If you do not follow my Instagram account (@joshuasettlage), you have not seen my stories of me training with the high school wrestlers from my alma mater, Roseville High School. Working with these wrestlers has reminded me of my own wrestling training during high school. In those memories are the bitter memories of injuries. In doing jiu jitsu competitively, injuries are present as well. All these inspired me to talk about something I often get asked about: training through injury/what to do if you are injured.
I feel like I should not even have to say this, but before you ask you coach to sit out of wrestling practice, tell him/her you can’t wrestle today, or decide to not show up to your jiu jitsu training, ask yourself if you are hurt or injured. These are both contact sports with extreme levels of physicality and demand on the body. If you want to be competitive, you have to train while you’re hurt. I find it appalling the absence of tenacity, grit and discipline in wrestlers and jiu jitsu players saying they want to be the best, but will use a jammed finger, or sore throat as a reason to skip out on training. I’m not sorry if that sounds harsh. If you find this offensive, it is most likely because no one told you to suck it up and get back to training. So I’m telling you now, if you want to be the best, suck it up and get back to training.
Now that is out of the way, I can move on to what this article is really about. Imagine you just tweaked your knee in training. You were defending a takedown, and your partner reached for your ankle pulling it towards him/her while your hips were unable to move. They pulled it a little too far and you feel and concerning pop in your knee. You shake it off and finish out practice. You go home, ice it, heat it, compress it, etc. in hopes of full recovery by the time you wake up. Next morning it is swollen and completely stiff to the point when you walk, you are swinging your leg out to the side instead of flexing at the knee. Now you have a legitimate injury. What do you do? KEEP TRAINING. Now I do not mean, keep training takedowns and put yourself in the same position that caused the injury, but DO WHAT YOU CAN. Your knee is jacked up? Good. Time to work on pull ups. Your elbow is tweaked from an armbar? Perfect. Now go hit 500 air squats for time. Pulled something in your shoulder? Awesome. Go lunge for 15 minutes straight.
There is always something you can do. Unless you are in the hospital, find a way to keep training. I had a hurt wrist for most of my junior and senior year of high school. Some weeks it only hurt to put direct pressure on it like in a handstand position, other times it would shoot pain through out my forearm when I turned over the ignition in the car. What did I do? I couldn’t lift (I know… it was a dark and sad time), I could only do limited bodyweight exercises and running drills/workouts. That is exactly what I did. Box jumps, pistol squats, air squats, sprint intervals, broad jumps, and long distance runs. I was able to build up my conditioning and sprint faster than ever. I was somewhat more explosive and had improved my squat mobility tenfold. At wrestling practice I could push a high pace in a match, much longer than I ever could before.
The bottom line is that there is always something you can do. Do not waste time, pouting about how you can’t train. You might not be able to do live rolling, or max out on squats for a few weeks, or do any barbell overhead work, but there is still something you can do to get better. Injuries are blessings and curses. As much as you hate not doing what you love, it might be the only time you dedicate time to work on another weakness in your game.
If you have not been following me on Instagram (@joshuasettlage), or been keeping up with my competitive endeavors, I am competing in the Submission Pro Tour Sacramento Fall Open. As of today I am currently sitting at 11 days out from the competition. In this event I will not be cutting any weight, and will be competing at 181lbs in the white belt division. With any competition, the preparation one makes can directly affect the results of the event or contest. I love training. I love rolling, wrestling, grappling, and lifting weights. I also love to program my own training and tailor it specifically to my needs. Going into this tournament, I knew I need to properly “peak” for this event and come in as fresh and strong as can be. At the GrapplingX tournament I competed in May of this year, I had a great prep, easy weight cut, but felt I came in slightly over trained/under recovered. I felt like I could not produce the force in takedowns, or have the capacity to endure grueling matches, even though I spent a lot of time improving my conditioning. Thankfully I only had three matches, with only one going the distance so my gas tank wasn’t fully tested. Going into this tournament, I want to ensure that I am fully recovered and able to perform my best. Here are some of the tactics I will be implementing to ensure proper recovery.
