Training For My First Men’s Physique Competition

Protein shakes.

Lots of eggs.

Heavy lifting.



More protein shakes.

All part of training for a men’s physique competition.

Bucket List #10

I currently have 53 items on my bucket list and sitting at #10, is competing in a men’s physique competition.

I decided to make this the year to finally check it off the list.

When I made the decision, I knew I was going to have to work my tail off and seriously commit to it, and I certainly have been.

By no means am I an expert when it comes to training for a men’s physique competition, although I will share my training experience with you so far in the event you too have considered competing or maybe you just want to use the information to lean up, train hard, and get in shape.

I know this post is specific to a men’s physique so girls, if you’re interested in training information specific to a women, check out my girlfriend Kristen’s blog here. She’s currently in training as well for a women’s bikini competition.

Getting Started

Training for a men’s physique competition requires anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks of training depending on your current fitness. I decided that 12 weeks would be the necessary time frame I would need to train my body for competition.

Once I decided on a 12 week training schedule (I’m currently on week 4), the next thing I did was take a look at the calendar and decide when during the year it made the most sense for me to commit to 12 weeks of training. It couldn’t be near Thanksgiving , Christmas, or the summer. I like the holidays and my summers too much to give them up in order to train for a fitness competition.

I decided on the winter months (Jan thru April) would be the best time to make such a commitment to train for a men’s physique competition. Once I decided on the months, I was then able to look at what competitions were available during April. I found one that’s happening April 18th in Burlington ,VT – 2015 NPC Vermont Championships. That’s where it’ll all be going down for me.


On January 4th, I measured my body fat and weight to give me a baseline from where I’m starting off.

Weight = 160

Body Fat = 7.3%

I recently measured again (4 weeks in) and here are the results:

Weight = 162

Body Fat = 7.3%

No change in body fat percentage although that’ll change over these next few weeks. Ideally, I’m shooting for increasing muscle mass and weight to somewhere in the vicinity of 170 pounds with a body fat reading of 4%.


photo 1 (40)Providing my body with the necessary nutrients and resources necessary for it to repair and recover is a very important piece to the puzzle and one that cannot be missed.

Here’s a list of all the supplements I am currently taking, when I take them, and why:


Although I eat fairy healthy and clean, I want to make sure I’m getting all of my necessary vitamins and minerals everyday, therefore I take a daily multivitamin. I currently take 2 Nature Made adult gummy vitamins every morning. I view it as insurance against potential deficiencies and vitamin loss as a result of exercise and daily nutrition.


Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) are essential for both muscle growth and to help curb exercise-induced muscle fatigue. It’s also known to help boost growth-hormone levels. I mix a scoop of BCAA with 20 ounces of water and drink it every morning during my workouts. I’m currently using Modern BCAA.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is preferred due to the body’s ability to digest it quicker, compared to other protein based foods such as eggs, chicken, fish, etc. By breaking down the protein and peptides, the body quickly sends aminos to muscle tissue for immediate repair, recovery, and growth. I’m currently using Dymatize Iso 100 Hydrolyzed Whey Protein (cookies & cream is my favorite). I have one scoop in the morning mixed with 6-8 ounces of water right after my workout, and then another scoop in the afternoon, about 2 hours after having lunch.


Glutamine is an amino acid used in the synthesis (production) of protein. It helps to support muscle growth and the immune system. Although glutamine can be found in a healthy diet, for endurance athletes or those with active lifestyles, it’s definitely very helpful to add in glutamine. I’m currently using Bodytech Glutamine and mix a heaping teaspoon of it in with both my whey protein shakes.

Casein Protein

While rapidly digesting whey protein is desirable immediately after exercise to help support muscle recovery, a slower digesting protein such as casein is a great choice, especially right before bed when your body can go for hours without nutritional support. Casein has the ability to provide the bloodstream with a slow and steady flow of amino acids that has the ability to last for hours. I’m currently using Bodytech Micellar Casein Slow Release and have one scoop of it mixed with 10-12 ounces of cold water every night before bed.

