Stats: 6', 167 pounds, 5.0% body fat (maintaining)
June 2010 TSM: Pete5
This month's TSM features a man for whom I personally have a tremendous amount of respect, forum member "Pete5". When Pete started training around 5 years ago he weighed a scrawny 140 pounds and had no idea what he was doing. Since then Pete has packed on more than 50 pounds of muscle, completed a marathon, attempted an ultra-marathon, competed in a powerlifting meet, got absolutely shredded for a bodybuilding contest and deadlifted 500x7 (video below). Pete is presently closing in on a 600-pound pull, a 500-pound squat and a 315 pound bench press. Oh, did I mention he's only 18 years old? This remarkable young athlete simply refuses to back down from a challenge!
Pictures and video
150 Pounds - 6 months after starting weight training:
On-Stage - 173 Pounds:
2007 Madison Marathon:
Tell us a bit about your background; when and why did you get into lifting?
I’m eighteen years old, going on nineteen in August. I began weight training when I was fourteen with little to no knowledge of how to structure a training program or even how to perform the lifts. Initially, all I cared about was having a defined set of abs, which now seems ridiculous given that I couldn’t have weighed more than 140 pounds and I was skin and bones. Abs seemed to be a big deal to people, so that’s what I focused on. I began training for the same stereotypical reason as so many others; I wanted to be viewed more attractively to the opposite sex. As time went on I began to shift my focus to packing on muscle and incorporating weight training. I haven’t stopped since.
My physique has improved, my strength has progressed, my diet is stricter, and I take the whole lifestyle much more seriously now. I ran a marathon at age fifteen, competed in a powerlifting meet, dieted for five months for a bodybuilding contest, got in trouble for shoveling a track in the dead of winter, and had my body annihilated on a tough ultramarathon course, all before I graduated high school. I’ve failed many times, battled depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, yet I’ve never stay down. Failure is necessary, for it keeps us humble and hungry.
What were your initial goals? What are your current goals?
My goals have evolved over time. My initial goal was just to build an aesthetically pleasing physique. Currently, that still remains a high priority, but I also want to maximize my strength potential. Specifically, I’m chasing a three plate bench press, 500 pound squat, and 600 pound deadlift. My goals are constantly changing; it just depends on what I’m training for at the time.
What does your current training program look like?
I follow the Westside Conjugate Method of training. I utilize ME days (Max-Effort) and DE days (Dynamic-Effort). There is also the RE method (Repeated-Effort). The maximal-effort method means training at or above 90% of your 1RM. The dynamic-effort method means lifting a submaximal weight at the highest speed possible. Lastly, the repeated-effort method means lifting a submaximal weight to failure. You can read more about this method of training at Elitefts.com. My training routine is structured like this:
Sunday – DE Lower
Monday – Rest
Tuesday – DE Upper
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – ME Lower
Friday – Rest
Saturday – ME Upper
How has your training evolved?
I’ve always been the type who had training ADD. I’ve jumped from program to program over the years. Some them I’ve made on my own, while others have been specific programs created by someone else. I would usually begin a program, my strength would stall, and I would scrap it after two weeks and move on to something else. In reality, it wasn’t that the program didn’t work, it was just that I wasn’t eating enough to make gains. In the beginning, I started with fairly simple programs such as Rippetoes, which are easy for a beginner to make great progress on. Now, I’ve moved on to more complex methods with all the bells and whistles such as chains, bands, etc.
Tell us a bit about how you've gone about educating yourself?
I’ve mainly used Elitefts as my main source of information, but I read a tremendous amount of strength articles in general. If you ignore their marketing tactics, Tmuscle.com also has a lot of useful information. A big thing I like to do is to follow what others are doing who have been successful. If someone else is where you want to be, then why wouldn’t you try to pattern your behavior after them? If I want to look like a top natural bodybuilder, I need to go learn what they did to get to the top. I should mention I get a lot of good information from podcasts, interviews, seminar DVDs, and e-books as well.
What is your diet like?
