptions of the muscular criminal body influenced penal policy? (2) In particular, what have been the influences of body profiling and somatotyping on the role of weightlifting in prisons? Insights into these questions will allow me to better understand the reasoning behind the enactment of the 1994 weightlifting ban placed on prison physical culture within the United States. In particular, I will use one particular case study, San Quentin Correctional Facility to estimate the effects of this weightlifting ban on contemporary prison physical culture.

Although it is not known exactly when the practice of weightlifting was tolerated in American corrections, other forms of physical practice can be traced to the beginning of the modern penal movement of the 18th century. An example of a physical technique in this period of “penal enlightenment” was the “tread-wheel” developed by Sir William Cubitt in 1818 and was used to rehabilitate inmates through hard physical labor and solitary confinement (Shayt, 1989).

During the mid 1800’s American prisons underwent many shifts in correctional practice, including the introduction of recreational sports into some prisons (McKelvey, 1968). Described as fundamental in the new era of corrections, Elmira Reformatory in New York opened in 1876 as one of the first adult “reformatories” for offenders, and for years lead the American reformatory system in the application of modern theories of criminology (Smith, 1988), and use of innovative physical practices as “methods of reform” (Pisciotta, 1983).

While “prison athletics … presaged a new era in prison discipline” (McKelvey, 1968, p.229), organized sports programs did not become a feature in the adult penitentiary system until the early 20th century. During this time there have been significant changes in penal ideology in the United States, however far too little is known about the history, development and present day prison physical culture. As a result of high rates of incarceration and recidivism, beginning in the mid 1980’s and early 1990’s a shift in correctional philosophy and ideas of improvement resulted in a new penal focus for American corrections. Higher value was placed on punishment, denouncement and incapacitation as opposed to the more traditional correctional goals of rehabilitation. Coupled with the enormous growth in the prison population at the time, and the public fervor for the “get tough on crime” rhetoric (Tepperman, 2011), many states began to limit inmate privileges and activities – in particular, prison weightlifting (Hanser, 2012).

To date, very few researchers have discussed prison weightlifting, or addressed those influences which lead to the weightlifting ban. It has been regarded by some scholars as a result of a societal “moral panic” and a product of harsh punitive penal reform (Pawelko & Anderson, 2011); while other research speculates that the ban can be attributed to the popular media’s construction and representation of weightlifting and prisons (Tepperman, 2011). Tepperman (2011) asserts that central to the ban was an “ethos of panic” regarding weightlifting’s ability to construct physically larger, more powerful and aggressive inmates (Wagner, McBride & Crouse, 1997). The impact of this language and the encompassing ideologies regarding the “super breed” of muscular criminals (Foster, 1995) can thus be seen to be integral to the prison weightlifting ban (Tepperman, 2011). 

It is important to note that ideas regarding the muscular inmate body are not simply a creation of the “No Frills movement” and the prison weightlifting ban – they can be found deep within the field of criminology, and in many respects, these perceptions echo ideas of body typing and biocriminality. Since the 18th century there has been inquiry into the relationship between body type and criminality, specifically addressing the idea that criminals typically embody a mesomorphic or muscular physique. Scholars note the importance of examining the historical origins of the various viewpoints within constitutional theory and body typing “to understand the origins, acceptance, and maintenance of criminological ideas” (Rafter, 2007, p. 805), however little research has investigated the influence of criminological ideas on penal policy, prison physical culture and inmates’ opportunities for physical activity.

Without a better understanding of prison physical culture and the identification of important influencing ideologies there remains an absence of context regarding the socio-historical and institutional conditions that govern particular forms of physical activity in correctional facilities. As a result the proposed research will add a socio-historical perspective of physical practices in prison to enhance our limited knowledge of prison physical culture and highlight those factors which have impacted opportunities for physical activity including the weightlifting ban within the United States.

 

Excerpt From: Felkar, V. (2016). “The Iron Bar. The Modern History of Prison Physical Culture and the Correctional Weightlifting Ban”. Stadion 40 (2014): 19-37.

