The basics – How old are you, which university do you go to and what do you study?
I’m 20 years old and I study Design Engineering at Bournemouth University.
How did you get into fitness?
I started working out at my local gym from about 16 years old and took up bodybuilding soon after this. I aspired to have the physique and lifestyle of many famous bodybuilders I had seen on social media such as Christian Guzman and Tavi Castro. I decided to make my passion my hobby by taking a Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Personal Training and Nutrition when I was 18 years old. I continue to work as a Personal Trainer in my spare time to finance myself throughout my degree.
What made you want to compete?
I have always wanted to compete ever since I started bodybuilding 4 years ago and I said I would compete one day when I was ready. The recent death of a family member made me wake up and realise that it is easy to SAY you will do something and continuously delay it and make up excuses for not doing it. I realised that you will never be ready to do something until you commit yourself to doing it. That is the main reason I decided to commit to competing this year. I’m certainly not ready or anywhere near the condition I would like to be in, but it’s a learning curve and I think it will be a great experience.
How many competitions have you done? Is this year’s SPC your first? How are you feeling about it?
This year will be my first ever competition and I imagine it will be the first of many. I’m feeling quite nervous about the competition but I’m excited at the same time. I’ve met loads of new people on the journey in preparation for the competition and I’m sure I’ll meet many more on the day.
What is your training like during prep?
From 12 until 6 weeks out from the competition my training was very powerlifting focused and I trained 4 – 5 times a week. This was my ‘bulking’ phase. My weekly split consisted of upper body and lower body sessions which were very intense, often lasting up to 2 hours or more. It consisted of lifting heavy weights and low reps on mainly compound movements like squats, bench and deadlifts etc. The focus of this training approach was to build as much muscle and strength as possible.
From 6 weeks until 1 week out from the competition, I started cutting my bodyfat and aiming for better muscle definition. I increased my training frequency to 6 days a week with only 1 rest day. My style of training changed to a hypertrophy bodybuilding approach. I was lifting lighter weights and aiming for a higher number of reps in order to define and tone my muscles. My weekly split was very specific to my personal goals and developing areas which needed improving. It consisted of:
Monday – Shoulders and Core
Tuesday – Back and Legs (Hamstrings focused)
Wednesday – Arms
Thursday – Chest and Shoulders
Friday – Core and Legs (Quads focused)
Saturday – Rest day
Sunday – Legs
In addition, I started training twice a day with weight training in the morning/afternoon and cardio sessions in the evening for approximately 30 minutes.
For the last week before the competition my training style changed completely again. For this week, I trained 4 times and every session was a whole body workout with at least 1 exercise for each muscle group. I varied the session each time but I basically just chose my favourite exercises including; squats, deadlifts, dumbbell lunges, barbell rows, bench press, overhead press, bicep curls, skull crushers, lateral raises, oblique twists, leg raises, calf press and calf raises. I also continued doing cardio sessions in the evening. I continued doing cardio sessions in the evening to assist in burning fat and improving muscle definition.
What is your diet like during prep?
Throughout my prep I used the app “My Fitness Pal” to keep track of my macros and diet progress. I designed and adapted my macros for my diet myself.
To accommodate for my ‘bulking’ phase from 12 – 6 weeks, my diet was quite flexible and my macros were generous to say the least! There was certainly the odd Domino’s Pizza ordered every now and then. I was on 3750 calories a day with 585g of Carbs which was nice because I tend to love foods which are high in carbs. I was also on 150 grams of Protein and 90 grams of Fat per day.
When I started the ‘cutting’ phase my diet became much stricter. After 1 week of gradual decrease from 3750 calories per day, I kept my calories down at 2750 per day until the last week before the competition. My macros consisted of: 160 grams of Protein, 370 grams of Carbs and 90 grams of Fats per day with a total of 2750 calories. I have included some pictures of a typical food diary.
For the last week leading up to the competition, I did a small ‘carb cycle’. I began the week on a very low amount of carbs (275 grams per day) and suddenly increased this to 400 grams when I was 2 days out from the competition. On the day before the competition I had minimal carbs and NO CARBS after 6pm.
The main foods I ate during prep included; chicken, steak, pork, salmon, prawns, cod, brown rice, eggs, broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, cabbage, green beans, peppers, bananas, grapes, plums and strawberries.
The main drinks I had included; water, semi-skimmed milk, almond milk, protein shakes and Ribena light.
How do you stay motivated during prep?
With great difficulty! It is particularly difficult to stay motivated during prep because there is so much pressure and so much work to do. It is particularly difficult during the times when you are on a low carb diet and therefore feel quite low on energy most of the time. To stay motivated I just remember why I started bodybuilding in the first place and the reason why I am competing this year. I remember all the people that are looking up to me and counting on me which motivates me not to give up. It also helped to train alongside people who were also competing and on the same fitness journey as me.
How do you manage your studies alongside staying in shape?
My studies always come first. I schedule my training sessions around my university timetable and my also my job. It doesn’t leave much time to go out and socialize but there will be plenty of time for that in the Summer when the competition and all my exams are over!
What are your fitness goals for the future?
I am aiming to continue competing in a bodybuilding competition at least once a year and also a powerlifting competition once a year. The bodybuilding competition will be my main focus and will hopefully help me get into a nice physical condition for summer. The powerlifting competition will be more for fun and will embrace my ‘bulking’ phase and high calorie diet once the summer is over.
Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?
I would just say to anyone reading this who is thinking about competing, JUST DO IT! You will never do it if you don’t commit yourself to do it. It’s a rollercoaster journey which will teach you a lot about how determined and motivated you really are. At times it will test your mental and physical strength, but in the end you will be a better person for it. You will learn so much and it will open so many doors for you by getting exposure in the fitness industry and by meeting so many new people with similar interests. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!
Vote for David