Olympia Prep – Part 1. The Diet Begins

Part 1 of 3.

My Prep.

My preparation for the 2012 Mr Olympia really began about 24 weeks prior to the contest. I started training my back 4 times a week(two days-twice a day each time), started ensuring I was getting at least 6 good meals a day(and a few not so good ones). The goal was to make sure I was consuming enough high quality protein to grow. I can hear many of you right now…”how much protein?” well, truthfully that changes according to how often and how hard im training. I will usually increase my protein intake on days when I train twice, and for 24 hrs after those days. Off days, my calories drop down a bit.

This prep was very unique for me. It was the first with my amazing incredible wonderful handsome son(he was born 6 weeks before the Arnold classic this year, but this is my first full prep). It was also my first prep without the man who had become my biggest role model, educator, mentor, and best friend who tragically passed away 12 weeks from the contest(RIP Peter). The man changed the way I look at the sport of bodybuilding, training, and life itself.  Many of the methodology, and training techniques I use in the gym were either taught to me by him, or at least explained to me in such a way that made it much more clear as to why certain things were meant to be done one way, versus what most people out there are doing.

At 12 weeks out, cardio started. Usually only about 30mins, 4 times a week. One of the simplest ideas I have ever employed is to allow my body to change as much as possible by making as little change as possible.

In an ideal world, a pro bodybuilder(or any one aspiring for a very lean physique) would be able to eat whatever they want and stay very lean. Then, by making some slight dietary changes be able to drop bodyfat and get contest ready (your body would look best being as close as possible to its natural homeostasis- aka wherever you are in the “offseason”). Unfortunately for most of us, myself included, this is not the case.  Although there are many times when I try to convince myself I CAN eat whatever I want and stay shredded, it just doesn’t happen for me.

I try to do as little cardio as possible offseason, so eating clean most of the time is the only way I can maintain a somewhat lean appearance and continue to consume enough high quality calories to grow. Trust me, if I could eat burgers and pizza like most pros, stay under 8% and diet for 6 weeks, life would be a whole lot easier. (Although Ive never been one to take the easy road! 😉 )  That being said, most of them might not be able to add as much mass as I can….we always want what we don’t have.  The idea behind getting your body to change without making drastic changes is something that stems from years of observing competitive bodybuilders do what I call “backing themselves into a corner”.  This can most often be observed with amateur and female physique athletes whereby they start their diet 16 weeks out, doing 2hrs of cardio and zero carbs. My question has always been, “what the heck do you do from there?” Once your body stops responding to the stimulus you subject it to, and it ALWAYS will, where do you go from there?  So starting with 20mins of cardio 4 times a week, then 30, then 40, just made the most sense to me. It is constantly offering a new stimulus, and your body is basically forced to adapt-provided your diet is consistent.  This approach is also one of the reasons that most of my drastic changes occur in the last 4 weeks before a contest.  I really haven’t done anything drastic, or varied from my offseason all that much by this point.  Other than eliminating cheat meals and adding in a small amount of cardio, I am trying to stay as close to my homeostasis as possible.

THE TRICK then, is attempting to shift my “homeostasis” each year so that I’m slightly closer to contest shape. Just a little leaner, and little bigger each year. Train your body to improve the efficiency with which it uses nutrients little by little each year.

Its no secret that I have never used carbohydrates as well as most top IFBB pros. Poor dietary habits as a child and as a young bodybuilder(on top of poor genetics) have led me to have very poor insulin sensitivity.  However, learning the intricacies of proper nutrition and supplementation have allowed me to make incremental changes each year, and improve my body composition one year at a time.

Enough of my tangent.

At 5 weeks out, many of you know by now, I made my way to train in Golds Gym Venice California from my normal stomping grounds of Tampa FL.

Here is my exact diet at 5 weeks from the Mr Olympia:

12oz lean beef

6oz broccoli
2tablespoons coconut oil

12oz tilapia
6oz broccoli
2cups fennel/kale/spinach salad.

