Ask Joe The Pro Vol. 14 – Want To Compete? Learn Where To Start!

Ask Joe the Pro

Joe OhrabloDo you still train non-linear periodization? How do you train these days?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply don’t enjoy being locked into a program for more then 3-4 weeks. After 20 plus years of working out I get bored of being stuck into a set way of training. I tried DC a few months ago and got great strength gains, but hated the rigidness of not doing more than one exercise per bodypart and no isolation exercises, so I went back to Layne Norton’s version of non-linear periodization.

And just like any other time I do that program, after two weeks my joints started to hurt! I got stronger and felt rounder and fuller but my joints always ache after a few weeks on all that frequency! I feel for my body I do need a combination of rep ranges and techniques, and I need to hit bodyparts more then once a week. So right now I’m doing this:

  • Day 1 – Legs – heavy 5-8 reps
  • Day 2 – Chest and shoulders – heavy – 5-8 reps
  • Day 3 – Back – heavy 5-8 reps
  • Day 4 – Arms – heavy 5-8 reps
  • Day 5 – Off
  • Day 6 – Quads and calves – intense and 10-20 reps
  • Day 7 – Chest, side delts and triceps – intense 10-20 reps
  • Day 8 – Back, rear delts, biceps – intense 10-20 reps
  • Day 9 – Hamstrings and calves – intense 10-20 reps
  • Day 10 – Off

The volume on the heavy days are low with 2 exercises per bodypart, sometimes 3, but the third exercise will be one set. The intense days are 3-5 exercises with more sets and higher intensity. Everything gets worked twice in 10 days, and I sometimes switch the bodyparts as I see fit.

I am learning to listen to my body more and if I’m in pain I’ll throw this split in the garbage and do what I have to do to stimulate muscle without going super heavy. I will insert weeks of everything getting hit once a week with low volume to do an “active rest” as I see fit. I love training how I see fit depending on how I feel!

I’m 5 foot 10 and 230 pounds with about 25% bodyfat. I want to compete. Help! Where do I start?

I tell all my pre-contest clients the same thing “Nothing will push you more then the external pressure of a date looming near of you standing onstage in posing trunks showing off your hard work”. Congrats on the choice you’ve made. Without knowing you, your background or anything other then what you wrote in your question, I can’t give you exact, perfect advice on what to do, but I’ll do my best.

First and foremost with the weight you have to drop, I would chose a contest that is 8-12 months away. This way you give yourself PLENTY of time and can be ready early and increase your macros as you get closer. If you see yourself as an endomorph, which means you spent a good portion of your childhood heavy, you are carb sensitive and gain weight just looking at food, then I would start with 240-250 grams of protein, 180-210 grams of carbs and 40 grams of fat a day.

I would start out doing cardio 5-6 days a week 30 minutes first thing in the morning. I would weight train 4-5 days a week focusing on basic movements and hitting it hard for about 60 minutes. As the contest draws near you will need to make adjustments to your numbers accordingly depending on many factors.

Joe recommends whey protein, fish oil, Xtend, a multivitamin and more.

For supplements I would go with:

  1. A good multivitamin (Adam’s by Now is great).
  2. Fish oil 3-5 a day.
  3. L-carnitine (amino acid fat burner).
  4. Whey protein.
  5. Creatine monohydrate.
  6. Xtend.
  7. You may benefit from a fat burner like Cytolean.

To really make sure your doing everything correctly you will want to hire a contest coach that will take the guesswork out of it for you! This is something I have been doing for 15 years! Email me for more info:

If I don’t hear from you, good luck with your contest!

What is your competitive plans for 2011?

At first I was going to do 4 shows and a guest posing! Then the reality that I would be in a “pre-contest mode” for 9 months set in. When I dieted down for the Mr. North Carolina I lost 45 pounds in 16 weeks! That took a toll on my body. As I began dieting for my first contest of the season a few weeks ago I felt very off. I decided my body wasn’t fully recovered from the last contest season so I made some adjustments to the season.

I was asked to guest pose for the 2011 Mr. North Carolina in July. I am without a doubt doing that! I would never show up to a guest posing in off-season shape so my first contest of the year will be in September which is the NPA Mr. USA. I usually diet 16-20 weeks so when I get to the Mr. North Carolina in July I will have been dieting already about 8 weeks or so.

On the way to the NPA Mr. USA is the Musclemania in August. I decided if I am very close to 100% I will jump in the Musclemania as a warm up to NPA USA. But I won’t kill myself for that show. If I win my class in September I qualify to compete as a pro in the October NPA pro show which will end my season.

I put so much energy, time and passion into competing that there is no way I can compete 100% more then twice a season. If I am striking  distance of 4-6 pounds when the Musclemania rolls around I will go in, but I probably wont be panicking and doing crazy cardio, etc., if I am only at 90% of my best!

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