Jeff Williamson wins a pro card at the NPC Masters Nationals
When we think of a beast, we imagine a muscular monster, fists pounding on chest, the loud sound of a deep window-shaking growl, before crashing through cinderblock walls and flipping vehicles over in anger. New IFBB pro Jeff Williamson keeps the Hulk-like anger inside, using his energy wisely to create an amazing and balanced classic physique, winning the open bodybuilding over-50 class at the national level and progressing to an amazing pro debut.
I have met the top Mr. Olympias and most of the classic icons in the sport. I still strongly declare that Jeff Williamson rates as an exceptional bodybuilder. With both of us fortunate enough to be longtime parts of the Beverly International family, I met Jeff around twenty years ago. A group of us shared a meal and talked training, laughed, and saw that each of us had different lives but similar interests. Jeff interested me because his answers were never predictable. He would pause, consider the question, and make a lateral cerebral exploratory reply that told me that he does not rattle off the typical answers we have all read or heard dozens of times. He replies honestly and wisely.
Back in April, my good friend Big E invited me out to a posing clinic with longtime NPC executive Gary Udit and a dozen IFBB pros. I know Big E through his training partner Brian Yersky, and the three of us have been to many gyms and events together. He knows that I enjoy catching a handful of top male and female lifters in all classes so that I can throw some deep video questions their way. This event was at Joe Mazzone’s Powerhouse Gym in Berea, Ohio and had an obvious impressive gathering.
I stepped into the clinic room while Udit was wrapping up the bikini class segment. The room was tightly packed and I whispered a “Hey” and a nod to Brian Yerski and Big E when my peripheral vision caught someone wearing a black Beverly International hoody. Even though it had been over a decade since we ran into one another, the familiar smile, Scandinavian shaped nose (unlike mine that resembles a poor-skilled boxer), and positive attitude was a common Jeff Williamson intro.
While we couldn’t talk in that room, I caught up with Jeff, even shot some video interview segments, and shared some of the changes we both have had in our lives. Jeff had driven out from Indiana to help his girlfriend (an impressive female competitor named Rita George) get ready for some upcoming stage work, and modestly mentioned that he was going to get on stage again himself.
Much like bodybuilding icon Bill Pearl, Jeff takes long periods away from competing (years at a time), making people wonder if he has retired from the game, even though I am sure that his commitment to training is obvious to those who see him in the squat rack. This is not uncommon. For many bodybuilders there is a lifetime addiction toward gym battles in their future. This is because love of training might only be beaten by our love of friends and family (in Jeff’s case this includes his two sons, nineteen and twenty years of age), with competition often coming to a conclusion.
In Bill Pearl’s history, he earned a Mr. Universe trophy in 1953, 1956, 1961, 1967 and 1971. While most of his followers assumed Pearl was retired, he would shock them on stage with a new improved physique. Jeff Williamson has followed that same direction in his bodybuilding career. The difference is that on Pearl’s final Mr. Universe wins, Sergio Oliva, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Frank Zane displayed a future stage of bodybuilding coming on the horizon. With Williamson, some may say he presented an improved futuristic physique, and stood on stage presenting an even better build to not only match the growth of the sport, but to lead this master’s category.
Photo Credit: Amir Marandi
History of the Beast
Jeff Williamson started lifting right out of high school. This involved lifting in the garage. When Jeff went to college to study engineering he joined Gold’s Gym in Evansville. “It was my first exposure to a gym atmosphere and I was hooked from there on,” says Jeff who was just lifting and not even thinking about competing.
When he was thirty-years old, Jeff trained at a gym in Harrison, Ohio. “I think it was called Excalibur at the time,” Jeff recalls. “The gym owner asked me if I ever competed. He told me that I needed to talk to the people at Beverly International. One thing lead to another and I made an appointment and met with Sandy. She took a look at me and said that I should do the Tri-State Novice, which was coupled with the Mr. Kentucky. I won that show and did several shows since then. I’d do four to five shows, sit out for a while, do a few more shows, and then sit out for a few years.” Just like Bill Pearl.
