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👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hello, I’m Mario and 36 years old. I’m a Belgian Natural bodybuilder. I work as a store manager and I have two sons (eight and 11 years old).
When I was around 12 years old, I started training with my first sets of dumbbells. I started to do pushups and ab crunches at home. My father was a gymnast when he was young so he gave me some advice on what kind of bodyweight exercises I could do. So I had a vision in mind that a man should be strong.
When I was young in the end ’80s begin ’90s, the action heroes where Jean Claude van Damme (the muscles from Brussels :-)), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and all these guys were muscular. I guess this inspired me to do the same and not be a weak kid. Because when I was little I was often sick and I did not want to soft anymore so I started to do exercises like mentioned above.
When I was studying for my bachelor degree (19-21 years old), I started working in a gym called, “the Basement”, I helped people with their training and because now I got access to all this training equipment, I really made “massive gains” and went for 80 kg to 98 kg in a couple of years time. But of course the wasn’t all muscles, also because I trained as a natural athlete (so no use of illegal supplement).
After my studies, I kept training when I started working. And in 2013, I did my first show and I took second place in the Classic Bodybuilding Class. And then I kept competing in Nationals Show and Internationals shows, and the rest is history. 🙂
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
I’m training almost every day, most of the time Monday to Sunday. I’m saying most of the time because sometimes I’m a bit flexible when I’m on my holidays or out of the country, but never inactive for sure.
So I prefer to workout in the morning (around 8 a.m.) before work so I’m fresh and I really feel energetic after my shower at the gym and I’m ready for a full day of work.
Also, use intermittent fasting (off-season or competition prep) so I work out in the morning (between 8-9 a.m.) and will have my first meal around 1 p.m.
I find intermittent fasting that works well for me. For me it’s sustainable and very good manageable. I like to train fasted because I’m really focused and can train very intense. It also allows me to keep my calorie intake in control.
- Push workout : Chest-Shoulders-Triceps
- Leg workout: Legs: Quads- hamstrings
- Pull workout Back-Biceps
And then I repeat the cycle again.
I take a rest day when I feel my body needs it so I do not overtrain or get injured.
As for cardio, I implement when I feel I need it. Also, in the off-season, I like to do cardio two to three times a week from 15-30 minutes depending on what my goals are.
Most of the time in the mornings, I train alone but I also have some friends, which I like to train with and they like to ask me advance about training and nutrition.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
Me, personally I love to train, I think it’s like a “healthy addiction”. I like to push myself and others to go all the way with training, make it heavy, high reps, high volume and pushing eachother to the limits.
Like Arnold says:” Stay hungry, and never give up.”
So I think that you need to be your own motivation, you need to try to make a better version of yourself in the gym and out of the gym.
Sometimes gym is just therapy, it can help your mind clear up and feel better. Training is also a mental sport as it is physical.
My biggest challenge was in 2013 when I was prepping my first show, my dad got diagnosed with cancer, and had chemo treatment. I visited my dad almost daily and he always asked about how I was doing and how my preparation was going although he was severely ill. My dad passed away one week before my contest and I really doubted to do the show.
But I thought about what my dad would say and want. He wanted me to do the show, so I did… This was one of the heaviest days in my life. I remember going on stage and felt like my dad was with me that day, I think he would have been proud.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My training is going really well, making strength gains and building muscle again after my contest of end last year.
So this year in September, I’m planning to do a photoshoot and maybe to compete again at the Belgian Championships in October.
But I’m also focusing on starting my own business. I would like to start my own gym in the area where I live. I really want to motivate people to have a healthy life and I want to help them reach their fitness goals.
I want to show people that it’s possible to build the physique you want if you just put some time into it and do it right. And that is possible to become muscular without using any enhancing drugs. That’s also the reason I do not use any illegal supplements, I want “to build a body for life”, I still want to be healthy and having a good physique when I’m 60, 70 or even 80 years old.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging people who do use some kind of enhancing supplements. Everybody needs to do what they want to do. But I personally prefer the natural approach for the longevity.
So I want to create my own gym and movement “Iron buddies” (insta @ironbuddies_eu) to educate people about proper training and nutrition. So I’m really curious how this will evolve in the future.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I’m happy to say that I do not really had any major injuries because I try to warm up properly and use controlled movements.
I also listen to my body when it needs rest, I will implement an extra rest day and I try to go for deep tissue massages once month so this also helps recovery and can prevent injuries or blocked muscles.
I try to sleep between six to eight hours to recover physically and mentally.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
So like I mentioned before, I use intermittent fasting to reach my goals.
For me, I like to drink water and black coffee in the morning until 1 p.m.
It helps me to keep full and when I fast I really feel focused and energetic in the gym and at work!
So I track my calories in a fitness app (lLifesume), so I can focus on my macros (Protein, Carbs, Fats). In the off-season, I specially focus on getting my proteins in.
I also try to eat clean but I’m a believer in keeping it “flexible” so you can also enjoy less “healthy” foods on parties or birthdays with my kids or going out for dinner with friends and other social events. It’s important to have a good balance in life, sports, family and friends.
I also try to stay in a decent shape in the off-season. I’m 1.82m and on contest my weight is around 80-82kgs, my off-season weight will be max 90 kg. This also me to not have a hard cutting phase when prepping for a show.
It allows you to maintain enough muscles when cutting down for sure when you are a natural athlete, the less aggressive the cut is, the better.
The supplements I take are rather limited and basic like I use whey protein (Isolate) and/or egg protein powder and ZMA before sleep. Sometimes in winter some multivitamins to promote my immune system better but that’s about it.
BCAA can be added when in a caloric deficit (mostly contest prep).
If I want to have a cheat day, I can have but I prefer just to have one cheat meal then putting so much calories in at one day that you almost get sick.
And If I want to drink a beer or wine in the evening I will, only when I’m preparing for a contest I don’t have this flexibility and will leave these drinks out.
But again it’s all about balance in life.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
I think when it comes to inspiration, I must say, Arnold Schwarzenegger, I know it will sound cliché. But he was just successful in so many aspects of life. He was successful in bodybuilding, business, movies, politics.
So I think we can all look up to successful people with the right mindset and attitude, not only in bodybuilding/fitness but also in life, business…
Arnold was also very strong in branding his name, everybody still knows him even though he is 70 plus and he still is promoting things and himself everywhere he can. You can only admire that in a person.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
For people who are just starting to train, it’s important to start step by step. So start working out only three times a week and then increase if you can. And it’s always interesting to have somebody who is experienced with training and nutrition so they can get you started.
The problem often is that people do too much at once like they would start working out five days a week and want to eat clean for day number one.
But then often they stop because it’s just too much and they quit before they even got started. So start at the beginning and build up accordingly.
One of the things that can be annoying is there is too much information out there on the Internet and so many so-called “influencers”, that people don’t know which training or what kind of diet to do. So people need guidance to find the best to reach their fitness goals.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
At the moment, I’m still trying to start up my business and gym so I hope soon I can realise my dream and will can help people to reach their goals in a healthy and natural way!