Step by Step Up the Bodybuilding Ladder

By: Taylor Trantham
Magazine 21 #4

15 September 2017

I always dreamed of being a professional athlete. In high school I was a good soccer player and an okay baseball player, but I had an itch for something more. When I graduated high school I met Dr. John Dabbs, a natural pro bodybuilder who introduced me to the sport of natural bodybuilding. This was just what I was looking for – a sport where discipline and hard work could overcome any obstacle

With Dr. Dabbs coaching me I started training in August of 2009. I weighed 175 lbs at 15 percent bodyfat. I had no idea what I was getting into. I quickly became obsessed with what I saw in the mirror. I was like an artist trying to sculpt a masterpiece. My mind had a picture of what I wanted to see and I was not stopping until I achieved it. The mirror doesn’t lie. It is up to you to make the change.

Therapy Sessions

My workouts were like therapy sessions where I could let all my emotions out and focus wholeheartedly on bettering myself. In 2011, I got my feet wet in competition and stepped on stage for the first time. I finished 8th out of 8 in my class. Whoops! What an eye opener! Maybe I didn’t belong on stage? Or maybe I did and just needed more time and work to become a stage ready bodybuilder. Let me give some advice to anyone out there who thinks they may want to compete, “Do not rush it! Don’t put on posing trunks and walk out on stage just to say you did so.” Bodybuilding is all about hard work. You have to work hard in the gym, kitchen, and on your presentation. Put every ounce of sweat, time, and energy you have into it to earn your place on the score sheet. Let your journey to the stage be the prize. The harder you work for that trophy, the more rewarding it will be when you get it.

Taylor workout

The Leap

Many people are “one and done” when it comes to competing. But, I knew that first show would not be my last. After all, champions were once failures who kept going until they got it right. Bodybuilding became a lifestyle for me. I became dedicated to achieving the best physique possible. From that first show eight years ago until today, I always make sure I am prepared to compete when I walk on stage. I make sure that everything is in the right place for my journey training, diet, and lifestyle.

I am lucky to have someone in my life who understands what bodybuilding is and understands the bodybuilding lifestyle. My wife, Brittany, is my rock when I am getting ready for a contest. She cooks my meals, weighs my food, and packages it up for me to take with me during my 12 hour work shift.

Another area which is vital to the lifestyle of the natural bodybuilder is supplementation. But it is a common area of confusion. There are so many supplement choices, so many products and sometimes less than honest companies promising results that they know are false. Dr. Dabbs came to the rescue when he introduced me to Beverly International. I remember to this day my first UMP shake. It was amazing. I’ve been hooked on Beverly supplements from that point forward.

There will be many people who question your lifestyle because they don’t understand it. Just remember it’s your choice and not for others to understand. Build your mind up just like your body, focus on your goal and leap into the lifestyle you’ve chosen.

2017 The Best is yet to Come

My off season weight is now 215 pounds and my body fat hangs around 12%. I recently competed in May and my dream of becoming a professional almost came true. I weighed in for the 2017 OCB No Gear Classic at 178 pounds with my body fat at 3.1% (that Lean Out sure did the trick!). Dr. Dabbs and I had worked so hard to prepare for it and I almost won. I placed first in the novice class and finished 2nd in my open class. I was one spot away from competing for my pro card. It was so incredible just to be up there on stage contending for my dream. I know the experience will last a lifetime. It started with me back stage before the prejudging, wearing my Beverly hoodie just trying to stay warm. And ended as one of the best nights of my life.


Right now I am lining up when I will compete again. I believe with all my heart that one day I will be a natural pro bodybuilder. Going natural pro is still the goal and I will not stop until I achieve that goal. I also want to inspire people to never give up on their dreams no matter what they are. Keep going and never quit. Open your eyes and dream, don’t just sleep your dreams away. Push yourself harder than you did yesterday. I cannot wait to be on stage again but for now I have more work to do. If there is one thing I know it’s hard work pays off.

Contest Tips

  • Trust the process – do your workouts, eat your meals, take your supplements, day after day, and all your hard work will be rewarded.
  • Pose – the more you pose, the harder and more defined your body will become.
  • Find a stress reliever – for me it’s fishing.
  • Know your body – what foods bloat you, which ones give you the most energy, etc.
  • Get dark – when you think you are tan enough, apply at least one more coat.
  • Compare yourself to nobody – back stage focus on you not the other competitors. Stay confident and do your own thing.
  • Talk to the judges – get feedback, find out where you need improvement.
  • Have fun!!! The hard work is done. Get a good pump backstage and have a blast.

