About Raphael

Welcome to rippedbyraphael.com. My name is Raphael Calzadilla, and I’m a professional, drug-free, competitive bodybuilder. I’m 56 years old and still compete in open classes and hold my own.  I am also a 23-year veteran of the health and fitness industry, certified personal trainer, fitness writer and speaker.

Early Influences
I was 18 when I seriously started training — that was back when Arnold was still competing, so a lot of the guys from that era were great influences on me. Arnold, Franco Columbu, Danny Padilla, Mike Katz, Frank Zane…each of them had an amazing work ethic in the gym, and I found Arnold and Franco to be not only intense competitors, but  also light-hearted  and humorous guys.

I wanted to put on muscle and get stronger. One of the first people to help me was Mike Katz. Mike was in the movie Pumping Iron. I trained at his gym (World Gym East) in Connecticut. He was one of the most helpful and most genuine people I’ve ever met. By today’s standards that gym was very primitive, but to this day it’s one of the best gyms I’ve ever trained in. It had an ever- present, super intense level of energy. Sometimes I’d want to go there just to feel that electricity.

Training Philosophy
After 35 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about training and nutrition. My training philosophy centers around listening to my body and training with strict and impeccable form. Knowing when to push hard by increasing intensity and when to back off is vital – but so is strict exercise form. I didn’t respect these two aspects enough when I was in my 20s and 30s, but now it’s a focal point.  These are two of the main reasons I’m able to be competitive on stage at my age. However, I still keep the basic muscle and strength building exercises at the core of my routine. Heavy barbell squats, deadlifts, dumbbell presses, etc. — you can never go wrong with the basics.

Nutrition Philosophy
Without question, the most challenging aspect of competing is the pre-contest diet. I can always tell when a competitor has dieted hard to achieve an amazing level of conditioning, but it also takes some focus in the off season. Before I knew better, I would gain 25 pounds after a show. In fact, one year I ballooned to 43 pounds more than stage weight. All that does is make for an agonizing dieting process, and the body takes on an almost over-trained and depleted look at show time. Not to mention, it just isn’t healthy. Although one can’t maintain the super low body fat levels of show day, this should still be about a lifestyle centered around health, so I stay within 12-15 pounds of stage weight. I add more variety to my off-season foods, but I still eat nutritious foods year-round from excellent sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats.

Bringing It All Together
While I continue to compete, it’s my turn to put my 35 years of experience to good use, helping others get started or improve on their training and/or contest prep. From the beginner bodybuilder to the seasoned veteran, I have the experience and the know-how to take you to the next level, so please check out the services I offer.