Amateur Bodybuilder of the Week: Alex Morrison

Amateur Bodybuilder of the Week: Alex Morrison! - Pics and info and more!
  • Name: Alex Morrison
  • E-mail: alexmorrison@gmail.com
  • Age: 22
  • Where: Hickory, North Carolina
  • Height: 5'11"
  • Weight: 205 Off-Season, 175 Contest
  • Years Bodybuilding :7
  • Favorite Bodypart: Chest
  • Favorite Exercise: Bench Press
  • Favorite Supplements: O.N. 100% Whey Gold Standard

How Did You Get Started?

At 15 years old I was skinny as a rail, weighing in the 140's and was the biggest computer nerd you ever met in your life. My thing at the time was creating and running websites and programming, and I even had the glasses and braces to match. That was about the time my mother noticed that I had been losing weight, probably from being on the computer so much and skipping meals, and I was fed up with being skinny so I started lifting with the football team after school.

That was my first experience with weight training, and then I joined my local YMCA soon after that. I met with the personal trainer that was on staff at the time he set me up with a basic workout routine on the machines and I followed that like clockwork until I had built up enough of a foundation to switch over to free-weights. That was in November of 2002 and the Y has been my home away from home ever since.

I started getting noticed in the gym by an older bodybuilder that had multiple Mr. North Carolina and Mr. South Carolina titles, and recently a very successful competitor at the Masters Nationals, who told me I had great proportions and symmetry. He told me that I should try competing, so I did my first show in 2004 at 17 years old in the Novice division.

I placed dead last, but that motivated me so I continued to compete after that in the Teen division at the state level until I won that at 19, and then competed in the Men's Junior division until I recently won that, the middle weights first and then the overall title at the 2009 NPC North Carolina State Bodybuilding Championships, which was my 8th competition.

Alex Morrison.
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Alex Morrison.

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

I've changed my workout routine many times since I started training. I've been through nearly every split you can imagine and what I've found is that everyone is different, and not everyone's body will respond the same way to a particular method of training as everyone else's so you have to find out what works for you, because what might be the perfect routine for you, might be overtraining or even undertraining for someone else.

So after experimenting with many different weekly splits, I've found that what works best for me is training each muscle group usually just once a week. Occasionally I'll switch it up and work everything twice in a week, but if I do that it'll only be temporary and just for a change to shock my body or move past a plateau, because I feel if I train everything twice a week for too long, I don't get enough rest and eventually lead to overtraining.

So I try to keep my body guessing so it doesn't get used to the same workout routine, because if that happens then I'll stop seeing results. So my usual off-season training split looks something like this:


Training Split:

    During the off-season I try and stick to more compound movements, or multi-joint exercises for mass building like heavy deadlifts, squats and bench presses, always high volume workouts using the pyramid style of sets and reps, starting out with lighter weight for reps around 15-20, then adding weight and decreasing reps after each set until I get to the heaviest weight I'll use for a solid 6-8 or sometimes 3-6 reps. After that I'll start decreasing the weight for usually 2 sets to get in more reps after the heavy weight. So an example week looks something like this:


Monday: Back


Tuesday: Legs


Wednesday: Chest


Friday: Shoulders


Saturday: Arms

    I usually don't change my training split until the last week before a competition, and at that point I do a circuit that consists of only upper body, since my last leg day is about 10 days out from the competition. I'll superset one exercise for chest, then one for back, then shoulders, biceps, triceps, and then rest. I'll go through this circuit about 3-5 times, and switch up the exercises every circuit.

The point of the circuit is because when you start to carb-up before a show, the muscles most depleted will get the most carbs, and so during that last week if the last thing you train is chest for example, your chest will be the most depleted and so it'll need the majority of the carbs to fill out, while other areas remain flat, so the idea during that last week is to evenly deplete every muscle, except legs of course, so when it's time to carb up, you fill out evenly.


