I grew up on Long Island, NY. I was a shy kid, very into comic books and movies. I guess you could say that I had three motivating factors for getting into bodybuilding. My brother Rich was into working out and we had a weight set in our basement. I begged him from the age I was 8 until I was 14 to show me how to work out, lol. He finally gave in and I learned alot about the basics: doing bench presses, deadlifts, shoulder presses, squats, etc. I had friends that were into working out and we would sometimes have bench press marathons down there!!! 15-20 sets of non stop benching, lol. But at that age, and with such little training experience, I got stronger and did gain some muscle! Another big influence on me was a high school buddy of mine, Alberto Fernandez. He did a natural bodybuilding contest as a teenager at our high school, and I looked up to him and soaked up as much info as I could from him about training and nutrition. Alberto also introduced me to an AMAZING show that used to air on ESPN called "American Muscle Magazine". The show was a bodybuilding smorgasbord full of nutrition and workout tips, contest coverage, at that time, famous IFBB bodybuilder profiles, etc. I used to wake up at 1 am to tape and watch every episode. I loved that show, and if anyone out there has copies of it on VHS or DVD I would be willing to pay for them!
- 1996 - ANPPC Natural Metropolitan 4th place Middleweights.
- 2005 - USBF North Americans 1st place Light Heavyweight, best poser, Overall winner.
- 2006 - USBF North Americans Pro-am 2nd place Pro division.
- 2007 - USBF Baltimore 7th place Pro division.
Why do you love bodybuilding?
I love the goal setting it creates. I love mastering various exercises, the feeling of the pump, I love training with my heart and soul. Competing wise, it's awesome to see the daily changes to my physique. A little more deviation here, less ab fat there, I can expect to see a change in my physique almost daily when I'm doing a contest and its exciting to see that take place. I also love getting up there and having fun, posing down and getting the crowd wild. The smells back stage, the comradery, the fact that only a select few people in the world have the guts to come into a contest truly shredded beyond belief.
What is your training philosophy?
I used to be a HUGE proponent of Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty principles. I was also heavily influenced by Dorian Yates. So my workouts used to be very brief but intense. I still adhere to alot of the fundamental principles, but my training has evolved greatly. I feel Mentzer went off the deep end at the end, advocating one training session every 10-14 days. LOL. I now am a big believer in periodization for ideal gains in mass and strength. What I typically do is alternate one week of "intensity" style workouts, with a focus on hypertrophy. I do higher reps in the 10-15 range, multiple sets to failure, super sets, drop sets, static contractions, etc. On these weeks, I cram as much intensity as possible in a hour's time frame. On the second week, I train with strength and power in mind. I've been doing wave loading lately, where the reps group and go down in altering rep schemes ...but trying to go heavier each time around. This would be an example:
After warming up with some light sets this is how it would look:
- 275 x 6, rest 3 minutes, 315 x 3 (this is like a tough warm up)
- 335 x 6, rest 3 minutes, 405 x 3 (tough but not failure)
- 405 x 6, rest 3 minutes, 455 x 3 (this is the hard set)
So you see each time you come around you add weight. It's a great way to add strength, and you can play around with the rep scheme doing whatever you want, 2,5,2,5,2 or 4,1,4,1,4,1, etc. It doesn't work as well with reps over 7. But I love it, and may actually do it exclusively as a meso cycle for 6 or 7 weeks. So as you see, I am a firm believer in changing things up. I love training heavy and using almost all free weights. I train at a hardcore Powerhouse Gym n downtown Raleigh, where its 90% free weights, old school no joke serious training! And I wouldn't have it any other way. As far as pre-contest vs off season training...nothing changes. I still use non-linear periodization, switching intensity with power week to week. Nothing works better for holding mass. As the contest draws closer, like 5 or 6 weeks out, I may just combine the two styles and do one compound heavier motion and then add in other movements with higher reps/intensity.
What's a good workout routine that has given you results?
This is a power week of non-linear periodization. With a wave loading twist that will work wonders for strength and size.
Monday: Chest and Delts
- Incline smith machine bench press. 2-3 warm up sets, followed by 6 sets as follows... 6,3,6,3,6,3. The last two waves are to failure, and the goal is to increase weight each time around. Rest 3 minutes between sets.
- Incline dumbbell bench press. Because my gym only goes to 120's I have to keep the reps higher. I do two waves 7,5,7,5.
- Seated dumbbell press. Neutral hand position, 5,2,5,2,5,2 - last two sets to failure, and the goal is to increase each time around and rest 3 minutes between sets.
- For delts I believe you always need to incorporate some higher rep stuff, so I may superset dumbbell lateral raises with bent over laterals, 3 sets x 10-15 reps...to failure on every set.
Notes. This is just a cycle of my program. Typically, I will alternate this week with a more intense, greater volume, reps, etc., week. But I may try a meso cycle of wave loading for 5 or 6 weeks for a change up. I like being strong :)
Tuesday: Off or Abs
Wednesday: Back and Hamstrings
- Romanian deadlifts. (I feel this blasts the hams but also warms the back up so I start with these) 2-3 warm up sets, then I go for it!! 5,2,5,2,5,2.
