How I Made it to the Contest Stage

On April 14, 2012 I accomplished a goal I had been working towards for months. I stepped on stage at the NPC Amateur Grand Prix and competed in my first bodybuilding competition. Yes, I said “first” because there will be more. This is the story of how I got there and where I plan to go next.

Where I Started

This was my before picture taken on August 1, 2011. As you can see, in this picture I am a typical overweight and out of shape 46 year old man. In this picture I am at 33% body fat. I look terrible. I am not afraid to admit that. Because of how I looked and felt I embarked on a mission to fix what was broken. I enlisted the help of Chris Albert to get back into shape. This was probably the best decision I had made up to that point.

The Program

Chris took me and began fixing imbalances in my body. He did some basic testing on me and then went to work fixing things that needed to be fixed. He put me on a program he calls Getting to Shredded. This program is a multi-phase program aimed at burning the fat from your body. I trained just 3 days a week with minimal cardio (3 times a week for 20 minutes). The weight plan involved circuits or giant sets. These things pushed my heart rate to high levels. This, in turn, aided in the fat burning process.

As a compliment to the training program, I was put on a specific eating plan that involved a balanced approach to carbs, protein and fats. This helped rev up my metabolism. My metabolism was a major reason for the picture you see above. Through years of trying various diet methods I messed up my metabolism in a large way. My average body temperature (taken at night) was 94 degrees. This meant that my metabolism was running extremely slow. Chris spent time fixing this by manipulating my eating plan.

Contest Preparation

On January 1, 2012, just 15 days before my 47th birthday, I embarked on a contest preparation cycle that would prove to be interesting. My training program was changed to a more typical bodybuilding style of training, with body part splits and a higher training volume. My nutrition plan was modified to include a higher amount of protein. My cardio exercise was increased to 30 minutes, 4 times per week. There were phases to all of this as we got closer to the contest itself.

I worked very hard, trying to meet the goal of 8% body fat by contest day. However, about 2 weeks out from the show Chris took a look at me and he didn’t seem happy. He said that I was holding fat under my arm pits (on the side of my pecs) and that he thought it would take 8 weeks to get rid of it (8 weeks I did not have). I left the gym that day feeling dejected. I wrote an article, How to Make Miracles Happen, in which I discussed the situation and how it made me feel. This was a huge turning point for me as an individual and as a competitor.

I decided to push even harder and to go with my gut. It was the first time since meeting Chris that I went against his wishes and upped my cardio. I added an extra session each day and went to 7 days a week. I was doing two sessions of 50 minutes each time. I began to see more fat come off my body. To protect my muscle (the little I was able to gain during the cut) I ingested a large amount of BCAAs (every three hours). I knew I had to push hard to make it for the contest.

Competition Day

I arrived at the competition site in Culver City for check in. I knew I was in trouble because 90% of these competitors were using some sort of enhancing drug. Now, I would not simply state “they were on steroids” because enhancement drugs are much more complex than that simple designation, but it was obvious they had some help. The competitors I was up against were clearly bigger than me, but they had not accomplished what I had accomplished. They could be very proud of their physiques, but they could not say they had gone from fat to fit in such a short period of time.

The Results

Here I stand with my trophy for a 3rd place finish. Comparing this picture to the before picture, I weigh 65 lbs. less, I am at 11% body fat (22% down) and I felt great. I had accomplished a major goal–I stepped on stage and “let it all hang out”. It was an amazing and fun experience. It is one I will not soon forget.

Here are some more photos of my time at the NPC Grand Prix.

Conclusion

I learned a lot from this experience. The following summarizes what I’d like you to take away from my experience:

  • No matter what, trust your instincts. If you think you need to do more cardio, do more cardio.
  • Stick to your nutrition plan. It is responsible for 85% of your success.
  • Train hard. Push yourself as hard as you possibly can. It will pay off.
  • Believe in yourself. If you can think it, you can do it.
  • Trust the experts you choose to work with. There’s no point in working with someone if you don’t trust them fully.
  • Compete because you want to, not to impress anyone else

I am now trying to build size. I have pulled out all the stops to make it happen. I have changed up my training approach and have added some carbs to my diet that were not there before. So far, the results have been amazing. Keep watching this space for more on my progress.

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  • Exercisetherapy1

    This is fantastic Mike!
    I knew you could do it. You set your sights high- and accomplished your goal. Your wife and family must be proud of you- I know I am.

  • Paula

    Great job Mike. You inspired me to start working with a trainer, I started about 6 weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if it was paying off but yesterday I carried 30 lbs. of bottled water from one end of Costco to the other (probably 100 yards), which was a big deal to me. Keep up the awesome work!