My mother is the one that actually got me into training. I was around 130lb in high school and my senior year ended, and my mom bought me a gym membership so I could get stronger for collegiate swimming. The second I picked up a dumbbell I was hooked. I have been training ever since.
I am pretty sure I made every mistake as a newbie. Bad form, too much weight, not eating enough, eating too much of the wrong things, over training, not training enough, bad splits, pretty much everything. To be honest it really wasn't until about a year ago that I finally figured out what works best for me.
Be passionate about this lifestyle. It's hard, it really is and it's not for everyone and that's okay. If you don't want it trust me its not happening. I get questions on a daily basis asking "what should I do for this" and "what supplements should I take" and "what splits should I do." You need to ask yourself this question first -- How badly do you want it? Once you have that passion, it really is not that difficult to focus yourself and achieve your goals.
We used to train together but our methods have differed and we do our own things now since we each have different things we are focused on. She's a freak and basically grows and gets stronger doing anything and I hate her for that (not really, but secretly I do, I'm jealous). I pretty much train alone and I like it that way. I am in and out of the gym in an hour or less most days.
I have to have my iPod with me. Have to. I mainly listen to heavy metal and rock. Favorite bands I prefer to train to are Killswitch Engage, Attack Attack, Abandon All Ships, Parkway Drive and Trivium. If it doesn't make me angry and get me fired up, I am not listening to it at the gym.
To be honest my training in the past year has changed dramatically. I do not go to failure anymore. I always leave a few reps left in the tank. Some may call it crazy but it works for me.
Obviously I prefer free weights. The only time I touch any machines right now are a few weeks out from a contest just to blast a certain muscle and get a good pump going. Other than that I pretty much stick to all free weights. Machines are okay, but I feel they tend to lead to injury and cause you to become weaker because you aren't using your core or any stabilizer muscles to move the weight. If you learn good form and stop trying to impress people in the gym, free weights are the safer better way to go.
Just a few weeks ago at the Arnold I hit some personal goals that have been in my eyesight ever since I started squatting and deadlifting. I have always wanted to deadlift 495lb and squat 405lb and I hit both of those marks in the same day at the Animal Barbell Club event. Only weighing around 175lb at the time, I was pretty proud of myself. Most recently I came in first in my class at the 2012 NPC Metropolitan in Mens Physique out of around 20 competitors. It's moments like these that make me never want to stop.
I stay pretty lean all year long. I have a hard time gaining weight, so for me, looking at the scale and looking at my physique in mirror it gets depressing at times when you aren't as big as you think you should be. What I've learned to concentrate on more is my lifts in the gym. If those numbers are going up then I am happy. Watching myself get stronger every month is more motivating than watching the numbers increase on the scale.
What’s that? Seriously though, as a warm-up I usually include 15 minutes of jump rope and that's about it. Even when I compete I don't step on a treadmill, elliptical or bike. I've found that for me, if I keep my workouts fast paced and intense I don't really have to worry about incorporating cardio. It's boring - Why do it if I don't have to?
For the past year or so I have been doing Jim Wendlers 531 workout. If you don't know what that is its basically a powerlifting workout. I do three exercises a day, sometimes 4, and I'm done.
Flat Bench (3 warmup sets, 3 working sets)
Incline DB Press (5 sets of 10-15 reps)
DB or Barbell Rows (5 sets of 10-15 reps)
Squat (3 warmup sets, 3 working sets)
Leg Press (5 sets of 10-15 reps)
Hamstring Curls (5 sets of 10-15 reps)
Standing Military Press (3 warmup sets, 3 working sets)
Weighted Dips (5 sets of 10-15 reps)
Weighted Chinups (5 sets of 10-15 reps)
Deadlift (3 warmup sets, 3 working sets)
Good mornings (5 sets of 10-15 reps)
Hack Squats (5 sets of 10-15 reps)
On the main lifts (first exercise of the day) I have a calculated amount of weight to do and a calculated amount of reps that I need to hit. I go into the gym and know exactly what I have to do. Every month the weight goes up but the rep ranges stay the same. My strength gradually increases each month. On pushing days I add 10 reps of pullups in between every set and on pulling days I add 20 pushups in between every set to keep myself moving.
For my last show I stuck to something pretty basic. Eggs and oatmeal in the morning, 3-4 meals of chicken, brown rice, and broccoli, and one meal of beef, brown rice, and broccoli. It's boring but I look at food as fuel. I eat to live not live to eat.
This always changes but I would have to go with IFBB Pro Craig Capurso. He is a genuine guy on and off the stage and recently helped me with my posing which got me first in my class at the NPC Metropolitan. He also has a sweet haircut.
I take your basic Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein and take Animal Rage as my preworkout when I need it. I did the whole using every supplement out there thing and I didn't notice a huge difference so I enjoy keeping that money in my pocket. I used them when I really I didn't know what I was doing so that could have been part of the problem but for now I'll stick to the whey protein and make my slow gains.
1. Be patient. It took me eight years to figure out what I am doing and I probably still don't have it right.
2. FORM FORM FORM. Good form will always get better results than bad form with weight you shouldn't be using.
3. Enjoy it! I look forward to each and every one of my workouts (including leg days) and you should too.
Stats - Born: 1985, Height: 5'10", Weight: 180 off season and 170 contest weight