The Natural Oak – By The Numbers
Exclusive to Natural Muscle
Photos by Jordan Chabinsky


So the end of my 2013 has drawn to a close and it has been without a doubt the pinnacle in terms of my natural bodybuilding career. It is very flattering, that as a consequence, I have had a lot of interest in my diet and supplement approach. This brief article is exactly that, what I ate, supplements I took and when. No more, no less. For anyone who has read my approach in previous years, you’ll quite possibly get a sense of déjà vu, as very little has changed, although perhaps some refinement?

I continue to be supported by Reflex Nutrition (www.reflex-nutrition.com) and BioCare Ltd (www.biocare.co.uk). Both are companies I have worked with for some time and used their supplements prior to their support. NOTE - THIS ARTICLE IS NOT INTENDED AS RECOMMENDATION OR BLUE PRINT. Simply, it is my approach. I have competed for 22 years and through trial and error as well as some reading around the subject, this is where I ended up.

I keep track of my bodyweight to monitor progress, as well as the mirror, although not bodyfat measurements. I knew from previous records my rate of weight loss and stage weights, and have always found this to be a useful comparator for tracking progress. I weigh myself Friday morning each week, first thing out of bed. This should provide a fairly consistent set of circumstances for tracking weight. It is really the loss I am looking to track, as opposed to the absolute weight or bodyfat itself.

Food and Supplements

You’ll see Reflex CLA used throughout the day. After 16 weeks of dieting (UKDFBA Champs) I wanted to step things up further for the remainder of the season, at which point I added 1 CLA capsule to each and every meal/protein shake etc throughout the day. 1.5 litres of water with every meal, all protein powder in at least half a litre of water, as much coffee as desired.

3:00am
When up for “biology wake”! (I wouldn’t set an alarm for this, but after just a few days of upping the water intake, this became pretty much like clockwork). 75ml Reflex Micro Whey, 10g Reflex Glutamine, 1x Reflex CLA.

7:00am
BioCare: Lipotone Intensive (1 Sachet)

8:00am
Breakfast: 6 boiled egg whites, ½ tin tuna spring water. BioCare Multi-vitamin (x 1), Multi-mineral complex (x1), Vitamin C (2000mg), Vitamin E (600iu), Glucosamine Hydrochloride (1500 mg), Mega EPA Forte (x1), Linseed Oil 1000 (x2). Reflex CLA (x3), HMB (1000mg). After 16 weeks dieting, when I was looking to continue to tighten up but cautious of overdieting I added 50g oats.

10:00am
75ml Reflex Micro Whey, 10g Reflex Glutamine, 1x Reflex CLA.

11:00am
50 ml Reflex “The Edge” (50g carb drink), 1x Reflex CLA, 5g Reflex creatine, 10g Reflex Glutamine.

12:00pm
75ml Reflex Micro Whey, 10g Reflex Glutamine, 1x Reflex CLA.

2:00pm
Lunch: 45g pasta twirls, 1 tin tuna spring water, ½ tin tomatoes (Increased to 50g pasta after 16wks). BioCare Vitamin C (2000mg), Vitamin E (600iu), Glucosamine Hydrochloride (1500 mg), Mega EPA Forte (x1), Linseed Oil 1000 (x2). Reflex CLA (x3), HMB (1000mg).

4:00pm
75ml Reflex Micro Whey, 10g Reflex Glutamine, 1 x Reflex CLA.

5:30pm
Train if training day.

6:30pm
Post weights / prior to cardio: 75ml Reflex Micro Whey, 10g Reflex Glutamine, 1x Reflex CLA.

8:00pm
Dinner: 300g jacket potato, EITHER 200g tuna loin / 200g salmon OR 200g chicken breast.

Before bed
BioCare Lipotone Intensive (1 Sachet), Mega EPA Forte x 1. Reflex ZMA x 3


Carbing up prior to show day?

I increased carbs slightly for the first couple of contests, using previous years’ approaches as a template. However, as the season went on, I took my own advice! “If you look good a few days out, you’ll look good on the day”. To this end, for the NPA British and WNBF Worlds, the only amendments I made were:

  • On the day before the show I had salmon and potato for both lunch and dinner. I kept water at the same 8-10 litres per day.

  • On the day of the show I had salmon and potato both for breakfast and straight after the morning prejudging. Then every couple of hours had 15g oats and a spoonful of The Edge (Reflex). Dropped my water to around 50% throughout the day.

  • I dropped my cardio by around 50% in the last week, which I see as a mild carb up, since less energy is being taken out of the system.

    In my opinion, I was at my all time best for the WNBF, so this simple approach worked for me. If I were to compete again, this is the approach I would follow.

    Training

    I warm up for a minute or two on the Concept 2 rower, stretch and always do one set of 10 reps on my first movement, with approx. 60% of the weight of my first working set. Throughout you’ll see a rep range of 6-10. This may have gone as low as 3-4, especially on the large compound movements. If this were the case I would do a drop set to get some extra reps. I would also incorporate some supersets and 21s on occasion. This approach would be for all bodypart, for example I will incorporate 21s on deadlifts and leg extensions, not just biceps which is fairly common.

    Monday: Legs / Cardio
    Quads: 3 exercises, 2 sets of each, 6-10 reps (squatting alternate weeks)
    Hamstrings: 3 exercises, 2 sets of each, 6-10 reps

    Tuesday: Shoulders & Calves / Cardio
    Pressing movement: 2 sets, 6-10 reps
    Lateral movement: 2 sets, 6-10 reps
    Rear delt movement: 2 sets, 6-10 reps
    Pressing movement: 2 sets, 6-10 reps
    Shrugs: 2 sets
    Calves: 2 exercises, 2 sets of each, 6-10 reps
    On the first exercise, this would generally be a superset. I ensure I target both the gastrocnemius and soleus areas.

    Thursday: Back & Biceps / Cardio
    Back: 4 exercises, 2 sets of each, 6-10 reps (deadlifts alternate weeks)
    Biceps: 3 exercises, 2 sets of each, 6-10 reps

    Friday: Chest & triceps / Cardio
    Chest: 4 exercises, 2 sets of each, 6-10 reps
    Triceps: 3 exercises, 2 sets of each, 6-10 reps
    For every bodypart I use different exercises each and every week, mixing up dumbbells, barbells and machines.

    Sunday: Cardio

    Cardio (5x week):
    10 mins Rowing: level 8, < 2:10 / 500m
    5 mins cycle: > 70 rpm
    5 mins Step master: 1 min (level 11), 2 min (level 12), 1 min (level 13), 1 min (level 14)
    Repeat above (therefore total 40 mins each session)

    After 16 weeks dieting, dropped cardio to 50% of the above. Cardio was kept in during the last week until Thursday prior to the Sunday contest. So that’s pretty much all I did to train and get ready for this year, no more, no less, by the numbers. I am half way through writing a longer article with a different slant, documenting a little more how I felt through the year, so watch this space.

    Mark Oakes
    WNBF Pro World Bantamweight Champion 2013