Balancing bodybuilding, life, at Columbia

Winning INBF Novice Neavyweight

By: Sean Andros
Magazine 9 #4

E-mail from Roger,
Last night in the INBF NY State Championships I won the novice heavyweights and the novice overall. I was one of the smaller guys in my class, but my leg separation and posing ability won it for me.

I was meticulous and relentless in my attention to detail. The people at Beverly were very accommodating in setting up a program that I could follow on an extremely limited budget. No matter what other expenses arose, I made sure I had my Mass Aminos and Ultra 40.

I found that posing is just as important as dieting and training, after all, you do not eat or train onstage.
Sean Andros Side Chest

The more focused I was on bodybuilding, the more focused I was in all other areas of my life. The best advice I can give to anyone making the leap into competitive bodybuilding is to be meticulous and relentless in your attention to detail. After ventures into rowing and cycling, I finally found a sport to which my obsessive-compulsive tendencies might be rewarded. This is especially true if you want to bodybuild the hard way- naturally.

Sean Andros most muscular
Sean Andros, INBF NY overall novice champion, gives you his complete diet and training program in this article.

Undergraduate studies Columbia University

Natural bodybuilding is not what you read about in muscle magazines and its not the popular images that are associated with the sport; rather it is an entity all its own. The people at Beverly are the masters of that entity and for the natural bodybuilder, they are the best at helping you realize your goals.

As a student in my final year of undergraduate studies at Columbia University in New York City, you might think this was not the best time to prepare for and enter my first competition. It probably was not the best time, but there may never be a best time. Proof is found in every gym where you hear the same excuses. The same excuses that separate those who have the commitment to step on stage and those who do not. The most important thing I realized is that competing was something I wanted to do and was committed to doing, so the rest would just have to fall into place.

It did all fall into place and better than I could have hoped. A week into the semester I had already been working with Beverly for two months and I was well grounded in my diet. I love to train and train hard so that was not a variable. The only question I had was how would I succeed in my studies and manage my time correctly so I would be able get adequate sleep, something I had never gotten in my previous three years of college.

I also had the extra motivation to prove to myself that I could be successful in bodybuilding and in school at the same time. To do so I would not just have to survive in my classes, but I would have to do better than I had ever done.

To my surprise, I found that the more focused I was on bodybuilding, the more focused I was in all other areas of my life. The regimented life style of a competition diet and two workouts a day forced me to manage my time as best I could. I used all other time to study and after a few weeks, I found myself ahead in most of my work. As I reached the week of the show I even had three midterm exams to deal with, but I had been so focused throughout the semester that these exams posed no extra stress to an already nervous week.

The message I want to convey is that if you are dedicated to this sport, or any other, you cannot be scared to commit yourself. You may find, as I did, that dedication and the resulting progress in bodybuilding will propel you to apply the same commitment to other areas of your life, where you are just as likely to succeed.

Once I made a commitment to compete, my schoolwork also fell in to place.
Sean Andros Abs Contest

Diet and Preparation

Now on to my preparation for my first show. I had been lifting weights since I was 15 and throughout my years in competitive sports, I had tried different diets and training techniques. By the time I hit college I was trying different things I would read in the muscle magazines and I even kept a detailed food journal. I was training hard and I was following my diet, but all this led to little progress. There is no worse feeling than knowing you put in the effort, but did so in the wrong direction. Luckily for me I realized that I needed a new approach; I did not give up and chalk it up to bad genetics or the like, but rather I sought out a new path to follow. The path I discovered was Beverly.

In June I contacted Beverly and sent them an E-mail.

INBF New York State Championships

I decided I wanted to compete at the INBF New York State Championships in October. Within days Jeremiah responded with a diet to get me on track losing fat and gaining muscle. This diet was very different from anything I had done before, but I committed to it and right away I began burning fat. I would use this diet as a baseline right up until two weeks out from the show. I updated with Jeremiah every four weeks at first and then every two weeks, as it got closer. Every once in a while Jeremiah would make cuts to get me leaner and harder, but this slow, gradual approach made it easy. I did not complain until we cut out the red meat. Below is my initial diet and supplement program and a second diet that evolved after 8 weeks.

