If you are a bodybuilding competitor or just a bodybuilder who just wants to look great at the beach, then the following Natural Bodybuilder will fascinate you. How many times have we wanted to get into the best and most shredded condition possible, but fell short and missed getting absolutely sliced and diced by only a small bit.
Well I want to introduce you to a World Champion Bodybuilder who has given us a sneak peak into the arsenal of dieting and training tactics he implements effectively during the off-season and pre-contest! We need to pay attention to and try to mimic many of his unusual techniques and methods for us to get into that sliced and diced condition we have long desired.
His techniques consistently work for him and have been tested time and again on himself during many years as a successful competitor.
Who Is He?
I am eager and excited to tell you of the most driven competitor I have just met who was born March 6, 1976 in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England to his Mum Pauline.
Pauline raised him and his one older sibling, Neal. At the age of eight, in West Yorkshire England, this soon to be inspiration to bodybuilders around the globe lifted his first tool of the Bodybuilding trade. This tool was a homemade barbell made by his uncle Lenny. His own personal inspiration at the age of 8-years old came from watching episodes of the popular American television show "The Incredible Hulk."
By 14-years old there were some regular training routines being implemented and the nutrition at age 15 hinted of a true hardcore Bodybuilder in the making. When the rest of his friends were choosing ice cream, he was choosing tuna fish! Even then, at 15-years old in England, he understood somehow that protein was important for the growth of his muscles.
He was 21 years of age when he first began competing. His first contest was the 1998 ANB (Now NPA) Yorkshire Championships and it was history making. He won first place in his Novice Class and proceeded to take the Overall title. It was the first time a Novice swiped an Overall victory on the first attempt!
His business by day is Solidbodys, a Bodybuilding Apparel and Nutrition Store. His name is Andrew Merrifield. He goes by the Nickname "Mezza." At first glance of his photographs you will be amazed he is a natural bodybuilder. You will be astonished by his successful contest history, winning many "Non-Tested" as well as numerous "Tested" events.
When I asked Mezza why he has taken-up Natural Bodybuilding and stayed away from drugs he said because he became scared and tired of needles since he had his appendix out at the age of 10. Here you will learn about Andrew Merrifield's true passion for Bodybuilding and his dedication to the Natural Bodybuilding lifestyle!
Mezza's Contest History
- 1st Place Novice and Overall Winner: 1998 ANB Yorkshire Championships
- 1st Place under 78kg and Overall Champ: 2000 ANB Yorkshire
- 1st Place under 78kg: 2000 ANB British
- 1st Place: 2002 NABBA (Non-Tested) First Timers
- 1st Place: 2002 NABBA (Non-Tested) Mr. Yorkshire
- 1st Place under 78kg, Best Poser, and Overall: 2002 ANB Yorkshire
- 2nd Place, Intermediates, Best Poser: 2002 EFBB (Non-Tested) Warrington
- 1st Place under 78kg: 2002 ANB British
- 3rd Place, Intermediates: 2002 EFBB (Non-Tested) Finals
- 2nd Place: 2002 Natural World
- 1st Place: 2005 NABBA (Non-Tested) North East
- 1st Place: 2005 NABBA (Non-Tested) Mr. Yorkshire
- 2nd Place: 2005 Fitness Expo
- 1st Place under 78kg: 2005 NPA Yorkshire
- 1st Place: 2006 NABBA (Non-Tested) Mr. Yorkshire
- 1st Place under 78kg, Best Poser, and Overall: 2006 NPA Yorkshire
- 1st Place, Middleweight and Overall: 2006 BNBF Central
- 1st Place, Lightweight and Overall: 2006 Musclemania Britain
- 1st Place under 78kg and Overall: 2006 NPA British
- 2nd Place: 2006 NABBA (Non-Tested) Pro Am
- 1st Place: 2006 UIBBN World Natural Bodybuilding Championships, Italy
- 3rd Place, Lightweight: 2006 Musclemania, Universal Studios, California
Andrew's Thoughts On Competition
You can understand after reviewing his contest history that Mezza is so passionate about the sport of Bodybuilding. He puts himself through the rigors of the pre-contest Dieting and Training without hesitation, yet he admits it generally drains his body.
The closer to a show the more pressure his body is under and the energy expending and bare minimum of calories tends to make his body feel as though it will soon shut-down. He is a warrior for bodybuilding! He says the pre-contest prep work is so grueling that it is not even enjoyable the last six weeks before a show. Yet even with extremely low body fat levels and the low blood sugar you will still see a smile on Andrew's face.
He has so much love for the sport and has prided himself on being natural for so long that I believe his determination is priceless! Does Mezza feel the rewards match the hard work and dedication that goes into competition? Not quite.
