Weight: 170 contest 175-185 offseason
Chest size: 42
Waist size: 27-30 depending on season
Bicep size: 16.0
Calves size: 14.5
Thighs size: 23.5
SINCE most of us neglect stretching and warming up, what I do for the first set of each movement is use a lighter weight and achieve 30 reps. This will force vaso-expansion, further warm up your body for the movements to follow, increase your density and boost your heart rate for the rest of the exercise.
Squats – Heavy and Deep – 4 sets
Dumbbell Lunges – 3 sets of 10-15 reps
Hack Squats – Free Weight – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Leg Press – 2 sets of 15 – 20 reps
Heavy Leg Extension – 2 sets aiming for 10-15 reps with a triple drop set
Donkey calf raises 4 sets of 8-12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press – 4 sets of 4-10 reps (Rep range lower as weights get progressively heavier)
Flat Dumbbell Press – 4 sets of 6-10 reps (Or flat press machine of 4 sets for 8-12 reps. The final set make the heaviest out of the four and triple drop set down.)
Dumbbell pullovers – 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Pre exhaust set – Flat heavy dumbbell flies super-set with a light flat bench press
Cable Flies – Low Grip Cable Flies of 10-15 reps super-set with High Grip Cable Flies 10-15 reps without the use of handles as shown in some of my videos, like this one http://youtu.be/fXg8muAboFw
“Meet me in 100” – When I’m with a partner I say “go hit pull ups meet me back here at 100” and that’s our warm up for back
Wide Overhand Grip Bent Over Barbell Rows – 3 sets of 6-10 reps
Hammer Strength Smash- seated 1 arm rows with high grip to target upper inner back – First set 2 plates with as many reps until failure. Then 3 plates till failure. For the final set I do 4 plates till failure and work my way down to one to failure each pull.
Low cable rows or low machine rows – 3 sets of 10-14 reps
Back finishing Tri-set – Pick an Upper back machine, a lat machine, and lower upper back machine.
Now do one tri-set with a competitive weight aiming to fail around 10 reps.
Then lighten the load gather yourself and hit 25 reps each movement and call it a day!
I demonstrate this here:
Standing one leg hamstring curls – 4 sets for 10-15 reps
Romanian dead lifts – 4 sets for 8-12 reps
Leg Abduction – 4 sets for 10-20 reps
Leg Adduction- 4 sets for 10-20 reps
Standing Calf Raises – 3 sets for 6-10 reps
Donkey Calf Raises – 3 sets for 8 -12 reps
Heavy Shoulder Press with Dumbbell or Military – 4 sets for 6-10 reps
Wide Grip Upright Rows achieving 8-12 reps super-set with Midpoint Side Lateral Raises (hands at side and it’s a little under a half rep for a side lateral raise) for 8-12 reps
Front Deltoid Hammer Raises or Bus Drivers; take a 25, 35 or 45lb plate holding it like a steering wheel then performing a front raise with a slight twist for 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Rear Deltoid Dumbbell Raises or Rear Flies – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
FST-7 on the side machine – 7 sets with 30 second rest – 12 reps per set
Following 3 exercises are to be performed in a tri-set each consecutive movement then when you’re done with the third about 60 to 90 second rest.
Heavy barbell curls 4 sets of 6-10 reps
Light push downs (pump) 4 sets of 10-15 reps
Close grip preacher curls 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Biceps/Triceps Volumization Finisher Dropset
Overhead cable curls and superset with dips
6 sets 15 reps per set back and forth superset
My cardio routine
I without a doubt prefer HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or anything high-intensity
for cardio. I always make sure I am properly supplemented to combat muscle fatigue
and catabolism because I understand how intense I can be. I will either do intervals
from a minimum level interval to anywhere from 85% to 100% of the stairs or treadmills
maximum capability for about 10-20 minutes post workout. Personally I need faster
cardio machines not heavier dumbbells!!
I created a complete workout finisher that combines a high interval on any piece of
cardio equipment. From there you would run, step, glide, crawl or fly for .25 miles. From
there I pick a high rep range abdominal machine or movement and complete anywhere
from 25-50 reps.