- T bar rows. The old school plate loaded one with the huge platform. I play around with the reps, but lately have been doing 6,3,6,3,6,3.
- Seated cable rows. 3 sets x 5 reps, to failure on last set only.
- Pull ups. One set to failure.
Notes. If I have anything left I will do 1-2 sets x 8-12 reps to failure on lying leg curls.
Thursday: Off or Cardio
Friday: Quads and Calves
- Box Squats. Because of my injury I cant go nuts. So I keep it 8,5,8,5,8,5. I'm able to do 365 for 5 easy reps doing box squats, but I'd rather leave something left in the tank than risk injury, Ill keep slowly adding weight but making sure my form is good. If I'm feeling good on that last set, I will push past 5 reps and go for 8-10.
- Walking barbell lunges. 30-35 pound dumbbells, walking the length of the gym back and forth, 3 sets.
- Been playing with barbell hack squats lately and I actually like em!!!! I do 4 sets x 10 reps, going heavier each set.
- Calves are mixed around, donkey calf raises, standing and seated are sometimes supersetted with 2 motions. I play around with reps too, going from 8-20 reps. I like to do multiple failure sets because my calves suck, lol. They get nasty shredded when I'm in contest shape, but are high so I have to kill myself to make em look decent.
- Alternating standing dumbbell curls. I have had an injury in my left lower bicep as of late, so I have to be careful. I do 6,3,6,3,6,3.
- Standing hammer curls. I like to keep failure at a fairly high rep range, like 12-15, doing 3 sets to failure.
- I also like doing cable curls, 3 sets x 10-12 reps, failing on the last 1-2 sets... maybe even do a drop set or two.
- For tris I either do power cage closegrip press (bar an inch above chest), or flat dummbbell closegrip press, 6,2,6,2,6,2.
- Rope pressdowns. 3 sets x 15 reps to failure
- Lying dumbbell skullcrushers, 3 sets x 10, last 1-2 sets to failure.
Notes. Arms don't seem to respond very well to wave loading, so I always throw in decent hypertrophy rep range stuff.
Notes. I sometimes do abs twice a week when I'm REALLY motivated to do them, lol. Cardio I actually do 3-4 days a week, and is usually 15 minutes of interval training on the treadmill. My gym is VERY old school and we don't have much in terms of cardio, so you have to be creative. I start at a 3.0 walk for a minutes, and then do a 4.8 run for a minute. Then, every minute thereafter I increase both, and don't go over 4.0 for the walk and usually 7.0 on run (because treadmill shuts off if you go faster, lol).
If you have to pick only 3 exercises, what would they be and why?
Squats - Nothing will add mass better! It's one of the toughest and effective!
Some kind of deadlift. I tore both my quad tendons doing sumo deadlifts, but still think deadlifts are one of the best exercises you can do. I do Romanian deadlifts now on back and hamstring power weeks, and I go up close to 500 pounds. They work more muscles then squats do, and I just feel so powerful doing them!
Incline dumbbell bench press. I just love this exercise. You get a much better contraction and range of motion vs a barbell, and most guys neglect the upper chest!! I love the feel!
What's the best training tip you could give to others?
Always switch things up! The body adapts very fast to any style of training, so it's ideal to switch up the dynamics of the workouts frequently. I do believe one should use free weights almost all of the time. They are simply more effective then machines. But I do like cables sometimes!
What is your philosophy on nutrition?
Eat clean almost all of the time, even in the off-season.
Give us a typical day in your off season diet:
It changes so much, but usually I eat ...oatmeal pancakes. Chicken and yams. Protein powder with waxy maize. A turkey sandwich on whole wheat with fruit, or sometimes peanut butter and jelly with Greek yogurt. Sometimes I throw cereal in the mix with protein powder and skim milk. Usually, I eat eggs on whole wheat as my last meal, with low sodium turkey and cheese. Of course, I cheat at times. Sometimes on the weekends I may get lazy and eat 3 of my regular meals and then have one huge cheat meal... and I don't eat rest of the day, lol.
Give us a typical day in your diet (contest prep):
It's tough because my carbs rotate. I usually diet on 300 carbs daily. So my day always starts with an oatmeal pancake which is one cup rolled oats, a banana or raisins, two whole eggs, one scoop protein powder, one tablespoon honey and one tablespoon natural peanut butter. It's about 100 grams carbs. I love starting my day with it even though I bang out a third of my carbs, my energy is fantastic. Next up is usually chicken and yams. Then I workout. After the workout is whey protein and waxy maize. As the contest draws near I cut out the waxy and go with bananas, then eventually yams. Next contest I May cut all shakes 6 weeks out. Forth meal is usually chicken and yams again. Sometimes 5th also. I may throw in fish or beef instead. Last meal is always a huge omlette with whatever protein and fat I have left for the day.
