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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
TRAININGAn 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 3 - OFF
DAY 6 - OFF
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