 

 

 

See my Thesis:
https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/24/items/1.0135657

 

Want to learn more? Contact me for details. 

 

Built Both Ways – The Paradox of Muscularity

How can a muscular body be both feared and revered within popular culture at the same time?

Project Overview:

The issue of the relationships among muscularity, body type and criminal behaviour has long intrigued scholars. Criminologists, psychologists, physical educators and the health profession more broadly have enquired into the relationship between body type and criminality, specifically addressing the links between criminal behaviour and a “mesomorphic” or muscular physique (Rafter, 2007; Vertinsky, 2007; Walby & Carrier, 2010; Wright & Miller, 1998). Although early biological theories of crime, such as body profiling, in particular William Sheldon’s somatotyping categories (Sheldon, 1954), have undergone extensive scientific scrutiny and subsequent critique, they continue to persist within contemporary culture. Why has criminology and body typology constructed the muscular body as deviant? What are the implications for linking criminal behaviour to muscularity? What other fields propagate somatotyping’s mesomorphic-delinquency correlation?  

From growing fears about the dangers of muscular prisoners to the enduring stigmatization encountered by female bodybuilders (Shilling & Bunsell, 2009), there remains an open “disdain for the culture of muscle” (Darkes, 2000). At the same time, there is a growing admiration for a muscular appearance and accompanied athletic excellence. This “muscular ideal” and the drive for muscularity in men is well-documented in Western culture (Thompson & Cafri, 2007). In addition to the traditional norms of masculinity that associate the male gender role with a muscular physique (Helgeson, 1994; Mussap, 2008), male and female athletes operate within a context that requires heightened levels of muscularity to achieve sporting excellence and for functional performance-based purposes, such as increased athletic performance and decreased risk of injury (Steinfeldt, Carter, Benton, & Steinfeldt, 2011). How did the dominant and largely negative narratives around the muscular body in contemporary culture develop and what ramifications do they have for those who pursue muscle? Why are there conflicting messages around the pursuit of muscularity in contemporary culture? How are these messages understood and addressed in competitive sport, the recreation and fitness industry, and physical culture?  

Through the perpetuation of somatotyping and the mesomorphic-delinquency correlation, criminology has continued to construct, promote and re-produce knowledge of what a “delinquent” body is. Rafter (2007) argues that in order to “understand the origins, acceptance and maintenance of criminological [theories]” (p. 825) an analytical framework that includes social histories is fundamental. As a result, the proposed research intends to add a historical perspective to enhance our limited knowledge of muscular profiling and highlight the development, impact and influences of criminology’s construction of the muscular body as deviant. The aim of this study is to explore the ways in which criminology and body typology have constructed and reinforced knowledge of the muscular body, and the impact of these beliefs in contemporary thought and practice.

Want to learn more? Contact me for details. 

 

References

Darkes, J. (2009). Muscular Profiling – Is Muscularity Evidence of a Crime? Retrieved from http://thinksteroids.com/articles/muscle-profiling-steroids/

Helgeson, V. S. (1994). Prototypes and dimensions of masculinity and femininity. Sex Roles, 31, 653– 682.

Mussap, A. J. (2008). Masculine gender role stress and the pursuit of muscularity. International Journal of Men’s Health, 7(1), 72-89.

Rafter, N. H. (2008). The criminal brain: Understanding biological theories of crime. New York: New York University Press

Rafter, N. H. (2007). Somatotyping, antimodernism, and the production of criminological knowledge. Criminology, 45(4), 805-833.

Sheldon, W. H. (1954). Atlas of men: A guide for somatotyping the adult male at all ages. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Shilling, C., & Bunsell, T. (2009). The female bodybuilder as a gender outlaw. Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 1(2), 141-59.

Steinfeldt, J. A., Carter, H., Benton, E., & Steinfeldt, M. C. (2011). Muscularity beliefs of female college student-athletes. Sex Roles, 64, 543–554.

