A blog by the Next Level  2013 Advancement Team.  

This blog provides the insight, in-jokes and inspiration of a team in action.  Each post is by a team member as their journey continues.  

In The Next Level, an "Advancement Team" is a team built of experienced athletes designed to "advance" the program.  The spring 2013 Advancement Team is comprised of eight men: Tom Keon, Phil Cohen, Stephen Cyr, Seth Carbonneau, Stephen Forgione. Phil Biondo, Yarza Winn and Chris Noonan.  

Each post represents only the views of it's poster, and is not intended as a reflection of the opinions, views or beliefs of any other teammate, the team as a whole or The Next Level.  

Follow these men as they make their marks on a small corner of history.


Reason number 999999 why I LOVE bodybuilding/physique/strength sports

In my opinion bodybuilding/physique/strength sports are the best and most difficult sports in the world, and that's why I LOVE them so.

What is so beautiful about these sports is that they are constantly evolving and that's because the athletes within them are always learning and pushing forward looking for new ways to be bigger leaner stronger and so on(at least the good ones are).

The area that has the most questions as well as the most discussion is nutrition.  No matter how much you think you know, there is always tons more to find and read about.

A perfect example of this happened to me Monday night during our weekly Advancement Team meeting, we were talking about diet and I brought up frustration about my carb sources and wanting to find new carbs to spice up my routine. This alerted my coach Christian Matyi to a flaw in my diet that I never knew existed, PH balance of my foods (alkaline vs acidic).

I've dieted for years and have been pursuing bodybuilding for the last two and have had never heard to need for PH balance in the diet and its affect of the overall amount of leanness I may or may not have.

That being said I am very excited to have a new wrinkle in my diet and can't wait to see what this new bit of knowledge will do for me and what the next flaw in my diet turns out to be and how I'm able to grow and learn from it.

Attached is the before and after of my attempt to be more balanced and green friendly in my diet

posted by Stephen Forgione

Awesome Hybrid Athlete

This dude is a beast. I mean his achievements in both Strongman and Bodybuilding are just astounding. While there are no listed wins under bodybuilding, he is still shredded and def competed at a high level.

This just goes to show, steroids aside, that it is possible to be a world class athlete in multiple disciplines.

It can be done.
The gauntlet has been laid down.

First person to place 1st in both strongman and bodybuilding wins.

Posted by: Stephen Cyr


posted by Stephen Cyr

What Gets Me Going?

Inspiration. It's that little voice inside our heads that constructs the vision or the ideal we are striving for. It's like a stomach, and when properly fed and fueled it can help us push beyond what we believed ourselves to be capable of.

People always throw out diet and gym work as being the two major components of bodybuilding. With silly quotes like “it 90% diet bro,” or “bodybuilding breaks down 75% diet 25% effort.” (I'm sure everyone that subscribes to these numerical divisions has strong scientific support to back it up.)

But it's not the work nor the diet that gets you in the gym. There is no chicken or the egg debate in bodybuilding. Before the journey can begin there must first be inspiration.

Inspiration is not stagnant or singular; it evolves as we do: a subconscious coach that speaks to our inner most desires. Whether the inspiration drives your love for fitness, bodybuilding, strongman – or doing taxes.  Inspiration is an intangible well of resources that is rarely tapped in order to ascend whichever of life’s ladders you choose to climb.

So my point in all this is that while inspiration is unique to each of us, there might be a chance that by sharing what inspires us, may inspire the others on this team. So I am gonna go through what my favorite lead up to a workout is, and what gets me in the mood to train hard.

First off, I don’t like to eat within an hour of going to the gym. Getting a solid meal in before that hour period is usually the best. Something with both carbs and protein and low in fat. Once that hour hits my internal starts automatically telling me to start getting in the mood.

That mood starts with the clothes, putting on however many layers of gym rat clothes I own. Then the next thing is (if I have the time) to throw on some YouTube videos of bodybuilding, or famous speeches, or any sort of motivational thing. I let that play while I pack up my bag with my post workout protein, and whatever things I need for the gym.

As I watch the video and pack my stuff, I can feel my body waking up. I start to imagine the feeling of the gym; the enjoyment I am going to receive from the workout and the steps I will be taking on the timeline that I have laid before myself. As these external areas of interest move into focus, thoughts about the next contest, my current training plan, my current diet (or lack there of) all come into view.  

Yet along with all that I never lose track of recalling the base enjoyment I've always received from lifting. It is so strong sometimes I have to remind myself that I need a plan going in and that I can’t simply run in and throw some weight around without any sort of direction.

I train to maintain a balance between my frenzy and my plan. This doesn’t always work out perfectly; sometimes I don’t have time to do half or any of these things.

So what are some of the things that get you pumped for the gym? Is it the clothes you wear, the music you listen to (my favorite is Black Sabbath), the videos you watch or something you think about?

Lets share what inspires us and see if we can inspire one another.

Ego Maniac!

posted by Phil Biondo

This is my first blog post ever, so while it will most likely not go down in history, but I am meanwhile not afraid to go down.  Which brings me to this weeks topic: Girls in the gym.

More specifically: when I enter the gym, should I check my ego at the door and only lift appropriate max weights?  Or should I let my ego run wild, as usual, and use the possibility of hooking up with the bikini model in the elliptical to push myself past my normal max weights?

Most days I would tell you to check your ego at the door. In fact I often make fun of guys trying to impress some mildly fit female, as if that extra 10 lbs. is the deciding factor in wether or not she lets you in her pants. Most days i'm so focused in the gym I wouldn't even notice Kim Kardashian doing squats right next to me. Having said this I myself earlier this week was a victim of my own ego.

During my weekly sets of dead lifts to start off back day, otherwise known as OMG my lats are huge day! I started off light with a couple warmup sets(135x10, 225x10). Then two sets to failure(315x10, 405x8). Then finally finished with a one rep max where I tied my PR of 500 lbs. That's right 500 lbs., I was impressed too.

Unfortunately this testosterone high only lasted a couple seconds until a very attractive female walked up to me flirtatiously, wearing a midriff tank designed to prominently display her lower back tat (tramp-stamp/), along with the tightest booty shorts in the world.

But then things shifted.  This smoke show proceeded to call me a, "P#$$y" for ONLY lifting 500 lbs. when she had clearly seen me already lift that same weight the previous week. 

It was at this point I probably should have listened to my extremely sore back, and told her to go back to her Zumba class. Instead I decided to impress her by throwing on another 10 lbs. on the bar.

Half way through that lift, I could feel something start to tear...

To make a long story short I now have a new dead lift PR of 510 lbs. but have not been able to lift or stand up strait for the last five days.

I'll leave it up to you to decide: is an ego a positive tool for bodybuilders?  Or just a reason to have a chiropractor on speed dial?