My bodybuilding journey started in October, 2003 when I walked into a gym in Alexandria, KY. I had played music around Cincinnati and the Midwest for the previous four years and it had taken its toll. I realized that I needed to take better care of my body, and try to improve both mentally and physically for myself, and my loved ones.
Over the next year, I fell in love with training and started working part time at the gym. One day I heard some of the members talking about doing a bodybuilding show and became interested. Their consensus was "Joe can’t do it". But, that just made me determined to give it a try. Let me set something straight here and now. "You CAN do what you put your mind to." I did compete, and with help from Beverly I placed 2nd in the first show I’d ever been to! That was October, 2005, and the rest has been quite a journey.
Now at first glance, I may not seem to you like I would or could ever be a bodybuilder. Many people know me to be an eccentric, dreadlocked, tattooed, different type of individual. From day one I’ve had a close relationship with the people who help me at Beverly. My latest passion is mountain biking and Steven Wade has helped me take it to a whole new level. I was incredibly honored to be invited to help them at the Arnold Classic expo for the past two years where I earned my special Beverly nickname, "Green Hair".
Thanksgiving day of 2008 I decided that I would give bodybuilding another try at the incredibly competitive Northern KY Bodybuilding and Figure Championship. I had competed twice before and placed second and third, respectively. This time I wanted first place, but with a show of this quality you never know who will show up, so I just focused on getting into the best shape of my life.
For me, nutrition is 90% responsible for how I look and feel. Remember, you are what you eat, not what you lift. Training is just the catalyst to get your body’s hormones and nutrition to do their thing. Besides my Beverly bodybuilding supplements which I’ll get into later, I take other natural supplements and herbs to improve my health and balance my body’s stress response. Here is how I planned and executed my attack for the Northern.
Although I’m very knowledgeable in functional nutrition and training, I find it beneficial to have someone guide me for accountability purposes. At 5 weeks out I decided to work with Jason Theobald of Natty Nutrition for this purpose. I already weighed a pretty lean 178 lbs. We calculated I needed to lose a little more than 6 lbs of fat or about 1.25 lbs per week to get into the best shape of my life. Simple math indicated I needed a 700 calorie deficit for that to happen. Rather than cut all 700 calories from my diet, I increased cardio instead. For me that equated to an additional 1.5 hours of low intensity cardio per day. Did I mention I liked my carbs and this way I still got to have them? I started with a diet of 245g protein, 40g fat, and 288g carbs. Whenever I didn’t perform enough cardio to create that 700 calorie deficit, I reduced my carb intake to make up for it.
Here is my typical day. Keep in mind I like to do things unconventionally.
My training is somewhat instictive. I always keep track of what I do, but if my body tells me something is too much or just not feeling right, I back off and give it time to repair. Remember, growth occurs while you rest. Here are my training rules:
My legs used to be my weak point – not necessarily size wise, but I had a heck of a time with separation. Now people are asking me, “How did you make those changes to your legs?” Here’s a typical leg day for illustrative purposes.
I start with a foam roller or massage tool called “The Stick” to loosen up the muscles. I save stretching until the end of the workout, or sometimes between high rep burn sets.
#1 Belt Squats for 2-3 sets of 50 reps. I use 90-135 lbs hanging from waist and do not lock all the way out. Sometimes I make 50 reps without pausing, but often my legs burn so bad I just get to 25, pause and then go in 10 rep increments, with a few large breaths in between, until I reach 50. Stance width is varied between sets.
#2 Leg Press with heels high and 6-8 inches apart - 4 sets of 8-12 reps using rest pause technique. If I get 9, then I will take a breath or two (or 5) then push as many more as I can up to 12. The weight varies depending on energy levels, and type of equipment/gym. I really focus on the hip/glute/lateral quad here. If my glutes rise off the seat…it’s too much weight. This is a leg press not a spinal erector press. I see many in the gym using way too much weight on the leg press to get what they should out of it.
#3 Stiff Leg Deadlift - 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps focusing on eccentric for hamstrings and concentric for glute action. I go heavy here (225 to 315). I did this exercise exclusively, as my only leg movement for three months during the summer of 2007 – no squats, no presses, no extensions – just stiff leg deadlifts! It refined my posture and balanced my quad/glute/ham development.
#4 Walking Lunges for 2-3 sets of 20 steps total with 40-50 lb dumbells.
#5 Lateral Quad Extensions using the Smith Machine bar - 3 sets of 20 reps. This is tricky, I actually think I made up a new exercise. I don’t recommend you try this without proper instruction. Basically you lay on your side on a bench positioned under the Smith Machine. Use a pad to cushion the bar from digging into your lateral quad. Just do partial rep lateral leg lifts to failure. Pretty excruciating if done right.
#6 Leg Extensions - 2 sets of 50 reps. Rest pause method. I do as many as I can until failure then breathe a few times and get going again until I hit 50. Then I go through that ordeal 1 more time.
I do up to 1.5 hours of low intensity cardio a day. Usually 30-45 minutes in the morning with Energy Reserve, GH Factor, and my personal mix of Yohimbe, cayenne pepper and white tea extract. My remaining cardio is done after my training, sometimes high intensity.
Bodybuilding is all about planning. You cannot be caught without food, stop and get junk, and expect to meet your goals. I always have Mass Maker in my car in case something happens and I don’t have a meal handy. Jeremiah Forster and I recently worked the Beverly booth at the Arnold Classic one week before the Northern. We walked for cardio each morning for an hour before the expo opened. We packed a dozen meals each and between work times, hotel stay, and the Beverly team going out to eat and having fun, ate our meals. There was no other way.
I have been a Beverly supporter since 2005 and heavily rely on their products to get me into peak condition. Here are the supplements I used for the Northern 2009:
Bottom line: Don’t waste your time with subpar supplements. If you train hard and eat great, then Beverly quality will only make you better.
I have to admit I may not have still been here if I had not found bodybuilding. It gives me a goal and a sense of purpose. I have met countless incredibly caring people in this sport who would give you the shirt off their back, and even share the food in their cooler. So to everyone who doubted me, thank you. And to everyone who supported me, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are all an inspiration to me.