My diet depends on my goals at the time. If I’m just trying to put on mass and strength, I eat more relaxed and have some junk food from time to time. I still eat mostly clean food sources, but I allow myself some indulgences. If I’m dieting for a show on the other hand, I like to use a carb-cycling approach utilizing high, medium, and low carb days. Everything gets calculated, from my macros, to how much my food weighs. There is little room for error when trying to get stage lean. Chicken, steak, protein powder, eggs, oats, and brown rice serve as the foundation of my diet year-round.
Do you use any supplements?
I’ve tried a number of supplements, but I only consistently take a generic multi-vitamin, vitamin-D3, calcium, and creatine monohydrate. I don’t view protein powder as a supplement, but I have that on hand at all times as well. All in all, I’m not real big on supplements and I think people waste far too much money on them. Eating enough food is so much more important and that’s the real key to growth and progress.
As far as creatine goes, it has all the research to back it up, it’s dirt cheap, and I think it helps. You can pick up a three month supply for ten or fifteen dollars, so it’s really a no-brainer.
What obstacles have you encountered, and how have you overcome them?
It seems with most things in life, you have to face failure many times before you can taste success. In my case, it’s never been any different. I’ve always been willing to try things, just because I know I can learn so much even if things don’t go well. In the case of the bodybuilding show, I was disappointed with my placing (4th out of 8), but it keeps me hungry to come in better next time. It’s the same with the 50 mile ultramarathon I never finished. I wasn’t well-prepared and my body took a beating before I dropped out twenty-five miles in. I now know what I need to do differently, I have a good knowledge of the course, and I’m hungry to come back strong the next time. Things aren’t always going to work-out and the road won’t be easy, but we can learn so much from all of the trials and tribulations. The key is to never let up. If it’s not your day, go back and get it some other day.
How has your commitment to strength and fitness changed your life?
Lifting weights, races, and competitions have all translated over to other aspects of my life. The lessons I learn from my struggles and successes in these endeavors are applicable to situations in everyday life. A simple example is when you compare a speech you have to give or a paper you have to write to a marathon. The marathon makes everything else look pretty easy and less daunting by comparison.
The developments in my physique have also given me increased self-confidence and self-worth. It feels good to fill out a t-shirt and walk around knowing you can pick-up more than anyone else in the room. It’s simple little things like this that are so gratifying.
What advice would you offer to others?
If you don’t eat, don’t expect to gain strength or make progress. I kick myself now, because I probably wasted a few years where I could have made tremendous progress simply because I wasn’t eating enough. Don’t get caught up in this relative body strength business. That’s just a recipe to stay weak. You need to eat a ton of food and see the scale go up before your strength will follow. Yes, you can make small progress keeping your weight in check or even losing weight, but you will plateau at some point and the only solution is to pick up the fork.
How have JSF and the JSF Forums helped you?
The JSF forums have always been a great environment in which people can learn, ask questions, and view the progress of others. I just want to thank John for keeping things in check and never letting anything get out of hand. Because of this, everybody is so supportive and respectful and these forums just breed success.
There are a few members who have been especially instrumental in helping me along the way. In particular, I would like to thank zenpharaohs for preaching the importance of leg training right from the beginning. That’s been huge for me. Big_d has been great in providing some friendly competition and motivation over the years. He’s someone I respect and he gives me something to shoot for. Chicanerous has always answered all of my questions and I’ve learned so much from him over the years. Lastly, Mastover has helped me on numerous occasions and been a great inspiration on the natural bodybuilding front.
Any closing thoughts?
We can all choose to sit back and enjoy a “comfortable” life. We are given the choice and each and every one of us has the opportunity to make something of our lives. Society teaches us to conform and to follow the pack, yet I choose not to and I hope you do the same. I don’t want to die having never known what it was like to lift the big weights, push my body to its limits, and influence those around me. While your goals may differ, the reason you value them is because they point back to the same thing as mine and everybody else’s. We all want to leave our mark on earth and know that we made a difference in other’s lives for the better. Nobody wants to feel as if their life was meaningless. You don’t want to be eighty years old wondering what if? Take action now or regret your indecision forever. For the pain of regret is far worse than the pain of sacrifice. Ninety-nine percent of people will take the easy road of mediocrity and comfort. Will you?
Thanks for a great interview, Pete! Congratulations on your many successes thus far; they are only the beginning.