Routine and diet:
I have purposely put these two together, as of course they rely on each other and have to be in sync to give you the most benefit and gains from what you are doing. Ask any body builder (well, those who knows what they are doing!) and they will tell you; diet and sleep are as important as training ever is. You eat regularly and well, depending on what your goal is. This can be a very basic diet as you go into depletion for a show or a bit more varied when in build mode. No matter what your schedule is you must make room for both sleep and proper nutrition. Without these things all the training in the world will only get you so far.
I start the day with cardio on an empty stomach; I then have my 1st meal of the day at around 7am. After this I eat at 3 hour intervals, augmenting this with a protein shake into the bargain between each meal. My last meal of the day is at 1am. As a body builder you better get used to eating and eating regularly like it’s a job. Doing everything in the right order and not getting slack. If you want to get the best out of yourself you have to be on it every day, there is no off day no if’s or buts; you either have the stamina to do what it takes or the guys who do will destroy you on stage.
I prefer to train about 1 hour after my second meal of the day which is at 10am. I have an immediate pre training shake mixed with wheat germ and glutamine at 10:30am; I begin training at 11am this provides the quick release energy which I need to get through an intense workout. Afterwards I have another shake with wheat germ, milled flaxseed and glutamine to spike my insulin levels for when my body is in the early stage of hypertrophy post workout.
Cardio – this is not a four letter word! I added this to my training and it has done wonders for my regime and conditioning in general. I use it to get the blood flowing at the beginning of a work out and at the end to ease down afterwards. In depletion this can be something you might want to skip – don’t, you will notice the benefits on the stage; trust me on this one – do it!
All muscle groups need to be trained in sets and then left to heal, so different days are for different muscle groups. With Sunday off (and well deserved it is right?) When I train I go all out with the heaviest weights my body can possible take. I train with great intensity to muscle failure (train to failure for success!) This of course tears the muscles and the food, supplements and sleep repair them, making them bigger and stronger.
There is as many diets as there are bodybuilders so to get exact on this may be a bit pointless. It’s safe to say that you need lots of protein as this is the most vital building block for repair and growth of muscle. Good fats and complex carbohydrates as well should make up around 30% of your diet with protein the rest. Supplementation is an excellent way to get easy good protein into your diet and if you get serious you will find there is no way you cannot use this to supplement your daily protein intake. Let me give a shout out to my sponsors here Muscle fury as they provide me with all the BCAA’s and proteins I need. Not only are they well designed but they also taste great (when you are gulping down tubs of this stuff day in day out this one can become very important trust me.)
So you have to eat lots of the right stuff, sleep lots and train smart and hard, no one said this would ever be easy right! But it is worth it – if it’s worth it! Does this sound glib? Let me explain; we are all creatures that are moulded by what we were taught, what we learned and what we saw. We all see the world though the lens of our life teachings and experiences. So I say again; this sport is worth it – if it’s worth it… to you. If this is what gives you satisfaction and self actualisation then it’s for you; if you can go through the drudge of the gym when you are tired and half dead from a crap day and keep on keeping on, then you want it, you need it. Can you get through depletion and not lose your mind, or drive your family away. Then maybe this is for you. And if you find out you don’t want it enough then you have realized something about yourself you didn’t know. A moment of truthful self actualization is priceless. No one can ever teach it to you and you will never forget what it teaches you either. People grow by doing; you might think something through 100 times and might consider every eventuality you could imagine, but you will never really know until you get down in the trenches and live it. Then you will know and what’s more you will have grown as a human being. This is the secret to life they never teach you: the journey is also the destination. To know your true self and who you are is the goal of living and it’s maybe the only true thing in life. So if you fancy this sport (or any other for that matter) give it a go and find out something about yourself you never knew. You may fail (in your eyes) but you have not failed, the only failure is to never try – to live life with a hundred what if’s crowding your mind, don’t be that person and whatever you do, or where ever you go you can hold your head high.
When and why did you get started?
I’m glad you asked J I was one of those guys who didn’t really have a purpose in life; but I was searching. I tried different jobs and hobbies and some of them I showed a real aptitude for such as fishing and being a musician. The theme that never went away though was the fact that I loved the gym, I would watch pro wrestling on TV when I was a boy and worlds strongest man. I wanted to be built like that; any dream starts with a hazy desire to be like what we have seen and liked. I had no idea how it would happen or if it was a little boy’s wish, soon to be put away as an adult- but I knew through everything that it stayed with me. I could not put it away as a childish desire and it started to consume my thoughts and grow into a desire I had to act upon.
I did not have the 1st clue about how to get from an average boy to the massive guy I wanted to be (my ideal version of myself – and we all have one, whether it is being rich, or loved, or respected or the top of our field in our occupation) but our desires takes us places if they strong enough. Mine lead me to learn all about nutrition and proper form, to understand the human body and what makes what happen: the art of cause and effect that sculpts the human body as sculptor adding or subtracting clay to find perfection.