A word on supplements: The people at Beverly were very accommodating in setting up a program that I could follow on an extremely limited budget. For the student this is especially important, as I am paying for my day job rather than being paid. That said, once I started using Beverly I was hooked. No matter what other expenses arose, I found a way to make sure I had my Mass Aminos and Ultra 40 with each meal. As you can see below, with the gracious help of my parents and my brother, I was able to include Muscle Provider, which I love. As the show got closer, I also used Energy Reserve to get at the stubborn fat stores and Muscle Mass BCAA’s to help retain the muscle I worked hard to gain. From here on out, these will always be the staples of my supplement program both in and out of contest season.

During this time, an incident occurred that showed the true value of working with Beverly. At four weeks out it was time for an update and I promptly sent in my pictures and diet info to Jeremiah and anxiously awaited his response. After a few days had passed I still had no response, which was very out of the norm. I emailed Beverly and right away Roger responded that Jeremiah had been injured and was not working and they had difficulty accessing his email. Roger asked that I send all my info to him and later that night he had responded with a new diet. From there on out I have continued to work with Roger and he is always willing to answer a question and does so promptly. If anything, this incident shows that Beverly is truly committed to helping you achieve your goals.

The last two weeks, Roger made the final changes and put me on the well-tested Beverly pre-contest diet. This included the twice-weekly carb-up meals that did wonders to immediately speed up my metabolism. The final phase was difficult, without question; I went from seven meals to five, but this close to the show you have to do what you have to do to be your best.

One little trick I discovered during this phase was how to make Muscle Provider a little more interesting. I blended two scoops of Muscle Provider with three egg whites, some cinnamon and Splenda. Then microwave it until it reaches a thick, almost cake-like consistency. This made a delicious hot treat that helped break the monotony of my diet.

The Training

Below is the training split I followed for the last 6 weeks. I typically change my split every 4-5 weeks, but I wanted to stay consistent for the final few weeks and continue to prioritize my weak spots. My strength did not drop off until the final 3 weeks, but mentally the extra push was not there by the five weeks-out point. It began to wear on me as I thought I was not putting forth enough intensity, when it was just the restricted diet slowing me down.

Roger raised my spirits! He said, "At this point it’s all about form, concentration, mind muscle link, peak contraction, and reducing rest between sets to increase intensity, but not pushing to the limits. Actually pushing to failure is not called for at this time. In fact, a perfectly performed, focused effort that stops at 85-90% of the reps possible will be much more effective. Here’s why: You can do the next set with less rest, your internal recovery is not compromised as it would be by sets to failure, and you can focus on perfect form and peak contraction. If you can do 10 reps – stop at 8 or 9 but make them perfect. It’s a different mindset now – think sculpting rather than building during these last couple of weeks."

Yet again, Roger's advice helped me get through; I began to search for the mythical mind–muscle connection and slowly I found it. I say mythical because it is a tough thing to describe and a tougher thing to accomplish and use. It only comes with time, extreme focus and dedication to training. On the bright side, when you do feel the connection you know it and it is the best way to train (for bodybuilders at least).

Split Training:
I set this up to prioritize my back, which is my biggest weakness (lat width). I also found I respond best to hitting legs twice a week, which has helped me to etch in a lot of detail. My chest had been ahead of everything else so I hit it only once, as with delts, which had been the focus of the previous weeks and needed a rest.
a.m. Back/Traps
p.m. Biceps
Delts and Triceps
p.m. Quads
a.m. Back/Traps
p.m. Biceps
Abs and calves (4 times per week).

Cardio sessions

4 days per week of 35–45 min, mostly Stairmaster and elliptical. I used high intensity intervals on the Stairmaster in at least 3 of 4 weekly cardio sessions. This was not much for me since I have a background in cycling and rowing and I do cardio all year around.

Contest Prep Posing

This is the most neglected area of contest prep for most bodybuilders, myself included. After all the time you put into the diet and cardio, it is tough to find a few minutes to practice the mandatory poses, much less put together a routine for the night show. I was lucky enough to have a great posing coach that helped me learn the basics in a short period of time. This is not a method I recommend; without the help I would have done an awful job presenting the physique I spent so much time creating. The lesson to be learned is that posing practice is just as important as the other aspects of contest prep; after all, you do not eat or train onstage.

