Whatever It Takes: Andrew's Views On What Bodybuilding Is!

There is no accident. No shortcut. No easy way out. There's only one thing you can't bottle or stick in your ass. It's a work ethic ... Bodybuilding is war. Once you start, you can't back out and say you're sorry.
Andrew is an up-and-coming NPC super heavyweight bodybuilder who trains at the East Coast's bodybuilding Mecca, Bev Francis' Gold's Gym in Long Island, New York. He's hungry, dedicated, and serious. He'll tell you what being an animal is all about, what life is really like in the trenches.

What Does Your Tattoo Mean?

I get a lot of questions about my tattoo, "Overcome." It started out as a tribute to a fallen friend. Later, down the road, it became a part of what people thought of when they thought of me. People associated the tattoo with my attitude: If I have to go around it, over it or just right f*cking through it, I'll get to where I'm going. The main thing they realized was that when I'm set to go off, they had better be some place else. When they saw me eat or train, they began to think of me as a man-machine. That's how I got this nickname, "Machine." It's because that's the only way they could describe what they saw. "Damn, this kid is a f*cking machine," they'd say. They are right.

I am living proof that one motivated individual can become what ever he sees himself to be. You can become huge if you find a way to transcend limits. Limits are what people all around you try to place on you throughout your life. Limits is what makes people mediocre. The key is not to allow them to weaken you by infecting you with their loser's attitude. Spend 99% of your time ripping yourself apart to get better, and the other 1% of your time punishing yourself because you should be further along. My advice: Becoming your own worst enemy is the only way to know greatness. This is how you overcome.

What Does It Take To Be A Bodybuilder?

If you don't have a mental attitude that's as sound as your training, then you might as well stay home and eat doughnuts. You want to know about sacrifice? How about training six days per week no matter what? How about telling that drop-dead gorgeous girl of yours you can't skip training to take her out to dinner? How about sticking to a diet plan? Other than fruit and oatmeal, I haven't eaten carbs in 3 years ... no pasta, no rice, no potatoes, nothing. You think you can run with me?

Maybe you should just tell yourself, "Hell, what's one time. I'll do shoulders tomorrow." And that's when it hits you. This is the turning point. You've just taken you first step on the road to nowhere, to that overpopulated town called Mediocrity. You know, the one filled with lard asses, posers, washed-up has-beens ... the guys who could have been something but ended up as fat slobs. That where you want to be?

Listen, don't make it easy for your competition. Don't give them excuses to beat you in the gym or on stage. Don't coast and take the straight road. Take the high road, the hard road. Do what the other guy won't do. Commit yourself to the real fight. That fight is in your head. That fight is where most guys run screaming. Nobody rides for free. The price is high, but once you decide you want to pay, the road will be clear as day.

February 4: Commitment
Too many people think that going to the gym and spending hours there means you're hardcore. Having seen and done some of most absolutely ball-busting hardcore routines, let me tell you, this is not the case. Occupying space for an extended period of time so you can convince yourself that your paying your dues doesn't mean you are paying the piper. You're just taking up space. The number one reason people lose a battle is that they're not 100% committed to the fight. When I step into the weight room, I know what I'm in for. I know it's time to call in the dogs and piss on the fire cause it's gonna be a long day.

One time I was training with someone and he asked if his brother could come along. Right away I knew I didn't like his attitude when he asked me how long the routine would take. I pulled him close to me and said, "Go home and have your mama change your huggies, boy. Do whatever you want, but don't ever ask to train with me again." I told him the routine will take as long as it takes for us to puke. It'll be over when we achieve the desired effect. In short, when he doesn't have the energy or breath to say something so f*cking stupid again. I advised him to go find some other interests cause this wasn't no goddamn rest home. When you step into this weight room with me, you'd better have your shit wired tight, and your priorities in order.

By the time I was finished with him I had him so f*ckin crazed, he tried to throw every single weight through the roof. He thanked me and to this day he still does. The point is that the plan that you design for your body takes however long you systematically determine it to, not one f*ckin second longer or shorter. I can't stress to you enough that you can't afford to waste time. Sometimes I see people come to the gym, linger, train a little, hang out, train some more ... In the meantime, I've already shown up, ate once, trained, and ate again all the while they've accomplished nothing, except maybe trying to win a f*cking bullshit contest. Just take my advice, in for a penny, in for a pound. Take care of the business, or the business will take care of you.

