Interview With Drug Free Natural Bodybuilder Jerome Dinh by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
1) Critical Bench: Jerome, you looked great in your last interview and your last interview was very motivating. However, as great as you looked since we last interviewed you, you have rapidly improved and had to prepare for a big time bodybuilding show. As you recently have won the 2006 NPC Greater Twin Cities Open& NPC Mr. Minnesota Middleweight competition and you took a very-very close second overall to a guy who out weighed you by more than 80lbs. So, tell us what has changed in your diet and training routine since we last interviewed you?
Jerome Dinh: Well, I started my diet 24 weeks out and fined tuned it continuously until the day of my show. Unlike most competitors, I don't go super strict in my diet and I emphasize more on my training and cardio sessions then starving my body of valuable nutrients. I ate fast digesting carb, i.e. simple carbs e.g. white rice(jasmine) in the morning and slower digesting carbs i.e. complex carbs e.g. brown rice through the day compliment with a 4oz piece of low fat meat. Also I never neglected my body from sugar after training so I would have several prunes, a handful of cashews and a 7 peanut butter, chocolate chip rice cakes with 8 egg whites. My post workout meal was my favorite meal of the day!! Moreover, I cheated every 2-3 days and my weight would fluctuate/gain 6-8 lbs every time. It would take me another 3 days to get my weight down. As long as I weighed less and less every Saturday morning, I would continue to cheat every 2-3 days on my post workout meal, which would consist of maybe an extra 2-3 protein bars, McDonalds (2 double cheese burgers, 1 mcchicken with cheese, 2 medium fries and 2 apple pies). Needless to say the following day, I had quite the bathroom trip. Now with all being said, I also jogged 3 miles upon waking up and 3 miles after I trained so that helped with my weight loss and kept me eating foods that I enjoy. Besides cardio, I trained with high volume and high reps for all my exercises.
2) Critical Bench: How did you pick posing trunks for the show?
Jerome Dinh: Well, I guess it was when I showed up for the appointment with Cherri of www.Cherybombs.net we went over the fabric she had, color and cut. The red one she had just stuck out and I wanted something flashy for the show, especially being this is the best I have ever looked. She did a fantastic job and I got a lot of compliments on them.
3) Critical Bench: Your tan is amazing... How did you get tanned like that?
Jerome Dinh: I am a big believer in tanning prior to a show. It gives you great color and tightens up the skin. I tanned 2 months out, starting at 10min sessions every couple days and increase the frequency to everyday for 20mins for the last 2 weeks. Not everyone will get a great base like me due to their ethnicity. I'm half Vietnamese so I get tan easy and quick. Also, I have to note, it's not just the base that gave me great color, though it was a contributing factor, but my pro-tan too. My best friend since High School Shawn Barthel, who originally got me into bodybuilding did a great job painting me up. I only trust him to do it. We put on 2 coats on Thursday, and then I took a quick shower Friday morning to get rid of the excess stuff and did one more coat that afternoon.
4) Critical Bench: What was it like for you mentally creating one of the best physiques ever seen in your weight division in a matter of months?
Jerome Dinh: TOUGH!!! It was the toughest on my wife who took the blunt of my, out of control attitude. I lost what ever patients I had and had a careless attitude about everything. Thank God she was understanding and helped me through it. I was training 24-7, I would wake up at 5am, jog 3 miles, go to work fulltime and argue with customers all day long, then pick up my daughter, feed her, go to the gym, then go home, jog 3 miles, eat then cook and then I had about 10mins to relax. Imagine repeating that process over and over and over for months...it takes a toll on a person! Keep in mind, I don't drink and didn't go out and socialize on the weekends, it was all about training for this show.
5) Critical Bench: Tell us about your experiences at the bodybuilding show? Tell us about the people you met, what you did in the warm up room and what it was like winning? Discuss the experiences one by one?
Jerome Dinh: At the prejudging, everyone pretty much kept to themselves as well as me. I think we were all eager to get in and do our thing. After pre-judging, friends, family, strangers came up to me and said that I looked incredible and that I won my class. Some people thought it would be close between me and Randy Leppala who took second to me. He is an outstanding guy and meeting him was probably one of my valued experiences. He's a national competitor and took second at the national's bantam weight class and took masters national lightweight class in 2003 so it was an honor to compete against such a fine, respected bodybuilder. He had very kind words for me that were very encouraging that rely helped put the fuel to the fire for my next outing in 2008. Next weekend he is competing in the Masters National. One thing I would like to share about him that he told me and I quote, "My goal is not to win my procard or even win my class but to come in as conditioned as you." That was the best compliment I think I have ever received.
Well, this year, the NPC decided that we CANT have backstage helpers so everyone was a little pissed off but it all worked out. We just applied our oil and what not in the hall just right outside the backstage. Then to pump up, we headed into the backstage where, everyone was doing there own thing, pumping up, flexing, pacing (I was pacing) getting ready to hit the stage. It was fairly calm and relaxing.
