Interview: Joey Decaminada and Body Fortress Take on the IFBB
All it took was one exercise bench.
“I remember exactly what model it was – a DP Gympac 2000. One of the simple ones, just mounted to the wall with a weight stack, bench, and cables. It changed everything for me.”
From then on, Joey Decaminada was hooked on bodybuilding.
Growing up in blue-collar central Ohio, he had long admired the burly, chiseled physiques of professional wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, and Sting. But it wasn’t until his parents purchased the aforementioned home gym, when he was about 13, that he could seriously pursue his passion.
The early Going was rough. For a set of weights to complement his parents’ bench, he had to get creative.
“I cobbled together an entire weight set when I was in 7th grade. I went around to everyone in my family and asked them if they had any weights – grandparents, aunts and uncles, everybody. They were rusty, dirty. My dad owns a body shop, so I cleaned them up and asked my dad to spray them with car paint.”
In high school, his interests diversified a bit. He started wrestling and played running back, continuing his football career at Muskingum University, where he studied Physical Education.
But throughout his teens and early 20s, he continued to lift like a bodybuilder. Decaminada knew his calling: All it took was one competition in high school to confirm his life’s passion.
“I actually did a bodybuilding competition when I was 16. It was the Mr. Teenage Tuscarawas, and I had no idea what I was doing. I told all my buddies, and they thought it was crazy that I was Going to jump on stage in a speedo. I’m sure they laughed, but I placed fourth out of seven. After that, I definitely caught the bug.”
Today, Joey Decaminada has dozens of competitions under his belt and competes in as many as five shows a year. In July of 2017, he earned his IFBB Pro® card at the NPC Masters National Championships in Pittsburgh – 2018 will be his first year competing in the IFBB®. He also runs a growing fitness business – Leading Edge Athletic Performance (LEAP) – and has two teenage children.
As the longtime bodybuilder gets ready for his next competition in March, Body Fortress caught up with Decaminada to discuss his approach to contest prep, balancing fitness with his family and business, and the advice he’d give to young bodybuilders.
You’ve been in the sport of bodybuilding for a while now. Tell us about some of the routines, habits, and traditions you’ve developed as you prepare for a competition.
“I divide my year up into two seasons – one for spring/early summer, and one for fall and winter. I compete in two to three shows per season. I usually like to have about 12 to 16 weeks to prepare for a show – I call that period my pre-contest phase. Before that pre-contest phase, I’m bulking. I’ll lift heavy, get in some refeeds, and do everything I can to grow my muscles. During this time, I’m eating about 6500 calories a day. As I approach the pre-contest phase, I taper that down to 4500, then 3500, to lose water weight and help prepare my body for contest prep.
When I start my prep, my diet and cardio plan changes every 3 weeks. I don’t trust my own eyes, so I have my trainer plan every single meal for me. Sometimes we Go low carb, sometimes we Go high carb, sometimes we Go high fat, sometimes we cycle – the point is to continue to allow the body to change and keep the cut phase moving without getting stagnant. When I’m pre-contest, calories fluctuate from week to week, but generally it ranges between 2400 and 3200 per day.
My body changes pretty drastically as I move in and out of different phases. At the end of my last bulk cycle, I weighed around 248 lbs. Right before my competition, I’ll weigh in around 195 to 200 lbs. So I’ll lose almost 50 lbs in the time between the end of my bulk cycle and weigh-in for my next show.
I also believe that the period right after competing is best for growth. So after I’m done eating pizza, cheeseburgers, or whatever indulgence I want to have when the competition is over, I’ll continue to train hard for between 4 to 6 weeks, depending on how I feel. After that, I take 3 weeks completely off from the gym, other than some light recovery and rehab work. This gives me a mental rest and a much-needed break for my body, plus it allows me to plan for next season.”
That’s a lot of detail and planning. How do you balance all the demands of competing while running your business and taking care of a family?
