Delbert Hickman began his competition career in 1999, with the NPC. Since that time, Delbert has competed in over 20 natural bodybuilding contests, taking home numerous first place finishes. Along with his wife LaDawn, Delbert Hickman is a contest promoter, and runs 2 Fit Productions. In our interview with Delbert Hickman, he talks about post-contest feeding frenzies, training and diet, the politics of bodybuilding, and more.
Muscle and Strength: Tell me a little bit about yourself...when did you start lifting, and did you enjoy it right out of the gate?
Delbert Hickman: My name is Delbert Hickman. In 1989, I began a career in the Information Technology field. In the past 10 years, I expanded my field of study and became a competitive bodybuilder (qualifying as a WNBF pro in 2002), ACE certified personal trainer, certified Kickboxing instructor, and boot camp instructor. I have had the good fortune to have appeared in Muscle and Fitness and Iron Man. In the recent 2 years, I've helped others realize their passion for fitness by promoting the INBF Tri-State Bodybuilding and Figure Championships in Dayton, Ohio.
I began weight lifting in High School and, at the time, was a scrawny, wiry yet strong individual. Starting to lift weights helped me even the field when it came to competitive sports like football, basketball, and baseball. My favorite exercise then (and now) was/is squats. My max squat in High School was exceptional. At barely over 150 lbs, I could power up 405 lbs which was instrumental in my ability to dunk a basketball at only 5'7 and 3/4". I took to lifting weights like a bee to honey. I haven't stopped since. I love it and it has literally become a part of my lifestyle.
Muscle and Strength: With that type of raw, natural strength, have you ever considered powerlifting?
Delbert Hickman: Actually, no. I once trained with a powerlifter. At the time, he was in his 60's and still strong as an ox. In a way, he directed me away from powerlifting. He very bad knees and a multiple back surgeries due to his years in powerlifting and often told me that I would last longer in bodybuilding. He encouraged me to sometimes lift heavy as a powerlifter does but only sparingly.
Muscle and Strength: What does your current split and routine look like? And when you say you generally avoid heavy weight, does that mean all together, or just heavy, lower rep sets?
Delbert Hickman: My split changes each week. I try to create as much variety and change as possible. When focusing on a lagging area, I train it twice in one week. This week I train legs and calves on Monday (squats, leg press, hack, leg extensions, barbell lunges, various calf work), shoulders on Tuesday (barbell press, dumbbell press, Arnold press, side, front, rear lateral raise combo), back on Wednesday (barbell rows, T-bar rows, dumbbell rows, cable rows, pull-ups), chest on Thursday (rotating incline, flat, decline barbell presses, incline and flat dumbbell flyes, cable fly and push-up combo), hamstrings and calves on Friday (straight bar partial deadlifts, hamstring curls, single leg hamstring curls, dumbbell deadlifts, various calf work), shoulders again using all dumbbells with high reps. Sunday is rest. I incorporate cardio 3 times per week in the off season and 5 times during contest prep. I train heavy every other week and, at times, every two weeks (if feeling tired).
Muscle and Strength: I see you use dumbbell deadlifts on hamstring day. That's not an exercise you often see used by bodybuilders. How long have you been using it, and do you perform it more like a Romanian deadlift, or more like a conventional deadlift?
Delbert Hickman: Yes sir! It's a great exercise for adding detail to the hamstrings-glute tie-in pre-contest. I've been using it for about 3 years now and perform it like a Romanian deadlift (I guess). My wife does them too and swears by them. Talk about tight glutes. I affectionately refer to them as quarter bouncers (if you get my meaning).
Muscle and Strength: I definitely get your meaning.
I heard a story about your post-contest meal after winning the overall at the 2000 Ohio Governor's Cup. Can you recap the story for us?
Delbert Hickman: LOL! After 25 shows, I have so many post-contest meal stories to tell that would have you laughing for weeks. One in particular was when I took a trip to Cancun Mexico after competing. I had diarrhea the whole week and came home weighing the same as I did the day of show. I couldn't figure why since I avoided non-bottled water and ate cautiously. In the end I discovered it was because of the coffee I had been drinking EVERY day!
Muscle and Strength: What's it like to compete against someone you know is cheating and using steroids? And have you ever lost out to someone you suspected of cheating at a competition?
Delbert Hickman: I've competed in untested events in my career and have never allowed someone's decision to use steroids to affect my preparation or my personal commitment to the sport. I'm sure there have been occasions where my natural abilities were not enough to overcome the reality of the untested events. However, that has never affected my desire to be the best I can be naturally since, on some occasions, my natural abilities were more than enough. For tested contests, I have maintained my belief in the system.
Muscle and Strength: If you had a chance to start over again from square one, and return to the weight room having never lifted, what would you do differently to maximize your early years of training?
Delbert Hickman: That's easy. The primary thing I'd do differently is how/what I ate. I didn't know how to eat properly to achieve maximum performance when training and maximize results. Also, like many, I focused mostly on how much I could bench and didn't realize the importance of building an entire package to maximize gains and minimize injury.
Muscle and Strength: What's your take on the politics involved with bodybuilding. And is the political end of the sport the most frustrating aspect for you?
Delbert Hickman: Undoubtedly, the subjective nature of bodybuilding enhances the presence of politics. I wish it did not exist but, unfortunately, it always will. I have myself been a victim of it as well as others that I know. However, politics has given me a motivational edge that has helped me realize success in the sport. I always tell others that are concerned about politics one thing.
"You cannot control politics. What you can control is how prepared you are. If you prepare to be flawless, more times than not, politics will not have a voice in the matter." - Delbert Hickman
Muscle and Strength: Can you tell us about 2Fit Productions...
Delbert Hickman: My wife LaDawn and I founded 2Fit Productions back in 2007. Our mission is to share our passion for fitness by inspiring and motivating others to live fit and healthy lifestyles. The means we use to create that inspiration and motivation varies. We are both group fitness instructors and, in fact, at one time, we taught a boot camp class together. Also, I'm a certified personal trainer and help clients with achieving their fitness goals and/or contest preparation. Also, we provide a "stage" (literally) for other natural bodybuilding and fitness enthusiasts to share their accomplishments by promoting the International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (INBF) Tri-State Bodybuilding and Figure Championships in Dayton, Ohio during the 2nd week of May.
Muscle and Strength: What are your long term bodybuilding goals? And do you ever see a time when you stop competing?
Delbert Hickman: After competing in bodybuilding as an amateur and pro for 10 years (come October 23rd), I cannot say I have long-term goals. In the short-term, I hope to compete in 3 shows in the next year and place in the top 3 in at least one and top 5 in the other two. To do so, I hope to achieve a new level of conditioning in the coming year. I still have the fire burning in my soul that makes me push myself to new heights. Until that fire subsides or my body tells me it's time, I'm not sure exactly when I will decide to retire. However, I will say this. I'm far closer to retirement than not.