Hey Paul, I just read this article, and I was wondering if you ever wrote a follow-up.
Originally Posted by Paul Stagg
All information and articles here are from articles in Monster Muscle Magazine
A new year, a new road.
by Paul Stagg, ®2000
As Owen and Pete walked on stage, I marveled for a moment at the courage it took both of them to do it. Ignoring the hard work, dedication, suffering, and at times misery of contest preparation * these two guys had the balls to walk on stage in Speedos and show their hard work to the world. (Okay, not the world. Just the 60 or so of us in the audience.) I've known Owen and Pete for about a year. Both had taken my advice. Both had asked me questions regarding training and nutrition. But I never have been in the position (read: haven't had the courage) to do what they¹ve done.
Oh, I have all my excuses. My genetics suck for bodybuilding. I hate dieting, and have difficulty getting lean. I had to
go to work; I had to go to school. I didn't have the time to dedicate wholeheartedly to a competition. I was just happy
lifting and looking better, being healthier, all that jazz.
I've been lifting pretty seriously for over 6 years. I look like I lift, but I'm certainly not someone who stands out in a
crowd. And the more I think about it, the more trouble I'm having staying motivated. I'm coming off of one of my worst
training years yet. I spent over 4 months doing nothing but working and renovating a house - leaving no time to do
anything but work, eat, and sleep. Once that project was completed (is it ever completed?), I spent a few months in
my new house spending time with my girlfriend, time just together, NOT working on the house. I didn't want to give
that up to go lift, and rightfully so. It was the holidays, and we just wanted to rest and enjoy ourselves. Sometimes,
real life is more important. I finally did get back in the gym, and started a very successful dieting phase. Eight weeks
into that, my results were fantastic. The diet was working, I was getting stronger, and I looked great. Then, as is
common in those of us approaching 30 years of age, injury interfered. I sprained my back. Twelve weeks of visits to a
chiropractor, and of course, no lifting. Add another excuse to the bag - I've got a glass back. It goes out if I sneeze.
Following that, I just didn't have the drive. I had no goals, and was disappointed in myself for not reaching (or even
really giving much of an effort) the goals I had set for myself. I wanted to bench 300, squat 400, and deadlift 500 on or
before my 30th birthday. Since I spent my birthday sitting in pain, those goals did not come to fruition.
After another few months of spinning my wheels, trying to relearn form and diet a bit, I went on vacation * the first
traveling I'd done in a few years. I rested, drank, got a tan, and revisited some of the things I want to accomplish, not
only in lifting, but also in life.
The end result - I realized I need a goal to work towards. And I think it needs to be a public one.
So there I am, watching Pete and Owen, both in their first contest, both looking great, and both proud as can be.
Listening to my girlfriend ask, "How can they do that?" "Do YOU want to look like that?" "They are so lean it hurts me
to look at them."
In explaining how hard they had to work to do that, and explaining the dieting, dehydration, tanning, and misery, I
had another revelation. I have to be a powerlifter. (I am not getting on stage in a Speedo.) Funny, I had considered it
before, but never very seriously. I mean, I'm strong compared to the average guy, but I'm no Ed Coan. I'm fairly tall at
5'11" and I have pretty long limbs, so I'm certainly not built to squat or bench. I suppose I'm a decent deadlifter, but my
height doesn't help. I had always figured bodybuilding was where I would focus, it is what I've always been more
interested in. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted my lifts to count, and not how nice my physique looks.
Over the course of the next several months, I am going to take you along on my quest to compete in my first
powerlifting contest. I plan to spend about a year getting ready for it. I expect to be competing in October of 2001, in
a drug-tested event held near my home in Baltimore. I'll finalize the details on that as we get closer to the date.
In my case, the goals are pretty straightforward. The main goal is to compete as a powerlifter in October of 2001.
In that meet, I will total at least 1200 pounds, and preferably 6x my bodyweight, wearing only a belt. I will also attain
and maintain a body fat percentage of 12% or lower.
I am not aware as yet of a powerlifting meet in my area in October of 2001. (There is one in December.) I will need
to locate one and make sure I can meet the eligibility requirements. Obviously local is better than having to travel, but
I can get to PA, VA, or DC.
