Woodside trainer, Don Hughes shares his training and nutrition plans with us, alongside his trainer, Dylan Schoening, and how he used Ortho-Kinetics®, macro dieting and a custom exercise plan to place in the top 10, alongside professional body builders at the KC Natural World Championships last month.
Q: How did you get involved with body building competitions (men’s physique)?
Don: Growing up playing sports, I’ve always had a competitive drive, which translated well to personal training. The first year I became a trainer, I remember thinking I wanted to be the most fit trainer at that gym.
A local bodybuilder I admired asked if I had ever thought about competing. Immediately, I signed up for my first competition. I placed 4th out of 17 extremely conditioned competitors. At that moment, I knew this was the sport for me. My new goal was now to become a professional athlete in the sport of bodybuilding. After training hard for a full year in 2016, I returned to the same competition and placed 2nd. I then received an invitation to the National Super Pro Qualifier for 2017.
Q: How did you go about starting to train for body building as a sport?
Don: I knew if I really wanted to move to the professional level, I needed a strategy – and more importantly, I needed guidance. At this point I was working for Woodside, and wanted to use the resources at my disposal. I decided to work with Woodside lead trainer, Dylan Schoening. Combining my certification in nutrition and Dylan’s expertise in Ortho-Kinetics®, I knew we would make a great team!
Dylan’s first step was to take me through the Ortho-Kinetics® assessment. Through this hands-on analysis, he was able to pinpoint my muscle imbalances, develop my lacking muscle groups and push me past my plateau. Having someone plan my training for me, based on this assessment, and then build a custom training program, allowed me to focus my time and attention on my nutrition. And even there, Dylan keeps me accountable and feeling like I’m not on my own. I couldn’t do this without him.
Q: What is measured in competitive body building, and what are your goals for training?
Don: The focus for a sport like this is to have the most sculpted body. So for me, it meant getting leaner and building out muscle groups that were weaker than others. This required an intense combination of fitness and diet.
Q: Let’s talk about diet first – what nutrition plan did you follow?
Don: Bodybuilding/physique sculpting is about patience and time. I was in prep for about 35 weeks. It had to be long because my body fat was so high, and I needed to get lean in a sustainable and healthy way.
The biggest changes from a diet point of view came from the macro dieting approach. This meant focusing on protein, carbs and fats only, and tracking all my meals and snacks. Each week I adjusted my calorie intake based on my weight, body fat and by looking in the mirror. For example, the first week I started, my nutrition plan allowed for 3500 calories a day. By week 20, I was down to 1800 calories a day, and in weeks 30-on, I was only eating 1500 a day.
When calories are that low, you are mainly eating meat and veggies – high protein, low carb, where most fats come from the meat. This part of the diet is not sustainable, and was only used to get myself extremely lean, leading up to competition. This is not advisable for normal conditions.
Q: Dylan, as Don’s trainer, what kind of exercise and conditioning did you recommend to get him “competition-ready?”
Dylan: Don has always been a consistent “lifter” who lifts 5-6 times a week, with only one day rest. This year I wanted him to focus more on conditioning and rest to really maximize his time in the gym. We shifted his routine to only lift 4-5 times a week. I worked with him once a week to focus on the muscle groups that needed more attention, and would then add in 15 minutes of high-intensity cardio at the end of each workout. This would include Skill Mill™ sprints, ball toss/slam/burpee combinations, and heavy lifts/high reps to failure. Each week we would adjust the high-intensity cardio based on Don’s calorie intake for the week.
Outside of the high-intensity cardio at the end of his workouts with me, Don also added in low-intensity cardio (walking treadmill, stairs, elliptical) to his routine, which would increase weekly. For example, in the first week Don would do 15 minutes of light cardio 3x a week. By week 20, he would do 45 minutes 4x a week, and by week 30+ he was up to 75 minutes 5x a week (and by this time, the cardio sessions didn’t have to be completed all at once, and could be spaced throughout the day). This is a way to increase intensity without causing muscle loss or increasing stress on the body. As you lower your calories, you increase your cardio. Think of calories as energy input and cardio/conditioning as output.
The last few weeks looked like this – the goal being to get the leanest:
· 75 minutes of low-intensity cardio 5x a week
· 15 minutes of high-intensity cardio 2x a week
· 4-5x a week strength training lifting
Q: After the 35 weeks of dedicated training and nutrition, what was the outcome?
Don: When I started training, I weighed 195 lbs and was at 22% body fat. Each week, Dylan and I adjusted my nutrition and my training based off of my body’s progressions. During the final weeks, we increased my exercise intensity in order to get my body as lean as possible, while maintaining muscle mass for the competition. At the end of my training, I was down to 173lbs with 6% body fat!
Thanks to the support of a dedicated trainer and a balanced diet created and tailored for my specific goals, I was able to place 2nd in the National Super Pro Invitational earlier this month.
In 2017, over the course of three events, Don earned the following titles:
· Minnesota Clash of the Titans – 6th Place
· Oklahoma National Super Pro Qualifier – 2nd place overall, “Best Poser” Award
· KC Natural World Championships (Amateur Nationals) – 7th Place
Q: So what’s next for you? Do you have another competition on the calendar?
Don: My goal is to stay as lean as possible during the holidays. Next year I will compete in May, and possibly cross over into the new category of Classic Physique.
To follow Don as he continues to train and compete in the intense world of body building, follow him on Instagram @fitworld_rule.
To discuss your personal health, wellness and fitness goals, or to schedule your Ortho-Kinetics® assessment, contact Dylan Schoening, Ortho-Kinetics® Lead Trainer at Woodside.