Sunday, 9 March 2014

Interview - Physique Prep Coach Shelby Starnes

Hey Guys,

Today I am Talking to Shelby Starnes.

Shelby is a Bodybuilding prep coach based over in the USA.

I have been lucky enough to talk to Shelby before (you can find that HERE) and review his latest eBook The Healthy Body Builder which you can find HERE.

Shelby is a great guy with a fantastic reputation of getting his clients in shape with great condition. 

Here is what he had to say!

Hi Shelby,

Thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

1    Since we last talked you achieved one of your goals of obtaining a pro card. Has your out look to your training and nutrition altered at all?

I’m constantly striving to improve my methods, but I’m getting close to my personal “ceiling effect” in terms of how much better my physique can get. It took me 7 years at the national level to finally turn pro, and that was at a Master’s show. I’ll be 37 this year and the gains have certainly slowed down – every year they get a little slower, even with improved diet and training methods. At this point I’m just looking for ways to improve my longevity in the sport so I can stay healthy and continue competing for another handful of years. This involves stuff like smarter training methodologies, less fluctuation in body weight during the year, and keeping a close eye on health markers on a regular basis.
My focus now is more on being a coach than a competitor.

2.     With you recent eBook The Healthy Body Builder, you cover some off these methods extensively (especially in regards to health). What specific ones have you found that work best for you personally and what would you recommend to people in Europe and the UK that don't have easy access to blood tests on a regular basis, regular health check etc?

Blood pressure is the most important to keep an eye on. It’s a smart move to get your own blood pressure monitor so you can check it regularly. Make sure you get a large cuff one if you’re carrying much muscle – a cuff that’s too tight will give an incorrect reading. After blood pressure, the big ones to pay attention to are lipids, liver and kidney values, and RBCs. I would recommend figuring out a way to get these checked at least twice a year. C-reactive protein is another cool one I like to get, it’s an indicator of inflammation levels in the body.

3.     One of Clients Jamie Pinder recently took to the Olympia stage and looked phenomenal. Many female competitors have a hard time getting really lean and losing the last bit of fat on the glutes and quads. Any tips for the people out there?

Thanks for the compliment! Jamie is one of the hardest working clients I have and I was very happy with the look she achieved this year. She isn’t a naturally lean person so to get that look took a ton of dedication and sacrifice, for an extended period of time. One method that works extremely well for helping females get lean is high intensity interval cardio. I often have Jamie do 15 to 18 minutes of high intensity sprint intervals, directly followed by 20 to 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio.  This is a great way to etch in detail, assuming diet and other factors are in line.

4.     You’re known as a coach that doesn’t use fancy diets or techniques to get people into shape, but rather as a man who relies on solid principles to achieve the best conditioning possible. How (if at all) has this changed over the years? Are they things that you have abandoned or revised?

Any good coach is constantly learning and revising their methods to help their clients and athletes achieve their best. All the time I’m adding new tools to my toolbox, by way of new training methods and exercises (thanks John Meadows), nutrition science advances, new supplements, etc.  I haven’t abandoned any methods, but I’m always adding new ones to my toolbox.
With that said though, the biggest factor in progress will always be hard, intelligent work. We always want to make the most of our efforts though: science and experience help accomplish that.

5.     In your opinion, what are the biggest changes you have seen in regard to the science of nutrition, have had the biggest impact in the last 5 years on health and all round performance?

Definitely the advances in peri-workout nutrition. Improved nutrient timing is helping tons of people have better workouts and recover from them more quickly

6.     Cardio is a funny subject in the industry. Some say that LISS is a waste of time and cardio needs to be short and fast, while other think that LISS is a great way to increase calorific expenditure while not taxing recovery. As athletes (especially fighters) schedules are already pretty damn full, adding extra cardio can be a pain on the time wallet not to mention further taxing the system. How do you go about setting cardio up for clients with varying schedules?

For those with a busy schedule, HIIT cardio is definitely the way to go.  I wouldn’t go nuts with it though – 3 to 4 sessions per week would be a max. Additional calories could be pulled from the diet, if needed.

7.     While it is highly individual, do you add cardio in at the beginning with the majority of clients?

If they are overweight and looking for fast results, cardio is usually part of the initial plan. If they are getting ready for a competition and are relatively lean to begin with, I wait to add cardio until it’s needed. I especially wait if we have a long time line to play with (i.e. a contest that’s 20 weeks away, versus 8 weeks away).

8.     I have found that having some clients do low impact cardio has a real positive effect on their results, especially when it comes to metabolism etc. Do you think that cardio is beneficial for most people even if they aren't looking for a massive calorie burn? 

Its health benefits cannot be denied.  If you’re looking to gain as much muscle as possible in the shortest time frame possible though, cardio should probably be limited. That’s not necessarily the healthiest approach though.

9.     Micronutrients are often something that fighters over look during their diet prep, especially towards the end, and many suffer for it. Is there anything that you like to add to your clients nutrition plans to cover the bases or do you focus on it right through the prep?

I recommend using a variety of whole food sources, and when dieting “hardcore” (hypocaloric for an extended period of time), a fruit and veggie supplement (like Biotest Superfoods) is probably a wise addition, as well as a multi-vitamin / multi-mineral. Those that really want to know if their bases are covered should look into micronutrient testing (

10. As a man who has not only tried just about every supplement out there, plus advised people from average Joe's right up to Olympians, are they any brands out there that you recommend? Obviously supplements are just that, but everyone knows some brands present a more honest opinion of what people can achieve and what they products actually provide.

I’m sponsored by 360CUT nutrition, and also Truenutrition.  I wouldn’t be associated with either of these companies if I didn’t believe their products are what they say they are, and provide a good bang for your buck. Others I use are NOW brand (mainly for health related stuff) and Puritans Pride.

Thanks for your time Shelby!

You can find Shelby and contact him through his site HERE

Stay Healthy,


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