Friday, May 31, 2013

Ready, Release, Rest

  Think about this for a moment.  How often would you say you make sure to incorporate all three of these elements into your workout routines, when it comes to training?  All three of these components; ready, release and rest are key to developing your muscles and in turn building your desired physique.

  To be honest, I would not say either element is more important, nor more beneficial than the other, as each one plays such an important role in your muscle development.  In the past, I was always “that guy” who would get to the gym, head straight to the weights and pump out a workout and as soon as I was finished, grab my gear and hit the road.  I have now put a great deal of focus and attention into structuring my workout routines to make sure I am taking care of my muscles and my body in general, much better.

  I like to prepare for each workout with what I refer to as “ready” my muscles.  I begin with a moderate warm-up of cardio to ensure I get my heart rate elevated, bring up my body temperature and to help lubricate my joints with synovial fluid.  I then move on to a dynamic warm-up, which means stretching that involves movement.  This warm-up prepares the muscles for activity, plus improves mobility and range of motion.  The type of dynamic warm-up would vary, depending on which body parts I am planning to train that day.  Now, this is the point at which my body is primed and ready for activity.  Time to hit the weights and make some gains!

  When I have pushed myself through a solid workout, it is now time for a cool-down to slow the heart rate, in order to prepare to release the muscles.  Once my heart rate has returned to a normal rate, after completing my weight training, this is when it is time to move on to static stretching.  This is a point where it is key to hold your stretches, without movement to stretch and release the built-up tension within the muscles.  I have also found incredible benefits of myofascial release, the goal of which is the release the fascia (a layer of tissue that encloses the muscles).  One effective way I do this is through foam rolling, or deep tissue massage therapy & Rolfing (deep tissue body work/structural integration).

  This final note, is often the one that is missed just as much, if not more than the others, which is rest.  In order for our muscles to complete the recovery and rebuilding process, we must allow them time to rest.  Personally I find that the more intensely I train and the further into competitions I progress, the harder it is for me to allow myself the time to fully rest my muscles.  This is completely opposite from what you would imagine the case to be, but it must come from my competitive drive.  I find it important to remind myself that muscles will not build to their full potential, unless allowed the proper resting period.

  So, for all of you out there that are hitting the gym, please take this advice and make sure to fit in to each of your workouts time to ready, release and rest your muscles.  You will thank me for it when you do.

Stay fit,

Andrew Bukowsky

Saturday, March 9, 2013


As seen posted on (for Men's Physique)

  Most days have a sunrise and a sunset, but play no significant role in our lives.  There are those few days however, that have such a profound impact on us that we are not likely to ever forget any moment of that day.  These days can be drastically different for each and every one of us, whether it is a wedding day, the birth of a child, or stepping on stage for a fitness competition.  What we need to make sure of, is that we cherish each and every one of these moments.

  What causes me to take the time to reflect on these moments, is when I hear so many people talk about these moments as though they happened due to “destiny”.  Personally, I believe that we create each and every opportunity in life that we are presented with.  This got me to thinking about the day I first met my incredible wife.  Now let me say that I am truly a shy person at heart.  When I first saw her and she smiled at me, I realized if I ever wanted to talk to her, I would have to bottle up my shyness and step up to approach her.  If I had waited for destiny to take over, chances are she would have just kept walking right past me and I would not be where I am today.

  The same philosophy holds true for all aspects of health and fitness.  You are not likely to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle, if you are not committed to eat right and get moving.  Every day I hear people tell me that they are just naturally “fit”.  Trust me, this has nothing to do with destiny and doesn’t necessarily mean that these people actually are healthy.  It is common for someone to feel that just because they are at a certain weight, this means they are healthy.  We need to ensure we eat a balanced diet and stay active, so that we can make sure our bodies are functioning at their optimum levels and able to fight off disease and other health conditions.

  To this point, we need to focus less on destiny and think of what we really want in our lives.  Be open to the opportunities we create and take action to achieve these goals.

Andrew Bukowsky 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Nice Bag!

  Since becoming an Ambassador for Fitmark Bags, I find I have started swapping out my bags from time to time.  The one question I find I am always having people ask me is, “what is your favorite bag?”  To answer this question, I have to say that it really depends on the day, or what I am doing.

  Seeing as I work as a Fitness Manager and Personal Trainer, I spend almost all day in the gym.  On these days, I totally rely on my Classic Duffel Bag.  I use a red one, just for the flash of color.  I find it keeps my spirits up, when the days get to be a bit too long.  I find it perfect for being able to fill my bag with all of my gear; change of clothes, extra pieces of training equipment, shoes, shaker cups and all the other bits and pieces that I use throughout the day.  As for quality, this is where the bags really stand out.  I have to admit, I’m not always the gentlest person when it comes to my gym bag.  It often gets tossed in the corner, or I spill my protein shake on it and it cleans up easy and looks as if it were brand new.

