Written by justis berg
18 May 2010
The Pro Builder

By George Farah

George, my hat is off to you, bro! I just can't believe how every time you touch another pro they automatically become the talk of every show you help them to do. Can you be kind and share with MD readers what you did with your latest protégé Craig Richardson? I mean, no one thought that guy would ever come back and look at the way you brought him into the Sacramento show! I have been watching what you've been doing with your clients and the way you are transforming them is simply unreal. What's the secret, brother?

Secret? LOL, there is no secret, man! Here's exactly what happened. Craig contacted me with less than eight weeks to go until the show; he told me he needed my help and that he had been dieting for almost nine months or something like that. He had done a few shows, but was having a hard time breaking the top five or even coming near his all-time best conditioning from the 2000 Nationals. He also mentioned that he was at 208 pounds and still not in shape, and he explained that the more he was losing, the worse he was looking.

I automatically suspected overtraining and undereating, like what almost everyone coming to me lately is doing. It seems that the Keto crap is the trend these days. I asked Craig to send me the program that he was following and all I can say is that it was a shock to see what he was doing— three hours of cardio and eating zero carbs on most days, and consuming only 50 grams of carbs on some days. I just could not believe my eyes.

Anyway, I put a program together with tons of carbs around 450/500 grams daily and cut his cardio back to 30 minutes daily. Yep, you guessed it, he called me and said that he was worried about eating all these carbs and doing only half an hour of cardio and he basically asked me if this was going to be temporary. I replied yes because by next week, I might have to add more carbs and he thought that I was kidding.

Anyway, a few days passed and he gave me another call and told me that he was gaining weight quickly and I replied that this was the plan and not to be to concerned with his weight, etc. And I asked him to call me in a week. A full week passed and sure enough, my phone rang and it was Craig; this time he was happy because he has been on this diet for almost 10 days and he has gained almost 20 pounds but he is also in way better condition than when he was 208 pounds when we first start.

He just could not understand how this was happening and I explained to him that when he came to me he was in a state of what I called starvation and he laughed. Making the story short, I kept him on the same diet until he was over 230 pounds and then slowly started playing around with his diet and making slight changes here and there and by one week out he was looking really good at 227 pounds and with tons of food and only 20 minutes of cardio.

He called me and said brother, I can't believe that I am dieting, it feels like I am in the off-season with all of that food and he also told me that his wife told him that he looks harder than he looked at the 2000 Nationals where he only weighed in at 192 pounds. We cracked a couple of jokes and he finally asked me the magical question! When are we going to carb-deplete?? I said what? You just get done telling me that you're looking better than ever and you want me to carb-deplete you? What's the sense? Craig replied, "I will leave it in your hands, coach but I was just wondering, and that was the normal thing that bodybuilders do?" I replied, "Well, I'm not going to be doing the normal bodybuilder things and that's why my athletes look much better than normal bodybuilders do," and we both laughed.

I started adding more carbs and at the same time started his drying process and sure enough he ended up the morning of the show around 223 pounds and went onstage looking better than ever. Anyway as you all already know, Craig ended up placing second but there is so much talk around the show and the Internet that he should have won the show based on the condition that he brought.

Either way, we were both happy with the outcome, especially that we only have about seven weeks to prepare for that show. All in all, there is no secret or anything like that and athletes should understand that what works for Jon or Roger won't necessarily work for me or Freddie. Stop doing cookie-cutter diets and follow what works best for each and every individual and keep in mind that carbohydrates are the key elements in pushing these heavy weights around the gyms.

Every time I eat lately it seems that I have very bad indigestion and for some reason I end up with no appetite and can't finish my food. Any suggestions?

Throughout the years that I have been helping people, I hear this question at least once a week. It is very sad that there isn't much information out there to read about these kinds of problems and how to fix them naturally, not just by going to your doctor so he or she can give you another magic pill. The market is full of antacids and scrips of many proton pump inhibitors, and they all do the job well but what many people don't know is that this is probably the worst thing anyone can do to their body, especially if you are a hardcore bodybuilder.

You ask why and the answer is simple, as humans, we need that acid that it is naturally accrued in our bodies to digest food and many other things, including defending our immune system from any bacteria. So by lowering your acid, your food is not going to be digested well and non-digested food can't be absorbed and you can't grow. Another big factor is that if you are like me and go to a hardcore gym, I don't need to tell you what could happen when your immune system is down, especially now as the winter approaches, you guessed it, germs on your bench press and almost every machine you are about to use in your gym— and as we all know, many people around these gyms are sick, coughing and sneezing, etc.

Believe me, this is the time you will need your acid, so you won't end up sick. Whenever you use a machine or touch anything that someone forgets to disinfect/clean, let's face it— five out of 10 maybe will clean up after themselves. Are you getting the picture yet? Anyway, I have found a very easy solution to this problem, by eliminating liquid during my meals.

Instead, I drink an hour and a half after or before each of my meals and if I need to drink any liquid during meals, I found out that half a cup of mint or ginger tea can do your digestive system a wonder. So next time you are about to eat, make sure to hold off on your water or any liquid for that matter, to help your stomach digest your food properly and without the added extra fluid during your meal; your food will be digested much faster and you will never have to worry about any discomfort from indigestion or heartburn, etc. This should work, but like anything else, you still need to test things on yourself for at least four weeks and if it doesn't work, then my advice to you is to get ahold of an RN or the doc to let us know what's up and how things are progressing.

I hope that I am not offending you by asking this question. You always talk about the guys you are helping and how good they look— how come you don't tell us a bit about what's up with Grigori Atoyan? How come he never comes in like the rest of your clients?

Nothing is going to offend me, especially when you are telling me a fact about something that's true. I was the thinking the same thing as you and kept asking myself, how come I never was able to get certain people in that beyond-shredded condition?

For the life of me, I could not understand what was going on. I went to Sacramento to be hands-on with Craig Richardson and Grigori Atoyan. I thought that I did an awesome job dialing in Craig, but it wasn't the same for Atoyan. After the show was over and the dust settled, I went to Grigori's house to spend the evening with his family and to have some good food. Finally I discovered the missing link! Grigori does not have a food scale and he never owned one!

I could not believe it; I was actually a little upset because Grigori is like a brother to me and he, of all people, knows how important nutrition manipulation is. I mean, on certain days, I only drop a few ounces of carbs from certain meals and there is no way you will be able to measure that with the naked eye. You guessed it; I made sure that Grigori went to the store the next day and purchased a new food scale. I promised him that the next time we do another show, he will be in the best condition ever.

You might think that weighing the food is not that important, but you can ask Bob Cicherillo, who did every National and USA show for 13 years, and never was able to get that pro card. Finally, we get together and he started working with me.

First thing I did was to make Bob buy a food scale. I found out that he never measured his food or owned a food scale. You can call it coincidence, but after he started measuring his food, I brought him in at his best shape ever and as a result he won the USA Overall with a perfect score. So please, for everyone out there reading this column, make sure to do yourself a big favor and add a food scale to your prep if you are serious about bodybuilding.