Flexing for Physique Supremacy
How Leading ALLMAX Men’s Physique Athlete Michael Anderson Prepares for Olympia Gold.
At age 43, IFBB Men’s Physique pro Michael Anderson will be at least a decade older than most of his Olympia peers come September 19, 2015: judgment day for the world’s best men’s physique athletes. A former multiple high school track-and-field state champion and collegiate athlete, Anderson did not begin serious weight training until his 33rd year, and more as a means to attract dates than to dial down for physique competition.
But for the late starter, age clearly has had no bearing on competitive success, as his impressive pro resume reflects (five wins and multiple top three placements since turning professional at the 2012 NPC Teen Collegiate Masters Nationals). Among Anderson’s greatest accomplishments are his two consecutive top-ten Olympia finishes (seventh in 2013 and eighth in 2014). This year he expects to continue his impressive run.
All going well, he will win his first Olympia title.
Since first competing – at the 2011 NPC Natural Northern USA Championships, at age 39 – Anderson has further refined his training and nutrition to become the perfect embodiment of what a physique athlete should look like. Ultra-wide shoulders tapering down to an impossibly narrow waist,
full round muscle bellies seldom seen in physique competition and which can only be procured through the genetic luck-of-the-draw,
all gloriously revealed with unsurpassed conditioning makes the 6’2”, 195lb Anderson a definite front-runner going into this year’s Olympia. Indeed, at an age where most physique competitors have long since hung up their board-shorts and reverted to a bodyfat percentage of 10%-plus, Anderson is just getting started.
Following his departure from track and field as a teen, Anderson did not compete, in any capacity, for 20 years. After battling the bottle in the ensuing years – achieving sobriety on January 23, 2006 – the trained journalist – having graduated Summa Cum Laude from the School of Journalism in 1994 – again decided to test his natural athleticism.
In the newly established Men’s Physique division he found a welcoming home. Within a year of hard training and following a second place-finish in his pro debut at the IFBB Valenti Gold Cup, the affable personal trainer contested the first-ever IFBB Olympia Men’s Physique event in 2013.
Of 16 ripped-and-ready athletes, Anderson took seventh, beating respected competitor Steve Cook among other top pros and cementing his place among the best physique athletes on the planet.
An ALLMAX Nutrition athlete, Anderson credits dietary diligence and targeted supplementation for helping him to maintain top shape year-round. To ensure his hard-won muscularity is consistently on full display in each of his events – he competed seven times in 2014 and will have challenged his pro peers in seven events after this year’s Olympia –
- Daily: completes both cardio and intensive weight sessions
- Monday: chest and abs
- Tuesday: back
- Wednesday: shoulders and abs
- Thursday: chest workout
- Friday: arms and abs
- Saturday: shoulder workout
- Sunday: legs
A believer in hitting each muscle group from a variety of angles, the volume trainer has as complete a physique as can be found on any pro stage, a physique that he expects will place him firmly within the top tier of the pro Men’s Physique division at the 2015 Olympia.
Q: In placing eighth in the Men’s Physique class at the 2014 Olympia you established yourself as a contender going into this year’s event and maintained your position as one of the world’s best physique athletes. Where do you think you will place come September 19, 2015, and why?
There are so many amazingly talented athletes in this division that I can’t begin to predict where the judges will rank me. Having finished top 10 in both Olympia Showdowns and the Arnold Physique Classic, I would expect to continue to perform at that elite level. All I can do is put my best physique on stage and see where the chips fall.
Anderson placed eighth at the 2015 Arnold Physique Classic.
Q: This year’s Olympia will mark your third run at the title. What do you enjoy most about competing on the world’s biggest Physique stage?
I often tell my personal training clients that they are never required to look their age. I thrive on not only being the only MP Olympia competitor over the age of 40, but also representing the Masters athletes as a repeat automatic qualifier competing on the world’s biggest stage in a division that is getting younger and younger with each new class of professionals.
Q: How will your 2015 Olympia-ready physique differ from the one that made the top ten in both 2014 and 2013?
As a whole, professional men’s physique is moving closer and closer to what used to be classic bodybuilding: much bigger, fuller, rounded and drier. So, I’ve been working to move in that direction as well. I’ll actually step on stage with about 12-13lbs more muscle than in 2013. However, there’s a fine line between ideal physique and bodybuilding conditioning that I don’t want to cross. But, I’m certainly going to walk that line like a tight rope!
Q: You have a background in track and field. How has your early athleticism assisted you – mentally and physically – when training for physique competition?