  For other times, like if I am going on a hike or hitting up an event like Olympia in Las Vegas, I have to go with the Black, Class Backpack.  For a backpack that appears to be a standard size, it sure holds a lot more than you would expect.  On my hikes, I am able to keep my water bottle, plus an extra snack, as well as an extra pair of shoes for when I’m finished.  On vacations, I am able to pack my 17” laptop and all of my essentials.  I love the soft pocket that I can keep my cell phone, or my sunglasses, without having to worry if they’re going to get scratched up.  The styling of this bag is ridiculously fashionable, especially for one that is so functional.  Everything from the black bag, with hints of red trim, to the military-grade materials to make sure it stands the test of time.

  I guess at the end of the day, if you were to say I have to choose just one as my favorite, it would be the Black, Class Backpack.  I’m so happy that I didn’t have to choose, so I got them both.  If you want to check out all of the bags available, visit the website at or if you are in the local area (Greater Vancouver) you can visit Extreme Nutrition in Lougheed Mall (189-9855 Austin Avenue, Burnaby).  Let me know which one you think is your favorite.

  Have a great day and as always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this blog post.

Thank you for reading.  Stay fit!

Andrew Bukowsky

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A New Year's Resolution

A New Year’s Resolution

Fitmark Ambassador, Andrew Bukowsky, gives advice on achieving your goals. 
A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the change of a habit. A key element to a New Year’s Resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year and most of all, the anticipation of new beginnings. People committing themselves to a New Year’s resolution generally plan to do so for the whole following year.
This lifestyle change is generally interpreted as advantageous and most often, if not always, is a failure. Why would I say that you ask? Because majority of people just say they are going to do something without actually planning ahead and then acting on their words. As the end of the year approaches the resolutions come to surface and it’s when I hear; “On January 1st I am starting a diet, I will lose weight, I will eat better, or save money,” however most often than not, when asked people never have an action plan, just a goal and sometimes maybe a vision.
I started my journey of transforming my lifestyle about two years ago in this same manner…With a goal, somewhat of a vision, but no plan of how I will actually do it.
It’s easier said than done to say eat clean, exercise and results will follow. As I started my journey with my wife, we were far off from knowing what “Clean Eating” really was.
You think you know, you exercise every day and little is happening.
You can read all the books and on-line feeds but until you commit to consistency it really means nothing.
Finally 6 months into our so called clean eating and exercising with minimal results we got help from a husband/wife team of personal trainers who taught us how, when and what to eat to lose weight, get fit and stay fit. The guidelines were strict, direct and to the point. We were committed, determined and stuck to it. We told everyone of our VISION, not so much of our goal, but the vision itself. This is after all, a journey and not a quick fix. Here is a list I recommend for everyone that has a vision, or is in the process of creating one, or wants to set a goal and needs a plan. In addition, I don’t recommend planning further ahead than 90 days or 12 weeks.
This applies to everything not just diet, eating and losing weight. These principles can and should be applied in everything we do from relationships, our work, fitness level and friendships. I will apply the list toward the fitness category:
  • Vision: Share this with as many people as you can, especially those who will be your support circle….if you don’t how will you be held accountable and how will other know what your needs are and trust me you will need the support.
  • Outline your goals and be as specific as possible and are measureable.
  • If you can afford it…GET A COACH! Someone who really knows their stuff for meal planning and a workout program. At least for the first 90 days of your journey.
This is not a sales pitch, since I have become a personal trainer and a nutrition coach. It really was the foundation to my success. I highly recommend it. It will keep you focused and stress free knowing you are in good hands and having the freedom of following a well-designed program and seeing changes was huge for me and my wife.
  • Define what an effective meal plan is for you by either doing extensive research or talking with your coach.
  • Rid your home of anything that will not support that.
  • Start ridding your diet of junk food (candy, fast food, sugars) immediately
  • Enlist the aid of a workout partner who’ll be in it for the long haul. For me it was my wife. This was and continues to be a joint effort day in, day out.
  • Make a list and shop in advance to buy all of your food for meal planning.
  • Purchase supplements and protein powder, based on advice specific to your personal goal(s).
  • Outline your training regimen for the entire 12 weeks.
  • Start building endurance by including cardio, especially if you have been inactive aerobically.
  • Cook the night before, pack the next morning. THIS IS A MUST!!! Fail proof!!!
  • Start writing down everything you eat.
  • Write down your workouts and details about them. Include details of your progress.
  • Get extra rest. This is so important!!!
  • Share your success! You will be surprised, but chances are you will find you will inspire others around you, without even knowing it.
I’ll finish by saying, why wait until January 1st to start your journey to a healthy lifestyle. There is no better time than now, to get fit and feel great.  If you need help or advice, please feel free to contact me with any questions, or comments.  I will be happy to share my experience and offer any assistance I can, to help you begin your journey, or work towards achieving your goals.
Stay fit,
Andrew Bukowsky
Fitmark Ambassador 2013
Follow Fitmark Bags on Facebook and Pinterest.An Exclusive Brand of Sport, Fitness and Work Bags for Fitness Enthusiasts

