Physique Contest Prep

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done!

By: Jacob Mangan
Magazine 21 #1

I’ve struggled my whole life to gain weight, or even to look like I lifted weights. As a freshman in college I was a blistering 5’9” and 142 lbs. I lifted every single day. I wanted to get bigger and thought that I could not afford to take a day off. My plan was to eat as much as I could and lift as often as I could. Doritos and Ding Dongs were a big part of my nutrition plan – anything with calories. If a gift basket from home was full of sweets, I thought for sure it was just what I needed to put on weight. However, that weight never came. I couldn’t figure it out. Why was I not gaining muscle? Why was I not getting bigger? Sure, I was a toned, lean guy, but with no muscle mass to speak of. I knew something needed to change.

I educated myself on nutrition and bodybuilding. I learned about macronutrients and micronutrients and how to track them. I learned about muscle catabolism, and the physiology behind muscle growth. I learned how my body responded to certain foods and certain workouts. I made a drastic nutritional change, I began to eat healthy. Out went the Doritos, out went the Ding Dongs, and in came the chicken breasts and healthy carbs. I began to track macros, and allowed my body rest days vital for muscle recovery and growth.

I studied various supplements and started incorporating the best ones into my plan. I was in the middle of a 6 year doctoral program at the University of Cincinnati, and by year 4 my weight was up to 165 lbs. Lifting now became a means of stress relief for me, completing my studies was the challenge. I earned my Doctorate of Pharmacy degree in 2013 and began working as an inpatient pharmacist.

But, a new challenge was on the horizon. Through all my years of lifting I had always dreamed about competing, but never thought it was actually possible. Now, I thought, “Why not me? Who says I can’t do it?” And then I knew it; I was going to challenge myself, step on the stage, and compete. I started preparing 16 weeks out for the NPC Natural Indianapolis. I worked my tail off with the goal of getting through the prep and stepping on stage as the best version of myself. After all was said and done, I was fortunate enough to take 2nd place in the open Men’s Physique division. I had actually done it. I had stepped on stage and competed.

Soon after, I set my goals higher. I wanted to improve further and earn my national qualification. My next contest was the NPC Natural Cincinnati. I took 1st place in my division and won the overall. I was nearly in shock as I left the stage as the 2016 Mr. Cincinnati. The very next week I drove up to Cleveland to compete in the NPC Natural Ohio. It was a huge show, stacked with 90 Men’s Physique athletes. I won 1st place in my division but this time came up just short in the overall.

Jacob Mangan front stance

In the remainder of this article I’m going to give you a look into my workout and diet regimens. I’m not saying it’ll will be perfect for you, but it’s what I actually did to achieve the amazing success I’ve had in my brief competitive career. I hope that it will not only benefit you who compete, but anyone who has an interest in improving his health and physique.

Jacob displays his back development

Diet Plan

I can’t stress enough how important diet is in achieving your fitness goals.  During the off-season I use a flexible dieting approach. I keep track of my macros, but eat a diverse array of foods. My competition prep meal plan is much stricter. It typically involves 7 meals throughout the day.  Eating smaller meals more frequently keeps your metabolism moving and allows your body to constantly burn fat.

A typical competition prep meal plan for me is as follows:
Meal 1
1 egg yolk, 150-200g egg whites, 50g oats, 75g fresh blueberries
UMP vanilla protein shake, 100g fresh strawberries, 50g cheerios, Creatine Select
Meal 3
120g lean ground turkey, 1 cup brown rice, fibrous veggie of choice (optional)
Meal 4
chicken breast, baked potato, fibrous veggie of choice (optional)
Meal 5
145g Lean ground beef, sweet potato, fibrous veggie of choice (optional)
Meal 6
½ chicken breast, almonds
Meal 7
UMP vanilla protein shake, almonds, Glutamine Select plus BCAAs

I think it is very important to eat your two biggest carbohydrate meals before and after your workout.  I also try to eliminate any carbohydrate intake past about 7pm or so.  I feel if I eat carbohydrates past this time that my body may store them. 

Supplement Schedule

I try to keep my supplement schedule pretty simple.  I include Beverly International UMP, BCAA’s, Glutamine Select, and Creatine Select to aid in the muscle building and recovery process.  During competition prep, I also incorporate 7-Keto MuscLean into my supplementation schedule to help with the fat burning process.

ecto mesomorph Cardio

I’m a typical hard gainer, right on the border of an ecto/mesomorph body type; so I typically don’t need to do much cardio. During the off-season I’ll usually do 20 minutes of “low intensity steady state” cardio (LISS) 2 or 3 days a week. During competition prep I do about 30 minutes of LISS every day, often first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. I also include two 20-minute sessions of high intensity interval training (HIIT) each week.

