Back during the spring of this year, I met a fellow by the name of David Knowles. David was a powerlifter in his own right but one with potential to make the transition to bodybuilding. So after a few brief conversations, we agreed on a "plan" that would enable him to compete in the Atlanta SNBF in September 2001. He wrote down everything I told him and followed it exactly. My plan was for him to continually eat clean, but in excess calories so he could put on some more size and strength before the arduous dieting began. I knew that by dieting and performing cardio, he was going to lose size and strength. I also knew that by looking at his physique that he naturally retained a lot of water. So after giving him sound advice which he followed very well, the summer came and so did a lapse. We lost contact after several weeks and I wasn't even sure if he was still preparing for the contest. Fortunately, while I was training for the Mr. GA, I ran into one of his friends who gave me his home information. I immediately made the effort to contact him to see how serious he was about the September 7th SNBF contest.
Afterwards, we made arrangements to meet at least once every 2 weeks so I could gauge his physique and alter his diet accordingly. About six weeks out, he did not look as if he would be ready in time so I took it upon myself to start zig-zagging his carbohydrate intake while keeping his protein intake high. Once again, he followed the plan as discussed and made slow but steady progress. About four weeks out, he made improvements but was starting to have self doubt. It was evident in our almost daily discussions of training, dieting, and the upcoming contest. He felt as if he was small and not lean but I told him that the problems he was experiencing is normal for any bodybuilding dieting down for a show and his body had a tendency to hold extra subcutaneous water. After repeatedly having this discussion, I told him to lay his worries aside, concentrate on training and dieting, and let me take care of the rest. After all, competing six times only gave me the knowledge of what to do and what not to do to take care of that little extra problem with water. As the days progressed closer and closer to the contest, his body made incredible improvements. Judging by his condition, I allowed him 2 days of low carbs instead of zero carbing. To make sure he wasn't burning muscle, I made him test for ketone bodies every night. Much to our delight, the results were always in our favor. So with only 2 days of low carbs, 3 days of carb loading, and a few days water depletion we embarked on what would mentally be his toughest week yet. David took to the challenge like no other I have encountered. He would always say something to the extent of, "I can't believe I made it this far." The last week rolled by just like any other week and David handled it very well.
Saturday morning came and so did prejudging. I had to make the early drive to the venue in order to oversee David's last minute preparations before stepping. He literally blew the competition away! The other guys in his novice class didn't stand a chance. Albeit, he wasn't the biggest guy on stage, he was one of the most symmetrical and had conditioning unparalleled by any of the competitors present. In my books, two out of three isn't too terrible. After the morning prejudging, I informed David of how to treat the rest of the day. I told him to just keep doing as we had been doing and to not change a thing. We parted our separate ways for a few hours and met back up at the venue for the night show. I had a feeling David would look a little better at the night show and sure enough, he did. He was a little tighter and a little fuller. Hmmm…..I need to make a note for next competition. Anyhow, the show went on and David went through his posing routine with the confidence of a champion. He made it look as if he were a crafty veteran competing for several years. The crowd was literally eating out of his hands. It was no surprise to me that David was called out for 1st in his weight class and the overall novice title nor was it a surprise to me that he placed 1st in his height class also. However, the judges' decision to allow some gargantuan heavyweight outplace him for the overall open title was unappreciated by the crowd. This was apparent in the boos chanted by the audience after the other competitor's name was called out for the overall title. Regardless of this decision, I was still very proud of David. Three first place trophies out of four possible trophies by a 21 year old ain't too shabby, if you ask me. Under my guidance, David and I are now getting ready for the stage war at the NPC GA 2002 where we WILL make a huge impact!
Until next time, train hard, train smart, think BIG!