As we speak, you have only been a 212 pro for a little over a year after three successful seasons in Classic Physique. Talk to me about the off-season you had before starting your 2021 Olympia prep. You didn’t have to worry about starving down to 192 pounds anymore, so how big did you let yourself get?
This off-season, I allowed myself to get to 250 pounds, no higher than that. This 250 was a much prettier 250 than the last time I was at that weight. I still had abs and lines in certain parts of my body. So I was pleased.
In past off-seasons when you were in Classic and knew you had to get down to 192 eventually, did you have a lighter weight limit you wouldn’t allow yourself to get past?
Yeah, in those years I always made sure to stay somewhere between 225 and 230. My coach Justin Miller never wanted me to get heavier than that. The thing is, my body wanted to grow and put more qualityweight on, but I had to fight it. I could never eat as much as I wanted to, so it was almost like I was in prep all year! It’s so much better now, and I still don’t go crazy and eat as much as I could if I wanted to. In reality, I easily could have gone over 250, but that would make no sense since I still need to get down to 212 pounds in this division.
I know that your arms and more so, legs, were focal points in that off-season as your chest and delts are enormous, and the whole world marvels at your back development. What were you doing differently for your arms and legs, and what type of gains did you see from that?
For legs, basic movements tend to work best for me. I stuck to good old squats. Sometimes I would do them at the beginning of my workout, at other times they would fall near the end. I saw my legs getting fuller and rounder. That will be apparent this time on stage. For my arms, I tried different things. Sometimes I did a lot of supersets, going back and forth between biceps and triceps. Other times I would do everything for biceps and then move on to triceps. I kept it pretty basic and it worked for me.
Does it annoy you when people talk about men you’ve already beaten at the 212 Olympia, or even men who haven’t stepped on the Olympia stage yet, as being their pick to win the show when you have already established yourself with third place on your first try?
It doesn’t annoy me per se. It bothers Justin a lot more than it bothers me! It is what it is. People say things like that because they have their favorites that they’re rooting for. Of course they want their guy to win and believe he will. That’s a true fan! And it might be a guy who has never stood next to me on stage, or who I have beaten every time so far. It doesn’t annoy me. Maybe some competitors let things like that get into their heads, but I don’t.
I have to say that you seem to have a really good handle on your emotions in general from all the times I’ve been around you. You seem like a pretty chill guy.
I truly believe that having a firm grip on your emotions is a key to success. If you let emotions control you, you will have a hard time doing the things you need to do in order to achieve whatever goals you have. Be calm, be rational and don’t let emotions cause you to veer off the path you need to be on.
Some people love statistics, and it’s true that not one of the winners of either the 202 or 212 Olympia since it began in 2008 – David Henry, Kevin English, Flex Lewis, Kamal Elgargni, or Shaun Clarida – have been over 5 foot 5 in height. Shaun is probably 5-foot-1. At 5-foot-8, you would be the tallest man to win it by far. Tell me why your being taller is not a disadvantage in your mind, since you all have the same maximum of 212 pounds to deal with.
I believe my height helps give my physique a more aesthetic look that will be hard to match. I don’t believe you need to be 5’3” or 5’4” to be a great 212 pro. I feel that a guy who is 5’7” or 5’8” with great proportions and aesthetics will stand out like crazy in a lineup. That’s why I don’t feel my height is a disadvantage at all, more like an advantage.
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