By: Dave Smith, 2009 NPC Midwestern States Overall Novice Champion Magazine 14 #4
Each bodybuilder’s path to the stage is a little different. But, even though no one has exactly the same metabolism or structure, there are many factors that are the same. In this article I am going to tell you exactly what I did to achieve my best condition (and size) to date. Along the road I won the overall novice Midwestern States and the heavyweight class at the NPC KY state championship. It’s my hope that you can take things from my program (or even copy it exactly) to achieve your best ever condition in the coming twelve weeks.
Start with nutrition
There are certain core nutrients that are found in everyone’s bodybuilding program, mainly protein and complex carbohydrates. I get best results when I stick with these core nutrients year round and just vary the amounts depending on whether I’m off-season or training for a contest. Here are the foods that I stick to year round:
COMPLEX CARBS – Cream of rice, brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and broccoli
As you can see, this makes for a pretty easy grocery shopping list.
Diet from 12 Weeks – Six Weeks Out
This year I started my contest diet twelve weeks out from the show. Here’s how I ate during the first six weeks of my diet:
Cardio (1) 60 minute walk
Meal 1: 2 scoops Ultimate Muscle Protein; 1⁄2 cup Cream of Rice
Meal 2: 6 oz eye of round steak; 1 cup brown rice; 1 cup broccoli
Meal 3: 1 can of tuna; 8 oz sweet potato
Meal 4: 2 scoops UMP; ½ cup Cream of Rice
Meal 5: 8 oz tilapia; 1 cup brown rice; 1 cup broccoli
Cardio (2) at 6 weeks out
20 minutes Stairmill
Meal 6: 1 can tuna; 1 cup oatmeal
Meal 7: 10 egg whites, 2 whole eggs
Six Weeks Out
I cycled my carbohydrates at six weeks out from the show. This year I did two low and two high days all the way to the final week. On the high day I followed my original diet above. On the low days I simply cut the carbs in half for meals 1-5; and at meal 6 I take out the oatmeal and add 1 tbsp of all natural peanut butter.
Getting all your nutrients from food is a great idea, but for me it’s nearly impossible. That’s why I use the specific supplements at specific times to support my nutrition. Just like my food intake I like to stick to a basic supplement schedule year round. The following is a list of the supplements that I keep in my diet throughout the year.
Everyone needs a quality multi vitamin. Regardless of whether you are an elite athlete or don’t exercise at all, this is a necessity. Beverly makes a good one, Fit-Tabs
Another necessity is quality protein powder. My favorite is Ultimate Muscle Protein. UMP is very versatile due to its blend of whey, casein, and egg white protein. This makes it a great protein choice just about any time of day and is a part of my breakfast every morning, my post workout meal, and, if I need to, I will take it before I go to bed in the off-season. I’ve had great results with this protein blend and it will always be a part of my meal plan.
I could be in the midst of the worst low-calorie day of my life, but as long as I have these three supplements I’m able to train like it’s a high-calorie off-season day. My body feels great, and my muscles feel full. There truly is nothing else like it. When getting ready for a show I take 5 Density tabs and 2 scoops of Glutamine select before cardio sessions. Before I work out with weights I take 5 Density tabs/2 scoops of Glutamine Select/1 serving of Up-Lift. I really like Up-Lift for the energy and focus without the caffeine jitters and crash.
Training My training schedule is 3 days on, 1 day off as follows:
Day 1: Legs
4x10/ 1 Set 20+
Stiff Leg Dead Lift
Day 2: Biceps/Calves
Single Arm Isolation Curl
Standing Calf Raise
Seated Calf Raise
Day 3: Chest
Incline Barbell Press
Incline DB Press
Flat Barbell or DB Press
I finish my chest routine by super-setting:Hammer Incline Press
Day 4 Rest
Day 5: Back
I try to keep my back day and leg day at least three days apart so I can go heavy on deadlifts.
Hammer Lat Pulldown
Hammer Seated Row
Bent Barbell Row
4x8 (I switch to reverse grip every 4 weeks.)
Day 6: Triceps/Calves
Dumbbell Kick Backs
One Arm Cable Pushdown
3 Sets to failure
Calves (Same as Day 2)
Day 7: Shoulders
DB Shoulder Press
DB Reverse Fly
DB Lateral Raise
Smith Machine Shrug
I do abs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, though I’m not particularly creative about it. I usually do 4 sets of 25 crunches, and 4 sets of 10 to 15 leg raises.
I concentrate more on the exercise movement and contraction when I train, the amount of weight is not nearly as important. I play around with a lot of different angles and seat positions to help me feel the movement better. I love using free weights, and use them for most movements, but some exercises just feel better on a machine.
