An interview with former IFBB Pro Milos Sarcev

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Having experimented with many different training systems and methods over the years to optimise fat loss or hypertrophy I have found without a doubt that although controversial Milos Sarcev does indeed know how to get people into shape and how to do it fast. As he is an untapped resource for many in the field of personal training and a bodybuilding fan favourite (especially here in Australia) I thought it would be great to interview him and find out a little bit more about him and his training philosophies…

CH: You are known in the bodybuilding community as ‘The Mind’ for your innovative theories and methods when it comes to building the ultimate physique. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to compete and coach others in bodybuilding?

MS: I was a long time Weider athlete and contributing editor for FLEX magazine. Some of the other editors in that magazine gave me my nick name ‘The Mind’, due to my opinions in many aspects of training, nutrition and supplementation that often completely differed from the conventional.

My parents and my only sister are medical doctors and as you could expect in a medical family the subjects of many discussions were medical in nature, so plenty of talk on physiology, anatomy, pathology, toxicology, endocrinology, pharmacology… you name it. I remember listening to my father – who was a Doctor of Science in Neuropsychiatry and the most intelligent and educated man I have ever known – and often he would emphasize how he disagreed with the current science and often he elaborated very clearly why he disagreed with it.

My father was the person who directed me to think ‘outside of the box’ and opened my eyes to the ‘science’ of bodybuilding. The most important principle in my training and supplementation philosophy was actually his idea, not mine… and as everyone will see (once I elaborate on it) – it contradicts the present science of exercise physiology.

As far as my own formal education goes, instead of studying to become a Medical Doctor I chose Nutritional Technology and went to the University of Novi Sad (Prehrambena Tehnologija) to master the ‘other’ so important subject of human physiology… clinical and sports nutrition.

CH: You have coached numerous champion bodybuilders and figure competitors over the years. Who would be some of your most notable clients over the years?

MS: Flex Wheeler, Monica Brant, Chris Cormier, Gustavo Badell, Luke Wood, Dennis Wolf, Dennis James, Sonny Schmidt, Richard Jones, Ben Pakulski, Markus Ruhl, Greg Kovach, Lee Powel, Patrick Tour, Haiko Kalabach, Barry Kabov, Mustafa Mohammed, Ernie Taylor, Roland Kickinger, Melvin Anthony, Nasser El Sonbaty, Vince Taylor, Hidetada Yamagishi, Tarek El Setouhi, Joel Stubbs, Troy Alves, Ed van Amsterdam, Mohamad Anouti, Marcos Chacon, Kris Dim, Marius Dohne, Johnnie Jackson, King Kamali, James ‘Flex’ Lewis, Kiyoko “Kiyopi” Yamanaka, Robert Hatch, Ari Kokkonen, Liaw Teck Leong, Nicole Acker, Shellie Beaty… and many more.

A classic Milos shot…

 CH: One of your more controversial theories is pre and peri-workout nutrition. Could you explain this in more detail and why you have found your methods effective getting maximum results with your clients?

MS: Yes, it is controversial if you accept what exercise physiology as a science dictates: “In order to create muscle hypertrophy we need to train intensely and during the workout deplete our muscle glycogen storage, ATP and damage the muscle fibers thus creating micro tears of the muscle fibers we train. That shock to our muscular system will initiate a hypertrophic response – as our body will recognize the nutrient loss (glucose, amino acids and ATP) and several hours after the training will send all the available nutrients to replenish what was lost and repair the damage.”

If we throw our body out of natural balance or so called homeostasis our body will respond with super-compensation, storing more nutrients than what was previously there to be prepared for another eventual shock, or intense training session.

When I told this to my father, he immediately laughed telling me sarcastically: “Of course Mishko (my nickname) why not? You want to help me break our house down to the ground?”

I didn’t understand what he meant.

So he said: “Well, if exercise physiology tells you guys to break your house (body) down so you will have the chance to rebuild it each and every day you train, why don’t we do the same with our own house and just later build another one… and then another… and another… etc.”

He got my attention with that analogy so I started asking many questions and in short he explained to me that if I train with that conventional wisdom of breaking down the muscle fibers and depleting it from all available nutrients – I am driving my body into a highly catabolic state.

Catabolism can be considered as destructive metabolism, which is an unhealthy state of the body. “Why on Earth would anyone want to drive their body into a highly catabolic state each and every day? What sense does that make? You want to build the body? Create anabolism – or constructive metabolism and muscle hypertrophy, not the opposite!”