Thompson, K. J., Cafri, G. (Eds.). (2007). The muscular ideal: Psychosocial, social, and medical perspectives. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

Vertinsky, P. (1990). The eternally wounded women. Women, doctors, and exercise in the late nineteenth century. New York: Manchester University Press.

Vertinsky, P. (2007). Physique as destiny: William H. Sheldon, Barbara Honeyman Heath and the struggle for hegemony in the science of somatotyping. Canadian Bulletin of Medical History = Bulletin Canadien d'Histoire De La Médecine, 24(2), 291-316.

Walby, K., & Carrier, N. (2010). The rise of biocriminology: Capturing observable bodily economies of ‘criminal man’. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 10(3), 261-285.

Wright, R. A., & Miller, J. M. (1998). Taboo until today? The coverage of biological arguments in criminology textbooks, 1961 to 1970 and 1987 to 1996. Journal of Criminal Justice, 26(1), 1-19.

 

Machine Modification & Basic Booty Finisher

Because size matters.

Still haven't found any takers for getting a booster seat made, but let me tell you - the double or triple folded mat mod is an essential part of my training toolbox. Something so simple truly makes a world of difference when you're 5'1. 

As the industry cliche says - "train for your goals, no matter how big or small they may be" ... but let's face it, who's the one training? YOU! Who's goals are they? YOURS! You can't move forward towards your goals without first learning to train for YOUR BODY!

At the end of the day, no matter what training plan you bought, who wrote it or how good they promise the results will be by the end, if the machine don't fit, you've got to modify it! 

Plus, if your my size and don't fit in a leg press, there's no way to fully maximize the power of a focused fire-starting booty finisher.

Here's are the rules for a VF classic deadly lower body finisher: 

1. Start with a deadly high volume ham and  glute workout ... then find yourself a good ol'cable leg press

2. For the load, use + / - 10lbs your body weight. Place your feet mid-platform close-ish stance and work the FULL range of motion EACH and EVERY

3. The goal is continuous motion until you can't anymore ... avoid lock out!!!! When you get sloppy or can't take the burn, PAUSE for a maximum of 15sec ONLY!!! You can take as many 15sec breathers as you need to but the trick is to try to get all 100 reps in by the 3min mark. Even if you don't make it... KEEP GOING strong

4. Hobble-wobble out of the gym with the most stupid glorious glute pump. 

Let me know how it goes! 

A VF Kitchen Secret: Cube Life

Nut butter, portion control & ice cube trays.

Did you know that 1 tablespoon is equal to 1 cube in a basic ice cube tray?

This discovery helped me with my day-to-day eating on the go and also has been a brilliant solution for nut or seed butter portion control 101 ... we all know how easy 1 tbsp can turn into 1/2 cup when eyeballed and measured with our stomachs. 

Here's what I do. Add a bit of melted coconut oil to my softened nut butter (for me it's sunflower seed).

Why?

Coconut oil is solid at room temp and condenses quickly at lower temperature, which allows for the cubes to be stored in the fridge as solid squares and not gooey messes. I like to add in some cinnamon and maple extract, then portion and stick in the the freezer for a bit to harden. Pop out the cubes and store in the fridge.

There you have it - an easy grab and go fat serving without the mess, fuss and no chance to deviate! 

How Muscle Became Bad.

Maybe being muscular isn’t all it’s built up to be.

 

You’ve been mugged.

Late one night under the cover of darkness you found yourself blindly cowering at hands of an attacker. You didn’t see the guy who attacked you but the police still call you in to view a line-up of possible suspects. From right to left your eyes scan over 4 men. Too old … too skinny … too short ... eureka! Standing in front of you is a complete monster with arms so big that they could burst through his shirt at any second. Even without ever laying eyes on your mugger, you don’t have a single doubt in your mind that this jacked-up animal is him. That’s the criminal who attacked you.

