Interview Conducted by Bob Kupniewski
My name is Brian Ahlstrom and I have been training for over 22 years, competing since 2005. I am an IFPA, NGA and PNBA Natural Professional Bodybuilder. I have been lucky enough to work with some of the best Prep Coaches in the WORLD- Layne Norton, Alberto Nunez, Jeff Alberts, and Cliff Wilson. I also own my own Contest Prep and Diet Coaching Company- Ahlstrom Fitness, as well as, a fitness clothing and supplement Company- Beyond Driven along with Brian Mauer- NGA Pro.
I competed 3 times as a Pro this year, winning the NGA Pro Flamingo in Miami, FL, 5th Place in the Natural Universe and 3rd Place in the IFPA Pro International- Lightweight Class.
I have been prepping Clients since 2010. We have already helped 5 people obtain Pro Cards in 2012 and we are hoping for a few more with some big shows coming up.
Check us out www.facebook.com/ahlstromfitnessconsulting
What is your generic guideline for training? Do you feel there should be a major difference between pre-contest and offseason regarding volume, frequency, and intensity? If so explain?
I have used and continue to use many different training approaches for myself and my Clients. I feel you should not go stagnant with training and mixing up your training helps to keep things fresh.
The only difference between off-season and pre-contest training should be duration/volume towards the end of your prep. You want to follow the same plan that helped you gain the size. However, at the end of prep your focus needs to be on intensity and with low bodyfat levels it’s hard to lift with the same “volume” you were able to in the beginning or even the middle of your prep.
What is your general stance on nutrition as far as macro composition in any of your clients diets? Do you differ them much between pre-contest and offseason?What different things do you utilize on your clients as far as refeeds and cheat meals go, and what are your thoughts on utilizing those in both (offseason and pre-contest)?
My goal is to have Clients consume the maximum amount of food while continuing to lose weight when dieting for a show. I normally have clients go with moderate protein, high carbs and moderate fats. I feel having higher carbs helps with mental well being which is a huge component often forgotten about in our Sport.
I utilize re-feeds and the schedule depends on the client. I do not believe in cheats when in prep mode. In the off-season, hell yes, I like pizza and beer. You have to live life as well. We feel deprived enough during a Contest Prep Diet and I don’t want to live my entire life feeling deprived. So, I say, live a little but be smart.
When in the off-season, I want my clients to eat as much as possible while keeping body-fat to a minimum. I want them to increase their carb tolerance and ceiling. I feel this helps make things much easier when we go back into prep mode.
Do you believe in Intermittent Fasting and other non-generic meal patterns? Do you have to eat a certain amount of times per day to eat and why? It seems Meal Frequency is thrown around a lot lately with a ton of different research being published on PUBmed? What is your stance on the topic?
I do not believe in IF as it pertains to Bodybuilding. I like clients to eat 4-6 meals per day and this is at their discretion. I personally go with 6 meals per day. I see benefits of 4 or 5 but my personal preference is 6.
What are your generic guidelines of Pre/Post workout nutrition?
I am a believer in Pre/Post nutrition being a huge component of growth. I have clients eat a solid meal 1-2 hours before the gym containing moderate protein, high carbs and minimal fats. I normally like to see oats, sweet potatoes and fruit used as pre workout CHO. I like to use fast acting carbs along with fast acting protein and minimal fat Post W/O. I feel this formula has had great success with me, my clients and tons of others in our Sport. I like to see around 60% of your daily CHO intake centered around workouts. However, on off days I will spread CHO evenly throughout the day.
What is your stance when in a caloric surplus what do you believe should be the minimums you should meet regarding protein, carbohydrates, and fats and why? Does any macronutrient trump others as far as protein sparing?
This is a tough question to answer as a general guideline. It varies with the client and activity rate. I would say generally speaking, 1.25 grams of Protein per lb of LBM, 2 grams of CHO per LBM and .3-.5 grams of FAT per LBM.
What is your general philosophy on food sources regardless if the individual is in a caloric surplus or deficit, the phrase “Clean Eating” is thrown around a lot. Could you shed some light on research or any information regarding utilizing different sources in the offseason or pre-contest?
I prefer clean eating as so many micronutrients are available in “clean” foods. Not too mention, the more you stray and eat “bad” foods, the more intense cravings can become. I personally have a hard time with IIFYM but some people have no issues. I, however, can not eat just 28 grams of chips, etc, I have no “off” button, LOL. I would end up eating the whole BAG.
What Supplements do you consider “Staples” or those that should be utilized on a daily basis? Also what supplements do you feel have their benefits in the offseason and pre-contest that should be considered or you utilize for a particular reason?
I would say staples would be Whey Protein, Creatine, Multi-vitamin, Beta-Alanine
I feel there are a ton of great products that can be utilized along with the above but there are not a necessity. A key to bringing your best to the stage is having the perfect diet. Those would include ALA, DAA, Pre Workouts, Vit D-3, Test Boosters, etc.
What is your motivation and inspiration? What first got you interested in bodybuilding or nutrition?
I have been into bodybuilding and nutrition so long that I know no other way. I started as a Teenager to be bigger and stronger. This Sport has been very kind to me and led me on a path I never thought possible. I have met great people and enjoyed some successes and failures along the way. All in all, I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I wouldn’t change the path I took to get where I am.
What are your future goals? Any specific things you want to accomplish?
I have one goal, Top 3 at the Yorton Cup, plain and simple. That is what drives me. I would love to win the YC, which is my end goal.
If there was one thing you could go back and change throughout your career what would it be and why? What impact do you think you could re-write in your past to improve on who you are today?
Honestly, the only thing I would change would be having a better off-season when I was younger. I was a big time DIRTY BULKER which allowed me to gain way too much fat in the past. Am I perfect, hell no but I am a ton better than I was.
Thank you for your time and effort in this Q&A Session, if there was one last tip you could give to those who are reading/following what would it be and why?
Be PATIENT, it takes time to reach your goals. Also, this is a hobby and make sure you treat it as such. This is a selfish sport that can consume you if you don’t put things into perspective. I can tell you, not many Natural Bodybuilders do this for a living. Have fun in this sport, work hard and enjoy it! BALANCE IS KEY, family first, PERIOD!