An Average Bodybuilder’s Journey

In this article I’ll tell you how I was able to overcome limitations

By: Steve Osborne
Magazine 21 #2

11 March 2017

First, I would like to state that I am an average, everyday person with work and family responsibilities. I’d classify my body type as a skinny fat ectomorph. I can lose weight quickly but gain fat even quicker. I know there are a lot of you out there with the same genetic structure as me – naturally narrow clavicles, pudgy belly and chicken legs and arms. But, don’t give up! In this article I’ll tell you how I was eventually able to overcome these limitations through commitment, patience, and finally developing a belief in myself.

I began my journey 9 years ago, due to a photo my wife took of me on vacation. When I saw what I looked like with my shirt off I couldn’t believe it. I weighed 250 pounds and had no idea that I looked like that. At first, it depressed me, but rather than indulge in self-pity, I enrolled in a gym. A trainer asked me my goals and I told him I wanted to lose weight. He said he was training for a competition that was 90 days out, and if I set a goal to step on stage it would motivate me and help me achieve my goals more quickly. I was super stoked and went on this crazy diet restricted to chicken and broccoli for the next 3 months. I worked out like a mad man, and coupled with the crazy diet, I was at 185 pounds by day 85. I felt great about my weight loss, but lousy physically. Five days later it was show time. At the contest I was intimidated as soon as I saw the other competitors. I knew right away that I didn’t belong. However, the show must go on and I ended up placing dead last in my class of 9 competitors.

I began my journey 9 years ago, due to a photo my wife took of me on vacation. When I saw what I looked like with my shirt off I couldn’t believe it. I weighed 250 pounds and had no idea that I looked like that. At first, it depressed me, but rather than indulge in self-pity, I enrolled in a gym. A trainer asked me my goals and I told him I wanted to lose weight. He said he was training for a competition that was 90 days out, and if I set a goal to step on stage it would motivate me and help me achieve my goals more quickly. I was super stoked and went on this crazy diet restricted to chicken and broccoli for the next 3 months. I worked out like a mad man, and coupled with the crazy diet, I was at 185 pounds by day 85. I felt great about my weight loss, but lousy physically. Five days later it was show time. At the contest I was intimidated as soon as I saw the other competitors. I knew right away that I didn’t belong. However, the show must go on and I ended up placing dead last in my class of 9 competitors.

Steve Osborne side tricep

Something good did come out of the show though; I found a No Nonsense magazine inside my competitor “goodie bag”. It opened my eyes to a wide variety of diets, training, and supplement plans. I subscribed and found new motivation with each issue. My problem was my motivation didn’t last; I wanted immediate results. I’d start a new diet or workout and then grow impatient because I wasn’t growing fast enough and then try something else. My inability to commit to a plan was putting a damper on my results. But I had some built in excuses. The people featured in the magazine all had great genetics. I went on like this for the next 7 years as my weight climbed to 225. Then one day a switch clicked in my brain and I realized it was ME that was holding me back. I needed to quit making excuses if I wanted to see results. Good genetics wasn’t the reason these people achieved what they did; it was hard work and commitment.

I decided to try another show. Starting at 225 in April, 2014 I was down to 203 pounds by contest time that June. I finished 6th out of 7. There was no disappointment this time, I knew that I could do better; I just had to revise my plan.

I Get Serious about Supplements and Diet… Finally


One of the first things I did was decide to get serious about my supplement plan. Using the chart Beverly International laid out in their No Nonsense magazine, I ordered UMP, Muscle Provider, Ultra 40, Quadracarn and the Super Pak. As soon as my order came in I mixed up an UMP shake. I can tell you UMP is hands down the highest quality and best tasting protein on the planet. In a couple of weeks the Ultra 40 and Quadracarn had me feeling like I did in my 20’s – full of energy and vigor. The Super Pak covered all my micronutrient bases and my body was firing on all cylinders.

My diet was based around eggs, oatmeal, chicken, rice, broccoli and UMP shakes. I didn’t really know much about macro percentages at the time so I just ate what I thought were sensible portions. I used a 5 day training split designed for the competitors that I found in the No Nonsense magazine and stayed with it for nearly a year leading up to my third show in August of 2015. I weighed in at 193 pounds and was by far the best I ever looked. This time I placed 3rd and was so excited. Now, I wanted more! I relaxed my diet until December 2015, and in January began to prep for a show in April of this year. I started at 203 pounds, competed at 193 and ended up winning the Master’s Over 40 class.

