Hypertrophy Cluster Training (HCT-12) – An Interview with Daniel Roberts

If you are a frequent reader of Wannabebig, you’ll know by now that we will be soon be releasing what we believe is THE best muscle building program out there – Hypertrophy Cluster Training (HCT-12) on Monday May 3rd, 2010.

There will be no games and no B.S hype. No promises of advanced trainees gaining 27lbs in 6 weeks and no crazy expensive magic supplement you have to take alongside it in order for the program to work. We won’t be painstakingly drip feeding it to you in parts, we won’t be over-complicating things and there will be no cheap marketing hype. There’s also nothing to buy – the whole thing will be entirely free.

Now why would we go and do that and what’s in it for us you might say?

We want to help people look and feel great – it’s as simple as that. That’s THE reason Wannabebig and AtLarge Nutrition exist and that’s what drives us to keep publishing information and developing products to help you do just that.

I cringe when I see guys on the forums who are fed up with not making any gains. They ask questions about the latest pre workout supplement when they don’t even know how much goddamn protein they are consuming.

It’s painful to see guys trying to build their own routine and getting it all wrong. Or to hear about them following a routine that the ‘jacked guy’ at their gym uses (who between me and you are mostly like genetically gifted and/or using anabolic steroids) but are confused as to why they’re not seeing the same type of gains.

And the worst thing about it is that this getting big thing really isn’t all that complicated.

There are a few basic principles that if you follow them consistently, you’ll be blown away at how much muscle you can gain and if anyone is telling you any different they are either dumb or trying to sell you something (or perhaps both). If you are not following a sound training and nutritional program, you’ll continually struggle to gain muscle, period.

And that’s where HCT-12 comes in.

We are going to provide you with a training and nutritional program (and the science behind why it works) that will be easy to understand and is based around the key principles of gaining muscle, allowing you to gain the most amount of muscle in the least amount of time.

And, you don’t have to have exceptional genetics and/or be taking anabolic steroids for this program to work. If you are an average Joe or have struggled to make gains in the past, this program is for YOU!

When we first announced we were releasing HCT-12, we got a ton of questions as expected. We therefore wanted to respond and give you a bit more information about how HCT-12 came about and also the details behind the training and nutritional program before we release it in full in a few weeks time.

And, what better way than to have a chat to the program creator himself, Daniel Roberts. He obviously doesn’t want to give away everything before we release the program, but I’ve done my best to draw out as much information from him as I can so that you know what to expect!

Daniel Clough: Hey Daniel, it’s great to have you with us. So let’s start off with how the hell we’re going to sort out this name situation. It’s a great name and all, but it’s just damn right confusing us both having the same name!

Daniel Roberts: Fair play! Well I prefer to be called Dan, so let’s say I am Dan and you’re Daniel and we’ll refer to me as DR and you as DC for the rest of the interview – how’s that for quick thinking?

DC: You’re a smart cookie, that sounds good to me! Ok, let’s get stuck in… Who exactly are you?

DR: Well, we’ve established my name is Dan and some of the Wannabebig readers may already know that I’ve already written 2 articles for Wannabebig – To Bulk or to Cut, That is the Question – or is it? and Nutrient Timing – When Science and Marketing Collide.  So technically, even though HCT-12 is far more than an article, this will be my third article for Wannabebig!

Going back to my younger days, technically I failed as an athlete (swimmer). I guess when I was young I just didn’t have the discipline and more importantly the desire to compete at the highest level in a sport that even though I was gifted at, I just wasn’t that interested in.

Even though swimming didn’t work out, I‘ve always had an obsession with human physiology and performance. It’s been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember and there hasn’t been a day in the last 20+ years where I haven’t spent at least a couple of hours reading and learning the subject above and beyond my formal education. One day my girlfriend will prevail and we’ll have to turn my library into a guest room so that the mother in law can stay over, but until that day I’ll fight to the end to keep my little library and feel just fine about sticking her in a hotel for the weekend lol (I’m really hoping either one isn’t reading this, or I’m toast).

Hmm, what else… I tend to have a short attention span which some may have noticed on the forums. Don’t get me wrong, I am up for helping anyone out and talking about training and nutrition forever, but I like the simple approach. If you’re trying to make it more complicated than it is, you’ll lose me and I’ll be helping someone else.

I love food and baking – custard or lemon tarts are a favourite.

I’m a sentimental/emotional type of guy, (I cry in pretty much every movie that has animals or Father/Son scenes, K-9 with James Belushi gets me every time), so I’m proud when athletes, professional or casual get the results they’re after – for them not for me. You can’t stand over them 24/7, so it is their effort and hard work which gets them there. I just feel great when other people produce results they didn’t think possible. I should probably get my estrogen levels checked!

Listen, all you need to know about Dan Roberts is that he likes lemon tarts ok? Well, that and Father/Son scenes…

DC: A little random, but that’ll do – it gives us something to work with! So, diving right in, what do you think are the main reasons people struggle to gain muscle?

DR: In short, a lack of hard work, consistency in diet, training, and progression and no appreciation of the timescale it actually takes. I’m sure people tire of hearing that and I don’t say it because I’m simplistic and have run out of ideas, it just happens to be fact and anyone who’s actually got any appreciable muscle will know this.

The problem is people want to believe otherwise, witness the women’s fat loss industry as a great example. There are pills, patches, and creams which are proven not to work, but you could even put the reference in bold next to the pot on the shelf and they’d still buy it – people want shortcuts. An increased appetite for immediate gratification and access to information (thanks to the internet) offers an excuse to flit unsuccessfully between programs and diets.

There are a few simple principles to getting the body to adapt the way you want it to, things that you can do as a lifter. The internal processes are massively complex once you get down to a cellular level, but there are only a few things that you can do externally to effect these, yet people will have you believe that pretty much every internal variable can be manipulated to great effect on a second by second basis by different substances and training techniques.; it just doesn’t happen that way. Studies are misrepresented, acute effects highlighted and promoted and the longer effects ignored and confusion perpetuated – the truth is the body works on a longer and ultimately simpler objective.

People forget that all the biggest bodies or even the strongest bodies are built using pretty similar programs; on the face of it there are enough programs out there to try one a week, and whilst the differences might be overwhelming at first glance, drill down and the similarities are obvious, the successful ones are founded on the same principles and those same principles (with a few twists of course) are what HCT-12 relies on.

DC:  HCT-12 sounds a bit like something out of Star Wars. What does it stand for and how did it come about?

DR: Well I personally came up with the name, its brilliant right? Some may even say a bit genius……

No, credit where it’s due, Tom Mutaffis came up with the name and hats off to him; it captures what it’s about and makes it sound all fancy!

Hypertrophy Cluster Training 12 is what it stands for. These days, you have to have the word ‘hypertrophy’ in there! The cluster refers to the rest-pause variation involved, ‘training’ is self explanatory and the 12 refers to the total number of reps in the last work set. And there you go – HCT-12 (Hypertrophy Cluster Training).

We’ve been working on this for the best part of a year now, but round about the time we started discussing the idea for a new article, I was rehabbing a torn MCL and a chronically hyper-mobile shoulder. I was out of shape, my conditioning was poor and I was weak as a kitten.

I started experimenting with something I’d done about a decade earlier with good effect, which was working up to a maximum working weight for approx 4-5 reps, resting briefly then trying to hit another 4-5 reps in doubles and singles.

Nothing formal, I’d train according to how I felt, training each bodypart as often as I felt it was ready and when progress stalled just take it easy on higher reps for a week or so until I felt the buzz to train heavier again. It was awesome, no pressure to hit weight progression targets just the fun of lifting heavy stuff and when it was a good day, lifting heavier stuff than I’d lifted before.

Meanwhile I was researching the physiological processes of muscle growth in preparation for another article and together with what I collated and condensed and the results I was seeing, started thinking about formalizing it and it just seemed to fit, which is where the idea for the project came from.