“Really the key is planning and preparation. I teach my kids to eat healthy, but I don’t expect them to be as strict as I am. When Kayla [his girlfriend, who also competes] and I are supposed to eat what we are supposed to eat, we still plan out meals for the week for the kids.
I plan everything around their schedule, not necessarily mine. Rather than inconvenience them, I’d rather inconvenience me. If that means I have to get up an extra hour earlier in the morning to take my daughter to school, that’s what I do. If it means that I don’t get my cardio session in until 9 PM, that’s okay.
Still, it’s difficult at times. It’s a very selfish sport. When I get into the last 2 or 3 weeks before a competition, everyone in my family understands that there’s Going to be times where I have to sacrifice some things, because that’s the most critical time for me.
I’m fortunate enough with owning my business that I’m in the gym all the time. I get to dictate my own schedule and I can get some things in between training clients and training teams. My clients and athletes are also extremely supportive, which makes it great.”
What attracted you to the Body Fortress® brand? Were you using their products before you joined the team?
“Absolutely, I’ve been around the brand for a while. I was using the products anyway because I loved the protein. The main thing was quality at a phenomenal price. I don’t think there’s any other product on the market, at this price point, that’s Going to give you the quality of ingredients, where what they say is in the tub is actually in the tub. I’ve talked to a lot of guys that own supplement stores, even ones that don’t carry Body Fortress, and when I tell them I’m with Body Fortress, they recognize it as a quality product.”
What products do you use?
“One staple that never changes is the Glutamine Powder – I use glutamine 3 or 4 times a day year-round. I love that stuff, it helps with recovery so much. Then of course whey protein. My girlfriend likes strawberry, but I’m a vanilla guy, because it mixes really well with other flavors. When I get closer to contests I use whey isolate more. When I’m post-workout and trying to gain, it’s the Mass Gainer.
Now that I’m pre-contest, I’ll mix up two scoops of the Performance Creatine and two scoops of the Body Fortress ® Super Advanced Shred Igniter and drink that before my fasted cardio in the morning. A lot of times I’ll have the whey protein for breakfast, and sometimes throughout the day. When I’m getting ready to lift, I’ll use the NOS Blast pre-workout, mixed with two more scoops of Body Fortress ® Super Advanced Shred Igniter. During my workout I use the hydrochloride creatine mixed with two scoops of the Body Fortress ® Super Advanced Amino Blast.”
What are your Goals for 2018?
“This year will be my rookie season in the IFBB®, so I’m pretty excited about that. I’m just trying to take it all in, because I don’t know what to expect. I’m trying to be proud of what I accomplished, but now I’m hungry to climb to the top at a whole other level.
I’d also like to grow with the Body Fortress® brand this year. I think they’ve taken on a new identity recently – the direction is Going back in the gym, back onto the grind, back towards the people who love to train. I want to get out there and let everybody know that I’m affiliated with Body Fortress and hopefully grow as the brand grows.
Same thing with my business – I want to continue to grow my reach and influence. I’m enjoying where I’m at right now. I’m doing a lot more online [training via Skype], and that’s kind of where I think the next phase of my business is. I don’t want to just help the people that I get to see on a daily basis – that’s great, and I want to do that, but I want to be able to touch people world wide and nationwide.”
What advice do you have for young athletes and aspiring bodybuilders?
“Find somebody that you trust and stick with them. There’s so many people out there that listen to everybody. Find someone that points you in the right direction. I don’t get compensated for telling somebody to use a product. I tell people to use a product because I use it. I would never tell anyone to use something that I haven’t used.
As for supplements, stick to the basics. Understand what a supplement is: It supplements what you are doing. Eat your food, and stick to the basics. Take your protein, take your amino, take your weight gainer. It’s worked for me, it’s worked for the guys before me, and it’s Gonna work for the guys after me.
And then from there, work hard at it. There’s just no substitute for hard work and effort.”