12 Questions With Corbin Pierson... A True Natural Bodybuilder!
Corbin Pierson has just competed in his first Professional Bodybuilding contest, and he did it as a truly natural bodybuilder. Corbin is trying to challenge common conceptions of what is achievable without the use of anabolic steroids. We ask him how he got into lifting and what inspires him to stay clean within the ever increasingly dirty sport of bodybuilding.
1. Hey Corbin! So tell us, how did you get into Bodybuilding?
Hi Guys! Well, I originally got into lifting for sports, but over time I grew more of a passion for lifting weights and pushing myself in the gym. When I decided not to pursue baseball in college, I got more and more into fitness from there and started looking into bodybuilding more specifically. I've been an athlete my whole life and have always had a very competitive nature, so my competitiveness wanted a way to still compete in something and have a goal to work towards.
Corbin already looking amazing at 7 weeks out from winning his Pro Card
at the Natural Iowa Championships, April '16.
2. Who were your inspirations when starting out?
Although I have many sources of inspiration on the natural side of things nowadays, my original inspirations were guys from the Golden Era like Frank Zane, Serge Nubret, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, just to name a few.
Some light posing practice, 6 weeks out from
the Natural Iowa Championships, April '16.
3. Have you always taken bodybuilding very seriously or has it only been recently that you decided to really commit to it?
While I am definitely more serious with it than ever due to my knowledge of things being at an ever expanding all-time high, I've been taking things with the gym and whatnot very seriously for quite a long time. If anything, I would even say that I'm maybe less serious with the gym now because I have a more rational/realistic view on things, and won't freak out if I have to miss the gym on a random day because I know long term consistency is more important in the grand scheme of things.
4. When and what was your first competition?
It was a natural, drug-tested show with the NANBF back in July 2010, it was right after my freshman year of college. I was able to take 1st place in my novice class.
5. So as we know, you are a Natural Bodybuilder - were you ever tempted to submit to the 'dark side' and experiment with pro-hormones?
More out of curiosity's sake than anything as it can be kind of fun to imagine how big I could actually get if I decided to use assistance, plus the thought of competing on an Olympia stage was always cool. But with the direction IFBB bodybuilding is going nowadays, I don't want anything to do with it anyway. With that being said though while I've imagined it, I've never truly given it actual thought or consideration for making it happen. I've been offered it online numerous times and I've even been offered in person with it right in front of me when I was 17 years old and just getting started with lifting. At that age just beginning I was very impressionable, so I will say I am proud of my past self for turning it down in that moment as it would have been very easy not to.
Corbin starts his Carb depletion during his cut, 3-4 days out from winning his Pro-Card
at the Natural Iowa Championships, 159.4lbs - May '16.
6. There seems to be a great deal of grey area when it comes to what is achievable Naturally - especially with many 'Fake- Naturals' out there... in your own opinion what realistic progress can the average Natural lifter make in a given time period?
I don't think there is really any accurate number I could give you, as I truly believe it just differs for each individual and some people have a greater natural potential than others. There are always genetic outliers as well that really test the boundaries of what most people think could be achieved naturally. I've competed against a couple guys like that myself.
7. And do you think you are fairly close to your Natural limit in terms of muscle gains?
Am I closer than where I started? Yes. But I am near my limit overall regarding long term goals? Absolutely not, and I feel like I'm just getting started. While I have been doing some form of lifting for around a decade now, it really hasn't been until the last few years that I've had any idea what I'm doing with nutrition, and specifically just this last year where I've been more on point and optimal with things than ever. My biggest weakness is by far my back and posterior chain in general, and to be completely honest I have done very little dead lifts and lower back movements in general throughout my whole career so I feel I haven't even begun to touch on that potential yet. In my first pro show around a month ago, I had the honour to compete against many seasoned veterans and the guy who got 1st place was actually 55 years old. The human body can do some amazing things if you take care of it right. At 24 years old I know I have a LOT of work to do and improvements to make, but I also know I have a lot of longevity in this sport as well.
Day 2 of Carb depletion approx. 2 days out from Natural Iowa Championships, 157.6lbs - May '16.
8. How important are the small details in training and dieting to the Natural bodybuilder?
To the average amateur competitor who doesn't take an optimal approach with nutrition and give themselves enough time to prep in general? Not that important as they would just need more time to diet down in caloric deficit than anything. To the top amateur or pro though, especially at elite level pro contests, those small details are absolutely HUGE and can be the game changer between a 1st and 2nd place, or even a 1st and a 4th-5th place as the top pros are all so damn good and close with one another.
9. Anyone can see that you manage to achieve tremendous shape and conditioning for your competitions - how much is this down to your genetics and how much is just plain hard graft?
The shape is 99% genetics, I can't deny that. While I have always had a fairly balanced approach with my training and always made it a goal to hit each body part equally to remain as proportionally as possible, at the end of the day you can't change your bone structure or muscle bellies either in length or shape so that really just comes down to genetics. The conditioning and body fat percentage I was able to get down to though was definitely all hard work with a very scientific and thought out approach. The average length of a contest prep for most competitors, at least in the past, was around 12-20 weeks. I prepped for about 48 weeks in a caloric deficit to achieve this level of conditioning. A full year of prepping and counting macros/calories everyday was not the easiest especially towards the end, but the slow approach did allow me to retain more muscle in the process, since I didn't have to drop calories as low or do as much cardio.
Corbin is almost ready here to step on stage to win professional status!
10. How do you tackle all the mind games one plays with them-self when dropping weight and feeling depleted during a cut?
You just get better at it with more time and experience. While I did have some mind games to a smaller degree this last prep, it wasn't nearly as bad as it had been in the past and each prep in general has been better than the last. Having a coach this last time definitely helped as well since they're able to see things through an unbiased perspective. I don't think any individual is too 'good' for a coach for that very reason, even world champions can benefit from having a coach. Plus if you really want to get scientific with it, by having a coach you're never second guessing yourself about when to make adjustments as you place all your trust in the coach to take care of that for you, in result you have far less stress. Stress levels raise your cortisol levels which makes it harder to lose fat, so naturally having lower stress levels is more optimal.
1.5 weeks after winning his Pro-Card, Corbin is already 2 days out from his Pro Debut,
5'10" and around 154-155lbs, May '16.
11. Do you have any other projects or competitions coming up that you would like to share with Liftness readers?
After just recently winning my pro card and competing in my first pro show directly after with many elite level pros, my competitive season is wrapped up for now. I plan on taking at least 2-4 years off from the stage as I know I have a lot of improvements to make. My goal when I return to the stage is to have built a physique that is capable of competing for Pro Titles and Top 3 finishes, so I know I just need time to gain size if I want to make this happen. Thankfully, I have a lot of time left in this sport!
12. Lastly, do you have any advice for the Natural lifter who is unhappy with their progress and contemplating taking Anabolic Steroids?
Just be patient; bodybuilding is a marathon, not a sprint. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a pro physique. Stay consistent with counting your macros/calories combined with a solid workout routine designed to target your weak points, and eventually you will get to where you want to be...
Corbin performing a classic vacuum pose during his Pro Debut
at the IFPA Pro North Americans, May 2016.
Corbin, thanks so much for sharing with the Liftness readers!