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Bodybuilding

Meet the Black Bodybuilding Crew Crushing #BodyGoals

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One of my favorite classes in college was weight training. All we did was workout and crack jokes. This class taught me how much hard work and dedication actual bodybuilding requires.

Now, whenever I need workout advice or tips, I hit up my man, Mo. He stays in the gym and knows his stuff when it comes to bodybuilding, nutrition etc.

I asked him and his workout crew some questions about their lifestyle. This is what they had to say.

Mo Williams (NPC National Qualified Physique)

SB: What inspired you to start bodybuilding?

Mo: I have always been an athlete and played sports all through out my youth. I also didn’t have the greatest home environment as a kid. So I not only trained for the sports I was playing, I trained to finally be able to stand up and protect myself. What I didn’t know is that I would fall in love with seeing my body transform. I used to read articles on websites like Skinny2Fit to find recipes and tips to help me get the most out of my workout.

I continued working out just for fun and to build my stature. Last year a couple of friends suggested that I step on stage and compete, so I spent about five months preparing for my first show and won overall.

SB: What’s your profession outside of bodybuilding?

M0: I work for the federal government. I am a Country Development Officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

SB: Do you have a nutrition plan? What do you eat and how often?

Mo: I an currently on a 1900-2000k cal diet as I get ready for my show in June. I am on a high protein and vegetable diet with limited carbs.

Bodybuilding

SB: How many days do you train? Describe your workout plan.

Mo: I train six days a week twice a day. I do cardio in the morning, with some abdominal work and lift weights in the evening

SB: What you do to relax when you are not working out?

Mo: I love watching movies, spending time with my family and I am also taking acting classes

SB: How does contest prep and bodybuilding affect your personal life?

Mo: Bodybuilding is a very selfish sport. In order to get stage ready you end up standing on the shoulders of a lot of people, from the coach that trains you, to the nutritionist that does your meal plans. Life during prep is very isolating and a lot of times your friends and family do not understand why you can’t go out to eat, drink or party with them.

SB: What are your keys to success in bodybuilding?

Mo: Your success depends on two things. How determined you are and your work ethic. My mentality in this game is to win and I always say that if you want to beat me, “you will have to die on the stairmaster”. Also, do not let anyone out work you. More than anything else in the sport of bodybuilding, you have to be distraction free and keep all negativity afar.

SB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin their bodybuilding journey tomorrow?

Mo: Bodybuilding is not for everyone, think long and hard before getting into this sport. Make sure you have a good support system and also know your body.

Cassandra Murphy (NPC Bikini Competitor)

SB: What motivated you to start bodybuilding?

Cassandra: Growing up I have always been active, from doing ballet, gymnastics, and running a half marathon. However bodybuilding did not come along until about a year ago. I worked with a young lady who was preparing for a bodybuilding show and I became curious about the process. I noticed she ate almost every two to three hours, and went to the gym daily.

I had questions, lots of questions. That’s when I decided to have a talk with my coworker to find out how this whole bodybuilding thing works. I remember thinking to myself “I want to do a show, but I don’t want to look like a man with too many muscles”. So I decided to do bikini and it was history from there. I set a goal, found a show date, and my life would never be the same.

SB: What’s your profession outside of bodybuilding?

Cassandra: I am a surgical assistant and a pharmacy student.

SB: Do you have a nutrition plan? What do you eat and how often?

Cassandra: When I am on prep I follow a strict nutrition plan that enables me to build muscle and retain it for my show. During my off season I still incorporate a clean diet however, I indulge in pizza and sweets every so often. I typically eat around six or seven meals a day when I am on prep.

I am pescartarian so fish is my main source of protein aside from protein shakes. The meals I eat during prep are pretty basic. The usual suspects are 4-6oz of fish, brown rice, sweet potato, green vegetables, eggs(lots of eggs), and peanut butter. During off season I cut my meals down to 4-5 meals a day and allow myself to have a cheat meal twice a week.

SB: How many days do you train? Describe your workout plan.

Cassandra: I actually enjoy working out so I am in the gym six days a week sometimes seven if I am getting ready for a show. I have found that it’s best to split up your workouts by body parts. For example when I train on legs (which by the way I train three days a week) one day I would focus on glutes and hamstrings, while another day I would focus on quads, inner thighs, and hamstrings.

