A picture of Bob relaxed and before training. He presents a mass and size that has rarely been achieved by any man who’s ever lived. In this picture Bob weighs 355 lbs at 6’5”. Bob Sapp, a former NFL lineman and K-1 fighter, points to his teeth during a press conference in Tokyo Monday, Sept. 1, 2003, Saying “I have as good teeth as Mike Tyson.” Sapp said he will fight Tyson anytime, anywhere. Sapp and Tyson engaged in a heated verbal exchange on Aug. 15 in Las Vegas after Sapp defeated American Kimo Leopoldo in the K-1 World GP 2003. Tyson made his way into the ring for Sapp’s post-bout celebration and the two had to be separated. On Aug. 23, Tyson signed a deal with Japan’s K-1 organization.
Keep Bodybuilding Universe in the TOP 10!
The currently planned fight is rumored for a January 2004 date, possibly in Japan or Hawaii. Sapp is such a superstar in Japan that he is on numerous TV commercials and has entire stores devoted to Bob Sapp merchandise. What It Takes Bob Sapp is a natural. But to get as muscular and strong as he is takes more than natural genetics, it also takes hard work and the right tools. The right tools include a reasonable lifestyle, progressive training, an advanced diet, and the use of research driven nutritional supplements. Putting all these things together (something I call the Anabolic Solution) has produced a body that exceeds natural expectations, something that would ordinarily only be achieved with the use of dangerous muscle enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids and growth hormone.
It’s important to realize that my system of training, nutrition and the use of nutritional supplements maximize the body’s natural mechanisms to produce extraordinary results. All it takes on top of good genetics and my “Solution” is just plain hard work. And Bob doesn’t shy away from working harder than anyone else I’ve ever seen.
Before we get into the specifics of the training and nutrition principles, and training, of course, let’s cover some basics that are often overlooked but are all-important for success, whether it is in the strength/fighting sports or in any other aspect of life.
An Overview of the Factors Involved in the Training Solution
Diet and nutrition are important parts of the training solution that also includes genetics, lifestyle, and training. The overall effects of my training solution depend on having all of these factors in place.
Genetics It’s obvious that in order to excel in any sport or to develop extensive muscularity you have to be born with the potential to do so. And this potential the mental as well as the physical side. Enthusiasm, dedication, fortitude and drive are just as important to ultimate success as the physical attributes.
While elite athletes have a genetic head start, what they accomplished depends on the other factors. It’s the environment that shapes the flow of genotype to phenotype. In other words even the truly gifted have to have their potential molded and developed by the right factors.
All four environmental factors, lifestyle, training, diet and nutritional supplements must be in synch before you can reach, and sometimes even exceed, the upper limits of your natural genetic potential.
The Usual Suspects – Lifestyle, Training, Diet and Nutritional Supplements
The Performance and Body Composition Enhancement Pipeline Effort is a combination of enthusiasm, motivation, genetic ability, etc. It makes up the physiological and psychological foundation for success in sports and in life. But it’s not enough to give us the strength, body composition and performance results we want. For that we have to optimize our lifestyle, training, diet and nutritional supplement use.
Thus reaching your performance and body composition goals takes a structured approach that looks at lifestyle, exercise, diet and nutritional supplements.
Factors that maximize the Pipeline
Lifestyle: Lifestyle changes to maximize the anabolic and minimize the catabolic hormones, and maximize the anabolic effects of exercise include:
- Getting Adequate Sleep
- Minimizing Stress
- Avoiding the use of Recreational Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco
In order to manipulate the body’s endogenous hormones to insure that anabolic edge, a person’s lifestyle has to be brought under control. Reducing emotional and psychological stress leads to increased testosterone and decreased cortisol levels (remember, cortisol breaks down muscle tissue). Stated most simply: stress makes it more difficult to excel and shape your body and easier to break it down.
