An Interview With Bodybuilding Guru And Nutritionist Tim Gardner!

In this interview, we will meet the architect behind many top-level physiques. Also learn how he got started in our sport, in addition to what his training philosophies and nutrition tactics are. Learn more...

Tim Gardner has been a bodybuilding and fitness coach of champions since 1995, where he started his TEAM BODY*TECH, which currently boasts over 520 titles and has a roster of over 350 athletes across the nation.

Gardner is the man behind IFBB Pros such as Marcus Haley, Nate Wonsley & Lisa Reed as well as top-level NPC competitors, Carla Salotti, Son Van Tran, Julio Del Rio, Aaron Johnson, Debbie Barnes and Brandie Gardner. I am proud to say that he has also been my contest coach since 2001 and I could not have ever entered the realm of competitive bodybuilding without his expert help.

In this interview, we will get to meet the architect behind these top-level physiques up close and personal and learn how he got started in our sport, in addition to tapping into his training philosophies and nutrition tactics.

Background & How He Got Started

[ Q ] Tim, congratulations on such a successful year! Two new pros, Marcus Haley and Nate Wonsley, plus all of the other titles that your NPC athletes have claimed. Would it be fair to say that this has been your best year so far?

    It's funny you should say that. I just completed a thread on our discussion board,, stating that very thing; "this very well may be our finest year ever, Techer's". The bonding, camaraderie & cohesiveness seemed to gel almost immediately this year.

    Marcus Haley.

    At times, we had over 70 people in attendance for a team meeting and unlike years past, athletes who completed their season continued coming to meetings to support the late season competitors. Lasting friendships were definitely formed in 2005. We're almost through for the year... still going to battle at the NPC Nationals with front-runner, Carla Salotti and a diced and symmetrical middleweight, Lorenzo Newton. It should be extremely exciting in Hotlanta.

2004 Masters National Overall Champion Carla Salotti.
After taking a year off in 2003 to reassess her competitive career, Carla came back and won the 2004 Masters National Overall Title...
[ Click here to learn more. ]

[ Q ] For those people out there that do not yet know you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself. For instance, what's your background, how did you get started in bodybuilding and how did you end up being a top-level bodybuilding coach?

    I began weight training in 1977 for high school football. I remember showing the old Muscular Development, Strength & Health, Muscle Mag and Iron Man magazines to my friends for their approval. At that time, the sport of bodybuilding was at its infant stage and was publicly viewed as mere oddities from the circus, not quite ready for mainstream America, that's for sure.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Tim Gardner.

    Through the 80's, I continued to workout and eventually attended a competition, where I had the privilege of meeting the "Myth" himself, Sergio Oliva. I was hooked! I placed dead last in my very first contest in 1988, continued to compete, started winning Local, State & Regional contests, and then, went onto the National scene. What a rush.

    Click Image To Enlarge.
    "The Myth," Sergio Oliva.

    From my very first contest to my last, I never would have dreamed of the journey that I would take; the friends that I would meet, the education of learning how my body ticked, all of which was an experience of a lifetime. My corporate career of 20 years, architectural metals & glass, gave me the business savvy and professionalism to apply to my own personal endeavors.

    Nutritional counseling since 1993 and contest preparation since 1995, I then decided to incorporate BODY*TECH Fitness Emporium in 1998 and resigned from the architectural world completely in 2000.

    Who can honestly say that their occupation is their passion? I can. When BODY*TECH increased in its popularity, it was very difficult to hold back the reigns. Our members were pushing us to build a larger gym, by 2003, Brandie & I outgrew our training facilities and expanding to a full-sized health club in Tampa.

    Tim & Brandie
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    Tim & Brandie Gardner.

    Presently, we are in the planning stage of a second health club to open in 2006. As for the coaching, it was second nature. I love helping people. I see the potential in them before they do in all aspects of life. Whether it's coaching my sons in sports, watching my daughter's dance, ballet and acrobatics, or coaching an athlete to succeed in his or her specific sport; it seems that I bring the best out of that individual. I make them believe in themselves with sound instruction and motivation.

