The Coach You Need for Weight-loss, Strength-Training, and Competitive Bodybuilding/Figure By Ginger Vieira Andrew Berry If you’ve been doing the same workout for months or years and haven’t dropped a pound on the scale or gained the muscle you’re working so hard for, you’re not alone. The reason weight-loss and strength-gains are so damn challenging is…
The Coach You Need for Weight-loss, Strength-Training, and Competitive Bodybuilding/Figure
If you’ve been doing the same workout for months or years and haven’t dropped a pound on the scale or gained the muscle you’re working so hard for, you’re not alone. The reason weight-loss and strength-gains are so damn challenging is because they’re not as simple as we’d like to think they are — especially when you add diabetes to the mix.
But you’re in luck, because Andrew Berry–the person who coached me from a “total newbie in the gym” to a 15-time record-setting powerlifter–is now coaching people inweight-loss, competitive bodybuilding/figure, and general strength development anywhere across the globe. And he knows far more about diabetes than your average personal trainer. Understanding diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes, around intense exercise and training comes down to understanding exercise physiology — which I learned from Andrew Berry.
Andrew has a B.S. in both Dietetics and Nutrition & Food Science from UVM. And he’s a certified personal trainer through ISSA and NSCA CSCS. He is a competitive bodybuilder himself but excels in understanding and applying the science of building muscle and losing body fat through nutrition and training for every level between the everyday exerciser to the competitive athlete.
In this interview, Andrew shares the most common reasons people struggle to see results in the gym and what it really takes to reach a competitive physique.
Ginger: Okay, so, regardless of having type 1 diabetes, what are some of the most common mistakesin the gym people make when they’re trying to lose weight, put on muscle, or training to compete in bodybuilding/figure?
Great question. I actually put a blog post (5 Mistakes I see in the Gym Regularly) about this topic up a few months but I would say the number one thing I see is people just not knowing how to train. I’ll give you two quick scenarios:
Scenario A: Picture a typical middle-aged woman who carries a little extra body fat, does what I call the “soccer mom” workout (grabs 8-10 pound dumbbells and does every movement she can think of with them to feel like she got “weight training” in. The she gets on the treadmill and runs for 45 minutes. Now, if you talk to her, she will say that her goal is to lose that last 15 pounds of baby weight. But after two years of the same thing over and over again she’s frustrated and hasn’t lost any weight.
Scenario B: This could be one of the many guys in their 20’-50’s that I see typically after 5 p.m. most days in the gym. They have the same routine, in the same order pretty much every week. Their goal is to put on muscle, get lean and gain strength, yet every workout is like a choreographed routine. Chest on Monday starting with bench press, then incline dumbbell press, then flies etc. Legs…maybe next week. They constantly try the flashiest, newest pre-workout supplement conned into thinking it’s giving them better results for a little while. Two years later, they still look exactly the same and their strength and muscle-mass hasn’t budged.
There are many ways to waste your time in the gym with a very illogical and ineffective workout that isn’t based on the physiology of how your body loses fat or gains muscle.
My advice to both of populations in these scenarios would be to hire a professional coach to design a training, cardio and nutrition program just for them. I mean, if after two years of doing the same thing over and over again hasn’t produced noticeable changes to your physique or strength levels, it’s time to enlist the help of a professional.
Ginger: And then…what are the most common mistakes people are making in their nutrition when they’re training to compete in bodybuilding/figure or just trying to put on muscle?
Andrew Berry, 2 months out from his next competition.
Where do I start…first, people always under report what they eat when I first begin working them ask them to fill out a questionnaire. They forget or just don’t know what they are actually taking in. This is obviously a huge roadblock to losing weight—you can’t make up for a lousy diet by exercising more.
Another big obstacle I run into daily is getting people to actually follow their personalized nutrition plans. You have hired me to control your training, nutrition and health programming, but it’s up to you to follow my advice and reap the rewards. Also, keep in mind that people’s needs change as their body changes. This is why I don’t just give a diet and walk away. A real nutrition plan requires a variety of adjustments for a variety of reasons depending on the person and their goals.
Another issue I often see is people trying to adhere to one principle or diet, struggling, giving up, and then going back to it even though it didn’t work well the first time. Low carb, low fat, Weight Watchers, IIFYM, the list goes on and on. There is no one cookie-cutter diet program to follow and any coach or nutritionist that tells otherwise, in my opinion is dead wrong. Every body is unique and their plan should be designed just for them.
