INBF Hercules , June 2011
- 1st Men's Open Middleweight (WNBF Pro card)
INBF Mr. America, May 2011
- 2nd Men's Open Middleweights
USBF New Jersey Natural Classic III, May, 2010
- 1st Place Men’s OVERALL
- 1st Place Men’s Open Middleweights
- Won USBF Pro Card
USBF New Jersey Bodybuilding Championships, April, 2010
- 1st Place Men’s Open Light-Heavyweights
USBF New Jersey Natural Classic II, May 2009
- 1st Place Novice OVERALL
- 1st Place Novice Heavyweights
- 1st Place Men’s Masters 35+
- 3rd Place Men’s Open Middleweight
What is your background and how did you get started in bodybuilding?
If I had to pinpoint any sort of ‘real’ underlying motivation for training, it would undoubtedly be my childhood obsession with comic books and super heroes. I’m certainly not the typical ex-jock who started lifting for sports and just fell in love with the training, quite the contrary. To this day I still couldn’t care less how much I lift or how athletic I am, I just want to LOOK like a super hero. It just makes it all worthwhile when I’m prepping for a contest and my girlfriend tells me that I resemble an action figure –lol.
Why do you love bodybuilding?
If ever there was a perfect fusion of the driven, disciplinary nature of sports, with the applied knowledge of academia, and an extra little twist of artistic aestheticism, bodybuilding would be the result. There’s a part of me that just loves going to the gym and retreating deep into myself, and pushing, and pushing, and seeing just hard far I can take myself, further towards the edge each time.
Then there’s another part of me that thrives on the intellectual nature of researching different methodologies in regard to training protocols and nutritional approaches, and assessing just how well they work with my particular physiology. Of course there’s also a part that views the entire pursuit as a sculptor would, constantly trying to bring up weak points and create something from what was once ‘nothing’. Lastly, there’s the part that will still occasionally catch my reflection in a car window, or see myself in a photograph and just think “Wow, I look like that?!”
What is your training philosophy?
There’s a simple truth in bodybuilding, and that is that ‘everything works, but nothing works for long’. To make progress in this game, you have to be smart enough to realize if something is producing results, and rational enough to discard something if it’s not (or if it ceases to). I’ve tried so many different approaches over the years, and the only real conclusive approach I can attest to is that I always leave the gym feeling that I gave all that I had in the tank on that given day.
For the most part, I do like to train pretty heavy, although heavy is a relative term. Even though I’ve backed off a bit in recent years due to a few injuries, I still get the odd glances from the younger kids at the gym when I’m hoisting serious weights for reps. As far as off-season vs pre-contest, the only real change is my days off. When I’m in pre-contest mode, my ‘off’ days become days for interval work (cardio). Off-season though, involves 1-2 days off each week, depending on how I’m feeling, as well as a slightly less stringent attention to my diet.
What's a good workout routine that has given you results?
While I’ve been through many different splits and training approaches over the years, here’s what I’m currently doing (in an off-season approach), although I’m sure it will be completely different a month from now. I don’t have set days for each bodypart, merely a rotation with four distinct training days, taking days off as I feel I need.
- Day 1 - Chest and Calves
- Day 2 - Back and Biceps
- Day 3 - Delts, Traps and Triceps
- Day 4 - Legs
|Chest and Calves|
|Incline Barbell Bench Press|
|Low Incline Cable Flyes|
|Dumbbell Bench Press|
|Straight Leg Calf Presses|
|Back and Biceps|
|Scapular Retractions With Cables|
|Close Grip Pull Up|
|Straight Arm Pressdowns With Rope Attachment|
|Bent Over Two Arm Dumbbell Rows|
|Non-supported Concentration Curls|
|Cable Preacher Curl|
|Leg Sled (Toes Out) or Hack Squat|
|Narrow Stance Front Squat|
|Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift|
|Seated Leg Curl|
|Glute Ham Raise Facing Away From Lat Pull Down|
I couldn’t give you a set and rep scheme because I don’t pre-plan things out. What I can insure is that I bust my butt every session. Some days you’re feeling strong, and are able to go a bit heavier without those ‘grinding’ reps, and so you push things up a bit. Other days, you may not be fully recovered, so it becomes more of a maintenance day, or even a volume day to make up for a lack of intensity.
If you have to pick only 3 exercises, what would they be and why?
- Incline Barbell Press. I honestly feel that this hits the main portion of the pectoral area much better, and with less chance of injury than flat bench work. I’ve not only seen countless shoulder injuries result from a blind allegiance to flat benching, but the number of trainers who can push very heavy weights and yet still don’t have aesthetically pleasing chest development speaks volumes.
