With a recent partnership between Extreme Nutrition and Cheap Protein Discount Codes, I’ve been interviewing some of their sponsored athletes.
I love speaking to like minded trainee’s, especially other bodybuilders, as although we all ultimately end up in the same position – on stage in posing trunks – it’s so interesting to see the differences between each individual when it comes to training, diet, supplement usage and motivation.
Today im bringing you an interview with bodybuilder, Andy Chappell.
Hi Andrew thanks for being with us here today. What got you into the weight room?
No problem Adam, cool website, keep up the good work and thanks for having me.
I played a lot of sports when I was younger, mainly football so I started lifting weights in an attempt to improve my sporting performance. I also had an ulterior motive for lifting weights, I thought having bigger muscles might in some way help me attract the opposite sex!
When did you decide to step on stage?
I made the decision when I was 18 that I would have a crack at doing a bodybuilding show. I guess I never had any intention of doing more than one from the outset.
What was the reasoning or motivation behind starting to compete?
I’d been training for a few years with some friends, and quite quickly I realised that I was quite good at it. I used to buy muscle magazines but I never had any intention of competing since to do so would mean using drugs or simply not being competitive and I don’t like losing.
So when I found out about natural bodybuilding and the British Natural Bodybuilding Federation I thought, I could give that a shot, it would be a level playing field and I liked the idea of the challenge.
I understand you also compete in powerlifting, which do you prefer, bodybuilding shows, or powerlifting competitions?
I’m a bodybuilder at heart who just happens to also do some powerlifting and strongman, so I’d always lean towards bodybuiling.
All three are great sports and completely different in the approach to training. I think bodybuilders/strongmen/powerlifters have a lot to learn from each other.
I know some powerlifters get super heavy, and eat what they want, however as a bodybuilder this is a big no no. Do you find it difficult to make bodybuilding and powerlifting balance?
Having a little bit more weight behind you certainly helps when it comes to lifting heavier weights, however as you say it’s not the best when it comes to bodybuilding. Since bodybuilding is always my focus adding size for the sake of it isn’t really that beneficial. I compete around 80 kg and I tend to sit around 89 -90 kg in the offseason.
In terms of strongman and powerlifting the weight classes this suits me fine, since around 82kg would be too lean for offseason bodybuilding and more than 90 kg would be too fat for bodybuilding. It just happens that powerlifting and strongman tend to have 90kg weight classes.
So I guess it’s not that difficult for me to find the balance. Plus I also think that if you’re strong you should also look healthy. Being a butterball for the sake of a few extra kg on my total doesn’t interest me. I always think lb for lb strength is more impressive.
A lot of people think that they are dedicated to the gym, but have never competed. Competition prep is a whole other level of dedication and sacrifice. What do you find most difficult when prepping for a show?
Sacrifice is probably the most poignant word there. I’ve been doing this for a long time now so diet and training are just par for the course.
It’s probably the other aspects in your life that are most difficult to deal with. You have to be selfish in your approach otherwise you won’t reach your goal and relationships and your work can suffer as a result.
I’d say staying on top of things and trying to keep a balance or some semblance of normality is probably one of the most difficult things.
Talk us through how your diet changes in the off season and during contest prep.
I try to eat exactly the same all year round, so that when it comes to the contest diet it’s simply a case of eating less than I am just now. I don’t schedule cheat meals or treats, if I want something I’ll have it and I’m not afraid to cut loose now and again and enjoy the finer things in life.
However when it comes to the contest diet all those extra cheats, and treats and everything that goes with it stops and it’s down to serious business.
Do you find eating the same things day in and day out difficult, or do you find having a set routine easier to follow?
I could write myself a program where I vary things day in and out, however I’d simply be substituting one type of cereal or protein source for another or one type of fruit of veg for another.
It’s just as easy for me to eat the same thing every other day. Plus those little fluctuations in calories from day to day are minimised with this approach.
How far out from a competition do you typically start your diet?
The further out the better I’d say, if I intended to compete in September I’d probably start my diet around February. The starting point is probably the most important part of the diet, if I’m in good shape I could probably start in Aprl.
Talk us through the last week of contest prep. How do you change your diet to make sure your in top shape for contest day.
I follow a peaking program, I manipulate my carbohydrates from the start of the week to the end of the week. So I carb deplete and load. I also deplete water and sodium and load on potassium.
The details of the plan however I’d rather keep to myself if that’s alright.
What is the biggest myth you’ve heard about dieting to lose weight?
Probably that “flexible dieting” or “if it fits your macros” will get you in as good shape as simply eating nutrient rich, energy poor “clean” foods. I’ve yet to see anyone I’d consider to be within the top twenty natural bodybuilders in the world pull it off.