Jeff won numerous titles in a number of organizations including the NANBF USA title. He also competed in the WNBF for a few years. But, one title had eluded him, so Jeff returned to the NPC and won the overall at the NPC Indiana State Championships in 2012. Five years later, he decided to go after the NPC Masters National title. In order to take things to a higher level, Jeff included some outside guidance.
The Importance of Adding a Coach
“I don’t think everyone that competes needs a coach,” says Jeff. “There are a number of National-level competitors who don’t have coaches, but I do think everyone needs a little help in one area or another (posing, diet, training, supplements, or pre-contest prep).“Most importantly, most competitors need an external critique of their body guiding you to improve weak points and timing your contest prep. At a high level, you really need to dial in the diet. You can really screw things up the week before prep, the day of the show, between pre-judging and finals.” Top competitor and friend Todd Buchanan recommended that he consider hiring IFBB pro Brian Hoydic as his Vince Lombardi/Gironda.
“I learned a lot from my coach in the posing area alone”, says Jeff. “I have worked with a few of the best people in the sport and thought I had the posing down. I soon learned there were several things I had to change in terms of presentation. Brian Hoydic took me to the next level. NOT to take one thing away from my roots Roger and Sandy both gave me more than a foundation in the sport. They have always been my rock and without them I would not have ever walked on a bodybuilding stage. I have used their techniques, nutritional advice, Beverly products and all their information they downloaded to me to help countless others. I also work as a personal trainer working with clients, many of which are competitors, and almost 100% of what I do with them comes from what Roger and Sandy have taught me ’Beverly-style’ if you will. I owe any success that I may have to Roger and Sandy. Certainly my coach now, Brian Hoydic, played a huge role in me getting my IFBB pro card. I have worked with Brian for about a year and Beverly about twenty years, just to put things into perspective.”
I contacted Brian Hoydic to hear his views on the Batesville Beast. Okay, he had no idea who I was referring to until I added in, “I mean JEFF!”
“Jeff has no weaknesses,” says Brian. “He has full, round muscle bellies. He gets hard and dry. His shoulders and pecs are his strongest attributes. The first time I saw his pics I told him if he follows the plan he will be a pro. He didn’t miss a meal or take an unscheduled cheat meal. He checked in on time every time. He never once complained or questioned anything. Most guys that are trainers add stuff or take stuff away. He did not. What’s impressive is that he has a full-time job and trains clients 40 hours a week. I couldn’t ask for a better client.”
“Funny story...” Brian says when discussing Jeff’s athletic climb. “When he got together with me in Pittsburgh for Masters Nats six weeks ago, I had him meet me at the check-in room. I get there and tell him to strip down and let’s see how he looks. I already knew he looked really good from previous pics he sent the day before. He [strips down] and hits one of the mandatory poses. I only needed two seconds and to see just the front of him to see that he was gonna easily win. I told him in two seconds, ’Get dressed. You’ve won!’ He also collaborated with me and trained his girlfriend Rita George, who won her pro card. So not only did he win his first pro show, his girlfriend got her card on the same day.”
Changes to The Beast’s Training
Many of us have read (and reread) Jeff’s articles on training and nutrition. These are areas he has put a great deal of thought into and a serious game plan. I recommend you get on the bodybuildingworld.com site and check these out. (There’ a search button at the top right of this page, just type in Jeff Williamson.) I, of course, had to ask him how his diet and training has changed in recent years.
“I like the training the most,” says Jeff. “Going to the gym, getting a pump, and just training. That’s what I enjoy. I’m not big on getting on stage. That’s why I take off two or three years at a time. I like the process of getting there. I like to win, but it is the gym and training that I love.” Jeff Williamson’s training does not sounds like it has changed much since his previous articles since it was successful, but I asked him if there were any areas he felt needed a little extra work in order to maximize his symmetry. His overall positive traits that impress the judging panel include balance, fullness and condition. No one has perfect balance though. In an ideal situation, we choose one area to focus on that may be slightly behind and eventually make it a strong point.