A year ago (around December 2010) I was stuck in a place I did not want to be in, I was in an unhappy relationship in which I stayed out of obligation. I felt dead inside and though on the outside I would laugh and joke I was not a happy man. A few things were going wrong and I felt like I was drowning in my own life, time was passing and I was running in quicksand. Things had to change or else I would sink into the mire and maybe wake up 10 years later and not even recognise myself anymore, wondering where the time had gone. I was burdened by a lot of habitual emotion and by a past that was always with me. I decided I was not going quietly into the darkness and would at least make a stand one last time to try and do what I had always wanted to do.
I started out with no information apart from the basics and everything I needed to know I had to teach myself or find out from those who would kindly take their time out to help a novice on his way along the path. Many bits of information I received were outdated or false. I do not say this in a bad way, intention is everything and it will be a cold day in hell before I denigrate someone for trying to honestly help me. Slowly as my own knowledge grew I found out what worked and what did not. I have no pride or close-mindedness when it comes to learning new things: if someone tells me something new I research it or try it and if it is better and gives results I incorporate it and thank them heartily the next time I see them. I also try to disseminate this information to all and sundry if they ask my help or advice. Without the help of so many individuals that would make a list as big as this interview I would not be where I am and I feel it is only fair to carry on the tradition of helping the next generation, giving freely the help that was given so freely to me.
But to go back – why did I get into this at all? Again you ask a different person you will get a different story. Some of the reasons may be similar but they will feel very individual and personal to the person you ask, as are mine to me. My grandparents adopted me when I was just over a year old due to the death of their daughter/ my mother. They had already brought up 5 of a family and now that it was their time to sit back and enjoy their well earned retirement and old age, they instead choose to start again and bring another child up. They did not have to, indeed many would not, but they took the hard option and brought up an angry, sometimes confused boy and gave him the values of an older- and in many ways better generation. I will never be able to tell them what I owe them, or repay them. The stigma of my mother’s death was with me from as young as I can remember. I lived in a small place and such things are remembered and spoken of. I was a normal kid at school and found it hard to understand why I was targeted and bullied. In a small place they don’t need much of a reason sometimes, you only have to be different and I was different.
My mother killed herself from post natal depression at a time when such things were not so well understood or treated as the terrible tragedy’s they are now. My father, reeling from this terrible blow did not cope too well, he was soon not around, and I guess he went into self-preservation mode. So I was different; my mother was dead and my father gone, I was brought up by my mother’s mother and my grandfather was now my father. Not much of a reason to get picked on but kids are kids and anyone different has a good chance of being the one to be bullied, I’m afraid that one was me. I used to see the wrestlers and strong men on television and think “if I was built like him they wouldn’t pick on me, even if there was a gang of them” A child’s dream, but enough to sustain me through all the things I couldn’t understand and the stuff that is still with me sometimes to this day. Then came the revelation at a young age that my grandparents were not my real parents. The pain and confusion that this brought. I still remember the day and the feeling like nothing was real, my whole life was not what I thought it was; how could I hope to ever trust people again if those I loved more than anything had lied to me. I did not see then from my child’s perspective that all they did they did in love. They told me when they thought I would understand and not to hurt me but to tell me a hard truth when they thought I was ready for it.
There was no way to ever be ready for news like that, not really. They were not psychologists though and had no way to gauge when the right time was, they were only eager that I should be told the truth as soon as possible so I could digest it and be ok with it. They were only old, kind working class people who thought they were doing the best thing in a hard situation. I see that now, clear as day – I did not see it then alas!
I was angry and hurt and I lashed out. We often lash out at those who do not deserve it and so it went with me, I lashed out at my grandparents and family, I tried my best to hurt them as they had (as I saw it) hurt me. It was fool’s errand and a time which I regret to this very day. It took years of introspection to work through the hurt of that time and the foolish things I did as I sought approval from the various people in my life. I got into trouble and always walked along the edge of disaster, seeking to be loved and accepted through doing things others would not dare (from having too much sense) I wanted approval and to belong; this made me trusting and blinded my better judgement to situations which my inner self told me to run a mile from. I wanted to face down trouble too and be thought of as a strong man and tough. Again this inner drive from a time when I was not strong enough to fight back pushed me to never back down from situations normal people would have run from – and saved themselves a ton of grief. Hindsight is easy but I did what I did and that’s the person I was. I will not try to hide it or run from it. A friend of mine told me it’s harder to face a hard truth than hide from it and I feel like that now. When I found bodybuilding I found myself, the passion and determination I bring to the weights and discipline that makes me go through some of the tougher bits of the sport come from the wanting to belong and be accepted. The anger that is still a flame inside never fully quenched makes me want to go further every time I’m in the gym and every time I’m in a competition I want to be better and better than I was the time before. Maybe I still seek approval and will only find it when I have went as far as I think I can go. I’ll tell you when I get there, but the road there sure is fun so I’ll just keep on keeping on J I remember when I was looking up to the strong men and bodybuilders at a young age and commented to my parents that I would be there doing that one day . . . they just smiled and said “one day when you’re old enough you do that son” Now they have passed away they can look down and see I am living my dream, I know they see me… this gives me my constant drive in life, I want to make them proud, to make them feel like all they did for me was worth it and I will never forget it. I use my pain and turn it into positivity; all that I am comes from them and my drive from my circumstances, you can bet I don’t mean to give up. I owe it to them, to myself and to the sport that is my reason for being here.