Winning the heavyweight

All this was worth it well before I stepped onstage. Win or lose, I had already fallen in love with the sport and the self–inflicted hell that is contest prep. I got to the show and I was nervous, tired, and thirsty, but still confident. I knew my strengths and my weaknesses and it was time to show the final product.

 Through all this, I could not have made it without the support of my family, especially my supportive parents and trainer/brother. I would also like to thank my posing coach Greg, whose knowledge of the sport prepared me to step onstage.

To my surprise, I succeeded in winning the heavyweight and overall Novice titles at the INBF New York State Championships. I followed that up the next week with a victory in the under–23 class and fifth place in the open middleweights at the INBF Monster Mash.

I was able to get a great taste of victory and quickly follow that up with a fifth place finish that was even more motivating.

The next day I woke up, made some Ultra Size pudding and headed to gym for some squatting and that night was already emailing back and forth with Roger to make a plan for my gaining phase.

Pre-Contest Diet: 10/6 – 10/15
Pre-workout (a.m.)
2 Energy Reserve, 2 Betalean, 15 Muscle Mass BCAA
Meal 1:
5 oz. chicken, 6 egg whites, ½ grapefruit
4 Mass, 4 Ultra 40, 2 Multi-vitamin, 3 Flax caps
4g fiber
Meal 2:
2 scoops Muscle Provider, 3 egg whites
4 Mass, 4 Ultra 40, 3 Flax Caps
Meal 3:
6 oz. chicken, 4 cups salad, 2TBS cider vinegar
4 Mass, 4 Ultra 40, 1 vitamin C/E capsule
Meal 4:
2 scoops Muscle Provider, 3 egg whites.
4 Mass, 4 Ultra 40, 3 Flax Caps
4g Fiber
Pre-workout (p.m.):
2 Energy Reserve, 2 Betalean
Meal 5:
8 oz. lean meat (chicken or turkey breast)
2 cups veggies
4 Mass, 4 Ultra 40, 3 Flax Caps
Monday and Thursday Only: Meal 6:
½ cup cream of rice (2 servings)
8 oz. sweet potato, 6 oz. banana
1 TBS olive oil, 1 cup green vegetables
Thursday 10/16 – Two Days Out from the show
Meal #1:
8 oz. 93% Beef, ½ grapefruit
Meal #2: 8 oz. 93% Beef, ½ grapefruit.
Meal #3: 8 oz. 93% Beef, ½ grapefruit
Meal #4: 8 oz. 93% Beef, ½ grapefruit
Meal #5: 8 oz. 93% Beef, ½ grapefruit
Meal #6: Carb meal – 3/4 cups cream of rice
12 oz. sweet potato, 1 large banana
2 TBS Brown Sugar, 2 TBS honey
Friday, 10/17 – One Day Out from the show
Meal #1: 6 oz. 93% Beef, 1 scoop Muscle Provider in 6 oz. water, 1 grapefruit
Meal #2: 6 oz. 93% Beef, 1 scoop Muscle Provider in 6 oz. water, 1 grapefruit
Meal #3: 6 oz. 93% Beef, 1 scoop Muscle Provider in 6 oz. water, 1 grapefruit
Meal #4: 6 oz. 93% Beef, 1 scoop Muscle Provider in 6 oz. water, 1 cup cooked rice or oatmeal
Meal #5:
6 oz. 93% Beef, 1 scoop Muscle Provider in 6 oz. water, 1 cup cooked rice or oatmeal
Meal #6:
6 oz. 93% Beef, 1 scoop Muscle Provider in 6 oz. water, 1 grapefruit
Saturday, 10/18 - Showtime!
Meal #1:
5 oz. Turkey, ½ cup oatmeal, ½ grapefruit.
Meal #2: 3 scoops Muscle Provider, 1 grapefruit
Prior to Prejudging: From 2 hours prior to prejudging, 1 TBS each: MP or Ultra Size, Honey, and Peanut Butter every 30 minutes
Meal #3:
After prejudging – chicken and potato
Meal #4: same as meal 3
Prior to night show:
1 TBS each: MP or Ultra Size, Honey, and Peanut Butter every 30 minutes up to the evening show.

