Joe’s Journey

What it took to get on that stage

By: Michael Terencio
Photo by: Paul Marshall

The human anatomy is worthy of many great properties, ranging from lifting a small car to holding in only 1 percent body fat, without shutting down (such as what a computer with 1 percent battery life will do). One of the best properties our bodies possess is the ability to break down solid material (food in this case) via mechanical and non-mechanical processes.

Mastication, otherwise known as chewing, is identified as the mechanical breakdown of solid food. The non-mechanical breakdown of solids is known as saliva. Saliva is a mixture of glandular secretions produced by three pairs of your salivary glands, and it has the ability to initiate the digestion of complex carbs via a chemical enzyme called salivary amylase.

When it comes to training for an aesthetic competition such as bodybuilding, men’s and women’s physique competitions and bikini competitions, a good coach understands the importance of the basics and how they lead to a solid foundation. As in the example about saliva’s ability to initiate digestion, the basics of human anatomy need to be clearly understood by both the fitness coach and the competitor.

Initially, Joe Perez (owner of Smoothie King Corpus Christi and I.B. Fit Master’s Men’s Physique competitor) was not too familiar with how the human anatomy worked when good stresses such as correct exercise and correct meal preparation are placed into a person’s daily routine. Perez understood if he lifted weights three times a week and ate “healthy,” he would lose fat and gain muscle. While this is true, it is only the bare minimum and not necessarily the best way to approach this situation.

To lift weights three days a week is a great plan for people trying to lose weight and gain lean muscle mass at the same time, but only if proper cardiovascular exercise is paired with the strength-training regimen. So basically, if you are looking to lose weight and drop body fat (adipose tissue) and visceral fat (the fatty tissue lingering on and around internal organs such as the liver and heart), you need to strength train for the muscles and train for your cardiovascular system (the heart and lungs). When both of these systems, also known as the aerobic (cardiovascular) and anaerobic systems, are implemented into your workout routine, you will win every time.

Eating healthy is only scratching the surface. If you really want to succeed in your fitness endeavors, you will account for your amount of calories, types of calories and when to consume those types of calories. There are many apps out there that help people account for their calories, such as My Fitness Pal. If you don’t want a computer to decide your fitness faith, hiring a learned and nutrition-competent personal trainer is the next best step to helping you achieve your individual best.


A certified personal trainer with a certification or degree involving human nutrition will be your best bet when it comes to training for a better you, either on- or offstage. That trainer will design your workout regimen to directly correlate with your nutrition program. By doing so, that trainer will know how many calories you need to expend per workout, how many to expend in total per day, week and month and when to consume those calories during each hour of each day you are awake.

Long story short, Perez hired me to write out his nutrition and workout regimens. By the time stage time came around, he had learned a lot about how his own body worked. Once he learned that, and aside from hard work with smart work and dedication, he was able to make sense of what it really took to achieve his individual best – a great plan built to make a great physique.

Because it is such a hot topic in the fitness realm, let’s talk protein. The normal human being should take in around 0.8 grams of protein for every pound of lean body mass he or she carries around, not for every pound of total body weight.

For example, for a 140-pound female looking to lose body fat, she should consider consuming 100.8 grams of protein per day if she was at 10 percent body fat. The average female in Corpus Christi from the age of 18 to 55 years probably sits around 140 pounds with about 28 percent body fat. Those women would want to consider consuming around 80.6 grams of protein per day. Considering protein is a very readily available nutrient in almost every type of food you eat, it gets very easy to reach these numbers.

Also, protein is a carb, and like every other carb you consume, unused protein will store in the body as fat. Make sure you account for all your protein. Along with the total amount of protein you take in, you should also consider what type of protein to take in at what times. After a workout, protein derived from solid food is not efficient enough to supply your muscles with the amounts of those muscles call for – you need liquid protein like that found in protein shakes. Smoothie King carries high-quality protein supplements that shake well inside your shaker cup, and absorb well inside your body.

With all things considered, Perez learned the basics and why they exist, then decided to take his training to the next level by agreeing to train for a men’s physique competition held in July 2015. He started out training three times a week, and when he decided to train at competition level, he doubled his training every week. Along with his increased exercise regimen, he also increased his food intake intervals (the amount of meals per day he took in). It took time, but when he got used to meal prep (figured out what days and times worked best for him to ready his meals ahead of time), his results started appearing a lot faster than he anticipated.

Perez’s workout regimen changed several times before he stepped on stage. The first few months covered core strength. Next came overall strength. Then came overall conditioning. Finally, the last eight weeks were committed to pure aesthetics, bodybuilding and some stage presence.

Overall, Perez experienced plenty of hard workouts, very hungry nights and quite a few days of wanting to give up. Every athlete experiences highs and lows, but the athletes who succeed are those who push through the pain, put in the work when it would be much easier to stay home and expect failure, but still strive to win.

Whether you workout religiously, you are a weekend warrior or you haven’t worked out in years, every person has an athlete in them. Sometimes a great coach/mentor is what you need to show you where that inner athlete is, and how you can utilize your body and mind to find success – to find your individual best.

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