Back in the day (1996-1999), I had it pretty easy getting ready for shows, much to the envy of those who knew me. I would “diet” by having only one Snickers a day and still be in great shape. I was winning my weight class in almost every show and taking a few overall titles as well. In 2000 and 2001, I had a wake up call at the Team Universe, finishing 9th. Then in 2002, I had mild success in a couple of NPC shows, but still hadn’t achieved my 1990’s-level of conditioning. I was now in my thirties and figured my career was slowly winding down. After six months of mono in 2003, and no competitions, I realized that this year might be my swan song. With that mentality in mind, I picked two 2004 shows to prepare for--one in September and one in October--to go "gently into that good night".
The first show would be the INBF Karen Miller Klassic in Youngstown, Ohio, on September 11. I started my pre-contest nutrition program 17 weeks out. The first month included a cheat meal once a week, which I still can get away with, as during the first few weeks of a diet I always seem to lose too much weight too fast (at least that’s my rationalization!). When I clean up my diet at 12 weeks out it looks like this – 2975 calories, 310 grams-protein, 335 grams-carbs, 41 grams-fat.
6 egg whites & 1 yolk
half cup oatmeal
8–oz. red meat or 3 scoops Ultra Size
7 rice cakes
6-8–oz. wheat pasta
Meal 4 (post-workout)
6 scoops Mass Maker
8–oz. red meat or turkey
white or brown rice microwaveable bag
7–oz. chicken or 8–oz. red meat
Looking back, I am surprised that I ate this bad (relatively speaking). However, I was still losing body fat, and continued to eat this way for a while. It remained pretty much the same until 4 weeks out when I made an appointment with Roger at Beverly and he told me that I really didn’t look that good. Wow! He has never said that to me in all the years we have known each other! He actually prefaced my new diet with the comment, "Tony, I might lose you as a friend and client but I need to be honest with you. You do not look good enough and we’re going to have to make some radical changes to your nutrition program." He put me on a program that challenged my traditional methods of dieting for a show. Being super analytical the diet Roger suggested went against my vast studies in sports nutrition. I questioned the lack of calories, the lack of carbohydrates, the carb up meal, and even the supplement program. Admittedly, my fast metabolism had allowed me to get away with things most competitors cannot do in the past. Not this time! I had met my match.
- Here is what Roger presented to me:
- Meal 1
- 6 egg whites & 6–oz. red meat
- OR 8–oz. turkey or–oz. chicken
- & 1-2 kiwi
- Meal 2
- 1 scoop Ultra Size and 1 scoop Muscle
- Provider and 1 scoop Glutamine Select
- 2 scoops of Beverly’s new Ultimate
- Muscle Protein could be used here as itis really a combination of the three
- Here is what Roger presented to me:
- Meal 3
- 10–oz. chicken or 10–oz. turkey
- 2-3 cups salad
- Meal 4
- same as meal 2
- Meal 5
- 10–oz. chicken or 10 oz turkey or 8 oz red meat
- 2-3 cups salad
- Meal 6 (when needed)
- 9 egg whites
- High carb meal (Mon & Thurs)
- Deadlifts 4 x 6
- Front pulldowns 3 x 12
- One arm high pulley row 3 x 10
- High Hammer row 3 x 20
- Incline barbell press 4 x 6
- Incline dumbbell press 3 x 10
- Hammer decline press 3 x 20
- Pec deck 3 x 12
- Seated dumbbell curl 3 x 10
- One arm preacher curl 3 x 12
- Hammer curl 3 x 15
- Seated dumbbell press 4 x 8
- Seated dumbbell side raise 4 x 12
- Seated dumbbell rear fly 4 x 15
- Seated machine shrug 4 x 8
- Behind-the-back barbell shrug 3 x 15
- Seated preacher curl 3 x 10
- Cable pushdown 3 x 12
- One-arm dumbbell extension 3 x 15
- Leg Extension 2 x 20 (warm-up)
- Leg Press 4 x 6
- Front Squat 4 x 15
- 1-Leg Squat 3-4 sets (to failure)
Well, it worked! I could see a difference in 3 days. I was getting leaner and harder by the day. Believe it or not, I’d never taken Lean Out or Energy Reserve before. These two supplements along with my diet worked like magic. The Friday before the show I weighed in at 184 at 5% bodyfat. I won the light heavyweight class – not too tough – I was the only lightheavy in the open class.
However, when it came to the Overall every other class winner was in shape. I won the Overall. It had been several years since I had accomplished that feat and the judges said I needed to enter an NGA pro qualifier as I should be a shoo-in for a natural pro card.
