INTERVIEW: 12 Questions With The New Miami Pro Mr Model - Matt Young
Liftness Creator/Founder, Matt Young talks about his experience with Natural Bodybuilding, how he got into the sport and his journey to the stage for his first competition, The Amateur Miami Pro Universe, Oct 23rd 2016.
Matt picking up the 1st Place Trophy in the Mr Model Category at The Miami Pro Universe, Oct' 2016.
Matt: As someone who wishes to share legitimate and reliable training and diet information to the masses, it seems both fair and necessary to have experienced every single aspect of training and dieting given as advice on the Liftness website. To be able to provide reliable info on fitness and health one must be educated on it, both in theory and in practice - and not just a little bit either... Full emersion is needed for real experience on any subject; starting as a beginner and then eventually reaching some sort of equivalent apex.
Being far from the apex of fitness and health, I definitely cannot claim to be a top authority on the subject - but I can talk openly about everything described on this website. My wish for the future is to gather much more experience so higher levels of training and nutrition advice can be shared.
Below I have answered a lot of the common questions I have received as a result of preparing for my first ever fitness/bodybuilding competition, The Amateur Miami Pro Universe - where I managed to win first place in the Mr Model Category. Doing this show has now given me a very intermediate level understanding of competing as a Natural athlete, and hopefully the next one will give me even more.
1. How long have you been training for?
I have been training for about 10 years, with only brief periods of zero training throughout that time. Then very seriously for the past 2.5 years when I decided to pursue a career in Fitness. I got my Personal Training Diploma and became an apprentice to my Mentor and coach, Nash Jocic. Nash taught me everything I know about training and nutrition - far more than any PT course could.
2. What got you into the gym?
I started training in school for two reasons, firstly I just really liked the idea of being big and strong, and secondly I was very into sports and I'd learned that weight training was immensely helpful for conditioning the body to be more powerful and fit. So in the beginning all my training was strength training, with a lot of basic movements and more lower rep stuff. I still did isolation movements but my main priority was becoming stronger in compound exercises.
A 'Quarter Turn' pose from Matt's T-Walk during The Miami Pro Universe, Oct' 2016.
3. Who were your Inspirations when first starting out?
Everyone of course idolises Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I'd totally be lying if I said he wasn't a massive inspiration to me too. However, my Dad was very into weight lifting while I was growing up and when he came back from the gym he always used to flex his muscles for my sister and I to awe and gawk at. He also used to leave fitness magazines around the house and they obviously had an influence on me too. My Dad in turn was inspired a lot by his Uncle Norman, who was actually Mr Scotland for a record 6 times in a row from 1965-70. He told my Dad stories about pumping up backstage with Arnold himself while competing at the Mr Universe Contest. So I guess you could say his influence is multi-generational now that I'm pursuing competition in the sport.
4. Many people workout, but not many people compete on stage - why take it to that level?
People workout for many, many different reasons - and each one of them is justifiable and great, as it essentially gets you into the gym in the first place, and onto a better healthier lifestyle. Some of us just have a different reason. That reason is routed in a competitive nature, or the need for excellence, or indeed a need to just be different. For me, I am really not interested in just being 'in decent shape', I am much more interested in being in 'ridiculous' shape - at least to the point where I am Naturally capable.
Matt (centre) does a Back Pose during The Miami Pro Universe, Oct' 2016.
5. So... What is your opinion on the use of Anabolic Steroids, and have you ever considered using them?
Anabolic Steroids are a very touchy subject, very few people are prepared to talk about them and even fewer who are prepared to even acknowledge their existence - so I really commend the people who do speak out and are honest about it. I can honestly say that I have never used Anabolic Steroids (not that I claim to look like I do either), but I cannot say honestly that I would never consider using them. Why? Well, anyone who has ever experienced any kind of financial or professional success in the Fitness industry has used them. It's a reality people are not happy to believe unfortunately, despite it being I feel a tremendously obvious fact.
I don't believe that the use of Anabolic Steroids in Pro Bodybuilding Competition is evil, or bad or cheating. It is simply a necessity in most cases. However, the use of it in a secretive manner in order to sell a product by implying results of similar magnitude to an Anabolic Steroid user through the use of those products, should be against the law. Sadly, this kind of behaviour is extremely prevalent within the industry, and it goes vastly unnoticed and unsupervised. Can the problem be resolved? Absolutely, but it would involve an education of the consumer not the manufacturer.
6. Why do you have to get so lean for the stage, and is it healthy?
Being lean for the stage allows your muscles to be revealed so they can actually be seen. It is only when you get lean that you can judge the symmetry of the muscles on the body, the separation between them, and the details that can separate you from other competitors. Body Fat also has the ability to look very unsightly onstage, the bright stage lights highlight every single imperfection you have and both the spectators and judges, by nature of competition, become very critical of your weak points.
No one, not even the drug users, can possibly maintain stage ready condition for very long, you quickly lose condition if you try to do so. This is a strong suggestion that the body is not comfortable being so lean, and that it must return to higher levels of body fat to rest, recover and be healthy.
