We at PumpingFit.com had the pleasure of interviewing bodybuilder Ryan Black. Ryan also has 8 years experience as a personal trainer, a degree and a year at graduate school in exercise science.
We thank him for his time and we are delighted that you will be seeing more of him, here on PumpingFit.com
PF: How did you get into bodybuilding / fitness and what were your initial goals?
I originally started bodybuilding in college after overcoming both Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. I dealt with both of these diseases for 4 years. I was an Exercise Science major while attending school and during this time period my knowledge about fitness, nutrition and bodybuilding grew exponentially. The decision to become healthy through bodybuilding was quite easy and this was my initial goal. I knew I had a long road ahead of me to become healthy, however this did not impact my resolve to become healthy and ultimately a successful bodybuilder in my own right.
PF: Have your bodybuilding / fitness goals changed since?
Yes, they have. My original plan was simply to gain weight and become bigger. Now, I have aspirations of moving much further in this sport including moving towards a pro card in the years to come.
PF: What are your main strengths within your sport?
My main strength is just that- my strength. I’m very strong on several body parts, legs being a big part of this. I have great quads.
PF: Anything you still want to improve on?
Most definitely! I need to improve my triceps, my hamstrings, and certainly achieve my thickness in my chest. I also need to bring my calves up to par as well. However, in this game, there will ALWAYS be something that you personally will want to improve upon. My best advice to those reading this, is to take the constructive criticism given to you by those who offer it, listen, and do it!!
PF: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing right now, what occupation would you be in?
That’s an excellent question, often times I have thought of this over the years, and to be honest; I’m not exactly sure. For this to have happened, I would not have been over-come by eating disorders as a teenager, thus my life would have gone in a completely different direction. That, perhaps, is a bit of a stretch as to what could’ve happened. It could have been anything!
PF: What has kept you motivated for so many years in the sport that you do?
Often, over the years, I have been able to motivate myself simply by trying to always improve. I’m a perfectionist by nature, and I ALWAYS want to better. The past couple years my motivation has been on a rise, as I have been making improvements in leaps and bounds. This keeps me moving forward every day, every week and every month.
PF: Has there been anybody you aspired to (famous or non-famous) when getting into the sport?
To be quite honest, there has never really been anyone in particular. When I first started lifting I admired the physiques of Gunter Schlierkamp, Nasser El Sonbaty and of course Arnold Schwarzeneggar. However, I don’t think I knew enough back then to aspire to be like them. I don’t believe we should idolize or aspire to be anyone other than ourselves, in bodybuilding or life in general. It’s understandable to admire the physique of a famous bodybuilder, look at Kai Greene lately, or Branch Warren, they’re both at the top of their game right now. However, I only aspire to reach my own PERSONAL potential and I know I have a long ways to go to achieve that.
PF: Do you have any advice for anybody who may want to follow in your footsteps?
Oh yes, most definitely. There are several things I wish I could say. First, when starting, you need to figure things out on your own. Do not get any workouts out of magazines. You need to figure out your body for yourself, not only will your results be much better over the years, but you will learn more and be more satisfied with the outcome. Secondly, you need to challenge yourself every day in the gym. Don’t rely on a lifting partner, or significant other to challenge you, learn this on your own and do it. Also, supplements are not the magic cure to achieve results. Eating properly and learning the right amount of calories for your body is more important in the beginning. Too many beginners have bought into Nitric Oxide supplements, pro-hormones, creatine etc. without learning proper nutrition habits. I was guilty of this too when I started. While these supplements do have their place, if you’re starting off, learn how to eat properly FIRST. Then when you have that figured out, add the supplements.
PF: What would be a typical nutrition plan for you, off season?
Off season I try to eat as much as possible, but also try not to get too fat in the process. Often times this can be difficult. However, to sum it up, this is what I shoot for at each meal when putting on weight.
Carbohydrates: 130-140g/meal (except last meal)
However, I may stray from this at times, and go slightly higher or lower depending on how I feel and how my metabolism is running that day.
PF: How about on season?
On season is much different of course. I keep the protein around the same if not slightly higher. The carbohydrates are definitely lowered, however, I recently took first place in a competition held by IFBB pro Mark Antonek, and I did something different with my carbohydrates this time around and I did not restrict them as much as I had previously. One must remember carbs are precious for energy either in season or out of season. Therefore, keeping those calories in the diet during contest prep is important for staying full and big and having the energy to burn the fat you need to while dieting.
PF: How do you structure your diet?
