Tony Catanzaro Discusses Valuable Advice For Physical Success All Year!

While getting into great physical shape can be achieved with sufficient determination to succeed and a sound knowledge base, staying that way is one of life's toughest feats. Learn how Tony Catanzaro maintains phenomenal conditioning all year round.

Article Summary:
  • The most important reason for staying in shape is your health.
  • Eat a balanced diet comprising of 40% protein 40% carbs and 20% fat.
  • Stay in shape all year round and be a true bodybuilder.
  • While getting into great physical shape can be achieved with sufficient determination to succeed and a sound knowledge base, staying that way is surely one of life's toughest feats.

    And although with great persistence and discipline, maintaining a reasonable level of conditioning (around 10 percent body fat for males and around 15 for females) can be done by most of us, attaining optimal shape with no visible body fat, but instead, razor sharp definition accentuated by paper thin skin is usually strictly reserved for bodybuilding competition, or professional photo shoots.

    The reason why? It is extremely hard to stay in shape all year round. Or at least this is what most of us think as we contemplate yet another rubbery piece of chicken while choking down that last mouthful of boiled, flavorless rice.

    At its most extreme, attaining contest conditioning is a tough balancing act of nutrient manipulation and training frequency and intensity. However, as we will learn in this article, we need not achieve three percent body fat to look great.

    In fact, looking good 24/7, you will find, is a choice that involves lifestyle changes that come from within, not the extreme self-sacrifice that often results in nutritional and training inconsistency and, as a result, ultimate failure to obtain peak physical development and conditioning.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Looking Good 24/7 Is A Choice That Involves
    Lifestyle Changes That Come From Within.

    So what makes this process of staying in peak shape so unbearably difficult for many of us? The body's resistance to change combined with nutrient deprivation and lack of dietary balance could be one explanation. Lack of personal motivation and insufficient enthusiasm for change could be another.

    The one sure thing is that we would all like to stay in great shape, and this indeed would rank as the primary goal for Bodybuilding.com readers as they approach 2009. Is it, however, achievable, or should we be satisfied with the physical mediocrity that results in abdominal flab hanging over our belt and greater visible body fat content than a bucket of KFC? No way.

    Achieving fat loss while continuing to build thick slabs of muscle is best accomplished by adopting a sensible approach to training and nutrition that best suits your lifestyle and allows you to do what is necessary to both enjoy life while remaining consistent in attaining, and diligent towards your bodybuilding goals.

    Idealistic and impossible you say? Then read on to learn how natural bodybuilding champion Tony Catanzaro maintains phenomenal conditioning all year round. Absorb his advice and you too can do the same. In this article you will learn how, and why it is best to stay in shape all year round.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Learn How And Why It's Best To
    Stay In Shape All Year Round.

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    Interview With Tony Catanzaro
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    [ Q ] Some people stagger their calories in an attempt to get into top shape. How does your diet change throughout the year Tony?
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      [ A ] Well to be honest with you my diet is the same all year round. You have to understand that a true bodybuilder is always looking to better his or her physique, not destroy it with layers of fat, which bodybuilders refer to as an "off-season" look.

      To me, that's just an excuse to eat. I don't believe in an off-season. I want to be ripped and in shape all year. Or, as I would say, "ripped in the winter and shredded in the summer". It's not about gaining weight in the winter and then toning down to reveal the muscle you gained: that's bologna.

      Trust me. The bottom line is, if you want more muscle you have to do three things: eat, sleep and train! But if I were to sleep 12 hours a night, eat non-stop and train four hours a day every day, I would be tired, fat and overtrained.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    If You Want More Muscle You Have
    To Do 3 Things: Eat, Sleep & Train.

      You see, everything is balance and you can't give into the mentality of getting as heavy as possible in the winter, or off-season, and think you are gaining lean muscle mass.

      This only to diet down to look good for a contest and then go eat like a pig again for next year only to look good for a couple of months out of the year? A true bodybuilder always looks good, 24/7, and stays natural on top of it. I'm proud to be one of these very few people.

