Here’s How I Trained for 2 Half-Marathons and a Professional Bodybuilding Show ...at the Same Time!
No Nonsense Magazine Collectors Edition 2016
By: Sean Young, IFPA Natural Professional
I am always up for a challenge. My wife runs marathons and I’m a natural pro bodybuilder. That made it hard for us to train together in the past. But, now that our daughters are no longer babies, I decided to train alongside her for a couple of half marathons, and then immediately transition into contest prep for a bodybuilding show. Now I know this goes against "traditional" bodybuilding wisdom. You’re supposed to add size during the off-season, not train for half-marathons. It was definitely going to be a challenge. My goals were to have a respectable time in the half marathons, yet come in full and conditioned a few weeks later for a professional bodybuilding contest. All four aspects of my traditional training would need an overhaul.
The first step was to develop the perfect workout strategy to maintain muscle while gaining endurance. For my bodybuilding workout, I followed a normal 5-day split.
Monday – Chest
Tuesday – Legs
Thursday – Back
Sunday – Shoulders
Since I wanted to make sure to stay injury-free, I concentrated on using perfect form and slightly higher reps than normal. Still, I trained as heavy as possible within these parameters.
High Rep/Endurance Volume Workout (4 sets each exercise unless otherwise noted)
• Week 1: 15-18 Reps
• Week 2: 12-15 Reps
• Week 3: 10-12 Reps
• Week 4: repeat week 1, etc.
|(2 sets wide, 2 sets shoulder width)
|Smith Machine Bench Press (on floor)
|Flat Dumbbell Flyes
|Pec Dips (elbows out, leaning toward
|Cybex Incline Press
|Incline Dumbbell Press (palms facing in)
|2-Arm Bent-over Dumbbell Rows (lower DB all way to ground)
|Smith Machine Deadlifts
|Standing 2 Handle Rows in Cable Crossover (cable at chest height)
|Reverse Grip Pulldowns
|1-Arm, 1-Handle Pulldowns (sit sideways on pulldown machine)
|Seated Cable Rows (reverse grip)
|ARMS - Triceps
|Overhead Rope Tricep Extension
|Dips (Elbows tucked, keep upright positioning)
|Superset: 1-Arm Dumbbell Extension and 1-Arm Concentration Curl
|Barbell Squats (wide stance)
|Seated Machine Leg Press (narrow stance)
|Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift
|Smith Machine Front Squat (narrow stance)
|1 Mile on Elliptical at highest resistance and highest incline (forward motion only)
|ARMS - Biceps
|(2 sets regular grip, 2 sets wide)
|EZ-Bar Cable Curls
|Standing Dumbbell Curls (for the first half of each set, curl
inward and touch dumbbells together; for the second half,
keep elbows tucked and DBs out wide)
|Dumbbell Lateral Raises (arms straight, bring weight directly off the side of the hips)
|Front Raises on High Incline Bench
|Dumbbell Upright Row
|Seated Short Range Shoulder Press (keep elbows bent throughout movement, touch DBs just above your head)
|Bent-over Lateral Raise
Cardio and Running Program
The next step was to incorporate fat burning/muscle sparing cardio along with endurance training. I believe cross training is the key to being injury free and protecting the joints. Even though running 13.1 miles in a decent time was the end goal, I felt that I needed to incorporate different angles, inclines and types of cardio to keep the muscles fresh and avoid repetitive joint injuries. Let me show you how I did it:
Phase One: 4 days/week of HIIT on the elliptical or treadmill for 15 minutes. On the treadmill, I alternated one minute of fast jogging at various inclines, with one minute of walking. I varied the resistance on the elliptical while going fast in the forward motion for a minute and then slow in the reverse direction for a minute.
Phase Two: 3 days/week of HIIT on the elliptical or treadmill for 20 minutes. And 1 day/week a distance run on Saturday in place of one of the HIIT sessions. I started with a 3-mile run on Saturday and gradually increased the distance.
Phase Three: 2 days/week of HIIT on the elliptical for 20-30 minutes. And 2 days/ week of running. In the weeks leading up to the race, I substituted a 2nd day of running for one of the HIIT sessions. On Wednesdays, I would run 3 miles for time, trying to decrease my time a little each week. On Saturdays, I continued my longer run, successively adding mileage as the weeks grew closer to the race. I did two days of HIIT intervals on the elliptical, 1 minute fast in the forward rotation and 1 minute slow in the reverse rotation for 20-30 minutes.
The next piece of the puzzle was diet. I knew I was going to need more carbohydrates than usual to fuel my long runs, but would need to manipulate some variables for continued fat loss. I began with my usual diet of 250g of protein, 400g of carbs and 50g of fat. When I started the long runs on Saturdays, I bumped my carbs to 475g two days prior and 450 the day before the run for added glycogen. This was important since I was still working out hard in the gym. At 11 weeks out from the bodybuilding contest I ran my first half marathon. My average macro count at that point was 260g of protein, 370g carbs and around 35g fat.
