At the ripe, young age of 20 years old, I decided to test my skills in natural bodybuilding. I was, at the time, 9 weeks out from FAME/WNSO Chicago that was to be held at Robert Morris University in Chicago, Illinois. I weighed 216.0lbs the day I decided that I wanted to set the date for August 14th, 2010 and travel six hours to Chicago and compete. I called one of my good friends who is also a natural bodybuilder and 21 years of age and told him the news. We set up some macro nutrient values to set things off and in 9 weeks I showed up to the competition weighing in at 180.0lbs.
Being only 20 years old I wanted to take small steps and get my feet wet in the Junior division (21 years of age and younger in WNSO) So that's what I signed up for. This competition was the first one to be held in the midwest region of the United States for FAME, and the turnout was not the greatest, nor to my advantage. Only three other competitors showed up for the event all of which were many years older than myself. So the organization decided to combine all competitors together in one "open" class. I was feeling good about the competition even though all the other competitors had many years experience and muscle maturity on me.
I remained calm about the competition and tried to keep my nerves under control. We all stepped on stage and it was the best feeling of my life, I had accomplished the biggest goal in my life and it was far greater than winning. The results did not come in my favor, I placed 4th out of 4, but I wasn't upset or mad, I was happy, ridiculously happy. I won that competition, because I actually accomplished that goal I set 3 years ago. It was a learning experience and I wouldn't change a thing about it if I had the chance. I know now what I have to do to win in 2012, and the other competition better watch out!
What is your background and how did you get started in bodybuilding?
I graduated High School in 2008, at that time I weighed 266lbs. I was a three sport athlete my senior year and played football, baseball, and track and field. I knew I was a big guy and was probably a little too big. I went to a lot of parties and hung out with my friends and really didn't care what I looked like, I was the biggest kid on the football team, my weight and appearance didn't bother me.
I then went on to college for football. I had lost a little bit of weight over the summer lifting weights and just training to get in shape for college football, but I was by no means trying to look better. It paid off, I got to college and went through the rest of the summer camps and practices and received quite a bit of playing time at Blackburn College as a Freshman on the offensive line. My dreams of playing college football for four more years were shattered when the college decided to drop the program, due to financial reasons. That is when I met some really good friends of mine that ignited the spark that I hold for bodybuilding.
Since we couldn't compete other teams on the football field, we started competing against each other in the weight room. Doing this I started seeing unbelievable changes in my physique, I went from 250lbs to about 225lbs in the first year at college. Some of my friends had some guys that were doing bodybuilding and brought it up to me, that is when I started reading and doing my homework. I got Arnold's Encyclopedia, read the entire thing in a matter of days and idolized bodybuilding magazines and books. During this time I also "trolled" the Internet for hours upon hours looking for information about weight training and dieting.
I never would post on any forums, but rather sit back and soak up all the information that was out there. Then about three years ago I found a site that I could call home. These guys (Rick, Matt, Mac, Kris, Rip, Ronnie, Scott, and Steve) took me in and gave me the advice that I was looking for and needed. On this site I also met Steve Shaw, who took a great interest in my potential and told me I could be a champion. All of these guys and this forum led me to not only be a part of many other great websites, but also take the challenge and step on stage.
Why do you love bodybuilding?
I believe many people do not answer this blatantly enough. It's about control for me. When I bodybuild, weight lift, or diet, I'm in control, nobody else. I love it. I never get tired of the changes either, whether I'm bulking or cutting, I'm always changing, and yet again, I am in control.
What is your training philosophy?
There are many factors in my training, I personally believe my main one is the mind-muscle connection that you need to have. Arnold explains this in his Encyclopedia, you need to have a connection with the muscles that you are training, you need to visualize the muscle growing and encourage it to grow. The whole time I'm training, I'm thinking, what can I do to stimulate this muscle so it will get its maximum workout and grow.
Another thing I focus on is form and the workload. Form comes before weight, plain and simple. Sure I can deadlift 500lbs, but it's ugly. I will sometime go down 5lbs a set to find the form/weight I need to preform the exercise correctly. Using proper form is key to isolating the muscle and getting the results you need, while also preventing injury. But every time I lift it's heavy, every week I go up in weight, I don't care if it's 2.5lbs or 20lbs, I go up, never allow myself to plateau.
As far as my actual training routine, I follow Ronnie Rowland's Slingshot Training System pretty religiously on and off-season. I have made minor adjustments to the routine by adding more compound exercises and decreasing sets/reps on some exercises and days, but mostly I follow the STS program. It keys in on isolating the muscle and really tearing it down to allow for an insane amount of growth. I have been using it for awhile now and it has never ceased to amaze me, I come back bigger and more ripped every on/off season!
What's a good workout routine that has given you results?
- Monday - Chest and Calves
- Tuesday - Back and Abs
- Wednesday - Biceps and Triceps
- Thursday - Shoulders and Traps
- Friday - Legs and Abs
- Saturday - OFF
- Sunday - OFF
|Incline Bench Press||5||8-12|
|Incline Dumbbell Flyes||5||8-12|
|Dumbbell Bench Press||5||8-12|
|Jump Rope||5||50 Jumps|
|One Arm Dumbbell Rows||5||8-10|
|Wide Grip Lat Pull down||5||8-12|
|EZ Bar Curl||5||8-12|
|Reverse Barbell Curl||5||8-12|
|Dumbbell Hammer Curl||5||8-12|
|Tricep Push Down||5||8-12|
|Cable Lateral Raise||5||8-12|
|Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise||5||8-12|
|Rear Delt Flyes||5||8-12|
|Dumbbell Shoulder Press||5||8-12|
|Straight Leg Deadlift||5||8-12|
If you have to pick only 3 exercises, what would they be and why?
