On the cover of the launch issue of Raw Muscle is the one and only Sam Pearce; Australia’s newest IFBB Pro. Not going in as the favourite, he reveals how he got into his best condition to dominate and win at the recent Nationals in October, 2016. The soon-to-be civil engineer is ready to do a Pro show ASAP and “won’t be someone that goes into hiding” after winning his title, so expect to see a lot more of Sam!
Images by: DALLAS OLSEN
Location: Gold Coast, QLD, Australia
Occupation: Student (final year Civil Engineering) and PT at World Gym Ashmore
Weight: 113kg (249lbs) on-stage at Nationals 2016; currently 125kg (275lbs) off-season but will reach 130kg (286lbs)
SPONSORS: World Gym, ASN, Pro Tan Australia, GetGripped
Pre-cardio: 2 x Recon Thermonuke & 5g L-carnitine
During cardio: 10g Recon Recoil BCAA
Pre-workout: 2 x Recon Ambush & 5g L-carnitine
Intra-workout: 10g Recon Recoil BCAA, 5g glutamine & 50g maltodextrin
Post-workout: 10g Recon Recoil BCAA, 5g glutamine & 50g maltodextrin
WEEKLY TRAINING SPLIT
Session done in 60 mins max. Ten to 15 reps each set and four sets per exercise. Wednesday and Sunday off.
- Wide pull-downs
- BB row
- T-bar row
- Hammer Strength one-arm row
- Rope pulls
TUESDAY: CHEST + CALVES
- Single-leg calf raise
- Seated calf raise
- Leg press calf raise
- BB incline press
- DB incline press
- DB flat press
- DB incline flye
- Cable flye
- Pec deck
THURSDAY: QUADS + HAMSTRINGS
- Seated leg curl
- Leg extension
- Leg press
- Hack squat
- Lying leg curl superset with adductors
- Walking lunges
- Stiff-legged deadlift superset with leg extensions
FRIDAY: SHOULDERS + CALVES
- Seated calf raise
- Standing calf raise
- Donkey calf raise
- Side DB lateral
- DB press
- Rear pec deck
- Upright row
- Rear BB shrugs
- Rear pulldowns
- DB shrugs
- Rope extensions
- DB overhead extension
- Close-grip bench
- Machine preacher curls
- BB curl
- EZ-bar lying extensions
- DB hammer curl
- Spider curl superset with DB kickbacks
Sam, when did you start training and at what stage did you decide to compete?
SP: I started training straight out of high school. I always played up a year or two for my age bracket in rugby league and rugby union. I decided to take a year off to gain some size, and I always loved weights. I was approached by a seasoned competitor (Eric McEntyre) when I was 18, he offered to do my prep for free if I competed, and we went from there. I haven’t looked back since.
You weren’t actually the favourite to win your Pro card at the recent Nationals show. What did you do in those two weeks between the shows to improve your conditioning?
SP: Consistency. When you do something you love doing, you will be consistent at it. I’ve always loved training more than anything, so the lifestyle comes easy. When there is lifestyle, consistency follows. I’m not out for a $5 trophy; I’m here to better myself and let the benefits of bodybuilding improve myself on stage visually, and off stage mentally.
I have the best coach in the business, Jon Davie. He has versed the best of the best, been there, and done it all. He had a game plan to stick to in between shows, so we peaked right for the Nationals. The more shows I do, the better I get, so the time period from QLD States to Nationals really worked in my favour. I keep things basic; if it’s been working the whole time coming into the show, no need to change much.
How did it feel not going in as the favourite? Did it affect your confidence?
SP: I’ve always been very competitive. Going to the Nationals, and versing these big names, got me excited and motivated. I knew if I wanted to be a Pro, I needed to beat the best. And if you beat the best, no one can take anything away from your title and win. You also prove to yourself you’re worthy of mixing it in the Pro leagues.
We hear there was only one point separating you and Aaron for the overall win at Nationals, why do you think you won on the day?
