Published on Monday, 03 December 2012 23:07
Written by Anthony Racanelli
Now On Stage: Anthony Racanelli A.K.A Tio Grande: Diet Guru of The Week!
Name: Anthony Racanelli aka. Tio Grande
Date of birth: 12/20/65
Hometown: Currently live in Delary Beach, Florida
Career: I’ve had several careers. Ironically all have made me a better trainer.
I worked in rehab with chronic back pain patients for the University of Vermont Medical Center. At that time, our program was cutting edge rehab with chronic back pain patients. It was an interdisciplinary program of physical therapy, occupational therapy and psychiatry. I was a work hardening technician.
I worked 13yrs for a N.Y. State Agency, The Division for Youth. They housed Juvenile delinquents. I also worked a short stint in psychiatric care with youth as well. Both taught me behavioral management skills. I learned how to identify personality disorders and to coach individuals to modify counter productive behaviors.
I worked off and on in the gym industry from 1986 to 1997. In 1998, I started Personal Training full time. By that time, I had been competing for 17yrs. In a very short time, I started prepping competitors for competition. I also started judging for the NPC in the Eastern District of PA. under Gary Udit and Todd Howe. In 2005 I moved to Southern Florida and started working for John Defendis. It was during that time I learned the gym business and elevated my training, diet and contest prep to elite level. I became one of his top grossing trainers and got my introduction to Steve Michalik. The influence of John Defendis and Steve Michalik helped me to build training processes and nutritional profiles that can be customized to any body type. This customization process allows me to prep competitors in all categories and while attaining the necessary look for better contest placings.
My other training mentors are:
Ron Coleman IFBB Pro: The first Team Universe Winner
Brian Chamberlain IFBB Pro
Mike Davies: Top trainer of Pro’s
Dave Marinelli IFBB Pro
Chris Aceto: Top trainer of Pro’s
I have a diversified athletic backround. The highlights are as follows:
Power Lifting: 1979 to 1987
High School and College Football: 1978-1987
Track and Field High School and College: 1981 to 1987
Bodybuilding: 1981 to 2009
I was a scholarship athlete in both Football and Track and Field. While in College, I played on two National Championship Football teams and one National runner-up team.
What do you like best about being a diet coach?
When I was a football player, I was fortunate to be coached by some of the best coaches in their perspective state or division. My college football coach is the 4th winning active coach in the NCAA. He will one day be a hall of famer. What I learned is athletics is the platform by which one teaches life. Understanding life during a controlled situation is the metaphor to understanding how to perform one’s best during competition. If one can coach stronger character one builds a stronger person. This builds a better athlete. Sport then becomes the segway to directing a person how to live a more fufilling life.
I apply this approach to my contest prep and my daily clients as well.
My competive history in Bodybuilding spans from 1981 to 2009. I can’t remember all the shows and dates of those competitions but here are the highlights:
1981: Doc Neely’s Southern States, winner 13 to 16yr old class
1989: Tennessee Road to River Bodybuilding Championships: Hvy Wt. Novice and Overall winner. Hvy Wt. Open class Winner
1991: Maine State Bodybuilding Championship: 3rd Place Hvy Wt. Class
1992: Natural Eastern Classic 3rd place Hvy Wt. Class
1993: Ironman Naturally Pa. Bodybuilding Championship: 1st Place Hvy Wt. winner
1998: NPC Mr. Philadelphia Open Bodybuilding Championships 1st Place Hvy Wt winner
1998: NPC New Jersey State Open Bodybuilding Championships Super Heavy Wt. winner
1998: NPC Lehigh Pa. Bodybuilding Championships Heavy Wt winner
2000: NPC New Jersey Surburban Bodybuilding Championships Super Heavy Wt. winner
2000 NPC Jr. USA Bodybuilding Championships Super Heavy Wt. 6th place
2003 NPC Erie Classic Bodybuilding and Figure Championships Super Heavy Wt. Class 1st place
2004 NPC Pittsburgh Bodybuilding and Figure Championships 2rd place Masters Hvy Wt. and 3rd place Open Super Heavy Wt. class
2004 NPC Palm Beach Bodybuilding and Figure Championships Heavy Wt. 1st Place
2005 NPC Pittsburgh Bodybuilding and Figure Championships 3rd place Masters Hvy Wt and 3rd place open class Super Hvy Wt.