[ Q ] How did you get to find out all of these nutritional tricks that you use today to get your athletes in top shape?

    Honestly, personal experience and trial and error. When I first started, I would camp out at the local vitamin store and wait for the biggest guy to strut in and wait to see what he would purchase. Then, I would grab three of whatever he bought and consume it in a week.

    I realized that sometimes more is not always better, I began applying logic and researching thoroughly what each vitamin and sport supplement would do in the body as well as for the body. I applied logic to my training and nutrition, basically worked off of fundamentals and basics.

    WOW, the changes were tremendous. Tenacity, Dedication & Desire - there are not any shortcuts in our sport, the more disciplined, the better the outcome.

Training, Nutrition & Supplementation Philosophies

[ Q ] Can you describe your coaching philosophy? For instance, if an athlete were to sign up with you, what can he expect to get from you?

    I take all of the thinking out for the athlete. I design a nutritional and training program tailored to the individual's goals. Typically, a program is set for a 12-week plan where we would discuss progress and adjustments every two weeks.

What Is Your Goal?
Is Your Goal Not Listed?
Click Below To Learn More About Goal Setting.

[ Q ] That's a package and a half to get everything included for the athlete with constant adjustments! Let's talk now about weight training. What sort of principles do you believe in?

    Definitely periodization of training is key in order to ensure constant progress. The diet and supplementation program has to also be properly aligned in order to support the specific training phase that the person is in.

HIT Vs. Periodization!
Ask 10 people what they believe to be the optimal training regimen and you'll likely get 10 answers. The true question: is there an optimal training regimen?
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    Repetition-wise, it really depends on the phase that you are in so at some phases you may be training more like a powerlifter while other phases are more hypertrophy oriented, and thus, are faster paced and have higher volume.

    Exercise-wise, I believe in basic exercises as well as hitting the muscle from different angles. Training session length also needs to be kept in check as too much time in the gym leads to overtraining so typically no more than 1 hour in the weight room.

[ Q ] As athletes get more advanced, they tend to plateau. What would you recommend to an athlete that has hit a plateau while adding mass?

    Basically, we would sit down and analyze their training regimen, assuring that one is not overtraining. Possibly change up the training altogether to shock the system. For instance, if an athlete has been doing a hypertrophy phase for a while, it may be wise to go into a strength phase in order to activate higher threshold fibers, and thus, elicit a muscular growth response.

    I would also assess the athlete's caloric intake to make sure he/she is taking in the right amount of calories for them to build muscle. Finally, I would troubleshoot their supplements' program and rest patterns.

[ Q ] Nutrition is a subject that confuses most bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts. What are the main premises of your nutrition philosophy and what makes your nutrition program so effective?

    Each client is unique in his or her metabolic makeup. Some people need more carbs than others to build muscle while others need less carbs. Also, when dieting, some people can diet at a higher carbohydrate base while others need to lower them significantly.

    It all depends on the individual athlete's makeup and how sensitive they are to carbs. I also factor everything in my client's lifestyle, their tendencies, and weaknesses prior to instructing them. I seem to be able to push the right motivational buttons...

[ Q ] How necessary is cardiovascular exercise during off-season and during pre-season?

    It's not as frequent during the off-season compared to pre-season but it really depends on the person's body composition and how far out he or she is. For instance, I've had people who only need 30 minutes every 2 days during a pre-contest phase while others need significantly more than this.

Cardiovascular Exercise Basics.
In order for aerobic exercise to be effective, it needs to be performed within the fat burning zone. Read right here to get some of the best fat burning cardio activities.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    Obviously, the lower the body fat, the easier to get in shape is and typically the less cardio is needed. It's all about the skin. So my philosophy on cardio, in a nutshell, is to just use what is needed; no more, no less.

[ Q ] How important are supplements in your bodybuilding program and which supplements do you recommend for use year round?

    Supplements are what they are, supplemental. There is nothing better than real food. I am very careful in which supplements that I recommend because they are not FDA regulated. I've found through independent laboratory research that Beverly International and Biochem/CountryLife test 100% on their labeling no matter when they are evaluated.