After winning my class, I felt I had gone as far as I could on my own, so I began to search for some professional help. After countless hours searching on the internet I came across Joe Franco who had all the qualifications I was looking for. I emailed him and he responded within 5 minutes. I was so blown away by his quick response, I hired him immediately. The next show was scheduled for August 20. I had exactly three months for Joe to help me take my body to a new level. He started me off with an I.I.F.Y.M (If It Fits Your Macros) plan. I could pick the foods I liked as long as I hit the macros he prescribed. The basic plan was to rotate a high carb day, 2 moderate carb days and a low carb day. My training was Day 1: Legs, Day 2: Push, Day 3: Pull and then a day off. During the 12-week prep, Joe actually added more food to my diet every couple of weeks. I invested in a scale, weighed out my food, and kept meticulous notes on what I was eating.

Below is my lower carb day:
Meal 1
1 scoop UMP / 1 scoop Muscle Provider (3 Quadracarn, 5 Ultra 40)
Meal 2
370g egg whites, 96 grams oatmeal, 14 grams honey (1 Super Pak, 5 Ultra 40)
Meal 3
90 grams Dave’s Killer Bread, 138 grams chicken breast, 1 mozzarella stick, 1 fiber one brownie (3 Quadracarn)
Meal 4
45 grams Dave’s Killer Bread, 138 grams chicken breast, 2 mozzarella sticks, 1 fiber one brownie (5 Ultra 40)
Meal 5
300 grams egg whites, 60 gram oatmeal, 14 grams honey (3 Quadracarn, 5 Ultra 40)

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A New Training Concept

In reference to training, I ended up cancelling my gym membership and invested in a Smith Machine, Olympic weight set and a pair of adjustable dumbbells. I was getting too stressed at the gym with not being able to get a piece of equipment when I needed it. What a great move for me. No longer was I able to use ‘the gym is too crowded or closed’ excuse to not train. Joe introduced me to a training concept that was just what I needed to bring up weak areas or exercises. It is called ‘cluster training’. Here’s an example of how it works. I was atrociously weak at pull ups. My workout called for me to complete 36 reps in a training session. No way could I do that many at one time. Instead, I would do 9 sets of 4 reps, resting 10 seconds between sets. Thus, giving me an overall total of 36. It is the overall total that is important, not how many you can do at one time. This style did wonders for my back. Here’s an example of my pull split;

  • Pullups (Bodyweight) 9x4 w/10 second rest
  • Barbell Row (155 lbs) 3x8 w/60 sec rest
  • DB Row (65 lbs) 2x10 w/60 second rest
  • Face pulls (bands) 2x14 w/30 second rest
  • Incline DB Curl (35 lbs) 3x9 w/45 second rest
  • Hammer DB Curl (35 lbs) 3x12 w/30 second rest
  • Overhead Crunches (bands) 2x15

The whole workout took around 40 minutes. Finding the right plan that you can commit to is key. My advice is don’t be afraid to try different techniques and strategies. Reaching out to those that have made progress is a great tool to help you get on the path for success.

As for cardio I only did 1- 20 minute steady state and 1- 12 minute H.I.I.T. recumbent bike session a week. I used my 10 minute posing practice 7 days a week, and the physical nature of my job at Lowes to satisfy my cardio.

Final Prep and My Most Recent Show

I started this prep at 196 pounds and finished at 183, I felt small. Now peak week was here and since I was on point with my prep, there were no major adjustments. No water manipulation either. Water is not the enemy. Usually when someone looks like they are holding water at a contest, it is really because they still have some bodyfat to lose.

I checked in the day before the show, turned in my music, got my stage number, and took the polygraph test that is required to compete in OCB contests. Later that day I got two coats of spray tan. The show was local, thus giving me the luxury of sleeping in my own bed. When I awoke I ate my breakfast, did a pump workout with bands, and posed for 5 minutes. Then I relaxed and watched TV for a couple hours before heading to the contest. On the way my wife and I stopped at Wendy’s and I got a bacon cheeseburger for later. Instead of carbing up, I eat a bacon cheeseburger about an hour before taking the stage, and then a couple of peanut butter cups fifteen minutes prior to help with my pump.

Once at the show we had a competitor meeting and then one hour until showtime. I went back stage and ate my bacon cheeseburger, did a short preliminary pump-up, and then relaxed while I socialized with the other competitors. When they gave us the 15-minute warning, I ate 2 peanut butter cups, pumped up for 5 minutes and then lined up. The Master’s Over 40 group was first up. We walked onstage, did the mandatory poses under the hot lights, and before you know it we were done. Then I had to turn around and go back out with the Open Class. Good thing I’d been practicing my posing every day for the last 8 weeks. Next came the individual routines. I was nervous waiting for my name to be called; it was like being in school and waiting for your name to be called to recite in front of the class.

Back to the show. I ended up placing 2nd in the Master’s and 5th in the Open. I am 100% committed to improving every day in my training, work or personal life. I am available for any questions with regards to my training and diet approach. I use Beverly International supplements exclusively due to their quality and effectiveness in producing results. Please feel free to email me at steveo29045@gmail.com or on Instagram Steveo29045. I look forward to embarking on a new journey and excited to see where it leads me.