I also sometimes combine a little bit of cross fit into bodybuilding to achieve both my
cardio, conditioning and my workout at once. I am working on my own cardio routine
which combines all of these concepts.
In addition, I use the sauna daily; I run through a small stretching and callisthenic
routine which usually last me 10-15 minutes.
I don’t really bulk; I’ll just lighten up on myself allowing more complex carbs. I’ll also
cheat every now and then enjoying myself however I keep my work rate high and always
hit some kind of cardio to stay active. I feel like at this point in my life its part of me and
isn’t un-enjoyable, so why leave it out?
My diet is adaptive during on season. I usually stay around 100-150 carbs over 5-6 meals
and reinforce my lifts with certain carbohydrate products. Depending on activity I pre
load and post load a fixed amount of carbohydrates to have macros present and ready
to use for the workout and then by the end of the workout, I replenish my stores. The
carbohydrate I use is Vitargo because it ensures lighting fast evacuation of the stomach
and is ready to use as muscle glycogen almost immediately.
When and why did you get started?
Well my first passion was that of biology and learning the human body. From there I
was originally going for nursing then to bioscience, which from there I could do various
jobs ranging from lab research and such all the way to pharmaceutical sales. While all
this schooling was going on I was an avid lifter but never took into consideration dieting
till about 20. As I trained and simultaneously learned, I became fascinated how my
knowledge in the classroom was connected to the active lifestyle I lived.
In late 08 at the age of 20 I embarked on my first Natural bodybuilding show. Through
out this journey I also ran a gym and began to learn even more from applying
knowledge from school, books magazines and active veteran competitors including
Steve Michalik. I placed 2nd at that show and from there, I transitioned immediately
into fitness modelling after being noticed by a great gym photographer now great friend
Alpha Design Photography.
This was the beginning of building myself as a fitness model, trainer, and taking on
the role of a managerial position at a privately owned sports nutrition store Shredded
Rx. This is where I fine tuned my knowledge in supplemental advise as well as making
particular programs that compliment diet and training programs for maximized results.
At the height of my freelance fitness career where I landed myself numerous rolls was
the beginning of a new chapter. I was recruited by a top fashion agency in NYC. This was
the start to a whole new journey that involved mindless trips into the city, unanswered
castings, and required me to lose size or tone down my training which is not something
I wanted to do. After a year with the agency I did not resign. What I thought could have
been the start of something great turned out to be a major setback. A few months
earlier, the NPC had introduced a new division in the Men’s corner – Physique.
As soon as I left I followed my heart back into fitness and started to diet into a stream of
6 shows in 7 weeks. This was no easy task because I was coming off a constant diet for
the past 8 months and I had to gain clean size to do so.
As time progressed finally October rolled around and it was time for my first
competition. I placed 3rd at my first show. After that long week of thinking and trying
to translate the rules and figure out how to compete in the category properly I became
extremely confident and addicted to the stage. It was almost like that week gap (the
only week I had off) couldn’t end soon enough. I vowed to myself that I’d do the next
consecutive 5 competitions ultimately ending with nationals. The first stop was New
Hampshire. It was a long trip with a friend Mario (who is now nationally ranked) We
actually put it off until 9PM Friday night to jet from NY to NH. I would up placing first
at the show while Mario placed 2nd. The next stop was to Boston to the New England
Championships. I drove out there again at 9PM after work on a Friday night where we
stayed in a hotel and woke up in the AM for a prejudging. This was the first national
qualifier I competed in. I would up winning my class and the overall. Luckily the day
before I got new tires on my truck because it was that freak 2 foot snow storm that I
conveniently drove through taking about 8 hours to reach our home! It only gets better from here.
Now the set is Patterson New Jersey for the East Coast another big national qualifier. So
everything goes as planned it was a nice easy ride into NJ however I forgot one thing.
