Leader of One, Leader of Many - By Changing His Own Life's Direction, TIKO BLANE Leads by Example
No Nonsense Magazine Collectors Edition 2016
By: Tiko Blane
EDITOR NOTE: This story is different from any athlete profile we have ever printed. The beginning is not unlike that of many people in our society...young men without direction, opportunity or hope, surviving through drug sales and coping through drug use. Physique competitor and trainer, Tiko Blaine's story differs because training in the gym not only provided him with a different direction, but offered goals that lead him to serve as an example to others about what can be accomplished through a healthy lifestyle and persistent discipline.
As far back as I can remember, I knew I would do something physical with my body for a living. As a child, my favorite class was gym and I broke every record in the pull-up, sit-up, and push-up competitions. My fourth-grade gym teacher, Mr. Johann, told me he had never seen a kid as strong as me, and with those words, my love of fitness began.
My childhood dream was to become a running back in the NFL. My older brother, Karly, was a high school star and I wanted to emulate everything he did, but better. I even made a promise to my mother that I would buy her a home when I made it to the pros. That promise is still a goal of mine.
During my seventh-grade football season, I started walking to the local high school to weight train. In the weight room, I found something else that seemed was a natural fit for me. My goal was to lift as much as the bigger, older guys so that’s who I worked out with. During my junior year of high school, before the first game of the season, I broke my wrist when one of my best friends fell on me during a tackle. Not only did that break my wrist, it broke my spirit. I never played football again.
When I was cleared to train again, I immediately began going to the gym. My goal then was to be in our 1,000-pound club. That was the group of people whose combined powerlifting total (1-rep max in bench press, deadlift and squat) was 1,000 pounds or more. Also, sometime during my junior and senior year of high school, I started smoking marijuana on a regular basis. We would skip school, go smoke weed, then come back to school after class to workout with the football players in the weight room.
This was fine until the head coach’s assistant, Coach Olsen, noticed that I smelled like weed and he banned us from the weight room. That was a huge disappointment for me because Coach Olsen was partly responsible for a lot of my muscle and strength gains. I wanted to work out so badly that I would sneak back in the weight room when the football team would go outside. The last time we tried, Coach Olsen chased us out of the weight room and banned us for life. After that, we had to make use of hand-me-down weights with the busted-up concrete plastic coated plates and work out in the front yards or basements of any friend’s house that had them.
After graduating, I started joining gyms. I kept the same strategy; find the biggest, strongest guys and workout with them. In 1998, I ended up at a local gym called The Pit Barbell Club. Ironically, I’d be in there high out of my mind, working out with many police officers, sheriffs, powerlifters and a few bodybuilders. I got very serious with my training, even planned to compete in a powerlifting meet. That came crashing down in October of 1999 when my brother, Karly, died of a drug overdose.
That day I realized that if I continued down the weed smoking and dealing path I was on, that I could end up in prison like many of my relatives or dead like my brother.
Although I never competed in the powerlifting competition, I continued to work out. I realized that I needed to channel my emotions into something positive, and for me that was the weight room and coaching my brother’s son at little league football. The weight room was my therapy. With 24-hour key access to The Pit, I began working out by myself at various hours of the night. The weight room was the only place that I could let out my frustration, cry, scream or display whatever emotion I chose to without being judged by anybody.
On top of that, the post-workout high, felt better than any blunt I ever smoked. While coaching football for many years, and lifting weights primarily by myself, I found a new passion for being a coach and mentor. Many of the kids I coached looked up to me, and often times people in the weight room would ask me advice on how to do certain exercises. Although I loved to help people, it hadn’t yet occurred to me that I could earn an income by doing so.
By that time, I was working to provide for my soon-to-be daughter. This was 2003, and although I was working, I hadn’t yet left the street life completely alone. I was still selling weed. I ballooned up to 180 pounds. It may not seem like a lot, but I graduated high school weighing less than 120 pounds.
Family and Health Issues
On December 30, 2003 my daughter Jalia was born healthy and vibrant. I had purchased a brand new home, a brand new truck, and life was good. Two months later, Jalia had emergency
heart surgery at Riley's Hospital to repair her aorta. In 2007 while working for CSX, at a company health screening the nurse pulled me to the side and told me to go see a doctor immediately. My blood pressure was in the 150/100 range. I followed her advice, walked in the doctor’s office a couple of days later and told him... “I’m not taking medication for the rest of my life, what do I need to do?” He told me that stress, genetics, weight, diet and exercise are major factors in controlling high blood pressure. I knew I could control all but one, the genetics.
At that point, Jalia’s mother and I separated and I made up my mind to change my lifestyle for the better. I left that doctor’s appointment filled with all kind of emotions... primarily guilt and shame. I felt guilty because I knew that high blood pressure ran in my family. I felt that I was the cause of Jalia having heart troubles. I felt guilty because I was still selling weed. “What if I die like my brother?” “What if I go to prison?” “What will happen to Jalia?” “If I would have known how to take care of myself better could her surgery had been prevented?”