Please Visit link below for an exclusive Givaway from the Fitmark Team!!!

OK, let’s get after it. Giveaway time!
Click the image and you’ll be directed to our Facebook page where you can leave your comment and enter the contest to win a Fitmark Bag. We’re asking everyone, what’s your 2013 goal and how will you achieve it? Good luck!
fitmark bags contest
Win a Fitmark Bag

Stay fit,
The Fitmark Team
Follow Fitmark Bags on Facebook and Pinterest.An Exclusive Brand of Sport, Fitness and Work Bags for Fitness Enthusiasts

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wow! What a Summer this has been!

All I can say is that this really has been a crazy summer!  There have been so many struggles, changes and accomplishments that I find it hard to imagine I could have done so much in a year, let alone a few months.  I know it has been quite a while since my last update to my blog, but I truly have been so preoccupied with so many other things in my life lately, there has just literally been no time (I do apologize for this).

With so much to say, where do I begin?  I guess the best place is to start where I last left off.  My last blog post talked about my progression through my 12 weeks of prep before my first competition for Men’s Physique with the BCABBA at the Western Canadians in Kelowna.  The whole experience of prepping and stepping on stage for the first Men’s Physique show in BC really was remarkable!  I must admit that I did feel a bit like a deer caught in the headlights while I was waiting back stage for the first time I was to step on stage.  There was so much activity going on and it was almost too overwhelming to stay focused.  One thing I do regret about this first show, which I recommend other first time competitors pay heed to, is that I didn’t take the opportunity to make new connections and meet new people.  I did meet some new people, but not nearly as many as I would have liked, as I stayed in my comfort zone of my fellow team members.  The one thing that I was a bit surprised about is that once I did finally step on stage for the first time, I didn’t have a case of nervousness.  I felt comfortable and was able to really enjoy the moment.  Receiving a third place ranking was such a great feeling.  This top three placing not only would have qualified me for the BC Provincial Championships (I say would have, because since this is the first year for Men’s Physique, this BC Championships was open to all MP competitors), but it also qualified me for the 2013 IFBB World Qualifiers at the Natural Nationals (I’ll come back to this competition later).  This is a tested event, so I am very excited to be competing once again at a tested event.

So, with Kelowna’s competition complete, this meant I was only six weeks out from competing closer to home at the BC Provincial Championships, which was held at the Massey Theatre in New Westminster.  I took the opportunity to contact the judge after the show, to ask for feedback as to what I could improve on for my next competition.  The main feedback that I received, did not really come as a surprise to me, as I was told that I needed to increase the size in my chest and shoulders, but that my conditioning the best on stage.  I found it very difficult to prepare for this next competition, trying to add on size, while still staying lean since the time between shows was so tight.  Stepping on stage here at the BC’s I did see some very minor gains in muscle development, but not enough.  On the other hand, with this attempt to build and cut, I did find my conditioning was not as tight as it was in Kelowna.  The results of this show were still right where I was hoping to achieve.  I knew this competition was going to be more difficult, as the number of competitors was much larger, and this was not a tested event.  While I would have been ecstatic to have won my class and/or the overall title at this event, my goal was to place in the top five for my height class, to ensure I would be qualified to compete in the CBBF Nationals.  I did reach this goal by placing fifth in the short class and did move on to compete in the Nationals.