The timing was just not right. My next show, the NPC Natural Northern USA was in three weeks. However, between shows, Suzanne, my wife, was going to be running a marathon...in Maui. My concern now became how to stay focused and disciplined for ten days in Maui. It presented a dilemma as to how to help her and be there for her event, while still staying the course for my event. Everyday presented a new challenge. Even simple things like walking the beach would wear me out. I guess I wasn’t much fun. She understood, though, and I will always remember the sacrifices she made on my behalf.
We arrived home with seven days to get ready for Cleveland and the Northern USA. I went to Beverly International one last time three days before we left. I was down to 4.5%, and had achieved the best shape of my life. I stayed on exactly the same diet between shows, weighed in at 181, certainly at the bottom of the weight class, but was confident that I had prepared to the best of my ability.
At prejudging, I was pretty sure I placed in the 3rd-5th range based on the callouts. It was one of the toughest classes I had ever competed in (and this was my 16th show!). I have to admit I was shocked at the evening show when I learned I won the class.
Several judges told me after the show that despite my coming in at the bottom of the class weight-wise, they placed me first based on symmetry, aesthetics, and conditioning. This time the overall winner was Shiloe Steinmetz, who you can read about in No Nonsense Newsletter Platinum Edition.
Some other key points
• As mentioned above, my metabolism affords me to do very little, if any, cardio work. This year I did perform two days of either stair climbing, or sprint/plyometric work. I like this kind of activity, regardless of an upcoming bodybuilding show. It also granted me the exclusion of doing direct leg work with weights for most of the contest prep. (Refer to volume 3 of Body Muscle for more details and specific protocols).
• I decided to not drop water or sodium before the contests. I drank 2.5 gallons of water each Friday before the show, as well as continued to salt my foods. The only change was the addition of potassium Wednesday-Saturday. I lose water through sweating, not so much through dietary changes.
• My strength training also does not change until the very last week.
My split looks like this:
Day 1: back
Day 2: hams/calves or sprints/stairs
Day 3: chest/biceps
Day 4: abs/quads or plyometrics/stairs
Day 5: delts/traps/triceps
• My training philosophy is very instinctual; therefore, I never do the same workout twice in a row. In fact, I never plan any workout, other than the body part(s) I am going to perform that day.
• I train in a non-traditional, undulating periodization model. This popular European model for Olympic athletes has migrated to the United States and has been applied to American athletes (although it has limited application to bodybuilders. There are numerous texts and articles for more details on this philosophy. I have tailored the different cycles found within periodized models to include variety within a workout as well as between workouts. With that said, it is unrealistic for me to outline a typical workout regimen, but this will give you some idea (upper body only).
This is my off-season, as well as pre-contest, style of training. The only exception is that rest intervals decrease (i.e. 60-90 seconds) considerably during a pre-contest mode. I must re-iterate that the above is what I believe works for me. It has a loose base in scientific theory, but more than anything, it is grounded in anecdotal evidence.
This year has been a learning experience, just like every year since my first show in 1990! As I get older, and hopefully smarter, I enjoy the process, the learning, the challenge, much more than the outcome. It is nice to win, but that is only one night, and not up to me anyway. All the weeks leading up to the contest are in my control, and I cherish each small victory along the way. I am undecided as to whether I will continue to compete. It is hard to just ”turn it off“, and train for the hell of it! My goals now become more intrinsic--just to keep getting better, not necessarily bigger. By virtue of my achievements this year, I now have more questions than answers..
Extended thanks go to Roger Riedinger and everyone at Beverly, Suzanne Poggiali, and World Gym in Cincinnati.
Personal Profile:Age: 35
Occupation: Sole Proprietor, Strength and Conditioning Consultants, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, through the NSCA; and a Master Level Trainer, through IDEA
Education: BS Health and Sports Studies, Miami University, 1992
Marital Status: Married
Current Residence: West Chester, Ohio
Gym: World Gym
Height: 5′ 9″
Recent Off Season Weight: 218
Recent Contest Weight: 184
Favorite Cheat Food: Snickers
Favorite Meal: Omaha Steaks
Most Inspiring Book: Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Most Inspiring People (outside bodybuilding): 1: Lao Tzu; 2: George Carlin; 3: Father (Big Lew)
Favorite Band : DJ Krush (Japan)
Other Interests: Dexter’s Laboratory (cartoon), Eastern Philosophy, and Music Production: I hope to eventually be good enough to make some money from it! The name of my “band” is Algorythym; it is a downtempo blend of hip-hop, ambient, avant garde, jazz and sample-heavy sound ranging from horror and sci-fi movies to spoken word. E-mail: [email protected]
Basic Bodybuilding Nutrition
Food is the foundation of every successful nutrition program
If you’re interested in the acquisition of lean body mass while lowering body fat, nutrition is 80% of the battle.