Joining us today is MP Competitor is Mark "The Country Boy" Bender. Congrats on a great showing! What made you decide to compete in the Men’s Physique Division?
Thank you so much Ian for the interview! I did bodybuilding 3 years ago and competed in the Natural PA Championships, where I placed 1st in the lightweight division. But deep down, I knew my physique wasn’t built for bodybuilding. My body just can’t carry that kind of mass. So when the Men’s Physique division came out, it was like my prayers were answered and I could truly showcase my physique.
Can you tell us a little about the show in which you just competed?
I recently competed in the IFBB North American Championships where I placed 5th overall in the Men’s Physique Division, Class B. This was my first national competition I ever competed in.
How did you feel after pre-judging?
When they announced first call out for my division, I was the first person they called out, “#81”. I had to check my number to make sure they didn’t make a mistake haha. I was truly humbled and honored to be nominated for 1st callout with such talent ranging from Canada, United States, and Mexico. It was a dream come true, especially having my family in the audience cheering me on.
How did you feel about the final results of the show?
I told my Dad after prejudging that if I could have a top 5 physique in the country, as a 100% natural “farm boy” from a small little town in the middle of Pennsylvania, I would be honored and truly grateful. At finals, my dream became a reality as they called my number for 5th place.
What are your thoughts on the Men's Physique Division and what it may be able to do for your career?
Men’s Physique is a wonderful division that gives the average person a chance to showcase an exceptional physique with hard work and dedication. Currently, I’m a fulltime registered nurse in the Pediatric department. I also have a beautiful 2 year old son, Mason, who I adore more than anything in the whole world. I compete because I love the sport. I’m hoping that by competing and getting my name out there in the business that someone will take a chance on a little known country boy from the middle of Pennsylvania. There’s no amount of words to describe how it would feel to be sponsored in a sport with such an immense amount of talent. I would be forever thankful for the opportunity and represent that company to the best of my abilities.
Hometown: Carrolltown, Pennsylvania
Current city: Elmora, Pennsylvania
Years training: 10 years, 6 years of competing in power lifting, bodybuilding, and Men’s Physique.
Education: Associate Degree in Nursing
Occupation: Registered Nurse in Pediatrics
Favorite type of training: Varies depending on the time of year. Pre-contest, I like to do High Intensity Training, and in my off-season, I go back to the basics of power lifting with higher weights and longer rest periods.
Favorite body part to train: Back & Chest
Favorite exercise: T-bar Rows and Heavy Flat Bench
Rep range: Pre-contest, 8-12 reps. Off-season, 7-5-3 reps, with increasing weight from set to set.
Number of sets: Depends on the Body part and how I’m feeling that day. I usually do around 15 sets for chest and legs, 9 sets for biceps and triceps, and around 20 sets for Back. Shoulders I work in every workout 3-4 sets.
Typical workout duration: No more than 90 minutes. On arm day usually I’m in and out within 30 minutes.
Training split: Pre-contest, 7 days a week. 3 of those days I will do abs and cardio when I get home in the morning from work. In the off season, I lift 4 days a week, 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off.
Typical daily eating plan:
Pre contest diet
6pm – Wake Up – 40gram Whey Isolate
7pm-830pm – Lift
930pm – 2 chicken breasts (Baked)
1 cup of whole grain oatmeal
Midnight – 2 chicken breasts (Baked)
1 cup of whole grain oatmeal
3am – 2 chicken breasts (Baked)
6am – 2 chicken breasts (Baked)
930am – 1 chicken breast
6 egg whites
10am – BED : )
Oh my, that’s a tough one. I have a couple. Whey Isolate by Body Fortress. Hydroxycut Elite by Muscletech. NO Shotgun by VPX. Quest Protein Bars by Quest Nutrition.
What peaked your interest in training? I’ve always had a passion for fitness and working out. It’s one of my true loves in life.
Who influences/influenced your training?
My brother Eric has probably been my biggest influence throughout the years. He’s stuck by my side and helped me achieve the physique I have today. I’m just thankful he doesn’t compete in my class; otherwise, I might have taken 6th place instead of 5th place hahaha.
Sports: I do like a good game of Golf. I’m not a scratch golfer by any means but I can hit a mean flop shot over trees since my ball is usually in the woods lol.
Special interests: Spending as much time as I can with my son, Mason. Training for these contests is very time consuming and I try to balance my time the best I can. No matter how bad of a day I’m having, once I see his smiling face, it makes it all go away : )
Physique, fitness, bodybuilding competition history:
2007 ADAU Power Day Classic – 1st place, Bench Press Division, 148# Class
2007 ADAU Single Lift Nationals – 1st place, Bench Press Division, 148# Class
2008 ADAU Single Lift Nationals – 1st place, Bench Press Division, 148# Class
2010 NPC Natural Pennsylvania Championships - 1st place, Bodybuilding, Lightweight Division
2011 NPC Natural Pennsylvania Championships - 1st place, Men’s Physique, Class B & Overall Champion
2012 IFBB North American Championships- 5th place, Men’s Physique, Class B
Awards and/or accomplishments: Taking 5th place in my first National Competition as a 100% Natural and Drug Free Competitor.
Next planned competition: 2013 IFBB North American Championships.
What keeps you on track towards reaching your goals? Realizing that perfection is unattainable, so you can never be satisfied with your progress. Always setting new goals to make improvements to bring the best physique I can possibly bring.
Interesting fact or something you would like our readers to know about you: I’m a big believer in seizing the moment. Life is unpredictable. One minute you’re on top of the world, and the next minute you’ve hit an all time low. You never want to look back later in life and regret the chances you never took because you were afraid of failure. You only live once…make the most out of every opportunity you have.
Website and Facebook: Since I am a country boy, I don’t have my own website, nor do I have facebook. I guess I’m just old fashioned haha. If you have any questions, helpful advice, or comments, you can always email me at [email protected] Your support is greatly appreciated.