2006 NPC Palm Beach Bodybuilding and Figure Championships 1st place Super Hvy Wt.
2006 NPC Master Nationals Bodybuilding Championships Super Hvy Wt. 8th place
2007 NPC Mountain Valley Championships 1st place and overall Masters Hvy Wt. winner and 1st place Open Class Super Hvy Wt. Class
2007 NPC All South Bodybuilding and Figure Championships 2nd place Open Super Hvy Wt.
2009 NPC Dexter Jackson Bodybuildng and Figure Classic 2nd Hvy Wt Master Class and 3rd Place Super Hvy Wt. Open Class
2009 IFBB North American Bodybuilding Classic 6th place Masters Super Hvy Wt. class.
What Cardio Type Would You Recommend for Fat Loss and or Pre Contest, High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) or Low Intensity Steady State (L.I.S.S.)?
During contest prep, cardio is used as an accessory. It is not used as a primary means to attain contest level bodyfat. What cardio I recommend is based on the individual and how the athlete is responding. All compenents are customized to the individual and are updated frequently. Updates are as infrequently as once a week and as frequently as daily. I have recommended High Intensity Cardio and Low Intensity Cardio. I have even had athletes do both during a prep.
I also advise my clients on their weight training. High intensity weight training has a strong conditioning component and when utilized correctly, minimizes the amount of cardio needed. It also yields a shapely better conditioned look. I have even eliminated cardio completely from the prep and had athletes do two weight training sessions a day.
All components are stimulus that yield a response. It is my job to interpret how the body is effected by the stimulus and manipulate it to attain the desired result. Timing is as critical as the stimulus itself. All these factors must be taken into consideration when working to attain the best look and the exact time of peaking.
How do you diet your clients? Using the carb cycling approach, keto?
I use all of the above methods. I never use Keto for long periods of time. In my opinion, Keto is an effective way to become lean but it doesn’t yield the best look. Competitors are often disproportionate in their conditioning when using this approach. Some muscles are depleted and flat while others are round and striated. Keto, when used for a short periods, 10 to 14days, is an effective way to reduce fat levels to sub-zero. Many competitors over diet by reducing their carb intake too low for too long and do high volume cardio. They also don’t train intensely enough for their bodies. This combination results in a loss of hard earned muscle. I’ve seen competitors that appear disproportionate during a contest only to see lossed muscle return after the athlete reintroduces quality carbs and higher protein ratios. This circumstance plaques Pro’s and amateurs alike.
What is your protocol for filing out days prior to stepping onstage?
Chris Aceto once told me,”I am the master at doing nothing”. I hear too often from pro’s and amatuers alike, they looked their best the last 14 to 10 days before the competition only to look less then perfect the day of the show or down right awful. Whether or not to carb load before a competition is not predetermined. It is assessed in the final two weeks. Too many trainers carb deplete and carb load because everyone else does. It should also be noted, flat isn’t necessarily bad. If a person is split and striated when they flex, there is no need to fill out if it’s their best look. I have also learned a competitor may look great flat one contest and may need to be carb loaded to look their best the next show. This past year, I prepped IFBB Pro Christy Allen for 4 shows. I dialed her in 4 different ways for each show. She dieted this year for 8 months. Each show was at a different stage of her prep and necessitated a different approach each time.
What is the most challenging aspect of dieting clients?
Each competitor yields a different challenge and each prep brings a new difficulty. The two greatest difficulties when prepping clients is building their confidence and educating them on the edicate of the sport.
Self esteem is a delicate matter. Competitors become overly critical and sabatoge themselves unnecessarily. When a competitor continues to question their ability, it becomes difficult to maintain the consistency required to condition the body. As a trainer, I have to assess what level an athletes confidence is and if they are a good prospect. Custom fitting a program to the athlete is intricate and requires their full cooperation. The process has inherit difficulties. Self doubt not only heightens the margin of error, it can make contest perfection impossible.
The second difficulty is teaching athletes the unspoken rules of this sport. With the creation of new categories, the internet and wars between competiting websites, there is a gossip mentality in our sport. The blog as given voice to the idiot and distorted the facts of competition. Athletes don’t differentiate between the business bodybuilding and the art of this sport. Those athletes who come to understand the sport are like a person thats had the wool pulled from their eyes. As they say in football, the game becomes slower and you see everything for what it is.
What supplements do you reccommend the most to your clients?
