The Key to Bodybuilding Success

Stick to Your Plan

By: Brandon Richards
Magazine 13 #4

My last show was six years ago. After my 2002 show I got caught up in my career and didn’t place competing high enough on my priority list to make time for it. Although I wasn’t competing I still remained disciplined. During the past six years I’ve missed only a handful of workouts and have kept my diet consistent and clean. At the end of last summer I decided it was time to get back on stage. I was seriously considering competing in the fall, but then remembered the last time that I had given myself only 9 weeks to prepare. I finished 5th that time and didn’t want to repeat that experience. With this in mind, spring of 2008 was a better option and I am glad I was patient. I decided on a 16-week diet plan, with a goal of losing approximately 1 – 1.5 lbs / week. If all went according to plan I’d weigh 185 lbs at the show. I felt that this would be the perfect weight for me. I’d be lean enough, yet still hold enough mass, to be able to win the show. I took out my calendar and determined December 1st was the day I would start my pre-contest diet.

But, before the diet started there were some life changes I decided to make. I stepped away from my career of nine years, moved my family back to IA from TN, and started my own company. These changes gave me an easy excuse to put off my comeback. And I thought about it, but every time I considered putting it off, I remembered a woman competitor from the first bodybuilding show I ever attended. She was a single mom of four who still made time to compete, and she looked phenomenal! I remember at that show I promised myself I would never use the excuse “I don’t have enough time” because if a single mother of four can make the time, so can I.

December 1st arrived and it was time to begin executing the plan I had put in place for the next 16 weeks. I laid out my diet and supplementation. I wrote down my workouts and cardio. I established my weight loss benchmarks and ideal goal weight, and I was mentally ready.

Brandon Richards muscular pose

Because I was so meticulous during the planning stages very little changed over the next 16 weeks. I broke the 16 week diet plan up into four-week intervals. Every four weeks I reevaluated my diet which progressively moved closer to my final four-week diet plan. I rarely deviated from my original diet. If I was losing too quickly (more than two lbs in a week), I would add a very small amount of fat (1 tbsp oil) or carbs (1/4 cup oats) to my diet and finish out the four-week cycle. I want to make sure and make this point though – I only added a small amount of fat/carbs to my diet twice during the entire 16 weeks. It is very easy during contest preparation to let your mind start playing games especially when it comes to diet and weight loss. If you continually change your diet your body won’t respond properly. It is better to stay the course and trust the plan you formulated prior to starting your diet.

Precontest Meal Template at 16 Weeks Out

Meal #1
2 whole eggs + 4 egg whites
8 oz lean meat
1 cup oatmeal

Meal #2
Protein Drink with 2 tbsp olive oil / or 4 TBSP heavy cream

Meal #3
10 oz lean meat
8 oz sweet potato
2 cups vegetables

Meal #4 (same as #2)

Meal #5
12 oz lean meat
2 cups vegetables
Salad with 2 tbsp vinegar and oil dressing

Meal #6 
8 egg whites, 2 yolks
1 cup oatmeal

Precontest Diet at 4 Weeks Out

Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 

Pre Workout – 1 scoop protein in water

Meal #1 – Post Workout
½ scoop protein
6 egg whites + 1 yolk
8 oz chicken, lean beef or turkey
1/3  cup oats
½ grapefruit

Meal #2
Protein Drink

Meal #3
2 cans tuna
½ cup oats
1 tbsp oil

Meal #4 (same as #2)

Meal #5
2 cans tuna
2 cups broccoli
1 tbsp oil

Meal #6 - 1 scoop casein protein

Monday and Thursday (Higher Carb Days)

Pre Workout – 1 scoop protein in water

Meal #1 – (Post Workout)
½ scoop protein
6 egg whites + 1 yolk
8 oz chicken, lean beef or turkey
1/3 cup oats
½ grapefruit

Meal #2
Protein Drink, 1 banana

Meal #3 
2 cans tuna
½ cup oats
1 cup vegetables
1 tbsp oil

Meal #4
2 scoops protein, 1.5 cups oatmeal

Meal #5 
2 cans tuna
2 cups broccoli
1 tbsp oil
8 oz sweet potato

Meal #6 - 1 scoop casein protein
Pre Contest Supplement Schedule
Ultra 40 4 liver tablets with each meal.
Creatine Select before and after my workout. I also take it in mid afternoon.
Glutamine Select a scoop before, during, and after my workouts.
Mass Aminos 4 tablets before and after my workouts. I also take 4 tablets before bed.
Muscle Synergy 4 tablets before and after my workouts. I also take 4 tablets before bed.
EFA’s 2 capsules 3 times / day with protein drinks at meals 2, 4, and 6.
7 Keto started taking 7-Keto 6 weeks out from my contest.

I took 3 capsules 2 times / day, once in AM and once in early afternoon. 7 Keto helped keep my metabolism high and increase energy levels.

