Written by Billy DiConcini
09 October 2006


Welcome to Reality, My Brother



If you're reading this, you belong to an elite Brotherhood unlike any other.  To be a member of this squad, you need to live your life by a code. Your goals are just a little bit different than those of your average citizen, because you ain't following the code to be average. For instance, you don't train (notice the use of the term train, as opposed to work out- there is a difference- and if you don't see it, you're not a part of the Brotherhood) simply because the Surgeon General recommends that everybody engage in some form of physical activity for the benefit of their health. Don't come in here with that weak shit. Sure, you'll take them, but the rewards of greater health and vitality are incidental. You go to the gym and unleash the beast within because you want the whole damn thing.

You watch what you eat; tons of protein like chicken, fish, turkey, lean cuts of beef. Hell, you even insist on egg white omelets no matter what restaurant you're sitting in while ignoring the incredulous stare of some waiter/waitress who can't comprehend why on earth anyone would want a 15- egg-white omelet cooked with no butter or grease. You eat unprocessed carbohydrate foods like whole grain breads, oatmeal, rice, potatoes and vegetables. Depending on what cycle you're in, your carbohydrate intake might be ridiculously low, and not because you're "Zoning" it, or on the Atkins Diet. 

Uh-uh brother. It's because you're light years ahead of the general public when it comes to food and how it affects your performance and appearance.  Your fat intake is so paltry that regular people think you're a psycho health nut (except for that rare cheat meal in the off-season- you have to live a little). And because you know that eating is just as important as training, you pack your food with you for the office, the campus, the road, or anywhere else you might go because it's a sin to miss a scheduled meal, of which there are at least four to six per day.

If any of the above describes you, then you are a bona fide member of the Brotherhood. Some may call you dedicated, committed toward fulfilling your goals of physical, mental and spiritual perfection. Or maybe you're just a total jock, a person who lives to express himself through his very physicality. Still others may insist you're a freak with unresolved childhood issues who needs to hide the insecure, vulnerable child within by creating an outer plate of hypertrophied flesh. Whatever! The bottom line is that it's all good. Any endeavor in life is fraught with the good, the bad and the downright ugly. That's life.



Jay Cutler is a different animal from you and I. Chances are 99.999 percent of the readership of this magazine will never reach the summits of physical and mental achievement to which Iron Jay has soared. Think on this: He's a professional bodybuilder. That's akin to being a professional in any other sport. Sure, you play hoops on Saturday with the boys, maybe even in a league, but you're not gonna be shutting down LeBron James anytime soon.  And it's doubtful Barry Bonds has to worry about you shattering his home run record. Yeah, being a professional, much less the second best in your sport- your job- takes something quite special.

As is frequently the case, we still want to know how they did it. How did they manage to become the elite? Was it God given? Was it just meant to be?  And how can I get there? While there's no guarantee that following the path taken by our heroes will insure similar success in our journey, there are valuable lessons to be learned.



            Are you one of those guys who just does things without a lot of deliberate thought? Are you a "fly by the seat of my pants" type, or the studied, "let's plot the best course" type? Either way seems to work in regard to bodybuilding greatness. There are those who just go in, throw the weights around (not literally, of course) and seemingly end up on the Olympia stage before half a decade has passed. Then, there are those who take measured steps to get there. Eventually, you have to know what the hell you're doing. Iron Jay is a perfect example of someone who's a little bit of both.



            In only four short years, the kid who started training at the age of 18 exploded into one of the true mass monsters of the bodybuilding world. Jay had always been one of the strongest kids in school (in fact, his very first time on the bench press, he heaved up 315 pounds). And while not the tallest, he was certainly one of, if not the, widest and thickest bucks around. People were saying he was yoked even at the tender age of 14, and this was just from working in the family concrete business. So, it was in the genes from the beginning. The kid went from a respectable 180 pounds to a whopping 240, in four short years. Although still an amateur, for all intents and purposes, he looked like your typical pro bodybuilder. How'd he do that?

            For starters, he discovered a method of training that suited his physical and mental temperament. This meant high intensity and high volume workouts. A typical Cutler session may total 20 to 25 sets per body part. He also uses drop sets, rest pause sets and the occasional forced reps here and there. Fans of the iron game will recall that he adopted a low volume approach for his 2003 Arnold Classic victory. Although he won, it was not the same Cutler who cemented his spot as the second best bodybuilder on the planet a couple of years earlier with his phenomenal 2001 Olympia package. Resolved to recapture glory, he trusted in his instincts and went back to his former high volume tactics to display a physique complete with monstrous size, hardness, and condition, all traits he has become famous for.



            Like nearly every guy whoever touched a weight, Jay started training at the age of 18 just to "look better." Who wouldn't want a little muscle to look good rolling around town? He wasn't gunning for his pro card and he didn't have fantasies of holding the Sandow trophy in victory. In that first year, he gained 50 pounds. Even though he admits to not having a clue about what he was doing, he did have the common sense to realize that muscles needed fuel to get bigger. So he went on the typical "see-food" diet. He ate anything and everything. He even got a little on the portly side. A year and half later, he was onstage at the Teen Nationals, winning the heavyweight class at a dieted down 215 pounds. First contest, first taste of victory. Doesn't get any sweeter than that. Still, he had no aspirations to secure a pro card. Bodybuilding was just an activity to be enjoyed on the side while going to college to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. The plan was to become a police detective.  



            After his victory, he had the opportunity to train for a month in the holiest of holy places of the bodybuilding universe. For one month, the farm boy from Worcester, Mass., trained in the Mecca of the sport, Gold's Gym in Venice, Calif. He sweated and grunted where virtually all of the legends paid their dues. He wolfed down egg whites at the famed Firehouse Café, a local hot spot that caters specifically to bodybuilders. Bitten by the bug, he returned home hell bent on getting his pro card. Thus the dream was born.

