My prep for the 2011 NPC Junior Nationals began the minute I was handed my fifth place trophy at the 2010 Junior Nationals. Achieving top five was a big accomplishment for me, but I wanted more and knew I could get it. There is always a higher level to achieve.

So I set out to pack on as much muscle as I could the following off-season. It wasn’t pretty – I got very heavy. Many people told me I was too heavy – that I would have loose skin, never get shredded again, and other comments that they would come to eat a year later. As usual, I ignored those people.

I started gradually dieting in early January, almost six months before the show. I always prefer a long and slow diet, to preserve as much muscle as possible. I actually usually add muscle while dieting.

Because I added a good amount of muscle during the off-season, I was able to eat more food and do less cardio to get in shape. Still though, this was a very rough prep for me – it was very physically and mentally grueling, moreso than the last handful of contest preps I’ve done. I can’t really pinpoint why…it just was. How you feel during a diet is irrelevant though – a judge will never ask how you felt during your prep. They’re just interested in how you look on stage. I’m just telling you it was grueling so you understand what it takes to get into winning condition.

Whenever I was struggling, I would think, “What would the winner do in a situation like this? What would the winner’s response/choice/action be?”

Whatever the answer was, that’s what I did.

And it paid off. At the competition I ended up taking top honors in a class of 19 competitors, all of them great bodybuilders in their own right.

My conditioning and overall density set me apart. There were a lot of guys with better bodybuilding genetics than me in my class, but I beat them all.

I used to think that winning the Light Heavyweight Class at Junior Nationals would be the “ultimate achievement” for me. Well now it’s in my rear-view and I’m on to bigger and more competitive things.

I’m actually at the bottom rung of the ladder again – moving up another weight class and moving on to do pro-qualifiers in the NPC.

Only time and effort will tell what my potential holds.