Battle Of The BULK! (with Chris Pantano & Nick Bennett)

Oct 29 2015

Any athlete will tell you continuous success requires continuous improvements. For a competitive bodybuilder, most drastic improvements happen in the offseason.

Why? Caloric surplus. Taking in more calories than expended allows the body to recover faster and increase size, strength, and new muscle tissue. So what’s the best way for a bodybuilder to approach their offseason? Herein lies the debate… “Keep it clean!”... “Eat until it hurts!”...”Stay close to stage weight!”... “Get HUGE at all costs!” Some of the many pieces of advice tossed around by current and former athletes. We met with team IFN Brand Ambassadors Chris Pantano & Nick Bennett to pick their brains on the matter. After all, both approach their offseason completely different! Read to find out more: 

- Chris Pantano -

I like to get heavy in the offseason, well over stage weight. To me, you get what you put in. Look at top IFBB professional bodybuilders...Kai Greene, Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates, Marcus Ruhl...the list goes on and on...the world’s greatest bodybuilders routinely get huge in the offseason. Why? To make large improvements. For me, the goal is: hit the mass and size I want. Once I do that I can then refine and not get so fat. My favorite example, Jay Cutler. At the start of his career he would get very heavy, very huge in the offseason. He grew each year. His last few years, did not get so huge. He kept a refined/quality size to his physique. I started at 120 pounds desperately trying to get BIGGER! In 2012 I scaled in at  263 pounds at 5’6. That is my heaviest weight ever! It wasn’t pretty but come show time I was 20 pounds bigger and approach worked! I follow this approach every year. It works for me. I am stronger, recover faster, less injury prone, and keep my body in an anabolic state necessary to GROW! 

What is your offseason workout split? 
Monday: Shoulders & Calves
Tuesday: Biceps & Triceps
Wednesday: Off day or Light Cardio (To stimulate appetite)
Thursday: Back & Traps
Friday: Chest
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Quads and Hamstring

**I train abs 2-3x per week
***I do fasted cardio 1-3x per week (light pace) to help increase my appetite. 

What is your favorite bodypart to train during the offseason?
Easy question... legs. I love the mentality I have to be in before I train Legs. It is unlike any feeling in the world that you get in the gym. Something special happens when there hundreds of pounds strapped to your upper back and the only way to going down... is up. Do or die! It’s the workout that separates the REAL lifters from the weekend warriors. The MEN from the BOYS!

What is your leg workout?
- Leg extensions: 3 sets of 25 reps
- Barbell Squats: 2 sets of 15 reps (warm up) 10 sets of  6-8 reps (increase weight each set)
- Bulgarian Split Squats: 4 sets of 15 reps to failure 
- Leg Press or Hack Squats: 4 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Walking Barbell Lunges: 3 sets to failure (135lbs on back)

*Squats I work my way up to 585 to 635 pounds for final set of 6-8 reps
**Progressive resistance is extremely important with Leg Press/Hack Squats. I never jump right into heavy sets. I always pyramid my way to MAX weight! 

What does your offseason diet look like?
Meal 1: 6oz steak, 3 whole eggs, 12oz white potato, water, 1 cup coffee
Meal 2: 8oz chicken, 1.5 cups white rice, 1.5 cups spinach, 2 tbsp natural peanut butter or ½ avocado 
Meal 3: 8oz chicken, 1.5 cups white rice, 1.5 cups spinach, 2 tbsp natural peanut butter or ½ avocado 
Meal 4 (Preworkout): 6oz chicken, 1 cup white rice, 8 oz white potato, 1/3 cup raisins
Meal 5 (Post workout): 1 scoop Isotean, 1 serving of Mass Gainz
Meal 6: 4oz steak, 4oz chicken or turkey, 1 small salad (Any dressing, usually Italian) 12 oz white potato. 
Meal 7: 2.5 scoops Protean and 4 tbsp natural almond or peanut butter. 

Cheat Meals: In the offseason I have 3 cheat meals per week. My standard cheat meals are the following…

Cheat Meal #1 (Breakfast Food): French Toast, Pancakes, Chicken & Waffles, Steak Tips, Bacon + Shredded Potatoes.  It’s not uncommon for me to spend $40-50 at an IHOP. 

