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How One Military Member Packed On Some Serious Body Armor—Muscle!

Ismael began lifting in high school for sports, but it wasn't until he joined the Navy that he began taking his training seriously. It wasn't long before he decided to compete.

Military Bodybuilder of the Month: Ismael Varela

Ismael Varela Name: Ismael Varela
Email: I_varela777@yahoo.com
Age: 23
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 215 off, 180 Contest
Years Bodybuilding: 5
Additional Info: Personal Trainer, Performance Nutrition Specialist (ISSA), Group Fitness Instructor (ACE)

Military Background:
Branch Of Service: US Navy Years Of Service: 5 Rank: E-4 MOS: Crash and Salvage Crewman (USS Theodore Roosevelt)

How did you get started?

During high school I would always lift, but because we had to for sports. Freshman year I weighed 120lbs and no more. Throughout high school it became routine to workout even after class. I'd always lift with the linemen, one of whom is still my best friend.

Every day of the week we'd go to his grandpa's gym in the basement and lift. Once I got to the Navy, I became more serious about it and after I was introduced to personal training I did a bodybuilding show.

What is the hardest part of making the transition from civilian life to military life?

I would say getting yelled at for things that don't matter in my eyes and not being able to do anything back to that person. Leaving my home town to live across the country was also difficult at first; I'm close to my mom and grandmother. No one said it would be easy, but it helped me to grow up in a sense.

No one said it would be easy but it helped me to grow up in a sense.
+ Click To Enlarge.
No one said it would be easy, but it
helped me to grow up in a sense.

What is the biggest obstacle in leading a military lifestyle?

Not being able to eat when you try to have a diet plan. When I competed in my first show I was living on the ship, so every meal I had was difficult to make unless I went to a buddy's house to prep food the day before.

During that time tuna became my best friend, id just run it under water to get the excess sodium out and there was a meal with rice cakes. Military lifestyle itself is simple to adjust to, but you find out that it's not for everyone. In boot camp those that were hard at following directions were sent back a class or kicked out.

What workout plan worked best for you?


Day 1: Back
Day 2: Chest/Triceps
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Legs
Day 5: Shoulders/Traps
Abs/Calves/Forearms:

Abs, calves and forearms are trained every other day.

Military Bodybuilder of the Month: Ismael Varela
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Military Bodybuilder of the Month: Ismael Varela

What nutrition plan has worked best for you?


Meal 1: 6 AM
Meal 2: 9 AM
Meal 3: 12 PM
Meal 4: 3 PM
Meal 5: 6 PM
Meal 6: 9 PM
Military Bodybuilder of the Month: Ismael Varela
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Military Bodybuilder of the Month: Ismael Varela

What supplements have given you the greatest gains?

I order everything through Optimum; I'm a firm believer in their product.

What are your future bodybuilding plans?

I plan to continue adding mass then cut down for a show in a couple years. Right now I am taking a great interest in powerlifting. I've added some fat along with my weight gain, but my strength has shot up with heavy lifting. It would be nice to get partial sponsorship one day, but no matter what I will always continue to bodybuild.

I plan to continue adding mass then cut down for a show in a couple years.
+ Click To Enlarge.
I plan to continue adding mass then
cut down for a show in a couple years.

Who are your favorite bodybuilders?

Franco Columbu, Frank Zane, Dorian Yates, and Tom Platz.

What one tip would you give other bodybuilders in the military?

Number one key is motivation. Anyone can say they will get back in shape, but doing it is a whole other field of effort. Training is the easy part of bodybuilding, it's the diet that every falls short on. Stay disciplined and results will show.

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