As you guys probably know my now, I’m taking a break from powerlifting to apply my strength to building my physique. In fact, my goals right now don’t involve strength at all — they’re to get healthier, happier, and — oh yeah — to become the world’s strongest classic bodybuilder in history. To do that, I’ll probably need to build up to a lean 220 or 230 pounds of bodyweight in the offseason — a big ask, considering that I was planning on competing at 181 for the Kern US Open last month!

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However, I have a great team behind me. Mike Tuschcherer of Reactive Training Systems, Justin Harris of Troponin Nutrition, and the Mountain Dog himself, John Meadows. There are three parts to the big goal: nutrition, mindset, and diet, We’ll address training a bit later on, but for now, I want to focus on the number-one factor for bodybuilding success: diet.

In the first phase of my offseason, I utilized a carb cycling strategy to gain muscular weight while minimizing any added fat. Not familiar with carb cycling? Make sure to check out these resources:

The big takeaways for my diet: I’ve got a couple high days each week, which are hypercaloric: I’m eating a huge surplus on my heaviest training days, allowing me to recover better, and to build muscle quick. The medium days are isocaloric, meaning I’m eating a maintenance level of calories, and the low days are hypocaloric, meaning I’m consuming a deficit.

Obviously, the high days are the most fun, so check out a FULL day of eating here (warning: skip this one if you’re dieting)!

Want more? Make sure to click through to follow me on YouTube, and check out my website or Instagram to sign up for a powerbuilding program or to follow along with Project Big Ben as I finish up the offseason and begin prep!