Sleep is something I am definitely aiming to increase as the contest grows closer. Going into the GrapplingX tournament, I woke up at 4:15am everyday until the Wednesday before where I caught some more Z’s. I love getting up early and training earlier in the morning rather than later, but I came to realize that if I want to perform my best, I need to reevaluate my sleeping habits. Starting three weeks out, I will go from waking up at 3:15-3:30am six days a week to train, to three days a week and the remaining days sleeping in as late as possible to accumulate a total of eight hours of sleep. This also leads into how I will change my weight training…
On the days where I will be waking up between 3:15-3:30am, I will conduct my regular weight training workouts, but with much less volume. Instead of working up to a maximum effort squat and then 3-5 drop sets at 75%, I will just perform the max effort squat, and move on to the accessory work. I also changed the volume on my accessory work. Instead of 10-15 sets of accessory work, it is now between 5-6. Keeping high intensity in my workouts allows me to stay sharp and keep my body loose, without the prolonged recovery time of the high volume training I was doing. The days where I get a full eight hours of sleep, I do not perform any weight training, and focus on pushing the pace at jiu jitsu and getting in extra live rounds. Over the course of the three weight training days, I want to hit the big three (squat, bench, & deadlift) for a heavy single. I will keep this up until two weeks out when I will only work up to 70% of my 1RM for deadlift, but keep squat and bench the same. The week of, it will be light sessions of active recovery work.
My nutrition will remain the same until the contest. I found myself stalling in my body weight, and slightly gaining body fat. I adjusted my macros by slightly decreasing my carbohydrate intake. Since I do not have to cut any weight for this tournament, I can still bulk slowly and focus on building muscle. I am currently following a If It Fits Your Macros approach which works great, but I find a decrease in performance when I chose to get some of my macros from foods of lesser quality. So starting a month out, I will be getting all my macros from quality food sources, the best that I can find. I’ll adjust my macros day to day to see how I’m feeling. If I have a lot of live rounds and am completely spent at the end of training, I might add some carbs back in. That is the beauty of not having to cut weight. I get to eat till I’m satisfied and show up to compete with a full belly.
Those are the three things I will be tweaking with my current programming in preparation for this tournament. After this tournament, I will go back to the full Settlage Size & Strength program and will prepare to compete in Cory Gregory’s Turkey Classic online powerlifting meet. More on that later.
If you are looking for personalized strength and conditioning programming, a customized nutrition, or 1-on-1 training, email me at email@example.com. For more content on training, jiu jitsu, and my personal life, follow me on Instagram, @joshuasettlage.
If you are someone who is serious about lifting weights, or someone who is just starting, at some point you have or will think about trying to get stronger. To a certain degree getting stronger comes with getting bigger. Bigger muscles have a greater capacity to be stronger muscles. This is the reasoning for most lifters choosing to go through a “bulking” phase. Bulking is the simplest terms is a phase of training where total calories consumed are increased and the goals of training are to build muscle and get stronger. Although, bulking can mean many different things depending on who you ask, and the different methods of bulking vary even more drastically. Let me first clarify the notion of a “clean” or “dirty” bulk. A clean bulk is a well paced rate of weight gain, and consists of manageable macronutrients obtained from healthy foods. A dirty bulk is an excuse to eat garbage in the name of bulking. If you are serious about getting better as an athlete by putting on size and gaining strength, you better be eating clean and staying disciplined. Do not make excuses for yourself. For the rest of this article, the term bulking refers to a “clean” bulk.
