Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hi! I am Eli Bernard and I just moved from Montana to Arizona after graduating with my BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing) to pursue nursing in the trauma intensive unit at a hospital in downtown Phoenix.
I got into fitness at the age of 14 when I was in middle school and it was the first opportunity I had with machine style weights. I was already hooked at that point, but didn’t get a taste of the free weights until I did a football conditioning class before starting highschool.
As it turns out, I was not very good at football, and all my friends at the time had interest in lifting, so that is kind of how it all started. The sport I did choose to do was wrestling and martial arts, both of which I have been a part of for over six years and I continue to train in Chinese Kempo.
When it comes to what I like most about fitness and bodybuilding is the fact of how much work you can put into it. It teaches you to be patient, and work hard from a physical and mental standpoint. A sculpted body cannot be bought, which is another aspect that makes it more meaningful.
The best things in life are not things and to find passion and create a lifestyle in something that is healthy and that offers the ability to constantly grow invokes a feeling that is not comparable to other things.
Describe a typical day of training
A big part of what gets me going is the idea that I am slowly getting better each day if I work on my goals. When you set daily goals and accomplish them, those daily goals will become weekly goals, then monthly goals and so on.
I personally train six days per week and around 1.5-2.5 hours per session. I train base off of a feeling not a program. Sometimes it takes six sets to get the right feeling in the muscle I am training, sometimes it only takes three.
I am a huge fan of the mind to muscle connection and getting a great pump with high volume sets. I usually start my training session with compound movements that are heavier and then work into the high volume sets to get a pump.
I have had coaches in the past and I loved what they brought to the table but at the end of the day, it is you who should invest time in what works for you and I don’t necessarily think it is a good thing for a coach to understand your body better than you.
Taking the time to understand the process will be worth it in the end and make you more knowledgeable of what works for you. A coach should be a partner in this and it will take considerable effort on your part to accomplish this understanding.
My techniques are evidenced based, as I learned in Nursing school how to search for evidence that is scientifically tested in controlled environments that offers an unbiased explanation of how things work.
One can get lost in the amount of evidence out there and it does require some sort of baseline training before you try to make sense of any of it.
I am no master by any means but it is a standard that professionals should hold themselves accountable by and meta analysis of randomized controlled studies along with systematic reviews certainly have their place if you want to get technical about how the body works.
How do you keep going and push harder?
I have always made time for the gym. With a work schedule, it can be a little tricky and I prefer to train in the evening. I have always been motivated and focused on my goals. It has become a lifestyle for me so it is just part of the day.
Something feels off if I don’t train and my one rest day is sometimes hard to get through, I sometimes find myself skipping it, especially during a prep when one of my workouts lacks the passion because my energy is low, I will sometimes use the rest day as a day to make up for any day where I do not perform well to my standards.
When I have nurse shifts, I try to make sure the rest day is on one of my 12 hours shifts. The other days I work and have to train I will do it right after work and it will be smaller muscle groups that I train such as arms so I can hopefully get the workout done quicker and get to bed on time so I can do it all over again.
Consistency is the most important thing someone should consider when getting into bodybuilding. It is also a difficult thing to keep repeating everyday. I find it is important to do this kind of work for the right reasons, the primary one being the fact that I simply love it.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I am currently leaning out to do some more photoshoots hopefully in the LA area in the near future. Modeling is something I think I should devote more energy too.
Nursing school and starting as a new nurse has continued to take a lot of my time up and has made it somewhat difficult to travel, do shoots, etc. and I would like to be able to do a lot more of that.
First step is to get photoshoot ready again, which will take about 12-15 weeks. My training right now is going well as I am still recovering from the pounds I gained studying for the NCLEX with my cosco gummy bear bag sitting next to me.
I am focusing on adding mass to my upper body and have dropped one of my leg days out of my routine and am now training upper body five times a week. This will hopefully balance out my proportions as it seems like my legs just grow a bit quicker than anything up top.
Another long term goal would be to figure out a way to combine nursing and my passion for fitness into a way of connecting with people to educate them about healthy lifestyle choices, proper weight loss techniques, building consistency, etc. all in the name of health.
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
My biggest injury came from a spasm in the lower right hip that I have seen some people about to be told it was a strain of the iliopsoas muscle. It still bothers me four years later and all of my problems are exacerbated when my back tightens up, which usually happens when I am sedentary, on long drives, sleep weird, etc.
I have begun to use a foam roller, and stretch out the spinal erectors before I train anything helps a lot. Getting an active warm up in before lifting any major muscle group is important in my opinion and certainly helps me avoid re-aggravating the muscle and having pain again.
