Each step made the simple task seem like an event out of American Ninja or World’s Strongest Man. Not only was I feeling winded, but the tightness in my lower back was a growing concern.
I was 6’3” and almost 300 pounds, so moving a hundred-pound box was not that big of a deal. As someone that had been a successful bodybuilding competitor, it was even less of a big deal. But the incident reminded me that my body was not in the shape it had been. Weighing at least fifty pounds over my previous competition weight, I had put on plenty of mushy flab!
The next morning I found myself frozen in front of the mirror. At 290 pounds I was the heaviest I had ever been, and it was not good weight! My body fat levels had climbed, my conditioning was nowhere near its peak, and my health was a serious concern. I knew how to eat like a champion bodybuilder, but my nutrition habits had hit an artery-clogging, fat-building low point. Training was not a regular aspect of my routine and everything else had followed that downward spiral.
A quote from T.D. Jakes echoed in my head: "It is your passion that empowers you to be able to do that thing you were created to do."
I asked myself if I was doing what I was created to do? Was I fulfilling my passion? I was succeeding in helping my clients reach their goals, but was I also serving as the role model they needed?
Earlier in life, bodybuilding was a top priority in my world. If you were to ask me at what point my love for the fit, athletic lifestyle died, the question would surprise me. I might even take offense. I most likely would respond with a bit of a self-defensive, “What do you mean? That’s not true! I love to lift. I live the bodybuilding lifestyle!” But looking in the mirror, I wonder if my reflection would be able to rationalize that same answer?
You see, family and business became big priorities in my life. I was building my personal training and contest prep coaching business. I now had three daughters and a grand-daughter. I had begun to add clients and new services (such as spray tanning) to what I offered. It didn’t seem like I had left the bodybuilding lifestyle at all. In fact, it seemed like I was even more immersed in it. My personal fitness, and shape of my body, had not kept up with what I wanted. I had lost myself, and the thing that had drawn me to the gym, along the way.
It was at this point that I made the commitment to get into the best shape of my life.
The Kaizen Philosophy
I have been using Beverly products for a long time. After returning from the military and moving to Detroit, I prepared for my first show. Mark Ritter, from Beverly, helped me get ready for the contest and talked me through everything. I was a slimmer-type guy, weighing around 170 at 6’3″ when I started. Following structured meal plans and including the Beverly products helped me pack on 25 pounds in just two to three months. I think that previously I was just not eating enough food or providing the right nutrients.
I first encountered Beverly at a 7-Eleven store (the owner was into strength training). The Beverly magazine was there on the shelves next to Natural Bodybuilding magazine. Everything in the Beverly magazine was so detailed and directed me. I have used this same approach on all the clients I prepped for shows.
My whole foundation was provided by Beverly over the past fifteen-plus years. Sandy and Roger have always been like family. I have competed in their shows a few times and they always leave you with the warmest feeling, always. I wish the entire industry reflected the beliefs and principles that Beverly has represented. They are just genuinely good people.
I competed in bodybuilding from 2001 through 2010. I started out as a light-heavyweight and slowly climbed up into the super-heavies. I did well from 2006 on since I had filled out my frame and balanced my physique. Like many people, I hit a period in which life changes and business caused me to take a break, which turned out to last much longer than I had planned. That shift in priorities brought about a decline in my body.
As a former marine, I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. One of the first Japanese words I had learned was kaizen. Kaizen refers to constant ongoing improvement. It was time for me to direct that principle, which was a core focus of my business life, back into my training and nutrition program. I decided to get into the best shape of my life!
After talking to a good friend (IFBB Pro John Meadows) about my new commitment, it motivated me to officially begin training again. Many other great people encouraged me to make it through the long days of training and cardio (without even knowing how much they helped).
Return to Competition
Knowing that competition sharpened commitment, I decided to step back on stage. In November of 2014, I competed in the NPC Kentucky Muscle and it did not go as well as my past competitions. I finished in sixth place as a super-heavyweight. I decided that I wanted to focus more on being an athlete and began doing more functional training and cross training. I went back to being a total athlete instead of focusing on being a bodybuilder.
