We Talk With UKBFF Natural Bodybuilder Jason James
Our first contact with Jason was when we saw him compete at the UKBFF competition in Portsmouth, UK. We were impressed with his physique and were surprised to hear that this was his first ever bodybuilding competition so wanted to hear a few thoughts and get a bit more of an insight into his motivations and inspiration to enter the sport.
How long have you been in training in the build up for your first competition?
I’ve been weight training properly for about 8 years now, so already had most the foundation and habits needed to compete. However, what I learnt through competing is how important it is to assess your current physique and to try to create as much symmetry as possible. Before I didn’t really consider things like body proportions, I was just training to grow all muscle groups as much as possible. Through competing though I realized that certain areas needed more priority while others needed only maintenance.
Competing is all about preparation, and I knew for a while that I would like to do a competition. Around 3-4 months before I started my contest prep, I did an honest assessment of myself and changed my training to work on my weaknesses. Fortunately I didn’t have too much of an imbalance going on, although there were areas to improve. In my case genetically my arms are a strong point, while my calves were a weak point. So for those 3-4 months I prioritized my lower leg training by putting calves early in my leg workouts and also increasing both the frequency and volume. I did some more direct forearm, and side deltoid training as one of the keys to a proportional looking physique is to work on anything that makes the waist look smaller. Having wider shoulders, bigger calves and forearms all help in this regard.
So the journey included 8 years of hard training, followed by several months working on weaknesses and then 10 weeks of strict contest preparation dieting. There’s a reason most successful male bodybuilders are in their 30’s and 40’s, it takes a long time to build the foundation and muscle maturity needed to have any chance on stage.
What inspired you to compete?
I always had some interest in bodybuilding, and knew all the famous bodybuilders like Arnold, Ronnie Coleman up to now with Phil Heath. Like most other people though I always thought the idea of putting fake tan on, being oiled up and wearing some some speedo type trunks as ridiculous. It never appealed to me at all. Being a health nut I was put off by all the extreme stories, such as drug use (steroids, stimulants), low testosterone from dieting and dehydration protocols for the final week.
However over the years as I became more knowledgeable, I realised a lot of the extremes were not necessary and that with some basic tweaks to my current fitness lifestyle I could compete without looking out of place.
My first inspiration was realizing that a competition could be done while remaining healthy. My second inspiration was honestly wanting a snapshot of myself in the best possible condition I could be in. I do love a challenge. As well, on that day when I’m looking all shriveled and past my sell by date, I can show my grand kids that I was actually athletic once upon a time (“Back in my day…..”). My last main inspiration was going into the world of personal training. There’s no better way to inspire others than leading by example. I wanted to walk the walk so to speak and to put the years of health and fitness learning and experience to use.
What would be your best piece of nutritional advice?
The best specific piece of nutritional advice would be to prioritize your digestion at all times. Any foods that cause you bloating and other symptoms of poor digestion are not doing you any favors. It doesn’t matter if a food is labelled as a “superfood” or your favorite celebrity swears by it, we’re all different. You have to find foods that work well for you and avoid those that don’t. Any time you feel lethargic or have digestive issues, try to think back over the foods you ate in the last couple of days and see if you notice any patterns.
My overall advice would be to stay open minded and be willing to try out different nutrition strategies without bias. These days there is an “expert” and scientific studies to back up everything, even things that to contradict one another. The reality of why, is because we all have different bodies and needs.
It’s easy to look at a celebrity with a great body who claims that their secret was a low carb diet and then think low carb must be the best way. What works for one person is no guarantee it will work for you. In the example above the best way to test if you do well on low, medium or high carb diets isn’t to read about how it works for others, but instead to try it out yourself. Spend a month low carb / high fat, and then another month at high carb / lower fat and you’ll have all the answers you need in how you feel, look and perform.
How do you deal with the pressures of the build up to competition?
The main pressure I felt for this first competition were all linked to lack of experience and potentially embarrassing myself by looking stupid on stage and out of my depth.
I had no experience of contest prepping and I dealt with these pressures in my own personal way. Firstly by not telling many people about it. This helped to alleviate any external expectations of myself and also meant I could choose to not compete should my contest prep of went wrong. Secondly by doing a lot of research and planning. I created a timeline and planned out all my training, body measurements expectations and nutrition week by week. Then day by day for the final week. I made sure to look at previous competitors photos in my class and look at their statistics such as height and weight. Doing this confirmed that I could actually compete in the class I chose “Classic Bodybuilding”. It’s important to pick the right organisation and class that suits your ideals and goals.
All this planning and research helped immensely and meant that I always knew what was needed well ahead of time.
Contest prepping is not easy if you choose to do it alone like I did, and can be a pretty lonely experience. Yet if you have good fitness knowledge, know your body well, are well organised and willing to do the research, it’s certainly possible.
What are your future plans?
I will very likely compete again, but fitness wise I like to be more well rounded and also maintain other fitness qualities such as having good mobility, endurance and being injury free. I think solely focusing on bodybuilding would make me too one dimensional and not as open to new ideas and experiences. In terms of personal training I would like to build a good reputation and help as many people as possible through one on one personal training and also by sharing information on my website (www.mygainz.co.uk). Health and fitness is a passion of mine and I share this journey on the social networks below:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mygainz
Twitter – https://twitter.com/mygainz
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/coach.jj/
We cannot thank Jason enough for his fantastic input, as well as his honest and very informative answers, we hope it can inspire others to reach out and compete.
We hope to catch up with Jason in the near future to see how he progresses.