So to reiterate, no one that’s any good diets this way. It’s essentially “Weight Watchers” so while there’s no doubt it works, it’s probably best avoided for the trainer looking to compete at the highest level. If you just want to lose weight though or it fits into your lifestyle then sure go for it.
You’re sponsored by Extreme Nutrition. Which are your favourite supplements and why?
I use a number of Extreme Nutrition products, however if I had to limit to a few I’d say: Kr-evolution and Reload. Kr-evolution is a pH buffered alkali creatine, so more of it gets into your system compared to tradition creatine monohydrate, without any side effects.
It also contains some natural herbs that help buffer lactate build up so allow you to train harder and recover faster. Reload is a natural testosterone booster, it increases the amount of circulating free testosterone in your body while suppressing oestrogen production.
I’ve found 6 week cycles of this product to be extremely effective. Again like Kr-evolution X, I notice the difference in strength and recover with this product. It also seems to increase your sex drive that’s for sure.
Talk us through a typical week of training, what do your training split look like?
It really depends on my phase of training, so if I’m getting ready for a bodybuilding contest, strongman or powerlifting.
The reps and sets schemes change depending on what I’m doing, I’ll also mix up the exercises where I might do what are essentially full body workouts every day 4 times per week for strongman, a traditional bodybuilding split for bodybuilding, or a push pull routine for powerlifting.
I guess the most typical split however is the bodybuilding one where I’ll hit different bodyparts dependent on different days. I’ve tried power hypertrophy but I didn’t really rate it since I didn’t feel there was enough volume on a particular day.
Most of the top bodybuilders in the world train this way, largely because it’s extremely effective.
Do you change your training during contest prep, or train the same all year round?
When it comes to a contest prep my focus is fully on bodybuilding style training, I may be cut down on the amount of sets I do below three reps, but I’m still partial to doing the occasional single.
So there’s a slight change but not by much. I guess I’m perhaps more concerned with avoiding injury during contest prep.
There is a ton of misleading information online that can really screw a novice competitor up. What would you advise someone looking to compete should do when prepping for their first show?
That’s a big question, we could probably do a whole interview on this sort of thing. It’s best not to dive straight into to any plan.
First things first, you should get a plan and do as much research as you can prior to starting any diet. Get some basic sports nutrition books written by people with real credentials like a PhD for example. Learn the basics of what dieting entails and the different approaches you can take and what food groups you should and shouldn’t avoid.
Then go to contests and make contacts, find some bodybuilders local to you that can help you. Assessing if you’re good enough to compete to start with should be at the top of your agenda. Come up with a plan together and be open to criticism.
Even the guys who people like to joke about as being old school or bro’s can have a lot of useful info, so long as your prepared to take some of it with a pinch of salt and you’ve read your basic nutrition books.
Alternatively you could hire a coach, but competing shouldn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg for coaches fee’s, plus there’s no guarantee of success. Online, there’s a ton of people pushing evidence based nutrition, however unless you have a background in science it’s quite easy to get confused, and difficult to distinguish between does and doesn’t matter.
So again if you look online, find someone with real credentials and remember success leaves clues, if you come across someone with a great CV and a great body there’s a good chance they at least developed a method for successful weight loss. However I have to concede it’s a minefield!
Guys like us who compete are often known around their non-gym friends as “the gym guy” or “the bodybuilder”. Outside of the gym however, we all have hobbies, interests and aspirations. How do you like to spend your free time?
Bodybuilding is an all-consuming sport so I think it’s important to have things you can do outside of bodybuilding to take your mind off it. I enjoy other sports,
I’ve retained my interest in football and still attend matches when I can. I also enjoy boxing and rugby. I enjoy politics, history, reading and pretending I know something about single malt whisky.
Science is my other great love, I’ve just completed my PhD in Nutritional Science so embarking on a career as a research scientist is one of my aspirations.
For any youngster reading who wants to follow in your footsteps, what advice would you give to them?
If you want to be a pro natural bodybuilder or even a successful bodybuilder, then remember consistency is key, try to learn as much as you can about the subject of diet and training and be prepared to experiment with different approaches and systems.
Be open minded, be prepared to go against the grain and question things. A lot of people will say don’t train a certain way or you shouldn’t do something but don’t let that stop you trying things out. Set goals and be realistic about what you hope to achieve.
You have to be able to walk before you can run so don’t make your goals to lofty. Finally have fun in what you do. I’ve lasted so long in this sport because I’ve always enjoyed it. So make sure you’re doing things for the right reason.
Thanks for your time Andrew, where can our readers follow you?
I have a facebook page people can contact me on: Andrew Chappell Natural Bodybuilding. You can also find me on Bodyspace at Bodybuilding.com or contact me here if you like Andrew.email@example.com