            He immersed himself in the iron game. He experimented with different training methods before settling back on the high-volume approach he knew worked wonders for his genetic disposition. He ate a clean diet, rich in lean protein. He limited his carb choices to rice, yams and rice cakes. He endured 12 meals a day to keep his growing body amply stocked with all the nutrients necessary to build a champion's physique. Discipline was the greatest weapon in his arsenal; it takes enormous will to eat 12 meals a day and train twice a day. His life was training, eating and sleeping, every day- almost.



            Unlike other hopefuls and dreamers, Jay didn't bank the rest of his life or future on bodybuilding alone. At the time he decided to go for his pro card, he also started up a construction business. After all, his family had been in the business all his life. Of course, his bodybuilding star was fast on the rise so that left little time to run a new business.

            He did whatever it took to make it happen. He worked odd jobs as a security guard (who's gonna mess with that!), and on the golf course, among other ventures. Whatever was available was what he did to finance his bodybuilding career, for now it was definitely a career. Someone had to pay for the copious amounts of food required to build a freaky physique. So, instead of taking "easier" routes, he fell back on his upbringing: hard work. He studied for his personal training certificate to make the chedda. He incorporated himself at the age of 22 so he could write off food and traveling expenses. He delved into business and real estate ventures. Here was a bodybuilder who used his brain as much as his biceps. Obviously, the kid who trained because he liked lifting but never thought he'd be a pro, was handling his business (namely, himself) as professionally as any pro in the industry.



No need to go into the rest of the story from here. We all know he won his class at the Nationals for his pro card. He then spent the first years of his pro career out of the money in several contests. But this is the part that needs to be illuminated. When he didn't measure up, he could have floundered and gotten nowhere. Just another kid who didn't have what it took. Not this beast.  This is when the real Jay Cutler surfaced.

When pushed up against the wall, he decided to stand up and fight for what he wanted. He examined everything he'd been doing. He asked judges, respected experts and close friends for advice on what he could do differently.  Most of all, he looked inward and realized that everything he needed was already there. It was just a matter of putting it together for the show. He knew how to train. He knew how to eat. He knew how much cardio he needed to do.  He knew when to start depleting and when to put it back in. He just had to time it all to perfection. The failures of the earlier years were a learning process- and he had learned his lessons. If you don't learn from history, you're doomed to repeat it. This is a valuable characteristic shared by all successful people. 



            Now how can any of this help you achieve your bodybuilding goals?  What's that? You didn't know you had to have any goals? You thought you could just walk into the gym one day and walk out a few months later weighing 275 pounds with 24-inch pythons? Come join us in reality. True, Jay- and many other top professionals- first started with the vague idea of just looking better or putting on a little size. But their bodies responded to the weights like a dry sponge to a puddle of milk on the kitchen floor. Unfortunately for the rest of us, these men constitute less than one percent of the population. So, unless you can say you won the very first contest you entered with only a year or so of training under your belt (and it wasn't Miss Florida State Sunshine Beach), you are not one of the gifted.

            Readers of MD, or any of the other excellent bodybuilding rags out there, have to realize that they cannot gauge their progress by the same yardstick as the Jay Cutlers, the Ronnie Colemans and the Dexter Jacksons of the bodybuilding world. The average Joe, even the above average Joe, doesn't tick like the big boys. Think of yourself as a Timex, good and certainly capable but nothing extraordinary compared to a Rolex like Jay Cutler. So, be happy and proud with an additional three pounds of muscle and a 10-pound drop in fat.  Not content, but proud. You achieved something most people don't have the dedication to complete. Yet, you can still be better.



So what can you take from the pros to make yourself a better bodybuilder? First, if you're realistic, you'll accept the fact that some people are more genetically predisposed to build huge muscles than you; unavoidable fact number one. Second, you'll realize that you can't copy a pro's routine to the letter. You can take the main concepts and themes, such as performance tips, rep ranges, exercises and frequency, and adapt them to suit your own personal levels of performance and recuperative abilities. Very few professionals can adopt Jay's high-intensity, high-volume approach without burning out in a few short weeks. So don't find out the hard way. Tailor it down, way down, to fit your own constitution.



Unless you weigh 315 pounds, and I'm talking a hard 315 pounds, there is no reason you should consume anywhere near the amount of calories that Jay eats. Remember, with all the muscle he carries, his body is a veritable furnace. It's likely he burns more calories sitting and digesting his last meal than most people do going about their regular errands in half a day (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating, but you get the point). Tailor his diet to fit your needs. One gram of protein per pound of lean body mass is as good a place to start as any.



Finally, the one element you should come away with most is the mental aspect of the game. This is what separates the few success stories from the millions of failures. It takes more than just a predisposition to build big muscles to make it to the top of bodybuilding. The one thing that ties together all Jay's training and dieting is discipline. It takes the utmost sacrifice, concentration and will to train twice a day and sometimes do three different one-hour cardio sessions, all in the same day. Can you imagine scheduling and then actually eating 12 meals in that same day? See what I'm getting at?  And there's the posing, tanning, the traveling for guest appearances, photo shoots and interviews. Add to that the business details that need to be handled day in and day out. It's a lot of work and it takes mental as well as physical discipline to get it all done and still be the best in your game.

So, take a page from Jay Cutler's book and go to work, be the top earner in the office. Or get the highest score in the class on test day. And eat all of your scheduled meals (four to six, not 12). Train in the morning before school or work, or do it when you get off. Get your half hour of cardio in after training.  Keep your business and personal appointments. Get a restful night's sleep.  Then get up and do it all over again tomorrow. Just like Jay. That's what you can come away with. Then you'll truly be a member of the Brotherhood.