My first phase of bulking was one, giant, six month long, uncontrolled, experiment. After I stopped wrestling my junior year of highschool, I assumed since I would no longer have to make weight anymore I would gain lots of muscle, and become big and strong. I was mistaken. Instead of eating lots of food and lifting heavy, I was still doing hundreds of burpees, running all the time, and only picking exercises I was good at with my lower body weight. In turn, I gained only THREE pounds over a nine month period (139-142). Just before high school graduation, I decided it was time for me to get BIG and STRONG. I researched and studied many articles, podcasts, and webinars from the top minds in strength and conditioning to figure out just how I would execute this bulking phase. After filtering through all the information, this is what I found to be the most common principle’s of bulking.
A healthy rate of weight gain is 1-1.5lbs per week.
You must increase overall caloric intake to gain weight.
You must lift HEAVY. Your program should reflect a focus on strength. You can’t truly get strong if your program is designed for someone to build conditioning.
EAT. EAT. EAT.
All of these pieces of advice are very true, and can create a good base for someone who is trying to bulk. I took all these pieces of advice to the extreme. My goal was to weigh 175lbs and add 90lbs to my back squat in six months. Every morning I woke up excited to weigh myself and see how close I was too my goal. When I ate, I stuffed myself full and then ate more to ensure I was getting enough calories. I stopped all conditioning. Literally ALL conditioning. No running, burpees or rowing for a whole year. I conveniently skipped the light conditioning at the end of the week, because I needed to “recover” when really, I didn’t want to breathe hard. I kept eating and lifting heavy and obtained what I considered at that time to be amazing results. In six months time, I had gone from 142lbs to a bigger and stronger 176lbs. If my rate of weight gain was greater than a pound and a half per week, I didn’t care. I was growing and was blindsided by such a quick and large increase in weight. I had only added about 60lbs to my back squat which at the time I was happy with. This all came at a price. As you can see in the photos below, I went from being very lean, with a traditional light weight, wrestler physique, to what my family members called my dimple belly stage. I was simply too large and soft for my very short frame.
You must EAT. EAT. EAT. to get big, but you can not just consume whatever portions you want even if it is all relatively healthy foods. For the most part I was eating what most would consider healthy food, but my overall caloric intake was off the charts for what my current activity levels were.
Conditioning may not be a focus in a bulking phase, but for the benefit of overall health, some conditioning should be in every bulking program. I was shocked when I had a tough time doing sprint intervals on the rower and running just one mile.
There is a reason why most experts suggest no more than 1.5lbs gained per week when bulking. I was just getting too big, too fast and gained a substantial amount of fat and not the amount of muscle I was aiming for.
Continue to do bodyweight exercises so you can still move your own bodyweight even at a larger weight. It was one big wake up call when I could barely get through 10 grueling pull ups.
The second time I decided to bulk, it was after I had finished the 2016 Tahoe Show bodybuilding event where I competed as a Teen Men’s Physique competitor. At the show I had my best physique to date. Though I had lost some strength during the prep, I loved how I went from the heaviest I had ever been, and in 15 weeks created my best physique ever.
Going into this second bulk, I knew I could not repeat the process I had done the year before. I knew I needed to take control of my eating habits, pay more attention to how much weight I was gaining from week to week, and not lose all the conditioning I had developed during the prep for the bodybuilding show. In turn, that meant I needed to change up my programming too. I tested out some new training techniques and programming principles centered around gaining strength (5-3-1, Bulgarian method, etc.). My new goal was in four months to gain between 10-15lbs of body weight, add 30lbs to my back squat, and still have visible abs. The results: Weight Gain: Yes, 15lbs. Back Squat 1 Rep Max PR: No. Visible Abs: Yes. I then realized I needed to learn more about programming for strength. I already learned how to put on weight, and from previous training endeavors understood how to train for conditioning and getting better at bodyweight exercises, but I needed to truly learn how to get strong.
Gaining weight was the easy part, but what good is more bodyweight if you can’t move heavier weights on the barbell. After this second go around at bulking, here are the new takeaways:
It is possible to eat very clean and still gain weight.
The training program must be tailored to build strength in addition to muscle size.
Getting bigger doesn’t not always mean stronger. I for sure got bigger, but still moved the same weight I always had.