930am PreWorkout
2 scoops Allmax Muscleprime
2scoops Aminocore

10am TRAIN w Charles Glass.

1130am Post workout
3scoops Aminocore
5g creatine
10g EAA
2g Vitamin C
2g CLA
50g carbs from Allmax Krush or Dextrose powder

12pm 1scoop ISOFLEX Choc Peanut Butter.

12oz tilapia
75g carbs from quinoa flakes or rice

12oz chicken
75g carbs from quinoa flakes or rice(opposite of last meal)

12oz beef
6oz broccoli
4oz avocado

**Many days I train Twice. In which case it would fall here with cardio after training.

10oz tilapia
75g of carbs from sweet potato

***9pm Cardio 40mins(if I don’t train in the evening)

6oz beef
16 egg whites
1bag spinach
2oz macadamia nuts.

Make sure to comment below and let me know what you want to hear about from my prep.

In part 2 of the blog I share my favorite HIIT cardio program and in part 3 my exact carb load protocol for the OLYMPIA!  Don’t miss it, THIS WEEK!

Lots more to come in Part 2 😉

What Do You Think?

By |2017-04-15T23:58:32+00:00October 8th, 2012|


  1. Randy October 8, 2012 at 1:35 am - Reply

    I love what you’re doing here! I’d like to hear you’re approach to the last 5-7 days of training before a show.

  2. Dean Perrone October 8, 2012 at 1:43 am - Reply

    Awesome post Ben, Love all your videos and posts, etc. Thanks for all the information, keep it coming !!

  3. Andrew October 8, 2012 at 6:32 am - Reply

    Awesome information! Along with everything in part two, would be awesome to learn what you do with your water intake over the last week of prep as well. Always find the carb loading and water intake the hardest to figure out.

  4. Kalle October 8, 2012 at 6:53 am - Reply

    talk a little bit on what u take before u do let say a morning cardio or evening cardio to prevent muscle breakdown, whit that said i mean what supps u take before cardio?

    and what supps u need before let say AM fasted cardio to not loose muscle..

    all the best PAK!

  5. Halyn October 8, 2012 at 9:51 am - Reply

    When you start your carb depleting phase, how many carbs you eat on that phase, when you start carb loading ,how many carbs you eat on loading pjase and how you manipulate your water consumption Ben?

  6. Matthew October 8, 2012 at 10:12 am - Reply

    So, the biggest meal is before bedtime?

    And you sleep for roughly 6 hours (11pm – 5am?)

  7. Pedro Encinas October 8, 2012 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    Excellent information Ben!! really appreciate that you share this!
    If I was obese until 16 years old, is more likely that I have poor insulin sensitivity too? Im 31 years old and 11% body fat right now, and Im struggling to get to a lower level…

  8. Shant Wanees October 10, 2012 at 12:19 am - Reply

    Hey Ben, great article! Very inspiring. I will be doing my second competition next month and would like to know what coloring product you prefer to use?

  9. Victor Bortoletto October 12, 2012 at 1:53 am - Reply

    Hi ben on the days that you train twice! you dont add more carbs?? can you show us how was your treining split when training 8 times a week? thanks

    • benpakulski October 16, 2012 at 1:18 am - Reply

      thats a whole blog topic in itself. But yes I will share that soon.

  10. Johan Duluc October 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    hey ben,
    great article, i will continue to follow your work. I studied under Peter Chaisson for both MAT and RTS, he was an awesome instructor and human being and inspired me to do my first show, which i was decimated in!! (all good, learning experience) I was curious to know, where is your bodyfat at when you start your contest prep? so 24 weeks out?

  11. Jesse Russell October 16, 2012 at 2:09 am - Reply

    Ben, great information, thank you for sharing. I have one question, do you feel energy depleted in the morning weight session with very little carbs in your system? Thank you.