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    [ Q ] As we bodybuilders know, the body has a way of adapting to certain training methods. As a result, progress is often stalled and we must continually search out ways to offset this adaptation process. How do you counter adaptation to ensure your fat loss remains consistent?
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      [ A ] That's easy, and yes it's true the body easily gets used to anything you throw at it, but it can't get used to constant change and I don't mean some drop sets or even extra weight. To achieve results you need to push your body way past its limits.

      Now I know a lot of you are thinking "well isn't that dangerous and what if I get hurt or can't do it?" Well then, my friend, if you think this way you never will. You see the key to my success is I'm constantly testing myself. I'm constantly battling adversity. But it's not the battle that will hurt you. It's the retreat.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    To Achieve Results You Need To
    Push Your Body Way Past Its Limits.

      It's easy to quit or set limits, but I know first hand that there are no limits: only those you set for yourself. I'm never afraid to lift heavier than I ever did - I'm not afraid to do 100 reps as well: the bottom line is, change brings change.

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    [ Q ] Can you give me some examples of how you would change things around to keep the muscle building/fat loss gains coming all year round?
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      [ A ] The object of the game is to keep your body guessing. So if you do the same day in/day out, you're going to look the same. Now that's okay when you are happy with where you are, but if you need to get bigger muscles or lose fat, you have to constantly challenge the body.

      I do things like drop sets, super sets anything and everything to either build new muscle fibers or burn fat. I also train my abs every other day, and that doesn't mean just a few sets of crunches. I completely blast my abs with a 20 minute workout which consists of floor work one day, and resistance weight training the next.

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      Also, as I said before, your diet is crucial. You can train all day and all night, but you won't see any results if your diet isn't correctly balanced.

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    [ Q ] Many bodybuilders have an "off-season". In your experience, what are the benefits to staying in shape all year round?
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      [ A ] There are so many benefits to staying in shape all year round. One of the most important reasons for me is that I'm a model. So I never know when I'm going to get a call or go on a casting.

      It's usually one days notice, so what if I was to balloon up? I would never work: only when I was contest ready, which in my opinion is a complete waste. Another reason is you don't have to diet for 16 weeks prior to a show. I usually give myself eight weeks, max. And the most important reason for staying in shape is your health!

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      Do you think it's healthy to gain 30, 40 even 50 pounds in an off-season? To be honest with you, I think I gain five pounds, if that. So yes, there are many benefits in staying in shape all year round.

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    [ Q ] What are some of the problems associated with ballooning up in the off-season?
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    [ Q ] From what you can tell, what is the main reason why bodybuilders often choose to gain excessive amounts of weight in the "off season"?
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      [ A ] I believe bodybuilders choose to have what they call an off-season in which they will consume a much larger amount of calories. They also consume food they wouldn't normally eat during a pre-contest diet.

      Yes I do believe that eating more calories will help you get bigger muscles. But you also have to understand, that eating more calories than the body can burn off will only result in added body fat!

      Think of it this way: if it were the opposite and you ate more than your body needed and that turned into muscle, then we would all be muscular and huge because most people eat more than they burn off. This is clearly not the case at all. I believe bodybuilders and those who go on this off-season diet regimen really aren't true bodybuilders.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    I Believe Bodybuilders And Those Who Go On
    This Off-Season Diet Regimen Really Aren't True Bodybuilders.

      Like I said before, you never saw Arnold or any of those guys all bloated and out of proportion when they weren't competing. The truth of the matter is when they weren't competing, some actually lost a little size because they weren't training and eating as if they would if they were in competition.

      I laugh when I hear the phrase "off-season". I would like to have a shirt made that says, "Don't give me that off-season cr@p".

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    [ Q ] Some say they are simply happy to "let themselves go" a little bit in the off-season. Psychologically this is thought to help one relax and prompt new gains in muscle. What are your thoughts on this mindset?
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      [ A ] There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Like I always said, you need to be happy with yourself no matter what. Staying in shape all year round is not a necessity: it's a choice.

      I choose it because this is the only way I see myself. I tried to get a little out of shape but I just can't do it. It's like Elvis Presley, he tried not to shake and gyrate but he just couldn't do it. It was natural to him the same way being ripped is natural for me.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    You Need To Be Happy With
    Yourself No Matter What.