The program is quite personal to me in that it’s basically the way I like to train. Like most, out of curiosity I’ve experimented with a variety of training methodologies, in my early teens I was using Mike Mentzer’s High Intensity Training, I followed that with Ron S Laura’s Matrix Principles, and Arnold’s Bodybuilding Encyclopedia, whilst messing around with every Weider principle about at the time.

What I should have done is listen to the bodybuilder’s offering me advice at the time; training variations that sat somewhere between the two extremes of high volume and HIT, but at that age, I thought that between Mike Mentzer and me, we knew better than the hugely strong Masters Heavyweights with the trophies on the gym window. I was wrong then and I’d be wrong now – the human body hasn’t changed nor have the basic tenets behind getting bigger and stronger.

DC: So tell us a bit more about the HCT-12 itself, what can people actually expect?

DR: This program gives you the freedom to listen to your body, and to train according to how your body is operating on any given day – for some that’s an opportunity to slack. If this is you, please don’t try it, and don’t expect much in the way of results from any program let alone this one.

Actually let’s get this out of the way up front and we’ll mention it no more. If you’re looking for an easy route this program isn’t for you. If you miss training sessions on a whim, or don’t put in the work when you’re actually in the gym then this program will not work for you.

However, for those dedicated to improving themselves this program offers what I believe to be the most efficient way of incorporating the principles common to all successful programs and delivers the most effective program for most of the people most of the time. A big promise I know, but once you get on the program I guarantee you will see what I mean.

The program will expose you to concepts like auto-regulation, rest-pause clusters, ramping and de-loads and educate you as to why. Even if the time isn’t right for you to use the program you’ll still get to understand what these principles are and why the body responds the way it does, giving you the tools to evaluate the efficacy of any program out there – you’ll not fall for promotional hype ever again, at least not in this field!

If you don’t put in the work when you’re actually in the gym then this program will not work for you

DC: Is the HCT-12 program just for people that want to gain weight and get bigger and stronger?

DR: I won’t lie, ultimately that is the type of person that HCT-12 is best suited to. However, if you’re looking to lose weight, then HCT-12 is still a very good option for you.

When you are dieting, you want to hold onto as much lean muscle as you can and in fact you also want to gain some along the way too right? If you follow the HCT-12 training principles and then tailor the nutritional advice to fit your goals, you’ll get leaner and at a bare minimum you’ll hold onto as much lean muscle as possible and if you’re at the right starting point, even gain some muscle. To answer the question more directly, yes HCT-12 is probably better for someone whose goal is to simply get bigger and stronger but if you’re main goal is to lose weight, HCT-12 is also going to work very well for you.

DC: One question that came up a lot is how many days the routine is? Some of our readers are gearing up to start this and of course want to know how often they will be training.

DR: Because everyone has different commitments and time available to them, I wanted to give people a few different options, so there are 3, 4 and 5 day splits all following the same principles. Two are upper/lower splits and the third is the way I like to train, with more focus on fewer body-parts per session but with the same frequency. No single one is better than the other; it comes down to preference and how much time you have to devote to the gym.

DC: What does the nutritional program look like?

DR: Anyone who’s read my previous articles on here will recognize the message in this piece, simplicity. Your diet doesn’t need to be complicated, but you need to hit your daily targets day in and day out, irrespective of whether your goal is to gain or lose weight, millions find this hard and have the pitiful results to show for it.

We’ll show you how to set calorie and macro-nutrient levels, we’ll show you how to adjust as you go along, we’ll show you how to incorporate effective supplementation and above all we’ll give you the tools to eat effectively for the rest of your life, whatever your goal.

DC: What? No complicated nutrient timing strategy?

DR: Nope, as I said we’ll talk about calories, macro-nutrients and pre and post workout nutrition – nothing you do beyond that is going to make a significant difference and in fact trying to approach it in a more complex way will increase the chance of you screwing things up. Consistency is key and wins all day long. If you’re timing how long it takes you to eat a protein bar, you’re doing something wrong.

DC: Right, let’s get onto the number one question on most of our readers mind. What gains people can expect!

DR: Ah, the big question! But before I answer it I want to take you back to a point I raised earlier – most people lack an appreciation of the timescale involved to build an impressive physique. 6 weeks is nothing, actually neither is 12 weeks whilst we’re talking about it. To quote fellow Wannabebig contributor, Shelby Starnes ‘Great physiques are built over years, not days or weeks’.

As far as I can tell, most people on forums and commercial gyms barely progress in a year let alone 12 weeks, so any progress is not to be sniffed at.

Anyone that devotes themselves to the HCT-12 training and diet program will get bigger and stronger and feel the best they have felt for a long while, I’ll promise you that.

Before we even opened up the program to selected Wannabebig readers, I tried it out on some training partners and made adjustments along the way and they really loved it. They got stronger, bigger and just as important they really enjoyed the sessions. They loved the auto-regulation aspect of it and then I came up with the program we’re about to release.

We wanted to test this a bit further before release though, so we got ourselves some willing Wannabebig readers (25 to be exact) and as we speak they are still being put through their paces and I can’t wait to see their results after 12 weeks (they’re about 6 weeks in now).

The big thing I want to stress is how much one progresses depends on their starting point; one of the trainees (TomSids) by the halfway mark had put on nearly 40 pounds, but then he was an underweight novice and he’d struggled his whole adult life to put on weight. Once he understood the principles and what was required of him, he tirelessly devoted himself to it and his persistence and enthusiasm have paid dividends. He’s a changed man. How much of it was muscle and how much was fat? Well judge for yourselves when you see the before and after photo’s after the 12 weeks.

Some of the more experienced gained anything from a few pounds through to 7-8 pounds. We also have several guys who have fat loss goals and are steadily losing 1-2 pounds a week and everyone in the group is beating 1RM PR’s 6 weeks in, but we’re not at the finish line yet. We expect to see more progress still, but all improved week on week in both body composition and gym performance.

‘Great physiques are built over years, not days or weeks’ – Shelby Starnes (Pictured above Off-Season)

DC: Some might say you’re not being clear enough in exactly how much muscle someone may be able to gain on HCT-12? 😉

DR: That’s fair enough, but I refuse to give specific numbers as everyone is very different in respect to training experience, genetic ability, age, commitment, motivation – the list goes on… I believe it is unrealistic and misleading to give people hard number claims. If you want that type of information, go grab yourself a program that does just that, but we warned any program that makes promises like that IS misleading you and won’t have your best interests at heart.

DC: Ok, I wanted to cover one last thing with you before we wrap this interview up. Will you need to take AtLarge Nutrition supplements to make gains on this program? A few of our readers are a little skeptical this may be one big advertisement for AtLarge.

DR: It’s far from a big advertisement. As you stated at the beginning of this article, Wannabebig and AtLarge Nutrition’s vision is primarily to help people look and feel great and that’s why they have funded the whole thing. I give you my word that I have had complete creative freedom to develop HCT-12 without any pressure to sell products.

Ultimately, from a nutritional perspective what you ‘need’ is to consistently hit your calorie and macro-nutrient target. To hit mine I use Nitrean and Opticen. I use Opticen before and after training. Simple; supplements, doing what they’re supposed to, conveniently and cost effectively helping me hit my nutritional targets, without which I wouldn’t progress in my training.

I mentioned TomSids above and he is a great example of this. He used Maximus, Opticen, and Results consistently to pack on 40lbs and get significantly stronger over a 6 week period. These supplements helped him to get in enough calories and to support muscle growth (which he has failed to do many times in the past), to help him achieve this weight gain over this time frame. Help is the key word here.

AtLarge Nutrition supplements will of course be recommended in the nutritional aspect of the program. Why? Because it’s a solid line, I personally use and believe in them and the reason I am here talking about HCT-12 now is because of AtLarge Nutrition. It’s also the reason that HCT-12 is being released completely free, so I would hope that Wannabebig readers support AtLarge for these reasons, which is why they are recommended. But the bottom line is that they are not intrinsically built into it in any way and they are not essential to following it and making great gains.