My board shorts. I immediately called a few friends telling them the news. That all
changed when Angela answered the phone. Going for my 3rd straight win, she HAULED
to NJ getting the board shorts to me on time. I was very thankful and definitely taken
back by the kindness of this act. It allowed me to endure another great competition and
pave my way to the always great EASTERNS USA hosted by Bev Francis Powerhouse
By far the tough competition I have seen up until that point. The day was a great day
because I got to meet so many of the great competitors in my area, and also saw many
faces of bodybuilders, bikini, and figure competitors that I started this journey with all
with one goal! After the day progressed I am honored to say I was the overall champion
for MP. This Was my 4th straight win and the biggest thus far. Now I was ready for
nationals the following week in south beach.
The culmination of these events ultimately led me to the last part of the competition
story. As I sat day to day …. waiting … sleeping … eating … training … competing …
sacrificing – I had one goal, the 2011 NPC Nationals. This is the biggest event of the year
and definitely the most grueling, thus far, with over 170 men’s physique nationally
qualified competitors. Finally the day came, November 17. It wasn’t the competition
date but it was the flight date. After touching down in south beach my anxiety was at
it’s peak. A nervous feeling, not so much a scared nervous, but a nervous feeling
because this judgment day has arrived. I will have the opportunity to further my fitness
career to a peak where it has never been, and also put me in the optimal position to
help and LEAD a generation of HEALTH AND NUTRITION. They say even a boxer gets
nervous 2 seconds before the bell rings BECAUSE it’s simply normal. The trick is to
identify that adrenaline/nervousness feeling and channel it toward your performance.
This might be the difference from an amateur to a professional because conveying a
feeling of confidence and well being does not run synonymous with being nervous! The
day is November 18, the day of prejudging which decides the outcome almost fully to
the night show on the following day. To my dismay, after the 15 weeks of dieting and
the 6 show binge in 7 weeks, I caught a sinus infection. This made the experience that
much more difficult, however a champion never gives up. I cut my water Friday and
began to carb load to add the finishing touches to my physique. To my expectations my
diet/training plans have brought me into the National event just the way I wanted, an
aesthetic look which met the judges standard for the criteria of the category. As the
show started we lined up for class A and it was almost time to hit the stage. The feeling
at this moment is an anxious. Anxious because this is what I was made for, and its time
to possibly go professional if I can keep it together and display my package properly to
the judges. I still could have showed up the best looking body wise however if I fail to
perform on stage, my look means little to nothing. Now it is time, I progress to the top
step waiting on 2 people, I look into the crowd and smile. The next spot is what I call the
on deck circle. 8 seconds until I enter the box and do my model turns. Some people say
that there isn’t enough time, but when I’m on stage that 8 seconds feels like a life time. I
am in control of the crowd, I am confident, I belong. Face the curtain and make sure you
display your back the right way, turn around and give one last look to that crowd or sea
of flashes. Thanks is all I’m saying in my head, hoping everyone can hear my
subconscious thoughts. I hope through this showing I can inspire health and integrity of
life which follows through the lifestyle of fitness. Now I find my place on the side as
there calling out first call outs. 4 were called, room for one more person. As I listen in
smile gleaming I hear to my relief, 814. This is me! I made it! Now I’ in a lineup of the
top competitors in my class. Flexing my abdominals with ultimate muscle control and
smooth transitioning between my poses, I hear 814 switch with 807. 807 was in the
middle. This means I am on top of the top 5 line up. A few more poses and were called
off the stage and its over for the day. Time for a well deserved drink and sleep. I wake
up in the late am and begin to carb load, and mentally prepare for the night show. They
say usually the decision is made before the night show, but I never assume anything.
Some people have cheated, drank too much, or possibly even spilled over which is not a
component of a true strong minded champion. As we finally lined up to take the stage I
take a deep breath and walk out just to reintroduce myself and line up for awards. As
they called 5th 4th and 3rd place left me and a buddy and competitor. Before anything
happened I said “this is it Mike” and gave him a hand shake and a hug. Seconds of
suspense lead to second place being called and it wasn’t my name! This means I am the
champion of the class. It also gives me the ability to face off with the best of the 3
classes called the overall. This is my favorite part of the previous shows, however this
time I’m facing two new pros. As we took the stage all with genuine smiles on, I was to
the right. Time was passing and I was not moving. They switched them around a few
times. Lastly I hear 814 to the middle. From there the awards were presented. Now
something that I have dreamed but not expected was about to take place. “Will you
present the trophy for the overall to MATTHEW ACTON!”