Pre-Contest Circuit:

As far as off-season cardio goes, I honestly don't do much at all, aside from playing basketball or swimming in the summer because I stay so lean in the off-season anyway and with my high-intensity and high-volume workouts, I'm burning plenty of calories as it is and since I still eat at least every 3 hours, my metabolism always stays pretty high, so the lack of cardio certainly doesn't lead to any kind of significant gain in body fat.

For pre-contest cardio, I usually start the same time I start my diet about 12 weeks out, increasing the amount of cardio I do each week until the competition. I also try to do something different for each session of cardio to get as much variety as possible, so I'll often choose between the cross-trainer, elliptical, treadmill, upright bike, recumbent bike, running outside, playing basketball, etc. so my body doesn't get used to the same kind of cardio all the time which would lead to a plateau. So my pre-contest cardio plan looks something like this:

  • Week 1: 20 Minutes, 3 Times A Week
  • Week 2: 30 Minutes, 3 Times A Week
  • Week 3: 30 Minutes, 4 Times A Week
  • Week 4: 30 Minutes, 5 Times A Week
  • Week 5: 35 minutes, 5 Times A Week
  • Week 6: 40 Minutes, 5 Times A Week
  • Week 7: 45 minutes, 5 Times A Week
  • Week 8: 50 Minutes, 5 Times A Week
  • Week 9: 60 Minutes, 5 Times A Week
  • Week 10: 90 Minutes, 5 Times A Week
  • Week 11: 90 Minutes, 6 Times A Week
  • Week 12: 90 Minutes, Every Day

Alex Morrison.
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Alex Morrison.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

My off-season diet usually consists of about 5-6 meals a day. In each meal I make sure I get a source of protein, usually a lean meat such as chicken, turkey or fish with a source of complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes or brown rice, with a mixture of starchy and fibrous vegetables like carrots, peas, corn, and broccoli or green beans.

My protein shakes are always 3 scoops of Optimum Nutrition's 100% Whey Gold Standard, which I'll drink post-workout, before bed, and/or in between my food meals. In the off-season I also have plenty of cheat meals every week, usually either pizza, or some kind of pasta.

My pre-contest diet starts 12 weeks out from a competition and is very strict. My daily calories and macronutrient ratios change every week to two weeks, and are based on my bodyweight, the speed of my metabolism and the progress I make each week, which is determined by a 4-site skin fold calibration using the triceps, abdominal, kidney and subscap areas.

Measurements are also taken of my chest, shoulders, arms, waist, hips, quad, and neck. My daily calories and macros for each week from my most recent competition looked something like this:

  • Week 1-2: 3200 Calories, 450g Protein, 190g Carbs, 71g Fat
  • Week 3-4: 3360 Calories, 470g Protein, 200g Carbs, 75g Fat
  • Week 5-6: 3045 Calories, 470g Protein, 80g Carbs, 90g Fat
  • Carb-Up: 3570 Calories, 210g Protein, 600g Carbs, 40g Fat
  • Week 7-8: 3045 Calories, 470g Protein, 60g Carbs, 100g Fat
  • Week 9-10: 2887 Calories, 470g Protein, 30g Carbs, 95g Fat
  • Week 11-12: 2835 Calories, 470g Protein, 0g Carbs, 105g Fat
  • Carb-Up: 3570 Calories, 210g Protein, 600g Carbs, 40g Fat

At 12 weeks out from the competition I weighed in at 193 lbs. at 8% body fat, and ended up getting down to 175 lbs. on stage at 3.25% body fat. Within two months after the show I was back up to 200 lbs. at a little under 6% body fat, so during the past 5 months, 3 before the competition and 2 after, I was able to put on a solid 7 pounds of lean mass.

Alex Morrison.
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Alex Morrison.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

I can't say there's one product that has contributed to the majority of my gains, because there is no one single product that can make significant changes to the body without a strict and consistent diet and regular intense training, especially when preparing for a competition. To get the best results, you have to train hard, do your cardio, eat as clean as you can and as often as you can, making sure your protein is high enough and that you're getting the right amounts of carbs and fats as well.