- Barbell Rows. Slow and heavy, isolate that middle back and imagine it expanding out. I feel the most growth out of this exercise and always put myself through some pain doing it.
- Tricep Pressdowns. Triceps fascinate me, mine are a strong point and I love maxing out the pressdown machine and having to throw dumbbells and free weights on top of the stack to get a good workout in.
- Squats. Just do them, they literally MAKE you grow!
What’s the best training tip you could give to others?
This takes time, loads of time, and very hard work. You have to be patient and consistent. Listen to your body and also pay close attention to it, pin-point what exercises and dieting plans work for you and key in on them. Rome wasn't built in a day.
What is your philosophy on nutrition?
Everyone is different. I know guys that eat double cheeseburgers for their post workout meals and still cannot gain weight. I on the other hand drive past McDonalds and gain 5lbs. What I'm getting at is everyone responds differently to the nutrition they put in their bodies. Just for basic guidelines keep protein at 1.0-1.2g/lb bodyweight, 1.5-2g/lb bodyweight carbohydrates and 20-30% total calories from fat. Example: my daily macro breakdown in the off season (now) is roughly, 225g protein/ 300-400g carbs/ 60-80g fats.
Give us a typical day in your off season diet:
Oh boy, I might be the bad example here haha. I eat seven meals a day off-season, all being large and rather balanced. To hit my macros I start off by eating a huge breakfast, couple cups of oatmeal, large omelet, scrambled eggs, muffins, milk, ham, cereal. I eat until I'm full basically. I keep the foods I eat at breakfast clean, but I don't count, you need to give yourself loads of nutrients after fasting 8+ hours.
Throughout the day I eat "protein oatmeal" which I make myself, it consists of Cookies and Creme Whey, 1 cup oats, and 2 tbsp natural peanut butter. I eat this 4 times a day in between breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am at school year around and the food sucks here so lunch and dinner consist of turkey lunch meat and skim milk...sounds great I know right? Haha. I keep my macros are 1.2g/lb BW for protein, 1.75-2g/lb BW carbs, and 20-30% total calories fat in the off season.
Give us a typical day in your diet (contest prep):
Contest prep was insane for me, having to lose 30+ pounds in 9 weeks wasn't fun nor easy. Main points in contest prep that I have to give are, know when to eat your carbs, and learn how your body responds to different types. During contest prep I keep my protein at 1g/lb BW, carbs are low and they get cycled, I'll go 3/1 days low/high carbs to keep the fat burning process amped up, and I keep my fats around 30-40% total calories.
What are your favorite meals and foods?
As much as I eat chicken in prep, I still love it. When me and the girl go out to eat I would rather have a good BBQ chicken breast than a steak. Peanut butter is my weakness though, It has done some damage in this off season so far...haha.
Favorite cheat food?
Pizza, hands down. I don't care where it's from or what type or kind. I love me some pizza.
What’s the best nutrition tip you could give to others?
Many people get bent out of shape over there diets especially when it comes to cheat days. You're human, eat food, it's good for you! If you busted your butt for the last six days hitting all your proper macro nutrients and trained hard and even did extra cardio or something...go have a cheat day, and don't feel bad about it!
Another tip, when you're in contest prep, DO NOT GUESS! If you are weighing foods don't guess around with your values. My good friend and mentor told me, "If you guess, you'll look like a guess." I still stand to that.
What supplements do you use that give you great results? How do you use them?
- Body Fortress Whey Protein. Everyone looks at me funny when I tell them to go buy their protein at Wal-Mart. I've used BF protein for 3 years, I think it's working... ;-)
- Purus Labs Muscle Marinade. Great pre-workout, gets me pumped, no crash, and the focus is intense. I love it!
- Fish Oil. If I don't use it, I'm literally in physical pain. It's great for joints and overall health. Use accordingly.
What brands do you think are offering the best products at the moment?
What do you think is a good off season muscle building stack?
What do you think is a good pre-contest/fat loss stack?
Food, diet is the most important thing, I don't use that many supplements in general and especially for fat loss.
What are the 3 best tips you'd give to someone thinking about competing in natural bodybuilding?
- Mirror not the Scale.
- Hard work is hard, stay focused and work harder than anyone else!
What is your best advice for looking your best on competition day?
Just chill, and have fun. I'm the most competitive person I know, I don't even play intramural sports at college because I hate losing and don't want to risk it. But when it comes to bodybuilding you've just got to have fun with it. If you believe you won and accomplished goals by getting on stage then you have won.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who's having trouble staying on track?
Keep your eye on the prize, my mom told me that every time I was having a bad day, and she could tell of course. Keep your head right and your mind focused on the goal that lies ahead. "You gotta want it" - Me.
What shows have you got coming up, where can we see you compete?
I'm in the shadows and laying low right now. I've been contemplating the INBF Ohio Buckeye Classic in April, 2011. But my mind is telling me to wait for 2012 and pack on some serious muscle in this off-season, I'm young and still have a lot of growing to do : )
What would you like to achieve in your natural bodybuilding career?
Of course a natural pro-card. But I enjoy the learning that comes from this and eventually the teaching.
Who are your favorite bodybuilders and idols?
In the modern day world of bodybuilding it's got to be my boy Jay, I even rock the Fauxhawk like him haha. But overall is Tom Platz, his physique amazes me.
But my hero is my Father, that man busts his ass everyday in the weather to give me and my mother everything that we need. When I get down and feeling bad in my contest prep I think about my dad, he has been a carpenter for 30+ years and works rain or shine, cold or hot, all year long. If I feel I'm having a bad day I just make myself realize that that man is outside right now, its 100+ degrees, and he is on top of a roof hanging trusses, or putting on decking, or siding a house. He is my hero and stronger than any bodybuilder that has existed.