I felt ashamed because the doctor gave me medication to take, and being the person who looked fit, and was known to always workout, taking a medication was something that embarrassed me. From that point on, I made a decision to do everything in my power to ALWAYS be here for my daughter. To always be free. To stop hustling. To do everything in my power to be the best man, father and role model that I could be.
As fate would have it, around that same time in my life, a lot of the people I was dealing with were being sent to federal prison. I’ll never forget going to federal court for the trial of one of my cousins and during the break the prosecutor comes over to me and one of my other cousins, calls us both by name and tells us we are next. I was scared straight; by my doctors and by the prosecutors. From that point on, I’ve focused on a positive life.
During my next doctor's appointment, he advised me against powerlifting because of the added weight to my small frame, to stop taking pre-workout stimulant supplements, and to increase my cardio. I HATED cardio. I never did it. In 2008, my younger brother Larry was overweight and was told by his doctor to lose body fat. I took him to the gym with me a few times, and he never came back. Not long after that, he tells me he is doing P90X and he lost 30 pounds. I thought, “Big deal! You finally got off the couch, of course you’re going to lose some weight.”
P90X, Insanity and MY First Contest
Meanwhile, I was running, swimming, and lifting lighter weights for higher reps. Now my goals were different. I thought, “If I have to lose a few pounds and eat cleaner for my health and to get off medication, I might as well get ripped.” Larry stayed committed to P90X, and lost 70 pounds. When he sent me his before-and-after pics, and he had a hint of abs, I got jealous, thinking, “I can’t let little bro outdo me.” I went over to his house to see what this was all about. I followed the Insanity program, got down to 163 pounds and even earned a spot on one of their promotional infomercials. This led me to develop a following as a trainer.
I eventually chose to personally train just a few handpicked clients who wanted to work hard. I realized that I enjoyed teaching, speaking and working with crowds of people over training people in a one-on-one setting. One of my fellow instructors, Marlon, competed in his first men's physique competition. I was only aware of the bodybuilding aspects of competitions and I knew I didn’t want to do that. When he explained to me how men's physique works, with the limited posing and board shorts, I knew I could compete.
One of my goals is to be a fitness model, and I know that doing men's physique can be a great opportunity to get my name and face out there. Also, it would be one of those things that I would kick myself later for if I didn’t try. No more “what ifs?” for me!
I competed in my first Open Men’s Physique contest this spring and was thrilled to place 4th in both the novice and open divisions. In the remainder of this article I’d like to share with you the training and nutrition schedules that got me into my best shape ever and a few “contest” tips for any of you who might be thinking about competing.
I work a full-time job with a rotating schedule and I’m a group exercise instructor. I am aware that I can overtrain, so my workouts are short, hard and they vary weekly. I usually train two body parts per day while focusing on short rest periods between sets (less than one minute). Here is my current workout:
THURSDAY: ABS - About the same as Tuesday
|Overhead Triceps Dumbbell Press
|Weighted Bench Dips
|3 strip sets to failure. Start with 90 pounds placed on lap until failure, strip off 45, go until failure, strip off the final 45, and continue until failure.
|5x10,8,6,4,2 (adding weight to each set)
|Incline Dumbbell Press
|4x8,6,4,4 superset last 3 sets with...
|Cable Flye Burnouts
|(done until failure)
|(For time management, I do my calf exercises in between quad,
glute or hamstring work sets)
|Seated Calf Raises Slow
|4x8 (same weight on all 4 sets)
|Seated Calf Raises
|4x12,10,8,8 superset the last 3 sets with...
|Walking Dumbbell Lunges
|Seated Calf Raises Slow
|4x12 (same weight all 4 sets)
|Standing Calf Raises on Hack Machine
|1 set to failure
|3 sets to failure
|Standing Calf Raises on Hack Machine
|1 set to failure
|(I believe in doing ab exercise with weights and I primarily focus on lower abs.
Perform three sets of each exercise for 25 reps or until failure, whichever
|Weighted Sit Ups on a Decline Bench
|Hanging Leg Raises with 10lb dumbbell between feet
|Decline Bench Russian Dumbbell Twist
|25 reps each side supersetted with...
|Weighted Low Planks (45-pound plate on upper back)
|Weighted Negative Pull-ups
|4x10,8,6,6 superset last 3 sets with...
|Single-Arm Lawn Mower Pulls
|Standing Straight Bar Curls
|Standing Preacher Curls
|Single Arm Bicep Curls
|until failure supersetted with...
|Seated Preacher Curls or Cable Curls
|Overhead Barbell Press
|Dumbbell Shoulder Press
|Rear Delt Flyes
|Front & Lateral Dumbbell Raises (light weight)
|(Include standing and seated calf raises between exercises, same as Tuesday)
|Flat Bench Press
|Flat Dumbbell Press
I teach 8-10 group fitness classes for my off-season cardio, but 4 weeks out from a contest I add 30 minutes fasted HIIT training (in the form of Insanity Max :30). In the last 5 years or so, I’ve also added another twist to my routine, and that’s Hot Yoga. I believe hot yoga will be a benefit to many bodybuilders.
