Natural bodybuilding is a thing of beauty. It’s taking your body to the ultimate level of muscle with as little body fat as possible without drugs. Jason Theobald is a natural bodybuilder and prep coach. Let’s see what he does.
1) How did you get involved with prepping bodybuilders? Did you just compete yourself and eventually have a number of people calling you and asking you for help?
I never really set out to prep bodybuilders. I was just trying to understand my own body. In October of 2007 I competed for the first time after 3 years out of the gym and 5 years since my last stage appearance. I was on a very high protein, very low carb and a very high fat diet. The trainer I was working with never provided the macros, so that alarmed me, but I kept with it. Anyways, long story short I had my worst placing ever, placing 6th in the lightweight division (first time not placing). Right then and there I decided there had to be a better way and that I would do the 2008 Northern Kentucky held five months later in March.
After the October show I punched the diet into fitday, it said I was eating 390 protein, 95 starches, and 115 fats all at a bodyweight of about 150 lbs. The diet was all over the place. I was so pissed off after that show that I stayed on my diet but vowed to figure out the proper way to get this done. So I started researching and reading various message boards (and talking to other competitors online) about body types and different dieting protocols. I decided based on my ectomorph nature to use a low fat, high carb, moderate protein diet. Changes started happening rapidly. I was getting leaner than I ever had been. But, everyone said you can’t get shredded on a high carb intake, but my body was proving that to be wrong. That’s when I realized there is no one size fits all, EVERY diet must be tailored for the individual.
The 2008 Northern Kentucky finally rolled around which is the biggest one day NPC show in the country that is not a national level show. I was in the best shape of my life using a completely different dieting approach than I had always employed in the past, but always struggled under to bring in my glutes and legs. Everyone was shocked by how much I turned myself around in only five months. I ended up placing first in the open, beating the guy that took first at the show in October where I took 6th. He wasn’t any worse, I was just that much better. That’s when I realized the true power of nutrition.
From there people started to ask me to prep them with a more balanced diet. Most of the “trainers” in my area were all super high protein, low carb and high fat proponents, that’s fine if you are one of the ones that respond to that, but I wasn’t, and there were many others just like me. So I started prepping these people. And they were getting wonderful results. Word continued to spread that I offer a program based on the individual not the same old cookie cutter high protein, low carb, high fat diet. And today the prep business at Natty Nutrition continues to grow.
2) What are some of the “facts” about bodybuilding that actually hurt natural athletes? We all know that following the diet and training of an enhanced athlete isn’t the best option for natural athletes.
I think the biggest one I see all the time is the over use of protein, as I noted above. Sure it’s the building block to muscle, but many many guys and gals over eat this macronutrient. This then robs the body of calories that could be used more optimally between essential fatty acids and carbohydrates to create a well balanced approach. So many times you see your favorite bodybuilder in a magazine who eats 500 grams of protein per day so the average bodybuilder figures that’s how you become un-average, and it just doesn’t work that way.
Another one that always gets me is a low sodium bodybuilding diet. I don’t get this. Sodium will keep the cell wet and the body hydrated which will mean more leverage for strength, plus it’s needed for the carbohydrates that you eat to load properly. Only at the final week would you need to perhaps curtail some of the condiments and any added salt. And while on this topic cutting it out altogether is another bad mistake I see all the time during the final week which can flatten you out badly. I’ve actually seen “trainers” have their guys cut sodium out 10 weeks out which makes no sense at all.
Lastly, training 6 days per week, or doing two-a-days like your favorite bodybuilder in a magazine. I’ve had a few naturals training this way and it just burns them out, it’s to much as it allows no recovery time. First thing I do is get these people training no more than four times per week even if its contest prep season.
3) What are some supplements that can actually help natural athletes? BCAA’s seem to be very popular among the natural crowd.
