In this blog, I want to discuss everything that I did to prepare myself for the Tampa Bay NPC Extravaganza this past Aug 8th. In this contest, I believe I brought my best all natural physique package to the stage. No steroids or performance enhancing substances ever, just hard work, dedication to my nutrition and training program and belief in myself that I could do my best.
My preparation for this event began 8 weeks prior to Aug 8th. In order to be successful in a Men’s Physique contest, the athlete must have three qualities working to his advantage: 1.The athlete must have symmetry to his physique, most notably the V-taper, which is the shoulder to waste ratio. 2.The athlete must be as lean and conditioned as possible. 3.The athlete’s overall physique must have size and muscularity, however, not extreme muscularity.
As you can tell from the picture below, I had a lot of work to do!
One of my strong points in previous Physique contests is my ability to bring a very well conditioned shape. During this training camp, becoming as conditioned and lean as possible was at the top of my game plan, along with maintaing as much lean muscle mass as I possibly could. For the next 6 weeks, I dedicated 3 days a week to high intensity interval style of training. This training style included exercises such as, plyometrics, sprinting, speed jumprope, lightweight Olympic lifting such as power cleans and power snatches, box jumps, ball slams and kettle bell swings.
I also performed traditional weight training 4-5 days a week and alternated between light weight-loads on certain days and heavy weight-loads on other days. This style of training consisted of using muscle group isolation techniques, which consists of working one major muscle group per session.
I reserved each of my 2 heavy weight load sessions a week to my leg training day and back training day. These two muscle groups are the largest muscle groups in the human body. When these two muscle groups are maximally trained using exercises such as the squat, deadlift, row, pull-ups, leg press among other exercises, this in turn produces the most natural testosterone and growth hormone in the body, which is the natural building blocks for new lean muscle growth. Another name for this type of training is Testosterone Optimization Training (TOT).
I also performed slow steady state cardio on certain days of the week. This style of cardio training usually consists of light jogging, walking on an incline, biking and using the step-mill for 15-20 mins at a time. A good thing about this style of cardio training is that it gives the body a much needed break from the high intensity activities such as plyometrics, jumping and sprinting, but it still provides a great workout, burns calories and makes you sweat.
Each training session began with a 5 minute warm-up and ended with rigorous stretching. One of the most important things to remember during tough training sessions is to listen to your body. If you are feeling soreness from the previous days training, then don’t train that day and get some rest. Not doing so can lead to overtraining and injuries which in turn would be catastrophic for your training camp. Be smart, listen to your body and take Rest Days!
By the 4th week of my training camp I began to notice my strength and conditioning plan was paying off. I was becoming leaner and stronger by the day. I knew if I continued to follow my nutrition plan and continue my intense training I would be in phenomenal shape for the contest.
In order to maximize my performance during workouts and take full advantage of the training camp, my nutrition had to be on point. My diet consisted of 6 meals a day, each meal had a rationed distribution of proteins, carbs and fats according to my goal, weighed and measured and were eaten every two hours. In this contest prep, I paid very close attention to consuming organically grown foods as much as possible. This was a big part of my program as I tried to put an emphasis on less processed foods and less of the food items that may have contained pesticides and GMO’s, even with my cheat meals.
My diet was very high in protein, medium to low fats and medium to low carbs. 4 days a week were dedicated to low carb days and 3 days a week were dedicated to medium carb days. This is commonly referred to as Carb Cycling. When a person pulls carbs from their diet for an extended period of time, they lose fat as well as a lot of water weight. But the longer they deprive themselves of carbs, the more they decrease their metabolism. Reintroducing carbs causes the body to rebound, holding onto every bit of carbs, sugar and water it can.
With carb cycling, the body is never deprived of carbs long enough to slow the metabolism, and is able to get into a catabolic fat burning state on the low carb days. Essentially, the high carb days act as “boost” days, increasing metabolism, and the low carb days act as “burn” days, when the body is in an optimal state to burn fat. I also had 1 day a week (sometimes 0 days depending on how I felt) that I had 1 meal where I could eat anything I pleased, usually a high carb meal. Because my carbs was so low during the week (high day and low day) this meal would reset my metabolism even further.
I am 1 week away from stepping on stage and feeling great! The final phase of my training required me to discontinue the high intensity training and focus more on the slow steady state cardio training. Also, my weight training workouts tapered off from heavy weight loads to more volume, reps and sets. The plan of attack leading up to the day of the competition on Saturday was to adhere to a total carb depletion in my diet for the three days of the week, Mon Tues and Wed. The only carb sources would come from the vegetables in my diet those 3 days. It was very tough to say the least! Even though I had tapered down the intensity of my workouts I was still exercising in a totally glycogen depleted state. Those 3 days I was very sluggish, tired and even though I was still eating 6 meals plus a protein shake I still felt hungry and craved starchy foods.
Like I mentioned earlier however, when you deplete your body of carbs for 3 days maximum, your muscles become like a sponge and when carbs are re-introduced to the body your muscles will absorb them and will reveal a much fuller looking muscular physique. This is exactly how my body responded. The picture on the left is during my 3-day carb depletion phase the picture on the right is after I reintroduced carbs into my diet. Yo can see that I appear bigger, more vascular and tighter and this is just in the span of 1 day!
I am finally ready to hit the stage and rock it! Overall, it was a great experience. This 8 week training camp was tough, at times I wanted to quit, but its your inner strength, not the physical, that matters the most and in this case, my inner strength was the deciding factor for me to make this transformation. I still haven’t reached where I want to be yet, I’m currently adding size to my physique naturally and utilizing a variety of natural supplementation while doing it. No steroids ever. So stayed tuned for the next blog on adding serious muscle naturally! When it comes to transforming yourself anyone can do this! All it takes is a little hard work and never ever giving up on yourself!