Matt doing a relaxed Front Pose at The Miami Pro Universe, Oct' 2016.
7. How do you know what to eat leading up to the show?
Before going into a competition, you have to first know roughly how much body fat you must lose to be lean enough onstage. You must then know how long it will take for your body to lose that amount of body fat. Once you can estimate these things you can then plan your diet. It is not a case of just eating 'healthily' or eating 'less' - it is much more methodical than that.
The priority is not weight loss, but fat-loss with maximum muscle maintenance. This means eating a very high protein diet, and keeping Fat and Carbohydrate intake at lower levels. Everyone is different so will require slightly different diets, but a general rule is to start with as much food as you can eat while still losing body fat, reducing certain nutrients slowly if your condition doesn't change. If it is your first time preparing for a comp I'd also suggest taking a longer than necessary preparation time so you can test what works best on your body, up to 16-20 weeks - rather than the normal time of 8-12 weeks a seasoned athlete might take.
8. Did Your Training Change During Your Competition Preparation?
Being a Natural athlete there is really very little you can add/change within your training split that won't result in high fatigue. Training really hard every single day for example is not the answer, you'll burn out too quickly, especially while eating in a deficit. Doing too much extra cardio training might also be unnecessary and promote muscle loss. I only changed my training in the last 6 weeks of my 20 week preparation. What I did was 3 things; Firstly, I went from a 7 day training split (4 weight training sessions per week) to a 6 day training split (4 weight training sessions per 6 days). Secondly, I reduced rest periods slightly between sets while in the gym with protocols like drop sets, rest-pause sets and super sets, or simply used normal straight sets with shorter rest periods. Thirdly, I tried to incorporate 2-3 cardio sessions per week of 15mins HIIT on the bike machine (performed after weight training) but stopped after 2 weeks as I felt very tired and down-beat.
9. Would you say you've had a positive experience preparing for your first competition?
Very positive! I know competing is not for everyone, but if you've ever wanted to do it then I really cannot recommend it enough! A great buzz onstage and everyone there is very like minded, and loves fitness just as much as you, so it's so awesome to be around that kind of energy. Emotionally, all I can say is that I have really learned a lot about myself and what kind of character I have. Do I still have things to learn? No doubt. Can I become more mentally strong? Certainly. Do I want to compete again? 100% Yes!
10. What Advice Would You Give To Someone Looking To Compete?
Entrust your diet and training regime to an experienced coach. There is no point trying to cover all the bases yourself, especially while energy levels are compromised. Find a coach who knows what they are talking about, and then actually stay 100% compliant to whatever they tell you. Also, never ever neglect what you have to do onstage, which is 'posing', and it does need to be learned. Employ a posing coach to teach you stage presence and stage direction of the show you are doing, so you don't look out of place onstage. After all the effort you've put into your diet and training it is extremely important to learn how to display yourself correctly. Lastly, go and watch a show/competition if you haven't seen one before, preferably a similar one you want to do, so you can become familiar with the format, standard of athlete and general vibe of what it will be like.
Matt (centre) performs a Quarter Turn during The Miami Pro Universe Under 75kg Fitness Model Category, Oct' 2016.
11. How Long Do You Have To Have Trained For To Compete In A Fitness Show?
There is no set time period, but bare in mind that Fitness Model Shows are still bodybuilding shows. Being too skinny is the same as not being lean enough - you will look out of place - but you don't have to have huge amounts of muscle to compete, and there are different categories for different body types. Women can consider competing with maybe 2 years of training, and men slightly longer, maybe 3-4 years of Natural training. Remember, it takes a lifetime to build a Natural physique, and each time you step on stage you should aim to be in better shape, so be patient with your progress. If you are taking Anabolic Steroids and you do everything right, it won't take you nearly as long - but extremely hard work is needed for both approaches.
12. So What Is Next For You?
Winning The Mr Model Category at The Miami Pro Universe Show qualified me for The Miami Pro Worlds - which is both a professional and amateur show. So I'll be competing in the Pro categories there in March 2017. Ideally, I wouldn't do another show so soon, but I can't pass up the opportunity as it's the only pro-version that the Miami Pro federation hold during the whole year, and it's a great platform for self promotion.
I also want to move forward with my brand Liftness, and any support people show is tremendously encouraging. All I want to do is create a fun and different apparel brand, and reach as many people as possible with the invaluable information on the site, which has been gathered from reputable industry coaches and 100% consistent throughout. If I could reach even more people and share the knowledge needed to help them on their fitness and health journey then I'll be a happy man.
Thanks for Reading!
Watch Matt's Video depicting his Road To Miami Pro, with footage from the actual show!
Conditioning Update of Matt a few weeks out of Miami Pro!
Audrey Kaipio - http://stageposingcoach.com/
Competition Prep Coach:
Nash Jocic - http://www.nashfittraining.com/
Matt Young - http://www.mttfitness.com/training