Once again, the next show was only six weeks away from the BC’s and I needed to work on the same areas to develop my upper body size in my prep for Nationals.  This time, I had some serious struggles, as there were a lot of personal changes and struggles I was facing at this same time.  I took it upon myself to work towards earning my A.C.E. Personal Trainers Certification this summer (right in the middle of my contest season).  So, in addition to working as a restaurant General Manager 50 hours a week, serious dieting, training twice a day at the gym, studying for my certification, I was also in the process of working to make a career change.  I found my hardest time was five weeks before the Nationals, I was under so much stress with dieting, training, work, school and friendships, that I really had a minor breakdown.  Stress took over and I fell back for a couple of days into my old comfort zone, by turning to food to help me feel better.  This really did hurt my prep, although I did manage to have some great support from my wife Grace.  She was always there by my side every day at the gym (twice a day) even though she didn’t need to prepare for a show at this time.  Grace gave me a good pep talk, which got me right back on track and I was able to come in to the Nationals in the healthiest state of mind of all the competitions to date.  At this point, once again I was working towards winning my class, but I was more focused on being honored to make it to the National level within my first year of competing and really wanted to enjoy the entire experience.  I ended up placing 7th in my class at this event, which I was so pleased with.  This event I made a point to take the time to get to interact with fellow competitors, friends and family, as well as make an effort to connect with new people, or those that I had come to “know” through social media over the previous few months.

When I thought things would settle down after my final show at Nationals was finished, that is when things actually just started getting busier.  Right before the Nationals took place, I was invited by Ian Lauer to contribute to the Men’s Physique forum on the website, with results from the first Canadian Men’s Physique Nationals.  I was incredibly honored to have received this invitation and have now had two contributions posted to the website, sharing Canadian updates in Men’s Physique events.  In addition to this great opportunity, I wrote my exam and earned my Personal Trainer certification and have since left my restaurant General Manager role to pursue my new career as a trainer with Steve Nash Fitness World in Langley, BC.  This change has added a whole new level of stress for me, as it means I need to build my clientele from the ground up, but I am so excited to have a new career in a position that allows me to share my passion with those looking to make a change in their own lives. 

One of the most exciting things that has happened this summer, was hearing the news from Derek Crossman of DC Sports Nutrition, that both Grace and I were both chosen as Sponsored Athletes / Brand Ambassadors for Pure Force Nutrition.  This is such an amazing honor and the product line fits with our beliefs and life style just perfectly, as all of the Pure Force Nutrition products are Certified Banned Substance Free!  Check out our Fit Life 24/7 fan page on Facebook for more details about the product line.

If all of this is not enough to keep me busy, I have also been invited to be a guest blogger for Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean blog.  I am expecting to see my first contribution go live on Tosca Reno’s blog within the next couple of weeks.  I will keep you updated as to when this is live.

I guess I have gone on for quite some time now, trying to catch up on most of the events and activities I have been kept busy with through the summer.  I look forward to keeping you updated more often.  Next time I’ll get into details of my next competition and changes to my prep for this show.  Have a great day and as always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this blog post.

Thank you for reading.

Andrew Bukowsky

Monday, May 28, 2012

12 Week progression for Western Canadians Kelowna

Since my first show that I competed in Men's Physique at the Western Canadians in Kelowna is done, I think it is a good time to show my progression through the 12 weeks of preparation for this event.  I have included some of the weekly progress pictures through this time (although I have to say, the final week out I just got so caught up that taking pictures was missed).  Wow, as you will see through the weeks, it was obvious that I didn't really get my posing down until I was in the last week.  I was kind of surprised that most of my posing on stage, was presented quite well.

12 weeks out

11 weeks out

10 weeks out

 9 weeks out

8 weeks out

7 weeks out

6 weeks out

5 weeks out

4 weeks out

3 weeks out

2 weeks out

On stage - evening show!

Something I find interesting to see when I look back on these progress pictures, as well as thinking about my mind-set during this process, is how there is not really drastic changes in my physique until the last few weeks before competition.  The main reason for this, is that I have stayed strict with a healthy lifestyle and consistent training for the past 9 months leading up to this event.  This made the impact on my meal planning for preparation much less of a shock to my system, especially compared to last October, when I was initially starting to lose weight and began cutting to prepare for a photo shoot with Pink Elephant Photography.  While the impact on meal planning was minimal, the effect mentally was just as difficult, but in a much different way.  What I mean by this, is that since I was already maintaining a consistent body weight at 155Lbs and a body fat below 10%, I really didn't need the usual 12 weeks of prep to "cut" for the show.  The part that I feel was most difficult, was that I couldn't get it out of my head, that I needed to cut.  Last year I found myself to be very self-conscious about my weight and overall health and condition.  When I was approaching this competition so seriously (as I really wanted to do well), my mind kept telling me I needed to trim down and come in "lean".  While the results of this show were very favourable, seeing as I placed 3rd, I may never know if I could have placed better, if I didn't allow my head to mess with my progress.  My trainer Dean had set out a meal plan for me, that I was dedicated to sticking to 100%.  I was seeing excellent results and was in great shape, but I started adjusting my meal plan without reviewing the changes with Dean.  Even though I was recommended to step on stage a bit "fuller", I let the prep get into my head.  I convinced myself that I wanted to come in as lean as possible.  I did accomplish this leanness, as when I measured my body fat the morning of the competition, I measured in at just below 5% body fat.  Without trying to sound boastful, I feel I did come in leaner than the other competitors and presented the best abs on the stage, I feel my leanness hurt my upper body presentation and came in a bit flat in my chest.

