Bodies by Design Trainer, Dan Moncada, competes at his first bodybuilding competition and shares his secrets on fat burning, cardio, weight training and supplements.
What inspired you to compete?
The main thing that inspired me to compete was the fact that I’m a goal-driven person. I need something to push me to the next level. I’ve always been like that in anything I did. There has to be another level or a new challenge for me to pursue something difficult. And it has to be something that not everybody does. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like doing what everybody does.
I just needed to prove something to myself.
I wanted to step on stage and display something that I thought was beautiful and was worthy of presenting on stage. The thing that got me to the point of finally deciding to compete was that I thought was ready. When you’re coming from an artist mindset or maybe a perfectionist mindset, you don’t want to show it until you feel as perfect. Not until you feel you’ve put in enough work and earned your stripes.
How many years had you been training before you actually competed?
I started training when I was 14, and I’m 28 now, so I’ve put in a reasonable amount of time since then. But even since 14 until the age of what, 28, I just didn’t think it was perfect enough, at least for my liking. Until you started getting attention when you finally leaned down, and people say, hey, you should do it, then you think, maybe I got something worth with showing. So I just I dove in, and I did it.
Can you tell us a little bit about your nutrition program?
My nutrition changed every couple of weeks while I was preparing for the competition. When I first started, I didn’t count or macros.
I did things that I felt comfortable doing. For example, I know that I can eat six ounces of meat and eight ounces a bit too much for me. So I only did six ounces per meal. I knew that I was comfortable eating a cup of rice, so that’s 60 grams of carbs in a cup of rice, roughly. So I was comfortable doing that, and I wanted to make sure that I was getting enough healthy fats. So I made sure I had about 14 grams of fat per meal, and that’s like a tablespoon of olive oil or a handful of olives. I was comfortable eating five meals a day. So what I would do is whenever I would hit a sticking point, or my weight wasn’t dropping, I would take away a few carbs away.
So I made sure I had enough calories to be able to take away from, so I would never hit a plateau too quickly.
Whenever my weight stagnated, I would drop the calories a little bit more or just take away a few carbs, and then I would continue to drop for another week.
So how strict was your diet? Did you have cheat days, for example?
I’m a person that likes structure, but my diet wasn’t super strict. I made sure to implement a cheat meal once a week just for a mental break from the diet, and to give the body extra calories to sustain itself throughout the coming week. It could have been pizza or Burger, whatever I was craving during the week because just having that allows you to be sociable and go out and see friends and gives you more willpower to continue on through this 16-week journey that you’re going to put your body through.
What kind of supplements did you take?
The supplements that I was using during the prep was a natural testosterone booster because we know that when we are in such a depleted state, your testosterone is going to take a hit. Towards the end, mine, even on the testosterone booster, did take a hit. You’ll feel that in your mood and how you’re socializing with people and generally how you feel. So I think it is essential to have something like that to at least keep testosterone elevated a little bit. I took a fat burner that didn’t contain caffeine.
I don’t do too well with caffeine, and I don’t like things that are going to overly stimulate the body. The main ingredient is L-carnitine, which helps shuttle or mobilize fat and gets used as energy. I also used whey protein powder, a multivitamin, and I used, vitamin D three every single day.
What about training? What type of weight training, cardio training did you do to prepare over these 16 weeks?
My training stayed the exact same way as it did in offseason. So I still trained with heavy weights and compound movements, or exercises that use more than one muscle group. A deadlift, a bench press, or a squat, is going to recruit more muscle fibers than a simple bicep curl, for example.
So by incorporating those types of exercises, I could burn more calories, and maintain my muscle, so I didn’t look depleted look onstage.
My cardio regimen was off 20 minutes a day in the beginning, but by the end, I got up to a little over two hours, because by that point you need to strip as much fat off your body as possible. And I wanted to bring my best, and I didn’t want anybody else to outwork me. I would do a cardio session in the morning and then a second session post-training when my body’s in a depleted state so I could tap into body fat a lot easier. And that’s, that’s the whole name of the game. Strip off as much body fat as you can.
You mentioned you had a coach. How did this coach help you?
My Coach’s name is Dave Colombo, and every, every couple of days I would send him pictures, first thing in the morning of what my physique looked. And then he would either tell me to increase my carbs or take away or take away some food and, he would monitor me. I would tell him if I was digesting food properly, how I felt, and then he would make quick adjustments and text to me right away. Everything kind of came together correctly when I stepped out on stage.
What’s next for you?
I want to compete again, and my goal is to put on more muscle and hopefully compete in two categories next time. I want to compete in the classic physique, and I want to compete in the men’s physique.
Then qualify me for the Toronto pro show in June. I need a, I need s I need a challenge every year or also get bored. I need a reason to wake up and put in that work and have that motivation, that fire, that drives you. I mean, if you have no goals in anything that you want do, you’re going to stagnate. You’re going to get bored, and you’re not going to be the best that you could possibly be at what you’re doing.
The one piece of advice that I could give to anybody, man or woman that wants to compete, is close your eyes, put your head down, grind it out, and show up. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Consistency and consistency.