Want to know how pro natural bodybuilder Joe Ohrablo packs on shoulder mass? Curious about how heavy you should lift while cutting? In volume 3 of Ask Joe the Pro, Joe Ohrablo gives you the answers!
With so many gym enthusiasts, fitness buffs, weekend warriors and your average talkative gym patrons filling up the majority of gym space, I often wonder why some of these people don't ever take the initiative to push themselves to a level they never thought was possible and compete! But then I realize that most people don't have the drive, guts, determination (and maybe the goal) of stepping onstage someday.
The first contest I ever went to was in 1993. I really had only been training a year and I was working for Olympic Health Club, mopping the floors and picking up weights. The owner (former champion powerlifter) Tony Candela was prepping one of the members for her first bodybuilding competition. I remember being so pumped up and excited seeing guys my age up there posing and battling it out for first place. The contest was natural, and it drove me even further towards natural bodybuilding. I knew I could achieve the level of muscularity those guys displayed on stage, if I worked hard enough, applied myself and never gave up.
You see, I never played sports in school. I loved playing football with my friends, and even in gym class, but the idea of being on a team and relying on others never motivated me. I loved how bodybuilding made you responsible for you! The workouts, the dieting, the posing - it all points back to the person staring at you in the mirror.
Besides being a self-reliant sport, natural bodybuilding allows those of us who have been training for some time to really work towards a goal. When you have been training for 5, 6 or more years you really need to spice things up with your training to stay motivated. Sure, it's awesome to train for strength and mass, but if you really want to see what your made of compete in bodybuilding at least once in your life! I personally feel a person will NEVER know what they are truly made of deep down unless they push themselves to a level they never thought was possible and compete.
But all those weeks of saying no to friends when they ask you to come out; all those weeks of going to bed at 10 because you're excited to eat breakfast in the am (lol), all the posing, mood swings, depletion, and comments such as "wow, how much weight have you lost", are all worth it when the night of the show ends and you KNOW that you had the determination and guts to get up there and proudly display the physique you worked so hard at. I tore both of my quad tendons and I still refused to stay away from the stage. I'm getting back up there this coming June! So what will it be? Do you just go back into the gym and work on chest, biceps and abs for the beach? ...OR get all your body parts in order, train like a mad man or woman, and diet down to extremely low levels of bodyfat and show the world what your made of?!?
Ask Joe The Pro
Joe, do you really believe Skip Lacour is natural?
I don't believe Skip would promote the natural side of the sport as much as he does and be lying straight to our faces! But really, only Skip knows for sure. Many natural bodybuilders (and I was guilty of this myself) see a guy who claims to be natural with a phenomenal physique, and immediately pipe up "no fricken way!" It's a defense mechanism disguised as an insecurity that someone is bigger or has better body parts then you do.
All natural bodybuilders that really take this sport seriously and put 110% into their workouts and diets want to believe they are the hardest working guys out there. But guess what? Maybe it's time you stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing you to YOU! There will ALWAYS be someone bigger, stronger and better at this thing called bodybuilding, that we love so much. So instead of constantly putting down a guy who has achieved so much in natural bodybuilding, maybe it's time to "share the wealth". There is plenty of success to go around for all to share. Focus on yourself, doing better at each contest, being more cut, more massive, and don't worry about if so and so is natural or not!
I'm cutting for a contest and I'm about 4 weeks out. Should I just go real light and focus on getting a pump?
Sure...if you would like to lose some fullness and muscle, LOL. Seriously though, if it took hard and heavy training to BUILD your muscles, why would anything less be sufficient in MAINTAINING your muscles? Of course, warm-up thoroughly, and maintain GOOD form on all major lifts. The only thing I would say to do is at 4 weeks out, maybe don't do as many beyond failure techniques like rest-pause, drop sets, etc. Focus on just hitting failure or slightly before, and as the show draws even nearer, don't do any supersets - just ALL straight sets. When I competed in 2007, I was still pushing hard and lifting pretty heavy at 3 weeks out with 3 % body fat! You want to appear as dense and full as possible, so grab some Iron and go to town man! Good luck at your contest!
Joe, I notice your front delts are really developed man, what do you do to get those bad boys so thick?
Thanks for the compliment. But honestly I shoulder press sporadically. I was pairing chest and shoulders together for a while and only did versions of laterals and upright rows. Now I am doing shoulders and triceps on their own day, so I am back to doing either dumbbell presses (regular or Arnold), standing military presses and either hammer or smith presses.
After that I blast away at dumbbell laterals and bent over laterals or rear delt machine. The front delts for many bodybuilders develop really well from so much indirect work that you really shouldn't over do working them, unless they are a weak point for you. Then I would recommend doing Arnold presses followed by barbell front raises, then some side and rear work. And maybe polish it off with one set of a higher rep range on a shoulder press machine to pool some more blood into them!