My Journey into Bodybuilding

TAGS: bodybuilding, diet, powerlifting, strength training, training, Nutrition

Well, the diet has started! I decided to cut my off-season down by a few weeks and start dieting. I felt like I was getting to a point where adding more weight would make getting into shape too difficult to accomplish, so I started dieting January 1.

The first step in the process was picking a contest. I decided that I will hit two shows—the GNC Classic on June 6, 2009, in Indianapolis and the Indianapolis championships on June 13, 2009. This gives me 25 weeks to diet, which is longer than most would want to diet, but I thought it would be perfect given my condition.

The second step was deciding which diet to follow and who to hire to help me. I decided on Dave Palumbo and his keto diet. I know this site is a big carb cycler site, but carb cycling for me hasn’t worked out very well in the past. I find I get too moody, too hungry, and have to do way too much intense cardio. With Palumbo’s diet, the cardio is long but at a moderate pace. In the past, I’ve found that intense cardio kills my training, especially my leg training. Because my legs are a weak point, I need every ounce of energy that I can get to put into training them.

The diet is laid out like this so far:

Meal one: 5 Omega-3 whole eggs plus 4 egg whites

Meal two: Protein shake (60 grams protein) plus 1 ⅓ tablespoon natural peanut butter

Meal three: 7 oz chicken, ⅓ cup of almonds

Meal four: 7 oz chicken 1 ½ tablespoons of peanut butter

Meal five: Protein shake (60 grams protein) plus 1 ⅓ tablespoon natural peanut butter

Meal 6: 7 oz salmon, 1 cup vegetables

I drink Crystal Light with each meal as well as water during the day so I get in about 1.5 gallons a day. I’m allowed a cheat meal for one meal a week to reset my metabolism. I normally have spaghetti and meatballs and some ice cream. So my shows are picked and the diet is set. Now, on to my training…

After my last article, I got ripped pretty well for not including any training or diet information so I’m going to detail what I do. Admittedly, my training is unique, and most will accuse me of massive overtraining. However, I love to lift and have never fell for the myth of overtraining. Overtraining is, in my opinion, a lack of heart, a lack of desire, and a lack of courage. I believe it’s gutless. If you’re weak in the mind, you will overtrain. If you’re an excuse maker, you will overtrain. If you’re the type of person who can’t put up with discomfort, you will overtrain. However, if you’re the kind of person who just grinds through and has a love for training, the idea of overtraining is totally foreign to you and is simply the excuse of the weak-minded to get out of training.

When I first started the idea of bodybuilding, I went back to the old, traditional sets and reps and the exercises that you see in the muscle magazines. What I quickly found out is that this type of training made me weak, slow, and actually a bit smaller. At the same time, I started to get the itch to powerlift again. So what was my solution? I decided to powerlift and body build. I went back to my old original, old school Westside program in the morning and then I came back at night to do my bodybuilding training. Is it a lot? Yes. However, it made training fun again, and I can’t wait to get up and train every single day. I feel great and never feel overtrained. I only wish that there were more hours in the day to schedule a third training session.

So, my schedule is as follows. I didn’t list any weights but was pretty accurate at listing the sets and repetitions for my training days.

Sunday morning

  • Box squats, 8–12 sets of 2 reps (depending on bands or chains)
  • Arched back good mornings, 5 sets X 5 reps
  • Regular squats, 8 sets
  • Calf ham glutes, 4 sets
  • 45-degree hypers, 4 sets
  • Reverse hypers, 4 sets
  • Abs, 8 sets
  • Cardio, 45 minutes

Sunday evening

  • Leg press, 5 sets
  • One-legged leg press, 3 sets
  • Leg extension, 3 sets
  • Step-ups, 3 sets
  • Calves, 10 sets

Monday morning

  • Dynamic bench, 9 sets X 3 reps
  • 4-board close grip, 5 sets
  • Barbell extension, 4 sets
  • Push-downs, 4 sets
  • Rope extensions, 4 sets
  • Cardio, 45 minutes

Monday evening

  • Dumbbell curls, 6 sets
  • Barbell curls, 4 sets
  • Hammer curls, 4 sets
  • Dumbbell preacher curls, 3 sets

Monday before bed

  • Log curls, 5 sets
  • Log extensions, 5 sets

Tuesday

  • Standing press (military, jerk press, etc.), 5 sets
  • Cardio, 45 minutes
  • Calves, 10 sets
  • Abs, 10 sets

Wednesday morning

  • Max effort good morning, work to a max
  • Deadlifts with minis, 5 sets X 3 reps
  • Bent rows, 5 sets
  • Calf ham glutes, 3 sets
  • Reverse hypers, 3 sets
  • Abs, 8 sets
  • Cardio, 45 minutes