    • benpakulski October 16, 2012 at 5:00 am - Reply

      I have MORE energy in the morning sessions because I dont eat carbs. Eating carbs
      pre workout will not give you energy to train mate. Doesnt work like that

      • Jesse Russell October 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm - Reply

        Ok thank you, I was always under the impression it was imperative to have carbs prework out for energy.

  12. Scott Hutchinson October 18, 2012 at 11:58 am - Reply

    Thanks for the blog posts, very detailed into how you get things done!
    Just noticed in your post workout supplements you were taking CLA. Just wondering with timing of CLA. What was your reasoning behind adding that in?

    • benpakulski October 18, 2012 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Scott, usually 2g with meals. I find it helps modualate cortisol

  13. Paul Clutterbuck October 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Ben,

    Good post. I have a copy of MI40 and I am loving the workouts. Although I am struggling to keep the workouts to 40 minutes, even with a stop watch to count my rests.

    I think I am like you by being insulin resistance/sensitive. So I need to play around with my nutrition and supplements to help with reversing that.

    Since reading MI40 I have tried the zero carbs before training and to be honest, i don’t have any lows in energy during. My last carb meal is 75g of brown rice about 4 odd hours before I train. I think I have also drop some extra body fat because of it too.

  14. North Face Pink Ribbon October 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how quick your blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, fantastic site!

  15. Tony October 31, 2012 at 12:12 am - Reply

    Ben, thanks for taking the time for wanting to help. Obviously by looking at your regimen, your time is very valuable. you didn’t feed me a bunch of bull when I asked a question. I have been practicing carb-loading for some time now and I always spill. Now that you taught me about carb sensitivity, I LOAD MUCH BETTER. Im gonna be all leaned up with no place to go in about 5 weeks. Thanks Tony

  16. Dan October 31, 2012 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing Ben. I am sure you get it all the time, but I want to thank you for creating MI40. I am a thinking man, and understanding the science behind training is just as stimulating to me as training itself. Cheers.

  17. http://kingjstyle.livejournal.com November 12, 2012 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Great job writing Ben Pakulski – Olympia Prep – Part 1. The Diet Begins. I would like to read more about this topic.

  18. John December 27, 2012 at 10:52 am - Reply

    To be honest mate, this type of blog is amazingly informative and interesting to read. I hope to see more! Thanks alot!

  19. Brett Azar January 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    Hey Pac, I posted about this artiicle on facebook already and couldnt give it more praise. You turned my training and diet around big time. I had one question though… when you train twice, with the evening workout do you have another post workout shake? or only consume that solid food meal with tilapia and 75 grams of carbs.
    Also, starting the MI40 program soon. Needed a boost and it seems perfect.

  20. medhat March 25, 2013 at 9:23 pm - Reply

    hallo…..i am very interest with your body show. i hope you send me a complete training program covering the main body muscles.
    thanks for all.

  21. Jacob April 5, 2013 at 2:54 am - Reply

    Incredible insight and detail into one of the best minds and approaches in the sport. Can’t wait to pick up the book your working on! Much love and support your way Ben. Keep doing your thing.

  22. Andrew Rothermel July 1, 2013 at 12:02 am - Reply

    BPAK!! yo great stuff here, again. Always putting out the best bodybuilding info on the web. And holy shit that’s a lot of food. I knew you had to eat a ton to get to where you are but this is sooooo much more than I expected. Good luck this year!!!!!

  23. HM August 29, 2013 at 3:58 am - Reply

    I am recently learning about the anabolic diet and carb cycling. Just wondering, I eat a big bowel of fruits every night which contains (1/2 cup grapes, 1 tangerines, 1 apple and 1/8 pineapple). Now with the carb cycling can I still include this as one of my meals? From what I have read it seems as though this would be a high carb meal so just wanted a professional insight as to whether or not I should exclude this meal. Your advice is greatly appreciated.
    Also bread, is that something I should avoid especially if I am trying to cut down body fat?

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