How did you get started with bodybuilding?
As I entered my teen years I found a passion for Judo. As with everything I do, I set high goals for myself and pushed myself to be the best. At the age of 16, I was one of the youngest Black belt holders in my country and was chosen to be on the National team. In 1998 my family and I moved to Sweden from Montenegro and it was around this time I began weight training to increase my strength for Judo. After one workout I knew this was something I wanted to focus on. I just loved the pump I got, the feeling of being big, the gym atmosphere, the discipline of diet and exercise and the challenge of deciding when to train, what to train, and how to train.
Within a short period of time and with a lot of effort I began getting stronger and better with each workout. With my new focus on working-out and with adjustments to my eating habits, I quickly began to see changes in my body.
I continued to read all I could about weight lifting and bodybuilding and continued to try new and different things – each time, monitoring closely the effects, both good and bad, that each change had on my body and mind. After a lot of trial and error, I learned what worked best for me. It was not long after this period of time that I got the bitten by the competitive bodybuilding bug. In 2002 I began my competitive bodybuilding career by participating in the Swedish championships. I placed 3rd in this show which gave me the drive to do better. Within a few years I was competing and winning national level contests in Sweden regularly.
It was then that I realized my next logical step was to go to the United Stated (California), the Mecca of bodybuilding and make my dreams come true. Actually I rather say goals then dreams. The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline and I certainly had one.
Where does your motivation come from?
You need to dig deep inside of you to find it. Watching bodybuilding DVD’s and magazines will temporarily trigger your motivation but will slowly fade away. I have always been true to myself and have known what I wanted. Bodybuilding was the path that I chose and love. Having the opportunity to do what I love is enough motivation for me.
Another thing that motivates me is the fact that I inspire other people to train hard and to reach their goals.
What workout routine has worked best for you?
Let me tell you this, there is no right or wrong way of doing it – each and every training program can give you good results. One thing I know for sure; regardless of what program you choose to follow I would stick to a basic strength and mass building program for about 10 weeks to build up your strength and put on some solid size on your overall body before you try any fancy programs (i.e. super/drop/giant/ or whatever you want to call them sets). Below is the program that helped me get where I wanted to be. I switch from time to time to different exercises or training regimes but I always go back to the basics.
The pyramid training principle is the most basic and common/effective way to build a powerful and big body. When you do pyramid sets, you increase the weight and reduce the reps as the set progress. It might look something like this when you do front Barbell Presses:
- 15 reps x 50 kg
- 10 reps x 80 kg
- 8 reps x 100 kg
- 6 reps x 110 kg
Beginning with lighter weights prepares your body for heavier weights and you flush more blood into your muscles and you get more pump. Joint injuries result from not warming up with lighter weights prior to performing heavy presses or lifting. You should always train with the weight that you can handle. Put safety first. Once you injure your shoulders it’s very rare that they ever heal back to normal.
Monday: Back, Abs
- 2 sets x 15 Lat pulldowns (just go easy for two sets to warm up and prepare for heavy lifts)
- 4 sets x max Chin-ups
- 4×10 Barbel rows
- 3×10 Dumbbell pullovers
- 4×6 Deadlifts
- 5 x max reps Hanging leg rises
- 5 x max Crunches
Tuesday: Chest, Calves, Cardio
- 2 x 15 Warm up on any Chest machine
- 3 x 10 Incline bench presses
- 3 x 10 Incline dumbbell presses
- 2 x 10 Dumbbell flyes
- 2 x 10 Bench presses
- 2 x 10 Cable crossovers
- 4 x 12 Standing calf raises
- 4 x 10 Seating calf raises
- Judo (2 hours)
Thursday: Shoulders, Triceps
- 4 x 10 Front presses
- 4 x 10 Dumbbell side lateral raises
- 4 x 10 Incline rear-delt lateral raises
- 4 x 6 Dumbbell shrugs
- 4 x 12 Small grip bench presses
- 4 x 10 Cable triceps press downs
- 4 x 10 Ez bar overhead presses on flat bench
- 4 x 10 Reverse grip tricep press downs
- Cardio (optional)
Saturday: Legs, Biceps
- 4 x 10 Leg extensions
- 4 x 10 Squats
- 4 x 10 Leg presses
- 4 x 10 Laying leg curls
- 4 x 10 Stiff leg deadlifts
- 4 x 8 Preacher barbell curls
- 4 x 8 Standing barbell curls
- 3 x 8 Hammer curls
- 3 x 10 Concentration curls
- Cardio, hiking etc..
If you have to pick only 3 exercises, what would they be and why?
Whatever I can do with a barbell and two dumbbells. That’s honestly all you need to stay in shape and maintain what you have. Put me on a deserted island with an Olympic barbell and two dumbbells for months and a few cans of protein powder and I’ll still look the same when you see me again.
What I’m trying to say is that I always try to keep it simple.
What is your diet like?
Below is a sample of my diet. This plan changes from day to day and my calories vary from day to day as well.
- 7.00 am: 10g L-Glutamine, 2 BMR Sports Nutrition extreme fat burner Tartarus, 3 Testosterone booster Duzixon, 1 glass of water
- 7.15 am -8.00 am: Cardio (power walk outdoors)
- 8.30 am: Breakfast – 1 cup oatmeal (80g) – 2 whole eggs – 6 egg whites
- 11.00 am : Snack – 2 scoops BMR whey protein (Coming soon) – 240 cc low fat milk
- 2.00 pm Lunch – 2 chicken breasts – Broccoli
- 4.30 pm: Pre-workout drink: – BMR Sports Nutrition extreme pre-workout ANIMUS 4 scoops – 30 g dextrose
- 5.00 pm Workout – During my workout I drink my own mix of EAA, L-Glutamine, Creatine, L-Argiine and 30g of Malto
- 7.00 pm Post workout Drink – 2 scoops BMR Sports Nutrition protein PROTELUX 360
- 9.00 pm: Dinner – 250g chicken – Carrots
- Midnight snack: Voskos fat free Greek yogurt
Total Calories: 2172. The reason I keep my calories so low at the beginning of my diet is to deplete all depots of glucose in my liver and muscles. Next week I will go up to 3000 cal!
They say that the pre and post-workout meals are the most vital meals for the day, what do yours consist of?
I almost agree with that. I’d say that pre and during workouts meals are the most vital ones. Most people would ask me why during workouts. When I say meal, in my world – that doesn’t mean a half of a chicken and a bowl of rice. During workout when my blood is flowing into my training muscles and bringing all the nutrients into the muscles I like to feed my body with correct nutrients such as amino acids, creatine, glucose etc.
Post workout meals are important as well but once you get home your blood has already left the muscle so what’s the point?
When trying to cut down do you prefer to use HIIT or just normal cardio?
I prefer normal cardio on the low carb days. On high carb days I prefer to practice Judo at my dojo. It helps me not to think about food and it’s more fun than being in the park doing power walks or running on a treadmill.
What is your supplementation like?
I’m not sure if you are familiar with this but I have my own supplement line called BMR Sports Nutrition (www.BMR.me) so I mostly use my own supplements. That’s one of the reasons why I created my own line. After years of trial and error modifying my supplements to optimize my performance and results – I still couldn’t find products that had everything I needed so I created BMR. I use my products myself to help me achieve my goals.
It’s headquarters for now are in Sweden with distribution in Europe, but we are planning on expanding our distribution to the US in 2011.
“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties”.
Photography: Alex Ardenti & Per Bernal