So back then in 1981 when I started bodybuilding I accepted from my father what sounded logical to me even then. I call it the ‘Hyperemia Advantage’, which is used to create a maximal anabolic environment that will enable you to achieve maximal hypertrophy.

So here is rationale behind it. Men have about 5L of blood and women have about 4L distributed all over the body which is constantly circulating around. In a state of rest at maximum about 10 -12 % of that blood finds its way in to our skeletal muscles, as there is no real physiological demand at the time of a low physical activity period. However, when we become active, blood is sent to our working muscles… and that increased blood flow to exercising muscles (Hyperemia) can achieve an astonishing 60% increase in blood flow or more during weight training. This happens ONLY during the workout!

So as my father suggested, if I supply all the necessary anabolic nutrients in a pre-digested form (e.g; ATP, glucose, amino acids etc) into the blood stream right before training and then continue delivering more of the same nutrients during my training session whilst raising the most anabolic hormone in our body – insulin – I will create an immediate and maximal anabolic environment.

So instead of loosing nutrients (protein degradation or catabolism) we are creating a greater nutritional uptake by our muscle cells (protein synthesis or anabolism) and simultaneously preventing anti-catabolism… everything we need to great the maximal results we are after. So we need to remember that we only have this opportunity during training, not before or after as blood will not be in the muscle to this extent.

It doesn’t make sense to send an empty plane from Sydney to LAX with no passengers on it does it? So why send empty blood through the working muscle, when you have unique opportunity to insert all these nutrients into our cells?

Needless to say I have used this principle with ALL my IFBB professional athletes and every single one of them exploded with new muscle growth… and we are talking about seasoned pros, already overly developed physiques that had already reached a plateau and at that stage every little improvement is practically celebrated.

Documented progress photos of all my athletes preparing for all their shows are still available for everyone to see in ‘Enter The Mind’ forum of my website: I encourage you to do it, to get idea of what I am really talking about.

Milos and Flex Wheeler in a 1999 show in Italy

CH: From previous discussions, you have mentioned that you are big believer in training in a giant set type fashion. Could you explain to our readers why you have found this type of training the most effective when it comes to hypertrophy and fat loss training and your theory behind it?

MS: I always ask my athletes “Why are you going to train?” They are often puzzled with that question. I then say “Are you training just to lift weights, accomplish your personal best, lift heavier, expend calories, sweat…or look good in front of the ladies?”

Or you are going to gym for right reasons… to maximally stimulate the maximal amount of muscle fibers? So how are you going to achieve that?

With a conventional method of training? I don’t think so. And don’t get me wrong… I am not saying anything bad about conventional methods of training but I am talking about MAXIMAL stimulation not any other kind. To do this I train using giant sets.

When someone designs a giant set rotation they should consider a wide variety of muscle stimulation through heavy, moderate and light loads, different stances, different grip, range of motion, tempo, type of contractions, angles etc. The more creative you are the better! Remember that you want to overwhelm that muscle group that you are training with everything possible that you can come up with.

The goal is to fail in each and every exercise, reaching momentary muscular failure regardless of the amount of weight you are using. This will bring even more blood to the area (increased hyperemia) and help reach your dormant muscle fibers that are usually not hit through conventional methods of training.

If we don’t shock the body it will not have a reason to change… it is as simple as that! That is as much as I need to say about the hypertrophy benefits of my training principles, however this type of training certainly also burns body fat as well.

How and why? First, if someone measures their RER (respiratory exchange ratio) during this type of training method they will realize that the primary fuel used will not exclusively be glucose but also fatty acids. The best way to understand this is to do a giant set workout yourself and you will soon realize what I am talking about. By the time you have finished your rotation you will be gasping for air as though you have just gone for a run!

CH: In terms of periodization of this type of training, could you give a brief 12-week example of how would one do this?

MS: I am not big believer in periodization simply because I have witnessed many ‘crazy’ adaptations of many old school bodybuilding champions who never backed-off in their intensity or volume.

I prefer to periodise my training blocks through changing the variables in the giant set routines I have my athletes use. So for example I would progressively increase or decrease the difficulty, amount of exercises, load etc.