It is also important to note that there are many options for training a muscle. If something doesn’t feel right, try a different variation that works for you.
The other thing that happened to me over the last year was getting a pulmonary embolism that resulted in about 1200ml of fluid pushing up against my right lung.
Let me tell ya, I was still trying to train with that going on and it was difficult and frustrating, and I was dealing with pain and pressure for around six weeks for the worst of it. It took some serious will power and a different set of movements to get the work done in the gym.
Overall, I just listen to my body. Most of the time my mind is like, “Just do it” and sometimes I have to take a step back and actually think about what I am doing and if it is best for me.
Rest is extremely important and I shoot for 7-8 hrs of sleep per night. The liver is more active at protein synthesis when you are asleep, which is a primary factor in muscle growth.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
Everyone has heard the term you can’t out train a bad diet and it is the truth. Something I have put together is what I call “The triangle of gains” if you will.
It is an isosceles triangle with two sides being even and one being shorter. The short side of the triangle is training in the gym. The first long side is diet, and the even side is sleep.
Think of it as sleep (40%), eat (40%), train (20%). Even more general, 80% recovery, 20% training since eating and sleeping are part of the essential recovery process. Supplements are a tricky thing to talk about.
First and foremost, the word “Supplement” is deemed to supplement good training and recovery. If you are not sleeping, eating, and training efficiently and consistently, supplements are not necessarily wrong, they just might be of little value for the money you are putting into them.
Many supplements have no evidence based practice supporting their use, so I find it best to stick to black coffee for pre-workout, BulkSupplements Creatine Monohydrate Powder, and Dynamik Muscle Whey isolate proteins, which have scientific backing.
I use the MACRO diet system. In some social experiments I have done and with the people I have trained, overweight people will underestimate caloric content while skinnier people will overestimate caloric content, and this will not aid in the smashing of goals.
Once you get them started logging calories, a lot of eyes are opened to what is actually going on. So for a newcomer, logging the calories, measuring the food is important for progress before you go into “Eyeballing it.”
My current MACROS are 50F 180P 300C for approx. 2400 calories and I am currently in a cutting phase. No cardio for me yet. I will add this in to create more of a caloric deficit when it is needed.
What has inspired and motivated you?
I have been listening to a lot of EDM, rap, and rock while lifting and I won’t go to the gym without good music unless I absolutely have too. It’s not necessarily what the artists are saying, but the beat that gets me going so anything that is fast paced certainly is motivating enough for me.
On a more serious note, I have drawn some inspiration from one of my coaches who stated, “Your expectations should never exceed your efforts.” You are gonna get out what you put into this, and the standards people have for themselves will require an ever increasing amount of work. This is true outside of the gym and can be extended to other aspects of life.
You should set your expectations at a realistic, attainable goal, and then hit it with an undeniable effort that is relentless in its pursuit of success.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
From a bodybuilding perspective, there is not a cookie cutter method. Everyone is different. Everything comes down to calories, a unit of heat and this energy is transferred, it is not created or destroyed.
You have a lot of tools at your disposal to manipulate your calories to whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. Cardio and diet are the main tools you have to create the look/performance you are trying to accomplish. The goal is efficiency and consistency.
Slowly losing weight for example can be done with diet at first, and then cardio can be added and you can balance out a method that works for you by adding increasing amounts of cardio and slowly coming down on the calories you eat.
Pay attention to how you feel when you train, what the scale is saying, how you look when you are leaning out. Enjoy the process and know that it will take time. Water consumption is more important than supplement consumption.
Do not sacrifice sleep if you have the option. Keep your rest periods in check at the gym. Simply having a watch will allow you to keep track of only resting 1 minute between high volume sets and 2-3 minutes between compound heavier movements.
Another point I like to make is you should put your phone on airplane mode (still get offline music but no distractions). Lastly, workout for the right reasons. A lot of this stuff is simple but overlooked by many.
Are you taking on clients right now?
I am always down to help people with nutrition, training, etc. I can attempt to give you “The blueprints” to a healthier way of living, but know that I want you to take control and do what works best for you.
I can make customized plans from top to bottom for people, yet I want them to be part of the process and also possess a desire to learn.
You will have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Especially in the beginning as change is difficult to accept, certainly with something that is a lifestyle change.
Where can we learn more about you?
Ready to get really fit and inspired?
I’m Mads Phikamphon, founder of Bulk Hackers.
Here on Bulk Hackers we interview bodybuilders, personal trainers and fitness heroes. We ask them to share their stories and all their greatest hacks!
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