My recommendation of supplements is the bare minimum. Over the last 5yrs, I am getting more athletes with IBS. I attribute this to two factors:
1. Consuming too many powders
2. The chemicals and perservatives that are being put in food
When I elementate powders and the foods that are filled by perservative, the majority of disgestive issues go away.
I recommend a full spectrum of vitamins with minerals, Carnitine, Bcaa’s and select thermogentics or other stimulants.
What is the oddest question you have ever been asked by a client?
A question I find odd that I am asked often is “Are you sure”. If I’m not sure, you better hire another trainer because that’s what I’m being paid for.
Do you also provide training programs to clients? If so, how do you determine the best program for each individual?
My program is comprehensive and I provide all elements of off season and pre-contest prep. Unlike most trainers, I create off season programming for all my competitors. Competitors are contest driven but often become lost in the off season. This continuity of communication allows simple transition into contest prep. This promotes continued mentoring and maturity of the athlete to perform at higher levels.
Assessment of an athlete is based on knowledge, experience and what they are demonstrating. No portion of my program is predetermined. It all evolves as the athlete matures.
I am also in constent research of new training methods and dietary protocols. I’ve spent the last year being mentored by Chris Aceto. Chris was trained by the great Bob Gruskin who also trained John Defendis. John Defendis trained me for 5yrs. This commonality gives us similar approach to training and nutrition. In my opinion, Chris Aceto, by far, is the best contest prep professional in the industry. Reviewing athletes and watching them go through the different stages of his prep is as educational as it is invigorating. My athletes become the beneficiary of this knowledge and are performing better because of it.
What formula do you use to determine how many macro nutrients to give each client?
A questionare is sent to all athletes. They give detailed answers regarding training and nutrition. I will then verbally interview them to get their assessment of what has worked for them in the past. New athletes who don’t know these answers are put on a basic meal plan of protein and complex carbs. They are then monitored and dialoque is created through Q&A. Their answers and what their body demonstrates determines how their nutritional profiles are built.
This creates an educational format to teach the athlete about their body. The understanding of how food is effecting their body allows them to prep at a higher level while giving me better information.
All food is weighed or measured. I don’t use a gram or caloric scheme when administering dietary protocols. I also do not create menu’s during prep. Menu’s are for the off season. During contest prep, I want a specific meal plan eaten for a specific time. Updates are based on physical response. This response determines how much or how little the athlete will eat. Timelines are created based upon contest date and the stage of dietary prep. I prefer preps of 20 to 26 weeks. A competitor can get fat levels down in 12 weeks but unless they are 10-15lbs out probably won’t look their best. 16 weeks is the minimum time I will do a prep but consistently competitors look ultra conditioned when dieted for 6 to 8 months. My two athletes, Rosela Joseph and IFBB Pro Christy Allen both dieted for 8months. The year IFBB Pro Kris Murrell won the 2009 Nationals, she dieted for 26weeks.
Do you have clients manipulate water prior to getting onstage? If so how?
I have a saying, “When prepping for a show, everyday should be like ground hog day. Keep everything as normal as possible.’ Once you’ve attained lower body fat levels, this philosophy should not change. The last week, I manipulate as little as possible. In a perfect prep, the athlete is contest ready 4 weeks out. From that point everything is about timing. Some of the biggest mistakes consistently made are cutting water too soon, changing diet unnecessarily and eating up too late.
There are different techniques that can be used to dry an athlete without depleting water. One must remember, if there isn’t enough water in the body, a muscle will flatten out losing shape and definition. An athlete only needs to be dry subcutaneously. One also needs water to properly assimulate food. Timing becomes critical and is most often missed. This is why many top athletes are inconsistent when peaking. Their timing is totally off because they have mismanged their priorities. The use of durietics is a different subject all together. Trainers use them more out of tradition then necessity.
What is the best way for potential clients to reach you?
I can be reached at the following addresses:
I also only train a certain number of clients at a time. It’s become in vogue to train large numbers of athletes at the same time. I call that the cookie cutter syndrome. Too many competitors are new to this industry and they believe the training they are getting is top notch when it’s actually automated. This has become the era of recruit a champion and not build a champion. Customized programs take a tremendous amount of communication and concentration. One can’t give the attention necessary to 30 or even 20 competitors at a time. There are too many personalities to deal with and too many categories. The details involved for each are extensive and all those hurdles cannot be leaped over the internet with entry and intermediate level competitors.