I always have a day dedicated to working on my glutes, as that is my problem area. When I work on my upper body I will dedicate a day for just biceps and triceps, and another for back and shoulders. I also do core every night before bed and 30 minutes of cardio 3-5 days a week depending if I am on prep or not..

SB: What you do to relax when you are not working out?

Cassandra: When I am not working out I listen to music and dance. I find music to be very calming. I also go for walks to enjoy some fresh air.

SB: How does contest prep and bodybuilding affect your personal life?

Cassandra: Contest prep takes a lot of time and dedication. I remember when I did my first contest prep I hardly ever made time for my personal life as I was always in the gym or at work or school. It can be tough at times because all you think about is how well you want to do at your show, so the gym becomes your second home and can easily consume you. I hardly had time for my friends, but I made new friends in the gym (other competitors) as they understood the sacrifice I was making to be the best.

SB: What are your keys to success in bodybuilding?

Cassandra: To be successful in bodybuilding the first thing is to have a strong mindset, and a can do attitude. Without the will to tackle any obstacle it could become difficult to reach your full potential. I think it is important to be consistent, positive and surround yourself with likeminded individuals. You have to be willing to go the extra mile which means really pushing yourself in the gym and sticking to your meal plan.

Cassandra (center)

SB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin their bodybuilding journey tomorrow?

Cassandra: My advice would be to trust the process and just go for it. For me to even say that is kind of crazy because that is all my coach used to tell me during my first prep ,and all I did was stress out. Starting off can be frustrating at times and trust me I was frustrated in the beginning, but I had support from my coach and other team members which helped tremendously.

The next piece of advice would be to find a show date (pick a date that gives you enough time for contest prep, and stick to it) get a coach, and leave the rest up to all the hard work you put in at the gym and your diet. Bodybuilding is as fun and exciting if you want it to be! Once you put your mind to it your body will make the connection and the results will speak for themselves.

Koko Korang (NPC National Qualified Figure Competitor)

SB: What motivated you to start bodybuilding?

Koko: I’ve always been athletic growing up from dance since I was eight years old, to playing AAU Basketball, running track in high school, college and on the US Army competitive track team. Bodybuilding was another competitive outlet for me especially after my last knee surgery. I just needed to find an outlet that would keep me healthy and fit mentally as well as physically.

SB: What’s your profession outside of bodybuilding?

Koko: I am a contracted Staff Accountant for private sectors and a full time personal trainer and nutrition lifestyle coach.

SB: Do you have a nutrition plan? What do you eat and how often?

Koko: Currently I am in competition season, so I do have a strict nutrition plan. Every bodybuilder will tell you that, once competition season comes around, bodybuilding meals are essential to improving performance. I eat 6-8 times a day depending on my workday. My meals consist of lean protein (fish, chicken, turkey) a lot of dark leafy greens and complex carbs (sweet potato, brown rice, oatmeal) and my water intake is at least a gallon a day.

SB: How many days do you train? Describe your workout plan.

Koko: I train twice a day, 6 days a week. I normally start out with either Fasted Cardio or HIIT Training in the morning usually lasting about 30-45 minutes. Steady state cardiovascular exercise, i.e Stepmill, Cycling Bike, or Treadmill on an incline or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) with plyometric exercises, which is jump training with repetition exercises done in a short interval time period.

In the evening i do strength training mainly utilizing compound sets(working the same muscle group with different exercises back to back in circuits) or supersets (working 2 different muscle groups back to back in circuits), it varies per day.

SB: What you do to relax when you are not working out?

Koko: I love being a homebody for the day, my idea of a relaxed day is a Sunday after church in my pajamas watching movies eating popcorn. I know sounds boring. However if i’m traveling, a nice relaxed sound day at the beach with a nice book or writing in my journal is ideal as well. It’s the simple things.

SB: How does contest prep and bodybuilding affect your personal life?

Koko: This lifestyle has definitely affected my personal life but for the good I believe. Focusing on my health and making the necessary changes in my lifestyle has made me embrace my growth in self. Discipline to be better not just physically but mentally has really made me re-evaluate past relationships and bad auras; I made the choice to finally get rid of negative vibes in my life.