DC: Well, I’ve picked your brain enough, thanks for taking the time out to discuss HCT-12 in more detail. Now get back to work, because the May 3rd deadline is looking tight and there’s no time to waste!

DR: Hah, you got it. And if anyone has any further questions about HCT-12, just ask them in the discussion thread for this article (linked below).

Written by Daniel Clough (with a little help from Dan Roberts!)

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Hypertrophy Cluster Training (HCT-12) – An Interview with Daniel Roberts discussion thread.

What we have planned for Wannabebig in 2010

With 2009 closing in, we wanted to take a few moments to let you know what we have planned for Wannabebig in 2010. (And why we did what we did in 2009!)

Man, we are gonna rock 2010.

2010 – Content, Content, Content

First off, to show we’re serious about content, you’re going to get a brand new article every Monday. We’ve been quietly working on this for the last few months and have built connections with some first class writers and have lots of great articles lined up.

The first one will be published on Monday Jan 4th 2010 and is a brilliant one to start the year off with how we plan to go on – ‘Pre Contest Nutrition – An Interview with Shelby Starnes’. Shelby is a successful National-level Bodybuilder & Powerlifter and has helped hundreds of athletes get into the greatest shape of their life. You’re not going to want to miss this one; it’s packed with some great info.

The aim is to double the frequency to two articles a week around the middle of the year and perhaps towards the end of the year get closer to the ultimate goal of four to five articles per week. All, whilst maintaining the high level of quality you’ve been used to over the past few months.

You’ll still receive the Wannabebig Serious About Muscle Newsletter, once every two weeks and our main focus with this will be making sure that it is an enjoyable read with exclusive mini articles. Our aim is to move to weekly newsletter issues around the middle of the year. If you haven’t signed up already, you can do so here.

We will also be launching the New Wannabebig Training Program around May 2010 which is going to be epic…  Wannabebig contributor, Daniel Roberts has developed a system which will help you pack on the most amount of muscle mass in the shortest period of time. And to top it off, fifteen lucky members will get the chance to be part of a small, select group that will get exclusive, early access to the program and 121 coaching for a twelve week period. We’ve already received over 150 applications so watch this space for more news.

We haven’t forgotten about the community. We’ll be attracting even more professional athletes and experienced/knowledgeable members to the forums with a particular emphasis on bodybuilding to help even things up a little (in 2009 we saw a huge increase in our Powerlifting Forum). We’ll also be looking to run more competitions like the Strongest of the Weak Competition we ran in November which saw $1000 worth of prizes /cash handed out.

As you can see, some really ambitious plans for 2010 which will help provide you with more and better information to get the most out of your training.

As usual, we’re always interested to know what you want to see – if you have any suggestions or feedback, post it in our suggestions and feedback forum

I also wanted to explain why we did what we did in 2009 and how specifically it lays the foundation for an awesome 2010. (Yes, there is a method to our madness!)

2009 – Laying the Foundation

In January 2009, Chris and I had a long discussion about where we ultimately wanted to take Wannabebig. It was a bit of a make or break conversation because we felt we had been treading water for a year or so and we needed to define a clear direction for Wannabebig’s future.

After thrashing it out, we both agreed on two key objectives.

Firstly to establish Wannabebig as a genuine leader in fitness content and secondly continue to develop the community.

Taking the first point, genuine is the key word there. There are a huge amount of content/blog websites out there, but only a small amount of websites stand out as being true leaders in their field. 
Quite frankly, anyone can start a website and reprint information from others on a regular basis, but this just puts you in the same place as 99.9% of the websites out there and we didn’t want to be part of that group. We want Wannabebig to compete with the best out there.

Essentially we needed a brand new website that looked and functioned MUCH better. Even if we had the best content in the world, no one was going to read it if it was a pain in the ass to read. We needed to do a few other things too – attract the best authors, consistently publish 4-5 innovative, high quality, exclusive articles per week and send out a quality (worth reading) newsletter once a week And… All entirely FREE.

Wow…..it seemed like a daunting task because if we were to be honest with ourselves, we were a million miles away from this. We had a below-par website and were randomly publishing articles, often not even 1 per month and we didn’t have a newsletter. It was going to take a lot of time, effort and investment and we sure weren’t going to get there in one year, but we were up the challenge.

Immediately we started planning out what we needed to do to get the website into good shape and in April 2009 we launched the new version of our website which not only had a brand new design, it was now easy to find and read the content you wanted.

Wannabebig – Before (Left) and After (Right) – No Comparison!

We also started to focus on attracting new writers and publishing high quality, exclusive articles aswell as launching a new newsletter. Our first goal was to consistently publish one article and one newsletter every two weeks, which we have done since June 1st 2009.

Whilst content was our biggest priority, continuing to develop the community was also a key focus for us. We needed to improve the day to day running of the forums and to also attract the biggest and strongest people to be part of the community.

We started off by putting Travis Bell in charge of running the forums on a day to day basis which turned out to be an awesome decision. Travis is incredibly fair, honest and level headed – skills which are crucial for being a leader of an online community. We couldn’t have hoped for a better guy to take the reins and he’s doing a great job. A huge thank you also goes out to our moderator team for making Wannabebig community a GREAT place.

We also started sponsoring (through AtLarge Nutrition) and attracting professional powerlifters and bodybuilders and even just browsing the forums for 10 minutes, it’s hard not to interact with some of the strongest guys on the planet who are up for helping and giving advice where they can.

AtLarge Nutrition sponsored Athletes and Wannabebig Forum regulars – David Trantham (Left) and Tom Mutaffis (Right)

And lastly, Thank you for making Wannabebig what it is

Wannabebig is what it is today because of you and your support.

YOU read and comment on the articles which helps motivate us to keep doing more and more.

YOU being part of the community helps make the forums an informative and fun place to be.

And for those that have made AtLarge Nutrition your choice for your supplement needs, this is the key behind us being able to keep Wannabebig moving forward. Sometimes it’s hard to put in perspective the time and money that goes into not only just keeping Wannabebig online but also publishing content every week – our monthly bill for this is roughly around $5000. per month.

Yes, you read that right!

To keep Wannabebig running on a quality dedicated server, to keep improving the functionality of the site, to attract the best writers, to sponsor the biggest and strongest people out there to be part of the community and to run competitions with awesome prizes, you can see how it all adds up.

Therefore, we would really urge you if you haven’t already to check out www.atlargenutrition.com in 2010.

We’ve gone to great lengths to provide the absolute best products that will enable you to get more out of your training. By becoming an AtLarge customer you not only get no nonsense, high quality products but you also play a huge hand in supporting Wannabebig.

Thanks for taking the time to read and we wish you a successful and healthy 2010.

Daniel, Chris and the Wannabebig Team

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – What we have planned for Wannabebig in 2010 discussion thread.

An Interview with Forum Member, Unholy – Part 3

If you’ve read parts one and two of this interview, you’ll know that forum member Unholy (Paul in real life) has transformed himself from an overweight, out-of-shape 295 lbs to a fit and lean 190 lbs (actually, now that’s 177 lbs). Not only that, but he is on track to compete in his first bodybuilding competition!

This third interview will shed some light on how Paul is preparing to come in for his first show, which is now just 17 days away.

Before we get going, I would like to urge all of our readers to pop over to Paul’s Training Journal (My Road to the INBF and OCB NY State Bodybuilding Championships) and give him some words of support and encouragement. It’s awesome to see one of our own make such an incredible transformation and to take it as far as the bodybuilding stage, so let’s really get behind him for the next couple of weeks!

Ok, so let’s get rolling.

Wannabebig: Welcome back to the spotlight, buddy…are you nervous?

Unholy: Nah, well…I guess I am a bit…but not in a bad way. I’m just naturally excited and a little anxious about hitting the big stage. I think you’d be non-human if you didn’t have a bit of nerves and anxiousness at this stage. And with the changes to exactly what I will be competing in, I guess it’s a touch unsettling. But now that we have things nailed down, everything is clear.

Wannabebig: So there’s been a change as to when and what you will compete in, right?

