Ask The Experts - Brian Cannone

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Brian CannoneBrian Cannone

Event Organizer Brian Cannone is a Bodybuilding, Fitness, Bikini, and Model Promoter. He is a Health Club Chain Regional Manager, Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Consultant since 1991. Have a question about entering the event, buying tickets, exhibiting at the Fitness Expo?

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Q: I'm 16 years old and 120 lbs. I've been exercising (gym, weights, abdominal exercises, running) every day for the past four months or so. and I have noticed a change in my stomach and legs.

I have calculated my Resting Metabolic Rate on several websites and many place it anywhere from 1300 to 1350. However, when I go to calculate my recommended caloric intake based on my daily activities, it reaches about 1800.

This is a significant difference. I want to continue to gain muscle, so I don't know if eating my RMR will allow that, since that is like the minimum number of calories to survive.

I do not want to jump into 1800 calories a day, as that may cause significant weight gain since I am eating currently about 1390 calories a day.

So which amount should I eat? The 1300 or the 1800 to gain muscle?

Ask Brian

A: Excellent question for anyone to ask let alone a 16 year old - most people would just eat more and hope it works!

At first I'm guessing your a guy because more guys write about gaining muscle and if so anything under 2,000 calories for a male is very low - but at 120lbs I'm thinking maybe your a girl - if your a girl most women are in that range of 1400 so that sounds right.

If your calories are too low slowly build them up and use the scale and bodyfat measurements as your guide - but yes, too low and regardless you could gain more bodyfat if you have been straving yourself.

Slowly make your changes and keep track of what you are doing. It does require 3500 calories a week - which means 500 additional calories a day to gain a pound of muscle.

- Brian


Q: Hey Brian, I am 27 years old, 5 foot 10 inches, and 205 pounds. I am an avid sportsman, and am pretty much in great physical condition, the only place I have any fat/flab, being my chest and stomach. I have solid muscle everywhere else, my arms, legs, back, shoulders, everywhere. I have been active every single day of my life for the last 20 years, playing sport everyday. I play upto 2 hours of competitive squash each day, and still find myself not losing any weight. I am not interested in building muscle, or definition, just wanted to know if there is anything in specific I can do to lose my stomach and chest? I am not a weight kinda guy, and am not interested in going to the gym, although I do ab crunches 3 times a week of late. Please help me out with stuff I can do. Thanks...

A: Well, you cannot spot reduce body fat and a example I share with people is this (If you chewed gum all day your jaw doesn't get smaller) and what I mean by that is if you do situps and pushups there isn't a whole lot going to happen as far as results.

People also avioding weights also do rubber band workouts and blow up ball workouts don't see the same type of results as you would by doing a regular bench press and some weighed decline sit-ups. Resistance training works best if you have added resistance instead of just bodyweight, or a rubber band or ball. If you really want to see a fast change in your appearance do some weight training as it works the best and fastest.

The next thing is your nutrition - you should know how many calories you are eating on a regular basis. Have you always held body fat in your stomach and chest or has it happened recently and did your diet change? If you are not doing 5-6 small balanced meals each day you can speed up your metabolism by doing that.

Weight training and diet that is what you need if you keep doing 2 hours os sports - when you stop doing sports do some cardio exercise - but don't aviod the weights and make your nutrition into smaller meals and eat every 3-4 hours.

- Brian


Q: Brian -

I am 20 years old, 5'6'' and 130 pounds, and have been lifting weights for about a year and a half. I just got serious about lifting weights about 6 months ago. I have no medical conditions that I know of. Currently, I don't play any sports, but I'm planning on getting back into tennis when the weather gets better.

I am very dedicated toward reaching the body I want, so with fulltime classes, I am prepared to put fourth about 10 hours a week to fitness and cardio. My ultimate goals is to put on a lot of muscle mass and have a minimal amount of fat.

Ask Brian I currently eat about 4-5 meals a day, each one consisting of about 20-40 grams of protein, ( I use a lot of high quality protein from, and I try to eat them about 3 hour apart. I am very strict with my diet, I only eat whole grain organic bread, oatmeal, flax seed, fish oil, multivitamins, fat free yogurt, etc. I can't remember the last time I had pizza, besides some that I made with whole grain crust and fat free cheese. I don't cheat and eat ice cream or candy because I am very dedicated.

My current routine is Day 1: Legs, Day 2: Chest, Day 3: Arms, Day 4: back and core. I repeat the cycle and usually have one rest day a week. My workouts are usually about 45 minutes a day.