You’ll also need sleep. While some people can get away with as little as six hours or less a day, most people need at least seven and sometimes up to ten hours a day. This can be done either straight through at night or with a 6-8 hour stretch at night and a 1-2 hour nap in the afternoon. Sleep deprivation adversely affects hormone function.1
Recreational drug use must also be curtailed. Marijuana2,3, and cocaine4 have been shown to decrease serum testosterone. Alcohol also lowers critical hormone levels, such as the sex hormones and growth hormone.5,6,7,8
Even while the effects are debatable as far as some people are concerned, recreational drugs and bodybuilding just don’t go hand in hand.
The occasional drink isn’t a problem. In fact, because of the possible cardiovascular and other benefits9,10. I often recommend that my patients enjoy a glass of red wine a day, usually with their supper.
In order to set up a foundation for the performance and body you want, you have to optimize your lifestyle. That means keeping stress at bay as much as possible, getting proper sleep, and keeping away from excesses of alcohol and recreational drugs.
Training: Training has to result in an adaptive response that in turn will lead to results. While it’s important not to under-train, you also shouldn’t over-train. You have to allow for adequate recovery, recognize overtraining and make the necessary changes to your training, and train in such a way as to minimize injuries.
Diet: The third component of the training solution is to determine the best diet that will give us the results we want in the shortest period of time and that will fit into the various training phases. In this article we’ll be introducing my Metabolic Diet, a new paradigm in dieting for those interested in increasing strength and lean muscle mass.
Nutritional Supplements: Nutritional supplements are the fourth part of the training solution. Once you’ve got your lifestyle, training and diet in order, the next step is choosing and using the right nutritional supplements for the job at hand, depending on what phase of training you’re in and your goals. Nutritional supplements can be the icing on the cake and can help you train more effectively, gain muscle mass and strength, and lose bodyfat.
Bob Sapp and the Pipeline: Effort isn’t a problem with Bob. He’s the most driven athlete I’ve ever met. Give him a routine that involves doing a thousand repetitions, and a rationale behind it, and he’ll do it or drop. So when he’s doing his card tricks (we’ll go into this more later) to pick the number of repetitions he’ll do in any one set, picking a card that spells a set of 100 repetitions of body weight squats, right after doing 50 sets, he doesn’t complain but gets right down to it.
On the other side of the coin, when he does his heavy weight training, and has to do reps in the squat, deadlift and bench press with weights that would crush even professional strength athletes, he doesn’t complain or make excuses. Again he just does it at his highest level.
Lifestyle is also something that Bob takes seriously. He doesn’t drink or smoke, he doesn’t abuse drugs, and he tries to get his proper rest. But getting proper rest can be difficult when you’re constantly going from one time zone to another, especially when the difference in time is literally between night and day, with a 12 hour difference between North America and Japan.
In order to minimize jet lag and the adverse effects of traveling, Bob uses various techniques including the use of melatonin, light therapy and timed physical exercise very similar to the protocol described in a recent research article.11
Training: Bob periodizes his training according to whether he’s trying to put on muscle mass or is close to a fighting event. At all times Bob works on building or maintaining his strength and muscle mass, while at the same time working on his endurance, speed, and skill training. However he will vary the emphasis he puts on the various components that make up his weekly training, all depending on what training phase he’s in.
For the purpose of this article I’ll outline Bob’s present training regimen, one that will last for the next few months. At that time, there will be some changes made for his pre-fight phase where his training routine will emphasize strength and mass maintenance and increased skill and endurance.
At present, Bob trains with weights only once a week. He does a combination of heavy lifting with some endurance body weight exercises. The heavy lifting increases in intensity (weight lifted) week by week.
The reason for doing both high intensity and high volume work in the same training session is to develop the functionally diverse muscle fiber types that are involved in increasing Bob’s fighting strength and skills. I feel that the adaptive response from this type of training maximizes the training effect for fighting sports.
Bob does not follow the usual bodybuilding repetition scheme. I feel that the lower reps are more conducive to increases in both strength and muscle mass, contrary to what many bodybuilders believe. A recently published study looking at the effects of high and low reps on muscle hypertrophy has come to the same conclusion.12
The heavy lifting comes first and comprises the three basic power lifts to maximize his full body power. This gives him the strength to brutalize his opponents in a way that no one else could, picking them up and tossing them around with ease, or hitting them so hard that they literally become airborne.
