The Making of a Bodybuilder
By: Drew Schroeder
When most young men and women graduate college they are searching for jobs, starting their adult lives, and trying to figure out how to pay off the student loan bills they hoped would never come. Unfortunately, many give up chasing their dreams because life got in the way. But Billy Meyer isn’t falling into that trap and is actively trying to chase his: becoming a professional bodybuilder.
Meyer grew up playing sports, primarily baseball. Playing at Illinois Wesleyan University and Washington University, baseball was his life. From early morning workouts to late nights on the road traveling from game to game, Meyer always had baseball on his mind. But while he loved playing ball, he had other things that kept him occupied off the field. Meyer graduated from Illinois Wesleyan with a degree in math and physics and WashU with a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. Clearly, Meyer is no ordinary meathead.
Meyer has always been interested in bodybuilding, growing up watching the numerous documentaries on the sport as well as following the Mr. Olympia competitions. Meyer wasn’t able to train as a bodybuilder due to his baseball career, which relies more on flexibility and mobility than strength and physique, so the two different workout styles would clash. But after his last college baseball season, he wanted to go after his goal of becoming a bodybuilder.
I wanted to know what pushes someone to get into a sport which requires so much dedication and discipline. Working out together at a Burr Ridge gym, I got to see and experience his taxing routine. “I have always been athletic and going to the gym but was tired of going through coaches. I wanted to do something for myself where I was in total control and could stay competitive,” Billy calmly explains while I push myself to keep up. “When you workout to be more than just fit and actually set a goal, you workout with much more intensity and enjoy it more because you’re getting closer to achieving that goal.”
Of course there’s a very calculated method that he follows. Billy works out six days a week, no less. But he also works in two gym sessions a day if possible and at one point during his last year of college, was averaging three workouts a day. During two-a-days, he would lift heavy in the first session and then lighter in the second session, focusing on the muscles groups he had hit the day before, utilizing a slower pace but less rest.
But how do bodybuilders get so big and yet so lean, consuming roughly 4000-5000 calories per day when training? It doesn’t seem physically possible to do this but bodybuilders have been making good headway in losing fat while gaining muscle. Billy eats only lean meats with a little seasoning, vegetables, and small snacks that include protein shakes and bars. When I spoke with him, he hadn’t had a slice of bread in over six months.
I had another question, do bodybuilders ever do cardio? Wouldn’t it be hard on your joints to run with all that weight? The answer is yes, which is why Billy rarely ever runs, and when he does it’s only a couple sprints. When he is in his bulking phase, Billy consumes around 5000 calories per day, works out twice a day, and does absolutely no cardio to truly build mass. However, once cutting season comes around, he consumes only 1500 calories per day and does cardio on a stationary bike, keeping his heart rate at 160 for 45 minutes, three to four times a week. This grueling schedule of ups and downs and having little to no off days, requires complete and total focus and dedication.
Billy is on his way to receiving his pro-card for bodybuilding. He recently took first in his class and second overall in a competition, giving him a boost in confidence and motivation to keep chasing down his goal. “Be consistent. Train with a purpose. And track your diet, counting calories, grams of carbs, proteins, anything. You’ll be amazed.” Through calloused hands and sore muscles, Billy is still pushing to get to the IFBB and realize his dream of becoming a professional bodybuilder.
Drew Schroeder is a freelance contributor to Let Me B-Frank in addition to serving as the editor-in-chief of Rise Literary Magazine, an online publication focused on providing a platform for the next generation of creative minds to voice their thoughts and opinions.