Frank McGrath on Paleo Diets and Recovering From Injury

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QUESTION

A lot of guys at my gym are really into this new Paleo diet. Have you heard of it and what do you think about it for a bodybuilder?

ANSWER

I’ve heard about it—you have to eat like a caveman, nothing processed, nothing refined because cavemen didn’t have Tim Hortons or Hot Pockets. Our ancestors hunted and gathered all day—they didn’t sit at a computer. So I’m not really sure how a diet made for humans who spent all day foraging for food applies to our modern society, but it’s probably not a bad idea if it makes the average person take a closer look at their diet. I don’t think Paleo is good for a bodybuilder, though, because it’s too restrictive. It doesn’t allow for peanuts, oatmeal, dairy, beans, and several other foods that are essential for building muscle. I’m gonna stick to what has worked for bodybuilders for the past 70 or so years. If it’s not broken, don’t change it!

QUESTION

I see a lot of guys using those foam roller things at the gym. Is that something you’d recommend for bodybuilders?

ANSWER

I never believed in them until I tried it. It hurts like a son of a bitch but it works. I have religiously been using the foam roller on my lower back and legs, and it’s made a huge difference. It’s helped alleviate my lower-back pain and also helped my legs grow by loosening the muscles so I can recover quicker and keep squatting heavy. I’m having less pain in my knees as well, probably because my quads are feeling better. The foam roller breaks up the muscle adhesions almost as good as a deep tissue massage and for a lot less money, except you have to be disciplined and do it a lot for it to work well. I think all athletes should do it, even bodybuilders. Breaking down the muscle tightness promotes growth and helps you stay injury-free.

QUESTION

When you tore your triceps, then had your car accident, what were the biggest things you learned about how to recover and come back from an injury?

ANSWER

I started back at the gym slowly and had to patiently learn to train smarter, not harder. Everyone thinks you need to go as heavy as you can all the time. It’s ingrained in us bodybuilders. I still believe in heavy weights, but I learned that there are benefits to training a little lighter and getting the muscle pumped with a lot of blood from very high reps. FST-7 was one technique that helped in that case. I also get a lot of work done on my body now, something I never did before. I was never big into deep-tissue massage or foam rollers but those things help a lot. The biggest thing I learned is how to listen to my body. If it hurts, don’t do it. There is always a way to work around it. FLEX

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