My journey to the IFPA Pro International involved 38 weeks of prep. Nearly ¾ of a year dedicated to dieting, weight training, cardio, and all the sacrifice that goes with it. Some might consider all of that work to be a waste of time or too much effort for a measly hour of time on a Pro Stage. As for me though, I am grateful for every moment, experience, and everything I have learned along the way. All of it has, and will, make me a better 3DMJ coach, bodybuilder and most importantly, a better father.
Our trip to the Pro international in Overland Park Kansas started with a 4 hour drive to my good friend Jeff Alberts' home in Salida California. My wife Jamie and I were so excited to get there that we drove straight through. Not one stop, potty break, or fuel up, nothing. We were non stop from Reno Nevada, right to Jeffs’ front door. When we arrived we were hungry and tired. Jeff and I had quite a bit of work to do with 3DMJ and by the time we were done, I needed to get my butt on his treadmill and knock out 15 minutes of jogging as outlined by my peaking plan (Alberto designed both Jeffs and my peak week). As always, getting on and starting was the hardest part, but it made me feel good as I was doing it and when it was complete.
I ran to the beat of Linkin Park on Jeff's itouch and was reflecting over the year. My journey had started as a quest to make the 165lb weight class at the American Powerlifting Association’s World Championships. I was not even considering doing a bodybuilding competition at the time. I was a WNBF Pro and with no INBF or WNBF competitions on the west coast I was planning on taking the year off from competing. However at 165lbs, I was a mere 7, maybe 8 pounds at most from stage weight and being that close, it’s hard not to consider stepping on stage. Especially when you are as strong at 165lbs as you were at 181lbs.
It was a bit of Irony that the song “What I’ve Done” popped up on Jeff's itouch as I was jogging because that was exactly what I was thinking about. Even though I had hemmed and hawed, gone back and forth, considered and re-considered as to whether I would get on stage, I never once waivered from my protocol. Never once did I miss my macros by more than a few grams, never did I miss a scheduled cardio session, and my weight training had gone flawlessly as I navigated different Powerlifting regimens like Sheiko and West Side. I had done all I could do to be ready, and I was still doing it, on that treadmill, two nights before the competition.
The next day Jeff and I did a quick circuit-workout for lower body in the 3DMJ weight room, practiced some posing, did another 15 minute jog, painted me up, and we were on our way by noon to pick up Alberto and Melissa on the way to the airport. The plane ride was a long one, but it went by fast. My good friend Ken Stevenson was with us and sat right across the aisle from me. Jamie sat right next time me, and Alberto and Melissa sat right in front of us.
As Alberto and I were talking about a particular client, I was amazed at how much I had learned over the last few months. Working with 3DMJ has really polished my prep skills and with me prepping at the same time, that knowledge has become even more tangible. I see how I respond to certain adjustments and can then pass that on to my clients and somewhat know what to expect. Learning which adjustments don’t work or that I may respond to poorly is all knowledge that I can use when coaching. My own prep has made me a better coach to others.
We arrived very late Thursday night and sleep was cut short by an early morning polygraph. Alberto and I had to report in at 7:30am for our polygraph and as I was walking down the hall, Mike Neuman of Natural Bodybuilding radio was there. We spoke for just a few minutes when Ben Tennessen walked out after his polygraph. Mike asked me if I would record an interview of himself and Ben. I was happy to, that's me running the camera.
That day was a long one. We needed to do an upper body circuit, hit up a local grocery store for food, and finish prepping with shaving, painting and hair cuts. We hit up a local 24 hour fitness and got our upper body circuit done, then we took a look at our physiques after having front loaded a total of 1,400g of carbs the previous 3 days. Alberto was very happy with how I looked, but myself I could not help but wonder if I was as lean as I had been in the past. The whole prep I was concerned about up holding the reputation I had earned in 2008 when earning my pro card being called by Alberto "the leanest man alive". My pro debut in 2009, although a good showing at 5th place, was a big disappointment for me as I had not given myself enough time to diet and as a result, I was no where near as lean.
So now of course, the fear that I was not as lean reared it’s ugly head again as I posed in the mirror while Ken, Alberto, and Jeff evaluated my physique. All of them assured me that I was just as lean, and looked much bigger than the 2008 version of myself. The rest of the day was spent getting more 3DMJ work done as the girls and Ken went shopping. I was exhausted and both Alberto and I napped for quite some time before the girls returned to help with shaving, haircuts and painting. We turned in early as Alberto and I were going to have to rise at 4am for our first meal.
The next day came a lot sooner than any of us expected. When I say any of us, I mean everyone in the entire hotel. A mechanical malfunction had set the fire alarm system off at about 1am that night. For over an hour the fire alarm system would go off for a few seconds, then a endless loud hum would take its’ place. We got so desperate that Alberto began the intricate work of taking our fire alarm apart to disable it. However the one Alberto was successful at disarming was not the one going off. There was an all together separate alarm right next to it that was the culprit and it was impenetrable.
My resolution was to put “Ambient Radio” on Pandora with my ear buds in my ears to hopefully drown out the annoying hum. It worked as I woke to a Pandora commercial at 3am with the alarm now silenced.
It was not long after at 4am that Alberto and I were munching down potatoes and beef pastrami. It was actually pretty darn tasty. The whirlwind then started as Jamie put one final coat of paint on me. Soon we were packed up, and out the door on our way to the venue at 7:00am. It was early and we were all tired. You know that kind of tired when funny things are funnier? One thing I am always famous for is prominent cheek bones when I am lean, and Jeff had been polishing up his Skeletor Voice.
