Natural IFBB Pro Jeff Willet Shares Successes & Goals!

Jeff Willet Past & Present - In 2003, after winning my pro card, it was time to re-evaluate my future and goals both personally and professionally. Read on.

[ Matt Weik ] Jeff, I want to start by thanking you for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. The movie "I Want To Look Like That Guy" looks amazing! There are so many different topics to touch on in this interview, so let's waste no time and jump right in.

For those readers who aren't familiar with you can you give us a quick background and bio of yourself?

    [ JW ] I've been involved in bodybuilding and fitness for over 20 years now. I started competing as a teenager and continued until I won my pro card at the age of 29. I am a lifetime drug-free bodybuilder. I am a three-time NPC Team Universe class champion and the overall winner in 2003, which is where I earned my IFBB Pro Card.

I've Been Involved In Bodybuilding And Fitness For Over 20 Years Now.
+ Click To Enlarge.
I've Been Involved In Bodybuilding
And Fitness For Over 20 Years Now.

    I also placed 4th in the light-heavyweight division at the 2003 NPC USA Championships. I mention my 4th place finish at the USA, because in many ways that is my proudest competitive achievement being a drug-free competitor and doing so well against what many say was one of the toughest light-heavyweight classes top to bottom in the show's history.

[ MW ] You are an IFBB Pro as well as a gym owner (Powerhouse Gym) and trainer in Michigan. Can you tell us a little bit about how one career transitioned into another?

    [ JW ] Becoming an IFBB pro became my primary goal from the time I started bodybuilding at the age of 16. While pursuing my competitive aspirations I also attended college and earned BA degrees in Exercise Science and Business Administration. All the while I had in the back of my mind that one day I may transition into the business world and open up my own facility. I just didn't know where or when that would happen.

    In 2003, after winning my pro card, it was time for me to re-evaluate my future and my next set of goals both personally and professionally.

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Making A Career Off Bodybuilding?
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    Professionally I knew that realistically I was not going to be very competitive in the pro ranks as a drug-free competitor. It is so demanding to achieve that level of conditioning and muscularity drug free that the reward needs to outweigh that sacrifice.

    For the 13 years that I was climbing the ladder it did outweigh the sacrifice because that pro card brass ring was out there. To go through everything I needed to go through to achieve top level conditioning just to try and get in the top 10 of a pro show just didn't excite me or motivate me.

    I had done what I wanted to do on the competitive stage and decided it was time to move on and focus on being successful at the next set of goals.

I Had Done What I Wanted To Do On The Competitive Stage And Decided It Was Time To Move On.
+ Click To Enlarge.
I Had Done What I Wanted To Do On The Competitive
Stage And Decided It Was Time To Move On.

    Personally I worked for AST Sports Science and lived in Colorado for 4 years. My home town was Adrian, Michigan and that is where most of my family and friends were as well. In my heart I wanted to get back to that part of the country and that also factored into my transition.

    When all was said and done I had moved back to Adrian, MI and opened Jeff Willet's Powerhouse Gym. We will celebrate 5 years in business in December of 2009.

[ MW ] "I Want To Look Like That Guy" looks amazing! How did you get involved in this movie?

    [ JW ] Film maker, Stuart MacDonald, is also from Adrian, MI. Stuart approached me with the idea of making this documentary and I thought it was a great idea. I felt we could show what it really takes to achieve "bodybuilding/photography" levels of leanness and dispel a lot of common exercise myths along the way.

Front Cover Art Of Stuart's Movie 'I Want To Look Like That Guy'. Back Cover Art Of Stuart's Movie 'I Want To Look Like That Guy'.
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Front And Back Cover Art Of Stuart's
Movie 'I Want To Look Like That Guy'.

[ MW ] When you first started did you think Stuart had what it takes to get on stage and do well?

    [ JW ] I warned Stuart at the onset of filming that it was going to take a big commitment from him and he was going to have to execute the plan I laid out for him for months on end in order to achieve the kind of results we wanted to show at the end. He accepted the challenge so I was on board 100%. I would not have agreed to do it if I didn't think Stuart was totally on board.


