Take Us Through the Life of Ian. Who Are You and What Do You Do?
I’m a full-time student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as a staff writer for the Daily Illini newspaper. I’ve also contributed as a writer for Bodybuilding.com.
My days are usually very busy. Depending on what time I have class on a given day, I am usually going from 7 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. Classes, clubs and honors societies constantly keep me occupied. However, I always find time to hit the gym 4-5 days a week, no matter how hectic my schedule may be.
Eating my meals is easy, due in part to my dorm’s dining services. Grilled chicken, veggies, fruits… They have it all prepared every day. I also keep my own stash of healthy foods such as oatmeal, protein powder, and almonds in my room (in case I cannot find time to sit down and eat). As I said before, I’m always busy, but such is the life of a college student!
What Made You Start Training?
I had an epiphany on my 16th birthday about just how unhealthy and unhappy I was with my life. At that time, I had reached an all-time high of 260 pounds. My dad took a picture of my mom and I, and after I saw it, I realized for the first time just how bad I looked and felt. I decided that from that day on, I would dedicate myself to a healthy lifestyle.
At first, I just wanted to look good in the clothes I wanted to wear. In fact, my very first fitness goal was to fit into a pair of Hollister jeans. Once I had reached that goal, I just fell in love with the entire bodybuilding and fitness lifestyle. My love for it hasn’t waned, even today, three plus years after I began.
So How Did You Get To Where You Are Now?
Dedication, sacrifice, smart training and planning. All of these elements come together to make someone’s fitness goals a success, whether you’re running a marathon or stepping on a bodybuilding stage. I have always kept these elements central in my fitness career.
I’ve also learned to deal with the constant pressure from the outside world that tries to derail my efforts. Sure, a burger with your friends sounds great now, but how will it feel later? Learning how to resist temptation and control your environment will not only make successful with your fitness endeavors, but it will also make you a more well-rounded person for when life challeneges you in other areas.
In the end, it’s all about being consistent (with diet, training, etc.), dedicated, in control, and most of all, confident. If you stay positive, you can do anything. I like to think that I am good example of that fact.
What Does Your Training Routine Look Like?
I’ve done just about every workout split in the book. I started with Arnold Shwarzenegger’s beginner bodybuilding routine in my basement. From there, I’ve tried training four, five, even six days a week; powerlifting; doggcrap training; double-split training; Max-OT… You name it, I’ve tried it.
Because of my love for variety (and my indecisiveness, on occasion), my workout routine changes constantly. Usually, I like to remain on a routine for no more than 4-6 weeks. Then, I’ll try something new. The routine below is an example of my most recent workout split.
- Incline DB Press – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Dips – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Decline DB Press – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Decline Cable Crossovers – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
I like to dedicate an entire day to working my chest. I am focusing on bringing my upper chest up to bar with the rest of my physique; as a result, I start my week with chest in order to dedicate 100% of my effort towards it.
- Chin Ups – As many sets as it takes to reach 50 reps
- Deadlifts – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- DB Rows – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Cable Rows – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Leg Raises – 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Oblique Crunches – 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- 90 Degree Crunches – 3 sets of 12-15 reps
I like to work my back and abs in the same day. I was reading an issue of Musclemag (specifically Mark Dugdale’s column) and noticed Mark combined both of these body parts together, because he liked working his abs after all of the rowing movements he performed. I tried it out and continue to use this method to this day.
- Squats – 4 sets of 6-10 reps
- Leg Press – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Stiff Leg Deadlifts – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Hamstring Curls – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Leg Extensions – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
I do my hamstring work in between some of my quad exercises every time I train legs. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that my quads respond very quickly to training and thus achieve a massive pump in a short amount of time. If I performed all of my quad movements before moving on to hamstrings, I would find it difficult to perform freeweight hamstring movements such as the Stiff Leg Deadlift. Alternating the order of exercises not only kept me fresh, but also made my training more efficient.
If your quads aren’t responding to your training efforts, try squatting in Olympic shoes. If you don’t have a pair, try placing a pair of 2.5 pound weights under your heels. Arnold used a 2×4 back in his day, but I cannot argue with the results. This let’s you go well beneath parallel when squatting, increasing not only the difficulty of the movement, but its intensity and effectiveness as well.