“My legs are probably my weakest bodypart,” admits Jeff. “I hide them well. My legs get separated. The adductor area, the inner thigh, is probably my weakest area.” Now I didn’t say anything, but this is an example of someone with far greater symmetry than 98% of us. A year from now, he may admit that his brachioradialis is slightly behind his biceps, triceps and brachialis or maybe the tibialis anterior on the front of his calves is a bit behind his gastrocnemius, soleus and peroneus brevis and peroneus longus. He still gave an excellent strategy on fixing a “weak” point.
“I have really focused on that over the past year and it has come up a lot,” says Jeff. “Even at 49 or 50 years old, I have made huge improvements in that area. Overall legs have been my weakest area. My legs have always been really strong. I can lift good weights but the strength has not translated to hypertrophy,” says Jeff. “In my case, I put in more volume of work and went lighter. For two months, I would hit legs every [training] day. I had my regular leg day but during other training sessions I would train legs light. I would hit light leg extensions, light adductors or even some really light Smith machine squats on my toes, for maybe three sets. And I did this every day for about two months leading up to the show. You would think at 50-years-old that you are not going to respond, but I did. My legs, hamstrings… I brought up my glutes too, and in five years I had not had glutes with striations.”
“I think my leg development was the best it has ever been,” says Jeff (and the judges seemed to agree!). “Come showtime everything just came together. This may not work for everyone but it worked for me. More volume. Again hitting legs every day. When I say hitting legs every day, I’m talking about maybe three sets, not necessarily working super hard… maybe twelve reps, medium weight, squeezing hard.”
Something that has come up often when we discussed training was a focus on FEEL over training poundages. “When you are doing bent-over barbell rows and you are slinging the weight around, you might be building your arms and getting almost nothing for your back. You kind of let your ego get in front of you when you are younger. Looking back, I wish I wouldn’t have been so much concerned with lifting heavy as feeling the target body part and giving it time-under-tension more. When I was younger, I went in and thought I was hitting the right body parts but really was probably only hitting it about half as much as I could.”
Like training, the wisdom has evolved but the basics of Jeff’s nutrition have not changed a great deal (if it still works, you often can keep collecting the benefits). He continues to eat a diet that includes quality protein (lean meats, eggs and Beverly protein powder), limited carb sources, healthy fats, and adequate veggies. During the off-season he simply makes sure to eat six times a day and get protein in all six of those meals. “I’m not perfect with that,” says Jeff. “I eat junk food if I want it. If I want pizza I get it, but always with some protein.”
- Meal 1: 6 egg whites, 4oz beef, 1.5 cup oats
- Meal 2: 10 oz. chicken, 2 cups rice, ½ cup broccoli
- Meal 3: 8 oz. beef, 2 cups rice, 4 oz. green beans
- Meal 4: 10 oz. chicken, 8oz sweet potato, ½ cup broccoli
- Meal 5: 10 oz. turkey, 1 cup any green leafy veggie
- Meal 6: 4 oz. beef, 6 egg whites, 2 cups spinach
- Meal 7: I drank a 2-scoop UMP shake in the middle of night – usually around 2 am, or whenever I woke up. Pre workout: 2 scoops Mass Maker Ultra Post workout: 2 scoops Muscle Provider
- Note: Anytime I could not get a meal in, I always had 2 scoops of UMP with me as a substitute.
|Super Pak with meal #1||3 ZMA 2000 before bed|
|Quadracarn 3 tabs 3 times a day||I added Density, Energy|
|(EVERY DAY)||Reserve, Glutamine Select,|
|4 Ultra 40 and 4 Mass Amino Acids with every meal (24 of each per day)||and Muscularity as the competition drew closer.|
Contest prep eating has not changed too much either. “The only real change I have made is keeping carbs in as long as I can before a contest. The best way to describe it is that my diet is basically Beverly-style. The last two shows I kept carbs in as much as I could. I dropped them down a little bit two months out and then three weeks out, I cut carbs out completely. There is no question that Beverly International supplements propelled me to the next level. You need to take in some good, quality supplements to get into the type of condition required to get into and win some of these bigger shows.”