My average meal plan at this point looked like this:
Meal 1: Egg whites, honey, and steel cut oats, grits or cream of wheat
Meal 2: Chicken and sweet potatoes or red potatoes
Meal 3: (Pre-workout): Muscle Provider and an apple or orange
Meal 4: (Post-workout): Muscle Provider and rice cakes
Meal 5: Egg whites, grits or cream of wheat
Meal 6: 93% lean ground turkey and vegetables
Meal 7: UMP and peanut butter
To get my numbers to where they needed to be, I varied the portion sizes and added or subtracted grams of fats, carbs and proteins. To bump my carbs before the races I added in Ezekiel bread or muffins.
Two days before the race I bumped my carbs up to 500g and the day before I consumed 450g. Given that my upcoming bodybuilding competition was the end goal, I paid close attention to how my body looked after these carb up meals during my morning posing practice sessions. I noticed that I looked best two days after the carb up meal. This helped me develop my final peak week as the contest approached.
The final piece of the puzzle was my supplement program. In addition to the Beverly proteins, which are always a part of my diet, I relied on three “specialty” supplements.
1. Muscle Synergy was “number 1” on my list to maintain muscle mass. I took 8 tablets upon arising, 8 prior to workouts, and 8 more tablets after workouts. I also took a scoop of Muscle Synergy powder at night. I would heat it up in a coffee mug and sip it like tea. This was especially helpful as a nice nighttime treat. As the show approached I would also heat it up and sip on it during posing practice.
2. The next supplement I added was Joint Care to help me remain injury and pain free while pounding my legs in the gym and on the pavement. I took three capsules upon arising and then again 3 capsules before bed.
3. Quadracarn was my third key supplement. I rely heavily on Quadracarn year round for improved pumps, vascularity, fat loss, definition, and recovery. I took 3 tablets, 3 times per day.
My meal and supplement plan at 4 weeks out looked like this:
Upon awakening: (8 Muscle Synergy tablets, 30 minutes prior to meal 1)
Meal 1: 8 egg whites, 3oz cooked grits, 3 Quadracarn
Meal 2: 6oz chicken breast, 12oz sweet potato, 5oz baby carrots
Meal 3: 1 scoop Muscle Provider, 1 small apple (8 tablets Muscle Synergy and 3 tablets Quadracarn prior to workout)
Meal 4: 1 scoop Muscle Provider, 5 rice cakes (8 tablets Muscle Synergy between meals 4 and 5)
Meal 5: 7 egg whites, 1 whole egg, 7oz sweet potato, 3 Quadracarn
Meal 6: 5 egg whites, 7oz onion, (1 scoop Muscle Synergy Powder sipped as tea between meals 6 and 7)
Meal 7: 1.5 scoops UMP, 24grams natural peanut butter
The first race went very well and I established a personal best for the half marathon. My next race, the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon, would be just 4 weeks out from the bodybuilding show. I would have to start tightening things up even as I was preparing for another half marathon. My training and nutrition schedules now looked like this:
Monday: 30 minutes of posing and stretching in the morning; Chest and 25 minutes of HIIT on the elliptical in the evening
Tuesday: Legs – no cardio or running on leg day!
Wednesday: 30 minutes of posing and stretching in the morning; 3 mile timed run in the afternoon
Thursday: 20 minutes posing in the morning; Back and abs in the evening
Friday: 20 minutes of posing in the morning; Arms and 30 minutes of HIIT on the elliptical in the evening
Saturday: Long run
Sunday: Shoulders, 20 minutes of posing, and 20 minutes of HIIT all in the morning
At this point my carbs were down to about 300g/day. For the race, I bumped them to 400g two days before and 350g the day before. Although being somewhat depleted, my time was even better than it had been in my first race 7 weeks prior and I set a new PR!
Now it was time to switch to straight bodybuilding mode for the final four weeks. I didn’t want to change a lot. I continued to run, but cut the distance for my long run on Saturday to 5 miles at maximum. I no longer added extra carbs before the run and basically just kept things steady.
I used this basic format all the way to the show, with some minor adjustments in my ratios depending on my look. I always am instinctive with my diets, so I would tweak things as necessary depending on how I was looking. Given that I had been observing from this whole time how my body responded to the carb up meals for the runs, I knew how much to bump my carbs to peak for the show.
Since bodybuilding is normally a 24/7 sport, it was definitely a mental and physical challenge this year to train for a race while preparing for a professional bodybuilding show at the same time. I have to admit though, it was fun! I came into the show at my heaviest weight to date and placed second in the IFPA Pro Galaxy Elite amongst very tough competition.