To become a top professional bodybuilder you need confidence and a winning attitude. New legitimate threat to the pro top order, New Zealand's Moe El Moussawi, has both these qualities in abundance along with the physical attributes needed to succeed in the big leagues.
Moe has steadily risen to the top since making his professional debut at the 2006 Iron Man Pro, where he placed a respectable 14th in a field of 32 competitors. Last weekend he beat out the most competitive Iron Man line-up ever to place an impressive third, his highest placement yet as a pro.
In one week from now Moe will face his toughest challenge yet: the 2008 Arnold Classic with its stacked line-up of top tier professional athletes, chief among them multi-Arnold winner and favorite Dexter Jackson, and new sensation Phil "The Gift" Health.
Moe, in his current shape, stands a good chance muscle and conditioning-wise against both of these men. And now that he is better known to the IFBB professional judges' he will finally start getting the callouts he deserves, which only adds to his chances of success.
At last week's Iron Man Pro, Moe completely flawed all in attendance with shape, conditioning and muscle he had not previously displayed. The crazy thing about his appearance, considering everyone this author has spoken to was suitably impressed with Moe's newfound level of size and conditioning and that man himself showed few if any flaws onstage, is the fact he now considers himself to have not been at his best at this show.
"I was a little bit nervous for the Iron Man and that is why I did not actually act the way I should have acted onstage at the pre-judging at that contest," says Moe. "I just wasn't 100 percent."
A characteristically confident Moe nervous? What happened? Ten days out from the 2008 Iron Man Pro, Moe was looking harder and fuller than ever at 250 pounds. Ten days, including five days of severe jetlag, and a 16-pound drop in muscle later and the New Zealander still presented a physique good enough to win third sport in a tough field, but not the kind he planned on bringing.
Now, heading into the Arnold, he feels he has enough time to prepare perfectly the final week, which means a better Moe than the one that wowed audiences at the Iron Man. And that alone is worth the trip to Columbus.
[ Q ] We are one week out from your first Arnold Classic appearance Moe. How is your preparation for this contest going?
It is all going great. I think you will see a better Moe at the Arnold than you did at the Iron Man.
[ Q ] Are you saving your best for the Arnold?
Honestly no. I did my best for the Iron Man; I'm not going to deny that. The only problem I had with the Iron Man is the fact I arrived in the US from New Zealand on the Sunday late and I had jetlag for four or five days straight. Honestly it felt like I was on that d@mn plane for five days.
So right before the Iron Man I was not feeling my best, but on the Thursday or Friday, I started to feel a little bit better. If you saw me in the shape I left New Zealand in you would have been shocked. Definitely. Now it is coming back to that shape because I'm rested and have had a chance to settle down a little bit.
[ Q ] Heading into the Arnold do you think it might be wise to possibly come in fuller and sacrifice one percent of your conditioning to compete with the larger guys?
Listen, the biggest guy onstage at the Arnold will be Gustavo. And looking at the Iron Man pictures the guy was not a lot bigger than me. But it is wise and true and I have been considering this with my brother who works with me; he is a biochemist.
We might not have to sacrifice anything though; that is the beauty of it. At the Iron Man I weighed in at 108kgs and today (Friday 22, one week out from the Arnold Classic) I weighed 111 with the same level of conditioning. I was a little bit flat on the morning of the Iron Man.
They won't say this but I feel there was some flatness in my chest area. Now it is completely different and is back to the way it is supposed to be. So if I have to sacrifice one percent, yes. But if I can bring the same condition but with a little more fullness, and that is my aim, hopefully I will bring some of those big boys down.
[ Q ] Going into the Iron Man pre-judging, what was the reaction from the other pros to you backstage?
Well I was the last person to take my clothes off backstage and I remember Kamali was there and his jaw just dropped. I was sitting next to Phil Heath and it was, "This is not this same guy we saw last year."
[ Q ] I think at the weigh-in the reaction was the same. People seemed to be very impressed with what you brought.
Exactly. You know some of them didn't even recognize me. I'm like, "What, have I gotten 20 years older?" One guy even said, "You look much younger." And I said, "Well living in New Zealand does make you younger (laughs)."
[ Q ] You say you will nail it at the Arnold Classic and I'm sure you will. But you will have seasoned guys like Melvin to contend with.
