The birth of this article began with a letter that I sent to Mr. Ryan DeLuca, the CEO of Bodybuilding.com. The letter read as follows:
|Letter To Ryan DeLuca|
That letter led us here. Where? To me catching you up on my very existence. Many know that I am a Certified Fitness Trainer, Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist, and Registered Dietitian. I specialize in Sports Nutrition and Diabetes, however I can perform a wide variety of nutritional services having experience in the hospital setting as a Dietetic Intern and Registered Dietitian.
Currently, I am pulling a 40-hour workweek in a freestanding outpatient diabetes education center (also a home health company) while continuing to build and fortify my physique. This is the perfect job for me because I get to teach sound nutrition that focuses on management of blood insulin and blood sugar levels. Does that sound familiar?
Lately I have noticed that it is impossible to open a muscle magazine without running across at least 2-3 articles that focus on blood insulin and blood sugar management. The diabetic diet can be a fundamental part of the athlete's nutrition program.
The qualified/experienced sports nutritionist can instruct individuals to use the diabetic diet, supplemented with high glycemic (HG) meals, to their advantage. I call these HG meals "replenishment meals" even though oftentimes they provide optimal results in the form of a liquid concoction (add whey protein).
For those of you wondering if I have vanished from the bodybuilding scene allow me to be the first to tell you that I have not! I had actually let go from writing a bit to focus on my training, my nutrition program, and to assist others on a more personal basis. I continue to offer assistance covering posing, nutrition, contest peaking/preparation, carbohydrate loading, and weight training to bodybuilders and athletes in my area.
Click Image To Enlarge.
Dino Pierce: Certified Fitness Trainer,
Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist, & Registered Dietitian.
Thanks to my professionalism, solid results, and word of mouth I have built up quite a reputation and the buzz has begun to spread. Furthermore, I have changed locations twice moving from Metairie to Houma, Louisiana. Once in Houma, I purchased a house, which required another move.
The latter events occurred over a short two-year period; needless to say I have been busy. I briefly mentioned my nutrition approach, now it is time to note on my training. In short let's say it has been intense, serious, heavy, and consistent, but we'll get into those details a little later on. Prepare to expect the unexpected because the best is yet to come.
The NPC 2005 Team Universe (TU) was my first National Level Show. Simply put, I had a great time. I felt like I was a part of the experience. I had surreal moments that made me feel at home with that particular crowd. For example, Dexter Jackson, George Farrah, Steven Burke, Jenny Lynn, Colette Nelson, as well as several other IFBB Professional Athletes were attending the prejudging as spectators watching/cheering on individuals that they had assisted, in preparation for this show.
Furthermore, the show was done in conjunction with the IFBB New York City Pro Figure Championships, the TU Fitness Championships, and the NPC Figure Nationals. I ran into recognized names/contest promoters Mr. Steve Weinberger and Mrs. Bev Francis all weekend at the contest venue, mandatory check in, and even in the hotel elevators.
The judging panel included the NPC President himself Mr. Jim Manion and the Head Judge was Mr. Jim Rockell, also an IFBB official. Hanging out in the press pit armed with cameras and in action were J.M. Manion and Gene X. Do you get it yet? These are events that do not happen on a regular basis, unless you are "kicking it" at a national event.
I cannot go without mentioning pure potential IFBB Figure Professional Mary Elizabeth Lado, a close friend to my girlfriend Ronne Breaux (up and coming NPC Figure Competitor we will meet her later) and a friend to myself as well. She was having fun working the Vyo-Tech booth and we (Mary, Ronne, and I) were discussing her preparation for the Ms. Figure Olympia 2005.
I know that she will be a definite threat for the title, and she really loves competing. Lastly, how about competing in a show with a well-known and established bodybuilder such a Jose Raymond, the overall champion? Needless to say, the competition was an outstanding opportunity and I had a fantastic experience. I really felt a sense of belonging and I am enjoying my journey and quest to the professional status.
I have to commence this section by stating that the NPC is the premier bodybuilding sanctioning organization. The weight class winners of this show earn a spot on the "Team" which represents the United States of America at the contest formerly known as the Mr. "Universe."
This contest is now called the IFBB Amateur World Games. It is my understanding that if you make it to this contest, which relocates year to year, and is international hence the word "World" in the title, you can petition for IFBB Professional status with a weight class victory (similar to the Nationals).
Furthermore, you can earn the rights to compete the following year at the World Games, also an international "metal awarded" event along the guidelines of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), by placing in the top 5 of your respective division. The TU is a great show and I encourage anyone that is a true hardcore natural bodybuilder to attend or compete in the NPC Team Universe.
The expeditors were excellent, attentive, informative, punctual, and professional. The competitor camaraderie was truly genuine. Everyone was hyper-focused and brought their "A-game." The competition was there, it was stern, and it was just what every athlete wanted.
