What is your athletic background, and how did you get involved with Physique?
I competed in high school swimming and water polo at a very high level and also NCAA Division One swimming and water polo (big contact sport, basically football in the pool) and finished top 3 in my events in NEC with Saint Francis College and SEC with USC. I competed in 2010 Muscle and Fitness Male model search during the Olympia Weekend in Las Vegas, NV. It was a great experience, lots of talent.
I just Won the EASTERN USA’s MEN’s PHYSIQUE in PA. This sport is a new addition to NPC and it is very similar to a fitness modeling contest. Athletes are judged on looks, muscular conditioning as well as confidence and stage presence. Winning Eastern USA’s qualified me for the 2011 Team Universe which will allow me to take a shot at getting my pro card. The contest is this JULY and you can follow me on Facebook: Melih Ashley.
What do you love most about Physique?
I love this new sport of physique. I consider myself a bodybuilder and the one big difference in men’s physique is the size of the athletes. Freakish size in the sport of physique is a mark down and they are looking for a balanced athletic look with a decent amount of mass. What I love about bodybuilding is proving to myself and others that with hard work and proper nutrition (supplementation), it is possible to achieve your ultimate physique naturally.
What keeps you motivated?
My wife Ashley is my biggest motivator. She will help me in anyway possible and believes in me. My parents are always a good support system as well. And last but not least, knowing that I am getting one step closer to my ultimate physique with each workout is one of my ultimate motivating factors.
Who were your heroes growing up and how did they help inspire you?
Any athlete that stood out and pushed the envelope inspired me. For example Michael Jordan, Arnold, Mark Spitz and many more that were the best at what they do.
What are your future goals, dreams and plans?
My current focus is to prepare for Team Universe in July and make some improvements before I get there. I am also very involved in www.ironlifeforever.com, they are the best retail site and I will be at the 2011 Olympia booth with them this fall, check out the website! My wife and I currently own NL Fitness and we are also coaching men’s physique and women’s figure competitors online at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/Melih.Ashley.
What does your current training and split look like, and what do you like most about it?
I strongly believe in a 10 day split. With this 10 day split I train each bodypart 2 times every 10 days. I found that this works great for me as far proper recovery and taking the time to work on my weaknesses. One interesting factor to my workouts is that I pair chest and back, biceps and triceps, quads and hams together. It was difficult in the beginning but once I got used to it, the results came fast. I train everyday through these 10 days however every 5th day is abs, obliques, and cardio (I consider the ab/cardio days my off days).
How often do you perform cardio?
I perform cardio 2 times every 10 days for 20 minutes off-season and pre contest I do cardio everyday for 15 minutes. Before you wonder why 15 minutes check out the following. I use the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) method for my cardio. I use 2-1 ratio where I will go 20 seconds all out and 10 seconds slow. This intense 15 minutes feels like the longest 15 minutes but the research back up the fact that it burns so much more calories than traditional cardio; especially after the workout (by raising your metabolic rate so much more that traditional cardio would!) So try this method out, you can always start with a more moderate version. It can be as little as 8-10 minutes and the fast portion depends on your training history! Don’t overdo it.
Do you supplement your weight training and cardio with any other physical activities?
I use the heavy duty rope cardio training for the HIIT workout method that I mentioned above. This HIIT method Is not only for running but it can be done with biking, jump rope, elliptical, agility ladder, and finally heavy duty rope! The rope is basically a way to get your heart rate up using your upper body, lower body and core. Since it is mostly using the upper body, this method is perfect for a cardio day if your legs are sore and you can not run fast. See in picture the 30 foot rope cardio tool!
How often do you change your training routine, and do you periodize your training?
I currently use a method where I am constantly tricking my body into more growth. During my 10 day split there is 2 days where I work the same body parts. And here is how I vary it!
Day 1 for ex: (Chest and Back) Day one is heavy straight sets and long breaks between sets. Normally 8-10 sets per body part with FST-7 style finish at the end. To learn about FST-7 method visit www.ironlifeforever.com and click contact us.