- DB Press – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Side Lateral Raises – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Rear Raises – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
I keep my shoulder training very simple. Nothing too fancy here: just heavy free weights and controlled movements.
- Skullcrushers – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Dips (with weight) – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- One Arm Overhead DB Extensions – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Hammer Curls – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Alternating DB Curls – 4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Concentration Curls – 3 sets of 12-15 reps
- Reverse Barbell Wrist Curls – 4 sets of 15-20 reps
My arms, unfortunately, do not like to cooperate with me; as a result, they grow very slowly. My training on arms day is very concentrated and coordinated. I don’t approach arms haphazardly; intensity and planning are key.
What Does Your Diet Look Like?
My diet vaires depending on my goals. I’ve tried a variety of foods, but you cannot go wrong with bodybuilding staples: chicken, oats, steak, potatoes, rice and veggies.
Right now, I am giving the Paleolithic (caveman) diet a try. Thus far, I am pleased with results. Not only has it helped with my fat loss efforts, but it has also kept my energy and strength levels constant, thanks to its high fat content. Below is an outline of a typical day of eating for me right now:
- Meal 1: 6 hardboiled eggs, 2 pieces of fruit
- Meal 2: Protein shake and 2 oz of almonds
- Meal 3: 2 chicken breasts, 2 cups of salad, 2 tbsp of natural peanut butter
- Meal 4: 6-8 oz of beef, veggies, salad, potato
- Meal 5: 4 hardboiled eggs
- Meal 6: Protein shake and 2 tbsp of natural peanut butter
The diet emphasizes a high protein, high fat, low carb approach. I was a little nervous to try this diet at first, because I am a huge fan of oatmeal, whole wheat bread, etc. However, after 2 weeks, I have never felt better. Not only am I shedding fat, but I am also keeping (and even gaining) size. My carbs come from natural sources: sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, fruits and the like. After 2 weeks of eating like this, I will have a day that I dedicate to carbing up to replenish muscle glycogen.
What Supplements Do You Take?
I’m a big fan of Optimum Nutrition, ANIMAL, and USP Labs. Their products are not only reputable but also effective.
- ON 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein
- USP Labs Jack3d
- USP Labs Yok3d
- USP Labs OxyElite Pro
- Animal PAK
- Omega 3’s
- Real Gains by Universal
My supplement stack will change as my goals change.
When I want to put on size, I stick with my whey, Real Gains, zinc, Jack3d, Animal PAK, Omega 3’s, creatine, Yok3d, and glutamine.
If I am looking to shred up, I take out the Real Gains and creatine, and add the OxyElite Pro and Yohimbe.
Any Suggestions For Others Who Are Looking To Shed Some Pounds?
Consistency, dedication, hard work, and planning. Losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Despite this, do not give up when things get difficult. Pick yourself up and keep going. People will question you and maybe even put you down or think you are strange for what you are doing, but don’t listen to the naysayers. Persist. Achieve what you set out to do no matter what.
If you want to shed weight, first things first: diet. Getting your eating under control and perfected is tough to do at first, but it is absolutely the most important part of transforming your physique. I’ve heard it said that bodybuilding is 80% diet and 20% training, and I am a firm believer of that. Eating healthy, nutritious foods and getting your vitamins and minerals in every day is the cornerstone of shedding pounds from your physique.
Supplements go hand-in-hand with diet. Find the ones that work for you, but always take a multivitamin. Pre-workout, post-workout, intra-workout… The market for supplements is broad landscape and the types you will find within this market are an even broader one. It will take some trial and error, but once you find the ones that work for you and your goals, stick with them.
Training is the easiest part of the equation. Why? Because everything works. Every training split, every rep scheme, every intensity booster; they all work. But not forever. Your body is an amazing machine and will adapt to the pressure and strain you are putting on it very quickly.
So how do you overcome your own body? You confuse it. You throw every training method and principle you can at it. However, you must be smart about it. Try different training programs and make variety the spice of your fitness life. Every training style will bring its own unique principles. Take advantage of this and try everything you can. You won’t be disappointed you hit a new PR on the bench press thanks to those weeks of powerlifting, or that you could grind out a few more reps in the squat rack thanks to that high-rep conditioning training you tried.
“Though the pain may come over you, never let it
overcome you.” – Animal
“Every single day requires sacirifce.” – Machine
“Always act as though it were impossible to fail.” – Anonymous
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