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jamo nezzar precontest slicing program

“Suffer to be Shredded”: Jamo Nezzar’s Twelve Week Precontest Slicing Program

Contest stages around the world are littered with guys with great symmetry and genetic shape. Many are fortunate to have a small waist, good width and balanced development. Does that mean that a lot of Flex Wheelers and Shawn Rays are coming to a stage near you anytime soon? Not by a long shot. But as the sport of bodybuilding gains in popularity and more athletes become involved, the odds of seeing more and more aesthetically gifted physiques grows. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll ever hear about most of them. Unfortunately, a majority of the gifted minority rely on their genetic gifts to win at the local and regional level, never really achieving that elusive shredded condition that is likely to spell victory in bigger contests.

One exception to that rule is I.F.B.B. pro Jamo Nezzar. His nickname, “the English Perfection”, tells you all you have to know about his symmetry and shape. Great lines, pleasing flow and balance with wide delts that taper to a small waist replete with rock-hard abs. What separates Jamo from the gifted pack is his well-documented history of coming into contests crisp and shredded. He was peeled when he won the 1999 Amateur British Grand Prix to get his pro card and continued that tradition when he entered the 2001 Night of Champions at a sliced 238 pounds. Jamo knows what it takes to be “bang on”, as he calls it. He pays careful attention to every detail of his contest prep, including diet, cardio, training and water intake. See what you can learn from Jamo’s pre-contest formula for success.

JAMO’S PRE-CONTEST DIET

FOOD INTAKE

“My diet starts twelve weeks before a show. I stay within 25 to 30 pounds of my contest weight in the off-season and my body responds pretty quickly once I start to diet, so that’s sufficient time for me to get ready.”

Jamo definitely adheres to a high-protein, low to moderate carb philosophy. Here’s his meal by meal breakdown for the first ten weeks:

Upon Awakening

1 pint of grapefruit juice, caffeine and a fat burner

CARDIO

Meal 1—Immediately After Cardio

13 ounces of canned tuna with Crystal Light beverage

1 cup of oats with cinnamon (dry weight measurement)

medium chain triglyceride oil

Meal 2

7 ounces of chicken breast (cooked weight)

7 ounces of baked potato (cooked weight)

2 cups of green vegetables

3 capfuls of flaxseed oil

Meal 3

13 ounces of canned tuna with Crystal Light beverage

1 cup of oats with cinnamon (dry weight measurement)

Meal 4

8 ounces of beef (weighed before cooking)

¾ cup of rice (measured after cooking)

3 capfuls of flaxseed oil

Meal 5

13 ounces of canned tuna with Crystal Light beverage

CARDIO

Meal 6

7 ounces of chicken breast (cooked weight)

3 capfuls of flaxseed oil

You’ll notice that Jamo uses quite a bit of tuna in his precontest preparation, eating a total of six, 6.5-ounce cans of tuna per day.

“There was a time in England when I was pretty strapped financially. Tuna is a great, inexpensive source of protein. I got into great condition eating it and just decided not to change something that worked so well for me.”

Jamo has a rather interesting way of consuming all that tuna.

“I take a big spoon of it, put it in my mouth and swallow it with a big gulp of Crystal Light. I barely end up tasting it and it goes pretty quickly.”

Jamo makes some subtle but important changes the last two weeks before the show. All that tuna is replaced with turkey and red meat while the oats and rice are eliminated in favor of yams and more boiled potatoes.

JAMO’S PRE-CONTEST TRAINING AND CARDIO PROGRAM

Jamo divides his precontest training and cardiovascular work into two phases.

Phase One

This phase consists of eight weeks. During this time, Jamo does an hour of cardio first thing in the morning and another hour before his last meal of the day, six days per week. Training during this time is as follows:

Monday: Arms, Calves

Tuesday: Legs

Wednesday: Chest, Delts

Thursday: Off

Friday: Arms, Calves

Saturday: Back, Rear Delts, Traps

Sunday: Off

Jamo does approximately 12-20 sets for larger bodyparts and 6-12 sets for arms and delts. Weights are kept heavy in this phase and basic movements are maintained. Rest periods are usually between one and two minutes, depending on how tiring a movement he’s doing.