Cheat Meal #2 (Sushi): I like having this meal post workout. I eat 50-100 pieces in one sitting. The “all you can eat buffets” do not like my friends and I when we show up!!! (laughs)

Cheat Meal #3 (Pizza): This meal, generally, is Sunday after leg day. I eat anywhere from 1-3 medium pizzas from dominos. I know what you are thinking… it’s not the best pizza. I know... but, it’s a childhood memory. It’s what we had in our town growing up. I keep it simple...I go with the following 1) Cheese 2) Pepperoni 3) Hamburger, Pepper, Onion... all the food groups in one sitting. It’s a beautiful thing!

*These are my go-to cheats meals. I alternate these with the occasional burger, burrito bowl from chipotle, or whatever I am craving that day. 

**Mix it up. Monotony is never a good thing. Offseasons are meant to be fun. So do it... Have fun!

What does your offseason supplement stack look like?
I use all iFORCE Nutrition in the offseason to maximize GAINS! utilize a lot of iforce Nutrition’s Supplements when in offseason and when dieting. Here is what I do in offseason. 

Upon Waking: 15g Glutamine, 2 scoops Lemon Drop Compete (Starts recovery/hydration)
Preworkout: 1 Scoop Maxout + 1 Scoop Hemavo2 Max + 1 Scoop Beta Alanine 
Intra workout: 5g Creaplex + 5g Glutamine +2 Scoops Compete 
Post workout: 1 Scoop Isotean + 1 serving Chocolate Mass Gainz + 10g glutamine
Before bed: 3 Pills ZMA + 2 Pills Out Cold + 3 Pills Tropinol XP + 15g Glutamine

- Nick Bennett-

I like to stay close to stage weight in the offseason. I don’t feel the need to get too heavy. My body can only produce so much muscle tissue at once. So what’s the point of getting fat?

Also, it allows me to see changes in the mirror season round. My diet, training, supplement stack will be adjusted according to what I see in the mirror. I cannot critique myself to the best of my ability if I cannot see definition in my muscles. This method is not for everyone but it’s what works best for me. 

What is your offseason workout split? 
Monday: Chest | Tuesday: Legs | Wednesday: Back & Biceps | Thursday: Shoulders & Triceps
Friday: Chest & Leg Pump (2 exercises at 200 reps) | Saturday: Off | Sunday: Off

What is your favorite bodypart to train during the offseason?
My favorite bodypart to train in the offseason, without question, is arms. Love love love the massive pump I get from only ONE set of an exercise. It is the only bodypart I have that gets pumped SO quickly. Also, I hold the least bodyfat in my arms. The skin is most thin there. The vascularity I get is incredible... it is addicting to see!

What is your favorite arm workout?
My favorite arm workout looks like this. All super sets...NO BREAKS!!!!
- Superset Tricep Rope Pressdowns/Bicep Rope Curls-
- 1st Superset: 50 Reps/50 Reps
- 2nd Superset: 40 Reps/40 Reps
- 3d Superset: 30 Reps/30 Reps
- 4th Superset: 20 Reps/20 Reps
- 5th Superset: 10 Reps/10 Reps

***Change weight when needed. (Reps near end of rep count should be very difficult, change appropriately) 

Superset Cable EZ Bar Pressdown/EZ Bar Curls-
- 1st Superset: 10 Reps/10 Reps
- 2nd Superset: 20 Reps/20 Reps
- 3d Superset: 30 Reps/30 Reps
- 4th Superset: 40 Reps/40 Reps
- 5th Superset: 50 Reps/50 Reps
***Same instructions as above (Hint: Ez Bar allows you to move more weight than the rope)

What does your offseason diet look like?
I aim to get 1.75-2 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. I do not measure carbs or fats in the offseason. I just make sure to keep carbs clean from the following: jasmine rice, brown rice, any form of potatoes. I dislike the “sloppy” look in my offseason. I dictate my progress by the mirror. If I start to look off I cut back a carb meal or 2 until I get to where I want to be. I cheat once a week and eat whatever I want. Usually that meal looks like an “all you can eat sushi” joint or the Vegas, know...the good stuff (laughs).

What does your offseason supplement stack look like?
IPre Workout: 1 Scoop IFN Max Out + 1 Scoop IFN HemaV02 Max 
Intraworkout: 1-2 Scoops IFN Compete 

I do not take testosterone boosters in the offseason. I let the calories work for me. Most disagree with my approach, as they feel more calories + test booster = more gains. That works for most people but that does not work for me. I take testosterone boosters when I am pre contest. I stack Tropinol XP with Intimidate SRT. This stack is the best when cutting calories. I lose ZERO muscle, put on strength, and get the hard, dense, shredded look that I love!


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