You Can’t Control Who Else Shows Up at a Contest,
You Can Only Prepare to Be Your Best!

By: Brad Steere
Volume 11 #4

Big Plans

As the summer wound down and my extended break from bodybuilding dragged too long, my mind became consumed with stepping on stage again. My last competition, the Natural Ohio was becoming a distant memory. Although only a few months had past, it seemed like years. I had taken too much time away. With a full time job, two children, and a major home remodel in progress, it had become too easy for me to come up with excuses. I still trained, but not as intensely. The real problem was the easy take-out meals while our home was in chaos. Enough excuses. It was time to set some goals and step back into the lifestyle I love and missed.

What a Life

So who am I and why am I writing this article? I am a devoted husband and father of two beautiful girls. I have a full time job. I am a “natural” bodybuilder in the truest sense. Although I’d only competed in three shows to this point, I fully embraced the natural bodybuilding way of life. A life spent juggling family time, friends, and work, while planning and completing intense workouts in the gym and even more intense attention to eating the right foods at the right times. What more could anyone want from life? For a competition junkie like me, this is the ultimate sport. Competing against yourself for twelve to twenty weeks, and then competing with others to test it all on stage.

Brad Steer on stage side chest pose

Getting help from the Best

From my previous experiences with competition, and the guidance of the Beverly Team, I had a good base of knowledge to start getting ready to compete again. But this time, I wanted to be even better than before. I wanted to be bigger (don’t we all) and I wanted to improve upon my already strong conditioning. Not being one to shy away from the big dance, I decided on some very ambitious competition plans in 2006. Why not start the year off with one of the biggest shows in the country? The NPC Northern Kentucky. I had six months to get ready, so my contest prep would be a long, slow build up to the show. My 2nd show would be a natural pro qualifier, the OCB Great Lakes States.

The plans were set, but some help would be needed to step up to this level of competition. I knew just where to go. But before I could call the Beverly team, I needed to shed some of the weight and get my lifting back to full intensity. I did not want to embarrass myself. So after about a month of clean diet and maniacal workouts I weighed 195 lbs at about 12.5% body fat. On September 19th I e-mailed Sandy. I wanted to let her know that I was back and hungry as ever. My second e-mail was to Roger.

I asked Roger to give me his opinion on my goals and current diet and training. I always feel somewhat guilty for troubling the folks at Beverly with time consuming questions and advice. After all, they are a supplement company; they don’t owe me anything other than service on their products. But that is the difference; they truly care about their clients and take the time to give advice that would cost thousands of dollars in personal training.

Roger sent me a note back with some constructive feedback. He indicated that my 10 lb gain goal was probably too aggressive for a natural athlete and that 5 lbs would be outstanding progress in the time I had. Roger also made some suggestions on my diet and training volume he thought would benefit me and my goals. I implemented the diet and lifting suggestions and forged ahead. (See September Diet.) Editor’s note: Brad had done tons of research on his own and had formulated a plan that was consistent with all of our newsletter and website article information. Brad knew that Beverly supplements were in a class of their own, and he just needed to know what not to take yet. Sandy and I were there just to tweak and encourage. Brad’s very meticulous in his planning. He took weekly photos and kept detailed training and nutrition logs. Brad called and talked to one of the Beverly staff pretty regularly, but he was already on course and we just confirmed that he was on the right track to ease his mind.

Can you diet on Vacation?

As a family tradition, we take off to Disneyworld for our annual visit to the Mouse the first week in December. My question for Beverly that week was, “What should I do?” Well, I emailed a progress update with photos to Jeremiah at Beverly. After evaluating my condition and progress, he suggested that I enjoy myself at Disney. “Just don’t go overboard.” You might be thinking “How can this guy go on a week vacation with what he is trying to accomplish?” I will tell you exactly how I did it.

First and most importantly, once you break the connection that our society has made between food and enjoyment, it is not so hard. I’ve learned you can stay on a very healthy diet and still have as much fun as anyone. I did not stray from my normal contest diet at all while on vacation. With planning and preparation, it can be done. I simply packed everything I was to eat for the day in a small cooler, then stowed the cooler in the family stroller. If one of my meals was to be warm, I used the restaurant microwave to warm it up. The only trouble I had was keeping my kids away from the shakes and puddings that I made with Beverly’s Ultimate Muscle Protein. Can you believe it, kids wanting protein shakes instead of Mickey Mouse ice cream bars? I guess that’s the ultimate testament to the taste of Beverly’s protein! The only other issue was my workout schedule. I called the resort to ensure that they had adequate workout facilities and the hours of operation. Both met my needs. I’d simply get up at 5:00 a.m. to workout then spend the rest of the day with my family. How about that? A spectacular family vacation and a strict adherence to my contest plans. It can be done!