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    Knowing Stuart, I was confident that he would commit for the sake of the project. Not only that, he was going to step onstage so he had his own motivations to stay on track as well. After all, you can't really hide anything onstage wearing nothing but a posing suit.

[ MW ] What type of training protocol did you have Stuart following?

    [ JW ] I believe that Max-OT style training is the best way to train, not only for a bodybuilder, but anyone looking to really improve their body composition. That being said, I had Stuart use the Max-OT principles throughout the entire process.

    For those unfamiliar with Max-OT - In a nut shell, Max-OT (Maximum Overload Training) is a low volume/high intensity approach that was developed by Paul Delia, CEO AST Sports Science. We stick with basic compound movements, low total sets and a 4-6 rep range for most exercises.

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    Each body part was trained only once per week and we split the body up over a 5-day period.

    I've used the Max-OT principles exclusively since 1998 and instructed countless others on it with great success; men, women, bodybuilders and average fitness goers alike.

[ MW ] Obviously to lose body fat, you had Stuart doing a good amount of cardio. Can you explain what type of cardio you had him doing and the frequency/lengths?

    [ JW ] The cardio approach is similar to the weight training approach in that we kept it short and intense. It's what we call Max-OT style cardio.

    We keep the sessions at 16 or 20 minutes and no longer. Intensity remains high throughout the entire 16 minutes so that he was huffing and puffing the whole time, keeping out of his comfort zone.

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    I am a firm believer in short duration/high intensity cardio for achieving the greatest fat loss. This type of cardio has a greater elevating effect on your metabolism and less of any negative effect on the muscle-building process.

    We started with cardio 5 times a week and eventually were doing it every day and even twice a day for the last 6 weeks or so.

    We never did any long duration cardio and never ever did it on an empty stomach as that is a great recipe for muscle wasting.

    These were the same cardio principles I used to achieve the condition of my life in 2003.

[ MW ] Diet as we all know is key and will make or break a physique. Can you tell us a little bit about the diet you had Stuart following?

    [ JW ] Diet was critical to Stuart's success. You'll see in the film there are 2 phases. In phase one Stuart simply does Max-OT training and Max-OT cardio with no real attention to diet other than to make healthier choices and supplement with protein to help build muscle.

    During that 18 or so weeks of training and no real diet, Stuart did improve body composition, but nothing like the dramatic change that happened with meticulous attention to his nutritional plan. We wanted to clearly illustrate just how important diet is for truly transforming a body.

Stuart Did Improve Body Composition, But Nothing Like The Dramatic Change With Meticulous Attention To His Nutritional Plan.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Stuart Did Improve Body Composition, But Nothing Like The
Dramatic Change With Meticulous Attention To His Nutritional Plan.

    With Stuart I used the same dieting principles that I followed myself. We kept the protein intake high, we kept the carbohydrate intake positioned around his workout time and we kept a very close eye on total calories. Then as time progressed, we skimmed away calories leaving the nutrient ratios intact. In other words, we didn't just cut carbs or yank away any one nutrient, we gradually reduced portions thus lowering total caloric intake.

    The key is gradually cutting calories over a long period of time while keeping smart nutrient ratios so each of those calories you are consuming is working for you to help you build and maintain muscle while losing fat.

    As a bonus feature with the film you can actually download Stuarts entire diet plan he followed over the last 6 months.

[ MW ] Did you recommend that Stuart take any supplements while he was working with you?

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[ MW ] How did you keep him motivated not to fail?

    [ JW ] I know there were some ups and downs in the movie where he became frustrated and emotional.

    Having competed in contests year after year for over 12 years and driving myself to reach greater levels of conditioning each time, I had a lot of personal experience to draw from to help Stuart when he was experiencing tough times.

    I was able to let him know the struggles and mental challenges he was facing was part of the game when you are striving to achieve outstanding condition drug free. I continually reminded him to stay connected to the vision of what he wanted to achieve and execute the plan. Execute, execute, execute.

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[ MW ] Was it essential that he had a goal, such as the bodybuilding show, with a date in order for him to make progress?