Although the above is simply a fictional story it represents a powerful and inescapable stereotype that for decades has haunted those with muscles.

Got muscle? Welcome to a lifetime of typecasting as a violent, mentally-ill, unintelligent, steroid using criminal – and if you’re a female then you can add the fact that somehow you’ve suddenly grown balls and have dreams of becoming a man.

But how can this be? We’ve all got muscle to some extend or another. So, why is a muscular body ridiculed, criminalized and condemned? Since when did muscle become bad?

To answer this we must to turn back the clock to the late-1800s. Here in the shadows of a time known for many great discoveries, is the start of a long and disturbing history that continues to promote what a criminal body looks like.   

Emerging as a product of Darwinism, the field of criminology started as a way to help society identify and get rid of anyone that they perceived to be ‘bad’. For example, in Italy a physician and psychiatrist named Cesare Lombroso began to make claims that all criminals had similar physical features. How could a crooked nose and anchor tattoo on the arm of a sailor automatically condemn a man as criminal?

Such ideas quickly found their way across the Atlantic and with America’s growing prison system more theories of what it meant to look like a criminal erupted. Here’s when muscle first got added into the mix.  

By the turn of the 19th century the notion of muscular Christianity gained popularity throughout the United States - which linked muscle building to improving morality. This movement inspired prison officials at New York’s Elmira Reformatory to use physical activity and sport as a way to fight the physical decay that had become associated with criminality. That’s right, being muscular was thought to make a man less criminal.

The support for men to build muscular bodies continued into the turn of the 20th century. A growing sport movement was taking Western nations by storm and event such as the first modern Olympics of 1896 helped to show the world what being physical fit could do for a man’s body and mind. Clear boundaries of how much muscle was socially tolerable was set by the same field that has brought to us the science of body composition testing – the field of anthropometry.

For the average man some muscle and strength was desired … but if you went too far … got too big and too strong then you were literally forced to run off and join the circus. As traveling performers, strongmen and women helped to build popular opinion of the muscular body – often one of curiosity and mystery. Muscle had now been made into another sideshow act of the Freak show.                                   

The arrival of Prussian strongman and founder of bodybuilding, Eugen Sandow to the United States further developed public interest in a heavily muscled physique. Sandow’s vaudeville acts were closely followed by the launch of Bernarr MacFadden Physical Culture magazine in 1899. Headed by the motto “Weakness is a crimedon't be a criminal!” the magazine revealed to the average man all the fitness and diet strategies needed to develop a mainstream muscular physique.

And so another element is added into the muscular myth. Too much muscle will turn you into a one-man circus freak show … but too little muscle makes you a criminal.

Even after the horrific Nazi eugenics movement defined the muscular male body as god-like there was little judgement against muscle within popular culture – that was until in the 1950’s the father of somatotyping, William Sheldon, suddenly defined muscle as bad.

Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, his work was a melting pot of pseudo-science, power struggles and dirty money. To say it nicely, Sheldon was a bit of a crock – and unfortunately a very resilient one.

Here’s what Sheldon preached. All male bodies can fit into 3 basic body types – endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph - an idea that many of us in the fitness industry know well.

BUT here’s something most don’t know about somatotyping theory. Sheldon specifically promoted that men with muscular mesomorphic bodies are more prone to criminal activity, violence and aggressive acts.  

Exploring the merits of body typing theory is beyond the scope of this article. It’s one that we can have another day, but regardless of if you agree with the disillusion of somatotyping or not there is one very important take away message here.

Sheldon’s work and those who followed in his theoretical footprints have created an incredibly stigmatizing message about the muscular body:

Muscularity = Deviance.

Muscularity = Aggression.

Deviance + Aggression = Criminality.

It would be easy for me to end the story there but unfortunately there is a lot more to this dangerous equation. And so we continue in the 1970s. Thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger something really interesting happen that would for better or worse rebuilt muscles reputation.

