Nutrition Advice from Generation X (to Y and Z)

TAGS: Ernie Frantz, Advice from Generation X to Generations Y and Z, gains, Eric Maroscher, iron game, powerlifting, Nutrition

With age comes perspective, insight, understanding, and hindsight. What I'm offering you today is a peak into your future from a view-point looking back into the past. In your journey that is the sport of powerlifting, there will be victory, there will be injury, and there will be all points in between. There will be things that you can control and there are definitely things that will be out of your locus of control no matter how tightly you try to manage the variables in your life.

Most importantly, there will be choices during this journey. Insight into these choices is what I offer to you via my insight with some 25 years of competitions behind me and some 37 years of having some type of weight in my hands. These choices are aspects of your powerlifting life outside of the gym that absolutely will have a direct correlation with your life inside of the gym and on the platform. These are aspects that, if you choose wisely, will somewhat minimize the things that you can't control but, more significantly, will maximize the things that you can control inside the gym.

During the time in my competitive powerlifting career that I feel I was the most dialed in, thus far, I trained with a specific mission in mind. My programs were planned out with meticulous detail; inclusive of all my lifting goals, long-term down to the short-term of the sets and reps of that day’s session; and carried out with intensity and without compromise. I look back with pride in my methods. However, I also can look back harshly. Through a hyper-critical lens, I see few, if any, holes in the training, planning, and competing, but I do see light poking through the fabric of my training with regards to nutrition. This is where my advice to you comes in.

To be clear, I'm not talking about amounts of calories, protein, and vitamins, as these were loaded up to the brim. I'm talking about honing in my calories so that a day’s caloric intake was comprised of calories with a purpose beyond filling the tank and meeting a caloric number. I'm very specifically and precisely talking about filling the nutritional holes in a diet with quality food and nutrients. One can tell you that eating 5,000 calories is easy when the food is “tasty and fun,” but 5,000 can be hard to do when the nutrients are clean and the taste is a little boring. An individual might even find that he doesn't need 5,000 to do the job when 3,500 clean and beneficial calories are consumed (depending on your given weight, of course).

The question for this article is, why would someone train like there is no tomorrow and not dial in his nutrition to meet those demands placed on the body? Ultimately, the goal isn't just to be the best lifter that you can be but to be the best lifter that you can be for decades. That requires being meticulous in the gym and also in the kitchen.

If you're a gear wearing lifter, you spend time and money making sure that your Metal Ace Brief fits exactly the way you want it to. As a serious powerlifter, you search long and hard to find a gym that has the atmosphere you need to be as aggressive as possible under the weights. You look for like-minded training partners to help you inch your way toward your next goal via each set and each rep.

mmg maroscher ernie frantz bodybuilding generation x and y 081114 Ernie Frantz, the godfather of powerlifting circa 1974. Strong as hell his whole powerlifting career and never out of shape.


Some people do all that, but then during the time outside of the gym, the easy part of their training, they work against their primary focus, and they do so consistently, some six meals a day, 365 days a year for years and even decades. Putting food on a fork that isn't in any way, shape, or form going to complement their choice of gear, choice of gym, choice of training partner, or choice of work ethic while training, in my years of experience, isn't the best choice. It surely won't enhance their gym performance and that is something we miss, thus this view from the world of the master aged lifter and member of generation X.

As a small to average size powerlifter at five feet, nine inches and 220 pounds, I never strayed more than eight or so pounds from my competition weight. Although most of my meals were based on protein and vitamin/nutrient content, I feel I missed out on some hidden power potential by not looking at my food as a PED in a way. Today, however, what I observe is more than perhaps missed hidden power potential but rather a drastically reduced focus and, in some cases, a total disregard for the contents of the meal. In my opinion, there is an overemphasized focus on the caloric end game of the meal.

I say all these things because hindsight is often 20/20, and my hindsight gift for you, those who fall into the category of generation Y and generation Z, is to have some symmetry in your training and thus complement your training veracity with a nutritional plan that is equally meticulous and exacting.