On April 25, I entered the 2015 NPC Kentucky Derby in two divisions and categories. I competed as a super-heavy in bodybuilding in both the Master’s Over-40 and the Open Division. I won first place and Overall in Master’s Bodybuilding and I won first place in the Open Super-Heavy.
At that same event, I entered my first men’s physique competition in both the master’s and open division. I won first place and overall in both divisions. The Kentucky Derby was supposed to be my final show. Through the support and encouragement of my support system, I decided to go for a pro card in men’s physique.
This taught me that my destiny changed with my thoughts. I became what I wanted to become when my habitual thoughts aligned with my desires. Another quote from T.D. Jakes comes to mind: “I think my mistakes became the chemistry for my miracles. I think that my tests became my testimonials.” With the career and athletic aspects of my life aligned, I am excited about this new chapter in my life!
Nutrition Plan Supplements
When it comes to my nutrition, I have a plan laid out, but sometimes life happens and it is going to be different. I make sure I eat every three hours but sometimes it can come undone by work or family priorities. I try my best to stay consistent around these changes. Making sure you have food there and ready helps.
I buy meats wholesale from meat markets rather than chain stores, and that saves me considerable cost.
I use great supplements. Beverly has always been my “go to” company. I was sponsored by another company in the past and tried their products. I had one bad showing on stage and knew that I should have stayed with Beverly (and have done so since).
I always make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Here is an outline of the food plan I followed for my latest contest achievements:
Meal #1: Egg whites and grits
Meal #2: New York strip and asparagus
Meal #3: Two scoops of UMP
Meal #4: New York strip and asparagus
Meal #5: Turkey breast and two cups of salad or green veggies
Meal #6: Egg whites and grits
Meal #7: Two scoops of UMP
5 Ultra 40 and 5 Mass Aminos with all 7 meals for muscle growth
Abdominal Routine – To achieve the small stream-lined waist, I do core exercises daily.
Decline Leg Lifts 4 x 25-302) Decline Sit-up 4 x 25-30
Back Raises (Hyperextensions) 4 x 25
I may alternate with other exercises (such as Roman Chair Sit-ups, Stability Ball Crunches, etc.).
These exercises are normally mixed in while doing my workout.
Day 1 – Legs
Leg Extensions 4 x 20-30
Leg Press 4 x 40-50
Lunges 4 x 20
Abductor Machine 4 x 30
Leg Curls 4 x 30
Straight-Leg Deadlift (Smith Machine) 4 x 20
Hack Squats (below parallel) 4 x failure
Day 2 – Chest and Shoulders
1) Dips superset with Pullovers 4 x 20
2) Incline Presses on Smith-machine 4 x 15
3 A) Pec Deck 4x15 (superset with Push-ups)
3 B) Push-ups (as many reps as possible)
1) Arnold Press 4 x 10-12
2) Single-Arm Seated Lateral Raises 4 x 10-12
3) Straight Bar Front Raises 4 x 15
4) Single Cable Rear Delt Raises 4 x 15
5) Upright Rows 4 x 20
Day 3- Back and Arms
1) Wide Grip Pull Downs 5 x 20
2) Barbell Rows 4 x 20
3) Dumbbell Rows 4 x 15
4) Deadlift on Smith Machine 4x8
1) Barbell Curls 21 x 4 sets
2) Incline Dumbbell Curls 4 x 15
3) Concentration Curls 2 x 15
1) Straight Bar Tricep Pushdown 4 x 12
2) Kickbacks 4 x 20
3) Skull Crushers 4 x 15
Day 4 - Off Day, then repeat cycle
5 days per week 30 minutes Rolling Stairs (fasted cardio)
30 minutes post-training treadmill walk (set on the highest incline you can without holding on to the machine)
Make sure that you have a professional stage-ready appearance.
Always make sure that you have your tan applied by a professional tanning company (such as Liquid Sun Rayz) that specializes in competition spray tan.
This includes professional hair and make-up for female competitors and well-groomed hair for the men.
Male and female competitors should make sure that their posing suit selections compliment their physique. I recommend that you have your posing suit (including board shorts) designed by a suit maker.
One last tip is to practice your mandatory poses at least eight to ten weeks before your show date. Do this at least three to four times a week. Some competitors fail to realize the importance of stage presence. Your posing ability can often make the difference in your placing at a show.
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