How I Went From Last in My Class to 1st

Won my NABF Pro Card

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.


Mark before1 year difference
LEFT: One year ago I finished last in my class. I knew I needed help with my diet RIGHT: In one year I made better gains than I had in the previous 8 years.

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.

At the Expo, Roger gave me the diet listed below:
From February 28 – May 1:
Supplement Program:
Super Pak with 1st meal
6 Ultra 40, 4 Mass Aminos, 3 Muscularity and 2 Lean Out with every meal 1 6
6 GH Factor in AM and PM on an empty stomach
During training I took 5 Muscle Mass every 15 minutes for a total of 20 to 25 per workout
Meal #1
8 egg whites
1-cup oatmeal or 2 servings grits (I almost always ate the grits)
Meal #2
5 oz. chicken, fish or turkey
1-cup cooked rice
1-cup vegetables
Meal #3
5 oz. chicken, fish or turkey
8-oz. yam or baked potato
1-cup vegetables
Meal #4
5 oz. chicken, fish or turkey
1-cup cooked rice
1-cup vegetables
Meal #5
5 oz. chicken, fish or turkey
1-cup beans (black, red, kidney or lima beans)
1-cup vegetables
Meal #6
8 egg whites
2 servings grits

I usually substituted a drink mix for meal #2: 1 large scoop Mass Maker, 1 scoop Muscle Provider and 12 oz. water.

Since my trips to the Beverly International Nutrition Center took 5 hours each way, Roger gave me a method by which I could check my condition every two weeks without actually making the long trip. (This was Roger’s idea, not mine I was more than willing to make that trip every week if necessary. I knew the kind of results that I got from Beverly and was willing to do whatever it took.)

Instead, Roger gave me a very simple yet it turned out to be very effective method to monitor my progress. He told me that as soon as I got home from the Arnold to measure my waist, biceps, and check my weight. After following the diet and supplement program for two weeks, repeat the procedure and contact him with my results.

To my surprise, my weight dropped, I lost 1 inch from my waist, but my biceps measurement stayed the same. Roger explained this was just what we wanted. We didn’t need to adjust my diet. As long as my waist size decreased and my biceps stayed the same, I was losing body fat, not muscle.

As I had read in the newsletters so many times, I could literally see changes in my body each week. Deep down I had faith in Beverly products and Roger’s guidance. The year before I reached a level of conditioning I had only dreamed of, but this year I could be better. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to win my class at the Nation’s Capitol and get my pro card. (Remember, just one year before I finished last in my class in a local show now my goal was to win my class in pro qualifier!) The only person who knew about the fire burning inside me was my best friend and wife, Cheryl. Together we would get up at 4 am, pack my food for the day and head to our gym. We’d train, do our cardio, and then eat breakfast, shower and I’d take off for school.

When times got tough, especially after I added posing to the morning routine, at 6 weeks out; I’d get remotivated by grabbing a No Nonsense Magazine and re-reading the articles written by the other tremendous athletes who had gone through their program. I added butt clinches throughout the day at this point to improve my glutes. My method was to do 10 sets of 10-second butt clinches during each of my P.E. periods. I also began tensing my quads as if I was posing on stage to help bring in my quads and hamstrings. It must have worked because I received a lot of compliments on my leg development, especially my hamstrings.

Showtime:
I decided to enter the NGA Annapolis Bodybuilding Championship as a warm-up to the Nation’s Capitol. I weighed in at 156 pounds, a 9-pound increase from my best-ever condition at the 1999 Super Natural. I placed third in the open middleweight class, losing to the overall winner and another competitor who had won an overall title in a recent show. After speaking with Roger, we decided to drop to the lightweight class for the Nation’s Capitol. Roger said I would continue to get leaner on the diet that he had adjusted on May 1 (see below for details) and that I was on track to weigh in right at the limit.

I weighed in at 153 pounds the morning of the show on an empty stomach. My body was at its all time best. My lean muscle mass was at an all time high and I felt great. I ate two meals prior to pre-judging and then 30 minutes prior to pre-judging I ate a large Snickers bar and drank a large cup of coffee. I felt myself fill out and actually gained several pounds from my weight at the weigh-in. It was a tough class with a number of great competitors all of us vying for our pro card. As it turned out, all the hard work, dieting, training and posing was worth it. I won the open lightweight class and with it my pro card.

This time I was the one that the other competitors came to for my preparation secrets. I honestly answered one question after another as to what I did to achieve my condition. One competitor thought that someone had weighed me incorrectly and that I should have been a middleweight. I told everyone who asked about their products and all the help I received from the staff. The best part for me was that there was no guesswork involved in my preparation, just solid nutrition principles and supplements followed for a twelve-week period.

Here the diet plan I used beginning May 1, 2000. Continuing on this diet after the Annapolis show, I got harder and harder, and lost just enough weight to make the lightweights at the Nation’s Capitol on June 10.

Meals & Supplement Program:
Super Pak with 1st meal
6 Ultra 40, 4 Mass Aminos, 4 Muscularity and
2 Lean Out with every meal
6 GH Factor in AM and PM on an empty stomach I continued to take a total of 20 – 25 Muscle Mass BCAAs during each training session
Meal #1
8 egg whites
1 serving grits Meal #2
1 scoop Muscle Provider, & (large) scoop Mass maker,
12 oz. water
Meal #3
5 oz. chicken, fish or turkey
6 oz. sweet potato
1-cup green beans Meal #4
5 oz. chicken, fish or turkey
6 oz. sweet potato
1-cup green beans
Meal #5
5 oz. chicken, fish or turkey
½-cup cooked rice
1-cup green beans
Meal #6
8 egg whites
1-cup green beans

I usually drank 2 gallons of water per day. I trained just 4 days per week. For the final week before the Nation’s Capitol, I made the following adjustments:

Sunday – Wednesday – I cut the carbs in half at every meal, added a scoop of Muscle Provider in 8 oz. water to each meal and increased my water intake to 2 ½ gallons.

Thursday:
I kept my protein intake the same as Sunday – Wednesday but doubled my carb intake at every meal from the May 1 diet above. For example Meal 2 became 2 scoops Muscle Provider + 1  scoops Mass Maker; at meals 3 and 4 I had a 12-oz. sweet potato instead of 6-oz.

Friday:
Cut water back to 1 – gallons, took my potassium and had 8-oz. 92% beef and 1 grapefruit or tomato for each of my five meals.

I would like to thank the people who were instrumental in my success. First, I would like to give credit to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for my health and the ability to compete. I would also like to thank Roger Riedinger and the staff who took the time to treat me as an individual even though they were swamped. They were professional and told me what I needed to do to be a winner. If you plan to compete and you want to be in the best shape you can be, there is only one choice, Beverly International. They are simply the best.

Finally, I would like to thank the most important person in my life, my wife, Cheryl. She is my best friend, critic, workout partner and support system. I know it was tough on her during the pre-contest phase, but she was there for me and I am eternally grateful. Thank you, Cheryl; you will never know how much you mean to me.


Volume 6 #3