T Nation

Rob's 2017 Contest Prep Thread


You guys should watch some business and sales training guys on social media.

Grant Cardone puts out 3 YouTube videos and like 20 tweets a day. On top of running 5 businesses. I can’t imagine doing that much just to bombard your audience.

Attention is currency though.


Maybe but I think that’s changing. Youtube has dramatically changed their payment policies, and people increasingly seem to be on to the “coaches” who claim to have hundreds of monthly clients (everyone eventually realizes they’re all getting the exact same plans despite claims of customized programs).

I see plenty of IG folks with tens of thousands of followers yet nothing on their profile besides a few butt pics accompanying irrelevant captions (“great arm workout today!” - sticking ass in the camera lens obscuring all else.) I fail to see how that’s worth anything. I would think that Even guys who just wanna check out some lewd pics more than likely won’t buy anything advertised on a social media page.



To an extent, no doubt. Grant Cardone is incredible, I’m listening to The 10X Rule in the car. I am sure many of his business are running on auto pilot with the right people in place, people don’t become that successful without delegating, and I’m sure he has someone tweeting for him too, and some are also probably his own. Also, he sells books, products, his product is himself, so it makes sense for him to make sure he’s seen as often as possible.



Success is your obligation. Set unreasonable goals. Massive consistent activity. Good book.

I guess another difference between him and the fitness folks Stu is complaining about is he’s actually done something. When you think about it in the fitness world that would mean learning from top competitors, or actual competitors at all.

Maybe you and Stu could do an example prep series. Take a client you know is going to work hard and post a video every week with his pics for 20 weeks. Every week explain tweaks to the training and diet. Explain the why. I’d watch that.


I have to really dig into this thread and read it, seems like you have really documented your path to stage and past it.

I am hoping to step on a stage before my 40th. I have 2 and a half years until that and if I am objective, a lot of work to do. As someone trying to do this natural this thread looks like it can really help. I have worked with great coaches but it seems they all train and coach for the assisted path.

Thanks for sharing the experience for those of us that have yet to go the distance!


I didn’t step onstage until I was 35,… but like you, I tried to be objective and not delude myself about what was possible (I was informed though, unlike a lot of people who constantly let everyone know that they’re natural as if it’s some excuse).

I’ll add this though,… as someone who has been coaching clean and assisted competitors for almost a decade, very often it’s easier with the clean ones. Not to sound bad or that I’m generalizing in any way, BUT, Ive had clients that seem to think that adding in extra gear will solve any problem, no matter how far behind they may be, or how badly they have veered in not sticking to the plan. This isn’t everyone mind you, but it’s something that I always keep in the back of my mind as I go back and forth with my guys (and gals) who are very open about whatever new items they obtained and threw in with no fore thought or plan each week.




Before last summer I was at 195 and I thought about 18% BF (BIA). I figured at about 170 I would be ripped (I’m 6’1"…or at least I used to be). So I figured at 170 I would be about 6% and jacked.

Well, I got to 175 but 11% and I looked like I had never seen a weight.

I learned that I would probably need to be at 190@6% to look good in a mirror - that’s eighteen pounds more muscle than I have now, and at 54 years old, that ain’t happening, even if I’m not natty.

The takeaway is that diet is soooooo important in terms of getting to the right composition. Adding good lean mass, and then losing fat without losing muscle, it seems to be all about diet. Both @robstein and @The_Mighty_Stu would know better than i, but that is my take on it.


I don’t mean to toot my own horn, because after all, knowing some inside scoop about the bodybuilding scene isn’t something special, and is likely implied already to many astute people anyway, but I know the deal.

I think before someone shells out their money for supposedly great coaches of assisted competitors, they should be resourceful (and a bit nosy) and find out if such great coaches really are all that great. There are “great” coaches out there now recommending dangerous practices or writing non-individualized diets and programs, some of which their clients do not even follow after being driven up a wall, and seeking help from another coach while appearing faithful to the current coach, and sometimes getting great results from this behind-the-scenes coach in the process! Many of these “great coaches” take dangerous or silly actions with themselves even, but because they get results in spite of it, people assume they’re the guys to go to.

And because people don’t know the inside scoop about miserable experiences with such coaches and only see the success stories, they think the coach is great. It appears some coaches have achieved godlike or supposedly genius status.

Very little or none of these shenanigans go on in the natural scene.

If I recall correctly, you have been planning on competing for some time. What are the probably reasonable hurdles in the way? I understand that “real life” gets in the way of this demanding endeavor.


You have a good memory. I was actually 2 1/2 weeks into prep last august but my bloodwork was a mess. My coach at the tiem also had to focus on getting ready for Olympia so I had to scramble and work with someone new for prep.

Over the winter “bulk” period my coach recommended I try SARMs since i was not interested in doing an AAS. He knew I wasn’t looking to go that route and I trusted his recommendation, big mistake. Cholesterol went through the roof and test plummeted. I cut it very short when I saw the weight piling on and knew this wasn’t a “suppplement”. All is back in line now and while I am not at my previous 222lbs and 14.5% I am a respectable 207 and about the same percentage. That said, I am realistic and especially after digging into your prep thread and this one I have no doubt I would need a 20-30lb cut to be stage ready which might not leave me with enough muscle.

