Pre-Contest: A Challenging Road to The Stage

It’s been since the 14-week out mark to my first show that I posted (5 weeks ago). I was hoping to have an update sooner but things have been super busy. However,  I have made progress, and if you compare the pics from my previous post to those below, you’ll see the changes that have taken place.

Competing this year is a very different experience than any previous year. I started my own business in Jan 2011 and the amount of work, highs and lows, and pressure, make this contest prep more challenging. As insane as it sounds, that’s part of what I’m enjoying about it. Another challenge means another test of my resilience, discipline and determination. When you want something – do what you have to do, and stop with the excuses.

I’ve lost an average of just under a pound a week over the last 12 weeks and that’s ideal. Nice and slow is the way to go with fat loss. The body does not like to be shocked with big losses each week. That’s what people tend to want though and that’s why there are so many idiotic, canned diets on the market promising the next big fix.

As far as training, I tend to change my training based on several factors.  I’ve been training five days a week and hitting a body part every 5 or 6 days. That’s always felt best, but there are times when I’ll shift to hitting a body part once a week. It all depends on how I’m feeling, my strength levels and how well I’m recovering. People tend to debate how often to work a muscle but I think it’s important to experiment and find what works for you.  I believe the same can be said for ones diet.  The most important thing is to not just buy into what everyone else does, and to be open to change when your body requires it.

The one thing I’ve found very effective is reducing my steady state cardio sessions and adding a bit more HIIT.  I replaced two steady state workouts with the following protocol that a top ranked WNBF pro shared with me. His is slightly different than what I’m doing but not by much.

-5 min warmup

-30 sec super high intensity/2 min recovery pace

– 2 min cool-down

I do the 30sec/2 min for 6 cycles. Total workout, including warm up and cool down is 22 minutes.  This has been amazingly effective, and compared to the way I used to do HIIT it doesn’t burn me out. Plus, the 2 minutes of recovery time allows me to really push it to the limit with a 30-sec blast off to Mars intensity. I haven’t tossed out steady state cardio completely though. I’m still doing it 2 times a week for 30-40 minutes.

These pics were taken on Labor Day, a little past 9 weeks to my first show (the DFAC Worlds in Miami), and 11-weeks out from the NPC Florida Gold Cup in Palm Beach Gardens.


As I evaluate these, I look just a tad off from where I want to be in the front relaxed pose, and I wasn’t doing the pose as well as I can (chest should be a little higher, with a little more lat flair. I’m also dropping my right shoulder just slightly). I’m pleased with the front double biceps, side shot and rear double biceps pics though.

My goal is to always be ready several weeks early so I can slowly start to add food. That’s still the game plan. The biggest thing for me based on my physique is making sure I’m not only hard as a rock but that I come in as full as possible. And that’s what I love about bodybuilding – the never ending pursuit of constant improvement.

Please look for my next update in about 2 weeks.


Skip to comment form

    • mike dusa on September 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm
    • Reply

    Raf: You look like you could step on stage right now!

      • on September 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm
      • Reply

      Mike, you’re one of the greatest bodybuilders the state of CT has ever produced so I can’t express how much I appreciate your comment! Thank you! -Raphael

    • Anthony on September 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm
    • Reply

    Hey Raphael the NPC Florida Gold Cup location changed it’s not in PBG anymore… It’s downtown West Palm Beach at the Convention Center. I am training for the same show… I just got the news… Looking good man Good stuff…

    This is my first show but I am excited!


    • on September 7, 2012 at 8:39 pm
    • Reply

    Hey Anthony, thank you so much for that info! That’s an excellent new location. Great venue for a show.

    Very cool that this is your first show. You’ll love it. What weight class?


Leave a Reply