After dominating the competition in his very first show, the 1998 NPC Atlanta Bodybuilding Championships, top ranked NPC competitor, Peter Putnam, gave away a potentially lucrative career in football to pursue his bodybuilding dreams.
Since then he has won many shows, including the 2004 Collegiate Nationals, and is now poised to take his pro card at the 2007 USA's, a show he placed second in at his debut at the 2006 version. By all accounts the light heavyweight has the talent needed to win professional status, and according to many, 2007 will be his year to break through to the big-time.
If you follow bodybuilding in any way, chances are you will have seen Peter in any number of magazines. Unlike probably any other amateur bodybuilder in recent memory, Peter has been featured widely in the media and even has a supplement contract with major company, MET-rx, opportunities not usually bestowed upon non-pro bodybuilders. He is also one of few non-professional bodybuilders to have graced the cover of Flex Magazine. Seems everyone is talking about Peter.
Why all the publicity? It could be the fresh, marketable look he brings to a sport dominated by mass monsters or it could be the fact he is bordering on something big and the major companies realize this.
One thing is for certain: Peter Putnam is a name you will be hearing a lot more of in 2007 and beyond. If you have been living in a cave and don't know who Peter Putnam is yet, the following interview will fill you in on his background, aspirations and training philosophies.
[ Q ] Can you provide some background information on yourself? How did you get started in bodybuilding and what were your initial goals?
I started training seriously around the fall of 1998 because I was preparing to walk-on to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. I had a handful of Division II and small school offers after high school but opted to attend the University of Alabama instead.
After getting fed up with the frat life and feeling that I was wasting my athletic potential, I took up weight training and began running in order to play football again.
It was while I was preparing for spring practice in April of 1998 that I was approached by the manager of the gym where I was training, asking me why I was working out so hard? He asked if I knew anything about bodybuilding. He then went on to explain a little about it and said he thought I would do really well if I ever took it up.
That conversation tweaked my curiosity, which lead me to pick up a bodybuilding magazine for the first time at a newsstand. I remember opening it up and seeing Dorian Yates hitting his signature pose. I couldn't believe a man could look that way. I was impressed.
I read the article and discovered that Dorian was the current Mr Olympia. I was intrigued by him and wanted to learn as much about him as possible. A few days later, I saw his book, Blood & Guts at a local store. I bought it and took it home where I read it from beginning to end.
I used that book as my blueprint for my early bodybuilding career. Within three months I put on twenty solid pounds and quickly grew fascinated with watching my body adapt and change like never before. One day I noticed a poster for the 1998 NPC Atlanta Bodybuilding Championships hanging in the gym and I decided I wanted to compete in it.
I didn't have really any guidance preparing for the show. There were a few guys in my gym that kept up with bodybuilding, but they were all novices themselves. The show was before spring practices so I thought, why not give it a shot since I was already in shape. I used Franco Columbu's book, The Bodybuilder's Nutrition Book to prepare for it.
I mimicked poses from magazines to get an idea on how to pose and went and watched a show. I ended up walking away beating out seven other guys in the novice middleweight not knowing what I was doing. I actually met Dorian two weeks after the Atlanta show while competing in the NPC Eastern Seaboard where I won the Junior Overall.
Dorian was the first pro that I ever met. Meeting my idol and winning again really inspired me to consider taking up bodybuilding and to forget football. I never made it to spring practice.
[ Q ] When did you know you had promise to be a top NPC contender?
Well, I would consider my win at the 2004 Collegiate Nationals a turning point in my career and the moment where things seemed to make sense. After the show Steve Weinberger passed by and congratulated me, which meant a lot.
IFBB pro George Farah pulled me to the side and complemented me saying that I should step it up because he thought I could be a pro. I still thought it was a lofty goal and wasn't sure how to go about it and how to make my next move. This is where I credit George for stepping in and encouraging me by believing that I could be a pro and a good one at that.
[ Q ] And on your road to becoming a pro I understand you will be doing the USA again in 2007.
Yes, I am returning to compete in the USA's again following my runner up spot in the light-heavies last year. The goal at the USA's is to walk away from that show with a pro card. Depending on what happens there I will assess the situation and make plans accordingly for my next show whether that is another pro qualifier or competing at my first IFBB pro show.
[ Q ] Describe the training plan you are using for the USA's?
Hard and heavy! I like to keep things in rep range of eight to 12. Very seldom do I dip below six reps; however, with certain body parts such as arms, I will occasionally increase the rep range. I like to hit one body part once a week, except for the added back workout I have been doing this year.
About every three to four days I train back again that way I will have trained it twice as many times compared to last year. I tend to add extra arm movements in following back, chest, and shoulders just to stretch and pump more blood into the arms. I have noticed an increase in gains since I increased the volume with arms.
Next year I am considering attempting to train them more often since I think it is hard for me to overtrain them. From experience they seem to respond to more frequency so it's time to explore that route even more. I do recommend trying to rest after two consecutive workouts. My workouts for this year have been detailed precisely in the July issue of Flex.
[ Q ] Have you made any changes to your training since your second place finish at the 2006 USA's?
I spent more time focusing on my back and trying to just make overall general improvements. I spent the winter doing more HIT (High Intensity Training) type of training. I wouldn't recommend this for everyone and you are more prone to injury this way. Mentally, I just tried to increase my training intensity and poundages knowing I wanted to bring an improved package to the 2007 USA's.
High Intensity Training:
[ Q ] What improvements have you made to your physique since you last competed?
