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Featured Amateur Bodybuilder - Q&A: Ryan Miller

SC: What age did you first get involved with weight lifting and training and what prompted this interest?

RM: When I was 15 years old I did a unit in high school gym class about weight training. I remember thinking it was kind of neat; I had heard of it before but somehow it seemed silly - taking time out of your day to repetitively lift steel weights? But once you feel your muscles swell and you realize that you are growing it’s like you get addicted and you don’t want to stop!

SC: How long did it take you to get to a level of muscularity where you felt comfortable stepping on stage?

RM: It took me about 3 years to reach the point were I felt like I had made some good muscle gains.

SC: When first building up your base of muscle mass, what type of training program did you find worked best for you?

RM: I didn’t have a set training program. Once I started seriously training I told my self that from that point I wanted to do this all myself! No trainers, no dieticians, and no drugs. I started reading strength training and human anatomy books to study each muscle group I was to train and how to make it look as good as I possibly could. All of my original programs still play a part in my present day programs.

SC: During the off season when you’re trying to build muscle, what type of diet set-up do you follow? Do you still remain fairly strict with yourself, or do you take a more relaxed approach?

RM: My off season diet basically consists of mostly simple whole foods, such as meats, vegetables, potatoes, breads, milk, eggs, fruits and lots and lots of water! I would say I am strict in terms of eating only certain things and not going to the local burger or pizza joint very often. I do allow my self cheats and they all depend on the effort I put forth in the gym. If it has been a really good week maybe one day will be a cheat day. If I haven’t gotten to the gym as much then maybe it would be just one cheat meal. You have to be able to know what your body is telling you and if it needs some ribs and garlic bread, well you deserve a treat for the effort!

SC: During the off season when focusing on building muscle mass, what role does cardio training play in your overall workout schedule? Do you feel it’s necessary to keep up when on a bulking cycle?

RM: To be honest I never do cardio training at all. I only ever hit the Stairmaster in pre contest time, getting my heart rate up to 120 to 130 BPM. My opinion on cardio during off season is that if you have a good diet to stick to and you train faithfully you won’t have to worry about gaining too much fat. You really should never gain huge amounts of fat anyway for a number of reasons. First, it’s not healthy to just binge out and let yourself go. Two, the more fat you gain in off season means more fat you will have to lose in pre contest.

SC: Switching over to fat loss, when it’s time to start getting ready to compete, what adjustments do you make to your diet and training program?

RM: I train 2 body parts a day in off season; in pre contest I train 3 body parts a day. My diet becomes very strict - all food is measured and meals are all planned for the entire length of the diet which usually lasts 4 months.

SC: In the week or two before stepping on stage, what foods did you naturally gravitate to in order to help take your leanness to the next level?

RM: Eggs defiantly, rice cakes with honey on top, roasted chicken and vegetable wraps, and again lots of water!

SC: What mental strategies do you use to keep yourself focused on your diet and training program? When you find yourself wanting to skip workouts, what worked for you to get yourself into the gym?

RM: When I feel like I want to cheat with bad food all I do is think of how bad it is for me and what I would eventually look like if I did eat fatty foods all the time. I honestly never have skipped a workout during pre-contest training; I am at the gym everyday even if I am sick. The high of working out is just too awesome to pass up! I go to bed and actually be so excited to go to the gym that I can’t sleep. The other thing is I go at 3.30am just so that I can have the entire gym to myself - no waiting for machines or loitering.

Finally I always get myself into a certain mood when I head off to the gym, I have to have loud music playing, the type of music depends on the day. Some days it’s dance, others death metal. And I always have my iPod charged up so I can carry on the good tunes right through my workouts!

SC: You do some modeling on the side as a hobby right now.  What advice would you give other guys who are looking to get involved in the fitness or bodybuilding modeling industry?

RM: DO IT!! The experiences, friends and self confidence I have gained from not only competitive bodybuilding, but just training and pushing myself to my limits, and then going past them is unbelievable. I truly believe that anyone can build muscle, some more than others, but that’s all in your genetics. Good old fashioned hard work and discipline will command way more attention from anyone.

As for how I got into modeling, it was actually kind of as a joke. I picked up a brochure one day and it was about fitness modeling, and of course I thought, could I do that? I got some shoots lined up through some people I knew and bam I was doing shoots for all kinds of things. I only do it as a hobby and it’s just another motivation to keep me going to the gym.

SC: When not concerned with your diet, what’s your favourite food to indulge in?

RM: Well I would have to say lasagne, or a huge turkey dinner with all the trimmings!!

SC: After a competition is over, what strategies do you use to help yourself recover?

RM: After a competition I take about 1 month off from the gym and any kind of diet. You need time for your body to recover and heal after all of the hard training and eating you have just put it through.

SC: What was your post-show meal after the competition?

RM: [Laughs] Well at my last competition in the Alberta Provincials in Calgary Alberta, there is a drive-thru called Peters Drive In! I went with my family and friends and they said have anything you want, so I did. Two double cheeseburgers, one order of onion rings, one large milkshake, two hotdogs, a huge brownie, and a Gatorade. The woman at the till couldn’t believe it was all for me, and she didn’t think I would finish it. Ohh she was wrong when I showed her my empty tray after about 15 minutes of intense eating!

SC: What would you say is the highlight of competing for yourself? What keeps you wanting to further improve your body and keep training?

RM: The best thing about it was walking out in front of hundreds of people and showing them what I worked so hard to achieve! I always have new goals for myself and I always take pictures of myself and draw on them to show were I think I need improvement or were I have made good gains.

SC: When you aren’t in the gym training or modeling, what do you like to do in your spare time?

RM: Well when I’m not working or working out I enjoy traveling, photography, driving, dancing, listening to music, fishing, and hunting.

SC: What’s your favourite exercise to perform in the gym?  Do you have a favourite body part to train?

RM: Squats and I love training my legs! Something about being able to lift hundreds of pounds of raw steel makes you feel like you could do anything!

In closing I want to let anyone know who is reading this that bodybuilding is so full of stereotypes and myths. Get into it for you, not for the girl in your office you’re trying to impress or to show off at the beach. I won’t lie, to do it natural is brutally hard, and it will hurt. You will be tired and at other times, you’ll be lonely too. But remember that when you can honestly say you have the body you have because of your effort and discipline, it will all be worth it! As well I can’t be naive and think that no one uses drugs. If you do make the choice to use ANY kind of performance enhancing drugs, admit that you use them! Don’t lie and say you’re natural if you aren’t, be a man and admit it!

SC: Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, experiences, and beliefs with us Ryan.  We look forward to seeing more of you in the years to come.

RM: It’s been my pleasure, Shannon.

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