Meal Plan and Supplements

Talyor with supplements

The diet listed below was prepared specifically for me by my trainer, Dr. John Dabbs. If you’d like to follow my diet template, I’ve included a food substitution list you can use to tailor it to your lifestyle. For example, if my diet calls for chicken, you could substitute any of the foods in the Protein list below.

  • Protein: Chicken, turkey, fish, lean red meat, eggs/egg substitutes
  • Starch: Sweet potato, red potato, brown rice, oatmeal
  • Vegetables: Asparagus, broccoli, green beans, spinach, etc.

Meal 1:
6oz. chicken, ¾ cup rice, 1tbsp olive oil Or 3 egg whites, 1 whole egg, 4oz. chicken, ¾ cup oatmeal Or 8 egg whites, 2 whole eggs, 1 cup quinoa

Meal 2:
6 oz. tuna, 2/3 cup brown rice, ¼ avocado Or protein shake (UMP or Muscle Provider), 12 almonds, ½ cup oatmeal

Meal 3:
8oz. lean meat, 8 oz. sweet potato, 2 cups veggies

Meal 4:
6 oz. lean meat, 6 oz. sweet potato, 1tsp almond butter Or protein shake (UMP or Muscle Provider), 1 tsp almond butter, ½ cup oatmeal

Meal 5:
8oz. lean meat, 2 cups veggies, plus 6oz. sweet or red potatoes on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday

Meal 6:

6 oz. chicken, 2 cups veggies Or 8 egg whites, 2 cups veggies Or protein shake (UMP or Muscle Provider), 1tsp almond butter

Supplements: During Contest Prep

  • Pre Workout: 2 scoops Muscle Synergy, 2 scoops Glutamine Select
  • Post Workout: UMP or Muscle Provider mixed with 2 scoops Glutamine Select
  • Meal 1, Meal 3, Meal 5: 3 Lean Out Capsules
  • Meal 2, Meal 4, Meal 6: 3 Mass Amino, 1 Energy Reserve

Off season my supplement regimen includes UMP, Muscle Synergy, Mass Aminos, and Creatine Select. I also will use Lean Out at certain times, especially during the summer, when I want to maintain a lower body fat.

Favorite UMP recipe

Mix 3 scoops of your favorite flavor of UMP in a bowl with ½ cup water (add more or less water to achieve your desired thickness). Add a tablespoon of honey and another of crushed almonds, then place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the freezer, add a tablespoon of Cool Whip and enjoy!

Training schedule

I incorporate supersets throughout my workout. A superset is where I perform two exercises, one right after the other, with no rest between. After I complete one superset, such as Squats/Sissy Squats, I rest a minute or so and repeat. This helps me get the maximum benefit in the least amount of time, plus it keeps my heart rate up for built-in cardio benefit. I also stretch for about 30 minutes after every workout and cardio session for better muscle separation and to improve flexibility. Also stretching really helps with my recovery.

Day 1: Legs

Squats/Sissy Squats 4x25 (key for leg separation)
Leg Extension/Leg Curl 4x15
Lunges/Side Lunges 4x20
Leg Press/Calves 3x8 100
Air Squats or Step-ups

Cardio in the evening: HIIT 30 minutes (Sprints)

Day 2: Chest and Triceps

Flat Dumbbell Bench Press/Nose Busters 4x12
Incline Bench Press/Skull Crushers 4x12
Hammer Strength Press/Rope Press Down 3x15
Push-ups/Dips 1 set each to failure

Cardio fasted in morning: 30 minutes (walking)

Day 3: Back and Biceps

Barbell Rows/Barbell Curls 4x10
Reverse Rows/Preacher Curls 4x10
Pull-ups/Cable 21’s curl 3x failure
One Arm DB Row/Alternating DB Curl 3x12
Deadlifts 5x6-10
Back Extension 5x15-25

Cardio in the evening: HIIT 30 minutes (Sprints)

Day 4: Off

Day 5: Shoulders and Abs

Barbell Press 5x10
Smith Machine Shrugs/Front DB Raise 4x10
Reverse Shrugs/ Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3x15
Reverse Flyes/DB Shrugs 3x25
Upright Row 4x25
Abs: rope crunches, machine crunch, leg raises, knee-ups, planks

Cardio fasted in morning: 30 minutes (walking)

Day 6: Legs

Standing Hamstring Curl/Box Jumps 4x25
Seated Leg Curl/Leg Extension 3x15
Hack Squat Machine 10x10
Squat 2x25

Cardio in the evening: HIIT 30 minutes (Sprints)

Day 7: Off

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