How I Went From Last in My Class to 1st

By: Mark Palmer
Magazine 6 #3

I’ve been competing since 1992 – but I made more progress in less than one year with Beverly International than the previous eight combined.

My story actually begins when I started college as a 5′6″, 138-pound candidate for the football team. Needless to say I needed to gain weight and fast. That’s when the iron bug bit me. In less than a year I’d gained nearly thirty pounds and made the team. I continued to train throughout college as I pursued a physical education degree.

After graduating I began my career as a P.E. teacher and high school football coach. I continued to train both for my own improvement and to set an example for the athletes I coached. Like everyone with more than a passing interest in bodybuilding I had my eyes set on someday competing. I used just about every supplement on the market always looking for the secret and unfortunately throwing a lot of money away in the process.

I entered my first competition in 1992 and competed in several contests over the next four years with moderate success. I knew I had the structure and muscle size to win, but was never as hard as the competitors who placed ahead of me. In my heart I knew I could do better. But I had to wait three more years to give it another try.

During that three-year break, my brother and I opened a gym, Better Bodies Health & Fitness Center. We split duties at the gym while I continued to teach, coach and train. But by early 1999, not only did I have the urge to compete again, but my brother and five of our gym members also wanted to give it a try. As the experienced competitor in the gym, I helped everyone prepare for the big day, March 27, 1999.

We started our precontest preparation early in January. But as the weeks passed I realized that we had made great improvement, but we were still not as hard as we needed to be. Several of us decided to do a local show one week prior for practice. Even though our group had all committed to be drug free for life, this particular show was not tested. Knowing that I needed to be harder, I made the mistake of asking nutritional advice from some of the competitors at the show. The result of their method was disastrous! I dropped 13 pounds in a week not fat just a little water and a lot of muscle.

I finished last in my class. Out of seven competitors from our gym, I was supposed to be the expert and I was the only one who didn’t place.

This experience became the turning point in my bodybuilding career. Deep down I was crushed and felt like quitting, but I had to keep my head up. I am not a quitter so I decided to do one more show. I knew that I needed help with my nutrition and contest preparation, but not the kind I received the last time.

I needed to find a professional who could work with drug-free athletes. Then I remembered meeting Jim Heflin from Beverly International in 1998 at the Jr. Nationals. He had given me a No Nonsense Magazine. I’d looked at it briefly, then put it out in the gym and forgot about it until now. Fortunately no one had thrown it out. I found it mixed in a pile of old magazines and read it cover to cover. As soon as I was finished I put the newsletter down and called Beverly International. Roger Riedinger answered the phone. I was very impressed that he took the time to talk at length with a complete stranger. He was very professional and asked me to send him my information via e-mail. Within the week I had a diet and a scheduled appointment to go to the nutrition center.

I want everyone to understand as they read the newsletter articles written by other competitors that the down to earth, friendly, caring, professional description of Roger & Sandy and their staff isn’t just words to make them sound good, but the absolute truth. I know I must have driven everyone at the nutrition center crazy at times with all my calls, e-mails and questions.

To make this part of the story short, I got in the best shape of my life in a matter of weeks. I competed at the North Carolina Supernatural and finished third in the open lightweight class. According to the judges, I was just two points away from the first place spot, and best of all, I knew I was in the best shape of my life. I had finally attained the physical level I had always wanted, but deep down I knew that even though Beverly International had almost created a miracle in the short time I had given them to work with me, I could be better.

I decided to dedicate one full year to Beverly supplements and diet plan to improve for the year 2000. I followed a basic nutritional plan with occasional breaks throughout the fall and winter. What didn’t vary was my off-season supplement plan - I used Mass, Ultra 40 and Muscle Provider consistently throughout the entire off-season.

Fast forward to the Arnold Classic 2000 where my next meeting with Roger took place. (You should have seen the Beverly International booth! It was packed, yet the Beverly staff was calmly doing body assessments and formulating nutritional plans for everyone from beginning bodybuilders to seasoned competitors right there in the Expo.) I was at 186 pounds and 10.9% body fat. My body fat was not too bad, but a little higher than I wanted. My muscle growth however was phenomenal. Not only did I add a lot of lean muscle tissue but I gained it in the right places improving my weak parts.

The show I had chosen, the NABF Mr. & Mrs. Nation’s Capitol was about 12 weeks away. Roger told me we had some work to do if I was to be my best.