He feels there should be a better prize system for all competitors so everyone, not just the top tier, gets something in exchange for their tough journey.
Andrew Merrifield "Mezza" Stats
- Best Developed Body Parts: Legs and Abs
- Body Part Needing Most Attention: Biceps
- Immediate Family: Mom (Pauline), Brother (Neil), Son (Levi)
- Owner of Solidbodys Nutrition and Bodybuilding Apparel Shop
- Current Residence: Brighouse, West Yorkshire, England
- Birthdate: March 6, 1976 - Now 31-years old
- Favorite Sport 2nd to Bodybuilding is Boxing, because of Rocky Movies
- DVD on Training, Nutrition, and Competition Coming SOON (Early 2008)!
Andrew The Motivator
Andrew Merrifield is an ordinary guy with extraordinary human willpower and a drive to be the best he can be in bodybuilding! He grew-up with a good family life and was bright, but not gifted. Many times during his middle to late teenage years he would leave his jobs if he felt they were interfering with his bodybuilding.
It seemed right at the time because of his passion for the sport, yet bodybuilding was not paying the bills, so he had to bite the nail and work hard to pay bills and still find the necessary time to build his body. We can all learn a lot from this tough and persistent competitor when it comes to listening to our bodies during dieting, training and resting.
Andrew is always willing to help anyone ready to take action on the advice he gives. He has even helped to give advice to fellow competitors by telling them what to look for onstage (eg: glute/ham separation and conditioning) and when looking in the mirror at their own physiques to critique their own progress.
Mezza competes at 157-158 pounds and in the off-season he is around 173-180 pounds. He tends to stick with the basic protein sources such as eggs, chicken breasts, canned tuna, salmon, turkey, beef, and whey protein all year long.
When planning to compete and in pre-contest mode he will usually cut back on red meats and right before a show cut out the protein shakes because of the added sodium and water mix which normally causes some water retention. Off-season and pre-contest protein amounts will normally reach about 300 grams per day divided among 6-7 meals.
Click Image To Enlarge.
Off-Season and pre-contest protein amounts will normally reach about 300 grams per day.
The healthy complex carbohydrates Mezza chooses are usually oatmeal and potatoes. The fruit of choice is banana and the normal fibrous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, onions, tomatoes, and green beans. Off-season the carbs (Not Counting Fibrous Vegetables) are usually around 200-to-500 grams per day divided among 6-to-7 meals.
When in pre-contest mode he will judge the amounts of carbs he needs by his appearance, the scale, and how he feels. If he feels he should take-in only 50 per day or 300 grams on a certain day, then so be it. Off-season there is a little cheating with food, but normally Andrew says he does not like to lose definition and get soft so he will not go overboard. Mezza drinks plenty of water each and every day to keep his fluid levels regulated and his metabolism running at full capacity!
Udo's Choice is a company who make their own products. It was set up by Udo Erasmus who was poisoned by pesticides and as a result is 100% passionate about the quality of his products.
In the morning when I wake up, I take Bulgarian Tribulus followed by 5 scoops of Whey with 100g of oats and one banana mixed together along with 3 spoons of Udo's Choice Oil blend. If I've gone for a walk before breakfast, I end up taking 10g of L-Glutamine, 10 caps of BCAA's and drink a Nescafe (black - 2 spoons).
At midday I have 2 chicken breasts with potato salad followed at 2 pm by the same breakfast meal with two Bulgarian Tribulus capsules. At 4 p.m. I use another 3 scoops of Whey and then half an hour later I take 10 BCAA capsules, 20grams of L-Glutamine, and 5g of glucose depending on my energy levels.
At 5 p.m., I train. Half way through the workout, I take 5g of L-Glutamine and a handful of BCAAs. Directly after I finish the workout, I take Growth Matrix. I find that taking it ice cold improves the taste. Fifteen minutes after getting home, I take oats, 7 egg whites, a banana and 5 scoops of Whey ALTERNATIVELY either scrambled eggs or an omelette (using 2 eggs with an additional 5 egg whites, a tin of tuna, onions with tomato sauce on top.
Before bed, I sometimes take another protein drink with Udo's oil. When I wake up in the night I take another protein drink with the Udo's Oil Blend. If I'm ever running late in the morning and don't have time for my normal meal routine, I use a Meal Replacement Shake instead. During the course of the normal day, I will also consume 5 liters of water.
You would probably find Mezza walking outside in the cloudy and mild temperature spring and summer days in Halifax, Brighouse, England for regular cardiovascular exercise. The winter is not too rough, so he will still be out and about performing regular 25-minute cardio sessions 5-6 times per week.