Tribulus Terrestris Extract

Tribulus Terrestris is an all natural fruit-producing Mediterranean plant that helps to increase the body’s natural testosterone levels, thereby helping to build muscle. The recommendation is to take it for 8 weeks, therefore I will begin taking it next week since I will be 8 weeks out from competition. I’m currently using The Vitamin Shoppe Tribulus brand and will take one capsule in the morning and one in the evening.


photo 2 (32)When I first looked at the food plan I needed to follow, I though to myself, “there’s no way I can eat that much food”. Interestingly enough, I can and have been eating tons of food, all healthy and nutritious, without a problem. It’s to the point now where I get hungry if I don’t consume all those calories.

Training hard 6 days a week has definitely increased my appetite too.

Here’s a breakdown of what I eat on a day to day basis. There isn’t much variance from what I eat daily. Some might find that boring, I find it easy and convenient knowing what I’m having every day and not having to think about what to make.

7:00am (after workout) – Coffee and a Whey protein shake

9:30am – 6 whole eggs (scrambled) cooked in skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil, 1/4 cup of steel cut oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon along with 6 blackberries and 15 blueberries.

12:30pm – 5-6 ounces of chicken or salmon with broccoli, red skinned potatoes, or sweet potatoes

3:00pm – Whey protein shake and 15 almonds

6:30pm – 5-6 ounces of chicken or salmon with either broccoli, red skinned potatoes, or sweet potatoes

10:00pm (before bed) – Casein protein

Beginning next week, which is 8 weeks out from competition, my nutrition will get extra serious. Right now, I’m allowing myself a few cheat meals on the weekends, creamer in my coffee, and the occasional glass of wine during the week and on the weekends. That all ends next week.

8 weeks out from competition, no cheating allowed whatsoever. It’s go time!

I haven’t been great with my water intake which I need to step it up and consume at the minimum, 64 ounces per day, preferably closer to a gallon everyday.


My workouts are broken up into 6 days per week that consists of:

3 days of cardio (stair climber)

4 days of weight training

1 day of plyometrics

6 days of stretching

1 Rest Day

Here’s a breakdown of what each day looks like:


Incline Dumbbell Press ( 3 x 10 )

Dumbbell Flies ( 3 x 10 )

Pus-ups ( 3 x 10 )

Skull Crushers ( 3 x 10 )

Cable Flies ( 3 x 10 )

Abdominal Workout

10 minutes of stretching


Under Grip Pull-Ups ( 3 x 10 )

Wide Grip Pull Downs ( 3 x 10 )

Hammer Strength Back Rows ( 3 x 10 )

Arnold Shoulder Presses ( 3 x 10 )

3-Way Shoulder Raises ( 3 x 10 )

Posterior Delts w/ Cables ( 3 x 10 )

Cardio – 20 minutes stair climber

10 minutes of stretching


Leg Press ( 3 x 10 )

Squats ( 3 x 10 )

Knee Extensions ( 3 x 10 )

Hamstring Curls ( 3 x 10 )

Calf Raises ( 3 x 10 )

Abdominal Workout

10 minutes of stretching


Hammer Strength Shoulder Press ( 3 x 10 )

Posterior Delts w/ Cables ( 3 x 10 )

Smith Machine Shrugs ( 3 x 10 )

Bicep Hammer Curls ( 3 x 10 )

Bicep Preacher Curls ( 3 x 10 )

Bicep Barbell Curls ( 3 x 10 )

Cardio – 20 minutes stair climber

10 minutes of stretching


Cardio – 40 minutes stair climber

10 minutes stretching


Burpees w/ Dumbbells ( 3 x 10 )

Box Jumps (3 x 10 )

Tuck Jumps ( 3 x 10 )

Abdominal Workout

10 minutes of stretching


Rest Day

 Abdominal Workouts

For abs, I do a variety of different exercises. Everything from a seated/weighted abdominal crunch, hanging legs raises, decline crunches, lower leg raises, crunches on a swiss ball, abdominal bicycles and plank. I usually pick about 3-4 abdominal exercises and do about 20 reps of each.


My stretching consists of 5 different stretches that I do to stretch out my lower back, gluts, hips, lats, and hamstrings. I stretch both sides of the body and hold each stretch for 1 minute which equals 10 minutes.

Other Factors

Sleep is another very important element when it comes to training and proper muscle recovery. 7-8 hours per night is ideal. I’m horrible at this considering I’m both a night owl and early bird. I’m been working hard on this one and have my sleep up to 6 hours per night and working on getting it to 7 hours.