I structure my diet simply by how I feel. I’ve learned the hard way that when I restrict calories too much I lose energy, I’m tired, and I’m weak in the gym. Keeping the calories in there and feeding myself when I’m hungry is very important. This is critical whether off season or in season. I have always had a high metabolism, so I can handle the extra calories. It’s very important to feed yourself when you’re hungry and NOT be afraid of the food. Simply put, food makes you grow, and food gives you results!
PF: Describe your training philosophy
“When in doubt, go heavier.” Perhaps that’s why I’m so strong. But simply, it stems from seeing too many people over the years being afraid to push heavy weight. Whether you’re a male or female, do NOT be afraid. Push yourself, go hard and heavy and you’ll get results!
PF: Are you a big believer in cardio? How much do you do in the off-season versus pre contest?
I’m not a big believer in cardio. I tend to lose very fast when I do cardio, therefore in the off season, I don’t do any at all. Pre-contest is another story. I start cardio about 2 months out just to aid in the fat burning process and increase my metabolism. However, I know the bulk of my fat burning will be a combination of the cardio and the diet and the lifting.
PF: What pre and post training supplements do you take to prepare you for the season?
2 Scoops NO Explode-I drink this 30 minutes prior to lifting
During Workout Drink Mixed with crystal light:
2 Scoops Glyco-Maize (Optimum Nutrition)
5 G Glutamine
5 G Branched Chain Amino Acids
3 Scoops Dymatize Elite Whey
5 G Glutamine
5 G Branched Chain Amino Acids
I blend this together and drink.
PF: What has been you greatest achievement in your sport to date?
I took first place at a recent show I did just a week and a half ago.
PF: What further ambitions do you have in the sport?
I have very high ambitions. I would love to move on to get my pro-card. However, I have a long road ahead of me, but with my potential, I believe it’s definitely in the cards.
PF: Do you think bodybuilding has changed for the better? Or can you see room for improvement within the sport?
On a whole it’s hard to say. I think there is always room for improvement. I definitely believe the addition of certain classes such as “Men’s Physique,” “Women’s Bikini,” and “Women’s Physique” leads one to believe things have gotten out of hand. Men’s and women’s bodybuilding, women’s figure and women’s fitness has been the standard for years and I believe that’s how it should remain.
PF: Have there been any strange strategies that you have put in place weeks before competition or is you preparation a pretty normal affair?
I have no strange strategies at all. My last competition I did something different with my water restriction and I believe that helped a lot. I will probably use the same technique the next time around.
PF: Do you see yourself staying within the sport after you finally give up the competing?
I would definitely hope so! However, one can never know where life will take you. I will definitely make every effort for sure.
PF: Are there any other sports that you like taking part in?
Other sports? What other sports? With my luck, I’d get hurt and wouldn’t be able to lift, and that is just not acceptable. 😉
PF: We get a few people on our site stating that they find it hard to balance their dedication to bodybuilding / fitness competition while being a family person. What advice can you give to anyone in that situation? Can the two ever complement each other?
Of course the two can complement each other. If your family is truly supportive of you as a person and who you are, they will support your lifestyle, healthy habits and the like. If this is truly an issue in your life, the best way to deal with it is to be upfront, honest and forthright with your feelings. Often times we hold back from our significant other or family simply out of fear of what may be the outcome. However, you must be willing to take the leap of faith with those you love, and if you are not, then you need to simply ask yourself “Why??”
PF: We have also found many of our find it difficult to keep consistently motivated when training and dieting for the first time, when they have decided on a healthier lifestyle. What advice can you give them?
This can be quite difficult at times, even for those of us who’ve been doing it for years. My advice is simple- do NOT give up!! Every time you go to the gym when you feel miserable, like you can’t do it, or don’t want to, it will be easier for you to go when you feel the same. The only person holding you back is yourself. This process takes time, it will not happen overnight. Seek out the support of a workout partner, but not someone who’s in the same boat as you. Seek out a new friend at the gym who’s been doing it a long time, or seek out a family member for support. Use whatever tools and resources you can to stay motivated. It will not always be easy, but trust me when I say this, when you achieve those results, you’ll be so happy, and proud of yourself, you won’t EVER want to stop!!
PF: What do you like doing in your spare time?
I love reading and listening to music and I get to the beach when I can. At the moment, I’m starting the quest of going back to school as well. So, soon enough, I’ll have that to keep me busy including bodybuilding. But, I’m excited as well, because it will be a journey that will lead me to helping those who truly struggle with self image and being healthy.
PF: Thank you so much for your time. Just one final question. Is there any advice you can give us at PumpingFit.com to keep our site of continued interest to growing enthusiasts of health, muscle & fitness?
I think the website is awesome, I wouldn’t change a thing!