When it comes to “diet,” (I use that word loosely because I refer to my food intake as a nutritional plan) mine is really simple. I don’t count calories. I do, however, aim for at least 20-25 grams of protein with every meal to preserve and build muscle. I follow a handful of guidelines to keep me lean all year around and use sensible portion sizes. When it’s time for a photo shoot or contest, I dial it in more for about four to six weeks and carb cycle for two to three weeks. I believe by following this simple eating plan, it affords me the luxury of shortening my pre-contest prep. A sample off-season or lifestyle plan is as follows:
Meal #1: 1 scoop Cookies & Crème UMP mixed into ½ cup oatmeal with a handful of blueberries & strawberries. I call it ProOatmeal.
Meal #2: 4 egg whites plus 1 whole egg omelet with jalapeno & banana peppers, 1 cup of kale & spinach mix, diced tomatoes, ½ grapefruit
Meal #3: Grilled chicken breast, ½ cup of brown rice, 1 cup spring mix salad, handful of almonds, ½ grapefruit
Meal #4: (pre-workout shake) 1 scoop of UMP Cookies & Crème mixed with 4oz unsweetened almond milk, 4oz water & ½ banana.
Meal #5: (pre-workout shake) 2 scoops of UMP Cookies & Crème mixed with 4oz almond unsweetened almond milk, 4oz orange juice, ½ banana, handful of strawberries.
Meal #6: 6oz baked salmon, ½ large baked sweet potato, ½ cup brown rice, steamed asparagus
My go-to, get-lean-while-building-muscle supplements are UMP (I like Cookies & Crème – it’s a perfect blend of fast and slow-release proteins, blends and cooks well, and tastes great), 7-Keto MuscLean, Lean Out, Quadracarn, and Glutamine Select. Since I'm concerned about heart health, I find that 7-Keto and Lean Out help get you shredded without the jitters. Glutamine Select helps me to recover so that I can continue to train hard and Quadracarn, gives you a great pump, makes me feel great, and improves my overall physical appearance. I can definitely see and feel a difference when I stop taking it.
As a contest approaches, my nutrition does not change dramatically. Six to eight weeks out, I add my supplement stack of 7-Keto, Lean Out, Quadracarn and Glutamine Select. I also add a 30-minute fasted cardio HIIT session into my training about four weeks out from the contest while sipping on Glutamine Select to preserve muscle. I also carb cycle for two to three weeks. My pre-contest prep involves two days of low carbs and one day of moderately higher carbs. Here is my low-carb example:
Wake (5:00AM) 7-Keto upon arising and sip Glutamine Select during my 30 minute HIIT cardio
Meal 1 (6:00AM) 1 scoop of UMP Cookies & Crème blended with water, ice & 1tsp coconut oil, 1 serving of Lean Out, 1 serving of Quadracarn
Meal #2 (9:00AM) 5 egg white omelet with jalapeno & banana peppers, sautéed kale & spinach mix, diced tomatoes, 1 tsp of coconut oil.
Meal #3 (noon) 2 servings of baked cod, 1 cup spring salad mix, handful of almonds, 1 serving of Lean Out
Meal 4 (3:00PM) (pre-workout shake) 1 scoop of UMP Cookies & Creme with water, 1 serving of 7-Keto, 1 serving of Quadracarn
Meal #5 (5:00PM) (post-workout shake) 2 scoops of UMP Cookies & Crème blended with water, ice and 1 tsp of coconut oil.
Meal #6: (7:00PM) Grilled chicken stuffed with baby spinach, large spring mix salad, 1 serving of Lean Out, 1 serving of Quadracarn
On my HIGH CARB DAYS I simply add a serving of slow carbs at meal 2 or meal 3, (usually oatmeal) and an extra serving of fruit.
For almost two years now, I have been a coal handler at our power plant. The job is dirty, dusty and dangerous with many hazards. Our primary job is to ensure coal flows into the power plant in order to produce electricity. I primarily operate a D9 bulldozer pushing coal into the coal feeders or using the dozer to stockpile coal for later use. The best part about this job is that we have a great supervisor and a full kitchen. My supervisor allows me to prepare meals on my breaks. Some of my healthy eating habits have rubbed off on most of our department. We work a swing shift so it can be a challenge to stay on a consistent workout plan.
That’s pretty much my life story. I believe that all my past experiences led me up to this moment. I’m excited about the future. I believe as long as I continue to put 100% into what I do, the man upstairs will bring people and circumstances into my life and those things will lead to greater opportunities.