Preparing for a bodybuilding competition is definitely hard work. Moving from performance-enhancing drugs, Brendan Meyer takes us to his 100% natural journey in his very first bodybuilding prep experience. He details why he chose the path towards natural transformation amidst the numerous artificial options surrounding us. Follow Brendan’s story, his experience in the competition, and the lessons he has learned from it in this episode.
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My First Bodybuilding Prep Experience
Natural Or Unnatural?
We’re going to be hopping into the subject of my preparation for my first ever bodybuilding competition or my men’s physique competition, whatever you want to call it. I did the thing. My prep, how was it? What did I have to do? What I want to tap into is my natural transformation. I zone in on that word natural because of the majority of the NPC moving into the IFBB, not so much the regular NPC.
Tapping Into Natural Transformation
The people that are graduating and transforming into the IFBB by winning their competitions, the majority of IFBB are people that take performance-enhancing drugs. That’s fine for this part of the sport because it is what it is. I can’t complain about that or get upset by it. I rather everyone be natural, 100%. It levels the playing field. It doesn’t create any false hope for anyone.
It’s simply, “If you work your ass off, you’re strategic and you understand training A to Z, you’re going to see the results that you gain and it shows for.” My thing with performance-enhancing drugs is I came from a background where if you took them, it was like cheating. I don’t necessarily believe that anymore. If you went into a natural federation and you took performance-enhancing drugs, then that is cheating. If something is the majority, I believe personally and this is a personal opinion, that it’s okay for whatever that is.
Someone that is doing bodybuilding, for instance, and we’re talking about not 212, not classic physique, not men’s physique. I’m talking about big-time bodybuilding onstage, Mr. Olympia with $400,000 cash prize, first place. You’re not going to see someone not taking something. If someone says, “I’m 100% natty,” and they win the Olympia, there’s an issue with naturals. I expect it and I wanted to approach this competition with that mindset of, “I’m a little bit of the odd man out.” I enjoy that more than anything. I root for the guys that they say they’re going to lose by fourteen points against the University of Florida, the Florida Gators for football. I root for the underdog. I’m an underdog guy.
My prep was so much of focus and this leads me into the second part of prep that was very difficult, especially being natural and I don’t even know if that’s necessary to say. It’s always about having to focus on the day ahead. It wasn’t even so much about the two months out or the one month or the twenty days or the fifteen days. It was focusing on each given moment. It’s exhausting. Prep is more exhausting mentally than it is physically. For me, it was because when I go into the gym, I’m all out 100%. I know that if I’m in a deficit for so long, I’m fatigued, I’m exhausted, obviously my 100% is going to feel like running a marathon when I can only do a few miles. It’s going to be exhausting.
I need to push myself to the extent that I’ve never had every single day, day in, day out for weeks, months on end. That focus thing ever since I’ve gotten out of my prep has been good. My mindset shifts pretty consistently. It’s like, “I want to eat. I want to do this, but I know I have to go through this reverse dieting phase.” If you don’t know what reverse dieting is, it’s all about pretty much putting your body in a deficit for so long. A lot of people say, “You starve your body,” but it just deprived your body of the calories. It’s not so much the nutrients because if you’re eating a lot of vegetables, you’re getting a lot of micronutrients in. You’re staying on top of any supplements that you’re taking, whatever it is.
I was never this healthy before. Cardiovascular-wise, I was stronger than I ever have been. Muscular-wise, at my strength levels, at the hypertrophy range of reps and the muscular endurance, I was very optimal. I was pretty high up there. I didn’t have the food to benefit the most from it, but I felt great mentally and everything. This journey has been extremely challenging, but also very rewarding. That focus level, the food, the water, everything is well-thought-out by my coach. If you’re going to do this, I highly suggest you get a coach. I’m writing a book called 30 Days and Counting: Road to the Stage. If it ever does come out, I will let everyone know. I documented everything all the way through with the last 30 days and into my show.Remember that for every time you're pointing towards someone, you have three fingers pointing right back at you. Click To Tweet
One of the most difficult things that I was confronted with is will I ever be the same or what will happen later on? It’s the opposite of that level of focus that I was talking about like, “You need to focus on the day.” It was more like once the prep is done, what’s going to happen? Am I going to feel normal? Because I was pushing away all my friends and relationships. I wasn’t working every single second of the day like I used to and maybe that was a good thing. I was pushing a lot of different things away: environments, traveling, doing this, staying up a little bit later, going to this show, going to this event, going on a hike.
