I hear so many times that people make up excuses that they can’t travel with food or it’s too hard. When people tell me they can’t do this or can’t do that, it’s just downright being lazy. I am not one who will travel and depend on buying precooked foods that are prepared by someone else, point being, I trust myself when I cook. I know what I put in it, and I don’t have to question anything that I am putting into my body, especially if it’s during a show. That said, there are things to make it easier. I invested in a top-line vacuum sealer. I cook all my food, vacuum seal it, and then put it in the refrigerator for a full day to make sure it is fully cooled. Then when I have to fly on the plane, I put it in my cooler, which is my carry-on luggage. A vacuum sealer not only compacts your food but also keeps it fresher for longer, so when you travel for days or a week, the food will stay fresher for longer, and there’s less worry about food poisoning. It’s total BS that you can’t travel with food. I travel with every kind of food you can think of. The only food I get stopped for bringing on is peanut butter, but I always have my proteins, and even my BSN Syntha-6 powders are no problem. So stop making excuses and be a bodybuilder 24/7, not just when it’s convenient.
Was there any point in your life when you thought you would never turn pro?
That’s a very good question because in all honesty, football was my dream and passion since I started playing in the third grade. There came a time when I was in high school and started training that I wanted to pursue bodybuilding. I even remember getting ready to go to camp in college and making sure I packed my FLEX magazines in my suitcases. I remember the exact ones: There was one with Ronnie Coleman on the cover, one with Kevin Levrone, and one with Shawn Ray. Even when I realized I wanted to be a bodybuilder, I wasn’t thinking that I would one day be pro. I knew I would one day compete, but I had no idea I would be any good or go anywhere until I competed in my first show and shocked not only myself but the judges as well, who were amazed it was my first competition and told me to keep going because I could make something of myself with the correct guidance. That was almost 10 years ago in 2003 when I first stepped onstage. Sure I had my doubts when I was a competitor if I would ever make it as a pro, or even if I would ever be a good amateur competitor. My biggest reality check came in 2007 when I did my first NPC Nationals and came head to head for the first time in my career with Jose Raymond, who beat me that year as a middleweight. I remember stepping onstage in the first callout with him and looking down at his legs thinking, “Damn! I thought my legs were sick!” I came in a close second to Jose that year, only to come back bigger and better the following year in 2008, winning the middleweights and turning pro at the young age of 26.
I learned one important lesson when I took second in 2007 and something I will never forget. I learned that in order to be a great winner, you have to be a good loser! That is something that was true back then and still is to this day as I have continued with my pro career. With my dream, drive, and dedication along with the help and support of my family, friends, fans, and the best prep coach in my corner, IFBB pro Fakhri Mubarak, I have just started my journey in the sport.
My training split now is the same it has been for a while and probably won’t ever change. This is how I find it best for me to split up my body parts for optimal growth and recovery time.
As for the other part of the question, I never, ever change what I do as far as training goes during the off-season or pre-contest. I will tell you what my theory is on that and why I think it is a big mistake for competitors to do that. First, as a bodybuilder, our main goal is to gain as much lean muscle as possible on our frame. We do that in our off-season when we are eating high calories and pounding the iron as hard as we can to gain every ounce of muscle we can. If you reread my last sentence you will know where I am going with this. Why would you change the way you train when you are trying to gain muscle, when you are dieting trying to maintain the muscle you have and strip all the fat from it? I hear about so many guys doing all these higher-rep sets and using half the weight they usually do in the off-season to try to get shredded for a show. That makes no sense—the way to keep your muscles full and round is by pumping up with the correct nutrients and killing it in the gym. The two keys to getting shredded are diet and cardio.
The training is the variable that will keep all the hard-earned muscle you worked so hard for on your frame and make you look much rounder and fuller onstage. I try to go as heavy as I can using proper form. My rep range is anywhere from 8 to 15, and for bigger body parts my set range is around 16–20 and smaller body parts 12–14. Hope this helps, bro!