“The idea at this point is to keep training similar to the off-season and let the fat come off through the diet and the cardio. I learned a lot about training from Dorian Yates in terms of perfect form and the utmost concentration and focus and I don’t deviate from that. Not ever. When you learn from the best, you don’t mess with it.”

Phase Two

This phase consists of the last four weeks before the contest. Cardio drops to 30 to 60 minutes, three times per week, a big drop from phase one.

“In the past, when I’ve kept the cardio at two hours per day for too long, I string out too much. After those first eight weeks I find that my metabolism is really taking off and I have to back the cardio down to preserve lean muscle tissue.”

Jamo’s training also takes a dramatic turn at this point.

“I really pick up the pace, resting only about 45 seconds, at most a minute. While my bodypart split stays the same, my movements and rep range change. Now, the reps are up in the 12-15 range, even higher for legs, and I’ll bring in more shaping and cable work for detail. I also drop the weights by about 20%. This close, with the fatigue of the diet kicking in a bit, going too heavy is asking for injuries.”

SECRETS OF CARVING IN THE FINAL DETAILS

jamo nezzar precontest slicing programThe final stages of preparation are often the most critical and make the difference between being shredded onstage or just another guy who didn’t get lean enough. Leaving nothing to chance, Jamo makes sure he covers all the little details so his body has award winning detail.

“I stop training legs ten full days before the show so that the fluid gets out of them and all the cuts can come through. The final week, I train upper body every day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, doing two movements per bodypart, three sets each. All shaping and cable movements to bring out the final bit of separation. Cardio stops the Tuesday before the show, at the absolute latest. I also don’t believe in depleting and carbing up the last week. I go by the mirror. If I’m a bit flat, I add some carbs. If I look a bit watery, I drop them down a bit.”

The morning of the contest, Jamo eats two meals, assuming that the prejudging begins at Noon.

Meal 1: 8AM

12 ounce steak

2 large yams

2 to 4 tablespoons of peanut butter

Meal 2: 11 AM

12 ounce steak

2 tablespoons of peanut butter

Jamo pays close attention to his water intake during the entire twelve-week precontest phase. The first nine weeks he makes sure to get two gallons of water per day. During weeks ten and eleven he increases it to three gallons. Then comes the critical last week. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday he drops to two gallons. Wednesday and Thursday he goes to one and one-half gallons and on Friday he drinks one gallon and stops drinking at about 8 or 9 PM. The morning of the show he just sips as little water as possible right up until prejudging.

STAYING DISCIPLINED

I asked Jamo what helps him fight off the temptation of cheating on his diet.

“When I have a craving, I visualize being fat and bloated on stage and standing next to another competitor who came in shredded. That eliminates any desire to give in to the temptation. Being in crisp condition isn’t supposed to easy. Dorian called me when I was about two weeks out from a show and asked me how I felt. I told him that I was really hurting.”

What was the six-time Mr. Olympia’s reply?

“He said that if I was suffering, it was a good sign. I guess if you want to be shredded, you have to be willing to suffer, and I am.”

So, there’s the message. If you want to make your competitors suffer on contest day, you have to be willing to suffer first. Ask Dorian and Jamo.

Phase 1

To give you an idea of how his training varies between phase one and phase two, let’s take a look at Jamo’s leg training during phase one:

Quads

Leg Extensions: 6 sets of 15-20 reps

Leg Press: 5 sets of 12-15 reps

Smith Machine Squat: 3 sets of 12-15 reps

Walking Lunges: 3 sets of 100 yards

On this movement, Jamo goes half the distance lunging with the left leg, then turns around and lunges back to the starting point using the right leg.