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    [ Q ] What are your thoughts on "pigging out" after a bodybuilding contest and eating like there is no tomorrow? Just how damaging can this practice be?
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      [ A ] Well I've been there a couple of times but this is more mental than anything. I'll explain why: as a bodybuilder diets for a show, he or she restricts himself or herself drastically, especially from carbohydrates.

      And, as we all know, carbohydrates are brain food and when we crave them, nothing else will do. So what happens is, after a show, the bodybuilder's brain says "okay I can eat." So in a drastic attempt to get the brain back to where it needs to be, it craves sugar and it wants it immediately!

      So yes, I believe the brain tells the body eat as much as you can especially carbohydrates and fat. You never hear a bodybuilder having grilled chicken or beef on a salad after a show. This is because carbohydrates are life, and a must for your body and mind.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Carbohydrates Are Brain Food And When
    We Crave Them, Nothing Else Will Do.

      The key is to balance out your nutrient intake for fat loss and not go overboard with carbs, but you must keep the carbohydrates in there, otherwise you will be more likely to cheat on your diet more often than you should.

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    [ Q ] Is it very difficult to stay in shape year round? How hard do you have to work to accomplish this?
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      [ A ] For me it's easy. It took me many years to achieve the body I have today and I'll be dammed if I'm going to let it go for some off-season hype. I always say, "once you're at the top, it's easy to stay there". All you have to do is stay consistent.

      It's not the straight road that's tough: it's the climb. Like I always say, eat a balanced diet comprising 40% protein 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat: this usually works best.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    It Took Many Years To Achieve
    The Body I Have Today.

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    [ Q ] Some people find it hard to be as disciplined as you are. Can you give me your best motivation tips to encourage these people to keep striving for optimal physical shape?
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      [ A ] Motivation has to come from a primary source. It can't be because you want to win a title or you want a pro card or to get the abs you've always wanted. It has to come from a main source.

      I'll explain. When I was growing up I always had a need to be perfect. I don't mean better than others, I mean perfect in my own skin and mind. I remember training in my house at 15 years old and looking at myself in the mirror, but not seeing a 15 year old kid.

      I was seeing everything I wanted to have. A story I often tell is of the kitten that saw its reflection in the mirror but didn't see a kitten: it saw a lion.

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      In order for you to have the motivation that lasts from year to year, you have to say to yourself that staying in shape is as important to you as the air you breathe.

      If you see yourself bloated or out of shape, then that's where you will be most of the time. But if you see yourself ripped and in shape all the time, then that's where you will be, 24/7.

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    [ Q ] In theory this all sounds good, but in practice it is very hard to maintain a comparatively strict diet. What advice would you offer those people who constantly cheat on their diet?
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      [ A ] Just like cheating in life, you're never going to get anywhere. Sooner or later it catches up to you. If you want to be on the mountain of success then you have to climb it yourself, step-by-step.

      It's funny, today I hear that bodybuilders have coaches and nutrition help, and they also have choreographers and so on. When I was competing, I did everything myself. The only help I would have is Tina (Tony's wife) applying my dream tan.

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      But other than that, I would train alone, develop my diet alone and choreograph my routine alone. I always said: "what good is achieving something if you know you needed others to achieve it for you?"

      There is a beautiful feeling when you look to yourself and trust that you can accomplish anything, just from believing in yourself. I've always had faith in God to direct me on the right path - most people today just want it now and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get it.

      I have no respect for those who take steroids or any other enhancements. To me these people should not even workout because they do it for all the wrong reasons. This is supposed to be a healthy sport that when done correctly and naturally can make you feel like a God.

      I've always said there's a little bit of heaven in those weights; it's a shame that those who take steroids well never experience that "pure power" feeling.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    This Sport Can Make
    You Feel Like A God.

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    [ Q ] I touched on this earlier but I would like some more detail on this aspect of getting into shape. Some experts say that in order to continue gaining you must stagger your training approach: manipulate your training program regularly to keep the body guessing.