I try to vary my workout one way or another every six weeks. This doesn’t mean that I do a completely different workout; often I’ll just change the order of the exercises, or throw in a super-set or two. Usually this is enough to keep everything moving in the right direction.
I’m not a big fan of cardio. Off-season I might start my workout by walking 15 minutes on the treadmill. Then once a week I’ll do a CrossFit workout. I love that it usually hits every bodypart and I can get done in 30 minutes.
Precontest, I start cardio 12 weeks out. I walk for 45-60 minutes first thing in the morning. I add a second, later session of 20 minutes on the stairmill the final six weeks.
Final Week Before the Show
DON’T SPEND THE WEEK STRESSING OUT, ENJOY IT! At this point you’ve already completed the hard work. The final week is going to fly by. Before you know it, the show is going to be over. One of the most important things to remember is that, in bodybuilding you are really competing with yourself. If this is your first show, and you look the best you’ve ever looked, you win. If this is your 10th show, and you made the improvement that you wanted, you win. The other competitors are not your enemies. They are simply the other select few that that were able to make the same sacrifices you did to get on stage. Enjoy their company, you can learn a lot backstage, and most enjoy talking about bodybuilding as much as you do.
HERE’S HOW I DO IT. I train legs on Sunday, six days before the show. That’s my last normal workout. I do continue to train through Wednesday, but during these workouts I just do an easier upper body split followed by posing. I use very light weights and just focus on contractions and getting blood into the muscle. The last thing I want to do at this point is to injure anything. By this point what you already have is what you’re bringing on stage.
A little bit of everything minus legs
POSING. I start my posing practice the first week of my pre-contest diet. I figure if I’m going to put this much hard work and discipline into preparing for a show, it’s critical that I display my body properly. Practicing in front of a mirror is ok for the first couple of weeks, but once you have the poses down, get away from it. You will not have a mirror in front of you on stage, so you need to be comfortable with how each pose “feels”. I pose after training three times per week during the first six weeks of my prep. At six weeks out I pose after every workout, and sometimes do a couple more rounds after my evening cardio session. I practice as if I was on stage - quarter turns then mandatories.
FOOD AND WATER. Using the carb rotation that I explained earlier makes the final week very predictable. I follow the low carb plan from Sunday or Monday through Wednesday. Then the higher carb plan (that is very close to my original 12 week out diet on Thursday and Friday. I add salt to most of my meals on the low carb days, and then take it out on Thursday and Friday.
One big mistake that I've made in the past was cutting my water too much on Thursday and Friday while trying to carb up. I was always flat Saturday morning and then full Saturday night after some good meals and a little more water. I adjusted that this year. I drank two gallons of water per day through Wednesday. On Thursday I took it down to one gallon, and on Friday I limited it to about 1⁄2 gallon by drinking 8 oz with each meal. This made a noticeable difference and much better result on Saturday morning.
You can’t dehydrate fat off! If you’re in shape you should look like you could go on stage even before you start cutting your water back, so there is no reason to get too crazy.
Although, at its core, bodybuilding is the ultimate individual sport, anyone who has competed knows that the support of those around you cannot be understated. I have been helping others reach their fitness goals as a friend, trainer, and fitness director for the past ten years, but when I decided to compete, I immediately enlisted the help of someone who had been there before. My friend and trainer Jack Oehlers helped guide me in many of the finer points of nutrition, posing, and attitude that have consistently been an important part of any success I have attained so far.
Working for Better Bodies and being part of such a positive, encouraging club environment helped me stay continually motivated and encouraged.
Finally, it takes a special kind of care and tolerance at home to put up with the nuances in the competing bodybuilder’s life (such as the smells of fish, steak, and sweet potatoes permeating throughout the house at 5:30 each morning). My wife not only dealt with this but was eight months pregnant as the show approached. Such unwavering support keeps me grounded, allows me to stay on-task, and in many ways makes bodybuilding seem a bit more like a team sport even though I am the only one who gets to stand on stage and get credit for it.
David Smith at a Glance
Occupation: Fitness Director, Better Bodies, Ft Mitchell, KY
Family: Wife, Whitney and Daughter, Lenni
Current residence: Wilder, KY
Years training: 11 years; competing 4 years
Weight: Off Season – 235-240; Contest – 210-215
Favorite Bodybuilding Meal: Steak and brown rice
In your CD player: Kanye West, Jason Mraz
Best Book: Lee Haney’s Ultimate Bodybuilding Book
Hobbies or interests outside bodybuilding: Watching reality TV/ Food Network with my wife. I know, but it’s an addiction that we can’t kick.
Words to live by: Everything is possible for those who believe. Mark 9:23
NNM 14 #4
Rick Ruether Master Trainer Personal Bodybuilding Philosophy