In bodybuilding circles Arnold and Pumping Iron have been regarded for bringing bodybuilding into the mainstream but they did much more than just that – they helped to change what it meant to look like a man… muscles! Suddenly muscle became the standard for American manhood. That’s right muscularity = masculinity.

Size now mattered when it came to muscle, and it was nowhere more apparent than in the media. By the early 1980s the hard-bodied action star dominated the silver screen and made a place for heavily-muscled bodies within popular culture. Pair this with an enormous in spike in films suddenly showing jacked-up inmates pumping iron in the pen and we can start to see a highly visible - yet completely false - representation of exactly what Sheldon’s research stated… the big bad bodies of muscular criminals.  

Back behind the gates of academia, researchers continued to pump-out studies focusing on how muscularity was responsible for criminal behaviour. As if being muscular wasn’t bad enough, during the early 90s researchers had started to explore the relationship of testosterone to criminal behaviour. One study went as far to state a “well-established relationship” between testosterone’s effects on the brain and body build – but get this. The researchers state that testosterone only enhances upper body muscle. Unfortunately, this particular study became the media’s go-to source to try to explain everyday acts of criminal behaviour.

Fast forward to today. Where does having a muscular physique get you in 2015? For both men and women this remains a conversation full of complex contradictions.

While there continues to be an open disrespect for bodybuilding and the culture of muscle it represents, there is also a sense of admiration and respect for those who have average or “good” levels of muscularity.

Rigid social norms require men to have some muscle in order to be considered masculine, and it is necessary for female and male athletes to have heightened levels of musculature in order to achieve sporting excellence.

Furthermore, when female muscle serves a functional purpose such as when a Xfit athlete flings her body over a chin up bar in a convulsing motion society seems to be a-ok with her shredded six-pack but when this same body is posed on stage in front double bicep wearing a sparkly bikini her body suddenly becomes grotesque and “manly.”

Don’t forget about the absolutely absurd pathologization of muscle as a mental illness, such as Dr. Harrison Pope’s psychological diagnosis of “muscle dysmorphia” or bigeroxia. Pope and his colleagues have such strong ideas on what is are ‘appropriate’ levels of muscle and the wrongful desire to work out that they have created a mathematical formula (the Fat Free Mass Index) to determine the level of musculature a person can achieve without anabolic steroid use. How’s that for science!

And if it wasn’t complex enough, the condemnation of muscle has morphed into an all-out war against performance enhancing agents and the ridiculous automatic vilification of anabolic steroids and those who use them. Regardless of their rich and vast cultural history, the discussion of anabolic steroids revolves around a combination of legal, ethical and medical arguments that steroid use is unfair, unethical, medically dangerous but above all criminal.

Furthermore, most popular discourse around anabolic steroid use pertains to only one user, and one user alone – the muscular male. This is nowhere more clearly exemplified than in Sweden’s recent law changes which now allow police officers to search, arrest, and conduct mandatory drug testing based “anabolic steroids physical characteristics” such as “puffy and bloated body” and “swaying walk.”

How do the police get away with blatant acts of stereotyping in the 21st century? It’s a little something the legal system calls “probable cause” based on a person’s physical appearance. Like skin color or ethnic background, muscularity should not provide the grounds for violating someone’s basic human rights and personal privacy.

Let’s get something straight here.

Muscle itself is neutral in biology.

It is neither male or female – nor is it wicked, immoral or evil. Having varying degrees of muscularity does not produce more or less intelligence, aggression, mental illness or criminal behaviour.

In its most pure form, muscle is simply a grouping of muscle fiber cells surrounded by some connective tissue - yet, overtime society has and continues to constructed particular meanings and definitions of what it means to be muscular ... we have made muscle bad.

Simply put, being muscular isn’t all that it is built-up to be.

 

 

Originally Published: Feature, Muscle Insider Magazine, 24: Aug/Sept 2015

 

 

Clearing Up Clenbuterol

A Dopers Delight or Misused Stimulant?