Bob squats first, starting with a relatively light weight (at least for Bob – I’ve seen him warm up with a weight that would be a maximum lift for most of us) and working up to a series of heavy sets for five reps with a maximum five rep set as the last set. Depending on how he feels, he may make an attempt at a three-rep max.
Bob does both front and back squats and alternates them in his workouts.
Bob showing good form in the front squat. Most people have problems holding the bar in place but with Bob’s massive chest he doesn’t have any problem keeping the bar where it should be.
Next is the bench press, working in exactly the same way, with a series of seven to eight sets of five reps. Again if he feels that it’s right, he’ll do a three rep max. Bob usually benches using a narrow grip. That’s because with his relatively long arms, and massive triceps and delts, he can move more weight and gets more of an effect going narrow as against going wide with his grip.
Bob dwarfs this competition powerlifting bench and lifts that bar higher than I’ve ever seen. It takes a lot of chest, lats, triceps and delt power to move over 600 pounds this way.
The final lift is the deadlift. In the deadlift there’s a slight change with the same number of sets (seven to eight) with increasing weights but fewer reps as the weight becomes heavier. Above the 800 lb mark the reps drop to triples and doubles.
Again Bob dwarfs this 1500 lb test powerlifting bar and weights. Bob uses around 125 kilos (on the bar) for his first warm up, to get stretched out and a feel for the proper form that will be used for the heavier reps.
Once he’s done his heavy lifting Bob begins his high repetition lifting using just his bodyweight.
This part of his workout includes body weight squats and pushups. Both of these are done to exhaustion with many sets and variable reps. The reps for any one set are chosen at random by using a special set of playing cards that Bob has modified to represent repetitions. For example a Joker means 100 reps; some of the cards vary from 50 reps down to the actual number on the card.
The reasoning behind this is to keep the body guessing and as such simulate the randomness of fighting where you never know how long you’ll have to go without getting a breather. Sometimes it’s after a few seconds, sometimes after several minutes.
As such, sometimes Bob will pick a card where he only has to do 4 reps and sometime one where he has to do a hundred. The interesting thing about this is that Bob will go through the whole deck, meaning he does dozens of sets and hundreds of reps.
Body squats are first and pushups follow, with the reps dictated by the cards.
The whole workout lasts between two and three hours and the final result is complete exhaustion from both the strength and endurance end.
The Rest of the Equation But all the training in the world won’t do the trick if you don’t train smart and the nutrition is not right on. In fact training hard can lead to overtraining and loss of strength and muscle mass if you’re not careful.
The first thing you have to learn is that it takes time to recover and if you don’t recover properly you’ll stale out and even worse, get injured. That’s why Bob only does this intense lifting once a week, usually on Saturday. He does no training on Sunday and resumes some light training, usually for skill, on the Monday.
Then on Tuesday to Friday Bob works on his endurance, speed, and skill training, with the training on Wednesday and Thursday most intensive. We’ll cover these phases of his training in another article.
The rest of this article will outline Bob’s training and nutrition.
The Metabolic Diet
My Metabolic Diet (www.MetabolicDiet.com) is a new paradigm in nutrition for those interested in increasing strength and lean muscle mass. Bob follows the Metabolic Diet, fine-tuned to suit his metabolism. With Bob, while he keeps his carbohydrate level lower than most, he doesn’t go very low carb as his metabolism does best on high protein, moderate fat and moderate carbs.
His diet oscillates between days where carb levels are relatively low to days when carb levels are relatively high. This change from mostly lower carbs to the less frequent high carb days, helps keep him in an anabolic, fat burning phase, allowing him to maximize his muscle mass and keep his body fat low.
Bob’s diet is heavy in animal protein including fish, meats, eggs, and dairy, with some plant protein as well, especially soy. A substantial amount of Bob’s daily protein intake comes from the MRP LoCarb and Myosin Protein supplements as we’ll describe below.
