I grew up around weightlifting. My father has been lifting weights for as long as I can remember. He would be in his basement gym religiously training before or after work. I learned a lot from him as a teenager training in our home gym together. When I was still a teen, my father helped train me in the Scottish Highland games and I competed in my first Highland Games competition with him at age 18. I enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school and my focus switched to endurance training and being "lean and mean." While I still made it to the gym, I was not consistent.
Then at age 28 I decided to purchase a Joe Weider bench and a 300-pound Olympic weight set and set up a home gym in my 14x20 storage shed in the back yard. Over the next few years I made it out to my little home gym four mornings per week before work. Eventually I could see a measurable difference and so did others. I was hooked! Lifting remained a hobby for me but in 2005, at the suggestion of a friend, I decided to enter my first bodybuilding contest. It was this experience that taught me the difference between being a guy who liked to lift weights and being a competitive bodybuilder. The dedication and discipline it takes to compete is much different; and this appeals to my competitive spirit.
In 2009 my competition plans were sidelined due to rotator cuff impingement in both of my shoulders. I had been suffering through pain after my workouts for a year and finally saw an orthopedic surgeon. He recommended acromioplasty in both shoulders to prevent any serious damage to my rotators due to the impingement. I had my right shoulder repaired in January and the left in March. This didn't keep me out of the gym, but restricted my upper body training for about 6 months. I continued to train my lower body with safety bar squat, leg presses and such. I slowly worked my way back and in 2010 was able to qualify for the WABDL Bench Press and Deadlift championships in Las Vegas where I helped our team from the Iron Chamber Gym finish 3rd. My shoulders are now pain free.
I am looking forward to getting back on a bodybuilding stage in 2012, this time as a heavyweight.
I've used a lot of the basic 3 and 4 day split routines and had good success with them over the years, but for me the biggest pure gains have come from incorporating powerlifter style training. I joined a powerlifting gym in 2008 and I have put on 20 lbs of lean body mass naturally by lifting heavy in the three main lifts (bench, squat and deadlift). Putting up heavy weights each week is just going force your body to build muscle.
I still can't give up my desire to get in some higher volume as in traditional bodybuilding workouts so right now I perform a type of hybrid routine that fits my schedule but still allows me to continue to train the three big lifts with lighter day in between.
I am currently cutting for a contest. I typically follow a high protein/moderate carbs/low fat diet. I try to cycle my carbohydrates intake about every 3-to-4 days to keep my body guessing.
For example I will take in 200g of carbs on day 1, 150g of carbs on day 2, 150g of carbs on day 3, then drop to less than 50g of carbs on day 4, then cycle back up to 200g of carbs on day 5, etc. I try to incorporate my higher carb days to coincide with my heavier training days to keep my energy up.
I enjoy the discipline and hard work it takes to be successful. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. I have also enjoyed inspiring others and trying to be an example that they can be in great shape if they put their minds to it. A lot of people use the words "I can't" when what they really mean is "I won't." If you want something in life, you're going to have to earn it.
Once I discovered how much of a difference nutrition and fitness can make in my physical well-being; I just can't allow myself to do anything less. The difference in my mood, energy levels and even my blood work is just too amazing to ignore. It's just common sense.
After my enlistment in the Marine Corps was over I began to miss being challenged on a regular basis. I began competing in the Scottish Highland games again, then bodybuilding and powerlifting. I enjoy competition because it brings out my best. I make my best gains knowing I have committed to compete directly against others. It keeps me from making any excuses because I know my competition out there ISN'T making excuses.
After a year off in 2009 and two years of powerlifting I am making my natural bodybuilding comeback in 2012 at the Ohio Natural Bodybuilding Federation's Mr. Natural Ohio.
Find good training partners. My training partners at the Iron Chamber Gym have been indispensible and have helped push me beyond my limits. Even though most of them will never compete in bodybuilding, we all have the same goal; to get better every training session. Having someone you feel accountable to for missing a workout will help immensely.
Also, it's never too late to get started. I didn't start weight training in earnest until I was 28 and didn't first compete until age 35. Commit to taking yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
I would have to say that even though he never competed in bodybuilding; my father is my favorite competitor. He inspires me more than anyone. And even in his late 60s his competitive spirit keeps him going in the gym and competing in local powerlifting competitions.
The informational articles and forums have been indispensible for getting new training and nutrition tips. I have gained a lot of information about pre-contest prep from reading the forums. Members have always been willing to share information.
The online store has been my one stop shop for all my competition needs; from posing trunks to dream tan, I have found everything I needed for competing and supplementation.