Will you strive to get stronger or just try to maintain? W
ell as you gain more dense muscle you naturally gain in strength. As you are stronger you must lift heavier weights to put your muscles into failure (hypertrophy) for the fibre’s to tear and then to repair stronger ( and bigger) So I will always be lifting larger weights as I progress as a body builder – easy answer is I’ll get stronger.
What is your greatest dream to achieve?
To be a good human being and be known as a decent man who sticks by his friends, whose word, once given is set in iron. To be a gentleman who gives respect to all and who treats others as I wish to be treated myself. The weight of the world’s wisdom would say this is not possible, but when has the world ever mattered right? This is my code and I stick to it, and believe it or not people are not the self seeking devious individuals that some parts of the media would have you believe. I have met so many decent people that have gone out of their way for me that my faith in human nature has never been higher. I love this sport and love the people in it; I love the positivity and the way it makes me feel. I love the fact people put themselves through the ringer just to see what they can be. I am already living my dream getting to be around this sport and the people who participate in it each and every day. If I have a personal selfish dream that I hold within it is of course to walk on stage at the Olympia and be judged against the greats of our sport; to see where I measure up and then come back stronger, to strive and work and sweat to come back even better.
Do you ever struggle to stick to your diet and eat lots of junk food?
Not a problem, I accepted the part of the sport where you fight your own body and accepted the challenge. I get twinges now and then but I stay strong. The deep end of this sport is no place you can swim if you cannot stay disciplined in diet and training. Trust me, when you put the training in to get into competition shape you would have to be a fool to jeopardize it for a quick gratification of the appetite and you would never forgive yourself later.
All of us out there love a drink of alcohol from time to time, do you ever drink, if so how often?
Well I’m drunk right now so… hehe! Seriously though, even though I’m a Scotsman and we like our drink, I am more of an occasion drinker at the best of times now. I have had a drink once in the last year (being a guiness) and I do not miss it. Alcohol is not conducive to good training so I just sacrifice it for something that has given me far more than getting drunk ever did.
If you could pick only one supplement what would it be? (Not protein as you can get that from foods easily )
Well this is not strictly true, when you get to be a 100kg bodybuilder that’s a whole lot of food to get near the protein I would need. Supplementation is essential. I have a shake between each meal and before and after training sessions – which sometimes happen twice a day I might add. I need the proper amount of protein for my body so I get that by the most efficient way possible to maintain, whether it be for cutting or building. Only 1 supplement would be a hard call as I take so many of what are required in a competitive body builder’s diet. Though what I will say is that I take Bcaa’s with every meal (though that does include multiple others!) You need to build a house from the ground up on solid foundations, talking the right amount of building blocks for building a body is just as important – we all it is if you don’t want to get on stage and show off your dodgy half finished house next to the mansions that the others have brought to the show, because they did it right.
If you could only pick 3 different body parts to put on your body from 3 famous people what would they be and why?
To be honest I wouldn’t: if I was not happy with any part of my body I would isolate it and work on it until it was proportionate to the rest of my body- then make it bigger along with all the rest J Got to get bigger you know!
Who do you look up to these days and why?
I look up to my sponsors Muscle Fury for helping me live my dream – there are many others I look up to as well, whom I will not list here as it would be long and I would never wish to cause offense to any of the people who helped me when I needed it by accidently not listing them. They know who they are.
Your favourite quote?
“The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves but in our attitude towards them” and “perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away” Both quotes by Antoine de saint Exupery For athletic maxims I have a few things I say – “leave nothing to chance!” And” Leave it all in the gym” Which both mean don’t give yourself any excuses and what if’s; when you go on stage make sure you did all you could to be the best you could be and then accept the judgement in the understanding that there was physically nothing else you could have done in the time available to get in any better condition. And if you get beat live with it – and plan your re-build
Your three top tips to someone starting out bodybuilding.
Believe in yourself (if you don’t no one else will) don’t give in no matter what. And – leave it all in the Gym. Come to training with a warriors spirit and know your enemy, your enemy is also your greatest friend – they are staring at you in the mirror and you need to master them to become the bodybuilder that you might be. After that you can realise your potential.
What is your favourite motivational picture or video?
My past life experiences are my drive and motivation and this will never burn out. Though I can say I also love to watch Branch warren training. His raw aggression and balls to the wall way of training is me all over in the gym I can relate. This is the way I train in the gym myself. His granularity of musculature due to this amazing work ethic and intensity of training is a sight to see! To Branch this is a war and the weights are enemies to be held in contempt then conquered. This is exactly my mindset when I go to the gym, my focus is sharp and my whole attitude changes as I am in my place of work – and I am not there to take it easy! It’s the attitude I need and the only one I know; the ecstasy of the pump from this type of training drowns the pain and is like nothing I can describe.
For your edification here is the man in action