Unholy: Yep. I was originally going to compete in two shows, the OCB and INBF NYS Natural Championships. Now my focus is 100% on the INBF/WNBF World Championships in NYC on November 14th.

There are a few reasons for this. First, my trainer recommended doing one show and making sure I peak for it 100%. I was also not aware that there is an INBF portion of the World Championships in NYC on Nov 14th. I am eligible, it gives me an extra week to dial in, and it means I don’t have to drive 350 miles to compete. Oh, and it’s an extremely well run show with tons of sponsors and web/magazine coverage. It’s a win-win all around.

Wannabebig: Gotcha…that makes sense. So where are you at right now then?

Unholy: I’m sitting at 177 lbs and hovering between 4.5-5% bodyfat. And naturally, I’m a little hungry…lol! As per usual, here are a couple of pics of me at 177 lbs:

Unholy – 177 lbs and between 4.5-5% bodyfat

Wannabebig: Awesome…things are really coming together for you and your side abdominals are completely sick. Good job! Although again, I’m not sold on the boxer shorts…lol.

Where do you want to be for the big day and how far are you out?

Unholy: I need to be 175 lbs and 4% bodyfat – carbed up and filled out after a proper peak week. I am now officially 2 1/2 weeks out (Oct. 27th).

Wannabebig: How have things been since we last spoke?

Unholy: Very good. I’ve kept my training heavy and intense. I’m now up to 35 minutes of low intensity cardio seven days a week, as well as one HIIT session a week.

The key change is that my diet has been tightened up and, in particular, my food choices are starting to matter more and more due to satiety issues.

I’m also finding that different variables are producing daily changes to my physique and it’s very interesting to watch and learn. This is going to be incredibly useful for me when I compete again in the future as I’ll be able to know beforehand how my body is likely to react to certain things, and that’ll help me better plan my pre-contest strategy.

Going back to the diet, an absolutely fundamental change I made was bringing in Alberto Nunez to work with me for the last eight weeks of prep.

Wannabebig: Yeah, I noticed that…what gives?

Unholy: It was probably the smartest thing I have done this entire period. Berto is not only a WNBF Natural Pro and a smart guy with the know-how to get a natural competitor really dialled in and ready for a show, but he is an all around good guy to have in your corner. I turned to him after becoming dissatisfied with Phil Hernon and the change was like night and day. I received individual attention, with daily communications between us, and he got me on a straight path for the last eight weeks of prep.

He also gave me an individualized diet to follow and we have been making tweaks and changes on a weekly basis based on progress pictures and how my weight and physique have responded to refeeds. I have learned a ton working with him these past six weeks.

The most recent change he made was swapping +30 g carbs for -30 g protein, putting me at 35f/165c/200p. I’ve responded well to these changes and Berto definitely knows what he is doing.

As you can see below, Alberto has gotten his own conditioning into some sick shape before, so I am in good hands:

Alberto Nunez

Wannabebig: How has your training been since we last spoke?

Unholy: Fantastic! My strength is holding up despite the fact that I’m eating less than my 93-lb girlfriend. I’ve stuck to the higher frequency/low volume routine I outlined in the first interview…no need to change something that is working and working well to boot.  We recently added ten minutes onto all LISS (Low Intensity Solid State) cardio sessions as well as my HIIT cool down.

The weight training aspect is probably the easiest part of this whole thing. I am quite pleased with the lack of strength drops.

You can check out full details of my workouts in my Training Log, by the way.

Wannabebig: And what supplements have really helped you in the lead up to the big day and how?

Unholy: Anyone following my journal lately will know that I have been cooking up a storm using Nitrean Protein over the past few weeks. With only 35 g of fats in my daily diet, creativity in the kitchen has been clutch.  Chocolate Nitrean Protein tastes absolutely amazing, not only in shakes, but in all of my brownie/cake/oatmeal recipes.

As far as energy goes, I’ve been taking the Fat Burner Nitor twice a day for a morning pick-me-up and before a heavy training session. Occasionally, I’ll forget to take it and I can notice the difference. I’ve put ETS in charge of sleep. Hands down, it’s an amazing supplement for anyone looking to reduce DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and get some shut-eye. Those vivid dreams are backfiring though… the other night I woke up in a cold sweat after dreaming about pounding an entire box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I was ok after I realized it was only a dream!

Wannabebig: How has your weight changed in the last eight weeks? Has it been easy to pull it down to where you wanted?

Unholy: Lol…nothing has come easy these last eight weeks.

Wannabebig: Hah, ok. Let me rephrase that: how challenging has it been to get your weight down to where you wanted!?!

Unholy: Well, Every ½ lb at this point is a struggle. Unfortunately, the scale doesn’t always tell the whole tale. My weight loves to fluctuate, but the trend is downwards and that’s what’s important. Two days ago, I did dip down to my lowest weight yet, 175.0 lbs, so it’s certainly heading in the right direction.

Wannabebig: And what has been the toughest challenge in the last eight weeks?

Unholy: It’s definitely been staying away from my pantry late at night when the cravings are the worst. Even thinking about it now is killing me!

Wannabebig: Yeah, that sounds tempting! Have there been any hiccups or has it been plain sailing?

Unholy: A few minor bumps in the road but nothing major. A few weeks ago I killed an entire jar of pickles, not realizing at the time what 33,000 mg of sodium would do to my physique in its fragile state!

Wannabebig: I don’t think some readers will actually understand the level of dedication required to get into this type of shape – can you give them an idea of a normal day for you?

Unholy: Assuming I don’t have class/work on given day. I wake up around 8 AM and have my pre-LISS cardio meal, which consists of 10 g BCAAs and 10-15 g carbs. I drive my girlfriend to school and I either do LISS outside or go to the gym and get about 35-40 minutes of cardio in. I usually go home and chug some Nitrean in water, then shower, and prep a few meals in advance.

Food prep also involves sitting on www.fitday.com planning everything out and making sure it fits my 35/160/200 macro split. I have a nice solid breakfast, which is laughable because my meals are around 300 calories each.

I hit the gym in the early afternoon or late evening for training. The remainder of my calories is split between pre/post workout where I eat bulk of my carbs and a few low carb higher fat meals to keep me “full”. I have to do this stuff every single day on top of school, work, and life outside of bodybuilding. It is pretty time consuming but I fell in love with the lifestyle.

I also try to get a solid 20-30 minutes a day in practicing my mandatory poses and perfecting my individual routine for the night portion of the show.

Wannabebig: Damn…never again will I moan about fitting in an hour of exercise in a day. Nailing that day in/day out is a fantastic achievement and shows how badly you want it…great job!

Unholy: Thanks, but as I said, I love the lifestyle and I’d have it no other way.

Wannabebig: Ok, let’s handle the most important question of the interview. Do you think you should buy some new boxer shorts? You’ve got a…err….unique collection there. Lol, I mean, check out what we’ve seen already:

A range of Unholy’s bright boxer shorts!

Unholy: Ha ha…definitely not! My bright colourful boxers put a big goofy smile on my face 😉

Wannabebig: And ours!

On a more serious note, even though you have clearly taken your fat loss mission to a slightly different level than most of the folks here at Wannabebig, I wanted to ask you what would you say are the three biggest things that have helped you in respect to your conditioning.

Unholy: Nutrition is key and the calorie is king! If you are serious about your goals, the first place you need to focus the most work on is in the kitchen, no matter what the goal!

Creativity in the kitchen would be next. Cutting on such low calories means that drinking calories and eating calorie-dense foods are not an option if you want to prevent hunger pangs from taking over your life. I learned to use “boring” clean foods and whip up tasty filling meals.

Last, but certainly not least, it helps to have a prep log to hold myself accountable and to look back on when motivation seems to take a hit. It’s very helpful and the input/critique I have received along the way has been extremely valuable.

Wannabebig: Hey, you can’t go around telling us you are Mr. Creative in the kitchen without sharing a couple of recipes! Hoooooooooooook us up!