Training Addendum

Roger asked me to include a typical workout at about six weeks out so you could see exactly what my training looks like.
Sunday – Back/Traps:
Chins, Wide-grip Weighted: 0/12, 25/10, 35/8, 45/6, 45/6, 35/6, 25/8, 0/10
Bent Row: 135/20, 185/12, 205/8, 225/5
Dead-lift: 225/12, 315/12, 405/3, 315/8, 225/10
BB Shrug: 135/20, 225/3x12
BB Curl, Straight Bar: 65/15, 85/12, 95/8, 85/12, 65/15
Incline DB Curl: 35/10, 35/10, 40/8, 40/8
1-Arm Concentration Curl (DB): 30/3x10-12
Reverse Wrist Curl (EZ Bar): 35/3x12
Wrist Curl (Straight Bar): 65/3x15
Monday: Delts
DB Side Raise (Drop Sets): 20-15-10/12-10-10 for 3 Sets
Military Press: 95/20, 135/3x8
Bent-over DB Raise: 30/3x10
Plate Front Raise (Drops): 45-35-25/20-20-20 for 2 Sets
Wide Grip Upright Row: 95/3x10
Lying Extension (EZ Bar): 75/20, 95/15, 115/8, 115/8
Overhead DB Extension (2-Arm, Standing): 75/15, 80/12, 90/8
Press-down: 150/3x15
1-Arm Reverse Grip Press-down: 50/3x10
Tuesday: Hams
Standing 1-Leg Curl: 60/20, 80/15, 90/12, 100/8
Lying Curl: 100/15, 120/12, 140/10, 150/8
Straight Leg Dead-lift: 135/15, 185/3x10
Extensions: 80/30, 90/30, 100/30, 115/25
Walking DB Lunge: 40/4x20
Smith Machine Squat (Deep): 185/20, 205/20, 225/20
Hip Flexor Machine: 150/3x10-12
Wednesday: No lifting
Thursday: Back/Traps
Chins (Wide, No Weight): 4x10-12
Close-Grip Pull-down: 150/3x12
Close-Grip T-Bar Row: 100/20, 145/12, 170/6
Wide-Grip T-Bar Row: 170/6, 145/10, 100/15
Close-Grip Chins: 3x5-6
Db Shrug: 60/20, 80/15, 90/12, 100/10
Behind Back Shrug (BB Or Smith): 135/3x15
Biceps /Forearms
Standing DB Curl: 30/25, 40/15, 45/10, 50/6
Preacher Curl (EZ Bar): 65/15, 85/8, 85/8, 85/8
Incline DB Curl: 25/3x12-15
Hammer Curl, DB: 50/3x10
Wrist Curl: 65/3x15
Friday: Chest
Incline Bench: 135/20, 165/15, 185/8, 185/8, 205-135/4-14
DB Flye: 45/20, 50/15, 55/10, 40/20
Flat DB Press: 70/12, 75/10, 80-60-40/10-6-6
Cable Crossover: 60/20, 70/15, 80/10
Dips: No Weight/10-15 Reps x 3 Sets
DB Pullover: 80/10, 80/10, 80/10
Lying Extension (EZ Bar): 75/20, 95/15, 115/8, 115/8
Overhead DB Extension (2-Arm, Standing): 75/15, 80/12, 90/8
Press-down: 150/3x15
1-Arm Reverse Grip Press-down: 50/3x10
Saturday: Quads/Hams
Extensions: 90/25, 115/25, 145/15, 145/15, 160/12
Hack Squat: 180/25, 270/15, 320/8, 270-180-90/12-15-15
Front Squat: 165/12, 185/10, 205/8
Walking DB Lunge: 40/3x20
Leg Press: 360/4x20-25
Lying DB Curl: 75/22, 85/15, 95/10, 100/8, 100/8
DB Straight Leg Dead-lift: 85/3x10
Calves and Abs:
Each hit 4 times per week, depending on my schedule. Below are samples of the workouts, although they vary.
Standing Raise On Smith Machine: 185/25, 225/25, 275/15, 315/12
Seated Raise: 135/3x15 - superset with bodyweight Calf Raise (up on toes and hold for 60 seconds after each set of seated raises).
Decline Crunch: 4x25
Hanging Leg Raise: 5x10
Reverse Crunch: 3x15
Crunch: 3x25