It’s BodyBUILDING not BodyBUILT.
Building is a process of constructing something; sometimes that process is building, breaking down, then rebuilding.
History: When I was in high school, I was small, I grew late, and–at 5’10”–I barely broke 150lbs on graduation day. I had never used a gym, lifted weights, or even focused on exercise. (Pictured below)
After high school, I eventually got into PLNU and didn’t get into a gym till almost my Junior year. It was then I started lifting weights but without a real reason. I soon realized that I was going to the gym for very different goals than others. I found I enjoyed the science behind it; nutrition, biology, and kinesiology. I started making small adjustments to my workouts, my nutrition plans, etc. I found that there were days I felt stronger and some days, I felt weaker. Why? How? What factored into optimizing my time in the gym? I then started to focus more on the mind/muscle connection and focusing on the actual muscle group while moving–activating with intent; it was this that drove me from then on. I was able to have little “micro-successes” whether it was to do 12 reps of 30lbs or failure after 15. I enjoyed the fact that I could always come to the gym, apply myself and compete with myself–only.
I was fascinated with the anatomy, physique, movement, muscle flexion, what contributed to extensions, abduction, adductions, rotation, etc. With the mind-muscle connection and focus, eating more and strategically, I was building, and getting stronger. I was enjoying the process, the outlet, the way to better myself and succeed when I felt I wasn’t successful in other aspects of my life. That little hole-in-the-wall gym at Point Loma became my private sanctuary and playground. Surprisingly, it didn’t matter how many people were even there–I was in competition with myself and slowed things down to just focus on each rep, each movement.
I finally graduated, started working, and exercise sort of fell away as I transitioned to re-prioritizing aspects of my life; family, work, student loans, etc. After a couple companies I found myself at Dell. Money was tight during that time. In fact, I was struggling to much to pay my student loans, I took on a second territory at Dell–to earn the commission to pay for my loans. Money was so tight that I learned that if I stayed till after 7pm, I would save a few dollars in gas, rather than wasting gas in traffic. After a few weeks of that, I learned about a little gym downstairs that was completely under-utilized. That became my playground. So, while others sat in traffic, I worked out in my limited empty gym downstairs at Dell. This is where my bodybuilding began.
I Needed A Goal: After months of exercise, new routines, new nutrition plans, I found joy in my micro-goals and accomplishments but, where was I going with this? Where was this daily dedication, obsession, and building taking me? I needed a goal. I put a lot of thought into it weighing that I never wanted to be a massive bodybuilder and I wasn’t going to be the strongest out there to be in a powerlifting contest, so what would the goal be?
To compete at a professional bodybuilding level, steroids were foundational. For a Powerlifter, the conditioning was extreme and I don’t have the physique to support that. Lastly, endurance — I enjoyed cross-country in my earlier years but that’s not the direction I wanted to take. I found my way towards Men’s Physique Bodybuilding. That seemed like a stretch, and something I would absolutely have to dedicate to, but that was the right goal. So, I decided to start bulking up and after a few months of that, I would start cutting and see what contests I could compete in. I worked up to 187lbs (Pictured Right), then had a few weeks of starting to trim down to be competition-ready. Not even 3 weeks into cutting, I hurt my shoulder with a heavy over-head shoulder press.
After months of pain, I got a doctor to finally let me get an arthrogram.
The doctor came in with my results and said: “Results like this come from two things: Either you tried to hold up a falling building, or you were shoulder-pressing an extremely heavy weight above your head. I have a feeling it wasn’t the falling building?”
The results were a frayed clavicle bone, chipped acromion, severe shoulder impingement, ripped labrum, and possible damage to the rotator cuff. In September 2014, I went in for surgery. Th
e doctor said, “your recovery will take well over a year, the bone has to heal, things need to re-attach, and muscle will severely atrophy while you recover. This means you won’t lift the way you did for at least 2 years.
Recovery & Humility: In my opinion, recovering from surgery can be one of the most humbling experiences. I struggled with pulling my pants up, lifting a glass of water, or even rolling out of bed.
You know those pink, purple, and yellow jazzercise weights that are 1lb, 2lb, 3lb each? those were my new 105-120lb dumbbells. The struggle of trying to lift those pink weights will never escape me. Those became the most difficult weights in the gym. the 100lb dumbbells? the 120lb dumbbels? Those didn’t even exist to me anymore. I was starting from square one… or LB 1 for that matter.
With Recover comes humility.
6 months of physical therapy, pathetic exercises, rubber band exercises at home, I was introduced to Brian Melancon of C620Nutrition. I had seen his athletes, I was told about his dedication to the sport and I was lucky enough to get a consultation. I told him my story, and how I wanted to train for a competition while recovering from my surgery. My goal was to actually compete in 1 year. Brian assessed my physique, told me what was realistic with my recovery and if I was okay with that stage goal, we could get to work. (For comparison, I went from 187lbs to 155lbs. That’s what I gave Brian to work with!)
Round 2 – Rise To The Stage: Brian pushed me, stretched me, drove me. I worked to stay strict with my nutrition and exercise. Week by week for over 50 weeks, we worked to the stage. Brian Melancon crafted unbelievable plans to adjust my physique, while accommodating my injuries. Every hour, every day, I was strategic with my training, nutrition, sleep–everything.
I was no longer going to the gym to exercise. I was training. I was bodyBUILDING.
My next post I’ll get into a little more detail of getting to the stage.