Legs: I do 3 sets of quads at (one leg at a time) 70x 8, 75x5, 80x3/// 3 sets of Hams 10x80, 6X85, 4x90/// Squats (just started) 110X 12, 130x8, 150x5/// sitting calf raises (machine) 125X 15, 12, 8

Chest: Incline 45 degree bench with dumbbells 55x 10, 6,4/// Decline with dumbbells 55x 12,9,6// Pushups with good form and wide grip 16 reps and 12 reps

Back and Core: Obliques, side bends with one dumbbell 50x15, 55x24,60x20///Lat pull down, 125x10,8,4///Bent over rows with dumbbells 30x 10,7,5// Abs with pulley and kneeling down: 100x15, 110x15, 120x 8

Arms: Triceps: Pulley tricep pull down with rope, 110x 12, 120x 6,4, 110x4///biceps (inner) close hand grip with curl bar, concentrated curls on inlclined rest, 45+bar x10,6,4///outer bi's (wide spread grip) 25+ bar x 9,6,4.. Then I do forced negative with the concentrated bicep curls 35 pound dumbbells, 8 reps, Then 10 x pull-ups and 8 x dips

Every workout I do I try to go one more rep than I did the previous time I worked that muscle. Usually I do increase by one rep. Once I reach 12 reps for a muscle, I add weight and proceed until I hit 12 reps again and keep continuing with that cycle.

Q: My question is that, I have done a lot of research online in what seemed like respectable web sites. And have found that in order to achieve good muscle gains, it is necessary to eat more calories than you burn. However, when I did this, I noticed that I gained weight, but I was still achieving just one more rep each workout for a muscle. I am assuming that I just gained fat. I also noticed that when I just ate 3 meals a day, I was achieving the same 1 rep gain for a muscle group, than when I switched to 6 meals a day, and then I was still achieving 1 rep increases for a muscle group when I boosted up my calories for those 6 meals in order to take in more calories than burned. So what is the point of eating that many calories if it seems like I'm getting the same results? Are my results of increasing 1 rep for a muscle group optimal gains? Do you see anything major or minor that I'm doing wrong, that could help me put on more muscle mass?

Thanks for all the help!

Roger Acharya

Ask Brian A: Hi Roger,

If you are not noticing the results you want there could be a few factors.

First thing is realize that even if your program was perfect the most you are likely to grow would be 10 pounds of muscle a year. Remember that is less than a pound each month. 12 months and only 10 pounds of muscle and if you loose fat it is even less on a scale and you may even drop weight.

Next thing is workout intensity - are you really pushing yourself to the best of your ability. Are your sets going to failure or could you move more weight than you are doing? You may not be giving it your all and not even realizing it. What I recommend is either hiring a personal trainer or getting a workout partner. Even finding the right person to train with may take a while.

I really don't see anything major going wrong for you from this email - (one thing I would eliminate is the side bends for obliques and replace it with knee raises for lower abdominals since obliques is not an area you want to build).

What you need to do is add up all your calories and see if you are eating the same calories everyday - then try and figure out how many calories you burn 1. RMR - Resting Metabolic Rate (calories at rest based on your lean body mass) 2. How many calories from your occupation 3. Your workout calories - you can estimate how many calories you want to eat a day and see the results - like say for example 3,000 and break down the percentages of Pro, Carb, fat into a healthy diet plan experiment and make adjustments - if you are eating that healthy and training hard at your age you should see some type of results - shoot for loosing more bodyfat as you will see more results when you look into the mirror then start increasing calories slowly to but on some muscle and remember it is less than a pound a month.

It is a lot of work but stay determined because at age 23 if you stay at it you will add a lot of muscle - give it time.

- Brian

Q: How did you become involved in the field and running your show?

Bodybuilding PromoterA: I started running bodybuilding shows in 1993 and even then the bodybuilding market was few and far between. I ran "natural" shows and these events were know for the beginner type of show at the time I was running the AAU shows sanctioned by Amateur Athletic Union and they focused on youth sports and offered 52 different sports and their most popular sport was basketball. The AAU wasn't always a natural organization and was the first organization to offer Physique as a sport before steroids became available. The AAU had good titles including the Mr. USA and the most popular Mr. America but as steroids became known as illegal drugs the AAU started a doping program, which was testing for steroids through urine testing.

Most of the titleholders of the Mr. America used performance-enhancing drugs, as the title Mr. America was then what today's standards of holding the Mr. Olympia title as the winner was then invited into the IFBB, which didn't have an amateur division at that time. In that time frame the AAU decided to become drug free and the IFBB also started the NPC, as it's amateur affiliate. Many AAU promoters went over to the NPC sanction so the AAU was in the middle without a large following and the increased spending on drug testing and the fact that many people competing in Physique were older then the other sports the AAU offered they decided to end the sport of Physique in 1998. The ANBC at the time had the largest natural following since it pushed "natural for life" and got away from people who used steroids and got off just before the scheduled drug testing.