Y and Z, you live in a time where much of your day is spent behind a computer or sitting in a chair and expectations of success are high and stressful, so meals are often centered on speed and number of calories over value and benefit. My insight for you is to take that extra step with regards to your focus on your powerlifting goals, and I know that you have goals or you wouldn't have found elitefts™ if you weren't a serious powerlifter. So although you live in a time where expectations are high and often the day is spent sitting in one place, you also live in a time where you can, through technology, better track and examine/research your nutritional plan than at any other time in history.

Ironically, to be successful nutritionally, Y and Z almost need to eat like those from a different generation, the silent generation, who ate during a time that was before TV dinners, fast food, microwavable meals, preservatives, and artificial this and that. There is a reason why the powerlifters back in the ‘golden era of powerlifting’ look like thickly muscled bodybuilders. It isn't because they trained differently. It's because they weren’t covered up with 30–40 percent body fat and loaded to the gills with sodium while trying to consume quantity of calories over quality of nutrients.

While the training is the fun part, it is the rest, the nutrition and the hydration, that are seemingly the mundane aspects of training. Because time in the gym is for the leaders and the time outside is for the followers, we often negate the importance and value of this outside the gym time as an essential aspect of our life as powerlifters.

I recently watched the DVD Generation Iron, a movie that is, in a way, a modern day version of the classic movie, Pumping Iron. There is a scene with one of the top bodybuilders where he stands in his kitchen cooking his egg whites and salmon. His statement is something to the effect of, “Eating is the easy part, but if you can’t stick to this discipline, forget about being the best you can personally be.” He says it far more eloquently than that, but it mirrors that overly used mantra, “You can never out train a bad diet.”

maroscher dawn generation x and y 081114

What I'm saying is that you spend time, money, and life energy on your training. Take the time to go grocery shopping, plan your meals in advance, and prepare your meals so that they're at the ready. I'm not talking about fish and asparagus each and every day like a bodybuilder might have, but I will say that the bodybuilding community takes the time to plan meals. From my view, this is something that powerlifters can borrow from. The day of the extra salted, water bloated powerlifter is dead and gone. If you know a powerlifter who falls into that camp of, “Yeah, but I'm stronger when I'm 30 pounds heavier,” that's great. But if those 30 pounds aren't clean muscle and they put that weight on via the Golden Arches diet plan, those 30 pounds will come back to shorten their lifting career and/or work against them in the long haul over time. They can see the triple cheeseburger and fries meme with the word “gainz” by it a thousand times a day, but in the end, those buying into that "easy way out fast food" type thinking are often times working against their lifting goals and not even realizing it. They are unwittingly leaving the shepherds and joining the sheep.

As powerlifters, our mindset is more is better, but sometimes more takes time, and getting bigger and stronger is earned in the weight room, not because one super sizes it every day for lunch.

If you're a generation Y or Z powerlifter, take this tip from a generation X powerlifter who still enjoys (aches and pains aside) powerlifting after all these years. That tip is if you aren't already putting some thought into how your nutritional plan can either positively enhance or negatively impact your powerlifting journey, take the time, do the research, and make those calories, those units of energy, work for you, not against you.

With age comes perspective, insight, understanding, and hindsight. What I'm offering you today is a peak into your future from a viewpoint looking back into the past. What you do with this offering is a decision only you can make.

  • Silent generation: Those born between 1927 and 1945; avid readers, especially of newspapers
  • Baby Boomer Generation: Those born between 1946 and 1964; the first television generation
  • Generation X: Those born between 1965 and 1980; raised in the transition phase of written based knowledge to digital knowledge archives; most remember being in school without computers and then after the introduction of computers in middle school or high school
  • Generation Y: Those born between 1981 and 2000; have never known a world without computers
  • Generation Z: Those born after 2001; they're the first generation never to have experienced the pre-internet world


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