Wednesday evening

  • Dumbbell rows, 3 sets
  • Palms in pull-downs, 3 sets
  • V-handle pull-downs, 3 sets
  • Straight arm pull-downs, 3 sets
  • Rope pulls, 3 sets
  • High pulls, 3 sets
  • Abs, 4 sets

Thursday

  • Strongman stuff, log press, Prowler, sandbag, farmer’s walk
  • Calves, 10 sets
  • Abs, 8 sets
  • Cardio, 45 minutes

Friday morning

  • Max effort bench
  • 5-board close grip
  • Barbell extensions to throat
  • Westside dumbbell press
  • Pull-downs, 5 sets

Friday evening

  • Incline bench, 4 sets
  • Dumbbell inclines, 4 sets
  • Dumbbell incline flys, 3 sets
  • Cardio, 45 minutes
  • Abs, 4 sets

Saturday morning

  • Seated press (behind neck or military), 4 sets
  • Lateral raises, 5 sets
  • One-arm laterals, 4 sets
  • Prone laterals, 3 sets
  • Close grip shrugs, 7 sets
  • Abs, 6 sets

Saturday evening

  • Log press, 3 sets
  • Log cleans, 3 sets
  • Log clean and press, 3 sets

So, that’s my training week. I know most will read that and say, “This guy is a tool. There is no need to do that much.” However, the Bulgarians used to train for eight hours a day Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and then six hours a day for the rest of the week. They dominated international Olympic lifting for years. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

I found that doing Westside stuff in the morning while I was fresh increased my strength immediately. I then came back after work and did bodybuilding stuff for higher repetitions. I still try to go heavy (I still handle between 335–365 lbs in the incline bench in the evening sessions), but I try to get a minimum of 6–12 reps with dumbbells or even more. This has given me a much denser look, and the extra training burns even more calories.

One other new aspect of my training has been to add in mobility work. I found that my lack of mobility and flexibility was killing my lifting. I could barely grab the bar when deadlifting or doing bent rows. I’ve started doing some of the magnificent mobility stuff, and it’s been an incredible help. Another thing that’s helped is I got rid of my treadmill and bought a new elliptical climber. This has allowed my knee to revolve in a more fluid way and has also helped in giving me more mobility. I had started to drag my leg and doing the treadmill only made it worse.

While my focus has been on the two bodybuilding shows in June, another goal has entered the picture. I’m strongly considering trying to total elite in the 220-lb class as well as in the 242-lb class in powerlifting. This would give me five elites, which has been a goal of mine for a while. Because this may be the last time my body weight will get so low, now would be my last chance at it. I will have to see where my strength is, but it’s something I’m strongly considering.

I’m not going to overanalyze the pictures. They speak for themselves. If you compare them to the last ones, you can see that I have made some good gains and have gotten much harder. These pictures were taken exactly 18 weeks out from my shows so I feel that I’m on the right track. I also feel that I’ve brought my legs up quite a bit, and they will continue to improve. I’ve started doing much more one-legged work, and this has helped a lot. I believe that by the time June rolls around they will not be a weak point any longer. No one will confuse me with Tom Platz, but I also don’t think I will be called peg leg anymore. I just need to get them to the point where they aren’t a distraction.

Now, I feel compelled to comment on something that amazed me after my last article. It seems that we have tons of experts on the forums who pretty much know everything about physique building and can incredibly predict how you will look nine months out from a show. These brilliant men, who never post with their real names, really showed me how many intelligent guys there are in this sport posting on the forums. I have been in probably 50 power meets in my career and have attended at least that many. I can count on two hands the amount of impressive physiques that I’ve seen, but amazingly, on the internet, the forums are filled with experts on both bodybuilding and powerlifting. Incredible.

I even had one genius describe my midsection as “skinny fat.” Now, I was nine months from a show. Professional bodybuilders have bellies in the off-season, but Billy Mimnaugh, a guy looking to compete in the masters division at a regional show, is supposed to have a clear six pack in his off-season. How can you describe such stupidity? You would think with so many guys who can analyze builds, we might see a few better ones in our sport.

So, that’s all for this installment. I plan on doing the next update in 4–6 weeks. I’m expecting some pretty dramatic improvements by then. I’m very, very excited to have put more of an emphasis back on training for powerlifting. Training for bodybuilding is quite boring, unimaginative, and pretty silly if you ask me. There is nothing more exciting than old school Westside training, and thankfully I’ve rediscovered how much I missed it and loved it. Until the next time…

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