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👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Tom Ramsay and I am 33 years old, living in Weston-Super-Mare in the South West of England. I work full-time as a technical account manager for an independent software vendor and have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Aberystwyth University in Wales.
I’ve been training with a focus on bodybuilding since 2005 and always had an admiration for those that have built up their bodies.
From Arnold and Stallone to the stars of Gladiators on TV in the 90s. I remember as a child meeting and receiving an autograph from the Gladiator Mark ‘Rhino’ Smith in a leisure centre and being amazed at the size of his arms.
Years later, after seeing an interview with professional bodybuilder Jay Cutler in FHM magazine, I saw a body developed to incredible levels of muscularity and wanted to see what I could achieve.
Having built up from my starting point at 150 lbs., I eventually entered my first bodybuilding competition in 2013 – the UKBFF South Coast in Portsmouth. I didn’t place but found the process rewarding and hugely motivating for the future. Since that day I have competed six more times with class wins in the Heavyweight’s in 2015, 16, and 17.
Team sports were never my thing but I enjoyed pushing myself physically in solo efforts, whether running up the hill where I lived, or trying to do as many push-ups as possible.
Bodybuilding is as individual as it gets and I thrive in working this way, knowing the power to improve and achieve my goals is all in my own hands.
The sense of accomplishment from a good training session is difficult to match and it is the heart of bodybuilding for me.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
My approach to training is to use very high intensity, with a generally low volume of sets. I like to train four or five days a week with sessions taking between 40 minutes and two hours, depending on the body part. Legs workout take a lot longer to build up to my heaviest sets.
My current training split is back to a simple body part split with lower frequency:
- Monday: Chest and calves
- Tuesday: Back
- Wednesday: OFF
- Thursday: Arms and abs
- Friday: Shoulders and calves
- Saturday: Legs
- Sunday: OFF
This is working well and is enjoyable for me now. I have previously used DC, Fortitude and Mountain Dog training programs for extended periods and have seen excellent results.
In the off-season, I try to get as strong as possible while maintaining correct form to ensure I’m working the intended target muscles and avoiding injury. I’ve logged my workouts for most of my training life and strongly believe in doing so.
Pre-contest training is the same and I aim to increase my strength and generally manage to do so until the final weeks of dieting where it’s just not possible but we try to maintain performance where we can.
I have had a training partners in the past but train alone these days as this works best for me with my varied schedule and specific workout structure.
I’ll generally use a pre-workout supplement only before leg training as this is my current focus. I like the Shadow-X pre-workout from Cobra Labs.
As for post-workout, I’ll have a shake with Yummy Sport Whey Protein and Bulk Powders Waxy Maize Starch (high molecular weight carbohydrate).
My gym bag has a lifting belt, liquid chalk, wrist wraps, wrist straps, knee sleeves and wraps, and a liniment bottle of “Kwan Loong oil” to apply where some pain relief is needed. I also carry a steel weight pin so I can add extra weight to machines that use a weight stack.
I opt for low intensity cardio and like to go for walks around my house or workplace. The amount of cardio increases during contest prep and I’m usually doing two hours a day by the end.
My favourite exercises are barbell squats, incline barbell bench press, cable lat pulldown and the hammer shoulder press machine.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
Having goals is the key to keep on track and to get through those days when motivation is lower. During the off-season, think about the muscle you want to add and visualize breaking records in the gym, then when dieting down think about how much leaner and more impressive your physique will look after a week of perfect training and diet.
Goals will make training for years on end enjoyable, you could aim for a two-plate bench press, then go for three plates, and so on.
It’s also wise to use a training style that suits you, whether that is higher in volume and frequency, more free-weights based, and if you vary exercises week to week. If you give it a good run and put in the required effort and intensity, you will see results.
Except for leg workouts, my sessions typically take around an hour so don’t take much time from my day.
The biggest challenge for me has been a patella tendinopathy injury affecting my right knee. It’s been a very long-lasting and stubborn-injury, and really hampered my leg training and size of my quadriceps.
I have made adjustments in the gym, slowing down the eccentric portions of lifts and avoiding painful exercises to strengthen the tendon and my legs are catching up now and I’m as determined as ever to build my legs to their all-time best.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My training is going well now with my off-season well under way and a good level of strength in the gym. I’m lifting as much as ever but with even better execution – slower eccentrics and mind-muscle connection.
I see a general trend that bodybuilders hit their peak from 35 to 40. My intention is to achieve my all time best in the next five years and earn an elusive IFBB Pro card in bodybuilding.
To do this I need more muscle, especially on my chest, back, and quadriceps. This will be achieved through serious and methodical off-seasons.
Outside of bodybuilding, I want to continue to develop my career in software, becoming more skilled in account management and presenting and immersing myself in new technologies.
If I could change anything in my fitness journey, I would have stuck to the basics of diet and training and put less emphasis on some of the less important supplements. This includes more attention to either bulking up or cutting down, rather than spinning my wheels.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
You must be very in tune with your own body and have an idea of what is possible and what is overly risky. I can push myself but know that risking injury is not worth it! Live to train another day.
