He definitely looked good
Jeff King training and diet
How I Trained for the Mr America and Mr Universe
by Jeff King (1984)
Before I start this article I suppose I should begin by giving you a short introduction on who I am. I am 22 years old, a graduate of Springfield College (Magna Cum Laude), with a degree in health fitness. I am planning to continue my education in the field of chiropractice.
I began to train with weights about seven years ago because I was small and weak. This start of fitness was a result of two years of inactivity and junk food after school. It was not until I compared my physique with the physique of one of my friends, who was a wrestler, that I was shocked to see how weak and out of shape I was. I began doing curls that day with a log. I later purchased a 70 lb [32 kg] weight set and was put on a weight training programme by Bob Ottmer, a local gym owner and bodybuilder. From this day on I began my quest for the biggest and strongest physique possible. It has been about seven years now since I first began and I can say that this hard work and patience has paid off.
One question that I am asked a lot is, "How did you train for the Mr America and the Mr Universe?" In this article I will explain just that.
I began training for this contest by first making a commitment to myself in March 1983 which was approximately six months from the show. With some prodding and encouragement from Rick Britt, my friend and owner of the Springfield Barbell Club where I train in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, I decided I was going into the Mr America and I was going to do my best. I chose to go into the Mr America because I knew I would be starting chiropractic college and that it would be at least three years before I could compete again. This decision was a tough one because so much was coming up during this next six months. I would be working, taking an organic chemistry course necessary for college, and moving to Missouri. I knew this schedule would be a strain but I decided to go for it anyway.
I began training for the Mr America by just keeping my previous training schedule but I took each workout more seriously. Every day I went into Big Daddy's Springfield Barbell Club I trained as heavy and strictly as possible. I make each set count and constantly tried to move more weight. My sets per bodypart ranged between seven to twelve sets. My reps ranged between four to ten reps. What I did was cycle my workouts so to avoid turning out. I began the cycle by doing six reps in all movements for the first half of the week. The second half I would go to eight reps per set handling as much weight as possible. Next half I would do ten reps as I did with the previously explained schedules. Next I would do a power routine using pyramid sets going as low as four reps (my power schedule will be explained in a future issue). Finally I would end this cycle off with a half week of very light workouts doing ten reps. These light workouts would allow me to recuperate from the two weeks of intense workouts. I have to be careful not to overtrain.
The training schedule I followed was a three day on one day off schedule. If I felt I needed it I would even take two days off once in a while. This schedule I feel is excellent for growth because unlike a six day routine it gives you an extra day of rest to recuperate. I trained in the afternoons doing all of my workout after school. I would rest approximately one to two minutes between each set depending on the body part being trained. I would not need as much rest between sets of arms as I would need for leg work. I would try to keep a steady pace through each body part until I was totally done with it. As for forced reps and other high intensity practices I may have used them occasionally but tried to avoid them because if they are over used they tend to bring on overtraining in myself. I basically stuck with straight sets pushing up the weight whenever I could.
I broke my body parts up in the following manner:
Workout day one — chest, back, abs, and neck
Workout day two — legs, calves
Workout day three — shoulders, biceps, triceps, abs, and neck
Workout day four — off
Every other off day I would train calves. I did occasionally regroup my body parts but returned to this schedule because I found it to work best for me. This schedule works out so that every body part is worked out twice in eight days. My calves, abs, and neck were the exceptions. My calves were worked three days in this schedule and my abs and neck four days.
After about a month and a half I started to add a few sets here and there. The sets added were basically specialised exercises added to help some weaknesses especially in my back. My sets now ranged from nine to twelve per body part.
After two months of this high intensity training I began to feel overtrained. I took three days off and changed my training cycle over to two heavy days and a moderate day routine. My previous training cycle was just too heavy and cutting down my recuperative powers too much. During this past year I have kept a training log which allows me to look back on my progress.
On 17th May I began my diet. Using my knowledge of nutrition and body composition testing, which I attained in college, I began to rid my body of fat tissue while maintaining as much muscle as possible. I knew I wanted to have my body fat lower than I had in the Collegiate Mr America in April of 1982, which I had won. My percent fat at that show was 3.1%. Learning from my mistakes when I trained for that show would hopefully allow me to get more ripped yet maintain more muscle mass for the Mr America. I monitored my progress using hydrostatic weighing and by counting calories. Everything would be scientifically and knowledgeably done.
My caloric intake consisted mainly of carbohydrates and then protein. My fat intake was as low as possible. Egg whites, chicken, fish and yogurt were basically my sources of protein while fresh fruit, vegetables, and grains and cereals provided me with high energy carbohydrates. Because my metabolism is so fast I found I could lose about 2 lb [0.9 kg] or more of fat a week on a 3,200 to 3,500 calorie diet. To most this would be a feast. My body fat went from 13.7% body fat to 4.8% in only seven weeks. I had to begin eating in fear that I may peak too soon.