So from 1993 until 1998 I ran the AAU Mr./Ms. Connecticut and the show was limited to only Connecticut residents so I always promoted on a grass roots level. I was taught by the former promoter to keep spending to a minimum and try and find local sponsors. The goal was to find 40-50 people to compete and we did this by making posters (that I joke looked like Chinese food menus) and drive to every gym and health food center in Connecticut and ask to post them. Most fitness centers didn't allow posters of bodybuilding shows to be hung up as they didn't want that type of clientele working out at their clubs so I stayed away from corporate chains like Bally's and went to the mom and pop type of old school gyms. Getting 40-50 beginning bodybuilders took hard work, as most needed help with posing and dieting so I ran weekend clinics to help people. My final show with the AAU in 1998 had 60 locals and the shows always had good spectator attendance as the local new bodybuilders always had most of their friends and families attend. The venues usually held about 500 people and would fill up.

Q: For years bodybuilding has been so popular, what caused the recent interest in bikini and figure for women?

In the 1980's through 1990's aerobic classes were very popular and there was an aerobic competition that was televised and became somewhat popular and it was also popular overseas. In the states a promoter started the Ms. Fitness competition, which took some of the aerobic competition style and added a swimsuit and evening gown round and it was also televised. There were a few televised bodybuilding shows when ESPN started and a monthly show named "American Muscle" was a magazine style show which featured different bodybuilders and contests produced by American Sports Network which started the Musclemania tour and the ESPN producers asked for another show for women's fitness and that started the Ms. Fitness America Pageant (which later dropped the Ms from the name) in 1998 and was televised on ESPN and this started the interest in Fitness Pageants.

An organization named NABBA started Figure first, which was a toned down version of women's bodybuilding but their version allowed thongs, and the women did posing routines with open hands in heels. Female bodybuilding interest was low and the NPC started their version of Figure in 2001 and it was a huge success. Between 1998 and 2001 Fitness America Pageant Nationals were getting about 100 women in the contests. In 2001 many fitness programs were cut from the ESPN schedule and the Fitness America Pageant created the Ms. Bikini America to allow women to participate in a pageant without performing a two-minute fitness routine. Ms Bikini has two rounds which are two-piece swimsuit and sportswear this added division has made the numbers of athletes in Fitness America Pageant become lower since the fitness routine was so demanding and the women needed to practice dance, gymnastics, cheerleading and strength moves to perform routines. Now with Fitness America Pageant and Ms. Bikini America the numbers at the national event are close to 200 women combined.

Q: How do these areas differ from bodybuilding?

A: Ms Bikini and Fitness America Pageant are much more accepted by the public due to the fact that the women are very feminine and the shows are run as pageants with t-walks. The women are in shape and toned but the more muscle they carry and the more lean they become the more the public doesn't accept the extreme conditioning. Since Fitness America Pageant was started as a television show it was important to adjust to the public, as the ratings were always important to the popularity of the show and programming. Figure events are judged by bodybuilding panels and are still dependant on mainly on physique including symmetry, muscle tone, and overall appearance.

Q: How many people compete every year in the show?

A: Bodybuilding and Fitness competitors numbers are either consistent or lower each year the event has grown with the addition to Ms Bikini and Model and in 1999 the Atlantic show has 60 athletes, 2000 had 95, 2001 had 120, 2002 had 100, 2003 had 100, 2004 had 95, 2005 had 100, 2006 had 185, and 2007 had 145.

Q: Do any competitors have a chance at pro?

A: In fitness and bodybuilding events the Professional Level is somewhat the same as the amateur level due to the fact that the prize money is limited and Professional status usually means that prize money is offered or the athletes are paid to compete. Few shows offer large cash prizes and the majority of athletes still hold full-time jobs most hold occupations as certified personal trainers and these events are mainly hobbies for the athletes.

Q: What do you think draws people into watching the show?

A: Friends and family draw the majority of ticket sales in fitness and bodybuilding events. In the Atlantic show we try and get profiles online and help promote each contestant so they can grow a fan base. The audience gets to know the athletes year to year due to the push of the website as the main marketing for the event. I still do a mailing of glossy oversized postcards to the athletes each year but no longer do posters as the health clubs just don't allow them and it isn't cost effective and with the increase in postage costs even the postcard mailing will have to be reconsidered. The other main reason the Atlantic show sells out is that it is run for the audience while most contests seem to drag out this event is known for the stage being decorated professionally, great lighting and a professional sound system. There is a large difference between sitting in the audience and watching the Atlantic show as the curtain opens, the host is in a suit, the show runs with no breaks and it is entertaining even if the audience member doesn't know the athletes they find they still enjoy watching the event. This show has a reputation as being organized.

Q: What other information would help people?

A: The website really is the most information about entering the contest, articles about the sport, videos of performances, photo galleries, biographies of the contestants, in the past people had to call and ask many questions about the event now they just read about it online. There seems to be less interaction with the contestants due to the fact they don't need to call and inquire but people seem to know more about what to expect from the sport and the different divisions.



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  • 2013 Fitness Atlantic DVD
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