After starting up jiu jitsu again and competing in several tournaments with training goals geared toward building conditioning, maintaining strength and cutting weight for competitions, I knew it was time to bulk again. That is where Settlage Size & Strength was born. I wanted to seriously get BIG and be STRONG. To my surprise, I had made some serious strength gains while still cutting weight for jiu jitsu so I knew the new programming techniques and principles I applied were working. Now it was time to construct the best diet for me that allowed me to have enough fuel to train hard with the weights for two hours in the morning, roll hard in jiu jitsu for two hours in the evening, and still build size and strength. I researched many books, videos, articles, and interviews with some of the best coaches in powerlifting. Guys like Mark Bell, Chad Wesley Smith, Matt Wenning, Mike Israetel and Louie Simmons. After spending hours of studying, and creating draft after draft of the new program, I now had a new way of going about bulking. This time I was very specific in how I tracked my macronutrients, conscious of the program and the progressive overload that I followed as well as splitting the total six month program into two phases. The first three months were focused primarily on hypertrophy or muscle size. The last three month phase were all about strength. Here are the new principles of Settlage Size & Strength for my current hypertrophy phase:
Carbs: Start with 2g/lb of bodyweight. Once weight gain stalls for two weeks, increase carbs by .25g/lb of bodyweight. If weight gain becomes greater than 1-1.5lbs per week, cut back carbs by .25g/lb of bodyweight per week till proper rate of weight gain is established. I am currently around 2.15g/lb of bodyweight.
Protein: 1-1.5g/lb of bodyweight.
Fat: Keep majority of fat sources from healthy fat sources like olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, etc.
Personal Training Protocol:
Big 3 Exercises:
Squat every day. Each day being a different squat variation.
Drop sets for volume on Monday, Wednesday, & Friday.
Bench Monday & Thursday.
Deadlift Monday & Wednesday.
Accessory & bodybuilding exercises reflect the primary exercise for the day.
Of course there are many more intricacies and details to the program as far as rep schemes go and variations in volume from week to week, but this is the foundation of the program. In the 4 months I have been running this program on myself, I have seen amazing results! In the first 12 weeks I gained 10lbs of muscle, and achieved an unexpected 30lb PR on my back squat! I still have some abs and have kept excessive fat gain at bay. I still am able to do my bodyweight exercises and have plenty of conditioning for jiu jitsu. I must address the jiu jitsu though. The hard rounds of jiu jitsu acts as a great source of cardio that others doing this program might not have access to. I believe jiu jitsu has allowed me to gain weight and consume more calories than if I was not competing in jiu jitsu. Due to my higher levels of activity through jiu jitsu, I can afford to consume more calories. Although, this does come at a price. If I have a hard training session at jiu jitsu, sometimes my workout the following morning can suffer. I do my best to recover as optimally as possible, but sometimes it happens.
All that being said, if you are someone who is looking to gain weight and get stronger, I hope this article gave you some insight and new perspectives on gaining weight and building muscle. The last two years of bulking and cutting cycles have taught me so much. I learned a substantial amount about my body and how it responds to different training stimulus and nutrition protocols, as well as much more. My hope is that you can take these tips I found through my several bulking cycles and apply them to your own! Don’t stop there, join the conversation! If you have questions about bulking or building strength for sport or everyday life, DM me on Instagram (@joshuasettlage) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I am here to help, you. If you are interested in signing up for Settlage SIZE & STRENGTH, now is the time to do so! Registration is open till Sept. 3rd! I have seen some crazy results on this program and I am only 4 months in! Let’s put on SIZE & STRENGTH together!
The website I was originally so eager to flood with content, has been dryer than the Sahara Desert. At the time of starting up the website, I had just started a new full time semester of college as well as balancing three different jobs. To say I was busy just as I was eager is an understatement. I do not want this to be an excuse for absence. Although the things I had to do quickly took up most of my time compared to the things I wanted to do.
