As I was getting closer to the target date of the Arnold Brazil, I noticed something different in how I was mentally approaching my training. I was used to working fast and increasing my intensity through drop sets and giant sets, or decreasing time between sets. Then I had an epiphany about this. It had led me to less mind-muscle connection during training because my effort was to get through the workout fast, and simply get the sets and reps in. I had lost the idea of creating as much tension as possible in every movement, i.e. focusing on making the muscle actually do the work.
With Paul's program, I now had to focus on obtaining hard contractions, controlled negatives, all the while using perfect form as heavy as possible within a particular rep range. Putting all of these things together like this was foreign to me. I had never structured my own training this way. Needless to say, all of this was a shock to my body, and the new stimulus caused me to grow like never before. My strength sky rocketed as well. Three weeks out from the Arnold Brazil, I was pause squatting with over 500 pounds for reps after pre-exhausting my quads and hamstrings. I was doing bent over rows with 450 pounds, and bench pressing 405 for multiple sets of 10.
Another difference was that each bodypart had different variables in regards to volume, frequency, and intensity...and when you think about it, this should make sense. Not everything needs the same amount of work, or needs to be trained in the same manner for optimal growth, especially depending on what is being prioritized. For example, my initial split had me hitting back three times over the first nine days of the program, with chest and shoulders getting hit three times over twelve days. In the past I had trained arms twice a week on their own, with a lot of volume. However, because of all the pressing and pulling I was doing, Paul scaled direct arm work way back, and my arms actually grew.
Because of the months of difficult training I had put in, I was really confident going into the Arnold Brazil. I knew that I was bigger and this was evident to others as well because the first comment Shawn ray wrote about me was, "Fred Biggie Smalls definitely got bigger." Dave Palumbo wrote really complimentary comments about me as well, regarding my newfound size and conditioning. All that being said, it meant nothing on stage because once again I was not in the first call out and I found myself completely deflated.
I felt bad for my family, for Paul, and for George. I felt like I had let everyone down, and I was tired of not being considered a great bodybuilder and of only being known for my posing routines. I thought the Arnold Brazil was when I would begin to be recognized because of my physique, but that wasn't the case and I was left backstage shaking my head wondering what to do next . My confidence was shaken.
I was in quite the funk, that is, until I saw the pics from the show. Then I was suddenly elated! All of those months of ball-busting workouts HAD paid off. I was bigger, more three dimensional, and crazy-dense. I was hard, but I knew I could be harder, so I was very motivated going into the next week's show, The Toronto Pro.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would win this show. I knew that my quads would be tighter, which was my biggest area of concern in Brazil. Paul made the trip to Toronto, along with my wife (who hadn't been with me in Brazil). I felt like all of the stars were aligned for me to get this win. The night before the show, we all had dinner and I felt so confident that I told Paul to come to the bathroom with me, where I stripped down to show him my conditioning. We both felt that I was close, but that I hadn't quite peaked. This was a good sign to me. In the past, there were times when I peaked the day before the show, only to wake up the day of the show and be flat or softer than I had been the day before. This made me feel like the timing was right for a win.
Sure enough, I was in first call outs. It was me, Johnnie Jackson, and Brandon Curry standing center stage. I felt super confident about my chances, but then they put Johnnie and Brandon back in line and I continued posing with three other guys. "Damn! What's wrong now?" I wondered. I ended up placing third.
At first I thought it was a political thing, but when I spoke with Paul he told me there were still some things I needed to improve on, and that I did need to be tighter. Judge Gary Udit reiterated this and said, "Fred bring it in slightly tighter, and you can get a win."
Well, me being the competitor I am, I took what Gary and Paul told me to heart, and got back to work. George begged me to use nothing but salt and lemon on my food and Paul changed my lifting routine for the last two weeks going into Dallas and I was off to the races with one focus. Get this win.
My mindset was such that I would not think, I would just do what I was told. I put my trust in Paul and George 100% so I didn't need to think. "Just execute the plan and believe in the process," I told myself.
My workouts stayed intense all the way through the next two weeks so I wouldn't lose any fullness. I showed up in Dallas far more grainy than the conditioning I had brought before. When George saw me in Dallas, all he could do was smile. I texted Paul and promised him it was our time. My wife, who sees me before every show, was even amazed at the difference in my physique from Toronto to Dallas.
I was placed front and center for in the first call outs. I won unanimously with all first place votes. Words cannot explain the feelings I had in seeing this finally come to fruition. I was overwhelmed with emotion and joy. I had wondered many times if this moment would ever come to pass in my life, and the feeling was everything I ever thought it would be.
I thank God that I had the guts to hire Paul to take over my training, and I'm even more blessed that we have become great friends. Really, he's more like family. So is my other coach, George Farah. I am thankful that he has stuck by me through all of these years, and is very much like my other brother.
Needless to say I am riding high, and it feels good to be an IFBB pro champion. My next stop is the 2015 Mr. Olympia where our goals are high, becuase as I have already shown, I'm too stubborn to believe there's nothing I can accomplish if I'm willing to work my ass off for it.
Click "NEXT PAGE" for Fred's training routine >>