You are 100% on with your assessment of coaching. My guy was an amazing trainer and I learned a ton but especially on the nutrition side, they have one method and I feel as a natural guy it’s just not ideal.

My biggest issue is always volume, both in the gym and the kitchen lol.

Sorry to hijack the post briefly. Again, seeing you three guys on here is very helpful.


Just my humble opinion, this!


How tall are you?


Just a shade under 5’11"


Mid 170s to 180s stage-ready shredded is actually very big at that height for natural bodybuilding. Do you think your view on how big you must be might be skewed from following geared bodybuilding? (Serious question, no sarcasm.) Do you know the weights and heights of impressive natties? If you do, you’d know you’ll be big enough considering what you weigh now with 14 percent bodyfat.


To be honest I don’t know a single natural competitor. I mean, when I was at Golds Venice for years I’d see Mike O’Hearn and he’s Natty lol. Joking aside, I really have no sense of what natural is and have only been to NPC shows to support friends and seeing the Classic Physique guys, they are huge. That was what I was aiming to enter so that’s been my gauge.

Life’s also gotten in the way. I’ve been busy with work and helping guide my girl through a very tough bout with a rare chronic pain disease resulting from a botched foot surgery so competing now feels selfish. It’s all good because it gives me time to really work at it and make sure I’m as ready as possible.

May have to hire you guys when the time comes though. Your posts are all so informative and it’s rare to chat with people that have experience without the extra help.


I don’t think anyone had any real concept of what a true natty looks like until they honestly see some in person. My first show I kept thinking I had made a horrible mistake because I didn’t look like Dorian Yates did in the magazines -lol

Injuries? Real life? (Having a kid?!) brad can tell you all about that :slight_smile:



@GregC1980 Thank you so much for your kind words, and taking the time to read my log! You can absolutely get on stage and look fantastic. There is always work to be done, but the rewards are well worth it. If you pull the trigger, definitely get a coach who is experienced working with naturals. It’s not rocket science, but it is complicated and when you find the right coach, it will allow you to reach your maximum potential, knowing you’re doing everything the right way. Please do keep us updated and feel free to post anytime!!

Agreed. While I’ve only coached natural competitors, I do train with assisted competitors, and truthfully their knowledge of nutrition and how it relates to getting stage ready is nothing compared to what @The_Mighty_Stu taught me and what my clients go through. One guy I train with has backed out of more preps than he’s completed, because he can’t get through it due to his (and his coach’s) lack of nutritional knowledge and depending on gear.

@The_Myth - 100% with you there! Diet is by far the most underrated part of it. A client of mine is competing tomorrow, he looks fantastic. Came over for posing practice earlier, and I asked him some of the biggest things he learned about himself and the process of getting stage ready. First thing he said, was diet. How important it is, how rigid it has to be, how many factors are involved. He was 193 when we started, and I told him he’d get under 150 to be ripped, he laughed. Well sure enough this morning I asked him what his weight is, and today it was 146! But his attitude now is completely different that he’s been through the process and understands what it takes.

My first year competing I stepped on stage at 148 for both shows, and thought I was a few pounds away from where I needed to be. My second year competing I stepped on stage at 140, looking bigger and leaner. But, if you would have told me I had 8 more pounds to lose in year 1, I would have said 3-5 at most.

HA! So true!


Alrighty, 3 weeks into my summer cut and 3lbs down, was 157 this morning. Last weekend I traveled for 3 days on business and trained every day at the LA Fitness across the street from the hotel, ate clean and nursed a couple of beers when networking in the evenings.

Tomorrow is the INBF Northeast America, the show that was my very first 2 years ago when I got 4th place, and my second show last year when I won the overall. Tomorrow I’ll be going as a coach and a spectator, but it’ll be a great reunion as @The_Mighty_Stu will be judging, and my good friend and competitor Mike, also one of Stu’s clients, who won the overall at the NE America 3 years ago, and who I competed against at the Hercules when he won and I came in second. Can’t wait to see the crew, and see my guy crush the stage. He’s come a long way, and no matter what happens competitively, he’ll represent himself well.


I was there for that. Murray Bergtraum in Brooklyn, the Hercules - good times.


I’ve followed this thread through, it’s consistently great. At almost 37 I was going to ask if I could post a few pics withing this thread, as it has do many informed eyes on it. I’m curious if I have potential to compete, in any category honestly. I won’t bore anyone with details yet, but if allowed I can fill in some blanks. I just want some genuine eyes to give real feedback. I actually posted pics a few weeks ago in a new thread, but the admin moved it somewhere else. Thanks for reading.


I’ll tell you that pics can be deceiving with some folks. I certainly didn’t think I looked anything special at all when Jim cordova approached me in a gym to ask what shows I had done.

Of course the flip side is the people who aren’t anywhere near As good (yet) as they think they are.

I always suggest people attend a contest as a spectator and get an actual firsthand look at what competitors of similar structures (height) look like and just how big and lean they truly are. My old stack of Natural Bodybuilding magazines were full of post it notes listing the stage weights of any athletes of similar height to me. Then I’d spend plenty of time in front of a mirror trying to be brutallly honest with myself. I knew that if I “did this”, I was gonna be all in and not just one of those guys in the background.