The win, well bro, when I was announced the Middleweight winner of the Greater Twin Cities, I already knew I won so it wasn't as exciting as when I was announced the winner of the Mr. Minnesota. I honestly didn't know if I could take Randy, he packed on a good amount of muscle on his 5'5" frame but I edged him out with my conditioning. Everyone was very respectful and the 1st person to immediately congratulate me was Randy. He was a true sportsman and professional and someone I look up to in many ways. So as far as my win was ecstatic and delighted with the decision.
6) Critical Bench: What was your favorite part about getting your amazing physique? What part was the hardest?
Jerome Dinh: Favorite part. Man I don't know if I have one. I guess it would have to be, watching the transformation in the gym. You know how you watch your muscle contract and expand while you have a pump during an exercise/movement...because the hard work wasn't fun and it was very taxing. By FAR the most difficult part was dieting. Training and cardio, I can handle but it's when I get home from the gym, at night, right before bed that I have cravings. Usually after I eat my post workout meal, I am okay as long as I get upstairs and away from the kitchen LOL!
7) Critical Bench: Jerome, are you going to compete again? What's next for Jerome? What are your future goals in the sport of bodybuilding?
Jerome Dinh: I am planning on competing in 2008 in some NPC Natural even, probably the NPC Natural Northern States and if I do well, which I know I will, I'm going to do the Team Universe. I hope one day to earn my pro-card or become nationally know and make a living, somehow... (And I know only the top IFBB pros make a good living) out of my passion. I live life day-by-day, so we'll see.
8) Critical Bench: Tell us what was the most important factor to building your physique out of nutrition, cardio, training, and supplementation? Tell us what was the most important to the least important?
1) Nutrition - no matter how much you train, if you don't have adequate caloric intake and a balanced diet, you will not properly be able to repair your muscles. I consumed mostly rice as my main carb and chicken and turkey for protein for 4-5 meals a day depending on when I wake up and when I go to bed. I never ate 3 hours before I trained or 1-2 hours before bed either. I always train on an empty stomach to keep as much blood in my muscle as possible. If I was ever too hungry before training, I would have a couple scoops of protein powder and that usually curtails my appetite.
2) Weights - this is obvious; you have to breakdown your muscle in order to build muscle on top of muscle and become more muscular. I implemented high volume training and high reps.15-17 set for legs always starting a body part with an isolation movement then working into a compound movement so leg extensions then squats from reps between 12-20.
3) Supplementation - in addition with nutrition, supplementation was key to repairing muscle. It was an extra preventative from keeping my body from going catabolic during my long training and cardio sessions. I used Instone Forza-T to keep my natural test high, No-xplode before training and Cell-Mass, both by BSN for pre & post workout supplement and took a multi-vitamin when I woke up and after training.
4) Running - this was implemented 3 years ago. What I learned about the human body is that it's very adaptive, especially mine. So I knew if I made running regular to myself, I would have less of a chance from going catabolic and having to worry about losing my hard earned muscle to cardio. By doing so, it has made me harder and more vascular. I am a big, huge believer in jogging for cardio. I make it a whole body workout, in fact, I DONT TRAIN ABS. I use my ABS to push my legs when I jog so I almost look like a grandma when I jog. It's quite the site LOL.
9) Critical Bench: Did you drink a lot of water in your diet as you were cutting? How many grams of protein were you eating when you first started competing for this contest, and how many grams of protein were you eating daily just as you came closer to this contest?
Jerome Dinh:I drank 2-3 gallons of water during my diet, well; regardless I do it anyway and have since HS. Its funny but I'll happen to see an old class mate and they'll be like, "you still carry that water jug around", LOL. As far as my protein, I have no idea for what I take in. It's all instinctive up until 4 weeks out. Then I took about 3-4 oz of protein per meal, usually chicken or turkey.
10) Critical Bench: what did your wife, kids, and friends say about you competing? What were the general reactions and what reactions stood out in your mind the most?
Jerome Dinh: They all were not sure how they felt at first but towards the end they all got very excited. They all noticed first hand my transformation among my friends on myspace. Everyone knew that I was going to compete way before I started dieting so no one was surprised or had much of a reaction.
11) Critical Bench: What's your advice for other bodybuilders who might want to compete in bodybuilding and get up on stage for the first time?
Jerome Dinh: Have patients and read about nutrition, food, and training as much as possible. Keep an open mind all the time and don't be a know it all. Learn about your body and how it reacts to training and the foods you eat. Study yourself and put yourself under the microscope. Also, I would get 1st hand training with someone knowledgeable in weightlifting to ensure they're utilizing proper form.
12) Critical Bench: What did you do that the other bodybuilders didn't do in order to be the most impressive bodybuilder at that show and become the champion?
Jerome Dinh: That's a tough question Ben, I really didn't interact or share my training information and/or vise versa. I can tell you for certain, I dedicated 100% of my heart and soul into this contest and made many, many sacrifices, including my family's time.