Unholy: Sure thing 🙂 I’ll share my top two with you – No Bake Brownies and Egg White Crepes

No Bake Brownies


  • 3 scoops chocolate Nitrean Protein
  • 1 package (4 serving) sf/ff Chocolate pudding mix
  • 10g unsweetened Cocoa powder
  • 5 packets splenda
  • 50-100g rolled oats (optional but makes chewier brownies)
  • Semi sweet chocolate baking morsels (optional but makes brownies Nom
    Nom Nom good)


  1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl wit the exception of chocolate chips
  2. Add boiling water a little at a time while mixing until you reach a
    thick brownie batter consistency
  3. Coat some microwave safe soup/cereal bowls with cooking spray
  4. Distribute batter into 3-4 bowls evenly
  5. Top with chocolate chips, press them into the mix somewhat
  6. Nuke each for ~3 minutes
  7. Allow to cool completely

They will come out looking kind of spongy and moist but once they cool they are heavenly. I love to top mine with Peanut Butter, SF Jam and Cool Whip Free. You can get creative as you like.

Egg White Crepes

Note: The below should make 3-4 pan sized crepes.


  • 1/2c Egg Whites/ Egg Beaters
  • 1/2 Scoop of Nitrean Protein (Van or Choc)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Splash of Milk
  • Splenda to Taste
  • Either Cocoa powder or Van extract/cinnamon depending on flavor of whey.


  1. Use a hand mixer or wisk to mix ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Heat a pan, spray with cooking spray.
  3. Pour some batter in the center and swird around to get a fairly thin coat
  4. When they start bubbling around the edges after 45-60 seconds flip.
  5. Cook another 30 seconds.

You can fill these with just about anything that fits your macros. Depending on what I need for the day some favorites include Peanut Butter, SF Jam+Pam fried banana slices or FF Cream cheese mixed with splenda and half thawed frozen blueberries mashed together.

So, there you go. My top two recipes – tasty AND healthy.

Wannabebig: Superb, our readers will love them! How’s the posing coming along?

Unholy: Pretty good. I’ve met up with Gerry Triano for some in-person consults, which have helped. I also am lucky enough to have a top notch competitor running my gym and he has helped me through my mandatories. Posing is an art; it’s certainly not something you master overnight.

Wannabebig: Ok, the big question….Honestly, how do you think you will fare on the big day?

Unholy: Well, considering that I am competing at what is probably the biggest show the INBF has to offer, I know the competition will be stiff. I’ll be working diligently over the next three weeks to make sure I look my best that day. Who else may show up? No one knows. I’m ready to pose my butt off and show off the hard work that I put into this prep. All I know is that I’ll be prepared, and that’s all I can control.

Wannabebig: Well, it goes without saying that we’ll be rooting for you and wishing you the very best of luck on the big day. You’ve been and will continue to be an inspiration to many WBB members, and we’ll be back towards the end of November with the last in our series of interviews to find out how you got on at the competition with some pics from the big day!

Unholy: I look forward to it!

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – An Inspiring Interview with Forum Member, Unholy – Part 3 discussion thread.

Article Blasts from the Past!

Recently behind the scenes we’ve really stepped up the content side of things. We’ve recruited lots of new writers and have many articles in development as we speak. The short term aim is to release a brand new, high quality article each and every week and we’re not too far from being able to do that, watch this space!

In the mean time, whilst several articles are coming to fruition we wanted to remind you of some of the very good articles we have on the site which you may have forgotten about or not even read yet.

In April of this year we redesigned the site from the ground up and since then we’ve been importing all of the previously published articles from the old site. This takes a long time and to date we have imported 105 out of 250.

Below are 15 articles (in no particular order) that have been recently imported into the site which we wanted to highlight as quality reads.

Enjoy and we look forward to bringing you many brand new articles shortly!

 Fish Oil - Just The Facts

Fish Oil – Just The Facts

Alan Aragon – September 16, 2007

Fish oil has been labeled with having the potential for improving cardiovascular health and even reducing bodyfat. Literally everything you could possibly want to know about this source of omega-3 fatty acids is detailed in this article. Read more…


Mastering the Deadlift

Mastering the Deadlift

Chip Conrad – November 14th, 2006

The medical community denounces it strongly while its street credibility grows through word of mouth and proven results. A deadlift should be a part of anyone’s Basic Lifting 101, so man up and pick that weight up from the floor. Read more…


Protein Power

Protein Power

Tony Gentilcore – October 5th, 2006

What is it? What are the different types? What are its roles? When are the ideal times to ingest it? How do dietary requirements differ between individuals who are trying to shed body fat as compared to those who or trying to add mass or who are involved in athletics? Read more…


Getting to know the squat

Getting to know the squat

Mike Robertson – September 4, 2006

If you’re serious about your strength, physique or physical prowess in general, the squat is arguably the best lift you can learn to perform in the gym. Simply put, there are a plethora of reasons you should start squatting TODAY even if you’ve never tried them before. Read more…


Big Bad Bands

Big Bad Bands

Eric Cressey– August 3rd, 2006

It’s imperative for all lifters to have an extensive toolbox from which to draw when it comes to building size and strength. That’s where bands can be a great resource to take your training to the next level. Read more…



The Carbohydrate Conundrum

The Carbohydrate Conundrum

Tony Gentilcore– August 3rd, 2006

What role do carbohydrates play in your diet? What are they? What are the different types? Are carbohydrates “needed” in the diet? How are they metabolized? And most importantly, how can they be optimized to enhance performance and promote lean muscle gain? Read more…


Methods of Max Effort - Part 1

Methods of Max Effort – Part 1 | Methods of Max Effort – Part 2

Dave Tate– February 18th, 2006

The max effort methods have been discussed many times over the past 10 years, from different weekly phases and training cycles as well as different loading patterns. This article will discuss some of the different ways to employ maximal methods into your training. Read Part 1 and Part 2


You are what you eat

You are what you eat – Part 1 | You are what you eat – Part 2

Tony Gentilcore– January 8th, 2006

You literally are only as good as the foods you put in your mouth. If you’re training hard, but eating poorly, then your gains will be significantly restricted. Learn how to choose the right foods as Tony breaks down carbohydrates, protein and fat in detail. Read Part 1 and Part 2



The Top 5 Exercises To Blast Your Triceps

The Top 5 Exercises To Blast Your Triceps

Maki Riddington– December 19th, 2005

In order to build impressive triceps you have to understand which exercises give you the best bang for your buck. Read on to uncover the top 5 exercises that will explode your triceps into new growth and strength. Read more…



The Top 25 Ways to Pack on Serious Mass

The Top 25 Ways to Pack on Serious Mass – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Anthony Ricciuto – August 14th, 2005

25 Key Nutritional Principles for putting on serious muscle. For all the lightweight lifters out there looking to go up a class, or you mass monsters looking to put on yet more size, this will definitely get you on your way to some serious mass! Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3



The Ten Commandments to Becoming a Magnificent Mass Monster

The Ten Commandments to Becoming a Magnificent Mass Monster

Tony Gentilcore– July 14th, 2005

There’s all this fuss about Moses writing the 10 Commandments as we all know them, but if Tony could go back in time, he would have him write The 10 Commandments to Becoming a Magnificent Mass Monster.Read more…



7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs

7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs

Dr. John Berardi– September 9th, 2004

These aren’t the newest techniques from the latest cutting-edge plan. Rather, they are simple, time-tested, no nonsense habits that you need to get into when designing a good eating program. Read more…



Baby Got Back

Baby Got Back

MariAnne Anderson– February 18th, 2006

Not only does a well-developed back look impressive from all angles, taking a balanced approach to back development can ward off injuries and promote good posture. We also chuck in the back got back routine – a fool proof plan for a huge back! Read more…



Wannabebig 1.1 - An Improved Routine

Wannabebig 1.1 – An Improved Routine

Maki Riddington– June 11th, 2007

After six years of feedback and many positive testimonies, the Wannabebig routine is being revamped. The new and improved version of our original Wannabebig routine, complete with video clips for each and every exercise! Read more…



Up Your Bench Press 30lbs in 30 days!

