My fiancee, Nina Tonnu, is a fitness competitor who is training for the Ms Fitness USA Nationals. I decided to put powerlifting on the backburner for a while in order to train with Nina and help her achieve her goal. To develop a better understanding and appreciation for what Fitness / Bodybuilder competitors go through my new goal for 1996 was to compete as a bodybuilder. By backing off Powerlifting for an entire year, I hoped to extend my Powerlifting endeavors a few more years for the future.
I entered my first bodybuilding contest in April of 1996. I had dropped from 215 lb to 188 with, what I thought, was a considerable drop in bodyfat. I felt pretty confident until I saw my competition. I had trained long and hard, posed for hours (which I didnít really care for) and was defeated before I even stepped on stage for the prejudging. I ended up placing fourth in my division but gained a lot of humility. Keep in mind that as a powerlifter I rarely lost. I was the first man to deadlift over 800 lb in the 220 class. I still hold the IPF record of 838 lb. My best squat in competition is 821 lb. In other words, I was not used to losing, and was not going to give up bodybuilding just yet.
I began training for the natural World Cup Bodybuilding Championships nine weeks out from the show date of November 23, 1996. I had decided to make a few changes from my earlier contest preparation, but the most important change I made was to contact Sandy and Roger of Beverly International.
Hereís the schedule that I followed to prepare for the World Cup competition: Every morning at 5:00 Iíd drink a cup of black coffee, pop a Thermadrene and hop on the bike for thirty minutes of cardio. Throughout the day I took Beverly International Amino Acids approximately every three hours to maintain a positive nitrogen balance (a total of 20 - 30 tablets daily), one Thermadrene at 10:00 and another at 3:00. I ate four or five meals daily - high in protein (350 - 400 grams daily), carbs consisting of oatmeal, rice, and potatoes (that Roger eventually eliminated during the final two weeks) and vegetables or salad. I took two tablespoons of Flax Oil daily to ensure that I was getting the essential fats that I needed. I posed daily working on the mandatories and my routine.
My bodyfat dropped from 14.5% to 7.5% during these nine weeks. My conditioning improved immeasureably over my initial attempt at bodybuilding competition earlier in the year. The end result was I won the tall class at the 1996 ANPPC World Cup.
I hoped to extend my Powerlifting
endeavors a few more years for the future