Competitive Hunger

Struggles and successes in my journey from organized baseball to competitive bodybuilding

By: Joey Ensley
Magazine 21 #3

14 April 2017

I have been involved in some type of competitive sport nearly my entire life. I played 13 years of baseball and was fortunate enough to play in two Little League World Series›. Being a little shorter in stature, my father encouraged me to start lifting weights at a young age (12 years old). He thought that my added strength would help level the playing field as I competed with ‹larger’ boys for a starting position. The work ethic that my father instilled in me paid off and has carried over into bodybuilding. I cannot thank my father enough for teaching me the importance of hard work and dedication.

Once my organized baseball days were over, I needed to find another outlet for my competitive hunger. Luckily, I had a passionate co-worker at the gym where I work and an amazing wife who encouraged me to try bodybuilding. Although I had been lifting weights for 9 years at that point, competing in a bodybuilding contest had never crossed my mind. However, the competitive animal inside me latched on to the idea and I began to train for my first contest. I won first place in my weight class (bantamweight at 125 pounds) and first place in Novice. I was hooked!

Now, 5 years later, I am still competing, but not without some hiccups along the way. It›s been a constant struggle to add mass and then I get down on myself mentally because the gains come so slowly. I also had trouble with my nutrition. I tried writing up my own diet plans by counting macros and cycling carbohydrates, but I was not getting the results I wanted. That’s when I asked for some professional help from Todd Buchanan. Todd was eager to assist me and almost immediately we sat down and discussed my goals (add more mass to my frame and become a more competitive bodybuilder), current eating habits, workout routine and supplementation regimen. After taking notes of my current habits, Todd immediately tweaked a couple of my meals and restructured my supplement regimen drastically. Todd explained that all supplements are not the same and got me hooked on the benefits/ value of Beverly International products from day one.

After eight months of grinding in the gym, eating with a purpose and most importantly, following Todd’s supplementation recommendations, I put on a solid 6lbs of muscle! Based on these results I was able to step on stage this year with more confidence than ever. I competed three times this year. I brought home a 2nd place trophy from the first competition and won 1st place in the next two.

Now I’d like to give you a look at the supplement schedule, precontest diet plan, training and cardio programs which helped me achieve this success.

Joey Ensley first place bantamweight
 Photo credit: Amir Marandi

My daily nutrition plan


Meal 1: 1 cup egg whites cooked with – tbsp of coconut oil; asparagus, onions and mushrooms cooked in – tbsp coconut oil

Meal 2: 6 oz. lean meat (tilapia or ground turkey); – grapefruit

Meal 3: (Pre-workout) 6 oz. lean meat (tilapia or ground turkey); – grapefruit

Meal 4: (Post-workout) 50 grams whey protein (Muscle Provider) mixed in water; 1tbsp all natural peanut butter (straight off the spoon of course!)

Meal 5: 6 oz. lean meat (tilapia or ground turkey); asparagus, onions and mushrooms cooked in – tbsp coconut oil.

Meal 6: 2 scoops UMP mixed with water until it is a pudding consistency. I put 2 scoops of vanilla UMP in a bowl, add water until I have the texture I’m looking for, and then add some cinnamon and eat it like pudding.

Training schedule

Joey workout cable cross over

Note: exercises denoted with * are usually supersetted.

Monday: Chest (heavy), Triceps, Shoulders

  • Nautilus Chest Press 4x20,15,12,10
  • Incline Smith Press 5x15,12,10,8,8
  • Decline Press 4x12,10,8,8
  • Cable Flyes 4x15
  • *Rope Cable Extensions 4x20,15,15,12
  • *Skull Crushers 4x15,12,12,10
  • DB Front Raise 4x15 DB
  • Shoulder Press 4x12,10,8,8

Tuesday: Biceps, Back (light)

  • Lat Pulldown 4x15,12,12,10
  • Curls 4x20,15,12,12
  • Cable Hammer Curls with Rope 4x12
  • One Arm Lat Pulldown 4x10
  • Seated Row 4x15,12,12,10
  • Straight-Arm Pulldown 4x12
  • Hyperextensions 4x15

Wednesday: Legs (light)