Up Your Bench Press 30lbs in 30 days!

Christopher Mason – January 26th, 2009

With the right combination of proper training, diet, rest, and supplementation you can increase your bench press 30lbs in 30 day – drug-free, and that includes experienced trainees. Now we have you interested huh? If you’re game, read on… Read more…


Written by Daniel Clough

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Article Blasts from the Past discussion thread!.

An Interview with Forum Member, Unholy – Part 2

If you read part 1 of this interview, you’ll know that forum member, Unholy (Paul in real life) transformed himself from an overweight, out of shape 295lbs to a fit and lean 190lbs. Not only that, but he is now on track to compete in his first bodybuilding competition.

In the 2nd part of this interview we caught up with Paul and talked about his progress since we last spoke 6 weeks ago , his vacation, current challenges and where he wants to be when we next speak. (4 weeks out from his first bodybuilding competition)

So, with no further adieu, let’s get going….

Wannabebig: Hey Paul, it’s great to catch up again. It’s been about five weeks since we last spoke, so can you remind our readers when your first bodybuilding competition takes place?

Unholy: Sure. My first show will be the INBF NYS Bodybuilding Championships on October 24th, so as we are speaking, I am eight weeks out.

Wannabebig: How are you feeling about it?

Unholy: Pretty damn good, actually. If you remember from my last interview, I said I wanted to be flirting with the 180s and to have dropped another 2-3% bodyfat, and I’ve pretty much done that.  I’m currently sitting around 181-183 lbs. at 7-8% bodyfat right now.

The pressure is definitely on though. As the home stretch approaches, I’m swarmed with other things in life, school, and work, and also in the middle of a move. My recent vacation was a good break though, and I am very focused on my goal.

Paul at 180 lbs – August 24th 2009

Wannabebig: Talk about making it hard for yourself… nothing like chucking in a house move and vacation right into the middle of your contest prep! What are the ideal weight and bodyfat stats you’d like to have when you step on stage?

Unholy: 175-176 lbs. at 4% bodyfat would be ideal. Though this is pretty ambitious for a first show, I’m aiming high. I do believe that if I work hard and stick to it 100% over the next eight to ten weeks, I might be able to get there. If I do, then I should be pretty competitive as a middleweight despite my height of 6’0”.

Wannabebig: Seeing you at 175 lbs. and 4% is going to be mind blowing! Have you changed your diet, considering you are getting closer to the big day?

Unholy: Certainly! I’m consuming an average of 2250 calories a day now. That’s down 750 cals a day from when we last spoke. I’ve cut carbs from 150 g/day down to 90-110 g/day, but my carb-ups are slightly more aggressive too. I try to get 225-250 g every third night as opposed to the 150-185 g that I was eating previously.

Wannabebig: You also mentioned that food cravings would be your biggest challenge in your last interview. How are you doing there?

Unholy: Well, except for the 7500+ calories a day I consumed while on vacation in Egypt, I have been doing fairly well with cravings.  They have been harder to control as I’ve leaned out more and more. When I dropped my calories from 2500 down to 2250, I noticed the cravings were intense during the 24 hours following my carb-up meal. After I flew back from Poland on Saturday night, I weighed in at 176.2 lbs and freaked out. I ate a solid 12000 calories over a 72-hour period…I was trying not to wither away and I bounced back a bit. There is no need for me to be that light just yet!

Wannabebig: What about your training? Have you changed your routine as you get closer to the competition?

Unholy: Yes, I’m going with slightly less reps…shooting for heavy weight in the six rep range. It’s easy to over-train at this point in time. Calories are sparse and any extra work on the muscle after I’ve triggered growth is unnecessary. Preserving lean body mass is the goal and heavy weight in the lower rep ranges is optimal for this.

By the way, you can check out all of my training sessions as well as my daily food intake via my WBB Training Journal – My Road to the INBF and OCB NY State Bodybuilding Championships

Wannabebig: How is the posing practice coming along?

Unholy: Pretty good, I would say. I try to practice for 15 minutes every day. It’s been tough, since I was on vacation for the last 17 days, but I’ve been working on it every chance I get. There are a few mandatory poses that I have greatly improved on and that are starting to feel very natural, i.e., side chest, side triceps, back double biceps, most muscular, etc.

Some poses are still extremely hard for me to hit correctly, such as front/rear lat spread and front double bicep.  I’ll be meeting with Gerry over these next few weeks to work on those poses. He told me I won’t be posing like Kai Greene but I will definitely be able to improve a great deal by show time.

Wannabebig: How was your vacation?

Unholy: Fantastic. I flew from NYC to Rzeszow, Poland and  spent five days visiting family and hiking the Tatra Mountains in southern Poland. We climbed the second highest peak (~6000′) on our second day…talk about cardio!

After that, I flew to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt for seven days and nights. I then flew back to Poland and spent a few more days with the family and visited Krakow by train…just got back on the 22nd.

Wannabebig: What was your best meal on your vacation? Come on…you must have cheated a bit!

Unholy: I’m not sure if you want to call it a cheat, but I consumed 7500+ cals/day for six days in a row while in Egypt. This was mostly from pasta and pastries/cake. The hot foods were awful!

The original plan was to stick to the diet but the resort food made that extremely difficult. Not having taken any diet break for quite some time, I decided what better time than on vacation! The gourmet pastries and cakes made it very easy to get all those calories in.  It ended up working out well, and when I got back to Poland, I went low carb for four days. The result was an overall 6 lb drop over the 17-day vacation.

Wannabebig: Not many people can boast a weight drop right after vacation! I think I packed on about 7 lbs. on my last week long vacation. Was it hard having a vacation in the middle of your prep?

Unholy: Actually, it was quite the opposite for me. After dieting for so long, I needed a mental and physical break from it. I’ve been counting calories and hitting premeditated macros since October 1st 2008 with very few breaks. This was exactly what I needed.

Plus, I took my secret weapon along with me –  See below 🙂

Paul’s secret vacation weapon and a bunch of funny looking shorts

Wannabebig: Ha ha, nice one. If you got your case inspected, I’m not sure what would surprise officials more, the Nitrean or the color of some of your shorts, lol! And, my thoughts are with the locals 🙂

Anyway, enough about funny looking shorts. Mentally, all this preparation must be pretty tough. Where do you get your inspiration/support from?

Unholy: I get inspiration from a lot of places. Following WNBF events has shown me that you can get freakishly big without any hormones. It’s also very motivating to see my own results. Being an ex-fattie, this is more than I could have hoped for.

I also have to say that my girlfriend has been a tremendous help. From making sure I get out and do my cardio, to researching prep-friendly recipes and preparing meals
for me…I couldn’t ask for more.

Wannabebig: We’re going to talk briefly again at four weeks out. Where do you want to be then?

Unholy: I want to be stage ready, ~176lbs. Most importantly, I want to get to the point where those troublesome poses of mine that I previously mentioned feel natural and look optimal for my physique. I will likely be dropping calories to 2,000 in four weeks. That should be the final drop. I’ll also shift my carb-ups to 250-275 g every third night.

Wannabebig: Good stuff! Well we wish you the best of luck and will be watching your WBB training journal closely over the next few weeks. We’ll catch up again when you are four weeks out and a super lean 175 lbs!

We couldn’t end the interview without sharing some more recent pictures of you at 180 lbs. (August 24th 2009)

Here we go!

Keep an eye out for Part 3 of this interview, where Paul will be just 4 weeks out from his first bodybodybuilding competition!

Written by Daniel Clough

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – An Inspiring Interview with Forum Member, Unholy – Part 2 discussion thread.

An Inspiring Interview with Forum Member, Unholy

I’ve been meaning to write an article like this for a while now…

The Member Online Journals forum is probably one of the coolest things about Wannabebig.  Since the birth of the forum, we’ve seen over 3,200 journals created and nearly half a million individual journal entries and comments added by our members.