Hamstrings

jamo nezzar precontest slicing programLying Leg Curls: 5 sets of 12-15 reps

Seated Leg Curls: 4 sets of 15-20 reps

Stiff Leg Deadlifts: 4 sets of 15-20 reps

Step-Ups: 3 sets of 15 reps

Phase 2

To give you an idea of how Jamo’s training changes in this phase, take a look at his leg training now:

Quads

Leg Extensions: 6 sets of 15-20 reps

(last 2 sets are drop sets to maximize intensity)

Leg Press: 5 sets of 20 reps

Walking Lunges: 6 sets of 100 yards

Hamstrings

Lying Leg Curls: 5 sets of 12-15 reps 

(last 2 sets are drop sets to maximize intensity)

Standing Leg Curls: 3 sets of 12-15 reps

Stiff Leg Deadlifts: 3 sets of 15-20 reps with toes straight

3 sets of 15-20 reps with toes pointed out

Jamo Nezzar

www.MuscleJam.com

Major Titles:

1991 British Light-Heavyweight Champion

1999 Amateur English Grand Prix Champion

Age: 36

Birthdate:

Height: 5-10

Contest Weight: 238

Off-Season Weight: 265

Starts preparing for a contest 12 weeks out

PRECONTEST TRAINING AND CARDIO PROGRAM

Jamo divides his precontest training and cardiovascular work into two phases.

Phase One

jamo nezzar precontest slicing program

This phase consists of eight weeks. During this time, Jamo does an hour of cardio first thing in the morning and another hour before his last meal of the day, six days per week. Training during this time is as follows:

Monday: Arms, Calves

Tuesday: Legs

Wednesday: Chest, Delts

Thursday: Off

Friday: Arms, Calves

Saturday: Back, Rear Delts, Traps

Sunday: Off

Jamo does approximately 12-20 sets for larger bodyparts and 6-12 sets for arms and delts. Weights are kept heavy in this phase and basic movements are maintained. Rest periods are usually between one and two minutes, depending on how tiring a movement he’s doing.

“The idea at this point is to keep training similar to the off-season and let the fat come off through the diet and the cardio. I learned a lot about training from Dorian Yates in terms of perfect form and the utmost concentration and focus and I don’t deviate from that. Not ever. When you learn from the best, you don’t mess with it.”

Phase Two

This phase consists of the last four weeks before the contest. Cardio drops to 30 to 60 minutes, three times per week, a big drop from phase one.

“In the past, when I’ve kept the cardio at two hours per day for too long, I string out too much. After those first eight weeks I find that my metabolism is really taking off and I have to back the cardio down to preserve lean muscle tissue.”

Jamo’s training also takes a dramatic turn at this point.

“I really pick up the pace, resting only about 45 seconds, at most a minute. While my bodypart split stays the same, my movements and rep range change. Now, the reps are up in the 12-15 range, even higher for legs, and I’ll bring in more shaping and cable work for detail. I also drop the weights by about 20%. This close, with the fatigue of the diet kicking in a bit, going too heavy is asking for injuries.”

Over his many years of competing Jamo has received the most compliments about his back development. When you realize that his training partner for years in England was the owner of one of the freakiest backs ever to hit a lat spread, six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates, you shouldn’t be surprised. Here’s Jamo detail-etching precontest back routine, set for set:

BACK

Chins—Shoulder width to the front 5 x 12-15

Reverse Grip Barbell Rows 4 x 12-15

Reverse Grip Lat Pulldown 3 x 12-15

1 Arm Dumbbell Row 2 x 12-15

Deadlifts 2 x 12-15

Jamo’s precontest training differs from his offseason training in that he will drop his weights by about 20-30% and increase the rep range. He stays with basic movements until about three weeks before the contest. At that point, he will bring in more cable movements for shaping and detail.