Yes that is true and Melvin is extremely good. But at the Iron Man he looked to be about six weeks out from the Arnold. And these are not my words. They are the words of high-ranking officials. For him to dial it in over a two-week period will be so hard. So they are sleeping and I'm awake. And that's when I will hunt them down.
[ Q ] You have the right mindset so I do hope it all plays out well for you.
I do and I do want to bring New Zealand a top three at the Arnold, but we will see.
[ Q ] You have qualified for the Olympia so will you compete at this show?
I will, definitely. It has been my dream since I was a kid so I'm definitely going to go. I believe I will be the first Kiwi (term for New Zealander) to step onstage at the Olympia.
[ Q ] You will be the first Kiwi to do this. I heard you looked great ten days out from the 2007 Iron Man. Tell me exactly how you looked at this point.
Yes that is right, ten days out I was 250 pounds and in very good condition as well. So that drop (16 pounds over five days) really killed me. And to be honest with you I was a little bit nervous because of that drop. I didn't know what to expect and still landed in third, which is not bad. They are going to be very surprised (at the Arnold Classic) I can promise you this now.
[ Q ] So are very confident at this point, one week out from the Arnold.
Yes I am very confident. I am going to be heavier, bigger and harder without compromising anything. That is why I am telling you that a person like Gustavo will not stand a chance against me. He was bigger than me, and that is one of the reasons he beat me: he was so big. But when I come a little bit bigger and harder he will not stand a chance. That's why I am really confident that I will bring him down. And to bring down the guy who came third at the Olympia twice, that is a very good feeling.
[ Q ] How is your training going right now?
I am going nuts with my training. I am doing 500 reps broken down into five sets for body parts. For shoulders I will do 500 reps, then for chest it will be another 500 reps and so on.
[ Q ] And can you give me a rundown on what you are eating?
Diet? That's my little secret and that's how we should keep it (laughs). I don't talk too much about my diet. I don't divulge diet secrets because I am working with someone and I don't want to compromise their position. I will give you a rough idea. I don't diet very hard (laughs). I work hard.
There is a fine line between killing yourself with low carbs and high protein and keeping them both high and training like an animal. The problem with a lot of bodybuilders is they are lazy in the gym and I am not. So even if I eat a little more carbs I am training three times harder and I'm using those carbs to keep my size on.
You have to understand, when you drop carbs you become flat and this uses a lot of muscle as well. But again, specifically I don't want to go into too much detail here. You don't want the boys to know what you are doing. And to be fair and honest with you, if I say it (what I am eating) people will laugh and they will think I am being sarcastic so why say it to begin with.
[ Q ] You speak in this interview as a man confident of success come the Arnold Classic. Are you more fired up for this contest than for any other show you have been in?
I am. Like I told you before, I was a little bit nervous for the Iron Man and that is why I did not actually act the way I should have acted onstage at the pre-judging at that contest. I just wasn't 100 percent. And when I was the second guy to be called out it was a complete shock to be honest. It was like, "Wow." I wasn't looking at nobody; wasn't studying anybody. I was there just to do my job and I figured yes I was one of the best three in there.
So for the Arnold, considering I was not really myself at the Iron Man, it's going to be a completely different story. I am completely charged and have a lot of energy going in and the confidence to top it off. They are going to have to fight for it. That is how it is.
[ Q ] As you alluded to in your last answer, you could have placed higher at the Iron Man had things been at 100 percent: your onstage performance for example. Just how important is onstage confidence in the final outcome at your level?
It is very important. It actually defines how you act and how you pose, so it is almost 50 percent of the job onstage. If you are not confident then you are not going to pose confidently and that will kill your chances.
[ Q ] And you say you were a little down on this aspect at the Iron Man.
I could say that, yes. At the Arnold you are going to see a different guy.
[ Q ] Well Moe all the best for the Arnold. People in your country of residence (New Zealand) are also excited about your next big step.
I'm actually proud to finally become a citizen of New Zealand and to represent New Zealand professionally. As soon as I gained my citizenship I changed my pro card to New Zealand status. I am proud to put New Zealand on the map and my goal will be to bring us as a country to the top of the sport over the next few years. Once and for all I'm going to do this.
Moe El Moussawi
IFBB Pro & 2007 Iron Man Contender.
Photo By SecondFocus.
Week #46 - 1/30/2007
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