- Bent Over Rows with Dumbbells (2 at once). I spent many years performing barbell rows, and without a doubt feel it contributed greatly to my back thickness. Due to a lower back injury that was acting up, one day I tried using dumbbells, hoping that the lighter weight, but better range of motion would make up for my “taking it easy”. The end result was that I felt the contraction so much better, I soon found myself doing both movements, and then eventually completely disregarding the barbell movement completely in favor of dumbbells.
- Dumbbell Incline Skull Crushers. The rationale for dumbbells instead of the traditional cambered bar is simple: better stretch, less strain on the wrists, and absolutely no ego involved in worrying about how much you’ve got on the bar. This is definitely my favorite exercise to put meat on the upper arm.
What’s the best training tip you could give to others?
Just because something works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Be smart about your training, and understand that some days you will be strong, and other days you won’t. Push hard when you can, but equally as important is to rest when you need to. Keep the big picture in mind, keep learning, and remember that you get out what you put in.
What is your philosophy on nutrition?
I try to keep things as simple as I can, but there are definitely some outdated ideas that need to die. If I see one more thread where someone’s cutting edge advice is to simply “eat 500 calories less than you need and you’ll cut up”, I’m going to smash my computer –lol. Your body sees nutrients, not calories, and it’s not always a simple matter of numbers to reach your goal, but understanding the hormonal effects that ingesting different macronutrients at different times will have on your body. If I had to sum up the two key concepts that I worry about in regard to my own nutritional approach, as well as those I coach, it would be nutrient timing, and carb cycling.
Give us a typical day in your off season diet:
As long as I’m eating every few hours, and managing to get a decent amount of protein at each feeding, I’m usually fairly loose during my off season. Of course if I notice myself starting to get softer than I’d like, I pay more attention. Obviously knowing that I’m going to have to diet down for my next show keeps me from allowing my weight to get too far from what I need to weigh on contest day.
Give us a typical day in your diet (contest prep):
While each contest prep is somewhat different, here’s a page out of my last contest prep journal (Spring 2010):
- 6 am - Cup egg whites with diced raw broccoli, cauliflower and turkey pepperoni, ½ cup oats.
- 9 am - Cup cottage cheese with Splenda and cinnamon.
- 11 am - Chicken Breast, bowl of lettuce, ½ cup oats.
- 2 pm - ½ cup oats with 2 scoops low carb Metabolic Drive protein powder.
- 4 pm - 3 Finibars (pre-workout).
- 4:30 pm – Anaconda mixed with Mag10 (peri-workout).
- 7:30 pm - 1 chicken breast, ½ cup oats, raw veggies.
- 10 pm - 2 scoops low carb Metabolic Drive, 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter.
What are your favorite meals and foods?
When I’m dieting, I keep things very simple, thereby eliminating any possibility of cheating, or getting ‘creative’ (taking the ‘fun’ element out of eating makes staying on a diet a lot easier!). My staples are usually bison, chicken, tilapia and salmon as my protein sources, oats, and Ezekiel bread as my carbs, and natural peanut butter, almond butter, and a ton of raw green veggies to round things out. When not dieting though, I make sure I enjoy some meals. Thai and Japanese are current favorites, but I’ve been known to get a little crazy at a local bar’s “10 Cent Hot Wing Night” as well.
Favorite cheat food?
I am a complete junkie for IHOP pancakes. The day after every one of my contests has entailed a Victory stack with blueberry syrup.
What’s the best nutrition tip you could give to others?
Even in ‘off season’, make sure you eat the good stuff before the bad stuff. I’m certainly not ultra strict when I’m not dieting, and I’d hate to miss out on the rest of my life because of my bodybuilding hobby. If I know I’m going to be going out with some friends for dinner, I always eat something beforehand, whether it’s a chicken breast and oatmeal, a couple of cans of sardines, or even just a quick protein shake, it ensures that not only will I not be famished while waiting to be served wherever we go, but it also ensures that I downed some quality nutrients, no matter what I end up munching on the rest of the evening.
What supplements do you use that give you great results? How do you use them?
- Fish Oils. I use ‘Flameout’, which is a much higher potency than your typical store brand gel caps. Without a doubt these made a very noticeable difference on my joints, which take quite a pounding throughout the week. I was also able to remain much leaner even in the off season by having a good amount of healthy fats each day.
- BCAAs. I tried these when I was prepping for my first contest, and became an instant convert. I never thought anyone actually needed supplemental amino acids, but ingesting them during training not only slowed fatigue, but contributed to much better muscle retention when cutting. (I’ve recently switched to utilizing Casein Hydrolsate in the same manner as I would BCAAs and been quite pleased with the results.)
