What is your athletic background, and how did you get involved with bodybuilding?
Growing up I was always a part of competitive athletics. Football and baseball were my main sports. Both of which required a unique amount of resistance training and speed skills. Up through college and even Semi-Professional baseball, I had something that kept my skills and my competitive edge. Finally, as I grew older, and leagues disbanded I found myself playing flag football and slow pitch softball.
I continued to progress in the gym and my lifts and body were constantly changing. I saw that as I grew older, I looked better and better. Finally, my brother Ryan, Team Lee, competed in his first show, always wanting to do big brother proud I decided that I would follow in his footsteps.
My first show was in September of 2009, the KC Gold’s Classic. He told me that if I was going to do a show it was going to be big, and he was going to make sure I didn’t fail! The diet started 16 weeks out, I ate and worked out, did more cardio than I ever thought possible. I watched my body transform month after month, into something that I never knew I could be.
Finally the day of the show arrived. I stepped on stage, nervous, shaking, hungry, but feeling like I was on top of the world. I had made it to the stage, I didn’t give up, I didn’t quit, I was competing again. I took second place in a field of 5, I was hooked.
What do you love most about bodybuilding?
The thing that I love the most about this sport is that it is you against yourself during the entire battle. You have to be the one that is willing to put in the work. To be a contest bodybuilder is just like having a second full time job. Between the meal prep, the workouts, cardio, it is easily another 40 hours plus a week. I never understood what it took until my first show. The food, the veggies, carbs, fats, supplements, its an overwhelming would of nutrition and supplementation that makes things work.
On top of everything else, this makes you mentally stronger that you ever thought you could be! Those days when you are ready to quit are the days that the workouts are always the best and you feel even better about yourself for being able to get up and get it done!
What keeps you motivated?
I would have to say the thing that keeps me motivated on a regular basis is waking up and seeing just how close I’ve come show after show, 2nd place, 3rd place, back to second, getting noticed by a number of PRO bodybuilders that you back, abs, arms look ridiculous and they want your advice on how to get certain areas cut. Having the judges point out that you are one of few competitors to have the Christmas tree exposed on your lower back.
It’s the little victories that you achieve on a daily grind in and out of the gym. People that you motivate because of what you do and how much you have accomplished, and even the times when you Dad comes to run steps with you, even at 60 he can make you feel humbled. He keeps going when you want to quit, and you are the one that is supposed to be in shape.
My brother, who has taken up competitive swimming again because of how far I’ve pushed myself, my sister who not to be outdone by her little brother took up running, and she does marathons. My little sister all the way in Cali, that always tells me to keep going and how proud she is of me, and of course my mom, who puts up with my carb depleted attitude. Love them all!
What are your future goals, dreams and plans?
My future goal is of course to be the holder of a PRO card; I know that this will take time and that I am just getting started. But I would like to place 1st, get featured in a magazine for a shoot on a workout. An interview with Muscle & Strength! (WINNER)
How often do you change your training routine, and do you periodize your training?
I like to switch things up about every six weeks. It’s all about being able to shock the body. If you do the same routines, weights, days, splits, you give your body the chance to adapt to the routine, which I feel limits the ability to grow. The key is to stick to something long enough that you are still getting the pump and the burn, not to mention the fantastic feeling of being sore the next day.
If I’m not sore I didn’t work hard enough, and it’s back to the lab to figure out what I didn’t do enough of to make it hurt even more the next go around. And never be afraid to push yourself through one or two more reps, the skin splitting feeling is a good thing, believe me!
How important is progression of weight in some form, in the muscle building process?
For the overall measure of progress, there has to be new goals that you have to achieve. I understand that most of us are no longer in high school and that a one rep max means nothing, however there are times when you have to test yourself whether it be weight or rep wise you have to go above and beyond where you started or you are standing still. The whole point of working out is to get bigger, stronger, and faster, no one wants to stand still and be the same as there were a year ago.
I know I don’t, when that day comes I might as well throw in the straps and call it a day if that is what makes me satisfied with my daily gym routine. Keep an edge, and continue to challenge yourself, set goals and go after them! Never let anyone around you tell you that you can’t. Let haters hate, the only reason they do is because they will never have your drive and desire to be the best you can be!
What are your favorite 5 muscle building exercises and why?
- Hang Cleans: Powerful and Explosive. Best overall body exercise.
- Incline Bench Press: Bringing the upper chest up is huge in bodybuilding.
- Pull Ups: Every type of grip you can think of to get that wide back.
- Chin Ups: If you can perform 3 sets of 10 with your body weight you have no business picking up dumbbells.
- Dips: Weighted, blast your tri’s and chest in a simple deep movement
What does your post-workout nutrition and supplementation look like?
As far as post workout nutrition, I have discovered a number of products that have some great amino profiles as well as carb/protein ratio. I usually switch it up between MHP Dark Matter and Myogenix Aftershock. I also use Elite Nutrition Anabolic Rescue. I have found it greatly important to get the right ratio in for growth.
Just a post work out protein shake alone will not have significant amounts of calories or carbs to satisfy the muscles that have just been destroyed.
What are your favorite cheat meals and foods?
My favorite cheat meal, there are so many after having been on a strict diet of protein, carbs, and greens. However, being Italian I would have to say that I enjoy my mom’s Sunday spaghetti meal. You can never go wrong with garlic bread from Orsi, a home town Italian bakery in Little Italy that has my picture up on their athlete wall of fame, pasta and spicy Italian sausage.
On the other hand, I do enjoy my happy hour sushi rolls. Fish and rice, it is not really cheating is it.
Which athletes do you admire any why?
Ryan Lee, my brother, he is the reason I got started in bodybuilding in the first place. His overall physique drives me to attain the size and strength that he has. On top of that he is an amazing swimmer. We constantly challenge each other at our contests, and drive each other to be better every time we compete.
I would also have to say Rex Burkehead, RB, Nebraska Cornhuskers. He is a player that plays with not only his head and raw talent and ability but his heart. You can tell that his team leans on him for stability and guidance. He is what every collegiate athlete should aspire to be.
Favorite activities and hobbies you enjoy when away from the gym?
Away from the gym I am always a part of some sport. Volleyball, softball, and flag football, really anything to get me outside and in the sun, and being competitive, it’s almost as good as reaching a new goal on a lift of seeing size development at the gym.