Bob’s fat intake, while moderate, includes a lot of healthy fats, including monosaturated fats, polyunsaturated, essential fatty acids from flax seed oil, evening primrose oil, borage oil, diglycerides (which have recently been shown to help body composition) and fish oil.
My Metabolic Diet can be summarized as follows:
Fat Burning and Muscle Sparing
- Switches your metabolism to burn fat instead of carbs as its primary fuel.
- Maintains the fat burning as you drop calories so that the energy needed is
obtained mainly from bodyfat not glycogen or muscle protein.
- Spares protein and maintains or allows you to build muscle mass.
- Cycling from lower carbs, higher fat to higher carbs and lower fat manipulates the anabolic and fat burning hormones and processes in the body to maintain or increase muscle mass while at the same time decreasing bodyfat.
The Metabolic Diet will work for anyone who wants to gain strength and alter their body composition to gain muscle mass and lose body fat. That includes those who are just interested in being stronger to the fighter who wants to get into competitive shape.
The Metabolic Diet is modified to work optimally in different phases of training and competition and works even better with the use of appropriate nutritional supplements.
The Metabolic Diet is modified to various training phases, which in Bob’s case consists of variations of the basic phases below.
- Start-Up Phase
- Mass Phase
- Strength Phase
- Endurance Phase
- Pre-fight Phase
The Start Up Phase is usually a lighter, more general training phase, usually to get in mental and physical condition after a layoff of a few weeks to a month.
The Mass Phase and Strength Phase are combined and is what Bob is doing right now. The endurance phase puts more emphasis on endurance and maintenance of muscle mass and strength. The Pre-Fight Phase concentrates on fight specific skills, maintaining strength and endurance.
For maximum results it’s important to use targeted nutritional supplements to complement the various phases of training and the diet. Like the training and diet, the intelligent cycling of supplement allows Bob to get the best results possible from his training. The supplements enhance the ergogenic effects of Bob’s training and the Metabolic Diet.
What supplements does Bob use? The best.
I formulated a complete nutritional supplement line, which includes over 25 cutting edge products designed to work with the Metabolic Diet and to maximize strength, muscle mass, while at the same time decreasing body fat. In other words to give you a Bob Sapp type of body as against the typical body of a Sumo Wrestler.
These formulations were done using the latest scientific and medical information, along with the knowledge and expertise I’ve accumulated in the last four decades. I use the best ingredients available regardless of costs to form research-driven products that are far superior to any on the market today.
Bob uses a number of the supplements, to some extent depending on the phase of training that he’s in.
In all phases he uses the Foundation Supplements:
MVM (a comprehensive, specially balanced multiple vitamin and mineral formula designed to provide full-spectrum front line nutrition with an emphasis on optimizing health and the needs of athletes and anyone who exercises).
EFA+ (a complete essential and synergistic fatty acid formulation designed to provide the full gamut of all the essential fatty acids and other ingredients such as CLA that are so important to optimizing your metabolism, maximizing the anabolic and fat-burning effects of exercise, tuning up the immune system and increasing recovery).
Antiox (a complex formulation that provides targeted antioxidant support and immune enhancement to the body and especially to the musculoskeletal and central nervous system and liver. Besides the usual vitamin and mineral antioxidants, Antiox also contains glutathione, the most important, all-purpose, endogenous antioxidant in our bodies, alpha lipoic acid, co-enzyme Q10, quercetin, lycopene, resveratrol and grape seed extract).
These are supplements that should be used by anyone who’s into any form of exercise, dieting or simply staying healthy. They offer the foundation upon which you can achieve health, fitness, body composition and performance goals.
On top of that Bob uses Exersol and NitAbol, as well as Creatine Advantage. All three are used by serious athletes who are after maximum lean muscle mass and strength.
Exersol is a three-phase exercise-oriented nutritional support system that takes the guesswork out of what supplements to use before, during and after training. Each of the formulations below can also be used on their own depending on your needs.