Top 3 final results.

Top 5 finalists.

While the first few hours waiting for my time to step on stage seemed to drag on forever, before I knew it, I was being called to the "pump up room" and get ready to go on stage.  I was able to stay pretty calm and loose and even was able to have some fun in our waiting room.  What a great team of people we had competing with our Body by Brandt team!  I enjoyed every moment of this experience and can't wait to do it again (hopefully many more times).  Here are just a few pictures that show some of the light and fun times I was able to have while waiting.


The day before competition, Grace and I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot with Gus Mctavish of Proshot Photo.  This was such a fun and relaxed experience, which resulted in some great photos.  Here are just a couple of the photos from this shoot.  Stayed tuned as I will share more photos from this shoot soon.


At this stage, I am now less than 5 weeks out from competing in the BCABBA - 2012 BC Championships, June 30th, 2012. My goal is to fill out my upper body a bit more (not much time to see major gains). I still want to present myself lean, but a bit fuller in the upper body. I have committed to pushing hard in my training, plus sticking to my meal plan as Dean and I have prepared. Lesson learned, I will not make changes to my plan, unless I discuss this in detail with my trainer.

As always, I want to say thank you for taking the time to read about my thoughts and experiences.  I really do appreciate all of the support I receive from my family and friends, both close and afar!  Your support and encouragement goes a long way to helping me push harder to achieve my goals and dreams. 

Take care and I look forward to sharing with you again soon.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Western Canadians Kelowna

May 19th, 2012 will be a day I don't think I will ever forget!  I have to say that stepping on stage to compete in the Men's Physique category was such an amazing experience.  Being a part of the Body by Brandt team was such a great time!  We had so many members of our team place in the top 5 and several taking home trophies for top 3 placings!

To be honest, I am very surprised that I was not affected by nerves nearly as much as I expected to be.  Don't get me wrong, I did have my moments of nervous energy, but I was able to keep it together and remember to hit my posing for the most part as I practiced.  Thank you to Muscle Insider Magazine for their coverage and thank you to Gus Mctavish of ProShotPhoto for their coverage of this event and the photos of on stage.  They were able to capture some great images that showcase many competitors best.  I have included some of the photos from the stage.  To see more, you can check out my Facebook page to see many of these photos, or the galeries on Muscle-Insider.

I am very happy with what I brought to the stage, but it appears as though I may have come in too lean.  I'm already making some adjustments to my physique to be ready for the BC's June 30th.

This photo is of the top 3 winners in Men's Physique.  Winner is in the middle, with second place to the left and I am on the right.

It was a tough group of guys to compete against, as you can see from the line-up of the top 5 in the final call-out in the evening show.  I want to say congratulations to all of the other competitors I had the opportunity to share the stage with and thank you for the positive energy that all of the competitors displayed towards one another.

I would be doing an injustice, if I failed to mention the fact that my wife Grace competed in the same show as I did.  Some people said we were crazy to be prepping and competing in the same show, as we would drive each other crazy.  We found completely the opposite was the case.  We were able to push each other to achieve some amazing results, as well as support each other through our challenges.  I think Grace presented an incredible physique, although it was not quite what the judges were looking for.  I don't think Grace is too disappointed with what looks like 6th place, mainly due to being too lean for what the judges were looking for.

Grace on stage with 3 of the top 5. 1st place winner is the far right.


I feel very fortunate to have had so many people offering support and encouragement along this journey.  A special thanks goes to our daughter Veronica and our friends Marie and Matt for making the trip to Kelowna with us.  The three of them were such a big help with all of the extras that we needed during our final preparations.

Seeing as the BC's are closer to home (Massey Theater in New Westminster), I hope we will be able to have even more family and friends come to cheer us on, as we continue our journey of competing on stage.  Keep posted for further updates on progress and more cool information and even some recipes coming soon. 

Take care, and keep working on transforming your own wellness.  Thank you for reading and please make sure to share your thoughts and comments.