    Does your training program (both cardio and weights) change throughout the year? If so, in what ways does it change?
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      [ A ] I work out with my buddy Roger Rubeo, a successful DJ in New York City. We started training together about a year ago. We were always friends but never trained together.

      I have to say that Roger is very driven and not afraid to hang and bang with me. He never questions anything. I tell him what to lift and he does it. He's not a complainer, nor will he make excuses: he just lifts as much as he can for as many reps as possible.

      This is the point I'm trying to make: it's not about what type of exercises you do or what the latest exercise or diet you see out there in the magazines and on TV, it's about how much raw effort you're willing to put out. How much you're willing to sacrifice. That's what keeps you growing inside and out.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    It's About How Much Raw Effort
    You're Willing To Put Out.

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    [ Q ] Do you ever let yourself get slightly out of shape? And how would you define "out of shape" in terms of your physique?
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      [ A ] I never get out of shape, and I can't see myself being out of shape. It's like breathing to me. For me, out of shape would be anything less than what I have right now.

      I set these high standards for myself because they make me feel balanced. My being out of shape would be someone's dream body. But that doesn't mean I won't eat pizza from time to time, and burritos or whatever I want. I'm in complete control over my body.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    I'm In Complete Control Over My Body.

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    [ Q ] So you do agree with "cheat days"?
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      [ A ] Yes I absolutely believe in them. But like I said before, if you think of them as cheat meals then that's not good either because you're telling yourself you shouldn't be eating this stuff.

      I don't think of foods such as pizza, hamburgers, or even homemade deserts as cheat food. I think of it as food. Not food I eat on a daily basis, but food I need for my body to be balanced. A man can't live on protein powder alone.

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      You can't be afraid to eat a piece of cake or a slice of pizza once in a while. You have to understand that your body is your temple and you have to nourish it and care for it and not deprive it.

      Learn to love your body and understand what it needs. Don't be one of those guys that only look good once a year on stage. Stay in shape all year round and be a true bodybuilder.

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    [ Q ] What is the most out of shape you have ever been?
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      [ A ] About eight years ago I got a job as a security guard for this huge watch company. I was behind a desk all day long and wasn't able to leave, only to go to the bathroom.

      All I can say is I didn't keep that job very long at all. During that time I gained about 20 pounds, which is a lot for me. It was the first and only time ever I hit the 200 pound mark.

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      And to be honest with you, I looked like cr@p. Well, cr@p for me anyway, even though I still worked out. Sitting all day and not being happy destroyed me.

      The sad thing about this story is that there are many people today that are doing just that: destroying themselves at a job that's not right for them. My advice would be to do what you love and you'll never call it a job.

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    [ Q ] Do you subscribe to the theory that to gain muscle you must gain some fat, as in doing so this will support heavier training and allow for the over surplus of nutrients necessary to gain more muscle?
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      [ A ] Absolutely not: muscle is muscle and fat is fat, and if you keep everything in balance as far as your training, diet, sleep and positive thinking you will achieve just what you're looking for.

      Plus, eating too many calories - even those from lean protein sources - that are not being utilized by the muscle will ultimately turn to unwanted fat. Balance is key, like I have always said.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    Balance Is Key.

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    [ Q ] Compared to how you look onstage, how do you look in the off-season? What are your different weights and body fat percentages?
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      [ A ] I would say in the winter, I'm around 188 to 190 pounds. In the summer I'm around 182 to 185 pounds.

      Body fat in the winter is around eight precent, in the summer around six percent, and contest around four precent, or less. So as you can see there is not much change at all.

    Anthony Catanzaro
    Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
    There Is Not Much Change At All.

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    [ Q ] We could all learn many lessons from your approach Tony. Thank you for your comments. Finally: how does it feel to be in shape all year round?
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      [ A ] Well to be honest with you David, like a God! Not because of just the way I look. There are some days when I feel I look like cr@p.

      But then again, we all go through this and nobody is ever completely happy with his or her appearance, weight and so on. You need to be happy with who you are; that's the most important thing of all.

      Anthony Catanzaro
      Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
      You Need To Be Happy With Who You Are.

      And no matter how heavy or in shape you are, never lose sight of the person that's on the inside, because that's the person that carries the most weight after all.