Originally from New York, Garrett has trained as a bodybuilder or powerlifter since college. A Desert Storm Veteran, his background includes five years of service in the United States Marine Corps.
Applying his military organization and discipline to bodybuilding training and contest preparation, Garrett's daily routine can include a minimum of three hours of weight training and cardiovascular training per day, together with a strict nutritional regime. All of this is juggled with a full-time career and appearance schedule!
Known for his model looks and symmetrical physique, Garrett's complete presentation of sweeping, poised muscularity epitomizes bodybuilding's ideal healthy role model.
GARRETT DOWNING'S INTERVIEW!
January 24th, 2001
1. Q. Garrett, I think you are going to write history since you will compete in 8 major IFBB shows in just 3 months. I don't remember any other professional bodybuilder that achieved something like that in such a short period of time. What were the reasons that made you make this kind of decision?
G.D. It has seemed funny to me that everybody, particularly the media, has made a big deal about the fact that I have planned to do all the shows between February and May. To me, at this time in my career, it just seems that is what my job is. I am a professional bodybuilder who is in the earlier years of his career. If you were to compare this to steps one takes in any other career, say, like a young sales person, or engineer, that person knows that he or she needs to grab as many opportunities as possible to learn and hone skills as well as to get exposure within their profession. For example, a young engineer who is ambitious to climb the ranks in his or her field, would jump on the chance to work on as many high profile projects that give him or her a chance to be challenged and create a scenario where the more experienced engineers and the company management take notice of his or her potential, skill and drive.
So, that is what I am doing taking on the appropriate challenge of doing many shows at this time, early in my career, so that I can gain the competitive experience AND gain exposure. Also, I might add, now that I am an IFBB Pro it is very different than in my amateur years when the travel and related costs for doing many shows in a year was a financial burden for me. Now, I am thrilled and honored that the promoters have invited me to do these shows. If a promoter is offering, via an invite, to cover my expenses to fly and stay at the event hotel, I am elated to accept the invite and do my job as an athlete!
2. Q. To continue my previous question, your first IFBB show starts on the 17th of February and your last is on May 19th. This means that you are dieting for your first show for at least 3 months, and also you will have to diet for 4 more months till your last show. I believe that with your decision to enter in so many shows you are "challenging" yourself to see how far you can go. Did you ever wonder if you might get "overtrained" or something might go wrong during preparation? Are you 100% confident that you are "mentally" and "physically" ready for this big challenge?
G.D. Yes, I will be dieting for a long time. And, certainly this is a challenge. But, I also begin my dieting really far out from a show anyway so, the extra months will just be business as usual. In fact, I have such a disciplined off-season, that I am not concerned with this. Many athletes fail to utilize their off-season to their advantage. I rarely miss one of my scheduled six meals, day in and day out. This is why I can be so consistent and make solid improvements each year. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle. I believe in blurring the lines between the "off-season" and "pre-contest". My schedule doesn't vary hugely pre-contest vs. off-season, except that I don't do very much cardio when I am not getting ready for a show or appearance and I have the freedom to have more exciting carbohydrate choices and, perhaps, a cookie here and there. But, what remains consistent is the fact that I eat 6-7 meals.
As far as being 100% confident that I am up for the challenge - ABSOLUTELY! I have a background as a Marine. My discipline is tremendous. I have faced some pretty serious challenges, both in my personal and professional life; so, getting ready for a few bodybuilding shows in a row is not a problem for me. I do run the risk of being over-trained. However, there is a school of thought that says there is no such thing as over trained, just under-rested and underfed. So, I will just have to make due.
3. Q. I am sure that the biggest competition of all, will be the Arnold Classic, where you will compete against some "legends" of the sport like Coleman, Wheeler, and Levrone. What are your expectations of this competition and with what place position would you feel satisfied?
G.D. Definitely the Arnold is a huge show and frankly, an honor to be competing in. I look forward to being on the same stage as these legends. But, the bottom line is, I am there to see where I can take my physique. I can't sit around and talk trash about how I am going beat these guys. Gone are the days when the winner of the Nationals or the USA can jump into the Arnold and win. Right now we are in a unique time in bodybuilding where there are a large number of outstanding athletes, both those with many years and titles under their belts and those who have been on the Pro circuit for 1-2 years. I am going to be the best that my physique can be. I have many years ahead of me and I will make my mark in due time. But, I will also guarantee to please my fans every step of the way.
4. Q. I read your web page carefully, and I found out that your daily schedule seems more than busy. You are the living proof for the people that say they don't want to workout because they don't have time, that everything is possible if you want. How easy or how difficult is it for a bodybuilder at your level to train, rest, eat right and also have a personal life when he has to work in a "real job" for almost 10 hours every day?
G.D. Without a doubt I have one of the most grueling schedules for an IFBB Pro, save maybe Ronnie Coleman whom I have always admired for also holding down a full-time job through his career. Without sounding cocky, I laugh when I hear a pro complain that he can't compete if he doesn't get a contract. I work a 50-hour week and always have. The schedule published on my website is the exact truth. I get up at 4:15 am, train, do cardio, pack my meals and hit the road for a workday. I have to squeeze my meals in during my day, remember to take my supplements and never let the fact that I might be half-brain dead from low carbs affect my performance at work. I commute home, eat my last meals and crash after reading my emails and catching up with bodybuilding business. It is a testament that there is no excuse for not being able to train if you work. It's all about time management.
Now, however, I do have to say that in order to train, rest, prepare meals and work full-time means that something suffers and that would be my personal life. I am very lucky though, to be engaged to a woman who not only shares my lifestyle of training, eating right and having a full-time professional career, she is very supportive and understanding of the fact that we can't have much time together. Or, that we can't socialize much with friends because of the demands on my schedule.
5. Q. And here is my last question for you Garrett. Smart supplementation plays a huge part in a bodybuilder's diet. What supplements do you currently use and trust?
G.D. I have learned a great deal over the past few years about supplements. I used to turn my nose up to the use of supplements, probably because I was turned off by ridiculous claims in poor advertising. However, I have since learned the value of some very important supplements that I wholeheartedly recommend and have fully incorporated into my program. To begin with, a multivitamin and multi-mineral, along with extra Vitamin C and B Complex are vital. Secondly, Calcium and Magnesium together are key to prevent muscle cramping. I also use meal replacements and whey protein powders for 2 of meals per day. However, the most important supplement I have incorporated into my diet is glutamine. I can't tell you how key it is to my muscular recovery - particularly important when you have a grueling schedule like mine! I have noticed marked improvement in muscle soreness. I used to be in pain for days after a leg workout and cardio on same day. But, with glutamine taken after the workout and again before I go to bed, I recover much faster. Lastly, I believe in taking digestive enzymes. I usually opt for a multi-enzyme complex that contains pepsin and lipase.
Check out his web site at garrettdowning.com. You can contact him at:
PO Box 255
Solana Beach, CA 92075
Don't miss out on the opportunity to get a photo of him for only $10 (plus $3 shipping). Check out his site for more information!
Note: Photos are by Dennis Lee and the contest pics are from the Night of Champions XXII in New York May 20, 2000. His best condition ever!
I would like to thank Garrett very much for the time that he spent giving this interview because his schedule, from what you read, is more than busy. I wish him good luck to his future contests, and I hope some time in the near future I will again have the opportunity for another interview with him.
Till my next interview, take care all.
Including Dave Draper!