Everyone has a vision of what his life should be. It never works out. What you got to do is focus on one thing and make that one thing your life. Make no excuses. Rip yourself apart every single f*cking day trying to get it right. Do that and at least you'll be able to look at yourself in the mirror as a man. Maybe I won't win the Olympia, but I know there's honor in the struggle. When it comes to the struggle, you can't take any prisoners. You have to fight harder than that guy on the other side of the line. You got to train like you got a gun to your head.

Nothing in life worth having comes easy. When the bombs fly and the roof falls down around you, all you can do is hope that your foundation is strong enough to withstand the pressure. All you can pray for is that all your hard work will pay off. That you weren't lazy and didn't overlook something that might have helped you prepare for the battle. All things in life have a purpose and a reason for happening. Use every second, every fiber in your body, every last breath to make things happen. Everyone fears death. But I say this: Live proud and fight as hard as you can. If you do, you'll live beyond your time on this earth.

August 8: Protecting An Investment
If you're serious about bodybuilding, then you have to understand that time is an investment. Training, eating, and dieting requires a lot of time. If you're like me and you can't stand wasting time, then you'll do whatever it takes to protect your investment. Now, how do you get your investment to grow? You've got to drill this into your head: Every single thing counts when you're trying to achieve something special, something only a few people can ever hope to achieve.

For me, it starts and ends with nutrition. In my world, there are two kinds of people. The ones who can metabolize a shitload of calories and those who can't. Depending on the show prep, the latter need anywhere from 5,000 - 9,500 calories daily. Most of the time, my calories are high. They need to be. Calories help me recover from my workouts, most of which are 20-30 sets long. Nutrition is the only tool that can compensate for the abuse I put my body through.

To protect your investment, you need to watch what you eat and how much you eat. I weigh my food every single day. Missed meals aren't an option. As far as I'm concerned, you're better off missing a workout than missing a meal. Sound tough? Yeah, so it is. Before you think about getting into it, ask yourself this: "Am I committed? Will I do what it takes to protect my investment?" If you're not in 100%, get the f*ck out now. There ain't no room for half-stepping.

Bodybuilding is war. Once you start, you can't back out and say you're sorry. When you enter a war, you plan for invasion. Every piece of the puzzle has a place. You have to assume tactical command and take responsibility for your theater of operations. The competitive life you save may be your own.

Ever wonder why other athletes are passing you buy? Maybe it's because you're at a nightclub, shaking your ass to the early hours of the morning. These are the same guys who attack my style of training. These fat f*cks whine about how you can only do so many sets for this, and so many for that. As if they know. What divine power came to them and told them all of those secrets? I know when I'm done, if I'm not standing on top, it wasn't out of laziness.

There is no accident. No shortcut. No easy way out. There's only one thing you can't bottle or stick in your ass. It's a work ethic. Blood, guts and hard work are my main tools. Rage and anger is what fuels my intensity. Muhammad Ali once said there is no shame in going down. The only shame is if you don't get back up.

August 1: Bodybuilding Is My Job
Everywhere I go, people ask me about bodybuilding. They want to know, "Is bodybuilding a real job?" or "How much money can you make doing that?" When I hear this, a bell goes off inside my head. From somewhere deep inside, my anger begins to rise up. As I sit there and seethe, I wonder who the hell are they to ask me that? Who are they to judge what I do? Every time this rage comes over me, I tell myself to deal with it. After all, once you win, no one can take that away from you.

You can't touch my level of sacrifice. Why? Because I don't care what happens to me. I don't care if I die, as long as they bury me in a big f*cking box. Every comment, every question, every remark I turn into pure aggression. More fuel for the fire. Extra horsepower. So when it comes to training, I see every single workout, every lift as a stepping-stone in my career.

I remember when I first started lifting. I knew I wasn't the biggest guy or the strongest. What I did know is that I could outwork anyone in the joint with 100% anger. Then I started to grow. 245. 275. 305. 320. 335. I told myself, "Now is the time. You have nothing to lose." I wanted to win. Right now. I remember being in the middle of my workout, thinking I was screaming these things inside my head. Instead, everyone was staring at me.

My father once told me that life goes by in the blink of an eye. Don't wait to ask permission for what you want. Everything is about respect. Making a mark. Millions of reps, constant pain, constant dieting. Why? It all comes down to respect. Separating yourself from the pack. Like that time in the gym when I was buried under a mountain of plates, screaming "I want my f*cking respect!"