Tim Ferriss has stated several times that, “If you find yourself running out of time often, your priorities are not right.” From August to the beginning of December, my priorities were not right. I was being pulled in to many directions, stretched across educational goals, relationship maintenance, and financial necessity. At the turn of the new year, I was able to get all the hours need to meet my monthly minimum at one occupation. Thank you, Jesus. Not only did this help me save on gas, but it made life much simpler.
I do not intend for this post to be a concoction of stories about being stressed and fatigued. There are many people who are busier and more stressed than myself. I wanted to address that absence, and return to doing what I love doing. Lifting weights, and helping athletes be the best they can be through strength and conditioning.
I cannot promise that the website will be the most up to date and the most educational and user friendly site on sport specific strength and conditioning out there, but I can promise a substantial effort to provide the best content I can as frequently as I can.
So if you are reading this because of my Instagram post, thank you. Stay tuned. My personal workouts and training logs, client testimonials, nutritional advice and training programming is on its way.
As far as what is next, I decided it was time to set new goals and pursue new experiences. What started my athletic career was the martial arts. I trained in the art of Bok Fu underneath, Dave Marinoble for four years, as well as Jujitsu under Marinoble for 3 years. When I began wrestling year long in high school, I was no longer training with Marinoble.
After feeling the burn out of competitive high school wrestling and a over year long break from combative sports, I felt the itch to come back. The college I am at does not have a wrestling team, and I am not complaining. I wanted to get back to my first love. Jujitsu and Brazilian Jiujitsu.
The first week of the year I returned to Marinobles and signed up for their grappling programs. This is now my current competitive venture. Upon signing up I realized I have four weeks to train and get ready for their annual winter season tournament on February 4th, 21017.
After some changes to my current training program and schedule, I am ready to put the rubber to the road and prepare best I can for the tournament. Follow me and my daily workouts and updates on how training is going and what I am doing specifically to prepare. As of today, I am 24 days out, so in the words of Jocko Willink, it is time to GET AFTER IT.
It’s been nearly two weeks since I stepped off the stage in Lake Tahoe, NV. With the show being a thing of the past, I can now take a step back and analyze the amazing and refreshing experience.
As we were driving up to Lake Tahoe, NV I spent my time in the car to relax and not let my nerves act up. Once we got there we checked into the hotel and realized I forgot my NPC card at home (my mistake).
After scrambling with the computer in the business center of the hotel to print it out, I left to head to the male athlete briefing and registration. As soon as I walked in the door I was immediately thinking back to those classic scenes of “Pumping Iron” where enormous (at least from my point of view) muscle bound artists walk around with their Tupperware and chicken breast.
I still kept my 14-16 hour fast period, and added in carbs in the form of vegetables after spending the last 6 days with completely no carbs. I will say my body felt a lot better with the addition of carbs.
I tend to get nervous before competition and I could feel my stomach crawling up my esophagus. Even when I was filling out the liability form, my hand writing went to crap due to some slight shakes.
Once I was chilled out and registered and going back up to the room for some chicken, it was time to get my tan. I will just say I did not expect to look like Robert Downey Jr. In “Tropic Thunder”. It was pretty comical to have such a starkly different skin tone in 20 minutes.
After my tan I realized that my big sweats would help keep the tan off everything I touched, but the short sleeve shirt would not. 30 bucks later I had a big long sleeve shirt which would help prevent any smearing and getting orange on everything.
The last meal of the day included a banana, and several spoon fills of almond butter. Not so much that I had a overly full stomach, but just enough to fill me up. My water in the morning till lunch time was normal, after lunch I just cut my normal water intake by half. The end of the evening concluded rest and lots of sleep.
After a less than decent night’s sleep, it was time to start the carb up process. The carb up process is a tactic a lot of body builders use to fill their muscles with glycogen which in turn will give them a more fuller look.
