I started lifting weights for sports when I was 17 years old. After a successful college football career, I needed something to keep me motivated in the gym, so I did my first bodybuilding competition in 1992. I placed first in the middleweight division in a novice class.
From that time on, I have been hooked on the bodybuilding lifestyle. Since that first competition, I have competed in several shows at the light heavyweight division.
After taking an eight-year hiatus from competition, I placed first in the open light-heavyweight division of the 2011 Midwestern States Bodybuilding Championships in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and in March of 2012, I placed second in the Master's 35-45 division and second in the light-heavyweight division of the Mid-Illinois Classic. I plan on competing at an NPC Master's Nationals in July of 2012. The advice I would give all bodybuilders is to eat clean, train hard, and sleep sound.
After following just about every type of workout and rep and set schemes, the type of workout that has worked best for me throughout the years is a heavy weight/low-rep scheme, which focuses on compound movements. I believe that for pure strength and pure mass, compound movements, with great form, are second to none. Because of my belief in lifting heavy with compound movements, I follow the MAX-OT philosophy of lifting. The basic philosophy of MAX-OT is as follows:
- Train only 1-2 body parts per workout.
- Spend no more than 30-40 minutes per workout.
- Only 6-9 "working" sets per muscle group (does not include warm up sets).
- No forced reps. Count only reps that you get on your own.
- Rest 2-3 minutes between sets.
- Train each muscle group once every 5-7 days.
- Take a one-week break after 8-10 weeks.
After a 10-week MAX-OT cycle, I will take a four-week break; lifting lighter weights and more reps. This gives my joints and tendons a break from the workout demands of the heavy weights and intense sets.
Over 40 Amateurs: Jeff Thomas Big Lifts
Watch The Video - 02:53
On my non-lifting days, I will do 30 minutes of light cardio followed by abdominal work.
Here is what my typical week looks like. Warm-up sets are not included; only working sets.
Smith Machine Standing Calf Raises2 sets of 6-8 reps
(shown with barbell)
"You can't out train a bad nutrition plan!"
I have adopted a moderate to low carbohydrate/ high protein nutrition plan. I have seen better lean muscular gains with this plan than any other plan that I have been on. I'm very disciplined with my nutrition plan for six days a week. I will use either Saturday or Sunday to have one cheat meal. I will use this cheat meal to go out with family or friends. I will vary my carbohydrate intake occasionally depending on my off days.
This plan has worked for me because I am very consistent with it. A good friend and national-level bodybuilder, Kurt Windisch, designed the outline for this nutrition plan. This is a mass building plan. It changes very little during my 12-week pre-contest phase. Each meal is spaced approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours apart.
1 can (rinsed and drained)
Tomato or Steamed Broccoli or Asparagus1/2 tomato or 2 cups
In my 25-plus years of working out, I have tried just about every type of supplement that the industry has pumped out. Although there are many supplements that have their place in the bodybuilding and fitness world, there are only two that I believe should be absolute staples in an athlete's supplemental plan: whey protein and creatine.
However, I do use several other supplements. Although I will experiment with different brands, my supplemental schedule remains very consistent. Along with a consistent supplement program, I cannot stress the importance of taking in at least 1-2 gallons of water every day. This alone will do more for a person's body composition than most supplements could. I personally take in at the very least 1 1/2 gallons a day. Most days, I take in two gallons.
2 / 1 / 2 / 1 scoops
What I love the most about bodybuilding is the discipline that it takes to be successful. The discipline acquired through bodybuilding has a trickledown effect into all aspects of life. As a teacher and a coach, I see myself as a role model to all of those athletes and students who I come into contact with everyday. I not only want to be a role model intellectually, but physically. When my students ask my age, they are amazed that I look the way that I do at 43.
Initially, my motivation to follow a healthy lifestyle came from the demands of sports. I needed to be in top physical conditioning to be the best athlete on the field. When I started competing, I realized that it is much better to eat healthy and follow a structured workout plan year-round opposed to a hit and miss workout and nutrition plan like most people do.
I am a highly self-motivated person. I constantly set goals that will stretch me, so I can grow physically, mentally, intellectually, and spiritually.
In 2012, I plan on competing in the Master's Nationals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After that show, I will take some time to add at least 10 pounds of muscle. My plans are to compete at the heavyweight division in 2013.
Three of the most important things that I can tell other competitors are:
- Eat clean year-round for constant gains.
- Don't get comfortable with your workouts; constantly experiment. There is no growth in comfort!
- Be consistent with your nutrition, workouts, and sleep. The body thrives on consistency.
Because I grew up in the 1980's, my favorite bodybuilders are Rich Gaspari, Lee Haney, and Lee Labrada. Two of my favorite contemporary bodybuilders are Branch Warren and Jay Cutler.
I download a lot of recipes from Bodybuilding.com. Sweet potato pancakes are my favorite. I also order supplements and download bodybuilding information from the many articles.