Following the Olympics in 1992, a new breed of stimulant gained global recognition. Hailed as the “dopers delight”, this anti-asthma medication was special. Not only could it be used as a stimulant but many believed it could also enhance muscle growth. Only 4 years earlier, steroid guru Dan Duchaine introduced the bodybuilding world to this same drug - which to this day remains one of our sports most misunderstood and misused compounds: Clenbuterol Hydrochloride.

Targeting specific receptor sites in the body’s sympathetic nervous system (SNS), Clen is a selective beta-2 sympathomimetic… wait, a what?

A car backfires and subconsciously you jump off your couch - this is an automatic physiological response initiated by our SNS in response to a perceived threat. Known as fight-or-flight, this response is the result of the release of a hormone called norepinephrine (NE). To work, NE has to bind and activate a specific receptor in your body called a beta-2 receptor. Think of this like a lock and key. Only one key (NE) can both fit (bind) and unlock (activate) one lock (beta-2 receptor).

This is where Clen comes in. Clen acts as a “fake” key that can unlock only some beta-2 receptors (why it’s called “selective”).  

Although its labeled use is an anti-asthma medication, Clen is able to unlock fat and muscle tissue cells throughout the body. Like other beta-2 agonists, clen is a “thermogenic” = Clen-sweats. This is caused by an increase in body temperature and metabolic rate, as well as its ability to directly target fat cell breakdown of triglycerides to free fatty acids is what makes Clen such as popular “fat loss” drug.

Its anabolic capabilities however are still up for debate. Although since the early 90s bros have been using clen as a part of post-cycle therapy or as an alternative to steroids to get “lean-gains”, there remains no human research (animal studies only) that provide evidence to support an increase in lean muscle mass as a result of clen. Regardless, Clen has become a stable drug for many athletes both inside and out of bodybuilding. While Clen-shreds may sound enticing, they certainly don’t come without controversy and concern. It doesn’t matter how Clen gets into your body – inhaled, pill or liquid form, or injected, remember this: Clen is dangerous.

Keep in mind that clen is different than other beta-2 agonists or stimulants based off: specificity, potency, and duration of effect. This makes for steady, strong blood levels of Clen, which often are easy to achieve with just a single or twice-daily dose (thanks to its 35-hour half-life). After a few weeks (usually 4-6 weeks) the body’s beta-2 receptors slowly stop responding due to a process called “down regulation” … simply put, they stop responding and require rest (aka. stop the drug).

However, like other performance enhancers, Clen is great at turning users into complete idiots by tempting them with magical everlasting results. What follows is the “more is better, longer is better” complex.       

From developing a psychological dependency based off ill-informed perceptions that Clen can be used long term, to the fact that users gauge the effectiveness of the drug based off the presence initial side effects such as shaky hands, insomnia, sweating and nausea – it appears that we have a growing Clenhead epidemic on our hands.  

Yes, initial side effects should dissipate after a few days and this does NOT mean that the drug has stopped working, so please stop boosting the dose to supersonic levels and somehow believe that stacking it with other stimulants will results in “better results” and not a cardiac arrest. Wake up and education yourself on drug dependency and the long term effects of Clen that happen even after beta-2 receptors stop “responding.”

Not only that, due to its strength, long half-life, and perceived effectiveness, there is such thing as Clen toxicity – which is why in Canada it’s not available for human use even with a prescription, and within veterinary practice has dramatically declined over the past few years.

Clen has never been made available for human or animal use in the US, and within sport clen it is completely banned regardless of the fact that some countries around the world (Bulgaria, Russia and China) continuing to prescribe it as a therapeutic drug. (… cough cough, the IOC wonders why there has been an increase of athletes with “asthma”).

Since the mid-90’s, it’s even illegal to use Clen to bulk-up livestock. Not only were the animals questionable, but those who ate Clen’d meat suffered symptoms of Clen overdose, such as fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Just an FYI to athletes who travel - be mindful that not all countries have banned its use in livestock. Anti-doping agencies have reported a number of cases where athletes tested positive for Clen after eating contaminated meat … or at least that’s what the athlete told officials after being caught Clen-handed.