It became fatiguing with my mind on whether or not I will be able to snap out of it after my show. What’s going to happen next? I feel like that’s a common occurrence in our lives. What happens next? What’s the next thing? The focus was extremely hard. I was like, “You’ve got to get it done. You’ve got to focus. You’ve got to get everything squared away.” This next-level too was after the show. What I recommend competing as a natural athlete, absolutely 100%, I believe we all have a natural threshold or a place that we can get to a natural ceiling.
At the same time, it tugs when I say that about this natural ceiling. I feel like we don’t know what our potential is because we’ve never reached our potential. I say that in many regards. I’ll give you an example. I played football. I thought I’m fast. I was running a 4.55 40-yard dash in high school. I went to college and thinking to myself, “I have a 34-inch vertical, 4.55 40-yard dash. There’s no way I can get too much faster.” I ended up running a 4.48 and then I jumped a 38-inch vert. It was astonishing to me. The fact of the matter was I was nineteen years old. Imagine where I would be at 23. Imagine where I’d be at 27 to 30. The point is at 27 to 32, you’re at your optimal. If you’re strategic with your training, your dieting and everything, you can keep on growing and growing.
Another reason why I took the natural route was like, “I wonder where I can get to. How far can I go until the progress is slow?” I have so much respect for all athletes. Even if someone takes something, I still have respect for them. I don’t have respect for someone that is claiming natural or claiming that they’re the regular old athlete and they’re not taking any gear or taking anything. I don’t like that. They should be very open and honest with their audiences and followers. Even if they don’t have too much of an audience, it still has an effect on society and the people around us.
That’s the only disrespect that I can find. I wanted to see where it could take me. I started out at 197 pounds with a lot of fat on my body. If you go to my Instagram, @TheBMeyers, you’ll see some transformation photos and you might be like, “How did that happen? He must be on gear.” It might cross your mind. It’s because I reduced all my body fat. I’m talking about I got stage-ready. I was lean as can be and I built a muscle during that time. The reason why I was able to build muscle and be anabolic while in a deficit is that I diet. With micronutrients, everything that I was putting in my body, my protein intake was higher. My protein intake was not generally high. My protein synthesis was extremely high during the process.
My testosterone was high for the majority of my prep. I was training at a very high level. Also, a key factor, a key component in my results and my transformation is when I got into the actual training phases of this prep. It was five months. It’s for 21 weeks in total. I came from a boxing background. I had injuries and stuff. A lot of people say, “I don’t believe in muscle memory.” Others are like, “It’s research. Research proves it.” Either way, my body is used to having more muscle in certain areas. I started training to build muscle, which I’ve never done. I’ve always trained to increase my performance and be a peak performer in anything that I did. Whether it was jumping basketball, football, baseball, soccer, every sport that I played, golf even, it’s the torque, the twisting of the hips and how quickly you’re moving from the swing to hit the ball. All these other things, that’s what I worked for. It was new.
Building Phase With Coach
What happens? Have you ever heard of the gas theory? You have an alarming phase and it’s like, “What’s going on?” The second is you get used to whatever’s going on. You start building and finally, there’s this point of plateau. That’s what the “gas theory” is all about. For me, I was in the alarm phase. At first I was like, “What the hell is going on?” I was boxing. I wasn’t lifting. I didn’t have a big resistance. I didn’t have a lot of volume in my training. There was no structure. I was like, “I’m training and I was coming from injuries,” then it translated. As soon as I got into the building phase, it was almost as if because of all of the adjustments that we were making with my coach. It was one variable at a time.Bodybuilding preparation is more exhausting mentally than it is physically. Click To Tweet
My coach was Justin Mihaly. Go check him out on Instagram if you want to get some coaching done. He was doing all my macros and my cardio, but we were changing everything and transforming my body through one variable at a time. If it was cardio, it was just cardio. If it was just the carbohydrates that I was adjusting, it was just the carbohydrates. If it was the fats a week or if it was my protein, it all adjusted my calories. I was going in a deficit, but I was reintroducing new things pretty consistently. I was able to adapt especially even with my training. I was always evolving. I was always transforming and I was always pushing harder.
As I got leaner, I worked harder. As I became stronger with my cardiovascular system, I worked even harder because I was able to and my output and my sleep were through the roof. It was incredible. My food, I was eating more and more micronutrients, which was aiding in the growth of my body. I was anabolic. It was a great experience from A to Z. Once you look at my Instagram, you’ll see, “How did he do it?” It’s simple. It’s a deficit and it’s taking care of my body. I’m very focused and very structured. How were my results for my show? It was a very tough process as a natural. I don’t have an opinion on the fact of because I’m natural, it might be easier or harder.
