Interview With Pro Natural Bodybuilder Morris Mendez By Brian Cannone
Morris Mendez Birthplace: Birmingham, England Current Residence: Bloomfield, CT Height: 5'-9" Weight: 230lbs
Q: From what I understand, you were born in England. How did you end up in the States with a career in fitness? (How and when did you first become interested in fitness?)
MM: My parents were born in Jamaica but moved to England and after I was born then they moved to the U.S., as I was still a child. I've lived in Hartford County, Connecticut for some time and growing up here it wasn't an older brother, it wasn't football, it really was Muscle & Fitness Magazine that inspired me to start lifting and my lifelong goal was to look like the men in that magazine.
Q: I read that you grew up on three different continents. Which continents were they, and how do you think being submerged in a variety of culture has shaped your future?
MM: I was born in England moved to Jamaica and then to the United States. I am very proud to have become a U.S. citizen and feel moving around at a young age helped me to enjoy meeting new people and making new friends.
Q: Do you have any role models?
MM: My role models include many of the greatest athletes that represent themselves in a first-class fashion like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, my idols would be great athletes that also make a difference in the world and would be Mohammad Ali and of course Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ali and Arnold were not just great athletes they chose to speak up on issues that they felt strongly about and look to make the world a better place.
Q: You have graced the presence of Muscle & Fitness twice from what I understand. Did your training or diet regimen change at all from the first shoot to the second?
MM: Making the cover of Muscle & Fitness has been a great experience for me and one of the highlights of my entire career. I didn't know I was going to make the cover the first time around and was thrilled to find out the photo shoot was planned for a cover shot and not just editorial. Prepping for a Muscle & Fitness shoot is different than getting ready to compete in a bodybuilding contest - I'm able to stay much fuller and healthier getting ready for a photo shoot than competing in a contest. I weigh about 10lbs heavier for a shoot than a contest and I look forward to a shoot much more than a show. Competing was the way to get exposure and I do enjoy bodybuilding and I follow the sport but I would much rather participate in photo shoots.
The second cover shoot was also shot at the same time as the first cover so for Muscle & Fitness to use another photo really was just an extra surprise. I look forward to working more with Muscle & Fitness and when I get another chance and I just need a little notice to prep by adjusting my amount of cardiovascular exercise to burn more calories and adjusting my diet then before the shoot I lower my sodium and try and drop some water weight to look tighter.
I would cut out eggwhites and tuna due to salt intake. Increase vegetables (broccoli, lettuce, asparagus) with very low complex carbs until then increase complex carbs (rice, potato) while eliminating vegetables - 1.5 gallons water switching to distilled and cutting to slowly to sips.
Q: You've been in quite a few competitions over the years. Which was the most challenging and are there any plans for entering future competitions?
MM: I'm somewhat a shy person but I do enjoy getting on stage and showing off with a dramatic and exciting posing routine. I've been told that with my genetics and symmetry I could do very well with bodybuilding and compete at the pro level it I did what I had to do to be at that level. I'm sorry if I disrespect anyone but it is my personal choice not to use steroids and I realize without them it is unlikely I would be competitive enough to become an IFBB pro bodybuilder. I have been tossing around the idea of competing in another show maybe this fall to keep me motivated.
Q: How do you train in the gym to look the way you do? What is your exercise regimen?
MM: I train one major muscle group each day and take 2 days off from lifting. I do Legs on Monday, Chest on Tuesday, Back on Wednesday, Thursday off, Friday is Shoulders and Saturday Arms with Sundays off. My workout is always changing from low reps, high reps, drop sets, super sets, week-to-week I like to keep my workouts changing.
Q: What does your diet consist of, and do you stick to it without fail?
MM: If anything I find it hard to eat on a consistent basis - this is the toughest part cooking and eating. When I'm on point this is my diet that I'm most consistent with.
