Bodybuilding: Learning the Lifestyle

By: Ray Binkowski
Magazine 7 #3

My bodybuilding lifestyle began in 1998 when a fraternity brother suggested that I compete in the schools’ Greek Physique competition. Just 4 years earlier I’d weighed a fat 215 with a 36-inch waist. Knowing nothing about bodybuilding I read everything I could get my hands on. Some of the information was good and some bad. Through a lot of trial and error I ended up the leanest I’d ever been and even had abs at the competition. The only problem ’ my weight had dropped all the way to 142 lb.

After the competition I wanted to get bigger but keep my abs. This started a whirlwind of nutrition, training, and supplement plans. I tried everything. None of the training routines, supplements or diets produced the desired results of increased muscle mass and a ripped mid section. I just seemed to be getting fatter.

bodybuilder Ray Binkowski
Ray in April of 2001 – after just 7 weeks on Beverly supplements

Dedication, discipline and persistence required by the bodybuilding lifestyle

Two years of trial and error yielded little in the way of results. But the urge to compete hit me again in January 2000, 8 weeks out from the Mid Illinois. I followed a typical precontest diet with a hit or miss supplement program. Initially I dropped some bodyfat but then began to lose muscle at an alarming rate. The scale was going down but so was my muscle size. I looked like a swimmer - not a bodybuilder. (See my before photo.) On contest day I weighed in at 146lbs. Most of my hard-earned muscle was gone and my abs hardly showed. I was smooth and sickly looking. The show ended and I left without a trophy. Discouraged I consulted the internet for my next diet and training program.

Then in January of 2001 I went back to Beverly?’s website at The same articles that grabbed my interest were there along with another year of success stories. I debated over contacting Beverly again. But in February I learned of the Natural Illinois show just four and a half weeks away, so I asked Beverly for help again.

This time I switched immediately to the prescribed diet and supplement program and quickly learned I was overdoing cardio while undereating ’ a sure fire prescription for rapid muscle loss! After switching to the Beverly plan my bodyfat began to fall at a steady rate and with the Beverly supplements my strength actually began to go up.

When I started the Beverly International diet I weighed 171 lbs. In the past my strength always went down as my weight went down. This time the weeks passed and my strength stayed where it was, even increasing in a few exercises. This was definitely something new.

Just 41/2 weeks later I stepped on the scale at the Natural Illinois at 155 lbs., just 12 oz. too heavy to make the lightweight class. I panicked and instead of letting nature take its course I decided to find a sauna and sweat off that extra pound.

The sauna sucked out the water all right! Right out of my muscle! Instead of one pound I lost 5 pounds. I still looked better than in 2000, but nothing like I looked before I panicked and let the sauna leech the fullness right out of my muscles. I placed fourth in the lightweight class and relearned a valuable lesson, don’t worry about the scale - something Beverly had constantly cautioned me about. Now it was time to focus on the Mid Illinois.

Three weeks later I weighed in 154.5 lbs. a half-pound too heavy. No sauna this time, I just went back to the hotel and used the washroom a few times. A few hours later I stepped back on the same scale and weighed 154 – right on the money.

This competition promised a much more competitive lightweight class, definitely tougher than I had ever seen. I knew I looked my best ever to date but in this field I’d be happy just to place. I did, taking home the 5th – place trophy – quite an accomplishment given the level of competition. Although I did not leave with a first place trophy this time, I left with a lot more.

In just seven weeks with Beverly I learned more about contest preparation than I had in the previous seven years! In fact, if I’d had just two more weeks I know I would have won my class. Beverly’s information and line of supplements are truly heads above their competitors. Like many other Beverly clients I added eight pounds to my previous year’s contest weight.

My Training and Cardio Schedule
SundayChest / Triceps / Cardio
SundayChest / Triceps / Cardio
MondayLegs / Cardio
Wednesday  -Off
ThursdayShoulders / Calves / Traps / Cardio
FridayBack / Biceps / Cardio

Since I travel for my job this allowed me to always work each bodypart at least once a week. The program was periodized with weight and rep schemes changing weekly/biweekly. Two to four exercises for chest, back, shoulders, and legs and two or three for arms and calves. Three to four sets of 6 to 12 reps.

Thanks to my girlfriend Liz...
Her expertise in photography provided the pictures included with this article

Ray thanks to Liz

Of course none of this would have been possible with out the help of my family and friends, especially my girlfriend Liz. Liz’s expertise in photography provided the pictures included with this article. Thanks to my friend Mike for making the special trip to my gym to train with me and for helping me keep things in perspective.

Thanks to Mary for doing cardio with me especially when I did not want to. Thanks also to my parents and sister who made the long trip to each show and were always very supportive.

Natural bodybuilding is not easy. It takes time and a willingness to learn. Drug free bodybuilding competition takes dedication, persistence, and discipline. There’s no margin for error. But I’ve learned the secret to achieving my potential - Beverly International. My current plan is to add quality size. Of course, that’s been my plan for the past seven years, but with Beverly it’s already become a reality. I know I was by no means ’Great’ – this time. But I learned a lot and am a step closer. Beverly is going to help me take that final step. If you’d like to contact me in care of my personal training and fitness company ErgoTeknix Inc. send e-mail to [email protected]