Dave Tate and I recently exchanged e-mails. I proposed to him an idea about a series in which I share an entire year’s worth of training, dieting, and other information needed to prepare for a bodybuilding show. The series will end with me actually competing in a show.

I realize that there are others on EliteFTS.com who have far more ability as powerlifters (everyone) and bodybuilders (Justin Harris) and who have far more knowledge of both than I do. However, I consider myself an “every man,” an average, genetic specimen. So, we both thought that my experience might be interesting.

I’m beginning my quest about one year out from competition. The goal of this series is to demonstrate my progress because I’m starting out in a pretty de-trained state. I just moved from Connecticut to Indiana and haven’t been going at my training as I should. This series continue through a bulk up period all the way up to a show (probably the Mr. Indianapolis next June). Every two months or so, I’ll include pictures so that my progress is easily visible. I won’t bore you with every minute detail of my diet, training, or supplement use. Again, there are people at EliteFTS.com who have much more insight on these things than me. I’ll give an overview every two months to show where I’m at and what I’m doing in terms of diet and training.

I train six days a week, using only basic movements and hitting every body part once a week, except for hamstrings, abdominals, and calves, which I train more often. I also incorporate a special extra workout during the week to train my right quad. It lags quite a bit behind because of a ruptured patella tendon.
My gym is in my garage, and I only have very basic equipment. The fanciest machines that I have are a leg press, leg extension, leg curl, lat pull-down, and monolift. Other than that, it’s all basic, old school stuff. There aren’t any Hammer Strength machines or new fangled equipment. I just have hardcore throwback stuff. My training partner will be my 14-year-old son.

The first thing I want to get across is that this isn’t an ego trip. I’m fully aware of where I rate compared to most others on EliteFTS.com. I’m an average guy with average genetics. What I’m hoping to show is that even a guy with average genetics and multiple injuries can be competitive if he trains hard enough, is dedicated, is willing to suffer through hard dieting, and can ignore discomfort. I want others to see that a guy who actually works a full-time job (and a part-time one as well) and has a family can be big and strong and compete.

I’m very interested to see what my body will look like using only a bodybuilding routine. The last two times that I’ve competed, I’ve walked off a powerlifting platform, dieted for a few months, and competed in bodybuilding. The first time out, I was completely shredded. However, I was very small and stringy. My les looked like pegs. The second time around I looked like a dough boy with my legs looking like softer pegs. However, in both cases, very little bodybuilding training was involved. With a year of more volume, more body part angles, and a bodybuilding lifestyle, I should be able to at least look like a more complete competitor instead of a dieted down powerlifter.

The one problem with following a Westside powerlifting routine is that there’s a lack of direct quad training and delt and bicep training. You get very strong, but your glutes grow too big for bodybuilding, your quads get too small, and you just take on a total powerlifting look. I’ll be trying to transform that into a bodybuilder type look. It’s a tough challenge because I’ve been Westside for 15 years.

Ok, now for the pictures. The first set was taken in the last week of July, and the second set was taken in the first week of October. Obviously, I have some strong points and some very obvious and glaring weaknesses. I’ll start with my weak points:

Quads: As you can see, my left quad isn’t too bad. I need more inner thigh and lower thigh work, but they’re pretty proportionate. The right quad is another story. Because of the knee injury, it has really started to lag. Normally, I’d be very concerned with this, but if you look closely, you can see that it has improved a bit in the second group of photos. I started devoting a separate workout to it, and it’s finally responding. It’s obvious that I was totally favoring the left one. By devoting a day to the right one, it’s finally growing. I’m going to post more pictures in January, and I expect there to be a dramatic improvement.

Arms: You can’t see it from the pictures, but I recently tore my bicep tendon. This made the bicep on my left arm drop down. It also gave it a really high peaked appearance. Unfortunately, the pulled bicep now looks much bigger than the healthy one. This is a problem that probably can’t be cured.

Waist size: This is obvious from the pictures. I have a very large, very thick waist. This is from years of doing heavy, heavy abdominal work and side bends. I know that it looks enormous in the pictures. However, when I diet, my waist really isn’t a concern. It shrinks right away, and my abdominals are always a strong point. So while it’s a weakness now, I don’t think it will be much of a problem by show time.

My calves are small and high and they don’t have any flare. However, they have grown from 17 to 18.50 inches over the past five months so I’m trying.

Now, my strengths…

Thickness: My back, chest, delts, and traps are very thick. This is a huge positive, especially as I diet. They all remain very thick and large. The problem is that they overwhelm my legs and that tends to be exaggerated when I diet.

Back: My back seems to be the difference between winning and losing. It is very thick. When I diet, my lower back is filled with all kinds of striations and lines. This is a definite strength.

So, I’m a “torso” bodybuilder. My extremities need work. Normally, I’d be discouraged, but they are growing, and by adding the separate right quad day, they continue to grow. When I post more pictures in January, hopefully you will see a big difference.

There you have it. It’s difficult to post off-season pictures and expose what you look like under clothes. However, I thought it was necessary to show the entire experience. Like I said, I feel I’m just a normal guy with average genetics who is trying a new sport. While I’ve done a few shows, most of those were in the 1980s. The last two times that I’ve competed, it has been right after powerlifting with no off-season. So I feel like I’m brand new to the sport. Hopefully, you’ll see what an average guy can do if he tries hard enough.

Let me just add a comment about my strength. When I first started really training hard for my bodybuilding goals, my strength was pretty poor. I benched 335 X 5, squatted 550 X 5, and did bent rows with 365 X 5. Since then, my bench has gone to 405 X 5, my squat has gone to 725 X 3 and 705 X 5, and I’ve rowed 425 X 6. In addition, my glute healed enough to begin deadlifting again. Before, I wasn’t able to do the movement and now I’m back up to a 565-lb deadlift. So my strength is going up.

I want to thank Dave and Jim for letting me try this. Both of these guys have been very helpful through my entire powerlifting “career.” I also want to thank Jim Hoskinson for setting up my gym. He is top notch in my eyes as a powerlifter but more importantly as a man. Lastly, I want to thank Marc Bartley. After seeing his conditioning, it made me even more humiliated at what I brought to the stage last time I competed. Because of him, my entire year is dedicated to redeeming myself for that sad performance.