I set aside two full years of preparation solely for this event. When I left Florida after competing in the NPC Southern States in August of 2003 I had my sights set on the TU of 2005. The past two years were based on being prepared. I would weigh and measure my meals (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) every evening, assuring that the following day would be a success, nutrition wise.
I would also plan my workouts either the evening before or early in the morning before I left to go to the gym. We (Ronne & I) train at about 6:00 a.m., but wake up at 4:30 a.m. to hydrate, eat/drink breakfast, and focus on the training/cardio session at hand. Being prepared, believe it or not is easy, staying on track can be difficult at times, however necessary and is a vital piece of the puzzle.
How do I stay on my daily regimen day in and day out? Before moving on to that section let me say that if you can find a positive influence as a soulmate and allow them to assist you, things run really smooth. Ronne, a blessing to me, would do things like cook, pack my meals, and assist with the grocery shopping.
These are all things that I could do for myself, but when you are working 40 hours a week, training 7 days a week, and performing double cardio sessions day in and day out it takes a tremendous load off of your back. For that, and so much more, I thank/love her, and consider her a vital part of my accomplishments over the past 2 years.
Everyday I print out and answer to my daily "goals and check-off sheet." As you can figure this sheet has all of my goals listed on it so that I can read and review them daily. In addition I have meal times, supplements, and fluid requirements all expected from me at specific times.
For A Printable Goal List, Click Here.
I use an alarm to remind me throughout the day that I need to answer to my sheet, so when my alarm sounds I look at the sheet and do what I have listed on my check off sheet for that specific time. By doing this I am able to live a perfect day. At the end of each day I assess how that particular day went, it is easier to answer to and feel good about a perfect day than it is to explain to myself what went wrong on a "not so perfect day".
The check-off sheet keeps me accountable. Reviewing my goals on a daily basis assists me via subconscious and conscious positive reinforcement. If I plant the mental seed and I am actively working towards my goals I am approaching success. Success is the result of a plan including diligent and hard work every day.
Each perfect day adds up to make a perfect week, month, 6 months, year, decade, and in the end, a lifetime. This undoubtedly, will ultimately lead to goal achievement, which is the paramount of all accomplishments. For me that supreme accomplishment is to win my weight class at the NPC Team Universe and to earn my IFBB "Pro Card." My next attempt will be in 2007.
The past two years were the first years that I incorporated the week off from training theory. I trained intensely for 8 weeks and rested for 1. On my rest week I would do light cardio at least 3 times a week, however at about 16 weeks out the "rest" weeks were utilized as cardio weeks. The last "rest" week I had prior to the TU was utilized as a double cardio week but I refrained from lifting weights. I will continue to incorporate this 8 on 1 off cycle over the current two-year preparatory phase.
My nutrition program was deliberate and meticulous. I allowed myself to get up to 150#s secondary to the increase in strength that I have when my bodyweight gets that high. I was deadlifting 405 lbs for 4 reps and squatting below parallel with 330 lbs for 4 reps. For the record I was my strongest and heaviest at a bodyweight of 157 lbs when I was a colligate powerlifter under the principles of the great Jon Magendie (AKA: Coach), a National Powerlifting Title Holder.
My max lifts were a 425 lb squat, done in Killeen, Texas in 2002, where I won the Overall Best Lifter (Sub Class I) at the USPF Southwest Texas Championships, a 310 lb bench press, which was state colligate bench record USAPL, and I doubled 505 lb at a practice for the USPF Southwest Texas Championships.
Furthermore, I need at least two people to squeeze/pack me into my bench shirt. I do use an Inzer PL belt, some lifting chalk, and wrist wraps for any pressing movements that I feel could benefit (allow me to lift heavier) from the extra support. It seems as if every success story I read these days has a NPC competitor that is an ex-PL or incorporates PL movements into their training regimen. Coincidence? I think not!
I used my version of HIIT and Max-OT cardio to rev up my metabolism and melt away body fat, while remaining anabolic. I call it "sprinter style" cardio and it is as intense as I can push it mentally. I would conduct 15-16 minute HIIT sprints on a treadmill, elliptical machine, or cement stadiums.
| What Does HIIT Stand For?
High Intensity Interval Training.
I would alternate an all out minute with a recover minute or two depending on how intense the "sprint" minute was. I would log my distance and Kcals burned so that I could equal or better the previous session, always striving to improve. Cardiovascular wise, I was in the best shape ever and when you are in a Kcal deprived state endorphins are a reward for intensity put forth.
No matter how bad I felt I always reminded myself of how good I felt after performing an intense cardio session. The conclusion of a cardio session during contest prep was equivalent to waking up fresh after a perfect nights sleep, I felt great and it gave me a sense of accomplishment like no other!