SP: Hard for me to say because I was up there, I didn’t get to witness too much of Aaron. Although, I received my feedback from all judges, and my overall condition was what got me over the line. From photos, I’m obviously a lot bigger than Aaron (in structure), but we are two different weight classes, so I doubt that can come into account. As for someone his size, he has a lot of stacked muscle on his frame. I had to outwork him with posing, show my strengths and play on his weaknesses.
You two train in the same gym. How’s was it in the lead up to Nationals and what’s your relationship like?
It was motivating having someone of his calibre in the same gym as me, so we could feed from each other’s energy. All the core judges said the same thing: we were the most talked about leading into these set of shows, so the athlete with the best condition will take it out.
I personally don’t mix with too many people in the bodybuilding and fitness scene. I have other projects going on, so I use it as a stress relief. My point is, I keep to myself in this sport. Although I get along well with Aaron, so we always keep in contact to see how everything is going and share tips with one another.
In your body, where do you see the most room for improvement?
SP: I am currently working on my chest, as I’ve had four tears in 24 months which has set me back. I find myself to have a very balanced physique, and that’s one of my strengths. Being a taller competitor, it’s easy to witness that I have a lot of filling out to do, so I believe my overall structure needs even progress to be competitive.
Have you set your sights on your first Pro show?
SP: I want to get my hands dirty ASAP. I’ve applied for Tony Doherty’s Arnold Classic in March 2017. I want to do my first show on home soil, see what’s out there, and then go from there. I won’t be someone that goes into hiding now I have a title.
Who do you currently admire in the bodybuilding scene?
SP: Jon Davie. On and off the stage he has taught me what is required to be the best. Although you pursue a dream, you must think with a business mindset. Being a professional isn’t how good you look on stage. I like Jay Cutler for the same reason. It’s so easy to get caught up with drama and distractions inside and outside of bodybuilding. Jon and Jay both show me what’s important in life: working harder than anyone, being competitive, being a professional on and off the stage and family.
Bodybuilders are often labelled as not overly intelligent and just being able to lift heavy shit, but you’re currently studying Civil Engineering, how do you balance everything?
SP: Balance is the key to success; my mentor Adil Khan taught me that. There have been times where I have taken on too much and failed with my certain objectives (also relates to outside of uni). When the work load is too high where it’s not manageable, I always take a step back, reset and make a new plan. I give myself small goals to reach my big goals. This can mean taking one step back to go two steps forward.
I feel I’m a person that sacrifices sleep, and sleep is so important for recovery and growth. I always make sure nutrition is key, and listen to my body when it needs rest and time out. For a long time, and still at times now, I believed if it’s not hurting, I’m not working hard enough. But I’ve learnt to listen to the body and take rest when needed. Nutrition is key, it keeps my recovery process active and allows my brain to function at the best it can, in stressful times both physically and mentally.
Sam trains his biceps and triceps on the same day. While he used to split them up for a long time, he now finds the blood flow is easier to maintain when both muscle groups are being trained together. When they are fresh, he is able to move more weight and he will spend more time training them, rather than being tired after training back, then hitting biceps or hitting chest, then hitting triceps.
Triceps cable pull-down
Sam always starts with this exercise to warm up his elbows really well. This move also gets him into the mode of using a full range of motion.
Sam says these are a great way to overload the triceps with heavy weight. He tends to flare his elbows out, as he finds it more comfortable, with less pressure building on his wrist and elbows.
Overhead DB triceps extensions
This is Sam’s personal favourite for triceps. He does both together and focuses on a full range with a top contraction.
Having previous bicep tears this prep and previous preps, Sam finds this move is easier on his tendons and allows him to drop the ego and focus on the blood getting into the muscle.
Now his biceps are warm, he wants to hit the girth and work on the thickness by hitting the outer head.
Biceps curls EZ-bar (leaning over incline bench)
These are also known as spider curls. Sam says they stop any swinging through the lower back. The key to this exercise is holding at the top, a full stretch and no movement in the elbows.
Biceps curls EZ-bar
Sam’s biceps are pretty cooked by this time, so moving to a heavy movement like this allows him to use heavy weight, but not as much as he usually would. In turn, this prevents injury, especially close to a show.
Single arm DB biceps curl
Sam finds this a great finisher to hit every last fibre in the biceps.