Below is the basic recommendation I usually make to most of my clients (I use mainly Primaforce and Scivation):
Creatine Monohydrate – energy, strength, fuller muscle bellies
Whey Protein Powder – I like Scivation’s Solution 5 or Scivation Whey
L-Glutamine – recovery, GI support, cell volumizer
Multi-Vitamin – to make sure the micronutrients we need are met
BCAA – I prefer Scivation’s Xtend Orange, 2-3 scoops during training so that muscle is not metabolized
Slin Trol – A supplement my company offers, to aid in glucose disposal
Fat burner – When cutting only, I recommend Scivation’s Dialene 4x
Optional: Pre workout drink mix for optimal performance, I recommend and use Quake 10.0 by Scivation.
4)Training wise, in the off-season, how do you help you clients to make gains. We know that the diet is so important but it’s not like people can just go to the weight room and do ten or twelve reps of three sets and call it a day and expect to grow.
There are two major components; one, increasing their strength over time and two, eating in a hypercaloric state without getting fat.
Both go hand in hand, but to ensure they are getting stronger we discuss not overtraining, spending to much time in the gym or training to many days. Some guys are gym rats and will stay in there for 3 hrs if you let them. Its important to have a plan, get in there, get it done and get out. As most know we grow outside the gym not inside it. I like a split that has them training no more than 4 days per week and limiting wasted build up sets so they can focus energies on the working sets so they can either get more reps or more weight than last time for a given exercise. That will ensure strength progress. Once they can’t progress on an exercise, since no one can get stronger indefinitely on an exercise, Ill have them swap it out and start a new one. Usually when they go back they get past the old plateau.
As for eating in a hypercaloric state without getting fat I have my people incorporate offseason cardio. It may be only 3 days on off days for 30 minutes in the morning or when most convenient. If that doesn’t work it may be on training days after the workout. Usually the more calories we push the more light cardio sessions I will add if I am worried about their body fat level creeping up, always being mindful of strength progressions.
5) Where do you typically start your dieting clients off with cardio? You obviously adjust as the progress comes in but do you have a set point for where you start someone that needs to lose a average amount of fat?
There is no set base. I have a few lucky people who don’t need any cardio even on a fairly large caloric intake. I have some people who come to me behind and start with 30 minutes daily. And others who I deem to have a slow metabolism who may get 30 minutes morning and 30 minutes post workout right out of the shoot, with perhaps even a HIIT session on an off day. This, just like diet, really depends on the person and where they are in their progression towards the stage. I make this determination just like I determine the best caloric and macro intake for the person.
I can say I use two types of cardio. Light intensity stead state (LISS) where heart rate is 120-130 beats per minute. This type of cardio prefers fat as the fuel source to ensure fat is being used this cardio should be done at times when insulin is lowest, and that’s upon rising or post workout. Either should suffice.
Then I incorporate high intensity interval training (HIIT) on off days if needed. This type of cardio prefers glycogen as the fuel source, and if its lacking, it could prefer muscle tissue, so I always have this type of cardio later in the day once the athlete is well fed. This type of cardio allows the body to burn more body fat though for a 24 hr period following the activity.
6) Most people under estimate how much fat that they have to lose to be shredded. Is 12 weeks enough anymore? What’s the average amount of weeks that one of your clients diets?
Yes most do underestimate the amount of fat needed to be lost to be shredded. If someone is willing I prefer 20 weeks, but usually no less than 16 weeks. I have had some do 12 who were already around 9 to 10% on a nine site body fat test and they make it into the show shredded. But, I prefer a longer prep so the caloric deficit doesn’t have to be so severe.
7) Where can we find more information out about you?
Tags: Body Fat, Bodyweight, Diet Changes, Fats, Fitday, Five Months, High Protein, Lightweight Division, Low Carb, Macros, Natural Bodybuilder, Natural Bodybuilders, Natural Bodybuilding, Northern Kentucky, Prep Coach, Protein Diet, Stage Appearance, Starches, Theobald, Thing Of Beauty