I definitely feel I've added detail to my back. I also feel that my shoulders are fuller this year. Overall, my condition has continued to improve.
[ Q ] Describe your current diet? Did you make any changes to it for 2007?
I kept it pretty much the same, but I simply consumed more calories derived from good, clean food sources. I rotated my carbs, eating different types during the day depending on my schedule. I also increased my essential fats a lot.
[ Q ] What is your cardio schedule like and how does this change as the contest approaches?
I very seldom do cardio in the off-season. If I feel sluggish I may add in 20 minutes twice a week. I do feel cardio is important not only for your heart but to keep your metabolism efficient; however, it's not until contest time comes around that I start to focus more on cardio.
I like to add it in slowly and gradually increase the length of time. I don't do it twice a day as this isn't needed for me. I get into shape pretty fast. I don't want to overkill the cardio and start tapping away at muscle. I generally will cut out cardio two weeks prior to a show if I am on schedule.
[ Q ] What do you consider to be your main strengths as a competitor?
My main strengths are my focus and determination. Beyond that it's my passion to excel in this endeavour. Excelling isn't always about winning; it's about preparing yourself for opportunities and being willing to do whatever it takes to achieve your goal. This is my perspective; you can be the guy who doesn't win the show but walk away from it being the biggest winner.
From a physique standpoint I feel my strength is that I don't have any glaring weaknesses that can't be brought up in time. I'm pretty balanced. My legs are a strong point and I can get into good condition.
[ Q ] So what can we expect to see when you appear onstage at the USA's?
I trust that I will be the most condition guy on stage. I feel that I offer a pleasing package, which will be improved from last year. I should be fuller and have added detail to my back.
[ Q ] Describe a typical off-season? Do you get out of shape or stay reasonably defined?
My off-season training and contest training don't vary much. I believe that whatever got you there, keeps you there.
Obviously, there will be revisions in the diet but the food sources don't vary too much. As the show gets closer the diet is altered based on how I am looking. This is where George plays a huge part, having the expert pair of eyes.
[ Q ] What nutritional supplements do you take and why?
I am sponsored by Met-rx so I am blessed to be able to get my supplements for free. Met-rx offers many great products. My mainstays are Whey Isolate and Glutamine. I take basic vitamins and aminos as well. I recommend fish oil, flaxseed, joint formulas, along with a solid whole food greens and vegetable supplement to maintain overall general health.
View Met-Rx Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.
[ Q ] Who do you admire among the current pro ranks and why?
I'm thankful to George Farah for being a big believer and supporter of me. He has been unselfish and has giving so much of his time. He's like a brother to me. Mark Dugdale is an example of pro bodybuilder who has his priorities in place.
His faith, professionalism, and his family values are something every bodybuilder should aspire for. He's become someone who I can go to when I need to an honest answer.
Jay Cutler is the man. He has set the bar when it comes to being the consummate professional and maximizing his success. Bob Cicherillo for taking the interest in my career and giving solid advice following the USA's last year. I admire and respect every pro for what it takes to have gotten where they are and to compete at that level.
[ Q ] How much of an impact do you feel you will make at the pro level when you get there?
That's an interesting question. I just want to take it one show at a time. First thing first is obtaining my pro status. In due time I would hope my physique would fit in well with the type of physiques as shown by Mark Dugdale and Ronnie Rockel.
[ Q ] You have been getting a lot of magazine exposure, more so than any amateur that I can recall. Why is this do you think?
I have been very blessed on that end no doubt. I've been given the opportunity to shoot with every top photographer in the industry other than Kevin Horton of Flex, which I will be shooting with for the first time following the USA's this year.
I realize this is unique and I am truly grateful. It's a dream really and I thank the Lord for what has already come my way. I believe getting exposure comes from either placing well at a show, which creates a buzz about you and/or the editors/publishers thinking they can benefit from featuring you.
[ Q ] Where do you train and what is the environment like there?
I train at The Rush Fitness Complex. I train at the original location, which is known as the more hardcore/bodybuilding spot. There are five in Knoxville, four in Chattanooga, TN, and three in Charlotte, NC. The Rush is the fastest growing health club in the country and is expanding nationally, so in time they will be in many places across the country.
The Rush has everything one would need to train hard and heavy. I've recently requested a few more things to be added. They are very supportive and are willing to accommodate which is rare for a health club. I believe this has to do with the fact the owner is someone who keeps up with the industry and appreciates having people who bring attention to his clubs.
[ Q ] What is your favorite body part to train and why?
My back is my favorite body part to train currently. The reason why is because it's the area I've needed to focus on own the most since last year. I am driven to make the changes and this ads additional focus to my training.
[ Q ] What are your long-term bodybuilding goals?
I would like to remain healthy and active within the bodybuilding community years from now. I pray for longevity and that opportunities are present for my wife, IFBB Figure Pro, Jessica Paxson-Putnam, and I to continue in our passion of health and fitness.
We look at this lifestyle as a blessing and a gift. We wish to impact others through our love of this sport. I hope that I can make my mark on this industry by being known more for being a decent person while being a solid pro. Obviously, I would like to do well competitively but the reality is there are many unknowns and variables, which I do not have any control over.
At the end of the day, at the end of my career, I hope that I inspired other young bodybuilders to dream big and not to be afraid to go after the things inside them that drive them. After all, bodybuilding is a commendable lifestyle, which can create character and discipline.
Never give up, never give in, and remain on course. The journey is what is so exciting!
Check Out Peter Putnam's BodySpace Here.