I've tried creatine supplements, nitric oxide products and all kinds of other things, but I've found that people tend to put more emphasis on supplements and pay less attention to their diet, which is the most important part of bodybuilding.

Supplements are important, don't get me wrong, like protein powders and BCAAs but they are only supplements to aid the bigger picture, which is your diet. Protein shakes are not meal replacements, and MuscleTech's latest invention won't make you big all by itself. There are no magic pills in this sport so I say keep it simple, eat right and train hard.

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding is my absolute favorite sport and hobby, the greatest motivation in my life and number one passion. I love it because to me, it's the greatest sport in the world because it challenges you not only physically in the gym but mentally most of all, because it teaches you discipline, determination, patience, and through your training and diet it motivates you to be the best you can possibly be, in every area of your life and not just in the gym or on stage.

I love it because no other major sport in the world like football, baseball, or basketball require their athletes to have such physically demanding workouts in the gym, or such a strict diet to follow before a game, meet, or competition. In bodybuilding those things are absolutely necessary and only those that are truly dedicated to their training and diet will be successful.

Bodybuilding has given me confidence that I didn't have back in my computer nerd days, and it has taught me that if I want something, I have to work hard for it because there are no shortcuts in life. This sport has made me a better person and given me respect for the smaller things in life that most people take for granted.

I will continue bodybuilding for the rest of my life, for it will always be a part of me because I wouldn't be who I am today without it. As the great Arnold once said perfectly, "Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body."

Alex Morrison.
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Alex Morrison.

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

Having grown up the past 7 years with a great interest in health and fitness, I've been able to see first hand from family, friends, personal training clients and the general public that many of the major health problems that people have today are side effects of a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle. That fact alone is enough of a motivator for me to want to stay active and do my best to continue the bodybuilding lifestyle for as long as I can.

We only live once, so why not live life to the fullest, and make the best of our time on this Earth by staying active, healthy and strong? So the fear of losing my good health is probably what motivates me the most to continue following a healthy lifestyle, because I know that if I let my body go, my health will go with it.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

Right now I'm taking a couple years off to put on the size I'll need to be competitive in the Men's Open division, which is my next step up in competition since I just recently won the overall for the Men's Jr. So my goal is to compete until I win my weight class in the open and quality for nationals, and at that point if I think I'm ready for nationals then I'll go ahead and do that but if not, I'll probably take some more time off to add more size and muscle maturity before I decide to compete again.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

Never give up, no matter how many obstacles you come across. Whether you hit plateaus in your training or if life just isn't going your way, never quit. This sport has brought me through some tough times in my life and I've learned that no matter what goes wrong, there's no better way to deal with it than to work it out in the gym and then deal with things later with a clear and peaceful mind.

Alex Morrison.
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Alex Morrison.

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

I will always look up to and respect the bodybuilding legends that helped bring this sport into mainstream culture like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but my personal favorite is Ronnie Coleman, and I would like to thank him for all the support and encouragement that he gave me in answering my e-mails during his reign as Mr. Olympia. He is an awesome guy, very humble and down to earth, a great role model and really cares about his fans.

I'm also a big fan of Dexter Jackson for hanging in there and finally getting what he's deserved for a long time, a Mr. O title. I also enjoy following Kai Greene, Victor Martinez, Branch Warren, Phil Heath, and Dennis Wolf. These guys are the best of the best and I can't wait to see how they place in the Olympia this year.

What Features Do You Use On Bodybuilding.com?

I use nearly every feature of Bodybuilding.com. I use the main site for all the very informative articles, BodySpace to record and track my training progress and bodybuilding goals, the forums to chat with and learn from some of the best in the business, and the store for some of the best products and prices available online.

Alex Morrison.
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Alex Morrison.