What are your favorite meals and foods?
I make a great oatmeal pancakes that I eat year round! I like eggs and egg whites, chicken, steak, yams, grits, fruits, and peanut butter.
Favorite cheat food?
What's the best training tip you could give to others?
Try and get 6 meals a day year round. If I'm busy, I may use shakes more. If I'm in a pinch I may even eat a bowl of kashi ceral with protein powder mixed in skim milk. Try your BEST to prepare each days meals the night before! Very important to stay on top of your nutrition! Without proper fuel you can't recover and grow from your workouts. Without proper fuel you won't have energy FOR your workouts!
What supplements do you use that give you great results? How do you use them?
- Whey protein. Typically Optimum Nutrition. I make an awesome oatmeal pancake in the am and use one scoop of whey protein then. I, of course, have 2.5 scoops post workout, and sometimes another shake later in the day ...or I may have Greek yogurt with a scoop mixed in. Whey protein is a fast digesting protein that soaks into your muscles at a rapid rate. It's a great protein that's loaded with amino acids, and the Optimum Nutrition disolves fast with water in a shaker cup!
- Glutamine. Because I take in so much protwin powder that has some glutamine in it, I only use about 10 grams in the off-season...usually two scoops in my post-workout shake. Glutamine is an amino that is awesome for cell volumization, immune system function, and for recovery between workouts.
- Creatine. 5 grams a day. Don't really need to load. If I do load, I take 10 grams for a few days, then right to 5 grams. It's always post workout. Creatine is a mineral found in red meats. Creatine serves two purposes. One - Creatine recruits ATP which is your muscles energy transfer system, so it aids in giving you explosive short term energy/strength. Creatine is also an awesome cell volumizer, pooling water and carbohydrates into the muscles, making me fuller, and enabling me to gain some lean mass. (Not necessarily muscle in the short term, but short term strength which can lead to long term muscle) I also take Endorush sometimes pre, and during my workout, for a great pump and insane energy boost!
What brands do you think are offering the best products at the moment?
I'm not excessively picky. I think people put too much hype on certain brands. Muscletech is OK, Optimum Nutrition is good. I actually use some GNC products. But besides the ones I listed, what else is there? I take a multi-vitamin and glucosimine. But besides an NO product (which I use time to time but they are expensive!), I think supplements and their effectiveness are overrated.
What do you think is a good off season muscle building stack?
What do you think is a good pre-contest/fat loss stack?
Advice For Others
What are the 3 best tips you'd give to someone thinking about competing in natural bodybuilding?
- Give yourself plenty of time to lose bodyfat SLOWLY. For most, 16-20 weeks is ideal.
- Don't train light with more reps to "build cuts", you will only lose muscle. Train hard, train heavy. And don't overdo cardio!
- And, of course, hire me for your first show I won't steer you wrong :)
What is your best advice for looking your best on competition day?
Don't make drastic changes during peak week. DON'T cut water out. That's something our enhanced brothers need to do. If you're natural and cut water, you'll look flat. If you cut sodium way below normal levels, you will be flat AND cramp. Eat enough carbs to stay full but not too much to spill over. Easier said then done, lol, but it's always better to wake up a little flat and eat to fill out, then waking up spilled over. Also, don't rely only on dream tan or pro tan for your color. Go to a tanning bed 3-4 days a week the last 6 weeks before a show. The competition tanners look like crap on white skin!
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who's having trouble staying on track?
Try and keep as many short term and long term goals as possible for yourself. When you have been doing this 15 years or longer, you need to switch up your training dynamics to not only keep responding, but to keep things fresh and exciting!
What shows have you got coming up, where can we see you compete?
Next Summer I am debating on two contests for my comeback. I'm looking at the INBF Natural Atlantic Coast in Winston-Salem. NC. in June ...or the NPA Mr. and Mrs. North Carolina in July. Or both. There is another NPA event in August in Durham which I may consider also. I just want to get back onstage and prove that, despite my injury, I can look shredded, be improved, and still bring home some hardware!
What would you like to achieve in your natural bodybuilding career?
I want to get back on stage and compete with a few organizations. Eventually, I want a WNBF pro card, and to appear on the cover of their magazine. I also want to spread the word of my business, and have it go more mainstream. Dynamic Personal Training NC will someday become a household name!
Who are your favorite bodybuilders and idols?
I always looked up to Mike Mentzer for his unique perspective on training (even though he would try and convince you it was unequivocally the truth, lol). Also, Dorian Yates for his unreal physique, especially the transformation he made from 92-93. I looked up to alot of the guys from the 90's era, Flex, Shawn Ray, Porter Cortrell. Of Course Big Ronnie. I also think Skip Lacour has a fantastic mind set for bodybuilding. And I think Kai Green will be Mr. Olympia someday.
How Can People Contact You?
How can people contact you?
- My email: joe@DynamicPersonalTrainingNC.com