Day 5 (Which is the second chest and back routine) Now here is where I trick my body using most the methods in the book. Second time I come around to the same body part within the 10 day period I challenge it by using one of the methods below, and each 10 day split it is a different one.
Drop sets, giant sets, negatives, super slow, chains or rubber bands attached to weights (linear variable resistance), supersetting, strip sets, tri sets and rest and pause technique are some examples. Now, my goal that I make sure to accomplish is: when I come around to my 1st workout of the 10 days (which is the heavy straight sets) I must see an increase in strength! This is the goal of this whole training method!
Which do you prefer, and why...steady state cardio or HIIT?
I prefer HIIT, just because my body responds to it very well. And the research that backs it up is undeniable. HIIT burn much more calories during and after the workout than the steady speed traditional cardio, for those of you who have never tried this, please do so.
What are some of your best training tips for someone who just wants to look good and get ripped?
I strongly recommend a high protein, moderate fat and moderate carb diet. Also use some of the training methods that I listed above. Stay consistent with your training and always have short term goals in mind. Nobody that you are inspired by got to that point overnight. Don’t forget the HIIT cardio and you are on your way to a healthy, lean beach body!
What are your favorite 5 muscle building exercises and why?
If I had to put them in an order of best to ok would be: deadlift, front squat, bench press, chest fly, straight barbell curls! The reason I like these exercises is that they are good mass builders and without these fundamental lifts, you are losing on big mass adders. I always finish off season by maxing out my deadlift to make sure I got stronger than the previous year.
What are your best tips for getting ripped and shredded abs?
Make sure that you train your abs just like any other muscle. Abdominals still need recovery and they do need to be worked with weighed exercises to grow. Also cardio and proper diet is the only way you will make your abdominal muscles visible. You can build a strong six pack but without the diet and cardio, they will be hiding under the fat tissue and you wont even know that you have a six pack. So weighed ab training, cardio, proper diet are the 3 key factors.
What does your post-workout nutrition and supplementation look like?
I take BCAAs, protein powder, glutamine and some creatine (KRE-ALKALYN by EFX, best creatine!) I highly believe that supplement timing is extremely important. The 15-30 minute window post workout is extremely important for maximum absorption of the supplements by the body. Supplements must be taken right upon waking up, pre and post workout as well as before going to sleep to avoid catabolic reactions.
What does your off-season bulking (eating) plan look like?
I eat 7-8 thousand calories off season. As crazy as this sounds, my body type only responds to high quality high calorie diets to add mass. I found this out by trial and error. So I can not recommend this to everyone. This off season diet contains a lot of reduced fat peanut butter, thin crust wheat cheese pizza, at least 30-40 ounces of white meat (fish, turkey, chicken, some red meat allowed), vegetables, total of 8 scoops of protein shakes taken periodically and 6-10 egg whites. I have created a balance with this bulking diet and you have to find out that balance for your own body type.
What does your cutting (eating) plan look like?
During cutting my calories gradually drop to 1800-2000 through the 9 week period. I don’t suddenly cut it to 2000 so that I don’t feel too drained. I cut ¾ of the peanut butter out, pizza is out, the white meat actually is more, egg whites stay, and protein shakes are cut down a little only before bed. I usually don’t have a problem with timing for cutting for a competition. Again I found that balance with trial.
What are thoughts cycles of bulking and cutting for non-competitors who just want to look good?
I believe cycles of bulking and cutting are great for adding mass and losing fat. If an individual wants to add more mass this I believe is a must. I suggest you figure out a goal weight. For example 6 foot, 220 lbs with 7 percent body fat. And get there by using the bulking and cutting cycles. Once the goal is achieved, maintain that weight and body fat while working on detail. This will get you to your ideal physique.
Favorite activities and hobbies you enjoy when away from the gym?
I am an extreme fishermen. And what I mean by that I go out with my ocean kayak 1-2 miles off shore and spearfish. Whatever I catch that day gets thrown on the grill for some good quality fresh protein. I am always around sharks and have many encounters, but the thrill is amazing!