As the contest closed in I became more and more focused on the show. Between work, school, and training I had no time for anything. I was slowly becoming exhausted. I began to train twice a day when I could because the end of my workouts began to suffer due to my lowered energy level. This not only allowed me to train my body parts harder but kept my metabolism going. Thanks to Rick Britt I mainly trained during closed gym hours so to intensify my workouts. My training partner, Rich Roy, who was training for the Mr USA, became more and more important. My nights became restless.
In July I began to feel overtrained again. I felt constantly fatigued. With the suggestion from a friend I began to train lighter, but faster using more concentration. This programme was alternated with heavy days and it really seemed to work. I got stronger and bigger. A lot can be said for this kind of training especially a few weeks out from a contest. Because I did not take in enough calories I could not recuperate fully from very heavy workouts. My recuperative powers slowly became drained. By training lighter, stricter and faster (30-40 seconds rest between reps) you can keep the intensity high but not totally drain all your energy. I began to leave the gym feeling trained but not exhausted. If I were to continue this heavy training I would have most likely overtrained by contest time leaving me flat and smaller. The most important thing to remember is that before a contest you want to maintain as much muscle as possible and not lose it which may happen when you overtrain. The last three or four weeks before a contest you won't gain any muscle, you just have to keep it.
The final four weeks before the Mr America I began to do aerobics. This was used to remove any excess fat around my waist or wherever. I also cut my calories down to 2,800. I had to be very careful though not to peak too soon. My body fat was already near contest level. My percent body fat was below 5% six weeks out from the show already. At this time I also began to train with Rick Sampson who was also training for the Mr America at the Springfield Barbell Club. Rick is one of the hardest trainers I know and it was a psych to train together for the show.
Two weeks before the Mr America I had to make a major move to St. Louis, Missouri, where I was planning to attend Logan College of Chiropractic in the spring. This was a very stressful trip and at one time I had driven 17 hours straight. Needless to say I was exhausted. During my short stay in Missouri I trained at George Turner's Gym which was incredible. I returned to my parents' home in New Jersey by plane and then drove to Baltimore, Maryland, to compete in and win the Mr Eastern USA on 28th August. I then returned home to New Jersey that day only to begin what seemed like endless hours of exhausting photo sessions with the master of torture sessions Bob Gruskin at the Omega Gym and The Building Room.
On 1st September I began carbing up and dehydrating. I start carbing very slowly and early because for the carbohydrates to be stored in the muscle it can take as long as 72 hours. I also dehydrate this early so I can do it slowly avoiding over dehydration. It was also this day that I left for Tampa, Florida. Bob Gruskin and I met Rick Britt (Springfield Barbell Club owner), my sponsor, and Rick Sampson at Newark International Airport and were on our way to Tampa.
In Florida it was time to rest up and practice posing. It is posing the last few days that really brings out the cuts and tightens me up. My calorie intake during the carbing period never went over 4,000 calories and I would drink only three cups of coffee for my fluid intake the last few days. On 3rd September I made it through the prejudging with 63 other competitors of outstanding calibre. I was psyched but very nervous. September 4th was the greatest day in my bodybuilding career. I had attained a long thought of dream of one day becoming Mr America. As I found out though this was not the end of my months of hard training and dieting because now, unknown to me before the Mr America, I was invited to represent the USA in the Mr Universe in London, England, two weeks later. Going to the Universe would mean holding my diet and training for another two weeks.
Returning to Missouri, I continued training as I did for the Mr America at George Turner's Gym. To start the training off however I trained very heavy to remind the muscles that they had not been forgotten. This however was a mistake because I was drained and fatigued for the rest of the week. On 11th September I flew to New Jersey again and picked up my passport. I trained light and intense the last four days of training.
Tuesday before the Mr Universe was my last day of training. I always take off from training two to three days before a contest so to let my body recuperate and move waste products and metabolites out of the muscle which tend to retain water. I also began carbing and dehydrating on Tuesday. On Wednesday I left for London with my good friend Bob and arrived exhausted. The jet lag was no help either. On 17th September I was announced as the 1983 Mr Universe. Again this was another shock and highlight in my life. Besides learning a lot about myself and my training I met a lot of great people. It was an honour to get to know bodybuilding greats such as Larry Bernstein, Marty Vranicar, Bob Reis, Bob Jodkiewicz, etc.
In the issues to come I will go into detail how I train my body parts and tell how you may improve your own. I will also go into some other aspects important to bodybuilding such as nutrition, posing, etc. In the first article I will cover back training. Until then train hard and be an animal.