There is no doubt that Beverly supplements are high in quality, but the real value in my mind comes from the Beverly Team. What really sold me on Beverly is the amount of education about contest preparation that they do, without trying to sell me a product. Now that my gym bag is full of bottles with Beverly’s label I also see greater results in the gym. Bottom-line is Team Beverly knows their stuff when it comes to nutrition and supplementation and their customer focused approach creates value that is hard to find among other companies.

Training:

I enjoy my time in the gym no matter which body part I am training. I think I am addicted to the atmosphere and pushing myself to the limit. If I had to pick one favorite body part to train it would be legs. I feel very comfortable under the rack and the results (both strength and growth) seem to come easier for my legs than some of my other bodyparts.

Precontest I hit each body part once every 5 days. Exceptions to this rule are calves, abs, and forearms. These three muscle groups get hit two times per week. The following is a typical leg routine.

Squat (feet shoulder width):  5 sets with reps ranging from 12 – 6
Smith Front Squats (narrow stance):  3-4 sets with reps of 10 – 8
Leg Extensions: 3 x 12, 10, 8
Leg Curls: 4 x 12, 10, 8, 8
Stiff-legged Deads: 3 x 15-12
Step Up’s (with dumbbells): 2 x 12-10

1. Forced reps are an important part of my leg training. At the completion of a set my training partner helps me complete additional reps beyond those I have indicated above. Depending on his mood and the exercise I may end up doing another 5 and up to 10 additional reps with his help on the final set or two of a particular exercise.

2. We also work in supersets to help increase intensity. For instance directly after my last set of squats I will jump on the smith machine and do my first front squat set. The next two sets of front squats will have some rest in between, but directly after my last set of front squats I will head to the leg extension machine (without rest) and fire off my first set of leg extensions. I do this during most workouts and with all body parts.

Presentation

I started practicing my posing at 16 weeks out. I started with three, 15-minutes sessions per week and gradually increased to five, 20-minute sessions. I used my posing as an adjunct to my cardio. I rested very little during these posing sessions. I feel that my posing practice actually helped me maintain lean mass while tightening up.

If you are a beginner I’d definitely suggest finding someone who has proven success in the posing arena. I worked with a posing coach and was amazed at how much bigger you can look on stage with proper emphasis on your posing technique.

Final Week

I will have to admit I did start freaking out a bit during the last week. I started reading articles and talking to too many people about final week preparation and I let it get my speedos in a bunch. Beverly International really helped me out here. I wrote them an email, explained my situation, and asked for advice. Their advice was straight forward and right to the point. “The last week is just as important as every other week up to that point. The best thing to do is stay the course and keep it simple.” I did just that. I started a gradual carb depletion on Tuesday prior to the show. Gradually reducing the amount of carbs I took in each day until I began my carb loading phase Friday night. I also gradually reduced my water intake from two gallons on Wednesday and Thursday to one gallon on Friday and about 6 oz per hour the day of the show.

The 1st show was a success. The morning of the show I weighed in at 186.5 (1.5 lbs heavier than my goal weight). I won the light-heavy class, the overall, and most muscular. The 2nd show was five weeks later. I really learned a lesson about letting your mind get the best of you and the importance of staying the course when it comes to your diet. Two weeks after my first show I looked great, but still had three weeks to go. I started over-thinking and became paranoid that I would lose too much size over the next three weeks. I changed my plan. I decided to lower my cardio and added some fat and carbs. This proved to be a very bad decision. After a week and a half, I realized I had overcorrected. I went back to my original diet and jumped back on the cardio. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hit the stage in the same condition and took 2nd in my class. Even though I took 2nd, it was worth the leaning experience. I won’t make that mistake again. From now on I’ll stick with the plan.

In closing, whether you are a bodybuilder or just trying to improve your fitness level, the key to success is to set your goal, put together a plan of attack, and stick to your plan. During your planning phase ask for advice from those who have been there and have a proven success record. During your execution phase there will be times when you will begin to second guess yourself but have faith in your preparation.

Brandon Richards at a Glance 
Age: 31
Occupation: Real Estate Appraiser / Personal Trainer
Family: Wife (Jen - High School Sweetheart) and 2 girls (Emma 6, Caleigh 4)
Current Residence: Waukee, IA
Years Training: 15 (started at age 16 with my Dad and a few pieces of equipment in our garage)
Height: 5’ 8”

Off Season Weight: 215
Contest Weight: 187

Favorite Cheat Food: I have too many to mention
Favorite Bodybuilding Meal: Breakfast – eggs, lean meat, oatmeal, grapefruit
Most Inspiring Bodybuilder: Dorian for his mass, and Flex for his symmetry

Hobby or Interests outside bodybuilding: Real estate & spending time with my family

Words to live by:
Plan your work/Work your plan

NNM 13 #4