Precontest Cardio

During the off season, Jamo will not perform any cardio, instead relying on his quick metabolism and clean eating to keep him in good shape. However, when he begins preparing for a contest, his cardio goes from zero to sixty in no time flat! Here’s his week-by-week cardio breakdown, right into the show:

16 weeks out: 2 hours per day (Two sessions, one hour each)

12 weeks out: 1 hour per day. This is when he actually starts dieting and cuts his carbs in half.

3 weeks out: No more cardio. Jamo is usually in shape by this point. If he keeps doing cardio after this point he tends to lose muscle and come in flat.

Jamo’s cardio machine of choice is the Treadmill.

“I do it at a high incline of 12% to target the glutes while I’m getting my cardio done. I usually do intervals by varying my speed between 3.5 and 4.5 miles per hour. I also hold on while I do these because I feel that I can get a harder contraction and squeeze the glute more when I do. I will sometimes use the Elliptical Trainer to mix things up a bit when I am doing two hours per day.”

PreContest Nutrition & Supplementation

Food Intake

“My diet starts twelve weeks before a show. I stay within 25 to 30 pounds of my contest weight in the off-season and my body responds pretty quickly once I start to diet, so that’s sufficient time for me to get ready.”

Jamo definitely adheres to a high-protein, low to moderate carb philosophy. Here’s his meal by meal breakdown for the first ten weeks:

Upon Awakening

1 pint of grapefruit juice, caffeine and a fat burner

CARDIO

Meal 1—Immediately After Cardio

13 ounces of canned tuna with Crystal Light beverage

1 cup of oats with cinnamon (dry weight measurement)

medium chain triglyceride oil

Meal 2

7 ounces of chicken breast (cooked weight)

7 ounces of baked potato (cooked weight)

2 cups of green vegetables

3 capfuls of flaxseed oil

Meal 3

13 ounces of canned tuna with Crystal Light beverage

1 cup of oats with cinnamon (dry weight measurement)

Meal 4

8 ounces of beef (weighed before cooking)

¾ cup of rice (measured after cooking)

3 capfuls of flaxseed oil

Meal 5

13 ounces of canned tuna with Crystal Light beverage

CARDIO

Meal 6

7 ounces of chicken breast (cooked weight)

3 capfuls of flaxseed oil

You’ll notice that Jamo uses quite a bit of tuna in his precontest preparation, eating a total of six, 6.5 ounce cans of tuna per day.

“There was a time in England when I was pretty strapped financially. Tuna is a great, inexpensive source of protein. I got into great condition eating it and just decided not to change something that worked so well for me.”

Jamo has a rather interesting way of consuming all that tuna.

“I take a big spoon of it, put it in my mouth and swallow it with a big gulp of Crystal Light. I barely end up tasting it and it goes pretty quickly.”

Jamo makes some subtle but important changes the last three weeks before the show. All that tuna is replaced with turkey and red meat while the oats and rice are eliminated in favor of yams and more boiled potatoes.

JAMO’S PRE-CONTEST TRAINING AND CARDIO PROGRAM

Jamo divides his precontest training and cardiovascular work into two phases.

Phase One

This phase consists of eight weeks. During this time, Jamo does an hour of cardio first thing in the morning and another hour before his last meal of the day, six days per week. Training during this time is as follows:

Monday: Arms, Calves

Tuesday: Legs

Wednesday: Chest, Delts

Thursday: Off

Friday: Arms, Calves

Saturday: Back, Rear Delts, Traps

Sunday: Off

Jamo does approximately 12-20 sets for larger bodyparts and 6-12 sets for arms and delts. Weights are kept heavy in this phase and basic movements are maintained. Rest periods are usually between one and two minutes, depending on how tiring a movement he’s doing.

“The idea at this point is to keep training similar to the off-season and let the fat come off through the diet and the cardio. I learned a lot about training from Dorian Yates in terms of perfect form and the utmost concentration and focus and I don’t deviate from that. Not ever. When you learn from the best, you don’t mess with it.”

Phase Two

This phase consists of the last four weeks before the contest. Cardio drops to 30 to 60 minutes, three times per week, a big drop from phase one.