As with any sport, being a Physique competitor forces me to push myself to do just a little more than even “extreme” exercisers. But, competing in the Olympia requires me to channel my deepest inner strength and refuse to submit to fatigue, fear and self-doubt. I have to visualize the reward for unwavering discipline and make it the force that drives me to do what others won’t.
Q: How do you specifically increase your competitive drive to ensure you present yourself as the winner come show time?
There is no doubt in my mind that I am blessed to have relished the success that I’ve had in competing in something that brings me so much personal joy. And, I know that we all have only a limited time to take advantage of this opportunity. So, I approach every show as though it could be my last, and ask myself, “How do I want to be remembered?” It’s all about casting your legacy.
Q: What motivates you to compete?
I’m an athlete at heart. If I’m good at something, I want to know if I’m better than you at it. There’s only one way to find out, right?
Q: What has been your training strategy in the lead up to this year’s Olympia?
Patience and persistence have been the mantras for this prep. I’m always in a hurry to get stage-ready as soon as possible. This trip, we’re timing everything to peak at 10am Saturday, September 19. Not a day, hour or minute sooner.
Q: How does this strategy differ, if at all, from your previous preparation periods?
In the past, I’ve been quick to shed extra pounds to get a better sense of my actual muscular structure and reveal the results of my off-season training. That strategy, however, often forces me into an extended maintenance period, which can be exhausting and risky.
Q: Describe your training style?
People may laugh at me, but I train with my eye on the mirror. I compete in a sport of aesthetics, and so I tailor my program to elicit specific visual results not only for size, but for balance, shape and taper. I don’t need to be the strongest guy in the gym. I just need to look like it!
Q: How have you monitored your progress to achieve your best shape in the lead-up to this year’s Olympia?
I find it impossible to evaluate my progress by only looking in the mirror. Pictures have been the best tool for me to compare, evaluate and make changes to my physique. Of course, I have my coach Kim Oddo to keep me on track.
Q: How have you planned your nutrition in preparation for the 2015 Olympia? What changes, if any, have you made this time around, and why?
Again, I have relied on coach Oddo to tailor my nutrition program to bring out the best in my physique. He knows my body as well as I do, and over the years, we’ve learned how to draw specific results from my body with the simplest nutrition modifications. But, the reality is, we’ve kept everything very simple and straight forward… no real changes.
Q: How will you alter your training and nutrition the final week before this year’s Olympia?
Truth is, we never know what we’re going to do the week of a show until we see where my body is and how it’s been changing over the days prior. No two peak weeks are ever the same. It’s really a matter of bringing out the best at that specific moment.
Q: You began your physique career later than most physique athletes. Has becoming a physique athlete later in life been to your advantage?
Actually, I find my late start to be a bit of a disadvantage. Physically, I’m at a point in my life where it’s much more difficult to maintain muscle mass, particularly since we naturally start shedding about one percent of our muscle every year after age 30 or so. My muscle may be more mature, which is a benefit, but it’s more difficult for me to add new mass, unlike my younger contemporaries.
Q: Do you train and/or diet differently due to your age?
I think every competitor is unique not only genetically, but also in their environment and how outside influences affect their contest preparation. So, while my age may have an impact on how my body responds to training and dieting, I think that there are a number of other factors in my life that are unique to me and would lead me to prep differently than my competitors.
Q: What supplements do you take to prepare for your events, and which do you use to build muscle in the off-season?
My prep versus off-season supplementation doesn’t vary drastically, and the list is long, but here are the stars:
Q: Describe the importance of supplementation when aiming to build mass and maintain low body fat levels?
The reality is, even the most effective diet can’t provide me with all of the nutrients my body needs to make lean gains. One reason is it’s next to impossible for me to serve two masters, meaning I can’t get in everything I need to grow muscle without exceeding my caloric allowance to stay lean. Supplements provide those nutrients without the associated extra calories and additives. And, because my supplements are pharmaceutical grade, I know that I’m employing scientifically designed products that are tailored specifically to my goals and needs.
Q: Who would you like to thank for helping you to become one of the world’s best physique competitors?
I’m nothing without God in my life, and I have always had the love and support of my friends and family.
But, I owe the success of this journey to my sponsor, ALLMAX Nutrition and my coach, Kim Oddo (Body By O).
No matter how hard I work, that effort is in vain without the support of the best supplements on the planet. And, it doesn’t matter how hard I’m willing to work if I’m going in the wrong direction. Thank you ALLMAX for giving me the building blocks to construct a winning physique, and thank you Coach Oddo for giving me the blueprint!