Let us move on to my realm of the bodybuilding quotient, nutrition. In December of 2004, I was averaging 2800 kilocalories (Kcals) each day. All meals were timed right with the glycemic load appropriate to the physiologic state that my body was in. I ate about 15% of my Kcals from protein, 30% from fat, and 55% from CHO.
|RATIO OF PROTEIN/CARBS/FATS CALCULATOR|
Enter your weight-gain caloric intake (in kcals) and press "Calculate".
Each month I would shave off some Kcals as I felt the need to do so, as long as I was losing 1-2 pounds a week I stuck to my program. If I failed to lose I would add cardio or cut more Kcals. It is that simple, output exceeds intake equals weight loss. Do not get me wrong, my theory is packed with scientific evidence and trustworthy trial and error.
| What Are KCALS?
Kcal's, or kilocalories, are the preferred name for what regular people just call a "calorie". While there is technically (and confusingly) a difference between a calorie and a kcal in the scientific world, when dealing with the body and food, the two terms are interchangeable.
This is science tried, true and hard, without a doubt. Preparing for a bodybuilding or any type of NPC contest is, as my girlfriend would say, "a science project!" Recap: train like a powerlifter, perform cardio like a sprinter, and eat like a bodybuilder.
Taking an honest look back at what I knew coming into this show and reflecting on my preparation process I can say, without a doubt, that I put forth 99.99% effort. Why do I not give myself a 100% one might ask, well there is always another level, there is always a way to work harder, and there is always a way to operate more efficiently.
I never slacked, but after going through this preparation process, I feel that I know more having gone through this process one more time. It would be a shame to go through this process of preparation and say that you did not learn something new. It feels good to gain intelligence and add that knowledge to your already razor sharp contest preparation process.
If you follow the process that you know, and are faithful to it then that is all that you can do. I now have additional intelligence, wisdom, and experience, which in turn is priceless. The longer I do this the easier the process gets and the better I look.
A Four Letter Word:
Let's focus on the actual contest and what it takes to get that first callout. Hmmm... there is a four-letter word that I am looking for here that is not a stranger to the bodybuilder's vocabulary: mass, mass, mass! If you have the mass you will get "looked at", without it you will get looked over, particularly in the bantam, light, and welter weight classes. Why?
Well the guys winning those classes are in top condition, just as shredded as the freakiest in the class. Add mass to that and we have a winner! The top five will have more mass and be relative in relation to conditioning as anyone in the division.
The only way a lighter man can win the division is when he is shredded and the competition is heavier not because they have more muscle, but because they did not diet for a long enough time period, in other words they are out of shape (fat).
So, I placed 7th my first go around, but I never got down and out, that is not my character. Those who know me understand the spirit/passion that I have for this sport. I have symmetry; I have the genetics (100% Pure "Cajun French", small stature, strong willed, and seeks the best of challenges), all I need is to keep paying the dues.
I must keep on enjoying the journey. I do not have a success story that entails me winning the overall at my first show back when I was 12 years old. I am still paying my dues and playing the game, but I know one day, my day will come. Natural bodybuilding is not necessarily a young man's sport, but the young man has to play in order to be on top when it is his time.
Bodybuilding is a more like a marathon that you run for your entire life. I started at the age of 16 and I am 29 today, some of the top NPC and IFBB competitors are in their late thirties to mid/end range forties. I have a whole lot of bodybuilding to look forward to, and believe you me I am counting my blessings. I realize that not everyone has what it takes to be competitive at this level, but I know that I have what it takes to be the best.
| What Do IFBB And NPC Mean?
IFBB stands for the "International Federation of Bodybuilding & Fitness". Visit their website at http://www.ifbb.com/.
NPC stands for "National Physique Committee, Inc." Visit their website at http://www.npcnewsonline.com/.
It will not be easy, but when it is all said and done it will be worth it. As the body ages we hold less fat in the muscles and the striations become more apparent as the muscle becomes "aged to perfection." What would you eat, a young spring chicken or an old hen?
I will tell you that a young, well-marbled spring chicken will taste much better due to the higher fat content it has in the muscle tissue. An old hen will be as tough as leather having years of muscle fiber layered on top of muscle fiber and a considerable lack of marbling on an intracellular level.
The competition was tough this year; we all looked great from 1st-9th, but I had no idea of the level of competition that would be there. I was going there to win it, you have to, why go there not believing yourself? Let me say this, you have to go and see it for yourself to really get the understanding of that level.
For example, when I first began powerlifting the thought of deadlifting 505 pounds was present in my mind, but it took seeing a guy around my size lift it for me to say hey he just raised the standard; if he can do it so can I. I saw it and I know I can do it, having said that, my first experience at the TU served the same purpose!
I encourage anyone ready to take the level of competition to the "7th level" go and do the NPC TU. If you do not want to compete go and be a spectator. I promise that you will not be disappointed; NYC was a great place to be.