Use slow eccentrics and control the weight and you have a much better chance of avoiding a tear.
I also have a good idea when to deload or take extra rest days.
A general feeling of excessive fatigue and sometimes widespread joint pain is a good sign. I soon feel much better and typically hit all time best lifts after these back off periods.
I usually get seven to eight hours of sleep, more at weekends. I’ll try and nap if I haven’t got as much sleep overnight. Everything hurts when I don’t get enough sleep! Getting enough quality sleep is essential.
I have regular chiropractic treatments, which aid which provide relief to whatever I’m having problems with and helps with my flexibility.
Stretching after workouts is part of my routine and helps in avoiding overly tight muscles that tend to become an issue.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
My current off-season diet is high protein with moderate carbohydrates and moderate fats. I eat set meals and don’t religiously track calories or macros during the off-season.
When it comes to pre-competition, I keep the protein high and reduce the other macros, typically following a cyclical diet, alternating between higher fats and carbs.
Near the competition, I will usually eliminate direct sources of carbs and stick with protein and vegetables or protein, fats, and veg.
For social occasions in the off season, I will eat what is served and make sure I get adequate protein, but for pre-comp I will bring my own food or just avoid eating while I’m there – everything needs to be perfect for me during my contest preparation.
The supplements I use are:
- Whey protein (I like Bulk Powders and Yummy Sports brands)
- Metamucil (fibre supplement)
- Omega 3 capsules (any reputable brand)
- Evening primrose oil capsules
- Vitamin D3 – 5000 IU daily
- Multi vitamin and mineral – V-Mineralyze from Species Nutrition is excellent
- Zipvit Glucosamine Sulphate
- Lindens MSM
- Pre-workouts – on occasion before a tough session (e.g. Cobra Labs Shadow-X)
Species Nutrition from Dave Palumbo do great products and I like that they don’t use proprietary blends, so you know exactly what you are getting. Another great brand with a huge range is Swanson.
I take these supplements with meals and away from the fibre supplement as that may block absorption of all the other supplements.
I’ll typically have a cheat meal each Saturday night giving me a chance to go out to a restaurant or order a take-away and have what I’ve been craving.
I make sure to get enough protein and enjoy pasta meals, paella, sushi and a good burger. Cheat meals will be more carefully controlled during pre-competition and will get cut a few weeks out.
If I’m struck with cravings and hunger when dieting down, I like to drink black coffee or diet sodas such as Pepsi Max or Coke Zero. Otherwise getting on with something to take my mind off it can help.
Supplements Mentioned by TomBulkpowders and Cobra Labs
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
I draw inspiration from those whose passion and love for bodybuilding is obvious. These include the well-known industry figures James Hollingshead and Jordan Peters, who have transformed their physiques through incredible efforts, but make time to help others along the way and share their enthusiasm.
A book that has inspired is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, where the hero is fiercely independent, principled and dedicated to his work.
I also love to watch and listen to Jordan Peterson. His message of personal responsibility and the importance of finding meaning in life really resonates and goes against what seems to be quite a nihilistic culture.
I enjoy the bodybuilding motivational compilation videos from ‘ZhasniMotivation’. Watch his video BODYBUILDING – Day IN Day OUT and I bet you’ll be fired up!
In the gym I get a mental boost listening to music from Trivium, Soilwork, Amorhpis, Avenged Sevenfold and Sinnergod.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
To those who are starting out, it’s vital to learn the basics with training and nutrition. Follow a basic training program and learn over time how to exert yourself, but importantly, learn the correct technique for each exercise.
Get somebody to work with you on this, even if you need to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions. Look at food labels and begin to understand the quantities of macronutrients in the foods you eat and what would be required to increase or decrease each of these in your diet.
For more experienced bodybuilders, take recovery seriously! Look at your sleep quality and if you are getting enough rest.
Look at your entire approach and results so far and look what could be improved. For example, if you have a weak chest, change your training, perhaps starting with a flye movement in your chest training.
Try to change a single variable at one time, for example adding a phosphatidic acid supplement so that you can more effectively determine if it has helped you. The ‘kitchen sink’ approach will lighten your wallet more than anything!
I’ve seen some horrific form used on squats and deadlifts, lower back in jeopardy through every rep. The wear and tear of training can be enough without asking for an injury like this! You must take the risks seriously!
On the other side of the coin, I’ve seen people go through workouts with impeccable form but a complete lack of effort and intensity.
These ideas and the methodical approach to a goal can absolutely be applied to life outside of the gym. Be consistent and find those areas to improve to make progress in your career and personal development.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
I’m taking on clients, male or female, for online physique coaching. It’s something I really enjoy and put lots of effort into each client to help them meet their goals, whether in competition or just to keep healthy.
I make myself highly available for contact with any questions and I’m happy to provide advice on any topic.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
💬 Tom Ramsay quotes
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