Powerlifting and Too Much Winter FatRoutinely every year I would essentially get fat in the winter for powerlifting and then come February I would cut anywhere between 30-50lbs depending how big I got. Then, I would spend my summers racing ATV motocross never getting really lean. This cycle repeated itself for years leading up to the end of 2013.
I did a few bodybuilding shows as a teenager, getting fairly lean, but I starved myself to do it and backed it with hours of cardio. Being very young in the sport at the time I did not know any better and binged on food post-contest, going from stage ready to off-season within a week.
Eventually I ended a relationship that heavily revolved around the typical college lifestyle; drinks, eating out a lot, etc. I was looking for something to completely redirect all the emotion surrounding the situation.
So I turned back to a sport that sparked a lifelong interest in training. I had not stepped on stage in nearly 6 years so I got in touch with Derek Dolgner. I told him I was sitting at nearly 20% bodyfat. The Mr. Natural Minnesota contest was in 12 weeks and all he said was, "We better get started!"
I follow one simple rule along my journey; I train to achieve my goals. Strength is always a concern and so is constantly trying to build muscle.
Heading Back to the Bodybuilding StageAlso, 2014 was going to be my first year in almost 10 years where I wouldn't be racing ATV motocross anymore. This was due to the financial aspects of racing and the fact I was going to be attending Northwestern Health Sciences University in September of 2014 to study for my Doctorate of Chiropractic.
So again, to commit myself 100% to the lifting lifestyle, I had a new goal in mind. I had recently done my first strongman competition a few weeks earlier and really enjoyed it. That goal was to in one year win a bodybuilding show, a powerlifting meet and a strongman competition.
When I would cut weight for racing, body composition was not as big of a concern as long as I was losing weight compared to training to step on stage. So binge meals were not an uncommon occurrence. This of course had to change while prepping for a show.
It was definitely a hard habit to break and I know I definitely went a little too crazy a few times during some refeeds but it is all a learning experience. The best thing in that circumstance is to be able to admit to yourself you made a mistake, you did not fail, just room for improvement, and focus on that fact every day to keep improving.
My Drive Was SparkedThe first major milestone in my journey was stepping back on stage for the first time in nearly 6 years. Standing on stage again that happened to be the largest natural show in Minnesota's history with over 300 competitors and still landing a top 5 placing in both classes was a great accomplishment. It was definitely a spark to fuel my drive to keep pushing towards my goal that year. I think it was only a matter of a week or two after that show that I committed to compete in the fall again.
I follow one simple rule along my journey; I train to achieve my goals. Strength is always a concern and so is constantly trying to build muscle. With that being said, if I am training for a bodybuilding show I want to maximize hypertrophy training and maintaining, if not, gaining strength. I still focus on strength pre-contest because odds are if I maintain my strength/get stronger, I am doing the same with my muscle mass.
I add cardio only if necessary towards the end of prep. Realize that just because you're dieting does not mean you have to do cardio for the sake of doing cardio. If the goal is a powerlifting meet, I do everything I can to maximize the amount of weight I can move in the squat, bench and deadlift. The same goes for strongman, the closer I get to a strongman the more I focus on maximizing my performance in the events I will be competing in.
The Importance of DietDiet is what is going to make or break you in this sport, not supplements; no matter what the next great product release is. I struggled with that when I first started lifting almost 10 years ago, thinking I needed to take product X for this, product Y for that and product Z.
It is something to this day I can still get carried away with at times. Especially as a drug tested competitor, stick to the basics which are basics are a reason.
By this I mean your protein powders, fish oil, multi, greens, aminos, creatine and a pre-workout. if you need a kick every once in awhile. Also, something that is often overlooked, trust the source you are buying products from.
Price shouldn't be the only thing you look at. Back to the diet aspect, I had help from a great coach throughout the entire year that took care of me making sure I was progressing towards our goals.
The Final Leg of My JourneyThe final leg of the journey came in the fall when within the last 5 weeks of prep I moved to a brand new city right outside of Minneapolis, MN and started grad school. The credit load was something I had never seen before, reaching close to 25 credits a trimester. I had to step up my dedication to a new level it had never reached before.
Meal prep well in advance was a must, as I was often on campus for up to 16 hours a day at times between cardio, class, training and studying in the library. The feeling of accomplishing everything in the midst of some of the most stressful situations I have been in really shows your true colors and what you are capable of achieving when you put your mind 100% into a goal.
I did a few bodybuilding shows as a teenager, getting fairly lean, but I starved myself to do it and backed it with hours of cardio.
Finding Your MotivationIn my viewpoint if you are not going to contribute positively to my life or worse, if it affects me negatively, you don't deserve to be a part of it. Life and success is all about the people you choose to surround yourself with.
Make sure to have short term goals and just take it day by day. Don't think about following a diet for the next 12 weeks, 16 weeks or whatever the time length is. Just focus on the day to day aspects. Because once you master one day, you master the next day and the day after that and that is exactly what achieves long term results, consistency.
Also, you must strive to find the motivation within yourself. It is great and incredible help to have others there for motivation every once in awhile when you need a little extra kick. But realize that may not always be there because if you can motivate yourself, that motivation can last a life time wherever you choose to take your path.
If you're looking to make your own transformation, here are my 3 tips. First, take it day by day. Second, keep it simple when possible. Lastly, learn as much as you can from everyone.
You don't always have to agree with someone to learn from them and don't be afraid to ask for help. I had the help of nutrition coach during my transformation to keep me responsible, give me a fresh perspective or a second set of eyes that can often see the light through (dieting) fog and most importantly trust whoever you have helping you.
Just to reiterate that last fact, now that I am focusing solely on strongman I reached out to Tim Kovach for coaching that has made a drastic improvement in my strongman performance in a short amount of time.
My New Life and GoalsThis past weekend I just won the men's middleweight class (<220lbs) at the US Strongman Allegiance Fitness Winter Strongman Assault, thus earning myself a qualification to nationals at the end of June in Indianapolis. That is my main goal, to train and compete at the national level for strongman.
Other goals I have are to finally break the 700lb raw deadlift mark, and of course continue my education working towards my Doctorate in Chiropractic.
I always train for my goals right now, that being to be able to compete at the national level. I do not want to just go to nationals; I want to COMPETE at nationals with the best in the country.
As far as my nutrition is concerned, I essentially eat the exact same way except for my calories which are now doubled as compared to the end of prep. I eat the same foods as I did before, not because certain foods are "off limits" but just because when you are busy on campus all day it is easy to carry around chicken and rice!
Here are my contest results:
- January 25th, 2014 - 3rd place Under 231lbs NAS Allegiance Fitness Winter Strongman Assault
- May 2014 - 1st in both respective divisions in NASA Wisconsin Regional Powerlifting Meet in Unequipped Powerlifting and Quadralifting, best overall lifter, ranked 1st in state for Quadralifting and 2nd for Unequipped Powerlifing
- May 2014 - 4th in both Collegiate Tall and Novice Tall NANBF Mr. Natural MN
- July 2014 - 1st Under 220lbs Fuller Strength Training Strongman
- September 2014 - 1st Collegiate, 4th Novice Tall NANBF Natural Badger State
- January 31st, 2015 - 1st Middleweight Mens (<220lbs) US Strongman Allegiance Fitness Winter Strongman Assault qualifying for US Strongman Nationals