- Resolve or Resolve Competition – Pre-workout Primer that optimizes the anabolic and fat burning effects of exercise.
- Power Drink – The Anabolic Fat Burning Re-hydration Drink you use during training provides the nutrients necessary to maximize muscle mass by increasing the anabolic and decreasing the catabolic effects of exercise, and to decrease body fat.
- Amino – The Anabolic Amino Surge that quickly kicks protein synthesis into high gear by providing an immediate square surge of amino acids, growth hormone and insulin in that immediate post-exercise window of opportunity.
NitAbol involves 3 formulations to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat while you sleep. Each of the formulations below can also be used on their own depending on your needs.
- TestoBoost – Increases Testosterone Levels naturally without the use and side effects of the prohormones.
- GHboost – Naturally increases growth hormone and IGF-I to above physiological levels.
- Myosin Protein Complex – Provides long lasting nighttime protein nutrition that increases protein synthesis, decreases muscle breakdown, and promotes body fat loss all night long.
Creatine Advantage – Keeps the energy system in high gear by not only increasing endogenous levels of phosphocreatine, but also by optimizing the glycolytic and TCA cycle energy processes. The added amino acids and dipeptides allow a natural increase in the absorption and utilization of creatine without carbohydrates, and increase the volumizing, anti-catabolic and anabolic effect of the formula.
In other phases of training Bob also uses some other MD+ supplements to help recover, reduce and treat injuries and avoid overtraining. These include:
Joint Support – The premier formulation for dealing with overtraining, muscle soreness and injuries. With its 36 synergistic ingredients, Joint Support decreases inflammation and maximizes muscle, connective tissue and cartilage repair and maintenance.
Metabolic – Stabilizes your metabolism and hormones and reverses the adverse effects of severe dieting by decreasing hunger and increasing your metabolic rate.
ReNew – Enhances the immune system, normalizes metabolism, improves recovery, and naturally supports thyroid, testosterone, GH, insulin and the function of the adrenal glands. It’s especially useful for dealing with chronic workout fatigue, overtraining, and burnout.
Bob uses these supplements consistently during the various phases; dropping most of them, except for the Foundation Supplements, when in a rest phase or even at the beginning of a Start-Up Phase.
As well, Bob supplements his dietary protein with Myosin Protein Complex, the most advanced, synergistic blend of the highest quality protein powders, peptides and amino acids on the market today. It contains the precise amino acid mix to maximize protein synthesis, decrease muscle breakdown and enhance athletic performance. Myosin Protein, unlike whey protein and the other one-dimensional proteins on the market today, provides you with both short and long-term amino acid spikes and keeps you in an anabolic, fat burning state for several hours.
Bob also uses both my MRP LoCarb meal replacement and bars to supplement his diet, especially when he’s too rushed to sit down to a good meal.
MRP LoCarb is an engineered high-protein, low-carbohydrate and moderate-fat meal replacement powder containing an advanced protein blend, healthy fats (all the fats I mentioned above), a balanced array of vitamins and minerals, and special ingredients that act as partitioning agents, allowing you to lose bodyfat while at the same time maintaining or even increasing muscle mass. Besides being an anabolic, fat-burning, all inclusive meal replacement, it’s also the ideal post training shake to optimize muscle metabolism and recovery.
LoCarb Sports Bars have the nutritional advantages of the MRP LoCarb meal replacement powders in a convenient and delicious bar.
Putting it all Together
This article just touches on some of the important points on what Bob does to maximize his muscle mass, strength, and fighting potential. For more information on all of the above, and for a comprehensive overview of the performance pipeline go to www.MetabolicDiet.com and pick up one of new books, either the Anabolic Solution for Bodybuilders or the Anabolic Solution for Powerlifters. There is also one in the works, the Anabolic Solution for Fighters.
The Anabolic Solution series of books are all about manipulating lean body mass and body fat, and improving performance. And it does all of this by affecting metabolic changes and altering the body’s anabolic and the catabolic hormones and growth factors.