And lastly, people fail to understand how much discipline and repetition it takes to build and maintain a top physique. Unless you are a genetic freak, it takes proper planning, food preparation, scheduling and overall lifestyle management to build and maintain a body to be proud of. You can make a thousand excuses for why you’re too busy but if you want to compete in bodybuilding or just look incredibly fit, you have to learn how to make your nutrition a priority. Honing home that it’s not a “12-day cleanse” or a short-term diet, but a lifestyle is something that I constantly have to do.
Ginger: For people with type 1 diabetes, what are some of the most important factors they need to know about in their goals around bodybuilding/figure and strength-training
As you know, Ginger, they need to understand the different effects that different modes of exercise will have on their blood sugar levels. For instance, an intense leg training session will more than likely have a different effect on a Type 1’s blood sugar than say a more relaxed “arm” day. Resistance training in general should yield different blood sugar results than cardiovascular work. Heck even low intense steady state cardio (incline treadmill walking) will have a much different effect than high intensity interval training (something like sprints). So getting to know your body based on experimentation, learning basic exercise physiology, and keen record keeping seems like the most important thing to me from a health standpoint. Knowing your body and limitations is extremely important. I think you will remember when we had you training at a high level for powerlifting that there were a few rare days where things were “off” and we had to shut it down or not train altogether that day. That was more than likely a good decision and was not based on laziness or lack of motivation but on knowing your limitations for that day.
Ginger: If someone’s trying to prep for a competition or put on muscle/lose body fat, how much will roller coaster blood sugars get in the way?
Well, like I was saying before, I think the person should spend a good amount of time and record keeping to understand their insulin doses around different types of exercise. Again, using you as an example, I think you did a great job of that initially by figuring out what you needed in terms of insulin or carbs to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range before a hard training session so you could endure that session without your blood sugar interfering. (Ginger adds: powerlifting workouts actually raised my blood sugar, so I would take extra insulin prior to training to stay under 160 mg/dL!) Trying to come in at a constant blood sugar allowed you to train at a high level because you had a plan that consistently worked based on exercise physiology.Following a structured eating plan was also paramount to your success.
Additionally, we trained at the same time most days, which again, put more structure to your plan and let you know what to expect. Eliminating variables like training at different times, eating different foods, etc. is very important and goes along with what I suggest for non-diabetics as well.
And there’s no doubt that out-of-control blood sugars will interfere with both your body’s ability to burn fat properly and your body’s ability to recover from your workouts and build more muscle. (Ginger adds: yeah, after workouts, to keep my blood sugar from spiking, I again had to take a small dose of insulin but I’d cut back on my dose at the next full meal I ate to prevent going low–you’ve gotta put in time studying your BGs to figure out a logical plan).
If you’re serious about weight-loss or competing, your blood sugars and A1C should be just as big a priority as making time for the gym.
Ginger: Tell me a little bit about how you work with clients online, across the country. What are the first steps they would take and what kind of services do you provide?
Andrew: I have a few different coaching plans to choose from — but when a client wants to work with me I email them my New Client Questionnaire. It’s pretty comprehensive and I always say the more information the better. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about you.
From there, I design an initial plan and send it out complete with a ton of notes on the thought process behind my plans as well as a little of the science behind it. I want them to mull it over for a few days and come up with questions- a ton of them, which I try to answer promptly.
After that we have a check in process where they send me information on things such as weight, skin fold caliper measurements, mood towards diet and training plan, strength levels, among other things. I take that feed back and make changes as necessary. I need these updates as otherwise I would just be guessing, so I don’t send updates out without the feedback from clients. (Obviously for long-distance clients, things like skin fold caliper measurements are possible unless you have access to that equipment where you live.)
As far as services, I provide training, nutrition and supplementation advice/plans. My goal is to not just help you change your physique but to also improve your health. I do this with the use of certain whole, organic foods that will drastically improve your appearance, mood and health. I have had the opportunity to work with some of the other top minds in the industry and their lessons have not been wasted on me. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through my website www.bodyberry.com where I post articles, blog posts and other tid-bits. I am in the process of hiring someone to completely revamp it but it is up and running now.
Thanks for the interview, Ginger!
Ginger: Thank you, Andrew!