“In the past, when I’ve kept the cardio at two hours per day for too long, I string out too much. After those first eight weeks I find that my metabolism is really taking off and I have to back the cardio down to preserve lean muscle tissue.”

Jamo’s training also takes a dramatic turn at this point.

“I really pick up the pace, resting only about 45 seconds, at most a minute. While my bodypart split stays the same, my movements and rep range change. Now, the reps are up in the 12-15 range, even higher for legs, and I’ll bring in more shaping and cable work for detail. I also drop the weights by about 20%. This close, with the fatigue of the diet kicking in a bit, going too heavy is asking for injuries.”

SECRETS OF CARVING IN THE FINAL DETAILS

The final stages of preparation are often the most critical and make the difference between being shredded onstage or just another guy who didn’t get lean enough. Leaving nothing to chance, Jamo makes sure he covers all the little details so his body has award winning detail.

“I stop training legs ten full days before the show so that the fluid gets out of them and all the cuts can come through. The final week, I train upper body every day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, doing two movements per bodypart, three supersets each. All shaping and cable movements to bring out the final bit of separation. Cardio stops the Tuesday before the show, at the absolute latest. I also don’t believe in depleting and carbing up the last week. I go by the mirror. If I’m a bit flat, I add some carbs. If I look a bit watery, I drop them down a bit.”

The morning of the contest, Jamo eats two meals, assuming that the prejudging begins at Noon.

Meal 1: 7 AM

12-ounce steak

2 large yams

2 to 4 tablespoons of peanut butter

Meal 2: 10 AM

12-ounce steak

2 tablespoons of peanut butter

Jamo likes to have his last meal two hours before he will be onstage, but he will take a few rice cakes with him to the prejudging. He will also take a tablespoon or two of peanut butter and jelly about 15-20 minutes before going backstage.

Jamo pays close attention to his water intake during the entire twelve-week precontest phase. The first nine weeks he makes sure to get two gallons of water per day. During weeks ten and eleven he increases it to three gallons. Then comes the critical last week. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday he drops to two gallons. Wednesday and Thursday he goes to one and one-half gallons and on Friday he drinks one gallon and stops drinking at about 8 or 9 PM. The morning of the show he just sips as little water as possible right up until prejudging.

STAYING DISCIPLINED

I asked Jamo what helps him fight off the temptation of cheating on his diet.

“When I have a craving, I visualize being fat and bloated on stage and standing next to another competitor who came in shredded. That eliminates any desire to give in to the temptation. Being in crisp condition isn’t supposed to easy. Dorian called me when I was about two weeks out from a show and asked me how I felt. I told him that I was really hurting.”

What was the six-time Mr. Olympia’s reply?

“He said that if I was suffering, it was a good sign. I guess if you want to be shredded, you have to be willing to suffer, and I am.”

So, there’s the message. If you want to make your competitors suffer on contest day, you have to be willing to suffer first. Ask Dorian and Jamo.

* Means that the weight or measurement given is before that particular food has been cooked.

How does it differ from your offseason diet?

I actually eat more when I am dieting than in the offseason. Precontest, I am always hungry because my metabolism is flying and I am doing cardio. My carbs are lower in the precontest phase.

Do you have a reward day? Reward Meal?

Not usually. I go by feel. If I am not losing weight at the rate I think I should be, I will use a cheat meal or cheat day to kick start my metabolism. I definitely believe in it for people who may have a slow metabolism.

Meal Frequency?

Every 2 ½ to 3 hours.

Do you cut out carbs or anything as the day goes on?

My first four meals have sufficient carb intake, then the carbs are cut down for the rest of the meals. If I am not leaning out fast enough I will rotate my carbs by depleting them down to 100 carbs for four days and rotate.

Timing of food and training or cardio?

I eat my preworkout meal 2 hours before I train and then I have a postworkout meal right after I am done working out. The postworkout meal is a liquid meal consisting of Whey Protein, Glutamine, BCAA. Then, 1 hour after that meal, I will eat a solid food meal of 12 oz. chicken with either oats or rice.