Back to Work

When we returned from vacation I was already down to 186lbs and 8% body fat. At Jeremiah’s suggestion I added some heavy cream into my two daily shakes, reduced my carbs to ¼ cup oatmeal at breakfast, and increased my protein. My calorie intake was virtually the same, but the effect of these changes was soon obvious. The cream not only tasted great, it helped me hold on to the muscle I worked so hard to put on. I was getting a harder look within days of the change. Although taking out the carbs from my meals was difficult, I was rewarded with two re-feed meals; one on Mondays and one on Thursdays. These meals would keep my metabolism burning up fat and give me enough energy to get through the day and my workouts. Another key element was added to my plan. Something else Beverly does that is unthinkable for a supplement company. They actually hold a contest prep series leading up to the Northern Kentucky! Unfortunately I live too far away to attend all sessions, but I made plans to make the six-hour drive twice before the show. These sessions were a great tool for gauging progress. While I was there, Beverly Team members did a complete body fat testing, a progress evaluation, a posing session as well as some psychological preparation. The sessions were very motivational. I was immersed in the world of bodybuilding - listening to the years of knowledge from the Beverly Team and standing around with other high quality competitors talking shop.

Tips for someone who wants to follow your diet plan:

In order to follow any diet, you must have 3 things: 1. A burning reason (goal) People fall off diets not because they are weak or undisciplined, but because they do not have that burning reason clearly in focus. 2. A disconnect between enjoyment and eating. Every gathering and event in our society has food attached to it (and usually it’s not the healthy kind). Once you can disconnect the food from your perceived enjoyment, you can stay on any diet. 3. A clear understanding of what food does for your body. Everything that goes into your mouth should have a purpose besides just taste. Yes, we want the food we eat to taste good, but we also should understand that what that food will do for you is more important than how it tastes. This sounds harsh, but eating for a purpose is essential to contest dieting.

Contest Prep at Beverly

At my first session, I got just what I needed: some minor tweaks in my posing, some solid training advice on lagging body parts and another diet adjustment. We took out the heavy cream and reduced my carb meal to only Mondays. I wanted to come into the show healthy and strong instead of stringy and tired, so it was imperative to get the remaining fat off now so I could actually increase my calories in the final weeks. The change was perfect. My weight loss stepped up again, and every day I could see better detail in the mirror. Even with a minor reduction in calories, it was just what my system needed to shock it into burning off the fat that it tries so hard to hold onto.

At the second session, one piece of advice from Roger stuck in my head. He said, “With only a few weeks left, quit worrying about holding onto your mass. Worry about getting as lean as possible from this point forward.” What he was trying to ensure was that I didn’t hinder my conditioning by worrying about my weight. One of my personal hang ups is being light for my class. Roger assured me that whatever I weighed would be fine.

Let the Head Games Begin

“I’m losing mass.” “I am not lean enough.” “I look full.” “I look flat.” Anyone who has competed has surely gone through this cycle. You wake up one morning you think you’re Arnold. You wake up the next, and you’re Erkel. Preparation plays with your head, the only defense you have is attention to detail. Is what you see in the mirror real? Yes and no. You most likely are seeing minor changes in your physique day to day. If you keep solid diet and training records, you will start to understand that these changes are in fact response to what you ate, how you trained and even how you slept. By having these records, I was able to determine how my body responded to certain foods and training stimuli. Another factor is hydration. The amount of water you are taking in will have drastic impact on your appearance. This will become even more important as contest day arrives. I have a different approach to water manipulation that I will share with you in my final week plans.