Pre-contest Mezza will again judge himself by looks, feel, and scale as to whether or not he needs more or less cardio. Typically for pre-contest cardio he is performing 30-to-45 minute sessions six times per week and sometimes if needed he does twice daily.
Normally he is walking, but he will also add walking-up steps and contracting and squeezing muscles of the lower body with each step. This he believes helps to better define his lower body.
Generally Mezza feels he does not lose muscle too easily in the lower body, but he has to be careful when overdoing cardio and dieting pre-contest because this could cause him to burn too much hard-earned muscle. Obviously he is a good judge of how much is too much or not enough since he has excelled in natural bodybuilding.
Mezza believes many times we try to perform too much cardio without enough protein and branched chain amino acids being replenished and we tend to burn too much muscle. He tries to walk the fine line between performing enough cardio while adding in the proper nutrients without going overboard on either.
If he overdoes cardio, then disaster will occur in the form of muscle loss. If he adds not enough cardio then he will keep a smooth, soft fatty layer covering his hard-earned muscles. Once the muscle is lost then you have backtracked on presenting the most size possible on stage or at the beach.
Cutting Water and Carbing-Up Pre-Contest
Below is a note from Andrew Merrifield to us all. He reveals his secrets to cutting his water before a contest and also shares some advice and tips with us, which may aid us in our quest to get dry and sculpted on stage!
OK, here goes,
Water 4 weeks out before a show: I start to increase my water from 5 liters a day to 7 liters per day 3 weeks out I increase it to 10 L per day, 2 weeks out 12 L per day, then Monday to Friday I drink as much as humanly possible up to 18 liters and to help keep me from cheating on my dieting, as I will have been going crazy due to the diet and all the cardio, I drink 2 liters of diet Coke on a night.
Saturday I cut right back on water, 4 liters for the day until 5 p.m., night before show Big stake a potato with 2 big glasses of wine, yes the dry white wine helps to dry me out over night and helps me sleep as I can get very nervous.
Show day I sip water, 2 liters for the day.
*Please note if you have not removed all your body fat, no matter how much water you drink you will not look shredded, if you have then you should look dry and hard on stage.
I have tried carbing up full on a potato every hour and a half all day long for 2-or-3 days before show and carb depletion 2-or-3 days prior, but I think this can be too risky. As they say here in the United Kingdom, if it isn't broken then don't fix it, so if you are looking great then don't bother mixing things up just relax and trick in nicely.
This is better 2 weeks out if you are on target as you should be and just about ready then just increase your carbs and one potato per day maybe 8 oz spud on top of whatever you are eating.
After 1 week of this pump up a little and see what happens if you get a pump then reduce the size of your spud a little and carry on with this for the last week. If you get no pump and you are flat then for a few days maybe have 2, 8 oz spuds per day extra on top of your diet.
Keep a check on the mirror every morning and pump up a little. See what happens. If you are happy with your results so far, then ease back to your original diet.
The day of show, if for whatever reason you are not happy with your condition, but you are ripped, but not dry then find your self a quiet corner somewhere out of the way and pose your heart out and squeeze your muscles, especially the legs, glutes, and back as hard as you can and this will help to harden you up for the night show.
If you are not a contender and if you don't think you are in the top 3 then, don't bother with this.
In The Gym
The following is the weight training Andrew Merrifield undertakes 5 days per week. Mezza kicks butt, as you can see, Monday thru Friday with body part split-training and rests his muscles on the weekends.
His training is instinctual and he always goes by feel of what works best for him or what doesn't. Usually he changes his routines every 6-to-8 weeks so his body does not get complacent and stop progressing. As a natural bodybuilder he does not have the accelerated rate of repair and growth a gear-using bodybuilder would have, so he tries not to go overboard punishing his muscles in the gym.
Mezza believes so many Bodybuilders who mimic other bodybuilders to exact precision, without "thinking out of the box" and using the most appropriate techniques for their body types, are really selling themselves short.
Everyone is so unique genetically, but we so often fall prey to doing exactly what everyone else does that we do not reach our full development and potential in the gym. As for Steroids, Mezza says: "genetics overpowers drugs" which means many guys with not so big genetics feel they will take steroids, barely work hard in the gym, and expect somehow to blow-up huge.
This is not the case and that is why Mezza believes his hard work in the gym and in the kitchen, plus enough rest, is why he has been such a top contender on stage. For years he has beaten much bigger guys because of his hard work and focus on conditioning and proportion.
Achieving the right volume and intensity of training is an art in itself. On a personal note, I have cut down the volume (number of sets) within my workouts over recent years because I felt that I was overtraining.
I have also cut down on the intensity which used to involve forced reps within every set overseen by a training partner. I also used to do drop sets. Again, I felt that this was too much as part of my regular training program. The fine balance between pushing yourself and pushing yourself over the edge is different for all of us. What I physically respond to as a training program may not be enough for you, similarly it may be too much.
