I Was Just A Diet Away

(from three overall titles)

1998 Total Physique, World Gym Classic and Indianapolis Bodybuilding Classic overall winner

By Richard Ferrigan, Fall 98

For the past four years I was just a diet away from being a champion bodybuilder. I didn’t know it then. I thought it was just about being big. I competed in 1994 for the first time at the Northern Kentucky and a year later at the Cincinnati. Fourth place was the best I could do following my philosophy at the time, that bigger is better. After the Cincinnati in 1995 I decided to take some time off to get still bigger. I still didn’t get it – real big and real full does not always equal a winning physique.

Then I noticed Tommie Robertson at Pinson’s Gym where we both trained. One day he came over and told me that I had a lot more potential than my contest placings indicated. Tommie told me that he too had followed my current course early in his bodybuilding career with about the same results. I asked what had made the difference. Tommie said that in 1995 he had acquired a nutritionist at Beverly International. I asked him if it was working for him. Well, it blew me away when he stated his string of class wins as both a lightweight and middleweight and overall wins, even as a lightweight, since that time. Remember in my mind size was everything – Tommie explained that it’s detail, separation, hardness and presentation that judges look at – not size alone.

Bodybuilder Andre Ewing
Notice the difference that my trips to Beverly made when compared to my previous contests

Tommie and I became training partners in November of 1997 and he took me to Beverly International Nutrition Center for the first time on January 24, 1998. Roger and Sandy did their thing and I ended up with a completely different nutritional philosophy and the basic diet that was to see me win three overall titles – Total Physique Classic, Mike Francois’ World Gym Classic (a national qualifier) and Indianapolis Bodybuilding Championship (my 2nd overall win at a national qualifier) over the next six months.

Visit to the Beverly International Nutrition

But, at my first visit I had no idea that I was just a diet away from all of this success. My bodyfat percentage was 11% and Roger told me I was fat – not big. He said I had great potential, but we had to find out where my heart was – diet, and whether or not I could follow it to the tee, would determine my success.

Here is the diet I followed for the first month:
Supplements: Super Pak, 6 Mass Aminos per meal and 6 Ultra 40 Liver Tabs per meal
Meal #1: 6 Egg Whites, 5 oz. Lean beef, 1 orange
Meal #2: 8 – 10 oz. lean meat (chicken, turkey, fish or Laura’s lean beef), 2 cups vegetables
Meal #3: 8 – 10 oz. lean meat (chicken) 2 cups vegetables
Meal #4: 4 oz. Lean beef or 6 oz. chicken breast, 2 egg whites
Meal #5: 9 oz. lean meat (strip sirloin, lean beef, etc.), 4 cups salad, 2 Tbsp vinegar and oil dressing

Every 3rd day in place of one regular meal: 1.5 cups cooked rice, 1 large sweet potato, 1 banana, 1 cup vegetables, 1 Tbsp butter

I continued to visit Roger and Sandy every two weeks. At every session we set a new goal for the next two-week period, practiced posing, and made dietary changes as needed. For the first month they kept me on the above diet with no modifications. I met each goal as my bodyfat continued to drop and I acquired new lines and development almost daily. At the end of one month I was at 8.2%. I had lost 7 pounds of bodyfat. The problem was there were only six weeks left until the Mr. Cincinnati competition. A new diet was in order.

The diet below is the one I followed all the way through the contest season. Based on the results of my conditioning and bodyfat analysis we made minor changes by varying the amounts slightly, but kept the foods the same.

Supplements: Super Pak, Ultra 40, Creatine Monohydrate (3 tsp. per day), Muscularity (3 – 4 per meal), and 3 EPH per day. Occasionally we would use Energy Reserve and Mass tablets as weekly checks indicated.

Diet Revised:
Meal #1: 5 Egg Whites, 1 yolk, 5 oz. chicken
Meal #2: 4 oz. Lean beef
Meal #3: 6 oz. Lean beef, 4 cups salad with 1 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar, 1 carrot
Meal #4: 4 oz. Lean beef or 6 oz chicken breast
Meal #5: 8 oz lean beef or chicken depending on condition, 1 cup vegetables, 1 Tbsp Flax Oil

Every Monday and Thursday, except during the week of a competition, I had the same carb meal listed above.