Lead, follow or get the hell to of the way. I don't have time for doubts or regrets. I don't want a friend or a priest. I just want to be good at my job. I don't have time to explain myself to anyone who doesn't understand where I'm coming from. I'm the one busy on set 40 of legs in a hot weight room that's about to close. I'm the one with a bunch of people standing around, wondering how I can make miracles happen everyday. For all the doubters who said it couldn't be done, I hope you can see my middle finger from the stage when I'm posing at 265 ripped to the bone, with a chip on both shoulders.

What matters in life is what you do. Not how much shit you can talk. Anytime you want to see me at work, look me up in the weight room and I will show you the meaning of pain and transcending limits. You want to beat me, don't miss a meal, because I won't. Don't quit on a set because I'll always be one set ahead of you. Don't walk out of my gym without leaving your guts spilled on the floor because you can bet your ass, I won't.

Random Thoughts On Being A Bodybuilder

Normal People
People on the street look at me like I just stepped off the mothership. They think I'm a freak. Just because I'm a 300-pound bodybuilder, they think I'm a vain, roid-raging maniac who just wants to stare at himself all day long. They just don't get it.

When I started out, life was tough. I worked construction during the day but made time to train heavy at night. No matter how tired I was, no matter how hard I trained, I always told myself it was never enough. I never believed in my own hype. When it comes to bodybuilding at this level, there are always more sacrifices to make. You always have to give more. You give up everything, your social life, a normal schedule. I mean, it takes me more than two hours every day just to prepare my meals.

True Bodybuilding
Close your eyes and imagine you're all alone on a deserted island. There's no hope of rescue, of ever seeing another person again in your life. In the middle of that island is a squat rack and a pile of plates. Down the beach, there's fruit, water, warm sand and an easy life. What do you do? If, in this dream, you choose a ball-busting quad workout, then you have an idea what hardcore is all about. On the other hand, if you tell yourself, "What's the point? No one will see my quads anyway," then walk away. You just missed the point. Looking good for appearances or for competitions is one thing, but great bodybuilding is more than that. It has to be more than that, or you just don't get it. When I see that squat rack, I move the weight because it's daring me to. The weight is saying, "You can't defeat me." Maybe you can lift it today, maybe you can't. But there is truth in the pain, honor in the struggle.

Every workout has a story behind it. I can tell you about doing 200-pound dumbbell presses for reps. Or squats of 315 for sets and throwing up afterwards. One time, I was doing decline presses out of a power cage. When I went to rack the weight, my index finger got cut and I practically cut if off. I remember not being able to stop the bleeding, so I cut up my shirt, wrapped my hand, and did 20 more sets. The guys in the gym told me to get my finger stitched up, but I also had to do calves that day. So I did calves.

There's going to be plenty of hard times when you train with this kind of intensity. When you get hurt, you lick your wounds after the battle. When I cut my finger, I remember working through the pain and thinking, "What if someone on stage has better calves than me?" And maybe it was because I missed this training session. Thoughts like this keep me going. I've been through worse, like the time I tore my quad muscle from the bone. Win, lose, or draw, I'll find a way to keep going. This is what intensity is all about.

Bodybuilding is an individual sport. I do everything myself, with little help from anyone. Not that I don't need it, but I have a hard time asking for it. Asking for help means I can't do it on my own.

Training To Failure
Training to failure means giving it everything you got, lifting until I can't possibly do any more reps on my own. No spots.

Some people like to rely on "gurus," or so-called experts. Others want a group of wannabes following their every step, patting them on the back with every big lift. If you train for a pat on the back, then join the Boy Scouts. But stay out of my weight room.

I don't like people standing over me when I train. A spot is a false sense of strength. Either you lift the weight, or you don't. To me, lifting is like a test. You can't stand behind someone taking a test and feed him all the answers. You've got to take the test yourself. It's about putting the effort and work behind everything you do, and not taking the easy way out.

Old School Bodybuilding
I learned old school methods from old-time bodybuilders. Old school means you have to be willing to get your hands dirty. It means enjoying the feeling of lying under bone-crushing poundages. Most people can't wait to put the weights down. Old time bodybuilders live for it.

Eating Big
I come from a family of large people. When I graduated high school, I weighed 202 pounds without lifting a day in my life. I got big because I also ate big. Two gallons of whole milk every day, along with at least three pounds of beef.