Food preparation tips.

Spice your food with herbs and lemon juice. Don’t be afraid of sodium until the day before the show.

The Last Week  Assumes  prejudge

Do you carb deplete and load? How? Take me through the last few days?

Water Intake

Before the last week, I normally take in about 1 to 1 ½ gallons of water per day. Then it changes.

Sunday Gallons

Monday Gallons

Tuesday Gallons

Wednesday Gallons

Thursday 1 to 1 ¼  Gallons of Distilled Water. Stops at about 9PM

Friday Sip as needed

Saturday

Food Intake

Sunday through Thursday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

When do you stop training?

Tuesday

Tanning

jamo nezzar precontest slicing program

What do you use and when do you start?

Jamo starts using the tanning bed three weeks before the show to get a good base tan. The day before the show he will apply three coats of Pro Tan as follows:

Morning 1 coat followed by a shower

Afternoon 1 coat

Evening 1 coat

The morning of the show he will apply 1 more coat and his coloring is complete. He uses Mustard Oil as his posing oil backstage.

Supplements

Which supplements do you use before a show?

  • Whey Protein
  • Glutamine
  • Creatine (stops using 2 weeks out)
  • BCAA
  • Vitamins B, C and E
  • Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc
  • Essential Fatty Acids
  • CLA
  • Digestive Enzymes
  • Saw Palmetto
  • Milk Thistle
  • Fat Burners (stops at 4 weeks out)

Posing

How much does posing play a part in your contest prep in terms of adding to your conditioning? If you use it this way, what do you do? Is there a routine?

It contributes a lot, a helluva lot.

How far out do you start to pose for hardness, if at all?

Starting at three weeks out, Jamo will do every mandatory and semi-relaxed pose 10 times and holds each pose for 10 seconds each time. He will do this twice per week. When he gets to one week out before the show, he will do this every day.

When do you start preparing your posing routine?

I have the music for my routine done 16 weeks out and I have the routine prepared 12 weeks out so that I can practice it regularly and get comfortable with it by the time the show comes around.

Flying

What do you do to control your water if you are flying to a contest?

I drink a lot when I am on the plane with Vitamin C. I do not eat any carbs on the plane, only protein.

How many days before the show do you fly?

10-14 days. Keep in mind that Jamo normally was flying from Europe to the United States when he competed before moving to California. Now, if he is competing within the U.S., he will make sure to arrive at least three days before the show.

Finish This Sentence…

The thing I like most about contest prep is…

The night before the show. You are so hard and detailed that every move you make is like a sculpture.

The thing I like least about contest prep is…

Shaving and tanning. I hate that shit!

The first thing I want to eat after a show is…

Believe it or not, my diet food. I feel like I look so good that I don’t want to spoil it. I once held my condition for 16 weeks after a show on a bet with photographer Irvin Gelb. He said I couldn’t do it. He lost!

Another athlete whose conditioning I really admire is…

Dorian Yates. Nobody beats Dorian. Currently, I’m really impressed with Art Atwood.

The best condition I’ve ever been in was at

The 1994 and 1999 British Nationals. People were like, “What the hell is that?”

When I really want to take a day off, eat something that’s not on my diet or blow off cardio, I do it because…

I’ll be thinking of all the other guys who are staying on their program.

What goes on in your mind that makes you stay on track?

Thinking of myself as a fat ass on stage looking bloated.

Any Other Tips

If you need to focus on bringing your glutes in, make sure to squeeze them on every step while you are doing the treadmill. Also, squeeze them throughout the day whenever you think of it.

Suffering to be shredded—see above.

Not a team sport. If you screw up, you’ll have no one else to blame.

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Larry Pepe is the author of the new book, The Precontest Bible, which can be viewed online at www.PrecontestBible.com. Larry can be reached by email at Larry@MuscleFlex.com.

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