The weight total simply came from the standards mentioned in Stewart McRobert's book, Beyond Brawn, where he
says that an impressive bench press is 1.5 timed bodyweight, squat is 2 times bodyweight, and deadlift is 2.5 times
bodyweight. Thus giving me 6 times bodyweight as a total. Since I believe I will compete at around 200 pounds, I will
total 1200. Further, those are nice round numbers - 300 bench, 400 squat, and 500 deadlift. If I end up heavier (I'm
208 as I begin the journey at the beginning of October 2000) I'll adjust.
At the beginning of this trek, I am somewhere in the neighborhood of 15% body fat. I'll need to diet at some point to
get it down, and I will probably get it down to 10% or less giving me some room to get bigger as the contest approaches.
One thing to keep in mind - I don't care if I win. I know these things can be flighty, and I know I could end up the only
guy in my weight class, or I could be one of twenty. I'm doing this for me. If it turns out I'm actually really good at it,
I'll try to win next time.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I am still concerned about my appearance, and do
want to remain lean. Actually, I want to be leaner than I am. I would also like to gain some muscular size. So, that has
to be a consideration. Obviously, that is a conflicting goal with gaining strength, but what the heck. It's my goal. So, I
need to outline approximately a year of training, keeping in mind that I want to do the following things:
First up, I'm coming back from bit of a layoff, and a very poor period of training. So, I think I need to focus on
getting bigger and stronger, and just keeping my body fat in check.
I like to break things into smaller periods, and set time limits. I also know myself, and I know my limitations. Each
period of the year I will have to keep both training and diet at the forefront of everything I do.
Starting on October 1, I will simply focus on getting bigger and stronger, worrying only slightly about body fat. I will
continue this cycle until the end of January, 2001. During this time period, I will train more like a bodybuilder, focusing
on improving conditioning, size, and perfecting form on the three lifts. I also just want to focus on training hard,
getting back that enjoyment I've had in the past, and progressing on all of my lifts. My training for the first four months
is a pretty typical bodybuilding four-day split, 2 on, 1 off.
Day 1 Legs
Day 2 Shoulders/biceps
Day 3 Off
Day 4 Back/traps
Day 5 Chest/triceps
Day 6 Off
Certainly I can add additional rest days as I need them. Further, I need to outline the workouts for this period.
Certainly I need to focus on the 3 lifts, but I don't want to neglect anything, and I don't want one lift to suffer over
Due to my back injury, my most difficult lift in terms of form is the squat; so I will squat throughout the 4 months,
dropping the movement once every 3 or 4 weeks in lieu of front squats or hack squats. I will bench the same way. In
order to protect my lower back, I am going to only deadlift on the weeks I do not squat. The reason I drop the deadlift
is that it is the least form sensitive from a competition standpoint, and I feel I can do it safely. Further, my limiting
factor on the deadlift is pulling off the floor, so the squats will improve my deadlift poundage without the need to risk
overtraining or injury by trying to do both at this point. The starting points for all of the lifts (my most current
Squat (deep) 245x5
A brief note about squatting. One of the things I've noticed watching some powerlifters in my gym is that they
occasionally will load a bar and make an attempt, and not get deep enough. I'm taking the approach that I will allow
my poundage to suffer a bit, and be certain that the depth is good enough for the lift to count. So for now, I'll train the
squat deeper than is required.
I also happen to think that from an aesthetic standpoint, deeper squats result in more complete development.
My diet during this period will not be strict. I will simply require 240g of protein a day and 5 servings of vegetables
each day. I'll eat 6 times a day (or at least most days), but not worry if I miss a meal or two. Other than that, I'll eat
whatever I want. This is my favorite way to diet. My goal is to reach 220 pounds by Dec 31.
On February 1, I will begin dieting to get my body fat down to 10%. I expect to have to diet for 12 weeks or so, and
will use pretty standard dieting techniques. I may use a TKD, as I have has success with that, and it will give me
something interesting to write about. I will hopefully end this diet in April at somewhere around 200 pounds, at 10%
body fat. I'll be able to set more concrete goals in January when I know how big I'll be and how far I have to diet.
At the beginning of May, I will begin specific powerlifting training, and continue that up to the contest date * which
will be about 6 months away. By this time, I will know exactly when the contest is, and what my goals are. Prior to May,
I'll be spending some time learning as much as I can about powerlifting training, probably focusing on Westside
methods. I know a few folks who I think will be able to help me, and I lift in a gym that has a very high number of
Hopefully I'll be writing installments, and the next one you see will be my progress through the first 2 months or so of
my training and diet.