Posing and Planning

Up to this point I have not discussed posing. That surely is not because I don’t practice. I start posing when I hit 8% body fat. Why 8%? If you are posing with too much fat you can’t properly evaluate the pose and how it looks on you. For me, 8% is the point where I can clearly see my structure. Every physique is different, therefore everyone should pose differently. Even small variations in the mandatories are necessary to show your body in its best light. My strengths are conditioning and symmetry. My weakness is big full muscle bellies, so it’s crucial for me to pose in such a way that I maximize the size I do have and emphasize my lines. I am fanatical about posing. I pose an hour every day in two sessions. Structured posing practice builds confidence and gives you a much greater stage presence. As my posing stamina increases, I’m able to hold poses without shaking and breaking down early. The final and perhaps most important benefit is the additional calories burned and hardness that posing brings out. The bottom line is you cannot pose too much! I will never the biggest on stage, but I can be one of the strongest posers and the best conditioned. By controlling those things, I can always be competitive.

Coming up Fast

As the final weeks ticked away, I made only two changes. I incorporated the 2nd Carb meal back into my plan. Now I was having that meal on both Monday and Thursday. The other change I made was to increase the calories I burned during cardio by 50 per session. I did not increase time. I upped the intensity. I started my contest prep at three sessions per week for twenty minutes each. And that’s where I stayed throughout my entire contest prep. I did my cardio at home on my treadmill. I increased speed and the incline to adjust intensity. Starting early, tracking everything, and making no major changes let me cruise through the final weeks without major upheaval or undue stress. I create enough of my own stress without having to worry about what a major change might do to me.

Peak Week

My peak week may look somewhat different than most in that I don’t respond well to last minute changes either mentally or physically. As a result, my diet doesn’t get crazy and my training doesn’t change much. After all, if you have looked in the mirror in the last few days and thought you looked good, then why get goofy with the last few days?

My diet stays the same Monday through Wednesday. My training only changes to a less intense, shorter duration workout. I keep the same body part splits as before with Wednesday as a rest day. I eliminate cardio on Monday before the show. On Thursday and Friday, I change to the Beverly beef and grapefruit method. The only wrinkle that I throw in is that instead of the Thursday Carb meal, I move that meal to Friday. I have found that my body processes this meal extremely well and I actually look better the day after the meal rather than two days after. I also do a complete body workout on Thursday to get some blood moving. I don’t go to the point of getting a pump on any exercise. Friday is just left for rest.

As for water and sodium, I promised you earlier that I would explain how I manipulate water. Here is my secret weapon! I don’t! As my contest prep continues, I gradually add water until I am drinking two gallons each day by the final four weeks. Contrary to what you may think, the more water you take in, the more water you flush if you maintain a consistent sodium intake. I even carry this right on through to the night before the contest. I drank 1 ½ gallons of water on Friday before the show. I only reduce sodium based on the food that I eat on Thursday and Friday (that’s one of the reasons I switch to beef and grapefruit). The only water change I make is that on Saturday, I only drink enough water to replace what I expel. Trust me when you drink 1 ½ gallons the day before, you will still be using the facilities on Saturday. So every time I go, I drink. The depletion method may work for those that have assistance, but not for the natural competitor. As for food, I continue with the beef and grapefruit throughout the day.

Personal thoughts

A common theme in this article and something I can’t stress enough to natural bodybuilders: “STAY ON YOUR DIET!” If you have any hopes of competing against the “enhanced” you have to beat them on conditioning. Conditioning is 90% diet. The only reason I have been somewhat successful is that my conditioning is always at or near the best in the show. Although bodybuilding is a subjective sport, the one thing that all judges can clearly see: who is the best conditioned athlete on stage. Standing on stage “peeled” is something that we all can achieve. Is it easy? No. It just takes sound nutrition, an iron will and total discipline. Your routine is your friend. Your best defense against the inevitable panic and self doubt is your strict adherence to your routine. Any deviation from your plan can leave you with the feeling that “if only I had….” Know in your heart that you made a plan and executed that plan. Whatever happens on stage, you can walk away with your head held high and make the statement: “I was the very best I could be today”.

How did I do?

What an experience! The Northern Kentucky was a phenomenal event. Great venue, great competition, great hosts, just unbelievable. Sandy, Roger and the Beverly Team put on a contest that is hard to match. From the moment I entered the arena, I felt the buzz and it never stopped until I walked out the door.

