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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.