- High Quality Protein Powder (blend). I’ve been using Biotest’s Low Carb Metabolic Drive for almost 10 years now. Based on Dr. Scott Connelly’s original premise, it’s a combination of Whey and Casein (fast and slow digested sources). It’s ideal for nighttime insurance against catabolism, perfect as a between meals feeding, and as new studies are showing, even better than straight whey post-workout. This was the first supplement that made me realize that protein powders didn’t have to taste awful. If you don’t mind taking any supplement, then you’re guaranteed to use it with consistency. I usually take this straight with water, but have also mixed it in oatmeal, mixed it into cottage cheese, even microwaved it a few times when I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry a shaker with me. Makes getting your protein for the day a lot easier when you’re out and on the run.
What brands do you think are offering the best products at the moment?
I’ve been a big fan of Biotest over the years, and continue to use their products. The only other company whose stuff I’ve found to be of a consistently high quality is Beverly International. These two companies hardly advertise, and don’t bother paying the biggest IFBB pros to SAY that they use their products so that young kids buy them. They just turn their stuff out, and count on repeat business. To me, that says a hell of a lot more than seeing Mr. Olympia pretending to be drinking their stuff in a 6 page advertisement. Obviously if people weren’t satisfied with their results, they would be out of business.
What do you think is a good off season muscle building stack?
As long as you’re getting solid nutrition from food, you probably don’t need much more than a good protein supplement and maybe some BCAAs during your training sessions. I know everyone pushes creatine, but I’d rather spend my money on food than on something that will just cause a bit of temporary water retention. Yes, I know it can augment your training a bit, but even if you can train heavier, if your diet’s not in place, you won’t build any muscle from it anyway.
What do you think is a good pre-contest/fat loss stack?
I think that the best ‘fat loss’ approach is to always focus on muscle retention. That being the case, I’d push for BCAAs as an ‘insurance policy’ when on lowered caloric intake. ‘Fat burners’ will help get your off the couch and in to the gym, but anyone who thinks they’re magic is fooling themselves.
Advice For Others
What are the 3 best tips you'd give to someone thinking about competing in natural bodybuilding?
- Having a goal, such as a contest, will light a fire under you, and keep you more consistent and focused with your training and nutrition than you ever could have imagined (once you mail your entry form, there’s no looking back! –lol)
- You’d be surprised at how relatively ‘small’ the competitors are in person at natural shows. Quality will trump quantity every time. Remember that you will look much, much larger when you achieve true contest level conditioning. Use the mirror instead of the scale.
- As long as you know that you did everything you could to bring your best showing to the stage, you can walk with your head held high afterward, no matter where you place. 99% of the people in your gym wouldn’t be able to stick it out for a full contest prep. Take pride in that fact.
What is your best advice for looking your best on competition day?
Be ready ahead of time. If you’re really ready a week or two out, then even if you screw up your peak-week plans, you’ll still be fuller and more ripped than most of the other competitors. Know what your tanning protocol is going to be, and be confident in your posing.
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who's having trouble staying on track?
Everyone has periods of lagging motivation. For the majority of people, this is a hobby, and sometimes ‘real life’ can get in the way of your training. Keep things in perspective, and usually something will rekindle your training fires (magazines, going to a local competition, training with a new partner). I have a few videos of pros I admire on my IPOD, and I usually watch them before training.
What shows have you got coming up, where can we see you compete?
Definitely take a little time off and let my body rest up a bit, and then in 2012 see how I stack up against the top dogs in the WNBF. I had a couple of joint issues that made me almost take this past season (Spring 2011) off just to ensure I was fully healed, but boy am I glad I didn't! Now I just have to be smart and take the lead of so many of the elite level competitors who have been at this for years, and be as smart as I can about my training, and especially about my recovery.
What would you like to achieve in your natural bodybuilding career?
While I don’t have any aspirations to center my life around trying for specific titles (I do have a real job and a real life outside of bodybuilding), I’d like to know that I made myself and my friends and family proud in every show I entered. To me, this is all about a sense of pride and accomplishment. Standing onstage and hearing people that you don’t even know cheering for you is an amazing feeling, one that you can’t really explain to someone who’s never experienced it for themselves. I guess I’ll keep competing as long as it continues to be a source of entertainment and personal fulfillment for me.
Who are your favorite bodybuilders and idols?
I would say Mike Mentzer, Franco Columbu, Lee Labrada, Kevin Levrone, Jay Cutler and definitely Dorian Yates, especially for his ferocious sense of competitive drive. As far as natural professionals go, I’ve always admired Brian Whitacre, Shaun Clarida, Jim Cordova, Doug Miller and Jeff Rodriguez. Jim was the one who really put the idea of competing in my head in the first place, and then Brian and Shaun were both incredibly helpful with all of my concerns during my first prep.
How Can People Contact You?
How can people contact you?