But the Anabolic Solution that Bob uses is more than just the best natural way to reach your athletic goals. By duplicating much of what athletes get from the use of ergogenic and body composition changing drugs (including anabolic steroids) the Anabolic Solution method and books are a safe, effective, and natural alternative to the use of these drugs.
The “just say no” to drugs mantra adopted by so many in our society is an exercise in futility, especially in the powerlifting, bodybuilding, fitness and sporting world. What we need, instead of all the naysayers, is a viable alternative to drug use. And that’s just what we have in my Anabolic Solution.
Besides that, the Anabolic Solution books explain both the art and science behind the use of the Metabolic Diet and sophisticated nutritional supplements, explaining why and how they work and how they can best be used.
Summary The bottom line in Bob’s ability to maintain such high levels of strength and muscle mass, and thus to dominate the fight world, is a coordinated wholistic approach to his training and nutrition. Lifestyle, training, diet and nutritional supplement use are all important in maximizing strength, performance and muscle mass. This approach affects not only the body, but also the mind, with important positive psychological and emotional stabilizing effects.
In this article we’ve covered what Bob’s doing right now. In future articles we’ll go over some other training phases and his Pre-Fight Phase. As well, we’ll go over what Bob does and what supplements he uses in and around his fight competitions.
Bob and I kidding around. We had a good time after his December, 2002 fights talking about training and nutrition, and planning his short and long term goals in the fight game.
- Opstad PK, Asskvaag A. The effect of sleep deprivation on the plasma levels of hormones during prolonged physical strain and calorie deficiency. Eur J Appl Phys Occup Phys 1983; 51(1):97-107.
- Diamond F, Ringenberg L, MacDonald D, et al. Effects of drug and alcohol abuse upon pituitary-testicular function in adolescent males. Adolescent Health Care 1986; 7(1):28-33.
- Barnett G, Chiang CW, Licko VJ. Effects of marijuana on testosterone in male subjects. Theor Biol 1983; 104(4):685-92.
- Mendelson JH, Mello NK, Teoh SK, Ellingboe J, Cochin J. Cocaine effects on pulsatile secretion of anterior pituitary, gonadal and adrenal hormones. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1989; 69(6):1256-60.
- Noth RH, Walter RM. The effects of alcohol on the endocrine system. Med Clin North Am 1984; 68(1):133-46.
- Babichev VN, Peryshkova TA, Aivazashvili NI, Shishkin IV. [Effect of alcohol on the content of sex steroid receptors in the hypothalamus and hypophysis of male rats]. Biull Eksp Biol Med 1989; 107(2):204-7.
- Chung, KW. Effect of ethanol on androgen receptors in the anterior pituitary, hypothalamus and brain cortex in rats. Life Sci 1989; 44(4):2273-80.
- Soszynski PA, Frohman LA. Inhibitory effects of ethanol on the growth hormone (GH)-releasing hormone-GH-insulin-like growth factor-I axis in the rat. Endocrinology 1992; 131(6):2603-2608.
- Frankel EN, Kanner J, German JB, Parks E, Kinsella JE. Inhibition of oxidation of human low-density lipoprotein by phenolic substances in red wine. Lancet 1993; 341(8843):454-457.
- Mukamal KJ, Conigrave KM, Mittleman MA, Camargo CA Jr, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Rimm EB. Roles of drinking pattern and type of alcohol consumed in coronary heart disease in men. N Engl J Med 2003348(2):109-18.
- Cardinali DP, Bortman GP, Liotta G, Perez Lloret S, Albornoz LE, Cutrera RA, Batista J, Ortega Gallo P. A multifactorial approach employing melatonin to accelerate resynchronization of sleep-wake cycle after a 12 time-zone westerly transmeridian flight in elite soccer athletes. J Pineal Res 2002;32(1):41-6.
- Campos GE, Luecke TJ, Wendeln HK, Toma K, Hagerman FC, Murray TF, Ragg KE, Ratamess NA, Kraemer WJ, Staron RS. Muscular adaptations in response to three different resistance-training regimens: specificity of repetition maximum training zones. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2002 Nov;88(1-2):50-60.