Interview with up and coming Pro bodybuilder Jeff Nippard
A quick update on Jeff. He’s competing this weekend, October 17th, in his pro debut! Good luck!
What are your current stats?
- 155 lbs, 5’5
- Current competition lifts:
- Squat – 446 lbs
- Bench – 353 lbs
- Deadlift – 451 lbs
So Jeff, how’s your current season going?
I am currently prepping for the WNBF Pro Intercontinental Championships in Edmonton, Alberta and am just under 14 weeks out. Things are going really well under the guidance of bro-genius/coach Eric Helms of 3DMJ. I’ve never been as conditioned this far out. I competed in a powerlifting meet last weekend where I put up a 424 wilks, just 6 points shy of the 430 qualifying standard for the Arnold Classic/USAPL Pro Raw Challenge. So I will have to make sure I get hit that number before 2016 rolls around because I really want to do that meet and have for as long as I’ve been competing!
Who are your bodybuilding idols and sources of motivation?
My favourite all-time IFBB pros are Lee Priest and Franco Columbo. Since I’m a shorter guy myself, I think I tend to favor the shorter, more compact physiques with the round muscle bellies. I also have respect for Franco because he was a powerlifter too. Ronnie Coleman is another guy I watch to get amped up mostly because he is just so entertaining and fun to watch. My favorite current IFBB pro physique is Flex Lewis.
In natural bodybuilding circles, I look up to a lot of guys like Doug Miller, all the 3DMJ guys, and have always been hugely inspired by Skip La Cour. I feel a closer connection and camaraderie with most of these guys and the community is so closely-knit that I find it even more inspiring on a personal level to me to get to know the people who inspire me so much.
What inspired you to start bodybuilding?
My parents were always into bodybuilding and fitness. There would always be bodybuilding magazines around the house when I was growing up, so I was introduced to the sport at a very young age. At first, I thought it was really weird and swore to my dad that I would never compete. When he introduced me to the gym at age 15, I was inspired to train to increase my vertical jump for basketball since that was my main passion at the time. Even at just under 5’5 I did work my way up to a 40 inch vertical, and could dunk a volleyball in high school. But after high school, I realized I would be limited as far as professional aspirations go in basketball and was more genetically gifted for bodybuilding. Plus I had been “bitten by the iron bug” by this time. At 19, I decided to do a provincial contest after encouragement from one of my good friends who showed me the ropes with diet and training. I won 3 awards that contest: the junior overall title, the lightweight overall title and “best wheels” award. From there, the rest is history.
Do you have any sponsors? How would you recommend a bodybuilder getting sponsors if he currently does have any.
I don’t. I have had a few in the past but I would much rather not be sponsored unless I REALLY stand behind what they represent as a company.
Sponsorship’s are all about social media presence in this industry. It’s possible to be the top pro on the planet and not have a sponsor if you don’t have the marketing potential. The best way to get a sponsor is to build a social media platform. The best way to do that in my experience is to produce content that people like, keep producing that content (be consistent) and be interactive online with your following. Be patient and it will start snowballing eventually. Once you have built up a decent following, supplement companies and other sponsors will come to you. I have never asked for a sponsorship and I don’t think that’s the best way to go about it, personally. But then again, I don’t have a sponsor so maybe I’m not the best person to take that advice from! LOL
How does your routine change between offseason and pre-contest cutting (if at all)
Because I balance both powerlifting and bodybuilding, this is a bit of a knotty question but I’ll suffice it to speak generally. When I am off-season for both bodybuilding and powerlifting, I tend to do very high volume workouts with a lot of exercise variety, rep range variety but with a focus on hitting the squat, bench press and deadlift 1-3x per week. As a powerlifting meet approaches, I take the standard peaking approach of getting more and more specific with my training. This means increasing focus on the main 3 lifts, increasing intensity (%1RM), decreasing volume and mimicking meet performance in training. Usually this happens over the course of an 8-12 week time span leading into the meet. However, this year (2015), I decided that I wanted to let bodybuilding take the front seat for the entirety of my off-season, so I didn’t peak for any of the powerlifting meets I competed in, which I probably part of the reason why I had a less successful season as a powerlifter than I did in 2014. As a bodybuilding contest approaches, I place even less emphasis on the big three and focus instead on hitting all muscle groups evenly for the sake of hypertrophy and balanced development. In a powerlifting meet prep, bodybuilding training should take the back seat. Similarly, in a bodybuilding show prep, powerlifting training should take the back seat. In the off-seasons of both, they compliment each other nicely and I’ve found a hybrid approach to be very effective.
Mind giving us a sample of the current routine? (only if you have one handy).
I actually just did a video on this for my youtube channel:
What made you decide to switch over to 3dmj? Who were you with previously?
I was with The Strength Guys from 2013-2015. I earned my pro card in natural bodybuilding with them, tied a national bench press record for my weight class, competed at multiple provincial and regional meets, placed 2nd at 2014 Canadian Powerlifting Nationals in the 74kg class with a 434 wilks as a sponsored athlete. After teaming up with my girlfriend Robin Gallant earlier this year and founding Strcng Coaching and Clothing (www.strcng.com), we decided that we wanted to begin our own journey as coaches and entrepreneurs. It was a no brainer for me to contact Eric Helms for contest prep coaching – he’s simply the best in the business and I couldn’t imagine going with anyone else.
Have you ever tried to handle a prep or offseason by yourself? How’d it go?