The Batesville Beast’s Impressive Debut Winning an IFBB pro card is a lifetime goal that many competitive bodybuilders devote decades to, often letting the other aspects of their lives (such as their careers) dwindle, but still fail to win an IFBB pro card. Jeff not only won his pro card, but went on to step onto a pro stage and not only did well, but won at his first IFBB pro contest!
After winning the Masters, I asked Jeff what his future goals were and he told me that he planned to compete in the IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Championship. “I was not at my absolute best at the Master Nationals,” says Jeff (although obviously still better than the other oiled stage-guests). “I needed about two more weeks to really tighten up. The Pittsburgh Pro was six weeks after the Master Nationals so it gave me plenty of time to tighten up. It was my choice to make this show my pro debut.”
The Pittsburgh Pro Show runs in conjunction with the NPC North Americans, so the Batesville Beast’s IFBB pro debut was actually held in the middle of the week (Wednesday). “I really like the idea of going on stage first and only having one class,” says Jeff. “All the judging is done in the morning and there is no posedown in the finals, so you pretty well know where you place at prejudging.”
“Competing at the IFBB level you need to compete within your bounds. I’m not going to compete against guys at the Olympia level. It has to be guys within the Masters level or maybe even the 212-pound class. I need to see how I stack up.” Winning his first IFBB pro contest shows that he chose wisely and progressed at an impressive rate.
“Everyone was a lot bigger than I anticipated and everyone was in shape,” says Jeff. I forced my humble friend to open up with a very honest explanation of why he won. “A very classy group of guys. I’m not huge. I’m not really that big. I don’t overpower anyone, but I have the round, full look…the round muscle bellies. It comes down to me being in condition. If I am in condition and have the round full look, it makes me appear a lot bigger on stage. My conditioning and round muscle bellies set me apart from the rest and from the back I have a 3-D type look that sets me apart.”
Brian Hoydic adds, “Honestly, he ended up looking better than I thought. He looked even better for the pro show than when he won the pro card. I think his posing really separated him from the rest of the pros. There were two really good guys in his class, but his overall balance and symmetry closed the deal.”
I ask Jeff Williamson how the Batesville Beast becoming a pro will affect his life and he let me know the change would not be dramatic. “I have a career in the corporate world but I do think it will help my side business (personal training/supplement sales). I just have not had time for everything to sink in and begin to capitalize on it yet.”
“I am planning on doing the Baltimore Pro on “October 28th.” This was not planned, but again I know I can make improvements in the next ”eight weeks.“ I feel like this is the year to do as much as I can since I am in condition and mentally and physically feel great! I really have no excuse why not to jump into the Baltimore Pro.”
I normally follow a 3 on – 1 off workout split. I do 3 work sets for each exercise (after warm-ups when necessary).
- My exercises and reps are listed below.
- Day 1 Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
- Incline DB Press: 12,10,10 Cable Crossover: 12,12,12 Hammer Incline Press superset with
- Flat DB Flyes: 10,10,10 DB Shoulder Press: 15,12,10 Medium-grip Upright BB Rows: 12,12,12 DB Reverse Flyes: 30,25,20 (face down on incline bench) Rope Pushdowns: 20,20,20 Machine Dips: 20,20,20 Close-grip Bench Press: 10,10,10
- Day 2 Back, Biceps
- Front Pulldowns: 15,12,10 Barbell Row: 10,10,10 T-Bar Row: 10,8,8 Seated Row: 10,10,30 (Set of 30 is quick
- pumping style reps) BB Shrug: 20,15,12 Close-grip Cable Curls: 40,30,20 Seated Alternate DB Curl: 2 sets: 20lbs
- to failure, 30 lbs to failure Preacher Curls with EZ Bar: 20,20,20
- Day 3 Legs
- Leg Extensions: 30,30,30 (get quads super pumped to start) Seated Calf Raise: (very strict) 20,20,20
- DB Sumo Squats: 30,30,30 Hack Squats: (feet shoulder width) 12,10,10
- Smith Machine Squat: (2 plates each side) 20,20,20 (this is tough) Standing Calf Raise: 12,12,12 Leg Press: 20,20,20 Leg Curl: 30,30,30