What makes it so awesome is that you can jump straight in by starting a journal, and fairly quickly, you’ll find that members will pop their heads in to offer encouragement and advice.  If that sounds a bit scary, it’s just as easy to browse around a little and find some journals that you’re interested in following yourself.  Whatever way you join in, you can guarantee you will go away more inspired and more knowledgeable than when you dropped in!

We have members with a huge range of experience keeping journals, from some of the most experienced powerlifters on the planet (Eric Downey, JT Hall, Ryan Celli, and Vincent Dizenzo, to name a few) to guys and gals just trying to get bigger/stronger/fitter/leaner for the first time.

So…. there I am, lying in bed at night (I’m not even joking!) thinking, what’s the best way to highlight some of our members’ great transformation stories as well as raising the exposure of the Member Online Journals forum a little?

And then it clicked…

We needed to publish an article that shares a member story with all of our readers!  Better yet, let’s not only share a success story, let’s also follow someone every step of the way on a current effort to reach a goal!

And that’s where Wannabebig forum member Unholy comes in…

This guy has not only gone from fat to buff, he’s already part of the way through a new mission to compete in two bodybuilding shows later this year – the INBF NYS Bodybuilding Championships on October 24th and the OCB NYS Championships on November 7th.

This interview will give you some background information on Unholy, bringing you up to speed on his incredible journey so far, as well as covering his goals for the next 17 weeks and right up to his first show.

We’ll also be publishing three further articles documenting his progress:

  • 10 weeks out from first show (INBF NYS Championships)
  • 4 weeks out from first show (INBF NYS Championships)
  • 1-2 weeks after the second show (OCB NYS Championships)

Ok, enough from me, let’s get into this…

Wannabebig: Paul, first of all, thanks for agreeing to take part in this series of interviews.  I’m really excited about sharing your story and current journey with our readers.

Unholy: No worries. I’m pleased you picked my story to share with the Wannabebig members.  And, not that I really need it, but it’s going to be probably the biggest test of accountability I could ever wish for!

Wannabebig: Awesome, so let’s dive right in…tell us a bit about your background.

Unholy: Well…growing up, I was always a big kid…

Wannabebig: By “big”, you mean “fat” right? 🙂

Unholy: LOL, actually both!  I was usually the tallest and heaviest in my grade school and middle school classes, and went on to play high school lacrosse for two years.  It wasn’t until after I quit the team and started working fulltime my senior year that I discovered weight lifting.  I found Wannabebig on an online search for weightlifting/bodybuilding, and I was immediately hooked. 

However, when I went on to college, I replaced barbells and dumbbells with beer and fast food.  The “freshman fifteen” turned into the “freshman fifty” and before I knew it, I was 295 lbs and my waist measured a whopping 48.7 inches!  I had a realization that I was ruining my body and health and it was time to do something about it.  I started going to the gym again and watching what I ate.  After a few months, I was down to 275 lbs.  Here’s a pic, but it’s not for the faint of heart!

After a few months of hard work, down to 275 lbs

By following the WBB1 routine and a low carb/high protein/moderate fat diet over the following year, I managed to get down to 240-245 lbs by July 7.  Here’s another picture:

And down to 245lbs……

Wannabebig:  WOW…a drop of 35-40 lbs is no joke!  That’s a serious achievement.  It must have felt pretty good, huh?

Unholy: Yep, it felt great to ditch that weight, but I was only just getting started!  I lifted on and off over the next year but it wasn’t until October 1st 2008, this past fall, that I had clear bodybuilding aspirations.  Motivation was at an all-time high and I realized that the only thing standing between me and the body I always wanted was simply myself.  I rejoined the gym after a five-month hiatus, I picked a show for the following October, and got to work.

Wannabebig: You definitely don’t do things by half, that’s for sure .  Deciding to shed some weight or get stronger is one thing, but committing to a bodybuilding show is on another level!  Apart from requiring you to live a pretty drastic lifestyle whilst you prepare for it, some people may find it a bit odd that you want to get up there on a stage in front of others and flex your muscles.  What made you want to compete?  Where did that come from?

Unholy:  I’ve been a fan of bodybuilding for a few years now.  I have always had great admiration for those that had the commitment and discipline to get themselves into contest shape (3-4% body fat). I decided, “what better way to get into the best shape of my life than a bodybuilding show?”  It’s the ultimate test of willpower.  The more I got into reading about all the aspects of competition, the more intrigued I was and the more excited I got about the whole process.  Needless to say, I was hooked after I started seeing results.

Wannabebig: Ok, so let’s get back to October. You picked a show to compete in, so what next?

Unholy: Well, before I started, I took another couple of pictures to serve as ‘before’ pictures. Here’s  my starting point on Oct 1st 2008:

Before picture 1 – October 1st 2008

Before picture 2 – October 1st 2008 

With a new fire lit under my ass, I was scrambling to learn as much as possible about competitive natural bodybuilding as possible.  While I read and researched, I kept to a modified version of WBB#1 routine and kept a fairly clean ~3500 calorie diet.

I lowered my calories and cut carbohydrates slightly further and started training using a high intensity/high frequency/low volume approach and fell in love with it.  The routine was very similar to what I was doing before but with less volume and higher frequency.

Here’s a side chest shot from March 22nd, 2009:

Side chest shot from March 22nd, 2009

In the beginning of April, I started focusing on getting my metabolism revved up for my preparation. I slowly increased my calories and started hitting the gym even harder.  My strength was improving and I felt great eating at caloric excess once again, even for a short period of time.  I got my calories up to 5000 a day for a few days towards the end of April and then slowly started tapering down.  By doing this, I managed to gain size and lean out slowly.

On May 9th 2009, my 22nd birthday and my 24 weeks out mark, I started adding in cardio and once again controlling my carbohydrate intake and monitoring my calories more closely.  I started eating 3800 calories on workout days and 3600 calories on non-workout days for two weeks and I dropped a couple more pounds.  I then added more cardio in the form of mountain biking and also lowered calories a bit to around 3600 for workout days and 3400 otherwise.

Below are some pictures of me at 19 weeks and 5 days out, with my weight at 201-202 lbs.  These were taken June 8th 2009:

Side Chest – 19 weeks and 5 days out (201-202 lbs)

Front- 19 weeks and 5 days out (201-202 lbs)

Side on – 19 weeks and 5 days out (201-202 lbs)

Wannabebig: You’re looking absolutely great at 19 weeks out. I cannot believe that it’s the same person as that fat guy back at 245 lbs!  So, where are you at right now?

Unholy:  My height is 6’0” and I don’t think that’s going to change between now and the competition 🙂  As we speak  (July 13th 2009), I’m currently 190 lbs at ~9% body fat with a 32” waist and I’m 17 weeks out. I know you’re probably a bit sick and tired of looking at me, but I promise that this is the last picture you’ll see, in this article at least!  Here’s me at 17 weeks out, taken July 13th 2009:

Side Chest –  190 lbs at ~9% body fat with a 32” waist

As for my lifts, I’m bench pressing 95 lb dumbbells for 8 reps, deadlifting 315 lbs x 8, and doing pause squats for 275 lbs x 8.  I should mention that I don’t really lift for strength.  The mind-muscle connection, contraction, and full range of motion are much more important to me.

Wannabebig: And what is your next short-term goal?

Unholy:  To bring the best possible package to the INBF NYS Natural Bodybuilding Championships on October 24th 2009 in Poughkeepsie, NY as well the OCB NYS Bodybuilding Championships on Nov 7th In Syracuse NY.  The shows are two weeks apart and this will be my first time competing.

Wannabebig: Do you know what weight class you’ll be competing in?

Unholy: I am guessing I will be either at the top of the Middleweight or the bottom of the Light Heavyweight class.  These are tested events so conditioning is my main concern at this point and I want to come in absolutely shredded.

Wannabebig:  What’s your current training routine look like?

