I seriously got into bodybuilding during the winter of 2006. At the time, I respected the discipline and dedication of the bodybuilding lifestyle but didn’t think I had the look, build, or genetics to ever step onstage. I went to a show with my girlfriend and everything changed after that.
With the help of my girlfriend and a select few, I began my journey. I had been eating fairly clean but realized that in order to step it up I needed to break the chains of habit and build better ones. I researched diets, supplements, macronutrients, training styles, and philosophies, I taught myself how to cook and eat like a bodybuilder. Multiple feedings throughout the day, a goal oriented supplement regimen, rest, training, even my mindset was geared towards competing.
Yet while making these changes I still had to manage the demands of a new promotion at work along with the strain of being a full time college student.
Fast forward to 2009. I had completed my undergraduate degree and moved forward with my plan to open up my own business. That April, Evolution Personal Training was born.
I spent 2009 building my business. I was blessed to have an elite group of trainers at my side to help others work towards their goals. They are more than just a team to me; they are my brothers and sisters. With business growing steady it was time for me to focus on a different goal; one that required all my discipline, drive, and determination.
My girlfriend, Linda and I decided to make our debut onstage at the 2010 NGA Heart of America Classic. I began my prep 18 weeks out as I wanted to give myself enough time to get my body shredded. I sought help from April Boulter, Fitness Coordinator at Loyola University Chicago. Starting at 18 weeks out we met every other week to check bodyfat levels. This was a good indicator of how I was doing with my diet, training, and cardio. At 10 weeks out we met every week to monitor progress.
Weeks became routine. Linda and I spent Sundays grocery shopping and cooking meals for the week. During our free time we watched Food Network and took Benji out for long walks. I saw improvements weekly. I paid close attention to my problem areas and looked for signs of improvement; deeper separation, veins, striations, thinner skin etc. I stayed on course and did not deviate. Doubts began to fade and confidence began to build. "I can do this".
(I wrote all of the above at 3.5 weeks out from the show. Below will be my training, diet, supplement program at the 4 weeks out point, along with the rest of my story after I step onstage May 8th 2010)
Day 1 – Chest and Biceps
Day 2 – Back and Triceps
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Legs
Day 5 – Shoulders
>Day 6 – Deadlifts, Glutes, and Calves
Day 7 – Off
I kept workouts no longer than 75 minutes and my reps were kept moderate to high; 8–10 on large muscles and 12-20 on smaller muscles. I kept my movements controlled using free weights and basic exercises.
At 4 weeks out I was preforming 45–60 minutes of steady state cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. I kept cardio intensity moderate. I usually watched ESPN or the morning news while I did my cardio. This way I kept current with news and sports. Cardio was done on a mix of stationary bike, treadmill, and elliptical climber. I used the stepmill the final 3 weeks leading to the show. A few times early during my prep I did a few car pushes, 400lb tire flips, and some track sprints.
After cardio: 1.5 scoops Muscle Provider, 1 cup coffee
Meal 1: 1 cup egg whites, 1 whole egg, 5 oz. chicken breast, 4 oz. mushrooms
Meal 2: 2 scoops UMP, 1 tbsp almond butter
Meal 3: 6 oz. chicken breast, 2 cups green vegetables
Meal 4: 2 scoops MP
Meal 5: Same as Meal 3
Meal 6: 4 egg whites, 1 can tuna (this meal was optional)
I ate a carb refeed meal Monday and Thursday night. This meal was usually Ezekiel bread, brown rice, bananas, and some healthy fat.
I began posing at 12 weeks out starting 2-3 times per week between sets and after workouts. I did not do anything structured at this time because I knew my physique would change and my posing would need to change accordingly.
At 8 weeks out I began posing 4 times per week in the morning for about 15 minutes. I went through the quarter turns, then mandatories, holding each pose for 10–15 seconds. At 7 weeks out I enlisted the help of a good friend of mine Dietrich Horsey to help me with posing. He gave me pointers on how to tweak poses that would better display my physique. At 4 weeks out I was posing daily, sometimes twice per day hitting the quarter turns then mandatories and holding for about 20 seconds.
During prejudging, I tried not pay attention to the other competitors as I focused on hitting each pose exactly as I was trained to do; slow, smooth, fluid, and seemingly effortless. It was a big class and the judges made us work. The posing practice paid off. I could hear other competitors struggle to hold poses. I just did my thing, made sure to stay tight and big, show off my strong points, and smile.
Prejudging came to an end. For me, it was time to go back to the hotel room, eat, sleep, touch up my tan, and go over my routine for the final display of my hard work.
At the finals I had family, friends, and clients in the audience. They had all traveled over 3 hours to get there so they were ready to cheer. I was the last middleweight to perform, I came out after my introduction and my crowd went nuts. The cheers were deafening. I faced the curtain, took one last breath, closed my eyes, and gave them the best performance I could.
I placed 2nd in the Mens Novice Division and 3rd in the Mens Open Division. There were at least 10 other competitors in both classes. I was very happy with the results. My goal for my first show was to bring my personal best. To place 3rd in the Open Division was truly an accomplishment.
My girlfriend won her class in the Figure Masters Division and received her pro card. I am so proud of her. The promoter congratulated us and called us the Dynamic Duo from Chicago. She worked so hard for this and was very doubtful on her performance during prejudging. I am so happy for her. Congratulations Linda. You did it.
All the training, cardio, and posing practice paid off. I want to thank Beverly for their support and for producing quality supplements. After Saturday’s show I must have eaten a whole jar of peanut butter along with half a tub of BI UMP. Then once I got home I made some more UMP pudding. Sunday morning I had steak, pancakes, eggs, and some rice cakes with nut butter. Sunday evening we had sushi and afterwards we split about a pound of granola. I wonder if there is some more leftover.
I want to thank all my friends, family, and clients that made the trip down to see the show. To hear your screams when my music hit was incredible. We represented Evolution very well. Your support meant very much to me, and I will always be forever grateful.
This has been a goal of mine since I was 18. Like others, I made excuses to avoid it. I had no time, no discipline, no confidence; I will start next year, etc. This year I made the commitment to pursue my goal and I did not waste my time with excuses. It was tough, I had to make some sacrifices, and at times I wanted to break down and give up. But I stayed focused. There was no digression or cheating on the precontest nutrition. I pushed through the last reps of my workouts and bit down and spent the time doing my cardio. Crazy? Maybe. Challenging? Oh yeah. Did I want to give up? At times; yes. In the end was it all worth it? Definitely.
To the readers
Whether you like it or not, each rep, each set, and every second counts. Do not settle for anything but your best. It’s only when you give an honest 100% that you can say, I did everything I could.
A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form; the process of gradual development is my story, my own personal evolution.
Occupation or Education: Owner and Personal Trainer for Evolution Personal Training
(Evolutionchicago[dot]com); dual degree in Sport Management and Business Management from Loyola University Chicago./dd>
Current Residence: Chicago, IL; living in a cave during my prep
Years training (total): 5, for competition: less than 1
Off Season Weight: 188-195
Contest Weight: 170
Favorite Bodybuilding Meal: Ostrich steak and green vegetables Favorite supplements: My favorites include UMP, Glutamine Select, Mass Aminos, and Ultra 40. These particular supplements are the cornerstones of my program and they have helped me gain lean mass and preserve muscle while my diet and cardio stripped away fat.
In your CD player: Breaking Benjamin, Staind, Three Days Grace, Shinedown
Hobby or interests outside bodybuilding: Cooking, spending time with my girlfriend, golf, bike rides, eating large amounts of sushi, sleeping, playing with the dog, and helping others with their personal goals.