Soaking in a jacuzzi or hot bath can do wonders for sore muscles. I was traveling this past weekend and the hotel I was staying in had a jacuzzi which I took full advantage of with a 20 minute soak. When I’m at home, a 20-30 minute bath does the trick.

Deep tissue massages every few weeks are also great to alleviate tight muscles that result from heavy weight training. I know they can get expensive, but nothing a little wellness hacking can’t take care of for getting great massage deals.

No Guts No Glory

This is definitely one of the toughest fitness goals I’ve ever committed to, both physically and mentally. The weekly training, intense workouts, sore muscles, diligent consumption of food and supplements, and coming this week…. no more cheat days or alcohol. Oh boy… here goes nothing.

Bucket list #10 will soon be checked, and it’ll all be worth it.





Sign-Up Below For My Free Weekly Newsletter


  • Talk about commitment!!! Wow! Such awesome advise for those also going through this for the first time! Looking forward to seeing future posts about this topic and your transformation!

    • Thanks Kristen! 🙂 It’s safe to say you know a thing or two about commitment and doing what it takes to preparation for a fitness show. I appreciate all of the help and support you’ve provided along the way – couldn’t have done it without you 🙂 Cheers!

    • Hey man! Thanks for your message and apologies for never getting back to you – unfortunately just seeing your message. My show went really well, thanks for asking. I placed 4th in my class and 5th in Master’s class. I had a posing coach which I highly recommend. For the nutrition and training aspect of it, no coach – just me. Has your show happened yet? If so, how did you do? Wishing you the best man – cheers!

  • It went awesome ewhaley50, thanks for asking! I ended up placing 4th overall in Masters and 5th overall in my class. No training coach although I did meet with a posing coach (definitely recommend it) once a week for the last 8 weeks. Good for you man for doing one as well. Where’s your show? Let me know how/if I can help support you… Cheers!

  • Hey Guys. I need major help in getting big. My BF is 7.4. been working out for a while now but I am not gaining muscle mass. I love cooking and i know what foods to eat and not. I am pretty good about going to the gym but sometimes feel that I am in there for a long time. Also I want to compete but I do not know where to start.

    • Hey Cornelius! Thanks for the comment… that’s great to hear you’re looking to compete as well. Sounds like you’re already on the right track with cooking the right foods and training – my guess is what you need now if some additional direction and guidance on where to go and what to do next. I can definitely help you out… shoot me an email ( and we’ll go from there. Cheers!

  • I just started lifting weights this summer, and was instantly hooked. Having just turned 38, I’ve set a goal of competing in men’s physique for my 40th birthday. This was a great read that I have bookmarked and will refer back to often. Thanks!

    • That’s great! There’s nothing like a real good weight training workout.. I can definitely understand how you got hooked. That’s an awesome goal by the way, to compete in a men’s physique competition for your 40th – I love it.. good for you man. Thanks for being here and your comment as well. Best of luck as you train for your show and if I can help you in any way, don’t hesitate to ask… Cheers!

  • Thanks for the great article! I especially like the diet plan, but i was wondering what your body type is? And your daily caloric intake with this plan? (asking to see if this is something i can use) im ten months out from my first men’s physique competition. Im 18, 6 feet 2 inches tall, around 10% bf, weight 215, upper arms 16 inches, chest around 48 inches, waist 33 inches, calves 16.5 inches. I feel like im not big enough to compete in bodybuilding yet, so trying men’s physique. thanks again for the article!

    • Thanks James – I appreciate the comments man. To answer your question, I am 160lbs, 5’11, waist is 30 inches and my body fat is 10% as well. It was between 7-8 for show date. I think giving men’s physique a try first before going for bodybuilding is a great idea. It’ll get you going, give you some exposure to what it takes to from a physical and mental standpoint to train, eat right, sleep, water, vitamins, the whole nine yards. It’s a commitment to say the least and one that is so damn worth it in the end. I say go for it! Reach out to me anytime if I can help answer any additional questions for you. More than anything – have fun with it. That’s what it’s all about and what matters most… Cheers!

      • Thanks bro! You said reach out with additional questions, this is me reaching out haha. What did the judges look for? Did you feel like where you placed was fare? Is there a pump up room for men’s physique? If you could go back and dk anything differently, would you? Sorry for all the questions, men’s physique is a relatively new division so it’s still hard to find reliable info. Thanks so much!

