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
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
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.
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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 all phases he uses the
(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
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.
– 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.
– 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
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.
– Increases Testosterone
Levels naturally without the use and side effects of the prohormones.
– Naturally increases growth hormone and IGF-I to above
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
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,
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
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
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.
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