Regardless of the fact that Clen is pretty much illegal for ALL consumption, it continues to be widely available on the black market and used for performance enhancement. From the consumption of cocaine in 18th century, amphetamine use during cold-war and now to today’s Clenheads – even though athletes have been using stimulants for centuries it doesn’t make it safe or smart. 

 

Originally Published: Insider Controversy, Muscle Insider Magazine, 29: June/July 2016

 

Post-Prep Health Influencers

Pro cards don't grow on trees.

We all don't have what it takes to make it to the Olympia.

Some people will never have abs no matter how "clean" they eat.

The higher you climb - or the more you "grind" during a prep - often results in a harder post-comp crash.

These may not seem like complicated ideas, but time and time again I find these are some of the biggest culprits in why health takes a nose-dive post show.

While sipping my coffee this morning, I decided to hop back on the VF video train and recap some introductory points that I spoke to at the Van Pro Show.

From the mentality people have about competing, to the numerous internal and external variables that are manipulated to get to the stage - the ways that we look, think and talk about competing have an absolutely enormous but often understated effect on the health of an athlete.

 

The Bigger Prep Picture

 

VF Uncensored

The bigger prep picture
 

In this video I discuss a few key, yet often overlooked elements of contest prep. By asking some tough questions, I try to get critical in order to educate about the bigger prep picture.

My goal with VF Uncensored is to host a longer, uncensored conversation, on various topics that are taboo, lack information and scholarship, or simply have never been discussed before.

Become Unf*ckwithable: Bodybuilding's Elephants

Become Unf*ckwithable with Mindy Harley #9

Discussing the Elephants in The Bodybuilding Industry

There's a lot of misinformation in the ever evolving world of bodybuilding. From the delicate hormones of women and gender specific training to the so-called "safer than steroids" SARMs", Mindy and I dicuss how it's become increasingly harder to find good solid research in a sea of one sided forums and outdated articles.

 

PODOMATIC:

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/becomingunfuckwithable/episodes/2017-09-05T12_49_37-07_00

 

 

Learn more about Mindy Harley:
http://www.mindyharley.com/
https://socialempireonline.com/
IG: @mindyharleyofficial
FB: @mindyrocksolidharley

 

 

 

EMBody Radio: Females & Androgens

EMBody Radio with Emily Duncan #11

PART 2: Female Athletes and Androgenic Drugs

Part 2 of the interview I did with the wonderful Emily Duncan of EMBody Radio. In the second half of the podcast, we chatted about the pink jacked elephant of the fitness industry - women and anabolic steroids, the implications of AAS on female athletes, if steroids can be taken safely, and some of the more intricate workings around females and anabolic drugs. 

 

ITUNES:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/embody-radio/id1245411599?mt=2

 

SOUNDCLOUD:

https://soundcloud.com/user-250742329

 

Learn more about Emily Duncan
www.emilyduncanfitness.com
IG: @em_dunc
FB: @emilyduncanfitness
 

EMBody Radio: PCOS

EMBody Radio with Emily Duncan #10

Part 1: PCOS History, Causes, Symptoms and Management

Super excited to share part 1 of the podcast I did with Em Duncan of #embodyradio on PCOS. In this episode, we chatted all things PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), why it's such a mystery in the medical community, the history of PCOS, causes, symptoms, and strategies for PCOS management.  

 

ITUNES:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/ep-05-pcos-history-causes-symptoms-management-interview/id1245411599?i=1000390308576&mt=2
 

SOUNDCLOUD:

https://soundcloud.com/user-250742329/ep-05-pcos-history-causes-symptoms-management-interview-with-victoria-felkar

 

Learn more about Emily Duncan
www.emilyduncanfitness.com
IG: @em_dunc
FB: @emilyduncanfitness