13) Critical Bench: What was your body fat % for the show? --Now that the show is over what body fat % do you want to live life at for the off season? Do you still want to remain super sliced?
Jerome Dinh: I probably was at 3%, I guess. You couldn't pinch an ounce of fat if you tried, it was all skin, veins and muscle that I could see and feel. I probably will stick around 6-7% but we'll see how it goes. It totally depends on my gains. If I am not gaining enough, I'll have to increase my calories, hence gain a bit more fat. To remain ripped, wouldn't be smart as you wouldn't have the ability to put on some serious size. As a natural bodybuilder, you just can't do it. Your goal is to build mass then when cutting down, try to keep as much of the muscle you gained on the off-season.
14) Critical Bench: What do you think are your 5 best muscle groups? What body parts do your real bodybuilding friends comment on the most?
Jerome Dinh: Hands down, it's my triceps! I don't care how big a person is, even the super heavyweight I competed against, no one have I personally met (other than IFBB Pros) have a bigger triceps then I. They call it my cancer lump LOL. Besides that, probably my chest do to the separation and striations it has. Going down the line for...3, I would say my calves, their full and striated as well and I get a lot of compliments on them. Since my quads are as developed, I made sure my calves were. You can have big legs but if you have small calves, it makes your legs look small. But if you have okay legs and big calves, your legs look big. I learned that motto from the great Arnold himself! 4 would be my traps. They sit nicely right on top of my delts and look very impressive in a tank top. ..5, is my quads. Though their not huge, they have fantastic shape, separation and vascularity that starts at the top of my leg and goes all the way down to my feet!
15) Critical Bench: Is your daughter interested in bodybuilding? How's your wife's progress coming along? Do you train her the same way that you train yourself?
Jerome Dinh: My daughter doesn't quite get bodybuilding all she knows is that daddy or papa is going to the gym to do a double bi, LOL. My wife has taken time off the gym to regroup her thoughts and training method for an up coming Figure contest. She is entering her first figure show on 10-21-06 at the NPC Natural Northern States. Actually, she and her friend Hilary are going to train together and I will monitor her progress. No way would I train her like I train. No offense but she would get burnt out after a week. She needs variety and I am like a robot, I can do the same thing and eat the same foods over and over. We try to make her diet as comfortable as possible but when it comes to training I bust her butt. She hates training with me but she knows she has to because I push her and I won't let her quit. She dreads leg day LOL!!
16) Critical Bench: When your bodybuilding career comes to an end how do you want to be remembered?
Jerome Dinh: I would like to be remembered as a natural bodybuilder who brought back the classic look of the late 60's to early 90's. I want to be known as the guy who had great aesthetics, vascularity, separation, symmetry and who accomplished all naturally!
17) Critical Bench: How would you describe the atmosphere on the bodybuilding stage? Were the other bodybuilders in the show friendly and nice?
Jerome Dinh: Everyone on stage was great sports. No one pushed each other around, we all did our own thing and put a good show on for the crowd. It was great at the overall pose down, people on the left side of the audience was chanting KEITH, KEITH, KEITH then on the total opposite side my friends and family were chanting JEROME, JEROME, JEROME before they announced the overall winner, IT WAS GREAT.
18) Critical Bench: How did you feel the day before you competed? How did you feel the day after? Did you lose sleep?
Jerome Dinh: Ben, I was exhausted, tired, hungry, angry, sad...just very emotional and burnt out but I'm not a quitter and despite any factors you throw at me, I keep coming. Yeah, I only got probably 4 hours of sleep on Thursday and 4 on Friday...the suspense was killing me. After the show, I ate and ate and ate and gained 11lbs but I am back dieting this week for a photo shoot with Athen Grey next Sunday so I am a little sad. I didn't get to eat Godfathers pizza...my favorite pizza, it's the bomb bro! I just have to wait another week... I've waited 24 week so what's another. The one thing that keeps me trucking is reliving Saturday night...man it was such a great and memorable event.
19) Critical Bench: Did the show go as you expected?
Jerome Dinh: Yeah, pretty much, I had high hopes to win my class but the overall was iffy. Usually in MN you don't have Super Heavyweights or even Heavyweight who are conditioned or looks like that have muscle but this time, the time I happened to look my best...there was. MN is a bodybuilding state where Middleweight winners usually take the overall and it's rare to see any higher weight class competitors in good condition.
20) Critical Bench: So, Jerome you did an awesome job in your bodybuilding show! Critical Bench congratulates you! Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us! It seems like we just read an awesome competitive bodybuilding book! In conclusion, what would you like to say about your hardcore bodybuilding training journey to victory?
Jerome Dinh: It was a lot of fun but it wasn't fun getting there. It was a lot of heart, hard work, sacrifice and determination. But in the end it was all worth it and hopefully more will result in my win and open up other financial avenues for me to venture into. Only time will tell and I'll definitely keep you posted bro!
2006 NPC Greater Twin Cities Open and NPC Mr. Minnesota Middleweight Winner and A VERY, VERY CLOSE SECOND OVERALL.