I have known Shelby for many years and have literally seen him grow into an IFBB Pro Bodybuilder and what I would easily describe as one of the best physique transformation consultants in the world. I have seen Shelby do amazing things with his clients ranging from fat & out-of-shape Powerlifters to IFBB Pro's. I have personally used Shelby's Consultation Services several times in the past with each time being a great and HEALTHY experience. Working with Shelby was not only about dropping bodyfat (my biggest goal at the time) but getting healthier. Shelby Starnes  also has a strong desire to give back as demonstrated by his article submissions and 60 plus Q&As he answers every month here at elitefts™. As a team member of elitefts™ he embodies what it means to Live, Learn and Pass on. When he sent me this book I thought to myself  NOBODY IS GOING TO BUY THIS! This was because when you really step back and look at all Strength Sports none of them are healthy. What we have done and are doing will beat us up, tear us down, and destroy our bodies more than we realize. We are not meant or designed to push the limits these sports ask of us. All of us in the game KNOW this and have come to just accept it as fact. However, once I began reading the book, I began to see in greater detail why Shelby had me do many of the things he was prescribing. I also kept saying to myself "I wish I knew this 10 years ago" and "I wish I did that 10 years ago". Had I done so I could have side stepped many of the health issues I have had to battle over the years. Maybe we can't take ALL the risk away, but there is A LOT we can do to minimize it. What I am saying is I learned the hard way and YOU DON'T HAVE TO! I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone, but more so to those who are pushing the limits to be the best they can be. I also suggest actually USING the advice in the book. It very well could extend your career, avoid injuries, and save your life. It's really hard to break a PR when you are sick, even harder when you are hurt and impossible if you are dead.  How's that for being blunt?  - Dave Tate founder Elitefts.com Inc 


Excerpt from The Healthy Bodybuilder & Powerlifter 



The liver is the largest and most complex internal organ. All blood in the body passes through the liver and is detoxified. The liver metabolizes most proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It also performs drug metabolism along with a wide array of other functions.
One of the most important factors to consider about the liver is that it generally operates at only a fraction of its full capacity. Because of this you can apply a great deal of additional stress to the liver and not notice any ill effects for a long time; this does not mean damage isn’t occurring. The liver can also regenerate itself if damaged, as long as it isn’t damaged too much; certain types of damage cannot be repaired (cirrhosis for example).
Unfortunately, liver damage won’t always show up on bloodwork. Most liver enzymes produced by liver damage clear the body relatively quickly so damage can be missed, and some liver tumors don’t increase liver enzymes. Because of this, imaging of the liver is necessary.



The liver can be stressed by various supplements, consuming large amounts of food, and even dieting. It is important that the bodybuilder have his liver functions tested several times per year as part of regular bloodwork. There are a broad range of liver functions, and full interpretation of liver function tests is best left to your doctor. We will go over the basic liver functions tests and what they mean.
•    Basic Liver Enzymes – AST and ALT are found in liver cells, that when damaged, leak into the blood and can be measured. These can often be elevated from strenuous exercise alone.
•    Albumin – This protein is manufactured by the liver and low levels can indicate damage to the liver.
•    Alkaline Phosphatase and GGT – These two liver enzymes are common on most liver panels (you may have to request GGT) and are important for identifying bile duct issues and gallstones. GGT is one of the best tests for early detection of liver damage.
•    Bilirubin – This protein is metabolized by the liver, elevated levels can indicate many issues, including liver disease.



While it is important that your doctor interpret your results with you, here are some general guidelines. Normal ranges will vary slightly depending on the testing method used by your lab.

For these values to be even remotely accurate, you must avoid strenuous exercise for at least 3 days before the test. AST is abundant in muscle tissue, and damage to muscle tissue (as in resistance exercise) will elevate serum levels greatly. Luckily, AST clears the body fairly quickly, with a half-life of approximately one day. ALT is also elevated from strenuous exercise, but less so than AST. ALT has a longer half-life in the body, approximately two days.
Besides exercise related elevations, these enzymes are easily elevated by many things that stress the liver, including OTC medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, alcohol, and a host of prescription medications. Short term elevations (acute) are considered fairly normal, as long as they aren’t more than twice the upper limit of the normal range. Long term elevations (chronic) are a risk factor for cirrhosis (scar tissue) of the liver, which the body cannot repair. It is important to note that liver disease is not always indicated by elevations of these enzymes.

Alkaline Phosphatase and GGT
Elevations of either of these enzymes should be considered a risk factor for bile duct obstructions, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. Alkaline phosphatase elevations are relatively common and often benign, however GGT elevations are a good indicator of bile duct issues. GGT may be the most important liver enzyme for the bodybuilder to have tested, make sure it is included in your bloodwork.

Albumin and Bilirubin
Low levels of albumin, or high levels of bilirubin, are an indicator of liver disease. It is important to consult your doctor about abnormal levels of these proteins.


Bodybuilders, specifically, are at risk for hepatic adenomas. These are blood filled tumors in the liver that can burst and cause serious internal bleeding. Because these benign tumors often show no indications on bloodwork, it is important to have your liver imaged. Ultrasound is the most practical route for liver imaging, although it is also possible to use a MSCT scanner – as discussed in the Heart Scan section. Talk to your doctor about having a liver ultrasound performed. If you have a MSCT Heart Scan procedure, also consider having them scan your liver at the same time. Most MSCT Heart Scan providers offer this service.
Most bodybuilders should probably have their liver imaged once every 5 years. In the case of bodybuilders who compete frequently (once a year or more), having the liver imaged once every 3 years may be more appropriate. For high level bodybuilders competing frequently, imaging is recommended annually.



Besides testing for abnormalities, minimizing stress to the liver is the best way to protect it. Anything that the liver must metabolize will cause stress to some extent, this includes any foreign substance that enters the body, such as alcohol, prescription and non-prescription medications (ibuprofen and acetaminophen especially), food additives, artificial sweeteners, environmental chemicals, and much more. In fact, even things known as “liver detoxifiers” are often just one more things the liver must metabolize. Because the liver has the ability to repair itself, the best thing you can do to protect it is to remove all stress and let it repair. Your goal should be to minimize everything possible that places stress on the liver. If you do need to take something that stresses the liver (such as ibuprofen for an injury), it is best to use it for as short of a duration as possible. The liver will always be under some degree of stress, you will not be able to eliminate all of it, but your goal should be to minimize this stress whenever possible.



•    Have bloodwork done at least once per year, preferably twice per year, and up to four times per year if necessary.
•    Have your liver imaged to screen for hepatic adenomas by ultrasound or MSCT scan every 1-5 years depending on how much stress your liver is under.
•    Avoid long periods of using mildly liver toxic drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.




Your health is the pivotal factor in reaching your bodybuilding and powerlifting goals. The greater your attention to health, the harder you will be able to train and the further you will be able to advance. The moment your health falters for any reason, you will suffer immense setbacks.

This book covers the details necessary to address every aspect of physical health relating to the bodybuilder and powerlifter. From bloodwork to body scans to supplements; Shelby and Rob explore the latest techniques necessary for optimizing health and detecting problems before they have a negative impact.

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to get as big and strong as possible, or if your goal is to live healthy for as long as possible, the key to your goals is the same thing: maximum physical health.

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