12 eggwhites Pro 40 grams
1.5 cup Oatmeal (cooked) Carb 38grams
1 whole grapefruit carbs - 20grams
1 black coffee
3 scoops whey protein with water 60g
1 green apple - 20 g carbs
9oz chicken breast protein 60g
1 sweet potato carb 35g
1 cup broccoli carb 5g
9oz chicken breast protein 60g
1.5 cups brown rice (cooked) carb 70g
1 cup asparagus carb 5g
9oz chicken breast 60g carb
1 cup brown rice (cooked) carb 50g
1 cup broccoli carb 5g
lrg romaine salad with balsamic vinegar
1 tbs flaxseed oil - 14g fat
3 scoops whey protein with water 60g protein
Q: Do you allow yourself any cheat days? If so, what "sinful" food/s do you enjoy?
MM: I'm not big on junk food - very seldom would I have pizza, cookies or cake. I'm actually a fan of fine dinning I really enjoy going out to a fancy restaurant getting a bottle of wine, an appetizer, a meal and then dessert and I'll even go as far as an after dinner drink and a cigar. If I'm going to go off my regular diet plan I want the full experience and I'll try my best to make the most of it.
Q: What body parts are your favorites to train? Least favorite?
MM: I enjoy training and enjoy most muscle groups - I get down with chest, shoulders, arms, and legs but what I don't care for of all is abdominal exercises.
When I train abdominals I train to build muscle just like any other muscle group and I perform sets and repetitions. I like to use weighted exercises to hit the two major movements one for upper abdominals and one for lower abdominals. I stay away from any side bends and rotating movements because I don't want to make my waist grow in thickness. I use adjusting my diet and cardiovascular exercise to get as lean as possible.
Many people want to be able to see their abdominal muscles. Most people try and spot reduce fat off of their waist with sit-ups doing high repetitions but it doesn't work that way. I recommend training abdominals no more than two times each week with sets and reps.
Q: You are a Jack of many trades it seems, with a love for acting, art, traveling, bass playing, and teaching art to children with developmental difficulties. Tell us a little about how you got into these activities, and how you find time to do it all and still look the way you do.
MM: My occupation is working with children with developmental issues and it can be stressful and most of my day is committed to that. How do I get everything else in to my life well honestly is that I work second shift so I have my mornings free. Training at the gym takes a good hour each day but it is the cooking and preparing meals and eating that is the most time consuming of all.
Q: Being a fan of travel, which country was your favorite of the ones you've visited? Which country do you want to visit that you haven't yet?
MM: I have visited China, Costa Rica, Mexico, El Salvador, England, and in the states all of New England, New York, Florida, and California, representing bodybuilding with guest posing, seminars and trophy presentations. I enjoy going to shows and expos and would look forward to visiting Venezuela and Australia.
Q: Your Web site says you enjoy learning foreign languages. Which languages can you speak?
MM: I speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, and some French… Venez-vous ici souvent? (Do you come here often?) :
Q: What are your future goals, personally and professionally?
MM: Currently I am pursuing other endorsement contracts with sports nutrition companies. I did have a two-year contract that I have fulfilled with a company and I worked the booths at the Olympia and the Arnold Classic it was a fun time and I enjoyed telling people about the products and meeting all the people at the events.
Q: What advice would you give readers who dream of taking their body (or career) to the level you have?
MM: I love to weight train it is a true passion of mine working out is fun and I really do enjoy it. To look the way I do really comes down to diet if people ate what I eat everyday many people would look great it seems to be the diet part that many people slack off on. A career in fitness is something I still I am pursing as I still go to work everyday but I am in the works on writing a fitness book.
Q: Anything else you'd like to say to the readers that I didn't cover?
MM: I started lifting weights due to Muscle & Fitness Magazine and it has been my inspiration to be able to make 2 covers is a dream come true. I would just like to say to the readers that if they have a passion, a dream, a goal to chase it and stay true to who they are and that it took me 6 years to make the right contact with someone from Muscle & Fitness before I even got a call back for a photo shoot a for editorial spread. This has been a great experience and I thank you.