I’ve lost some friendships and gained new ones for the better in my opinion. There’s a stigma that all competitors in this lifestyle date or communicate with only other competitors; I don’t believe this is all the way true. Prep season can only be isolating if you surround yourself with folks who don’t support or not willing to understand your reasoning for this lifestyle.

Koko (bottom)

SB: What are your keys to success in bodybuilding?

Koko: Keys to success in bodybuilding in my opinion is drive and dedication to yourself and to the sport, the willingness to get up every morning to workout or sacrifice that extra hour in your long workday to workout no matter what. Trust in the process, changes come in variations so patience is a virtue; even the smallest change counts.

Support from your loved ones, sometimes that extra push is necessary, i’ve realized you can’t do everything on your own. Commitment to the journey, if you cheat skipping meals, skipping workouts you’re only cheating yourself. Last but not least confidence in self, if you don’t believe in yourself no one will so it starts within.

SB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin their bodybuilding journey tomorrow?

Koko: Do this for you and no one else!!! Remember your reasoning for starting your journey and let that be your constant drive. Opinions will be made, criticisms will always be given but don’t let that sway you to give up. Be true to self and be your own motivation. If you are struggling to start out then look into ways to feed up your bodybuilding process. Things like the right diet and sarms is a great base to start at. There are lots of main benefits of using sarms.

Jessica Marie Poole (NPC National Qualified Figure Competitor)

SB: What motivated you to start bodybuilding?

Jessica: After being a former track and field athlete, I was looking for another challenge and another way to stay in shape. I saw pictures and videos of athletes like IFBB Figure Pro Alicia Harris and Candice Carter and thought it was something I could achieve.

SB: What’s your profession outside of bodybuilding?

Jessica: Budget Analyst for the Government

SB: Do you have a nutrition plan? What do you eat and how often?

Jessica: Yes, I eat about 5-7 meals a day depending on my goals

SB: How many days do you train? Describe your workout plan.

Jessica: I train 5-6 days a week, twice a day. I incorporate split training and work each muscle group at least twice a week.

SB: What you do to relax when you are not working out?

Jessica: I like to read, drink wine, hang out with my girlfriends and spend time with family.

SB: How does contest prep and bodybuilding affect your personal life?

Jessica: Prepping for a show takes a lot of dedication, focus, and sacrifice. My goal is win, so I take my time and pride in building a package that I am proud of.

SB: What are your keys to success in bodybuilding?

Jessica: Be patient with yourself, don’t half-step, eliminate any distractions, and always remember your why.

SB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin their bodybuilding journey tomorrow?

Jessica: Find a good/knowledgeable coach. Don’t be in a rush to do a show but actually do one when you’re ready. Learn your body. Be the best you can be. Enjoy the journey.

Marques Speights (NPC National Qualified Bodybuilding Competitor)


SB: What motivated you to start bodybuilding?

Marques: I have always been impressed by the physiques I saw while growing up amd I wanted to create my version of that.

SB: What’s your profession outside of bodybuilding?

Marques: I am a Master Personal Trainer and also run my own personal training business under the moniker of SP8FITNESS in Maryland

SB: Do you have a nutrition plan? What do you eat and how often?

Marques: I’m currently in off-season and in the bulking so I eat 7-8 times a day. But, during the season and in prep I eat 5-6 times a day.

SB: How many days do you train? Describe your workout plan.

Marques: I train 3 days a week in the offseason and workout for about 2 hours

SB: What you do to relax when you are not working out?

Marques:I love going to the movies, bowling, and spending time with my daughter and family.

Marques (center)

SB: How does contest prep and bodybuilding affect your personal life?

Marques: It takes a lot of time away from your family and friends but it’s the lofe I have chosen to lean and the life for me

SB: What are your keys to success in bodybuilding?

Marques: Believing in yourself and being surrounded around only positive people period!

SB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin their bodybuilding journey tomorrow?

Marques: Just give it your all and give it 100% and have fun with it and learn as much as possible throughout your journey!

Photo Credit: Fareed Stephens

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson

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