I did my own prep for the Muscle Mayhem in 2014 where I turned pro. It is something I will probably never do again. I know some people like to have complete control of their prep and like to call the shots for themselves. I learned that I am not one of those people. I did learn a lot about how to best go about prepping yourself, if you can’t afford coaching, or if you happen to be one of those “control-freaks” who like to take everything into their own hands. I am in the process of putting together a project that will either turn into an ebook or long blog post for our new blog at www.strcng.com/blog that will break down step-by-step how to prep yourself for a contest.
The toughest part is learning to overcome the psychological torment you’ll experience when it comes to when and how frequently and how aggressively you should make adjustments to macros. It’s tempting to make drastic decreases when prepping yourself because it is very common to feel like you’re behind all the time. Having a coach, or even an unbiased second-eye can really help alleviate that mental pressure, which is what I’ve found since hiring Eric.
What would you say is your best lift and your weight for that lift. To pair with that, what is your worst lift.
My best lift is definitely the bench press. I did a touch and go rep with 405 lbs at 170 lbs bodyweight and 353 lbs as a paused rep, in meet, at a bodyweight of 154 lbs.
Worst lift lately is the deadlift. I was actually pulling 545 lbs in 2014 in training, but since then sustained an upper back injury and have been having difficulty getting back in the groove since (admittedly, it hasn’t been top priority). Because of my very short wing-span (5’2) I am not mechanically blessed to be a huge deadlifter.
Do you take part in any preventative maintenance (Stretching, Foam Rolling, Other mobility work) and how often?
Definitely. I do a general warm up, pre-hab work, dynamic stretching and foam rolling (lower body only) before every training session.
I did a video last week covering my full routine (I also voiceover this video with some muscle science stuff):
How do you think powerlifting affects you physique. How do you balance both?
Another really involved question! If you want my full view on this, I did a podcast with Jason Tremblay, president of The Strength Guys discussing “powerbuilding” in full, gory detail:
I think powerlifting is slightly over-rated in the natural bodybuilding community when it comes to physique development, but I do think it can be extremely valuable as a motivational tool in the off-season. Speaking from my experience, I did notice a huge improvement in my whole posterior chain and my chest after immersing myself in competitive powerlifting. However, like most things, it can become problematic if used excessively and if other body parts like side delts, arms, lats, etc. are displaced by the volume dedicated to training the powerlifts. I think competitive powerlifting should be reserved for the off-season for most bodybuilders who have the central focus of developing the best possible physique.
Thoughts on cardio? Whether Steady state or HIIT or none at all.
I like to limit HIIT to an effective minimum. I usually have my contest prep athletes do it once per week – sometimes twice. The literature on this topic is fairly hairy, but the general consensus is that HIIT is more efficient for fat-loss, but also more difficult to recover from and potentially redundant if resistance training is sufficiently intense. For me, cardio is used as a tool to increase the energy deficit and improve aerobic capacity for cardiovascular health. For the former, I prefer to rely primarily on caloric restriction through diet, but personally enjoy a few sessions of LISS in the form of a walk 3-4x per week. I think incorporating some form of weekly cardio routine is a good idea for pretty much anyone. What I prescribe for athletes will depend on a myriad of lifestyle and preferential factors.
How do you manage being a pro with real life. What’s a typical day for you?
I am grateful to have established myself online to the point where I am able to work full-time as an online coach for natural bodybuilders, powerlifters and general fitness populations. So I spend a lot of time at my computer. A typical work day consists of a lot of email, writing programs and working on new projects for STRCNG. The biggest project we are working on now is the release of our first ebook, which will be available for free by the end of the month, and the Fall launch of our clothing line. Even though I am very busy, I am able to balance these two very easily. My current schedule pales in comparison to when I was a full time university student in class from 9-5, balancing 5 science courses and a part time job along with contest prep.
I find meditation to be helpful in providing balance and perspective to my day.
What attributes have made you successful in bodybuilding?
Genuine passion, consistency and self-discipline. Also genetics, skepticism and an ability to filter bullshit.
What are your future bodybuilding goals.
I’d love to compete at Worlds. Since I’m such a new pro, I am still trying to figure out what is realistic for me. My main goal right now is to have a successful pro debut. I would love to win a pro show.
I also have goals to become the best coach and leader that I can possibly be for others who share my passion.
What’s your stance on drinking as a bodybuilder? Do you ever go out and do the traditional “partying”? If so do you think it affects your training?
I think moderation is key. If I party, it will always be in the off-season. I think it’s fine once in a while for special occasions. If you want to be the best you can be in the gym and on stage, then this shouldn’t be a big temptation. It certainly affects my training for the next day or two and usually sets my diet off track for a couple days as well. I will enjoy a beer or two once every couple weeks all year round though, if I feel like it. I don’t think this will negatively affect anything.
Do you think wearing belts (like a lever belt) hurt your physique?
Compression Tights. Yay or nay?
Would you ever wear gymshark clothing?
Honestly, I don’t know the brand that well or what they stand for, but I really like some of their sponsored athletes like Christian Guzman, Matt Ogus and Chris Jones. I’ve never worn their clothing myself but I do find their widespread success very inspiring from a business perspective and their marketing model is genius.
Favorite Gym Shoes?
I use Adidas Powerlifts for squatting and benching. Chucks for everything else.
What else would you like to say to our readers?
Thanks for reading and I hope you found it informative! And thanks Zach for the interview, keep it up with the great content!
You can find Jeff on social media here:
Instagram – @jeffnippard
YouTube – www.youtube.com/jeffnippard
Facebook – www.facebook.com/jeffnippard
Blog – www.strcng.com/blog