    [ JW ] I don't know that it was essential, but I definitely think it helped, especially to reach "bodybuilding/photography" leanness of less than 6% body fat. To get to that level of leanness drug free you have to experience some pain. There is no way around it and having a specific end goal like a contest can be extra incentive to stay on track when times are getting challenging.

[ MW ] How was Stuart able to build so much muscle while being on a calorie restricted diet?

    [ JW ] Stuart was able to build muscle while being on a calorie restricted diet by executing a very smart plan designed to maximize drug-free results. Again, I drew from my personal experience and used the same methods that allowed me to become one of the best drug-free bodybuilders in the world.


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    With my guidance Stuart was able to avoid many of the common mistakes that natural bodybuilders make when trying to get into contest shape. Things like training with high reps to bring out more muscle separation, long duration cardio on an empty stomach and cutting out all carbs for weeks on end are a few examples of what not to do for best results.

    We kept training heavy (4-6 reps) with basic l compound lifts throughout, kept cardio short and intense (16-20 minutes) and maintained smart nutrient timing and nutrient ratios which includes keeping carbs in your diet but timing them intelligently. All of those things helped him build and maintain muscle throughout.

[ MW ] If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

    [ JW ] I think given the time we had and where Stuart started we maximized his potential and I honestly wouldn't have changed a thing. In the end he was under 6% (started at over 30%) and placed 2nd in the men's lightweight division and 3rd in the men's masters at the NPC Natural Michigan State Championships.

In The End He Was Under 6% Body Fat And Placed At The NPC Natural Michigan State Championships.
+ Click To Enlarge.
In The End He Was Under 6% Body Fat And Placed
At The NPC Natural Michigan State Championships.

[ MW ] Is there anyone you would like to give a shout-out to or thank to helping you along your journeys?

    [ JW ] My brother initially got me started in bodybuilding by taking me to my first gym when I was 15, so thanks to him for getting the ball rolling. My parents have been in my corner from the moment I expressed my interest in bodybuilding. They never missed one contest, even the IFBB World Championships in Slovakia. I owe them a great deal.

My Brother Got Me Started In Bodybuilding When I Was 15.
+ Click To Enlarge.
My Brother Got Me Started In
Bodybuilding When I Was 15.

    I've had tremendous support from my friends as well. One year about 20 of them traveled from Michigan all the way to New York to cheer me on at the Team Universe.

    Finally my wife, Anna, helped a great deal during the filming of the documentary and is a huge help in this next direction of life I am currently on which is developing and building the business as well as producing instructional DVD's/materials and consultation services which I market and sell on my web site She's a fantastic trainer in her own right and uses these same principles to help a lot of women achieve their physique goals.

    Check Out Jeff's Competition Profile Here.

[ MW ] Is there anything you would like to add to this interview that we didn't cover that you feel the readers would like to know?

    [ JW ] First I would like to say thank you for doing this interview and helping to bring some attention to "I Want to Look Like That Guy". I am very proud of this documentary and its valuable messages. People are finding it motivational as well as very informative and entertaining.

    I've taken a lot of flack over the years from people doubting whether or not I am drug free. People are entitled to their opinions and that is fine. I understand why people would be skeptical because the results I've achieved are above what many conceive to be possible without drugs.

    My question to those people is have they ever stopped and thought that maybe, just maybe the great success I achieved has something to do with the training approach I've used or the fact that I meticulously executed this smart plan for years on end?

Maybe The Success I Achieved Has Something To Do With The Smart Plan I Executed For Years.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Maybe The Success I Achieved Has Something To Do
With The Smart Plan I Executed For Years.

    This documentary shows you right in front of your eyes the power of what a smart approach combined with hard work over an extended period of time can do. Look at what Stuart did in 6 months. Now think about applying those principles for years on end and maybe it suddenly isn't so unthinkable that outstanding results can be achieved without drugs.

    I wish natural bodybuilders would spend less time doubting and more time learning how to maximize their potential from those who've achieved great success without drugs.

[ MW ] Again, thank you Jeff, for taking time out of your schedule for this interview. Congrats on the movie and I wish you continued success in everything you do.

    Check Out Jeff Willet's Personal Website Here.

    You Can Order A Copy Of The DVD Here.