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Cliff Wilson: Road to the Stage

Hello there! Welcome to my blog that I will use to track my journey to the bodybuilding stage in 2016.  My aim with this journal is to give everyone some insight into my process for contest prep and give a little glimpse into my life as I go along in this contest prep.  I hope to use this an opportunity to educate but also be as real as possible with the struggles and obstacles that come up during a contest prep.

I plan to update once every 1-3 weeks depending on how much I have to say and how much time I have to write. So thanks for following along.

About Me

For those that may not know me let me give a brief bio.  I am best known for being a bodybuilding contest coach. This is actually my full time profession.  I am one of the lucky ones whose entire day revolves around bodybuilding and helping competitors get to stage.

In my career I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the best natural bodybuilders in the world.  However, in my own personal bodybuilding career I have yet to enjoy much success.  It’s not that I do anything differently for myself than what I do for my clients.  It’s not that I don’t work brutally hard either.  The truth is that I simply don’t have the genetic ability that most of my clients have and therefore results just come slower.

This by no means I feel cheated or discouraged. It is quite the opposite in fact. The fact that I need to work harder and longer than most only means that when I do achieve my goals it will be that much sweeter knowing how much I put into it.

The Early Years

I started training when I was 19 years old (I am 31 now) and knew instantly that I wanted to compete. When I began training I quickly realized that I didn’t have the genetic potential of most other people. Many of my training partners would blow past me quickly. Building size and getting stronger just took me longer than other people. 

Because of what I viewed as a genetic disadvantage, I began studying and trying to come up with ways and methods that might give me a chance to progress faster and give me an advantage. After all, if I did what everyone else was doing, I would never catch anyone. 

I competed for the first time in 2008 taking 2nd place in my novioce class to my now friend Connor Lavallie.  Connor has since gone on to become a pro bodybuilder. It was a great experience, and even though I was the smallest in my class, I was one of the leanest and it paid off. 

I took 2 years off from my first show until my next show, and hit the stage again in 2010.  This show was a rough one for me.  At the time my wife and I were struggling financially after closing our business and I was actually working 85 hours per week to try and keep us afloat.  This was without a doubt the toughest prep I have done to date and I would be lying if I said the stress and schedule didn’t take its toll.  I ended up taking dead last in my class that year.  I still looked better than I did at my first show, but I was nowhere near what I could have been. 

While it was a disappointing finish for me, it did nothing but light a fire under me to absolutely destroy every training session during my coming offseason.

Building My Coaching Career

Around the same time of 2nd show I had started to actually build my coaching business. It happened more on accident than anything at first.  In 2009 I helped a few guys from my local gym get ready for a show. They wanted to do a show and had no clue how to do it so I helped.  I didn’t necessarily plan for it to be a huge business venture when it started, I just enjoyed it. 
What I didn’t realize at the time is that my obsessive need to develop different strategies for myself transferred over nicely to coaching. I found a real passion for devising the perfect plan for each person.

One of those first clients ended up winning his show that year.  When he won I had a few more people ask me to prep them and things started to snowball from there.  After that first client win, I decided I would start to go all out and try to make this my profession.

My business as a coach grew more quickly than I had anticipated. 2010 was the first year I actually had several clients doing shows throughout the year. I really consider this the start of my actual “prep career” because once I decided I was going to coach I was going to go all out and try to be the best coach I could possibly be. 

I couldn’t have been happier with the way things progressed once I went for it. I actually had clients win the overall title at 7 of the first 8 shows I put clients in.  I was fortunate to have a great group of early clients that worked hard and had talent and things really took off from there.

As my coaching business continued to grow in the early years I was eventually able to make it my full time profession in 2011.  All the while I was training hard and working to improve my own physique.  My clients were enjoying success and it only made me hungrier to do well myself.

Back to the Stage

2013 came and I was ready to hit the stage. I had trained hard and I was ready to see what improvements I had made. In 2013 I actually competed 3 times. In my first show I took 2nd place in a super pro qualifier and missed turning pro by only 2 points. It was brutally close but it was by far the best I had ever looked. My next show I ended up taking 5th in my class. I looked even better at this show but the judges were really going for size on that day and I have always had a lean look, never been a mass monster.  I was happy with the improvements I made between shows though.

In my last show if 2013 I actually tied for 1st place so they went to a tie breaker. In the tie breaker, myself and the other guy tied again so they went to a double tie breaker where I lost by 1 point.  It was brutal to once again come so close.

I ended my season coming extremely close to turning pro twice. It was tough to swallow but I had made HUGE improvements on my physique from my show in 2010 and I was extremely happy about that.  That was my true goal when I started out and I succeeded in doing so.  With that, I went into another offseason to make even more improvements.

Here We Are

As I sit here and type this I can hardly believe the time has come to start prep again. Time has gone by so fast. My goal for this season is that same as it has always been. I aim to see improvements from my previous prep. I want to bring a far better physique to the stage in 2016 than I have in the past. The goal in every aspect of this sport is improvement and that is all I can ask for. 
Now with that said, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to get a win.  I am an extremely competitive person and whenever I compete, I aim to win.  However in the sport of bodybuilding, getting even so much as a class win as escaped me on a personal level.

My Time, My Goal

My coaching career has continued to see success which has been more than I could have dreamed of.  To date, I have coached clients to 145 class wins, 89 overall titles, 60 pro cards, 26 professional titles, and 2 world championships.  However, getting even a single one of those accolades for myself has eluded me. While my number one priority is to enjoy the process and improve year after year, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to experience some of the stage success for myself.  Whether that happens this year or not I can’t say, but you can be sure I will put in as much time as needed to make it happen.

In the sport of bodybuilding, you cannot control what your opponent does, who shows up, or how the judges score it on that day.  All I can control is what I do and what I bring to the stage.  So with that, my only goal this contest season is to bring my absolute best to the stage and let the chips fall where they may. No matter where I place, as long as I bring my best that will be a victory in my book.

I have worked hard for this, and I am ready to bring my best. 

In the coming blogs I will detail my current macros, current progress pictures, training, supplementation, and other details as we go. So stay tuned as I get this contest prep started!


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