The carb up process consisted of 10 Oreos right when I woke up and 10 more about an hour before I went on stage for prejudging. While I was waiting during prejudging I had some more chicken and a bell pepper to stay fueled and ready to pose.
The ladies went first, each striving to display figure as well as finesse followed by the men to show physique and power. I decided to go back stage several classes before mine to prepare and pump up. Little did I know that when i got back stage a loud female voice yelled, “We’re skipping intermission! Men’s Physique you’re up next!” My heart raced and I was freaking out. I quickly changed into my posing trunks and grabbed my band trying to pump up as quickly as possible with out getting out of breath. Thankfully the rest of the competition was in the same frenzy as I. When the super heavyweight bodybuilders filed off stage, I was filed in line behind the curtain praying that I would just hit my first pose smoothly with any noticeable rookie mistakes.
I said a short prayer before I walked out and turned on the “x” made in masking tape to proceed to the next “x” in front of the judges. I hit my front pose, and nerves disappeared. On to my back pose, then to my second front pose, and off to the side. I maintained composure and the best posing i could while the other competitors displayed their physique before the judges.
The time for first call outs came and my heart was relieved and thoroughly excited when they said they wanted to see me, #223. I went out for comparisons and when the judges said we could exit the stage, I knew I was hooked. All the workouts, early mornings, skipped cheat meals, and going to bed early paid off in an amazing experience which I am thirsty to have again.
Saturday Evening: The Night Show
After spending time with my family as well as my girlfriend and her family, it was time to return to the hotel for the night show. Things were moving along quickly. Competitors would come out, hit one pose, receive their medals and then file off to enjoy the donuts provided by the promoter backstage. Now it was time for the physique competitors and bodybuilders to all perform their posing routine… After probably 30 routines deep I was ready to leave. I was hungry, anxious, and wanting the anticipation to be over. It reminded me of what is was like to have one more wrestling match for the tournament and having to wait sometimes an hour and 45 minutes before you step onto the mat. The anticipation for the big hurrah sometimes can be mind numbing and progressively lethal.
After upwards of 30 more posing routines, I went back stage to pump up. Properly this time. I grabbed my band, tucked my self in a corning dodging more neon workout bands, and dumbbells. The wait seemed like forever for my class to be called, but in due time it was finally called for. I was back behind the same curtain I was during the morning prejudging. This time the nerves were gone and I could distinctly hear the crowd and the music. The facilitator in back told me i was good to go and I walked and turned on that first “X”. It was at that moment I knew I was hooked and already wanted to start training for another show. I took third place in my class, and was so thankful for that awesome experience. The support from all my friends and family was such a huge part of that experience. People to wait out the long prejudging night show and travel with me was something incredibly special, so thank you Mom, Dad, Rilee, Caleb, Burke, and Angel.
I know i have a lot to work on, but I am so incredibly excited to build up those weaknesses and step on stage again. Training for next year begins now.
Nearly four weeks out from the Tahoe Show on August 27th in Lake Tahoe, California.
Wake time: 4:15am, total of 7 hours of sleep.
Morning weight: 157.6. Its a little higher than what I wanted today, but its all good. I should be back on track by Saturday.
Workout: Got to the gym at 5:15am. Did CoryGFitness; #GetStacked 11- Back Squat and Shoulders. Lunged 400m with a 40lb backpack, then 400m more just body weight. Normally I just do 800m with just bodyweight. The added vest was such a brutal and rude awakening. Did some lower back and abs to finish it off.
Meal #1: After a 14 hour fast, I had I piece of grilled chicken breast with 1 red bell pepper that was sautéed with onions in olive oil, with a side of a whole avocado and some almonds. Been sipping on water all day so far. Snacked on some almonds after that.
Meal #2: Chipotle bowl with double black beans, double veggies, double chicken, hot salsa, and a side of guac.
PM Carb Spike: 2 bananas with Adam’s peanut butter on each bite, and a few pieces of grilled cauliflower.