I came in light, but my conditioning was right on. I weighed 170 lbs at 3.6% body fat. The long process paid off, now it was time to show it off! As I saw the middleweight class, I new I was in for a battle. I had never seen this many great physiques in a show before. During the Pre-judging I knew I was in the hunt as the judges adjusted our positioning. The best of the group were all around me and we went at it pose for pose. After we were sent off stage, I commented to the others that this was the most fun I had ever had on stage. It was now the waiting game. As the evening show progressed, I was getting more excited about getting back up there and doing my routine. I had a special surprise for my wife and kids. I incorporated some of our favorite Disney Music into my routine. I never practiced the routine with them around so it was a complete surprise. They loved it and so did the wild and very supportive crowd. My night was made, no matter what my placing was, I was at my best and my family was there with me.

As we were brought back on stage, I knew I was in the top 5. I honestly thought it would come down to me and Bob Maurer. I was right on part of it. Bob Maurer earned a deserving 1st and I would have to settle for 3rd. After my initial letdown, I soon realized that I did everything I could to prepare and there were just better bodybuilders in front of me today.

Remember, “You can’t control who else shows up to a contest. You can only prepare to be your best.” I did and it resulted in a strong placing at an NPC national qualifier.

The rest of my goals



As for the other shows in my plan, I competed in the OCB Great Lakes States Natural Pro Qualifier. My strong conditioning, posing and symmetry proved to be the right combination for this show. I unanimously won the short class and narrowly missed my IFPA professional card in the overall by one point. I will be back!
Brad with Trophy

My Daily Routine:
4:45 a.m.	20 Minutes of Cardio
5:05 a.m.	15 Minutes of Stretching
5:20 a.m.	30 Minutes of posing
5:50 a.m.	Breakfast
6:35 a.m.	Leave for work
4:30 p.m.	Workout
6:30 p.m.	Supper with Family
7:00 p.m.	Kids homework and Family time
9:00 p.m.	30 Minutes of Posing
9:30 p.m.	Bed

NUTRITION

An example of my diet as I start preparing for a contest at 16 weeks out from the show shown below.

Supplements:

At Each Meal - 6 Ultra 40, 4 Mass, 2 Lean out
1 Super Pak at breakfast; 3 EFA Gold at breakfast and lunch
BREAKFAST
8 egg whites
2 whole eggs
1 cup oatmeal
1 grapefruit

MEAL 2
Ultimate Muscle Protein shake or pudding

LUNCH  
8 oz lean steak or chicken
8 oz sweet potato
2 cups veggies

MEAL 4
Ultimate Muscle Protein shake or pudding

DINNER
8 oz fish or turkey
1 cup brown rice
Large salad with veggies

MEAL 6
6 egg white omelet
2 cups veggies

Condiments: Fat free spray butter, salsa (lots), mustard
 
  Personal Profile: Brad Steere
Age: 37
Occupation or Education: Work for Consumers Energy as an Electric Meter Operations Zone Leader
Family or Marital Status: Happily married to Melissa for 13 years, two children: Brittany (9) and Brooke (4)
Current Residence: Midland, MI
Where do you train: Smitty's Iron Works
Height: 5' 8"
Off Season Weight: 190
Contest Weight: 170
Then and Now: I played college baseball at around 175 lbs. I ballooned up in weight after my children were born. Once I decided to get back into shape, I was bitten hard by the bodybuilding bug. The first time I competed, I stepped on stage at 158 lbs. In two years of natural bodybuilding I’ve grown to 170 on stage. Six pounds a year may not sound like a lot, but if you’ve ever competed you know it’s huge.

Contest History:

2004 NPC Natural Northern Ohio 2nd Middleweight Class 158lbs
2004 NANBF Michigan Championships 1st Middleweight Class & Overall Winner 158lbs
2005 NPC Natural Ohio 2nd Middleweight Class 163lbs
2006 NPC Northern Kentucky 3rd Middleweight Class 170lbs
2006 OCB Great Lakes States 1st Short Class 171lbs
2006 NPC Michigan 5th Middleweight Class 171lbs

Favorite Cheat Food: Ribeye Steak and baked potato with butter and sour cream.
Favorite Bodybuilding Meal: (Breakfast) Lean steak, eggs & oatmeal.