All I can say is that on a personal note that by cutting down on the sets and knocking out the drop sets and the forced reps my muscle respond more favorably. It's an age old adage that you should listen to your body, but I guess sometimes it takes a while to clear your ears! The forced sets that I used to use on my legs meant that I literally couldn't walk properly the following day. In hindsight, I guess that I should have seen that this wasn't a natural or healthy approach to take on a regular basis.
Sometimes to increase the intensity without forced reps and if I'm pushed for time I perform the above in a giant set type of circuit. I perform the first exercise to failure, then jump on to the next exercise and then the next which counts as one set. I may repeat that once or twice depending on how I feel.
I guess that being sensitive to how your body is reacting on a particular day is also important. A good example might be when you're training and you're starting to loose the pump. This could well be your muscles telling you that you're done in that training session. Be in tune with your body rather than working against it.
Supplements (sports nutrition) are just as important as my workouts in the gym. The analogy that I would make is of a racing car that is not given the right fuel and lubricants. The same is true of your body which will not perform at its best, recover from the workouts or grow to its optimal level.
The following resistance training routines are samples of the types Mezza uses off-season and pre-contest. Nearing a competition he may not perform too many heavy lifts for the risk of injury.
- Set 1: 12-to-15 hard reps
- Set 2: 8-to-12 reps to failure
- Set 3: 6-to-12 reps to failure
- Calf Press On The Leg Press Machine
- Seated Calf Raise
- Standing Calf Raise
- Donkey Calf Raise
- Leg Curls: 2-to-3 sets
- Super Mez Set With Leg Press
I put my heels right at the top of the foot plate and press with heels. I don't lock out. I keep the tension on my hamstrings, not on my knees or quads. Then I continue to rep with quite a fast pace.
- Cable Front Raise: 3 sets
- Lateral Dumbbell Raise: 3 sets
- Seated Dumbbell Press: 3 sets
- Incline Dumbbell Front Lateral Raises: 2 sets
- Behind The Neck Shoulder Press: 1 to 2 sets
- Dumbbell/Barbell Shrugs: 3 sets
- Dumbbell/Barbell Preacher Curl: 2-to-3 sets to failure
- Standing Barbell Curls: 2-to-3 sets
- Concentration Curls/Seated Dumbbell Curls: 1-to-2 sets
- Preacher Reverse Curl: 2 sets
- Barbell Wrist Curl Supersetted With
- Barbell Reverse Wrist Curl
- Barbell Reverse Curl: 2 sets
- Set 2: 20 reps to failure
- Set 3: 10-to-12 reps to failure
- Set 1: 10-to-15 reps to failure
- Set 2: 8-to-12 reps to failure
- Set 3: 6-to-8 reps
- Set 1: 8-to-12 reps to failure
- Set 2: 6-to-8 reps to failure
- Set 1: 20 hard reps to failure
- Set 2: 10-to-15 hard reps to failure
- Set 3: sometimes 6-to-10 reps to failure
- Set 1: continue until failure
- Set 2: 10-to-12 reps to failure
Hack Squat/Leg Press:
- Set 1: 11-to-15 reps
- Set 2: 8-to-12 reps
- Dumbbell Press: 2-to-3 sets
- Incline Dumbbell Press: 2-to-3 sets
- Dumbbell Flyes: 2-to-3 sets
- Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 2-to-3 sets
- Incline Dumbbell Press: 2-to-3 sets
- Decline Barbell Press: 2-to-3 sets
- Dips: 2-to-3 sets
- Incline Barbell Press: 2-to-3 sets
- Bench Press: 2-to-3 sets
- Dumbbell Flyes: 2-to-3 sets
- Close-Grip Bench Press: 2 sets
- Skull Crushers: 2 sets
- Standing Cable Push-downs: 2 sets
- Standing Cable Overhead Extension
- Standing Cable Push-downs
I believe the now 31-year-old Mezza deserves a huge amount of respect from the bodybuilding world. When looking at natural and non-natural bodybuilders across the globe, and I have seen and met many of the top bodybuilders in person, I would have to say Andrew Merrifield is the most ripped guy in the world when he competes.
He is a very approachable and likeable devoted bodybuilder that many should see as a role model. His young son Levi will be very proud of his father and his father's already successful accomplishments as he grows-up. Mezza is a true Bodybuilding professional and is the epitome of what this sport is all about.
Mezza seeks true proportion and pleasing aesthetics with each and every rep performed in the gym. He trains, eats, and does business as a bodybuilder and we should all appreciate his passion for the sport!
Check Out Andrew's Bodyspace Here: Mezza