But for sake of making a simple 12-week periodization program for you…

Weeks 1 through 4:

  • 5 rotations for each muscle group with 4 exercises per rotation
  • In each rotation include one heavy duty exercise with maximal load

Weeks 5 through 8:

  • 4 rotations for each muscle group with 6 exercises per rotation
  • In each rotation include two heavy duty exercise with maximal load and make the last exercise have a heavy isometric contraction only

Weeks 9 through 12:

  • 5 rotations for each muscle group with 6-8 exercises per rotation
  • In each rotation include two heavy duty exercise with maximal load and one super heavy eccentrics only

Below Clean Health Director Daine McDonald takes IFBB Bikini Model Rachel Guy through a Giant Sets routine inspired through the methods discussed above…

CH: You have over the years been a staunch advocate of Charles Poliquin and his strength training systems. How did you meet Charles and why do you think others in the bodybuilding community have not been as fast to be open-minded when it comes to his teachings?

MS: I met Charles back in 1996 and immediately got along with him very well, as he was first true expert I have ever met. His knowledge and personal experiences are extraordinary and results he has achieved with hundreds of athletes speak louder than words. Also he is incredibly driven individual who doesn’t mind admitting if he was wrong which is a rarity amongst experts.

He is one of the modern day geniuses and one has to really meet Charles to truly appreciate his brilliance. A little known fact is that Charles has worked with many great IFBB Pro bodybuilders and Olympia competitors but he keeps a low profile about it. If athletes don’t mention that he trained them he doesn’t talk about them either.

In the bodybuilding community we tend to have a ‘monkey see – monkey do’ mentality. Needless to say – monkeys can do a lot of stupid things, one being not listening to true experts like Charles.

CH: In terms of the BioSignature system, do you use it with your clients and why do you find it effective to help increases clients hypertrophy or fat loss goals?

MS: Charles introduced me to the BioSignature system a few years back and it got my attention. I applied what I learned from Charles and also sent him a few of my difficult clients to see if BioSig really can make a difference.

Based of the BioSig I found that I had athletes that needed an estrogen detox, or their cortisol modulated, or that they had insulin resistance or issues with growth hormone production. In every single one of those athletes Charles’s BioSig protocols were spot on. So I am completely sold on his research and I apply his dietary regimen recommendations with most of my clients and when necessary Charles supplies me with particular supplements I need to give my athletes.

CH: You are currently residing in the Dominican Republic, working out of Juan Carlos Simo’s facility, who also happens to be a big advocate of Poliquins training methods. What do you think separates Poliquin educated trainer’s from standard trainers out there in the industry today?

MS: Simply put, knowledge and information that has been proven to work time and time again.

CH: You have started coaching clients and producing champions again in the DR, so what plans are ahead for Milos in 2012?

MS: I love coaching athletes with higher goals. Every athlete is new challenge and I enjoy finding what works wonders for each and every one of them. There is nothing more gratifying than hearing your athlete tell you that he or she never expected the level of excellence they achieved. However I am very careful about whom I take on these days.

One of Milos latest success stories from the Dominican Republic

I am sure many other coaches out there have had cases of clients telling you that they know they are not eating right, or not sleeping enough, not training enough etc.

When I hear this from someone I immediately tell him or her to please get out of my face and don’t waste my time! Harsh? I don’t think so as clients are extensions of their coach and if I am going to train someone they need to be committed, I don’t have the time or patience for those who are not!

These days I am doing a lot of online coaching and Skype consultations with numerous international clients and even though I am not seeing them on a daily basis they are sending me weekly updates and photos – so I can monitor them with great success.

My plans are as always to help as many aspiring athletes reach their goals and spread my knowledge and experiences with as many people as possible around the world.

I love teaching and learning from others and I absolutely love to travel. I also love Australia as two of my best friends were from there, the late Luke Wood and Sonny Schmidt. In light of this I plan to compete in 2013 IFBB Australian Grand Prix in memory of my two of my dear fallen friends.

In the mean time I am looking at potentially coming out to Australia later in 2012 for a Hypertrophy seminar with the team from Clean Health. I promise it will be an ‘eye opener’ for many who actually have the courage to really test themselves and show up to one of my hypertrophy muscle camps. Details will be released later in the year through the Clean Health website.

Milos Sarcev

IFBB Professional Champion

For more information on Milos be sure to check out his website HERE. To stay up to date with all of our latest interviews, fat loss and hypertrophy tips LIKE our Facebook page!


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