A:I was born and raised in South Jersey, but came to Ohio to run track for Kent State University in 1990 and never left. I’ve lived in Cleveland for 13 years now, just 45 minutes from my alma mater.
Q:First time you realized you would take fitness seriously was ....?
A:I was both a multiple high school track and field state champion and collegiate athlete. So, intense training was just part of my everyday life for years. However, I never took into consideration actual fitness. Competition was paramount, which relied heavily on talent fortified by strength, endurance and conditioning. I did everything that was asked of me to develop as an athlete. But, I never questioned what I was doing or why I was doing it. I did as I was told. I find this to be quite natural of athletes.
I graduated college in fantastic condition, and I knew how to work out. But I didn’t know the first thing about programming, periodization, training for specific outcomes or nutrition. I just kept lifting and hoped for the best. Something I see far too much of I any gym you walk into.
It was rather serendipitous that at about the same time I became a personal trainer, I decided to train for my first show. Up until that point, I thought I had been serious but I was in for quite a surprise. To this day, I continue to be surprised but that’s because I insist on remaining teachable.
Q:You were the 2012 NPC Masters National Champion...describe that feeling?
A:As I entered the doors of my second show ever, The 2011 Pittsburgh Natural, promoter and judge Gary Udit handed me a flier with the details of the Masters’ Nationals. I decided that day that was how I was going to celebrate my 40th birthday. I never imagined winning. I just wanted to be a part of it. I finished 3rd at the show, and a fire had been lit.
After that day, I also set a goal of competing in 10 shows in 2012 to celebrate as well. Funny thing is, I started winning. I won the overall in the next 4 shows I entered, and started believing that maybe this could be more than a hobby. Perhaps a Pro Card was in my future. This created a lot of psychological turmoil for me. I was committed to competing at Masters’ Nationals, but I was forgoing other opportunities to get my card: Jr. USAs, Jr. Nationals, Team Universe… I watched as card after card was given out and these new Pros were moving on with their competitive careers. And, there I was – waiting.
That wait made Nationals increasingly important to me. It demanded a lot of sacrifice, a lot of patience, and left me feeling left behind. That one competition took on more meaning than it ever should.
I also wanted to increase my chances of getting that card, so I entered both the 35 and over and 40 and over categories. I was ecstatic to win both, and the overall. It just validated all the work and effort.
Q:How did becoming an official IFBB competitor change your life?
A:You know, it really hasn’t changed me much...with the exception that I expect more from myself now. I hold myself to a higher standard, because a certain degree of responsibility comes with representing the league. I believe that the current Pros, especially in Physique with it being so new, have to set the standards of what is expected of our category.
I have to be a little more dedicated, a little more resilient and a little more disciplined. I think that automatically translates into other areas of your life, whether you recognize it or not.
I certainly have gained a larger following, because there are so many people that dream of attaining IFBB status. They look to me, and my peers, for any help to bring them closer to that dream. I try to do the best I can to be responsive. But, it can get to be quite overwhelming.
Q:Describe your pre contest workout routine and diet...
A:I am a die hard split trainer. Each muscle group gets its own day. Legs, Chest, Back, Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps. 24-30 set volume, 3 sets of 8-10 exercises. In season or out, that never changes. It’s gotten me this far, I see no reason to change it.
The difference with me and most bodybuilders is I don’t have a bulking phase. Even though at just under 6’ 2” I finally broke 200lbs for the first time ever this winter, I’ve often been told I’m at the upper threshold for size in physique.I see no need to make a concerted effort to put on large quantities of mass.
I also compete year round. Therefore, my diet is simply “relaxed” in the off season, which means I allow my body fat to come up to about 8-9 percent. But, I never stray too far from stage condition.
I live on a simple meal plan of lean proteins: ground turkey and tilapia mostly, and then yams, rice and veggies. That includes breakfast! No egg whites and oats; turkey and yam…
Q: What's harder, training for the stage or personally training clients?
A:I actually find it harder to train clients because they continually hold themselves up to the standards, (and results), of me and my peers. That makes it difficult for them to recognize their own progress or celebrate their victories. That, in turn, can make it difficult to keep them positively inspired.
Q:What's your motivational technique consist of?
A:I have a picture of the Olympia Stage as the wallpaper on my phone. I see it constantly. It keeps me ever mindful that everything I do must be part of an effort to move me at least a fraction closer to at stage. Right now, my focus is on qualifying. Once that happens, my focus will turn to becoming the first Olympia Physique Champion.
Q:What other hats do you wear?
A:My big-boy job is General Manager of Personal Training for a 5,000 member facility. I manage a team of 10 trainers that work daily with clients, and I also oversee our kettle bell and TRX group training programs.
Q:Where do you see your career in 5 years?
A:You know, I’m turning 41 this year, and never imagined I would be where I am today. But, I believe that Physique presents me with an opportunity for competitive longevity. Maybe when I grow up, I’ll be coaching or judging or both. Perhaps I’ll be defending my Olympia title… It seems like anything is possible! But, I’m dreamer, so I better stay focused on the tasks at hand.
Q: Good luck. Can you give us your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blog and website handles?
Facebook: IFBB Pro Michael Anderson
Interview done by Elliot Rivera for HealtHaven.com