by Anthony DeAngelis, Natural Pro, National Level NPC Competitor
The sixteen week mark, one hundred and twelve days. A relatively long time, but for a competitive bodybuilder it will go by fast in a blink of an eye. Sixteen weeks to obtain that very lean, dry, full, muscular and a "grainy" look. What I do is break this time down into four segments, each lasting four weeks. This article will be describing my first four weeks of my bodybuilding pre-contest preparation for my 2007 season. The NPC East Coast will be my first show on November 3rd and NPC Nationals on November 16th and 17th will be my second.
My first goal is to get into the "right" mind set. I always tell people that my mind is my strongest muscle. This means always having goals written and very visible for me to see, thinking and visualizing the final product, to enjoy this journey. Not to think of it as work. No joke, it is hard, very hard work, but in all honesty, I love this sport of competitive bodybuilding. The challenge, to better myself from my previous year, to fight through injuries, to push myself when I am dead tired. To eat only chicken, egg whites, steak, Ultra Iso Whey protein, oats, rice, potatoes and string beans. Nothing else can enter my mouth if I want to be in my best condition. My diet hangs on my refrigerator, on my bathroom mirror! A copy of it is in my workout journal. These are my visual aids--my reminders.
Holding on to muscle is everybody's goal when dieting to get "cut." I do not cycle my carbohydrates nor do I administer a very low or zero carbohydrate diet. I will make changes--lowering my carbohydrates by gauging my condition using the mirror and taking into account my strength/energy levels. I assess myself every three to four weeks. I will still try to train heavy, using the basic compound exercises, the same way I train year round except my rest times in between sets will decrease. I start my cardiovascular exercise at six days a week for twenty minutes a day. I use the treadmill or EFX. Again, changes in my cardio will also alter at the three-four week mark when assessing myself. I do my cardio as soon as I wake. A glass of ice water and Animal Cuts in my body and a bodybuilding DVD on the TV and I am on my way, burning fat.
Weight training? I keep it simple. Heavy squats, leg presses, walking lunges, incline and flat barbell presses, barbell and dumbbell shoulder presses, barbell shrugs, pull ups, deadlifts, t-bar/barbell/one arm dumbbell and low pulley rows, close grip benches, skull crushers, barbell and alternating dumbbell curls, crunches, seated and standing calf raises are my "basic" movements. Off-season and pre-contest, these are my staples. If and when I have an injured body part, I alter my exercises as necessary. I let the cardio and diet get me "cut" and the heavy weights are there to help me build and hold onto all that precious muscle along the way.