I honestly don’t know. I spoke with my buddy, Brandon Harding, over a call. He was on a specific stack. He’s in classic physique and he was competing in the UK. He wanted a big show. He explained to me, “It might even be worse than some instances because you have these things going through your body that are foreign.” When it’s coming down to it, the last three weeks is pretty tough. You have to inject yourself and its mind-blowing. Foreign bodies are coming into your body. It’s going to be difficult. I don’t have an opinion on whether or not it’s harder or easier. I do believe it’s extremely hard from the perspective of being natural. If I ever do take something, which I most likely will not until maybe I’m 37, 38 years old and I’m moving into my 40s, maybe it’s testosterone or whatever scripted by the doctor, I can’t form an opinion on that and say if it’s harder or easier.
Lessons From Placing Third
What I will tell you is that it’s difficult no matter what, so prepare yourself. I highly suggest you do it naturally and see where you go. Have fun with it and keep your mind open because you might not like the results that you get on stage. That brings me to my placing. I placed third in my class and was I disappointed? You could say that times 100. I was extremely disappointed. I looked at myself compared to the other guys next to me. This is the NPC. It was in Colorado. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t understand. After the 24 hours of being upset and I almost was wanting to point fingers and I was at the beginning, but I turned the fingers to point back at me.
Remember, every time you’re pointing towards someone, you have three fingers pointing right back at you. That’s something that I had to come to terms with. The reality of it was I could have been better. That’s a simple truth. My posing, I stumbled a couple of times. I feel like my hand on my hip could have been better here. In my training, I have a lot of developing to do. I need to build a lot leaner muscle. There are a lot of things that came into play that I was skipping and not even using as excuses as to why I lost. It was an incredible experience. Whether the person at second or first won or not, it doesn’t matter. They deserved it because they worked extremely hard and I respect that.
I respect hard work more than anything. Smart work is incredible, but it takes hard work to get to that smart work. That’s my opinion. I was third in my class. I don’t know what I placed overall. I spoke to many different people. It’s hard to reach out to the judges. You can only do it after a certain time. I’m definitely going to do that. I was able to learn from other people who are coaches. They said they weren’t sure why I placed at where I placed. They thought that I should have come in at least second overall. Maybe it’s subjective. I spoke to someone who I look up to a little bit and he was explaining that this is bodybuilding.
If you have fifteen guys that are all looking similar on stage, one has red trunks and one has blue trunks and one has blonde hair, one is a black guy, one is a white guy, what do you look at? You have to look at the smallest things. It’s also what are the judges feeling? What’s their gut feeling? That’s what they roll with. We might all look the same. We might all look similar even, but the results might not be in your favor and that’s okay. It’s about the process, the progress and the results. It’s your personal results compare to your previous results. How hard did you work? What did you learn about that? That’s what I took from it. Will I compete again? 100% unless my mindset completely changes. I’m 99% sure that I will be.
I have a show picked out. I know when I’m going to go to compete. I’m going to be building for the next couple of months. I’m going to be getting after it with prep. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to get after it this week, next week, in the next few months, in the next couple of months, I am 100%. It’s going to be a different process. Now I’m building lean muscle tissue, which takes time. This is a slow process and just because I gained a bunch of weight does not mean I’ve built muscle in the areas that I want. That’s not how it works. I’m in the building phase and the next competition will come sooner than later, quicker than I could ever expect it. I’m going to keep on building. I’m going to keep on working hard and putting my all into this and that’s all that matters.
That’s going to be our episode. I wanted to dive in and explain all the different parts to the process and where I found it to be a little bit more extreme, a little bit easier and give you a different perspective on it. Especially as a natural athlete, I feel like it’s a whole different ballgame because the majority of people are not natural, especially on the IFBB circuit. It’s a whole different level. These guys are massive. They are symmetrical. From A to Z, they bring incredible packages with the conditioning, all of it. I worked my ass off and I’m proud of it. I will be doing it again. I can’t wait for myself to show you all that it encompasses and this next journey until I step on stage again. Thanks for tuning in for another episode of the CreateU Experience. If you want to pick up any supplements, go ahead to CreateUNutrition.com. My Instagram is @TheBMeyers. Thanks for tuning in for another episode and I’ll see you next time. Peace.