Name: Louis Bessinger
Location: East London, South Africa
Age: 23 Height: 5'10" Weight: 209 lbs
Years Bodybuilding: 9
I was a good rugby player and received scholarships for rugby and athletics since I was in fifth grade. My parents never had to pay school fees. I made sure I gave it my best when I stepped onto the field for practice and matches.
During my first rugby game in high school, my ankle was tapped and I landed on my shoulder, which broke on impact. I didn't realize it straight away. When I ran to the try line and scored I saw my shoulder hanging and the pain shot across my whole body. I knew something bad had happened. I couldn't play anymore that year and got fat from not training. I decided on my own to slowly start rehabbing and made my own weights in the backyard using a broomstick and building blocks.
I fell in love with the changes my body went through. I had no knowledge of training or nutrition and I didn't have the Internet at the time, so I went to the nearest bookstore and bought a local bodybuilding magazine. I read it over and over and studied every sentence. I was just hooked on muscle and knowledge. There was a calendar in the magazine that showed dates of the local shows. I decided to enter the first show.
I knew nothing about bodybuilding and neither did my parents— how to pose, tan, dieting—I even rolled up at the show with hair all over my body. I took that magazine with me; it featured all of the mandatory poses I practiced just before pre-judging. My parents supported me so much. They didn't know what to expect, but we all enjoyed it. I was hooked on the feeling of being onstage and flexing. I didn't diet for that show and my Dad had to go and buy razor blades at the nearest pharmacy to shave my body backstage—memories I'll never forget. I came in third at my first show. When I got home, I received awesome help from a guy named Jacques Pretorius who trained me and sorted my nutrition. Three weeks after my first show, I won the Teenage WABBA Nationals. I went back to playing rugby, but it wasn't the same. My parents gave me the choice to be a bodybuilder full time and give up the scholarship that paid my school fees. I chose to be a bodybuilder.
On-season and off-season training is the same for me. I always incorporate supersets into my training because I prefer my workouts to be intense. In the off-season, I go heavier each set and and have longer rest periods between sets with no cardio. On-season, I do about 30 minutes of intense cardio every day depending on my condition and how far out I am.
On-season, pre-contest training routine:
Bodybuilding turned me into the man I am today. I have so much more self-respect. It taught me to have more patience. I love challenging myself every day and setting new goals. Doing research on training and nutrition is one of my hobbies and using that in my own preparation makes me appreciate everything even more. I don't compare myself to anyone; I just compete against myself and make sure I beat my personal best every time.
My father had and still has the greatest, biggest natural build that I admire. When I was young, I told my older brother I wanted to be as big as him one day. In my high school days, I walked to the bookstore every day after rugby training to read the latest fitness and bodybuilding magazines. That was my biggest motivation. After that, I started buying magazines, took the posters out of them, and taped them on my bedroom wall. I was in heaven.
A friend helped me start as a teenager. I would go to his house every Thursday night so he could check on my improvements. He educated me about bodybuilding and I could listen to him for hours. He had so much knowledge that inspired me. As long as I see results every day, there's nothing that can stop me. When I hit a plateau, I change a few things around because I know my body well.
It's easy to have off days, especially when I get closer to a show. I just take a drive to the beach before training and clear my head of all negativity.
I just won the overall junior title at the IFBB SA Championships. Right now, I'm planning on making the top three at the IFBB World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, this December where I can then apply for my IFBB pro card. My training is intense at the moment even with my slipped disc injury—I just work around it and do more machines these days.
I just started a gym wear clothing line called Phat Boy that I'm really excited about. It's causing a lot of interest here in South Africa.
With Paul Winn, my manager from the UK, my future plans are to visit other countries and train with the pros I looked up to as a teenager. My biggest goal is to open my own state-of-the-art hardcore gym and to be one of the best personal trainers out there.
Never stop reading to educate yourself. Remember, knowledge is power. There are no limits. Break the rules, but also remember that your body is your temple and health always comes first.
My favorite professional bodybuilder is Phil Heath—he's just on another level. I could stare at his physique for hours, and even after everything he has accomplished, he still stays humble.
I also admire Hennie Kotze. He's from South Africa and we are both sponsored by the same supplement companies (SSn, Sps, Muscle Junkie and Supashape). He's a great guy and shares his knowledge with everyone. He's well known here and has accomplished a lot in South African bodybuilding.
I recently started a BodySpace and I'm busy learning the ins and outs of my page. I always go onto the forums for research and I've learned so much from it. The exercise and training links are great for learning and putting workouts together for my clients. For example, when an online training client asks me about stretching, I send him the direct link to Bodybuilding.com and it explains everything step by step. It's the best and biggest training and nutrition site in the world. The site makes everyone's life so much easier. It's great to meet new people on BodySpace who have the same drive as you.