Interview with Phil Provenzano
Interview conducted by Bob Kupniewski
First and foremost could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you do, your accomplishments and your credentials?
I am an NPC competitor; I’m also the owner and one of the co-coaches of Team Provo LLC. My two most recent showings/placing’s were 1st place in the open light heavy weight and open overall winner at the 2012 NPC Southern Indiana and 3rd place in the open light heavyweight at the NPC metropolitan. I received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Manhattan College and that my other means of employment is a property and casualty insurance agent.
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?
Right now I’m currently under the tutelage of John Meadows with regards to my training. I have always been a volume guy. I have experimented with some HIIT training styles like Dorian’s style and DOGG CRAPP training. However, my body seems to do better with some more volume. When I do design my own workouts it’s a blend of the things I’ve learned over the years. Some of it is taken from IFBB PRO Edson Prados training system called Prado Systems, a lot of it is taken from the old school training style from diamond gym and a good deal of it is also a mix of Mountain Dog principles. As for regards to the major difference between pre contest and offseason training I’m a proponent of the idea that whatever built the muscle is going to keep the muscle. If heavy weights and various rep ranges is what helped me get my muscle, I am going to ride that right up to the show. I have seen too many guys lighten up the load for more reps and less weight and they end up losing some size.
What is your general stance on nutrition as far as macro composition in any of your client’s diets? Do you differ them much between pre-contest and offseason? What different things do you utilize on your clients as far as re-feeds and cheat meals go, and what are your thoughts on utilizing those in both (offseason and pre-contest)?
Obviously this differs greatly on an individual basis, but for arguments sake let’s say you have a guy with great genetics who can respond well to both carbohydrates and fats. Then my answer is clear I would want him on a balanced diet using both carbohydrates and fats for fuel sources. Why? Because then he is reaping the benefits of both those fuel sources. He is getting the muscle “volumizing” effects of carbohydrates and the hormone and strength benefits of fats. One of my clients Steven Silverman who placed 2nd at last year’s NPC Nationals had traditionally used mostly carbs and proteins in his offseason and contest diets before coming to me. After putting a good deal of healthy fats into his diet his physique quickly transformed into a denser more 3D look. His strength also improved significantly as well. Steve refuses to experiment with any diet plan that doesn’t at least include a fair amount of healthy fats ever since. That being said Steve is a genetic mutant who can get very lean using a good deal of both carbohydrates and fats. I have had clients who you put over 65 grams of fat in their diet and they just start gaining body fat at an alarmingly high rate. Yet sometimes their bodies are able to handle over 400 grams of carbs while staying lean. So I believe it’s really imperative to diet for the individual rather then just a mold/cookie cutter approach. I like keto, carb cycling, and balanced diets, I have found good uses for them all in various types of clients. I myself seem to do just fine on a keto approach, strength is always great, I get really dry and hard looking….fast and I don’t lose any muscle on it. In the offseason I always give my athletes at least one cheat meal per week. With regards to contest diets those change greatly from client to client. Some get a cheat meal some get a re-feed or two a week, it really all depends.
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?
Yes and no. Fasting for a significant amount of time is catabolic and when you lose muscle your body burns less calories at rest. Losing muscle and gaining fat will in no way help one achieve a bodybuilding goal. I have also heard of people fasting to make up for a few days of bad eating. That also tends to start a bad pattern of losing muscle and gaining fat as well as getting very flat. However, all that being said I for one have some digestive issues. My stomach tends to internally experience bloat easily and I have GERD. During pre-contest when calories are not particularly high these issues tend to not flare up at all but as offseason gets deep they tend to irritate me some from time to time. For example, right now I am eating 4200 calories which includes 185 grams of healthy fats daily. After a week of pounding food like that my stomach really just needs a break. On Sundays I try to sleep in a little bit and maybe eat 4 smaller meals spaced out by like 3 hours. By Monday my stomach feels great and I am ready to pound food again. This will not work well for everyone; I’m a classic mesomorph and don’t flatten or lose muscle easily. For those more ectomorphic in nature this would not be wise.
What are your generic guidelines of Pre/Post workout nutrition?
Again this really all depends on the individual. I believe high GI carbs can be quite beneficial post workout especially if the individual is somewhat lean. If the individual is not I tend to go with low GI carbs post workout. At the start of a contest diet I will often use like oats or sweet potato post workout and as I start getting freaky lean I will switch over to white potato or white rice. As for pre workout nutrition I myself am partial to the sweet potato; its slow burning nature allows you to train long and hard. Also its high potassium content surely aids in some good pumps. For some fats pre workout with or without carbs can also be beneficial. Fats slow down the digestion of anything. So for an ecto who processes carbs really quickly some fats added to it pre workout can really help sustain energy and fullness throughout training.
What is your stance when in a caloric surplus what do you believe in should be the minimums you should meet regarding protein, carbohydrates, and fats and why? Does any macronutrient trump others as far as protein sparing?
No minimums whatsoever other than protein should never for either natural or enhanced athletes be below 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. The rest I would say is on a person to person basis. I have seen some guys gain for weeks on 2300 calories and I’ve seen other who can’t gain on 4500 calories!
What is your general philosophy on food sources regardless if the individuals are 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?
Clean eating to me is eating basic foods. For example potatoes, rice, oatmeal, cream of wheat, chicken breast, lean cuts of steak, various types of fish, olive oil, macadamia nut oil, almonds, avocado, nut butters, fruits and veggies. Are there other foods I consider useful for physique purposes? Sure, absolutely! However, I’m certainly not a proponent of eating things like Poptarts on a daily basis even if the numbers fit. Why? Because when I do and certain other clients do they tend to not look as sharp and feel as good. That being said I do realize this works for some people. It’s just not the way I go about things.
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?
As for supplement staples I say SLINTROL by Natty Nutrition, Creatine of some kind, BCAA powder, and fish oil. I take a whole host of supplements for health benefits, I don’t force them on other people but I do recommend them such as… coq10 for cardiovascular health, NAC for liver health, digestive enzymes and probiotics for digestive health etc.
What is your motivation and inspiration? What first got you interested in bodybuilding or nutrition?
My motivation and inspiration is to be the best I can be while staying healthy and being there for my wife and the rest of my family. Nothing irritates me more than a selfish bodybuilder who is one dimensional. I got into bodybuilding because I just loved lifting weights, loved the challenge, and loved how it changed my body and confidence. Once I got more and more into training I realized the key to progress was using nutrition and training hand and hand. I’ve been a nutrition junkie ever since.
What are your future goals? Any specific things you want to accomplish?
This past year I qualified for national level NPC shows so I plan on challenging myself at the NPC JR USA this may. I would like to just bring my best condition with some new found muscle and see where I land.
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?
I don’t really think I would change anything! I am happy with the person I am and I value every experience I’ve had whether it was good or bad as a great learning experience. I would like to continue on and keep learning.
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 aggressive with your bodybuilding goals chase them with everything you’ve got but don’t ever sacrifice your health or your relationships that you value to get there. And on a more hardcore note to quote the late Steve Michalik “train beyond the pain and death will be your only release”.
Spooky Savings – Halloween BLOWOUT SALE
Tiger Fitness is always striving to provide our customers with the best deals possible on the best products on the market today. This October 31 ,2012 Only, Tiger Fitness will be giving EVERYONE an extra 10% OFF everything in our online store! NOW THAT’S SPOOKY, (for our shipping department…:-)
Only at Tiger Fitness!