[ Q ] What supplements do you feel are essential when doing a bodybuilding show?

    Depends on what stage of the game we are in, but predominately throughout, the essentials would be a multivitamin and mineral pack, amino acids (branched chains and free form), and lipotropics. Whey protein is good too but I advise my athletes to get most of their protein from real food.

Where Do You Get Most Of Your Protein?

Protein Shakes.
Protein Bars.
Not Sure.

Final Thoughts & How To Contact

[ Q ] So if I want to compete and I want to hire you for my contest prep, what do you include in your package? Is training, nutrition, and supplementation advice included? Anything else? Also, how far out do you like to start working with your athletes?

    Joining TEAM BODY*TECH is an incredible experience. You just need to see it to believe it. There is nothing like it in the whole country; the unified band of all different levels of competitors, from novice to pros. The camaraderie builds to new heights each and every year.

    I literally take all of the thinking out for you. I furnish you with your training guides, nutrition, supplementation plan, make sure that your compulsory posing or figure sets are what the judges are looking for, choreograph your routine, assign the type, cuts and color of your suits, discuss skin color and makeup and motivate you the entire way.

    One-Stop Shopping for the bodybuilding, fitness & figure competitor.

[ Q ] Awesome deal! Can people sign up to be part of Team Body*Tech even if they do not live in Florida?

    With the advent of email, I am coaching athletes from all over the world. Our web site has made us accessible from anywhere.

[ Q ] Before we are done, can you please share with our readers who are planning on doing a show; what is the biggest mistake that you see athletes make when getting ready for a contest?

    Not being prepared 100%. I am a type of person to take on something with vigor, passion and visions of success. I get frustrated when I see someone try to compete without researching or having someone knowledgeable in their corner to guide them properly, especially when that individual has so much potential.

    I can never understand why a person would take advice from ten people in their respective gym and mix all of those ideas together into a hodge-podge of worthless effort. There are a million ways to prepare for a contest, just apply one method!

[ Q ] What is the best piece of advice that you would give to someone who is contemplating competitive bodybuilding, fitness or figure?

    Have fun! The chances of turning pro and then making a decent living from it is almost like winning the lottery. Genetics play an important factor as well as time on the job. Start with the idea of being a healthier you, one who can motivate someone else to improve their health also. The accolades will come if you work hard but always remember to compete for yourself - to always improve from your last showing.

[ Q ] Anything else that you would like to add?

    Bodybuilding has given me endless confidence and has solidly built my character for myself in everything that I do and also the opportunity to help others while being compensated for it. My businesses, BODY*TECH Fitness Emporium, Southern Muscle Plus Magazine, G & G Distribution, TEAM BODY*TECH and our production team for the NPC Hurricane Bay & Typhoon Bay Championships are all synergistic in the health & fitness industry.

    As I said earlier, I am blessed and feel fortunate to be able to work in my passion, my dream.

[ Q ] How can people contact you?

    They can visit my health club web site or my TEAM BODY*TECH site at If anyone is interested in joining, feel free to contact me on my office number: 813.908.7763.

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    Hugo & Tim.

[ Q ] Thank you so much for such a great interview Tim and I wish you and your Team plenty of success at these year's NPC Nationals and in the 2006 competitive season.

About The Author

Hugo Rivera is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, Sports Nutrition Specialist and Computer Engineer graduate from the University of South Florida. Hugo is owner of, an informational, free fitness and nutrition website.

Hugo is author of a self published bodybuilding e-book called Body Re-Engineering geared towards the natural bodybuilder and co-author of one of the most popular Men's Health book in the country (according to Barnes and Noble) called "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men" and the very popular "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women".

Hugo also just released his new book called The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook in March 2005 and also serves as a nutrition consultant to several professional football players and other elite athletes. Hugo serves as business consultant to many personal training studios as well and offers personalized diet and training programs through his website.

Hugo continues to publish several articles on the subject of health and nutrition in several magazines and websites, appears on several radio talk shows and has been with Prolab Nutrition for over three years. Hugo competes as drug free NPC athlete at the National Level and his core supplementation has always consisted of Prolab products.