Jacob Mangan squat smith machine


Below is a typical training week. I like to keep my muscles guessing so I often vary my workouts. I might do the exercises in a different order, or switch from a barbell exercise to a dumbbell exercise. I also like to incorporate heavy weeks and light weeks. During a heavy week I keep the reps at 8 or less, but for the light weeks I’ll do 12-15 reps on each exercise. I incorporate core work three times a week for 20 minutes at the end of my workout. I do anything from crunches, to decline sit ups, leg raises, oblique work, etc.

Monday:  Chest

Bench Press sets 5 x 10, 8, 6, 4, 2-3 reps

(Finish with a Ladder Set*)

Dumbbell Incline Press 3 x 10, 8, 6 – 1 Drop Set**

Cable Crossovers 3 x 10, 8, 6 – 1 Drop Set**

Smith Machine Decline Press 3 x 10, 8, 6 – 1 Drop Set**

Lying Dumbbell Overhead Pullovers 3 x 10

*Ladder set: start with a lighter weight where you can achieve 10 repetitions, then increase the weight and lower the reps for the following two sets, then drop weight off and raise the reps.  This is essentially 5 sets in one with NO REST.

**Drop sets: use a heavy weight for 3-4 repetitions, then immediately lighten the weight and rep it out to failure NO REST

Tuesday: Back

Lat Pulldown 3 x 12, 10, 8 – 1 Drop Set

Barbell Rows 3 x 10, 8, 6 – 1 Drop Set

Deadlifts 6 x 10, 8, 6, 4, 3, 10

Dumbbell Reverse Flyes 3 x 10

Dumbbell Bentover Rows 3 x 10

Wednesday: Legs/Calves

Leg Extensions 4 x 15

Squats 5 x 12, 10, 8, 6, 3 – 1 Drop Set

Barbell Walking Lunges 3 x 10 each foot

Leg Press/Calf Extension Superset 3 x 10, 8, 6 – 1 Drop Set

** Pause and hold 3 seconds at the top of each calf extension

Lying Leg Curl 3 x 10, 8, 6 – 1 Drop Set

3 Angle Seated Calf Raises 3 x 15, 10, 10

Standing Calf Raises 3 x 10

** Calf raises with toes pointed forward, toes pointed out, and toes pointed in on each set.

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Biceps/Triceps

Superset each of the following:

Skull Crushers / Preacher Curl 4 x 8-12

Seated Dumbbell Tricep Extensions / Dumbbell Hammer Curl 4 x 8-12

Cable Tricep Pushdowns / Weighted Pull-ups 4 x 8-12

Saturday: Shoulders

Barbell Shoulder Press 3 x 10, 8, 6 – 1 Drop Set

Dumbbell Lateral Raises 4 x 10

Rear Delt Dumbbell Reverse Fly 3 x 15, 15, 10 – 1 Drop Set

Arnold Press 3 x 10

Dumbbell 6-ways Compound (FEEL THE BURN) 3 x 10

Sunday: Rest

At the Contest

Everything about the contest itself is just amazing. From getting your spray tan, to being in the athletes’ meeting, to being backstage, to finally having your moment to shine; it is a night to remember. Being around so many people who have been through the same thing as you is amazing. There is so much comradery and encouragement. To read about it is one thing, but to experience it is another. You will LOVE IT.

If I had to give someone who has never competed before a tip, it would be to HAVE FUN. Seriously! You work so hard and put your body and mind through so much during your prep, when the day comes to finally hit that stage, let it be an exhilarating experience. Take the stage with confidence, smile, and hit the poses just as you have practiced many times before.

Closing Thoughts

My first competition prep lasted 16 weeks and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It not only challenged me physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. It took willpower to overcome each temptation and obstacle – hanging out with my friends in social environments, drinking, fast food, being too tired to workout, being hungry and not being able to eat what I wanted. But every time a temptation was overcome, it was soon followed by joy. Waking up the next day knowing I conquered another temptation. I loved it.

If there is something to take away from my story, I hope you take away that nothing is impossible and you can truly accomplish anything with hard work and dedication. Have a passion or vision and pursue it. It’s amazing the life lessons that can be learned through fitness. It’s not just about bodybuilding, but life as a whole. Learn from your mistakes, learn from others and push forward. Thank you for reading my story.

Jacob Mangan at a Glance
Age: 27
Education: Obtained my PharmD, Doctorate of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati
Occupation: Inpatient Pharmacist at University of Cincinnati Medical Center
Family: Raised in a military family and just so happen to be in the middle of three siblings.
Current Residence: Cincinnati, Ohio
Years training (total): I’ve always been a gym rat as I began lifting at about 16 years old. However, I began competitively bodybuilding about 15 months ago
Height: 5′9″; Weight: 176-179lbs (Off Season), 162-164lbs (Contest)

Published 13 Ooctober 2016

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