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The Final Weeks Leading into The Excalibur 2012



Well the Excalibur contest has come and gone, what seemed like a long 24-week prep came and went quickly.

So many lessons learned from that journey I feel I must share with you today.

In my previous article I wrote about trusting those we have entrusted to coach us; however what I did not prepare for was what if your coach isn’t available or unable to see you within that final 48-hour pre contest window?

That is exactly what happened to me but, I’ll start by taking you through my journey 3 weeks out from the Excalibur. I got extremely sick, unable to train and had a loss of appetite. That can make it extremely difficult to cope with mentally; not training can be a good thing, but lack of food or minimal food can be tough. With all that I was able to recover get back in the gym and gradually start eating at two weeks out.

On November 19 I took a flight to Miami to see my trainer, I thought the change of city and pace would help and aide in my mental state. It did just that, got back in the gym the day I arrived, began to prep my food and off we went to work for the final two weeks. Being present with my coach was really good, training was amazing but that fact of him seeing him daily enabled him to make dietary changes, sometimes daily, as he saw fit.

Our goal was to continue to drop body fat but begin to fill out a week early, so he added beef to my diet then eventually went to beef three times daily and it seemed like with every meal I was filling out and looking better.

Now let’s get to the final week…I left Miami on a 930pm flight that got delayed two hours before take off while we were already boarded and in the plane. The flight was a five-hour flight so didn’t land until 2am in Los Angeles. The minute I arrived I took some pictures, sent them to my coach in which he said, “I looked tighter than when I left”. Later that afternoon I looked night and day and that, I can attribute to jet lag and water retention. See picture comparisons below.

Before AfterAs you can see my abs literally disappeared in a matter of hours. At this time my coach now was on his way to LA and contact was minimal at best. He decided to keep me on the previously decided program and make no additional changes. The challenge was that I was seeing my progress deteriorate before my eyes and wasn’t confident, nor educated enough to attempt to make any changes myself. No contact was established with my coach Thursday nor on Friday, so now I went into panic mode which raised stress levels, which raised cortisol levels, which results in holding more water.

I can honestly say that this contest was my worst performance of my prior contest and proves that a great camp can be thrown away in the last hours leading up to that contest.

Fortunately I have charted and retained everything from every contest, pictures, diets, supplements, weight measurements and body fat measurements. Immediately following the contest I started to study which contest I looked best in. From there began to review all my notes, charts and decided that I was going to learn about this sport, training, nutrition and supplementation so that if and when this ever happened again I could be confident enough to make course corrections on my own.

I have since then started my off-season in preparation for my next contest, which is undetermined at this time. I got great feedback from Judge Erik Mara, so off to work I went Sunday night. I did rebound 20lbs within 24 hours but now I am down 7lbs trying to get back to where I was last week and begin to build lean quality muscle from there.

In closing, yes you need to trust your coach but the main question is what if your coach is unreachable when you need him? Don’t get caught with your pants down like I did! Be a student of the game you play, study your craft, master it and spend hours not only in the gym, eating but learning about your body. Who else know your body better than you? This is a “you vs. you” game, the more you are in tune with yourself, when adjustments need to be made on the fly you will have the confidence and belief in yourself.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me, my family, daughter, my best friend and training partner Roxanne Briggs, as she has been a pillar during the final weeks leading up to the show.

John is a Personal Trainer and Fitness Consultant for American Medical Response. He is a sponsored athlete by 6 Pack Fitness Inc., Nutronic Labs Inc and Maui Tanning Encino. For further information you can contact John at:

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