His high pitched, whiney impersonation of the He-Man bad guy was almost dead on. Jeff busts out in a perfect imitation, “Skelator is F-ing with me by pulling the fire alarm in the middle of the night!” We were all dieing. Ken almost had to pull over as his eyes were tearing up from the laughter. We couldn’t though as NANBF President Fred Rowlett insisted that we be there right at 7:29am. Yes 7:29!!! And not one pro was late.
The rest of the morning went very fast for me. We got back stage and Jamie touched up my color and got me sheened while I was eating half of a personal pepperoni pizza. Then Berto started giving me food to eat and I just started chomping it down. Before I knew it, 12 light weights were getting pumped up and ready for the stage. Now keep in mind that Kansas is two hours ahead of us so we were essentially getting on stage at 7:00am our time which is not at all what I am used to. However, Berto peaked me very well and I felt like I was very full. Simply another lesson learned to make me a better 3DMJ coach as front loading is a strategy that I had never employed before with myself. As we were pumping up, I was looking around at the physiques. The structure of all the athletes was just perfect for bodybuilding. All except for me with my 31” waist and nothing but skin and bone on my hips. I knew that I was in the bottom half of the line up. When God gives you an extra dose of competitiveness, it’s very hard to deal with. In the amateurs, all I had to do was show up with striated glutes and I was always in the top 10 – 20% of my class. I was usually always in it for the overall too. In the Pro’s though, it’s a whole new ball game. First of all, every one shows up with striated glutes. Secondly, I am still a baby in this sport compared to most pros. I have only been in the gym training seriously for 10 years this month. I got on stage a mere 18 months after getting started, so honestly I still feel like I have a ton of untapped potential still in me. That being said, on this day, I knew if I got in the top 10 it would be a HUGE compliment. I was not nervous at all. I got out on stage and gave it 100%. I felt like I was at my all time best being bigger and fuller, yet just as lean as 2008 and much leaner than 2009. So I was already pleased and any placing above last would simply be icing on the cake.
I will admit though, after pre-judging, I was a dis-appointed. Like I said, when you are blessed with a double dose of competitiveness, you can talk yourself into being satisfied with the bottom of the class, but deep down, it still hurts. It's a hard pill to swallow knowing that all that sacrifice, stress, and work without a single mess up or weak moment was for a last, or second to last place placing at best. Making it a little tougher yet, was knowing that my 3DMJ team mates were deservedly right in it, contending in the top 5 and taking home some prize money. Thinking of the 3DMJ family admiring Jeff and Alberto as they placed right at the top of this very competitive line up, I could not help but feel like I was the Team 3DMJ let down.
After Pre-judging Jamie and I sat on the stairs outside the venue. As I was somewhat sulking, Ben Tennessen came and sat with us. He had just got done with Pre-judging himself and we talked for quite some time. What a nice man and I could not help but feel honored to be talking with him as he peeled the skin off of a baked potato he was munching on. We just talked like normal guys do, man to man so to speak. We talked about our kids and being fathers, we talked about fitting bodybuilding into our lives as fathers, and we talked about our preps. He felt the same as I, in that our preps this year were so much easier than in years past. We had both been in the same boat in prior years with ultra low carb diets, double days of cardio, frequent HIIT sessions and feeling like garbage. It is very easy to get burnt out when prepping that way and Ben’s absence from the stage was a result of that. This time around though, we both worked smarter instead of harder. Even though we had never met, we both employed similar strategies in our preps using longer diets on higher carbohydrate intakes. We both used HIIT sessions sparingly and more LISS sessions to preserve muscle. Talking with him made me feel so much better and I am grateful for having spent that time with him.
I don’t remember too much of the day before the evening show, but I do remember I was hungry. I ate my meals a little sooner than planned, but I stuck to it. I have never understood bodybuilders that go out after pre-judging and eat their faces off. Knowing full well that I was in the bottom half of the line up, the only additional food I had eaten that was not on Alberto’s spread sheet was an extra rice cake. That’s just me. When I commit to something, I stick to it 100% until the very end. We returned for the evening finals and again, it all went very fast. One of the expeditors gave us some bad information and we ended up missing almost all of the light weight pose down after our routines were done. Jeff, Alberto and I ended up running back to, and on the stage. All for one pose and then off, an embarrassing moment to say the least. As we all know, Alberto placed 4th and Jeff 2nd. Not in the top 5, I wouldn't find out I placed 11th until Monday.
So what now for me? What does Brad do? Like most of us do after months of dieting for a show, I ate. MAN did I eat. Cinnabon, Cold Stone Creamery, Starbucks, In and Out Burger, Safeway Bakery and more. I tracked my macros that memorable Sunday. Would you believe 418g fat, 1,285g carbs, and 179g of protein for a grand total of 9,629 calories?
I know that is very conservative too. The waffle cone I had at Cold Stone was
dipped in milk chocolate and covered with nuts and I could not track that on
myfitnesspal. However, now I am right
back on track and have been since Monday the 19th. I have been granted the opportunity to compete
at the Natural Olympia on November 12th right here in my “home town”
of Reno Nevada. I have some saving to do in order to pay the
fees, but none the less I am dieting and training just as if I will be on that
stage in 7 short weeks.
Until then, I have a brick and mortar business to run with clients to train, online clients to advise and prepare for the stage, a child to raise, a Pop Warner Football Team to coach, and a wife to support. All of which I will do a better job of thanks to the experiences of this prep and this great trip to the IFPA Pro International Natural Bodybuilding Championships.
Until next time...Train Smart, Train hard, Train Naturally!!!
In : Team 3DMJ
Tags: brad loomis ifpa pro international natural bodybuilding jeff alberts alberto nunez
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