I have to say that competing in bodybuilding has helped define who I am. The good Lord has allowed me to live my dream in many ways. I am still competing, 33 years after my first contest. I am a personal trainer and entrepreneur in the business aspect of our sport. It’s been a good ride and I think I’ve had a good run. Just hope I’m not done yet. I wrote this article to share what I’ve learned in over 39 years in the sport.
My preparation for a contest is very similar to my off-season. The major difference is off-season I increase caloric intake in the form of protein, complex carbs, good fats, and in some instances simple carbs. My off-season weight is within 8-10% of my contest weight.
The following is an example meal plan I follow when I’m just starting a competition program. These serving suggestions can be grouped or modified for variety.
Upon Arising: 4:30 am – [pre-cardio and abs]
Meal 1: 6:00 am – [after cardio and abs] 4 oz oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon, and sweetener
One serving UMP Pudding (see recipe below), 1 apple
Meal 2: 8:30 am – 8 oz chicken salad (see Randy’s chicken salad recipe), 8 egg whites mixed with the chicken salad, 3 plain rice cakes, one serving UMP pudding
Meal 3: 11:00 am – [pre-workout] 8 oz chicken salad, 8 egg whites mixed with chicken salad, 3 plain rice cakes, one serving UMP pudding
Meal 4: 1:30 pm – [post-workout] 4 oz Randy’s chicken salad, 1 serving UMP pudding, 3 plain rice cakes
Meal 5: 4:00 pm – 8 egg whites mixed with 8 oz chicken salad, 3 plain rice cakes
Meal 6: 6:30 pm – 8 oz 96% ground sirloin or turkey with 8 oz brown rice with natural salsa
Meal 7: 8:30 pm – 12-18 egg whites, 2 plain rice cakes, and 16 oz ice water. If hungry, add one serving UMP pudding
I drink 16 oz ice water with each of my meals to stay hydrated throughout the day.
The focal points of my meal plan are my chicken salad recipe and my UMP pudding recipe. Here’s how I prepare them.
Randy’s Chicken Salad
16 oz grilled chicken tenders
12 oz baby spinach
3 oz chopped tomatoes
3 oz crushed walnuts
3 oz onions and celery
Dressing: 1 tbsp flax oil, spices (no salt), 3 oz apple cider vinegar
Mix ingredients together until dressing evenly covers chicken salad. Refrigerate if used more than one day. Use for three meals throughout the day.
3 scoops UMP vanilla
1 oz oatmeal
1 scoop glutamine
raisins, cinnamon, and walnuts to taste
Mix ingredients in spring water to a pudding consistency. Makes one serving.
Cardio and abs are performed daily (including Sunday) at 4:30 a.m. as follows:
Recumbent Bike to favorite CD (approximately 40 minutes):
1) First 5 minutes - low tension (warm-up)
2) Second 5 minutes - medium tension
3) Remaining 30 minutes - difficult tension that can be maintained
Abs (approximately 20 minutes)
1) Stiff legged dumbbell deadlifts supersetted with sumo dumbbell deadlifts 25 reps each
2) Westside Barbell style reverse hyper extensions off bench 25 reps
3) Flat board sit-ups: 60 reps, then 40 reps, then sets of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 each followed by a short rest
4) Broomstick twists: 7 minutes to music
Compound movements are used predominately for each body part (i.e., bench press for chest day, squats for leg day, etc.).
The first day of the week for each body part is the heavy day; the second day of the week for each body part is the light day (or "speed") day.
Contest presentation is important but it’s equally important to understand what counts and what doesn’t. As an NPC judge I’ve learned that the quarter turns and compulsory poses during prejudging often determine the class winners of the show. Pose like you’re in a war. Never, ever relax onstage. Judges are always looking. Always focus on flexing all body parts in view of the judges. Be aware of certain nuances for getting a muscle to respond onstage (i.e., heal down for ab and thigh).
The posing routine for the finals is important, but not nearly as important to your final placing as people may think. Whatever you do, do not walk from one end of the stage to the other at the finals (unless you’ve placed in the Arnold Classic.)
Bodybuilding is a journey just like life. Don’t let it own you, but harness its energy to live life as it should be, with care. Be genuine and think about others feelings in all things. God first, family second, bodybuilding third.
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