        • Judges are definitely looking for stage presence so being comfortable with your poses (posing is everything) and nailing them (smiling the whole time) is a huge win. Shoulders and chest are a must for sure. Work those two muscle groups big time. I can’t say whether or not I feel it’s fair where I placed considering judging is subjective and all I can control is how well I trained and did on the stage. I was happy that I placed in both divisions I entered (Open and Masters). The one thing I would have done differently was work on my posing even more. Confidence and comfort while on stage is huge. It isn’t just the body the judges are looking at but the stage presence as well. I hope this helps.

  • Hey Mike, great blog. Couple questions. Usually when someone is 12-16 weeks out they cutting. However, you were putting on weight and gaining mass. What phases did you have week by week? Your end goal was to gain weight while also lowering your body fat %. Did you go up to 180lbs then cut to 4%? Also, did your split/routine change (tempo, addition of supersets, etc…)as you cut? Thnx a ton

    • Hey Kevin! Thanks for your message and reaching out man, I appreciate it. I think it’s important to mention that I went into my 12 weeks of training already at a low body fat percentage (7.3%) so I wasn’t concerned with focusing on cutting 12-16 weeks out. While I did eat clean, my focus was on gaining mass so clean eating yes, but lots of volume. I scaled back on food volume, cut back calories, decreased fats, began carb cycling, and increased cardio a few weeks out to make my push for that decreased body fat even more. I went into competition I believe at 165 and 5.2% I did not change my routine either as I cut. I pushed and gave it my all, every set, every exercise, every week. Hope this helps man. You doing a show sometime soon?

      • Thnx for the quick reply man! I’m planning to do a show next year, live in Toronto. But the problem is that i’m a recreational athlete first. I practice martial arts and play basketball 4xweek (altogether). I guess I should stop doing those activities during my 12-16 week prep? What do you think? I’m also currently 7% bodyfat.

        One more thing, as far as training goes, did you go to failure every rep? or did you pyramid your working sets? (i.e increase weight each set)

        • My pleasure man. Awesome to hear you’re planning on doing a show next year – nice! As far as stopping the recreational activities you’re doing now to focus on training….you definitely don’t have to do that. There’s nothing really you have to do. The question is, how do you want to approach the show next year? Something fun to do and experience or something you are fully focused on and committed to, where when you stand on that stage, you know you gave it your all to be there. You can go into the show in whatever shape you want, question is – what shape is that for you and, are you hoping to place or do you not care? A bunch of questions to ask yourself that should help you determine your approach and next steps. Your body fat is already at a great starting point. As far as training goes, I did do all sets to failure except the first set which I used as a warm up. I increased weight once my reps got from 4 reps to 8 reps – heavy, failure, pushing every single rep and set. Hope this helps man – best of luck!

          • Great guidelines. I want to place. I plan accordingly as I hit my goals. Just to tie a a few things up, The program you have up has reps of 10, but you said that you did 4-8 reps, I know it’s not “the be all end all”, but just out of curiosity, did you find that you gained more density doing the lower reps?

            Also, after the show did you have a cheat meal or reverse diet back up? Been reading up on reverse dieting and a lot of people recommend it.

          • Good to know you’re wanting to place going into the event. Knowing that and the fact you can’t control the outcome or results, what you can control going forward now is the process, how committed and focused you are. How hard you work, how persistent and diligent you are with every day, meal, and workout. Great question on the reps on 10. While I have 10 written there, first set I always was able to get to 10. Second set would always be somewhere between 6-8 reps while the last set was always somewhere between 4-6 reps. Same weight every set too but going for failure each time. If I added a 4th set, reps would always fall somewhere between 4-5 reps that I’d be able to put up. I definitely did gain more strength and size going heavy, no question.

            I had a cheat meal that very night after the show was over. While I am familiar with reverse dieting, I did not do it myself.

  • Hi Mike great blog, in the morning when I weigh I’m similar weight 73kg 160lbs but obviously as day goes on my weight goes up catch is I’m 17percent body fat.
    Was just wondering how much potatoe you were having as I’m struggling to gauge portion size at the moment.

