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As most of you may be aware, for the last 14 weeks I was prepping for my first fitness show. My journey started off at a hard-to-believe 19% body fat and ended at a stage-shredded 5.2%. I managed to burn over 21 pounds of fat and not only maintain my lean mass, but add 3 solid pounds as well. And although I did not win the show, I could not be happier with my efforts and results. The best part of it all was that I did it all without starving myself, taking any illegal supplements, or going to any dangerous extremes.
The reason I am writing this post is simple. You guys have been hearing about as well as seeing my transformation unfold. So I posted a status update on my Facebook Fan Page allowing you all to post your questions about my show prep. Now, I am going to answer all of your questions and give you a better idea of how this all came to be.
Michael Garcia: What did you learn about yourself during the entire transformation/prepping for the show?
I learned a lot about myself. I learned that when it comes to achieving a goal with a deadline, I am capable of pushing myself above and beyond to assure that I accomplish it. I learned that it is not motivation I needed, but simply a commitment to myself. And lastly, I learned that I have an undeniable love for pizza
Jason Valdivia: What chest and triceps workouts did you really emphasize on during this time?
Well, because my chest was already pretty well developed, I stuck to the basics. Bench press, inclined and decline press, dumbbell presses, and cable crossovers. As I got closer to show time, I integrated a lot of drop sets as well as super sets. So for example, at the end of my cable cross overs, I would perform 3-4 drop sets to finish it off. Sometimes I supersetted my bench press with dumbbell flyes or pushups.
As for the triceps, these needed a little more help. I focused a lot on weighted dips, skull crushers, and close grip bench press. These are all big compound lifts that work great for stimulating and activating the triceps. Like my chest training, I also included drop sets, super sets, and even giant sets as the competition came closer.
Steven Ponte: Knowing that you did not win, what was going thru your head? Will you compete again? If so, what will you do different next time around? And what is your ultimate goal with all of this?
When I didn’t get called up to place, I was naturally a little upset. However, I was very proud of myself for coming as far as I did. Regardless of whether I won or lost, I knew that I had given my best efforts and achieving my best physique was enough for me.
Prior to this experience I told everyone close to me that I would not. But yes, after thinking about it for a few days I have decided that I will compete again. This time around I will give myself a little more time to prep as well as change up a few last minute details that did not allow me to appear as full on stage. I also plan on prioritizing my legs, calves, and arms to come in larger overall.
My ultimate goal is simple, it is to continue to inspire people and show them that the only limits are the ones we set for ourselves.
Rob Torres: You seem to be good with motivational words and quotes. What’s a good one for us to identify you with as far as fitness is concerned?
I love this question, mainly because I am a huge fan of quotes. Here are a few I can share and I’ll explain why they identify with me.
“We sweat in battle so that we don’t bleed in war”
This one is perfect for my show prep. I busted my ass in the gym in preparation for this contest. When show time came, I was ready with my best body. Win or lose, I took away the ultimate prize of a great accomplishment.
“Just do it”
A lot of people are constantly looking for answers as to what is the “best” way to build muscle, lose fat, etc. There are hundreds of people out there who give out free information. These people all have transformed their bodies using different techniques. They all work! Stop asking questions, stop searching for answers. Just find a program and do it! I promise you that this is the best advice anyone can take when it comes to building muscle or losing fat.
“Nothing worth accomplishing comes easy.”
“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”
Jeaninne Velez: How many times a day did you train? How long were your workouts? How many times a week did you train? Did you take any supplements?
I trained anywhere from 1 to 3 times per day. Training sessions lasted anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. I trained 5-7 days per week depending on the week.
As for supplements, I just took the basics.
BCAA (branched chain amino acids): This was to help me preserve my muscle mass during cardio sessions. These are not supplements I take while “bulking” but when training in a deficit it is crucial that you take BCAA to keep your body in an anabolic state.
Fish oils: Everyone whether cutting, bulking, or neither should be taking their fish oils. These decrease inflammation and improve nervous function. They also support muscle gain and healthy hart function.
Glutamine: This I probably could have gone without but when you are training as much as I was, any help with recovery is a plus.
L-carnitine: This helps shuttle fat into the mitochondria to be burned as fuel.
No fat burners, no steroids or pro hormones, no hormone enhancers, and no miracle pills or powders. All you need is a goal with a deadline, a commitment, and consistent hard work.
Jon Vel: What was the best/worst part of your show prep?
The best part of the prep was watching my body change on a weekly and even daily basis. Showing people what I was able to accomplish and inspire them as well.
The worst part may have been the few days of carb depletion about a week prior to the show.
Jan Rafaj: In the last pre-contest month, did you workout with the same level of intensity as in your previous training?
Although I may have had to decrease the amount of weight I was using during certain exercises, I think the intensity was much higher. I added more super sets, giant sets, and drop sets toward the end.
Jan Rafaj: What about pre/port workout meals and anabolic windows – did you still respect those?
I simply removed the simple carbs from both pre and post workout nutrition and kept them complex.
Jan Rafaj: Did you use some additional fat-burning helpers?
I guess if you want to call L-carnitine a “fat-burning helper”, yes. No “fat burning pills, no caffeine pills, no green tea, etc)
Jan Rafaj: In the last pre-contest month, how many days per week, how many minutes per day, and what kind of cardio did you perform?
Week 1: 2 HIIT sessions (20 Minutes Each)
Week 2: 2 HIIT sessions + 1 Metabolic Overload Training Session (20 Minutes Each + 12 Minutes MOT)
Week3: 3 HIIT sessions (20-25 Minutes Each)
Week4: 5 Empty Stomach Cardio Sessions (60 Minutes Each)
Stephen Gouws: What did your peak week look like? How low did you drop your carbs in the last week? How much did you load up with the day/night before as well as the day of the show? What was your strategy for water manipulation to dry out? And what type of training did you do the last week?
My peak week was actually very basic. I loaded with water for about 5 days, depleted my carbs for about 5 days, and then cut my water and carb loaded. I dropped my carbs down to about 0.2 (x) bodyweight in grams for depletion and I loaded with about 0.6 (x) bodyweight in grams the day before the show. The morning of the show I consumed 1 meal that consisted of 0.4 (x) bodyweight in grams of carbs and 0.2 (x) bodyweight in grams of protein.
As far as training, I added a lot of empty stomach cardio as well as just general weight training sessions in the evenings.
Stephen Gouws: What exactly kept you motivated throughout your prep?
Well as I always say, “results yield motivation”. Seeing my body change every week was a driving force to make sure I continued to make changes the next week. However, making the commitment to do this show was more than enough for me to stick to the game plan.
Jose Hernandez: What did you miss the most that you had to give up for training?
The extra time training I would have rather spent with my wife and children. So I guess the biggest thing I had to give up was quality time with my family and friends.
If you have any questions concerning my show prep, feel free to leave them in to comments section below. Don’t forget to click the “like” button below if you learned anything useful.