Written by CNP Athlete Jamie Gray:
How I got started / who influenced me
Growing up I can think of several influences that peaked my interest in bodybuilding; watching the wrestling and playing with Street Sharks and other action figures, which were all buff. I was also influenced by watching films like Rocky and Conan with larger than life actors such as Sly and Arnie, who always got the girls.
Newbie questions and beginners advice
New members of the gym often ask me: ‘How can I make myself look like certain celebrities, famous athletes, bodybuilders or fitness models?’
Whilst this might be their overall goal, my advice always starts with the foundations of getting into shape.
Firstly the choice of gym is crucial. Without the right resources and equipment you will soon out-grow your gym environment; for example, your progression will be impeded if there is limited free weights range, so keep an eye out for this.
Also take note of the range of gym equipment ensuring there is plenty of cardio vascular machines, so that even at peak times you will be able to hit at least 20 minutes post-workout at the end of every weights session.
Another decision that can determine your progression is your goals, which will dictate your appropriate training style and help ensure you stick at it.
I’m not suggesting for one second that by having a goal to look like The Rock and then choosing a specific training style is going to result in looking EXACTLY like The Rock – HOWEVER by implementing a strategic training style, whether this be Hypertrophy (muscle size) or functional fitness (improving day to day life), will ensure that you’re on the right track! It’s important to break down your training schedule into weeks, so you can keep track of your progress and make small changes where necessary.
Also, set small realistic, achievable goals. The first could be ensuring you go to the gym three days a week – only by doing this you turn it into a habit. Repetition is key in this sport.
Food, supplements and diet
One of the hardest adaptations when starting your bodybuilding or fitness journey is nutrition. Goals are again a key factor – if you want to grow you have to eat!
I also tend to rely on supplements quite heavily when helping clients new to the sport but not to the exclusion of food. You need a healthy balance. Supplements are easy to understand, convenient and there is no confusion over what to take. Supplements can give you the right balance of additional proteins and carbs that can easily be adapted for different training schedules.
A typical daily diet will consist of three healthy, balanced meals and 2/3 shakes (depending on goals).
Keeping things simple can help ensure you don’t slack, and deviate.
A typical day’s nutrition:
Breakfast - Three scoops of Pro Peptide, with oats and a tablespoon of flax.
Meal 2 – Sweet potato, chicken and flax.
Meal 3 – Again, Pro Peptide, oats and flex.
Post-gym – Pro Recover
Evening meal – Later in the evening, in off season, I have a home cooked dinner. When I’m dieting in the weeks leading up to the show this is the meal I miss the most. Steak, jacket potato, veg, with reduced fat and salt gravy is my favourite.
Before bed snack – Before bed I’ll have a tub of cottage cheese with some asparagus.
I have always been a little “old school” in my approach; using a basic pyramid method of 3-4 working sets, increasing the weight each set, hitting 12/10/8 reps and training each muscle group on their own once a week. I found this a little mundane as I felt that I ‘had to’ train chest Monday, back Tuesday etc and I wasn’t enjoying it.
Instead I decided to train the way I wanted, how I like and try to hit as many reps as I felt right. Each session is totally different and the frequency of muscles trained has increased, and I am enjoying each session so much more than before.
I’d advise anyone who’s trying to get into shape to try and get a feel for what feels right for them – it’s all about knowing your own body and staying motivated!
One thing I’ve learned this year is its good mixing things up to avoid things getting boring. Don’t be afraid to change your workout a little from time to time. For the last 8 weeks I’ve been doing 30/40 reps back to back, supersets, etc. just to change it up.
Rest is just as important as training. If you don’t rest effectively, you won’t be recovered properly and won’t train to your maximum potential. Why go to the gym at 40% capacity when you can have a day off and go at 100%.
Looking back at my training for BodyPower 2015 where I placed second, I would have listened more to my body and had a few more days off during the week and reduced my activity out of the gym at work which is also physically demanding.
My recommendation would be to step back at several points throughout your training and take a good gauge on where you are in achieving your goals. Had I done this, I wouldn’t have felt unwell before competing. Not resting properly can affect your immune system so get plenty of rest and look after your micronutrients properly by eating plenty of vegetables or taking a vitamin and mineral supplement.
Highs and lows, dedication and sacrifice
No matter whom you are, there are no shortcuts. It’s about eating clean food on a daily basis, training hard and smart on a daily basis, and investing the time in creating the physique that you want. Stay away from magic supplements and “secret” shortcuts that promise results in a 10th of the time it should take. The only way you’ll lose 10lbs in a day is if you chop your leg off! Ignore the fads and keep it simple.
Doesn’t matter what age you are, you are always learning. When you make a mistake just make sure you learn from it. I’ve made a million mistakes, you never stop learning in your 20s, 30s or beyond.
I didn’t win at BodyPower, bearing in mind the physical and mental health condition I was in, I managed to secure 2nd place which qualified me for the Amateur Olympia in November. It was like getting a Wonka Golden Ticket. If I can ensure I come in later this year at 100% I will be very hard to beat. After all the hard work and helping CNP sample new Pro Bar Protein all weekend at Bodypower, it was a relief after I stepped off stage to finally smash a Lemon bar.
Dedication and Sacrifice
Bodybuilding is probably the most dedicated sport. Nobody is making you diet and train, it’s all you.
Never sacrifice anything in your life for a bodybuilding trophy. The judges don’t see your sacrifices; they only see the end results.
There’s no better feeling of getting on stage or even going to bed at night knowing you’ve done your best. We choose to do this, so make sure you enjoy it. It’s a journey not a destination.
People helping me
Nutrition – I’m buzzing with my support from CNP Professional, with their strict approach to quality I know what’s on the tub is in the tub and no corners are being cut.
I’m also sponsored by Carnivore Meats and Most Muscular Clothing.
I’m currently working with Ken Roscoe, my coach. His knowledge is second to none and no matter where I am and when I need advice, he’s always been there.
Keep up with me
Instagram - @jaymegray1