    • Hey man – thanks for your comment and awesome words… I appreciate it! As far as how much potatoes I was having during my training… I would have somewhere between a half to a full sweet potato daily. Either just a half at dinner or a half at lunch and then the other half with dinner.

      I take it you’re looking to reduce body fat at the moment… is that right? That’s all diet in terms of what you’re eating first (that’s #1) followed by how much you’re eating (portion sizes) which is also VERY important when it comes to decreasing body fat.

      Let me know what other questions you may have and how I can help you our further.


  • Thanks for the speedy reply, yes I’m trying to get my body fat right down.
    So if I have two small red skinned potatoes daily that should be fine? Also regarding your protein shakes I hate mine with water so I’m always drinking with milk, surely I can still get bf down right?

    • Red skinned potatoes are fine. To really cut into that body fat and get it down, use water (not milk) in your protein shake. 3-4 weeks out from competition, you may even consider eliminating the shake and getting all of your protein nutrients and calories from actual food versus the protein shake itself. You’ll make even more gains and progress doing this, not to mention lower body fat and lean up even more so.

  • I’m competing however trying to get my body fat right down before arrange the date, following your diet to the T except I do my training about 2pm – 4pm.

    • Go for you man… awesome game plan. Love the fact you’re following the game plan I laid out to a T… it’ll get you to where you want/need to be to step on that stage. Training between 2-4pm is perfectly fine. To be honest, it actually might work better for you since you’ll have some good calories already in you from half the day to utilize as energy to make additional strength gains.

  • How come you don’t have rice instead of potatoe? Is sweet potatoe better? Also does it matter if I have milk in my shakes?

    • I did eat rice as well although from a nutritional value standpoint, sweet potatoes had more so I consumed more of those than rice but again, I did eat rice as well, just not as often. I’d stick with water in your shakes. Healthier and cleaner calories… dairy can effect results and composition changes.

  • Sorry to spam your inbox I have so many questions. When you say 3×10 is that failing at 10th rep. Can I stick to this routine in training before standing on stage or so I have to do supersets, strength etc….
    I’m happy with the workout programme you followed but wondering if I also have to do any additional training routine example, supersets etc > ?

    • Hey Stephen – not necessarily failing at every 10th rep but working hard to get those last few reps up for sure with occasional failure of course. You can do supersets although I did not and faired just fine.

  • Thanks Mike this is an extremely good training program, Thanks for posting, I don’t think I can drink my shakes with water yet as its only just bearable with milk but can I just start drinking with water closer to cometition? I am currently frying my broccoli in coconut oil so at my eat times they’re crunchy but thanks for the heads up I’ll purchase a steamer and go to town. Definitely broccoli steamed holds more nutritional value.

  • Hi Mike thanks for posting this I’m already lowering my body fat, I’m at 14 percent now 🙂
    I don’t like porridge is there a good substitute for me in the morning that I can have for that great slow release carbs after eating eggs ? Thanks, kind regards Stephen

    • My pleasure man and that is absolutely great news for you on already seeing a drop in your body fat… Nice! Consider adding chicken or turkey sausage to your eggs to add more protein since porridge is not your thing. Best of luck and keep me posted on your progress too… Cheers!

  • Hey Mike how’s it going…. So still following your program really enjoying my only question is being an Ectomorph (the lean bony, small frame fast matabalism) I should be working on major body parts when lifting doing things like 10reps 10 sets on chest and back on say Monday and Tuesday 10by10 on legs etc ….. Plus eating before bed so this ceisi now great so I don’t go into muscle canablism during sleep.
    My question is should I stick to this program or 10by10s ?

    • Hey Stephen – awesome to hear you’re still following the plan I’ve laid out here… Nice man! While my own personal philosophy doesn’t include working on major body parts when lifting and doing things like 10reps 10 sets on chest and back, that’s certainly an approach you can take and others do take. The plan I’ve laid out here I believed in, worked best for me and gave me great results. As far as going into muscle canablism during sleep, I too was having a Casein Protein shake right before bed for a while and then stopped due to the fact I realized that going into muscle canablism during sleep isn’t much of a factor or concern at the level in which I was training and would be competing. If I was training to be Mr. Olympia maybe, not for a men’s physique competition. Keep doing your thing man and giving it your all… Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Us

Give us a call or fill in the form below and we will contact you. We endeavor to answer all inquiries within 24 hours on business days.