In your MP3 player: Nickelback, Daughtry
Most Inspiring Book: “Leading Change” by John Kotter
Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: Family time, Baseball, Golf, Disney! Other Interests: Coaching kids. I love helping children achieve their goals and improve their performance.
Words to live by: "If you want to do things that others can't. You must do things that others won't."
Favorite or special training techniques that you use: I use an Instinctive training method. Although I plan my sets and reps for each workout, I am not handcuffed to them. Some days it will be more volume to fatigue, sometimes less. My philosophy is that you cannot over train a body part during an individual workout. Overtraining only comes from inadequate rest systemic rest afterwards. Supplements: favorite supplements, how you incorporated them into your contest diet, reasons why you used these particular supplements.
1. Ultimate Muscle Protein - I have two shakes daily.  It is the perfect combination of slow and fast digesting proteins
to get the protein I need each day to build muscle.

2. EFA Gold - This is a supplement that changes everything: from how my joints feel, to my skin, to my regularity.
These little golden eggs are the key to my system functioning in perfect harmony.  I also feel that they play a
key role in keeping my joints lubricated during those final weeks when I’m seriously low on body fat.

3. Ultra 40/Mass - This duo is with me every day, at every meal.  I believe they played a key role in gaining new muscle,
keeping the new muscle I gained and allowing me to be in my best condition to date.
I also relied on some of Beverly’s other products such as Lean out, Energy Reserve and Muscle Synergy. I used Lean Out through my entire contest prep for its ability to help me continually shed fat. The Muscle Synergy and Energy Reserve were added during the final weeks to give my body the little extra push that it needed to maintain hold muscle, reduce that bit of fat, improve workout stamina, and hold onto to my muscle. When you’re getting into that “shredded” territory, it is very gratifying to see the vascularity and muscular pumps that you get from Muscle Synergy.

What would you recommend to someone who has never used Beverly supplements before? I would highly recommend to anyone new to using supplements or looking for a change, to first clearly outline what your goals are. Start eating the right foods at the right times, then and only then, seek to supplement.

Your first step is to get the online No Nonsense Supplement Guide. (/productpdfs/pdfcatalog.html ) Educate yourself. Read about all the different options in the supplement guide section dedicated to your goal. While you’re on the web page read a few of the articles and nutrition plans that are up there. It’s amazing, nearly every plan they’ve ever used with clients is posted there. And you can see the results of the plan by the photos posted in the articles. Then call Beverly if you need additional help, the Beverly team can tailor a supplement regimen that will be best suited to your particular goals. I guarantee you, Beverly is one of the few supplement companies out there that won't sell you hype.

TRAINING

An example of my basic workout:
  2 on 1 off training split

NOTE: I use the Pyramid scheme of training on most of my heavy compound movements. It targets both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers better than a straight low rep or moderate rep scheme.

I’ve found that each muscle group responds best to its own unique rep pattern, so the reps listed below are all by design based on what I’ve found works best for me at this stage in my development.

DAY 1 - LEGS
Squats 3 X 20,15, 12 Warm up sets
(narrow stance, go way down) 5 X 12,10,8,12,12
Leg Press 1 X 15 Acclimation set
(high and wide) 4 X 15 Work sets
Hack Squat 4 X 15 Partials to just above parallel
Stiff Legged Deadlifts 4 X 15,12,10,8
DB Walking Lunges 2 X 24
DAY 2 - CHEST/TRICEPS
Incline Bench Press 2 X 20,15 Warm up sets
5 X 12,10,8,6,4
Low Incline DB Press 3 X 8
Decline DB Press 3 X 8
DB Flyes 3 X 15
Weighted Dips 3 X 15
Cable V Bar Pressdowns 4 X 8
DB Overhead Press 4 X 8
Cable Rope Pressdowns 4 X 15

DAY 3 - OFF
DAY - 4
Hang Clean and Press 2 X 20, 15 Warm up sets
4 X 12,10,8,6
Military Press 4 X 12,10, 8, 6
Lateral Raises 4 X 15
Rear Delt machine 4 X 15
Barbell Shrugs 4 X 12,10,8,6
Machine Shrugs 3 X 8
DAY - 5
Lat Pulldowns 2 X 20,15 Warm up sets
4 X 12,10,8,6
Weighted Pull ups 4 X 10
Deadlifts 4 X 12,10,8,6
Bent Rows 4 X 12,10,8,6
Unilateral DB Rows 4 X 12
DAY 6 - OFF



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