The preparation that I underwent over the past two years was based upon many years of planned success, but nutritionally I can look back and say that I could have done better. I could have made changes in my diet earlier, added cardio sessions in earlier, or dieted for a longer period of time.
I started on January 01, 2005, which is right about 7 full months of contest dieting. I think that the time was lengthy enough but the Kcal cuts and incorporation of "sprinter style" cardio should have been added in earlier. Thanks to careful documentation I know when to initiate this "nuevo" discovery into the methodical regimen we call contest preparation.
I stayed accountable utilizing a "Daily Check-off Sheet" that required specific tasks to be completed at specific times. When my alarm went off I completed that task and that was that. Stacking those days up lead to great success. When you have a plan and follow through with faith and belief, it makes everything, even the most difficult tasks are easier. However, it is easy to be accountable for a short period of time, therefore it is discipline and consistency that will allow one to prevail in the end.
Settling is not allowed in my life, that is why I enjoy the challenge of pushing myself to the limits each and every time I prepare for a competition. Never let up and always tell yourself that there is another level. Believe in yourself but never be so naive to think that you are the hardest working individual on the planet. I assure you that somewhere in this world there is a warrior making all of the sacrifices, working harder, believing in him or herself, and is willing to stop at nothing.
More than likely this person is not "coming after you" per se, it is these types that are doing it for the challenge, for the kill, for the reward, and most importantly for him or herself. A true champion squats below parallel whether the gym is packed with envious spectators or they are alone and no one is looking.
This is a person who lives for a challenge. I have had people tell me "Dino, bodybuilding should be part of your life not your entire life;" I do not agree with that. I set out to be the best that I can be and I know that I can still improve my physique; I live for this sport, hang with me for 2 months and see what it takes. I love every second of it and would not trade shoes with anyone in the world.
Well let's talk about the underused and possibly biggest mistake that I fell into the past two years. I had a determined drive to be 100% totally natural, which led to a lack of supplementation. My definition of natural was eating, training, and getting proper rest/recovery.
I used very little supplements over the past two years, and for most of it (1.5 years) I was totally natural. I was not taking any supplements. Before I move on let me say that I use Glucose/Dextrose crystals and protein powders year round and consider them as food products not supplements, even though they are marketed that way.
Five to six months out from the contest I began to use AST's Pro Flex 750 for joint protection, as I incorporated a ton of sprints into my routine in preparation for this contest. I also use Isotori's 7-Keto to assist me in maintaining my metabolism, milk thistle to keep the liver functioning, and 5-HTP for overall mood and rest enhancement.
The latter were not added in until 3 months prior to the competition so as you can see the majority of my two years were literally "natural". I will remain, by definition, "natural" for life (no steroids) but be more liberal on my definition of "natural." I will supplement.
Since I credited my lack of supplementation as my biggest fault over the last two years, I will be sure to make up for lost time by taking advantage of every supplement regiment that I feel is scientifically sound.
I plan to use a cycle of some supplement concoction each 8 week cycle, with these cycles will come detailed supplement reviews for you to read and learn from my experiences so stay tuned.
Nutritionally, I plan to remain meticulous. My philosophy is based off of a starting point, and once you have that you can make changes appropriately. How do you know what direction to move in if you do not know where you are going in the first place?
I will continue to consume high glycemic meals around my training times and low glycemic meals when the physiology is not optimal for the uptake of nutrients, which begins to decline about 3 hours following training.
I will alternate my training routines on a biweekly cycle, in other words I will always train arms on Monday but in an 8-week cycle I only use the same routine 4 times and I alternate it each week.
This is done primarily for two reasons, strategically, to shock the muscles by approaching every angle, and mentally, for the variety. There are a few core movements such as deadlifts and squats that will be incorporated into every week of training.
I want to mention that I am going to be very active managing a web site hosted by my beautiful/wonderful girlfriend (Ronne Breaux), who is an up and coming NPC figure competitor and myself. Our site will offer a variety of assistance and services concerning nutrition, training, and contest preparation.
I will have a member's only section that will allow for questions to be answered, access to certain information that I hold sacred pertaining to contest preparation, nutrition, and much more. We are in the process of creating the site but have been sidetracked secondary to hurricane Katrina.
I will invite you visit the site as soon as we have the opportunity to create it. You could be part of our journey and let us assist you with yours becoming one of our first members by joining the site. I promise you it will be worth it. We plan to break the mold with this site, it is a dream that we have had for quite sometime now, and soon it will become a reality.
I promise you will recognize who we are and the power that we posses having the knowledge and experience of a veteran NPC Bodybuilder (I have 15 shows under my belt) and Figure competitor (been competing for 3 years) that have a passion for science and our sport in general.
2007... here we come action packed and better than ever!
Best wishes to you all, it is good to be back!