RIPPED TO SHREDZ! IPL APEX MEN’S ATHLETIC MASTERS CLASS! FEATURING KENNY SCHROCK, RICHARD PUOU, AND JAMES NIEZEN
Interview By Ben Yosef | Michael Brooks Photography
2016 IPL APEX (the IPL’s year-end pinnacle championship event in Los Angeles in November) featured three of the best Men’s Athlete Masters physiques the IPL has to offer. James Niezen, Richard Puou, and Kenny “The Rock” Schrock.
All three of these top competitors brought their A-game. And, each of these men was shredded to the bone, making it incredibly difficult to judge, especially in the conditioning department!
BEN YOSEF: Congratulations to you guys on such a great showing at APEX! You all looked awesome!
How were you feeling coming into that show, knowing that you would be up against some of the best athletes the IPL has to offer in Men’s Athletic Masters?
RICHARD PUOU: I felt comfortable and excited!
KENNY SCHROCK: I was little nervous and excited. I had a lot of family health issues last year that I was helping my family with, which took some of my training time.
JAMES NIEZEN: It was a little surreal. I had faced off against Kenny in May in my first competition, so I knew what I was facing on that front…Schrock the Rock. I saw pictures and heard stories of Richard Puou’s performance at the September show. And, from that, I knew what a beast he was. I have to say, I was a little intimidated. However, I used the memory of facing off against Kenny to fuel my efforts in training. So, thanks to you Kenny! You are are part of my journey and success!
RICHARD: I was a intimidated, too! It was the fellowship that made it comfortable!
JAMES: You said it, brother!
“Training to me is like a boxer training for a fight. It takes a lot of focus and dedication.” -Schrock
KENNY: Thanks, James. You guys are the rock stars! The competing fellowship is a lot of fun and rewarding after the long training. Training to me is like a boxer training for a fight. It takes a lot of focus and dedication.
BEN: Well, you guys are my heroes! You all were so shredded at APEX. This is what I want to talk about! [laughs] The title of this article is “RIPPED TO SHREDZ!“ So, what did you guys do to come in so dang lean?
JAMES: What did I do? Well, first off, I did what my coach, Craig Tsutakawa, told me to do. My meal plan was laid out for me and I was told to commit to and trust the process. I had gone through the process already earlier in the year to get to my first competition and had experienced such amazing success. So, I knew that faith in the program would get me the results that I was aiming for, and then some!
Secondly, Herbalife. Amazing stuff on so many levels. This was a large part of my meal plan. Third, mental game. A good quote goes something like this, ‘However a man thinks, he becomes’. Belief in yourself is paramount.
“I didn’t do any cardio, because I didn’t want to lose any more weight.” -Puou
RICHARD: I basically did the same thing James did. I followed the meal plan to a “T”! Took all of my tablets and capsules and drank a gallon of water. I didn’t do any cardio, because I didn’t want to lose any more weight.
For the Rancho Cordova competition, in September, I started at 190 and 7% body fat and ended up on stage at 172 with 5.2% body fat. To get some cardio for conditioning I incorporated it with weight lifting. I did 5 sets of 8 reps with 30 seconds rest of 6 to 8 exercises.
For me, being this was my second competition in LA, I felt a lot more comfortable and decided to step out of the box of what I considered the norm. It was awesome!
KENNY: It’s the same for me. I followed the meal plan laid out by Craig and Caroline. Morph Fit gave me tremendous support, too. The biggest challenge is the mental game, staying on meal plan. Thanks, Ben, for IPL. It was an awesome experience in 2016! I enjoyed competing against Richard and James. You guys rocked it!
RICHARD: Thanks Kenny! It was nice meeting you.
BEN: James, you are 47…Kenny and Richard you are now in your 50’s…and you all look incredible. What tips would you give to other men, that can help them stay in peak shape as they get older? Lastly, what is next for you guys?
RICHARD: I would have to say to all the young ones that are getting ready to start their Journey in Fitness and competing… start Young! If you’re going to play a sport at a young age, start lifting weights for that sport! The chance of injury is much less if you do.
Eat consciously and always pack a lunch, or your food. Write down your goals of what you want to achieve! My goal was to be 10 pounds heavier at this last event and I was exactly 10 pounds heavier! And last but not least, be open to learn! You’ll never be fully educated, period. The day you think you are is when you going to need the most!
Thank you Ben for all you do! I really appreciate you and this league that you have designed. Love your humility and I know that you know a lot in Bodybuilding and competition. So thank you very much! Love you guys!
“To your question, I think that the key to staying in peak or even reasonable shape is mindset. Think young!” -Niezen
JAMES: It was a great weekend of catching up with new and old friends. Awesome part of being involved with the IPL. Thanks for this, Ben.
To your question, I think that the key to staying in peak or even reasonable shape is mindset. Think young! My wife’s 102 year old grandmother still says this with a twinkle in her eye. [smiles] Which is a great bit of advice from someone who knows.
Visualization is part of this. The body will only go where the mind imagines, so dream big and take action. Once a course is chosen, stick to it. Consistency means doing what you decided to do, daily. If the gym is what you are going to do…do it. No excuses.
Nutrition is huge! In some of my conversations at the competition this past weekend, I was asked what my secret is. No cheat days. You are either on plan or off plan. Stick to it. Cheating is only cheating yourself.
As to what is next for me? Well, I am still adjusting to the concept of being an Open Athletic Pro, WOW! Tight competition! I have not made a decision as to what I will be doing yet, however I am considering Pro shows. *James Niezen won his IPL Men’s Athletic Open Pro Card at the 2017 2nd Annual California Championship in Rancho Cordova, CA.
KENNY: The key for me is staying on meal plan. Most people give up before they start seeing results. It also helps if you have close friends or acquaintances in the same trenches, helping you stay on track.
It was great seeing you guys this past weekend. I wish I could’ve stayed longer. You guys all looked awesome, including you too, Ben! It’s very obvious you have been working hard and leaning out! I’m sorry Richard, I did not get a chance to say hi to you. You guys all inspired me.
As for the future, I’m hoping to get a report next month to have full impact on my ankle. Right now I’m leaning on starting training for next spring. I’ve had a rough road with varies issues and injuries last year, but a new year is coming up.
“I want to help run the IPL! Whatever you need, I want to give my services to you Ben.” -Puou
RICHARD: My goal is to compete at the West Coast Pro this fall and APEX. Also, travel outside of California to other IPL venues to compete. And, I want to help run the IPL! Whatever you need, I want to give my services to you Ben. Thank you! NMI