Unholy: My split is three days on/one day off:

  • Day 1 – Calves/Chest/Upper Back/Cardio
  • Day 2 – Hams/Quads/Abs
  • Day 3 – Calves/Shoulders/Biceps/Triceps/Cardio
  • Day 4 – Off (LISS or HIIT)

I train with maximum intensity using a low volume approach and I usually do two warm-up sets per body part and then proceed to do my heaviest set in the 6-8 rep range first followed by two more working sets.  The goal is to fatigue the body part enough to stimulate growth with these three heavy sets per body part and reaching physical failure on each set is a must

I usually do one exercise per body part with an exception for back and sometimes chest.  My back needs vertical and horizontal training and my chest is a lagging body part, so I throw in a little variety to get some more growth. 

As far as cardio goes, I am currently doing 3 x 40 minutes of Low Intensity Solid State cardio (130-145 BPM heart rate) and I just started doing HIIT 2 x 30 minutes a week.  I do both of these outside on my bike rather than in the gym. It’s just my personal preference to be outside rather than stuck in a gym.

Wannabebig: Is the way you are training now specifically different because you are competing?

Unholy:  My weight training routine is not much different from my off-season training. It’s important to keep intensity high to preserve Lean Body Mass (LBM).  I HAVE cut a bit of volume to avoid overtraining.  My cardio routine is definitely something new that I’ve started for contest prep. 

Wannabebig: What’s your current diet looking like?

Unholy: It’s a controlled carbohydrate/high protein/moderate fat approach.  My calories are around 3000 and my macros are:

  • 120 g fat
  • 180 g carbohydrates
  • 300 g protein

This is split into six meals a day, each meal consisting of:

  • 20 g fat
  • 30 g carbohydrates
  • 50 g protein

Every third day, my last meal of the day (every 18th meal) is a carb-up meal, which is roughly 150-180 g of carbohydrates and 30 g of healthy fat with only a trace of protein.  I don’t drink liquids during this one meal to avoid abdominal bloat and distension.

As far as food choices go, I try to eat clean at least five out of six meals a day. I always make everything I eat fit my macros, but occasionally I do eat out and get some fast food.  The biggest thing I have learned about prep diet so far is the importance of weighing your food.  I never realized how much I was underestimating my peanut butter intake by!

Wannabebig: Sometimes it’s hard to really come to grips with exactly what it takes to hit the total numbers and macros every day.  To give the readers some insight into your daily routine, what did you eat yesterday, for example?


  • Meal 1 – 5 eggs, 1 slice double fiber toast, 2 oz. Salsalito turkey breast
  • Meal 2 – 2 scoops Nitrean, 1 cup chocolate calorie countdown
  • Meal 3 – 8 oz. Salsalito turkey, 20 spears grilled asparagus.
  • Meal 4 – 1 scoop Nitrean, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 100 g blueberries
  • Meal 5 – 2 tbsp peanut butter, 1 peeled grapefruit, 6 oz. Salsalito turkey breast
  • Meal 6 – 5 eggs, 2 servings dark chocolate peanut butter

Wannabebig: Are you using any supplements right now?

Unholy: Yes, I am.  I didn’t supplement much in the off-season since I was well fed, and lethargy and recovery weren’t an issue.  Back then, I used whey, fish oil, and a multivitamin, but everything changes when you put yourself in a caloric deficit.  I realized that if I wanted the edge, it would help a ton to get some quality supplements.  I have been taking Nitor regularly for the past month or so. I can honestly say that energy levels have been great.  I know it’s working because if I occasionally forget to take it first thing in the morning, I’m quickly reminded by my lack of energy. 

Another supplement I cannot say enough good things about has been ETS.  I’ve tried everything for sleep from valerian root to maximum strength Unisom and nothing has given me the deep sleep and lucid dreams that ETS has.  Can’t complain about reduced DOMS either! 

Last but most certainly not least, I take Nitrean.  After switching from a cheap whey concentrate/isolate blend over to Nitrean, I will never go back.  I was extremely impressed with the taste and mixability.  Besides, who can argue with a three-source blend?

Wannabebig: It must be tough trying to understand exactly how to prepare for and compete in a competition.  Where do you start and is anyone helping you with your training, diet, and posing?

Unholy: It definitely is.  As with everything, there is a wealth of information out there on how to do your own prep as well as a wealth of misinformation that you have to try to avoid.

We all know how dieting can play tricks on the mind…you feel small weak and it’s hard to stay objective.  It always helps to have a prep coach or a trainer to assess your progress and make necessary changes to diet or cardio.  I sought out IFBB Pro Phil Hernon’s help a few months ago.  He was the one who worked with me to design the routine I am currently using.  He helped me find something to bring my lagging body parts up and work around my shoulder problems.  I have had great success since I began working with Phil and he’s a great guy.

IFBB – Pro Phil Hernon

Very recently, I’ve started working with WNBF Natural Pro bodybuilder Rob “The Reason” Moran. Rob is taking care of my diet and cardio for the duration of my prep.  I consider myself very lucky to be working with him as he has dialed in hundreds of natural competitors, including national level NPC competitors. 

WNBF Natural Pro Bodybuilder – Rob “The Reason” Moran

During my research into competing, I realized that being big and lean is not going to be enough.  If I wanted the competitive edge, I would have to learn how to pose and present myself like a true bodybuilder.  I know Gerry Triano has been working with competitive bodybuilders for over 20 years and has some great articles on posing and stage presentation. What I wasn’t aware of was that Gerry is from my neck of the woods!  I got in touch with him and we will be working together on my posing.  Gerry is a posing guru.  He is also a very amazing human being and coaches free of charge in honor of his late wife.

Wannabebig: Well, it looks as if you have some great help on your side! But, even with great help, it’s obviously not going to be plain sailing.  What have been the toughest challenges for you in the last three months, and what do you think will be the toughest from now through to the competition?

Unholy: The toughest challenge so far was getting myself mentally ready for 24 weeks of dieting. Natural competitors need longer to diet down to sub 5% body fat than our assisted friends do.  The idea of dieting for such a long time, especially after cutting since October 1st with very few breaks, was a hard one to get my head around.

Wannabebig: So…. I guess that means partying, drinking, womanizing, and all-you-can eat pizza buffets are benched then? 🙂

Unholy: I haven’t touched alcohol since my 22nd birthday at 24 weeks out. The biggest challenge I expect to face over the coming weeks is food cravings. I got fat in the first place because I like to eat!  Throw in a couple of hours of cardio a week and restrict my calories further and I might go nuts. But hey, “Never give up what you want most for what you want at the moment.”

Wannabebig: Great advice! And, you keep your own journal on Wannabebig – how is that going for you?

Unholy: It is very motivational and I feel more accountable for my actions. I hope to get more people interested in the sport of bodybuilding.  I also want to show people out there that you can compete and look great without anabolic steroids.  Not that I have a particularly problem with them, but I make the personal choice to compete naturally, and I believe that if you put the effort in, you can achieve some incredible results naturally.

If anyone wants to drop by, you can check out my journal here – My Road to the INBF and OCB NY State Bodybuilding Champtionships

Wannabebig: Ok, so we’ll leave it there for now, but we’ll be catching up with you in about seven weeks, when you’ll be ten weeks out from the INBF NYS Champ show. Where do you want to be at that point?

Unholy: Flirting with the 180’s for sure…I should drop another 2-3% body fat by then. When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Wannabebig: Can’t wait to see your pics at 180 lbs, and if you carry on the way you’ve been going so far, I’m sure we’ll be just as impressed with your progress in the next seven weeks as we have to date. Good luck and see you soon!

Unholy: Thanks very much, and I’m looking forward to doing this again in seven weeks!

Note: You can read part 2 of this interview here: An Inspiring Interview with Forum Member, Unholy – Part 2

Written by Daniel Clough (with a little help from Unholy!)

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – An Inspiring Interview With Forum Member, Unholy discussion thread.

Create your own Wannabebig Training Journal

Why not create a training journal of your own? Simply join the Wannabebig Forums (it’s free) and then create a thread in the Members Online Journals section. Then all you have to do is make an entry as often as you like! It’s a great way to receive extra motivation, accountability and advice from other members!