Will you always strive to get stronger or at some point just try to maintain?
Well I am a big advocate in not gaining to much size but to be the most in your
respective package. Most should know that you can always increase strength, power
and performance by using proper mechanics and workout regiments without having to
blow up or gain unreasonable size because it is different than bodybuilding. I like to max
out my body’s performance and strive for athletic dominance and my body’s aesthetics
I also train under bodybuilding principles to have a base for my body. From here
genetics and the mental aspect of the game will do the rest.
Have you done any competitions or plan to?
Yes my competition history goes as follows
NPC CONTEST HISTORY
Brooklyn grand prix – 3rd
New Hampshire championships – 1st
New England championships 1st and overall
East Coast – 1st and overall
Eastern USA 1st and overall
NPC 2011 Nationals 1st and overall – first ever national champion in MP
**all these competitions were competed in over a 7 week period of time**
What would be your biggest dream to be able to achieve?
I would like to be the first Mr.Mens Physique Olympia but other than that I am currently pursuing what I love to do. By saying this I believe I can be a major contributor in the fitness industry and that’s what I have my sights on!
Do you ever struggle to stick to your diet and eat lots of junk food?
When on season focused and locked in. I do not struggle one bit for this lifestyle is my choosing. It is my job to perform and I take that job seriously. When not required to diet I still maintain a healthy diet except I do not restrain from a cheat every now and with my work rate and lifting style it does no harm but help!
A lot of us out there love a good drink of alcohol from time to time, do you ever drink, if so how often?
I definitely don’t rely on alcohol to have a good time but also have nothing against it. I’ll have a few drinks really at any special occasion. I only need a few which is a good thing (less cals). Off season I’ll probably drink about 3-4 times a month and won’t really touch anything up to about 4-6 weeks out of a show. With the amount I consume per serving isn’t really much of a calorie load and certainly not enough to make me feel like crap for the next 3 days. I stick to vodka preferably grey goose. I like them straight up on the rocks shaken with 3 lemons. And yes I actually ask that at the bar like James Bond.
If you could pick only one supplement what would it be? (Not protein as you can get that from foods easily)
One supplement that I truly believe in is Vitargo. This is the ultimate carbohydrate weapon differing from all other carbohydrates. So you can say it’s just a carb however is one of a kind and can be used in situations other carbs cannot.
Your favourite food?
My favorite food I would say is any kind of cheeseburger with any and everything on it!
Your favourite quote?
I believed in myself before anything. I never “BLEW UP” like they wanted me too, stood strong after everyone said I’m too short or not good enough or too small or there is no place for me (plenty of no’s from INDUSTRY people), I never conformed and always built myself as a person as well as myself pride. Even if I FAIL I have my pride to fall on as a cushion because I put my heart into everything, and only I know the road I travelled was not an easy one. So at the end of the day I know who I am and where I’m headed. Do you?
Sometimes you can have literally nothing left in the tank, However there’ll always be 1 thing that can keep you going; that’s passion or passion for the overall finished product that many times only you can see. SO WHY LISTEN TO OTHERS WHEN THEY DON’T HAVE YOUR VIEW. THEY’RE BLIND IN A SENSE. INSTEAD WORK your ass off AND CONSTRUCT THAT PATH.
Your top 3 tips to someone that might be just starting out bodybuilding?
Try to first cut off the years of bad habits. Start from somewhat of a lean frame. From there work on your foundation and form. Make sure you well round your training starting from the ground up. Remember legs are also the biggest calorie burner and lean mass activator for the body. From there we want to make it a lifestyle including a training regiment(and believe me there’s many to chose from which are all a different and beneficial experience) and diet.