In high-school I started buying Muscle and Fitness and Flex magazine spending hours (normally during school) pouring through every single article trying to adapt my own workout regimen to reflect the champions that I was fascinated with. I can’t tell you how many times I defended the physiques in those magazines from my classmates. They would say they would never want to look like that and that they looked totally disgusting. This blew my mind.
I quickly dismissed my friends as simply not wiling to work hard enough to have such a physique. I however, was more than willing, I was determined!
As I wrote about in my previous post I had discovered Arnold through the documentary Pumping Iron and it opened an entire new world for me that I didn’t know existed.
I had one friend, Stephen Ogletree, who fortunately shared my fascination with working out. We would each take turns designing workouts that were gleaned from the magazines we read daily. We both joined Sport-Plex which was one of the original globo gyms in our city. We met every day after school to put ourselves through our self-designed workouts. Although we were both athletes and playing multiple sports our real reason for working out was to become as big and muscular as our frames and genetics would allow.
Our heroes at that time were the bodybuilding monsters of the late 80’s. Guys like Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, Lee Labrada, Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray and Kevin Levrone. Of course the icon’s of the 70’s were still prolific in the literature at the time so we got exposed to Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu, Sergio Oliva and Frank Zane.
For a young an impressionable high school student these massive men served as role models. I looked up to them for what could be accomplished through nutrition, hard training, dedication and attention to detail. (Of course, at that point in my life, their chronic use and abuse of performance enhancing drugs as one of the key parts of their program wasn’t as clear to me as it would later become.)
The number one goal for both Stephen and myself was to put on size. We only around 145 lbs as we approached our senior year. Our study into nutrition had convinced us that we had to eat big to be big so we started frequent trips to GNC to purchase whichever supplement the magazines were touting.
At that time the most ubiquitous focus was on mass gain 1850 to really put on size. So, we started choking down 1,850 calorie shakes that tasted as awful as they sound! They caused stomach aches for us both so we came up with our own way to load calories. It was simple: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with chocolate milkshakes before bed. (The fact that I could consume those kind of calories and not put on any body fat sure makes me jealous now at 40 years old!)
My bodyweight slowly began to creep over 150 pounds and new muscle and definition began to take shape. It was empowering and invigorating.
My lifts rapidly started to increase as I got introduced to deadlifts, power cleans and weighted dips. These movements were a great compliment to the more traditional bodybuilding type exercises that we had spent the bulk of our own program performing. I have such great memories of our high school weight room and filling out the max lift charts for every movement in order to see how we ranked against the other guys.
I remember getting pulled out of a class by one of my coaches, all because I had missed a max out day due to a sickness. He had me go to the gym, in my school clothes, and max out on bench, power clean and squat. Miss classes to lift? Heck yes!
I set a personal record in each lift with a 275lb squat, 190lb power clean and 225lb bench press. At the bodyweight of 150 pounds I was very pleased with those numbers! In fact, I was so excited after pressing the 225 pounds that I screamed, jumped up and touched the ceiling. After all, I could finally put the big wheels (four 45lb plates) on the bar and lift it successfully!
With all of my progress in the gym, I got laser focused on my goal of playing college football at Auburn and worked on every aspect of my game. I attended several football camps before my senior year and came into the fall season primed and ready to perform.
I had a great senior season and to this day I remember it as one of the most fun I have ever had. I never came off the field and played tailback, defensive back and even was the team punter! I led the team in offensive production winning the offensive MVP along the way. I led the defense in interceptions and was second in tackles.
However, even with the great senior season I didn’t attract much attention from any D1 schools and only received a few smaller school scholarship offers. After weighing my limited options I decided that I would give up on my dream of playing at Auburn and just attend as a student. Going anywhere else wasn’t even on my radar!
For the first time in my life I didn’t “have” to work out for sports. However, I continued my regular workouts with Stephen as I set my sights on going off to college to enter fraternity rush and embrace all that Auburn had to offer. It wasn’t long before my full time job waiting tables, lack of accountability from a team or a coach and the distractions of being a college student took its toll on my continued bodybuilding aspirations.
Little did I know that I was about to enter the most unhealthy and inactive period of my entire adult life…