  • Lying Leg Curls 4x20,15,12,10
  • Seated Leg Curls 4x12
  • Leg Press (Feet wide or narrow based on the week) 4x20,15,12,10
  • Hack Squats (opposite stance from Leg Press) 4x15
  • Leg Extensions 4x20 (5 second iso-hold every 5th rep)

Thursday: Triceps, Chest (light), Shoulders

  • Triceps Extensions 4x20
  • Single-arm Rope Extensions 4x15
  • Free Motion Flyes 4x20
  • Machine Chest Press 4x15,12,12,10
  • *Incline DB Chest Press 4x12,10,10,8
  • *Push-ups 4x15
  • *DB Front Raise (palms up) 4x15
  • *DB Lateral Raise 4x15 Arnold Press 4x12,10,8,8

Friday: OFF

Saturday: Back (heavy), Biceps

  • Wide-grip Lat Pulldown 4x20,15,15,12
  • DB Rows 4x12,10,8,8
  • Rack Pulls 5x12,10,10,8,8
  • Straight-Arm Pulldown 4x12
  • Hyperextensions 4x15
  • Resistance Band Curls 4x20
  • DB Hammer Curls 4x10

Sunday: Legs (heavy)

  • *Lying Leg Curls 4x20,15,15,12
  • *Glute Kickbacks 4x15
  • Barbell Squats 5x15,12,10,8,8
  • Leg Press 4x12,10,8,8
  • DB Split Squats 4x10,10,10,10 (light, moderate, heavy, drop set)
  • Leg Extensions 4x15,12,12,10
  • Calf Raise 4x30
  • Stiff-Leg Deadlift 4x10
Joey Ensley back double bicep

Supplement schedule

Ultimate Muscle Protein – 2 scoops vanilla for meal #6 (This is my favorite meal during contest prep. I look forward to it each day – great texture and great flavor.)

Mass Aminos – 3 tablets with every meal

Ultra 40 – 3 tablets with every meal

7-Keto MuscLean – 3 capsules with fasted cardio and 3 capsules with meal #2

Quadracarn – 3 tablets with cardio and 3 tablets with meals #2 and #4

EFA Gold – 2 gelcaps with meals #1, #4 and #5.

Cardio schedule

Off-season I do very little cardio. I might walk on the treadmill at a slight incline (3.0-5.0) for 20-30min, 3 days a week. Once I get 12 weeks out from a competition it is full go! I bump up my cardio to 6 days a week with each day having two sessions. I have a spin bike in the basement of my house, so I get up early in the morning and ride for 45 min (steady state).

After my 10 hour shift at work, I come home and eat dinner and then drag myself downstairs, hop on the bike, and ride for an additional 45 min (steady state). As the weeks progress, so do the durations of my cardio. Now unlike some other competitors, I do not do HIIT cardio. I have personally found for myself that steady cardio works best for my body’s ability to shed fat and hold the muscle I have worked so hard for. I make small changes as the weeks progress so that my body can continually make progress each week as I peak for competition.


I feel like posing has become a lost art. Very few competitors actually take the time to practice and perfect their posing. During the ”off season”, I pose at least twice a week. I will hit my quarter turns and mandatory poses for at least 10 minutes. At 6 weeks out from a contest, I pose every day for at least 15 minutes. This ensures that I am able to hold each pose comfortably on stage for a minimum of 30 seconds. I feel like posing practice has allowed me to step on stage with improved conditioning and confidence.

In closing

My competitive hunger has been fed! I started my journey in bodybuilding with very little direction, except that I knew I wanted to compete in something. Fast forward 5 years and I have surrounded myself with an amazing team of people who have pushed me, supported me, educated me and have just downright loved me. The best decision I made in this sport was hiring my coach/friend/mentor Todd Buchanan. Todd has been there for me through thick and thin this year. I couldn’t have succeeded in this journey without the support of my loving wife, who helps cook my meals, works out with me, builds me up when I am feeling down and even kicks my butt out of bed at 5:30am to do cardio. My advice to anyone reading this article, surround yourself with positive people who are going to help you grow as a human, athlete, and competitor alike so that you can feed your competitive hunger!

NNM 21 #3
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