Depending on my condition, Roger would tell me to eat more beef or more chicken and often would increase the amounts of the protein portions as my condition improved. This was done in one – two ounce increments per meal. It got to where all he had to say was increase #2 and 4 to six ounces and for meals #3 and 5, eat eight ounces.

It really was that simple. Roger and Sandy made it easy, they told me what and how much to eat, my mom helped me fix it, my supervisors and co workers kept a watchful eye on the times I was supposed to eat and Tommie saw to it that the posing practice was right. I didn’t have to worry about anything but training.

My final show of the year

I achieved my best condition at the Indianapolis show. Here is exactly what I did that week: I stayed on the above diet all the way until the morning of the show. I doubled up on the Muscularity the final week, and for water management I took a potassium capsule every other hour on Tuesday, one capsule per hour on Wednesday, two capsules per hour on Thursday and Friday morning, Friday afternoon through Saturday I took three capsules every hour. I did not limit water. Saturday morning, Roger told me to move up to 12 oz. of 89% lean beef. (I had been eating 96% lean.) Every two to three hours I would eat another beef patty – no carbs whatsoever.
Bodybuilder Andre Ewing
Detail, separation, hardness and presentation are what wins contests – not size alone

On stage I had a lot of life and was full of energy. No one could understand why ? while they were carbing up, I was eating a beef patty. Roger realized that my body would respond to the fat and protein keeping me hard and full, not only throughout prejudging but for the night show and overall pose down as well.

Now that you know the ins and outs of my diet here are some other factors that contributed to my winning streak.

  • Training – I always liked to go heavy to super heavy with moderate reps. Tommie Robertson, on the other hand, used slow, concentrated reps in the 8 – 20 range. Combining our two styles definitely paid off.
  • Posing – Tommie would make me pose every day. It pissed me off at first because I figured he was doing it just to irritate me. He’d have me pose not only between bodyparts but at the end of each training session. But what I realized was that instead of waiting to 2 – 3 weeks out to start posing, I was doing it 16 – 20 weeks out – so that it became second nature. When it was time to jump on stage, the difference was obvious. If I needed to hold a pose for 30 seconds during a comparison it was no problem. Others might be starting to fade while I could stand there and hold it all day. I owe a lot to Tommie, as well as Sandy and Roger for constantly picking out my weak points, and for showing me certain techniques that would make my physique actually create an illusion that at the Indianapolis, although I weighed in at 168, made me look like the biggest guy in my class onstage.
  • My support system – besides my mom and those at work, Doug Lee with whom I also trained, Desmond Phillips, my close friend Michael Herd – who went to everyone of my shows, supporting me both vocally and with training advice, and the guidance that I received from the Most High, the Lord.
  • Beverly International Nutrition Center – Roger and Sandy are the best, most patient people I’ve ever worked with in my life and I appreciate everything they did and are doing for me. If I called anytime of the day they were there or would get right back with me. All I had to do was leave my number. They would answer any question that I asked. If I needed to see them, Sandy was quick with an appointment. They also supplied me with not only the best supplements in the world, but some of my most difficult competition – Rainer Hartmann who beat me at the Cincinnati, which actually was a blessing in disguise, and Jeff Williamson who competed in my class at the Indy and has won his share of overalls as well. One week before the Indy, Sandy and Roger scheduled both Jeff and me in the same time slot and helped each of us to achieve our best condition and gave each of us tips as to how to attain a competitive advantage where possible.

My plans for the future – I reached 4.7% bodyfat in ’98, I plan to take it to a new level for the NPC Team Universe in 1999.

Tommie Robertson, my posing mentor, hooked me up with Sandy and Roger. One Saturday he went to Lexington and won the overall at the Bluegrass Muscle Classic, while I went to Indianapolis and won the overall at the Indy BB Championship – not bad for two middleweights.

Roger and Sandy are the best, most patient people I’ve ever worked with in my life and I appreciate everything they did and I ended up with a completely different nutritional philosophy

NNM Fall 1998