Did you know CrossFit Games mainstay Noah Ohlsen‘s strength sports career started in bodybuilding? That’s what he shared with three-time Classic Physique Olympia champion Chris Bumstead while in the bodybuilder’s kitchen. Ohlsen and Bumstead are both Gymshark-sponsored athletes, and the fitness apparel company set up a meeting of the two men so Ohlsen could get a taste of what it’s like to prep for the Olympia.
On Oct. 7, 2021, Gymshark shared a video on its YouTube channel wherein Bumstead tells Ohlsen how he eats to progress his metabolism in the offseason. Additionally, Bumstead takes Ohlsen through one of his training sessions and teaches him how to pose like the “most aesthetic bodybuilder on the planet.” Check it out:
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Ohlsen pulls up to Bumstead’s home in Florida and is greeted by Bumstead’s dog at the door. They head into Bumstead’s kitchen, where Ohlsen shares that his fitness journey began in bodybuilding while in high school. At the time, Ohlsen wasn’t considering a career in the sport; he just wanted to be jacked. He ultimately shifted into CrossFit in his late teens but still admires the aesthetic titans of the stage like Bumstead, who now holds three Classic Physique Olympia titles at 26 years old (the third title he won after this video was filmed).
Bodybuilding Year Round
Bumstead tells Ohlsen that the off-season is just as crucial as a prep in bodybuilding, except “you’re not just training muscle…you’re trying to progressively train your metabolism…to handle more food.” It’s a slow process of consciously increasing calorie intake over time. After prep is complete, like the one he just did for the 2021 Olympia, Bumstead’s diet will consist of approximately 3,500 calories per day. He increases his intake by 300 calories every week and, hopefully, his body adjusts accordingly.
If by the end, I’m eating more calories than I was the year before and I’m in the same shape, my metabolism is working better.
Bumstead’s strategy when cutting calories for a show is to eat later in the day. He doesn’t feel as hungry in the mornings as he does in the evenings, so eating breakfast closer to lunchtime helps him spread out his meals to make the lower caloric intake more manageable.
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Hitting the Gym
Ohlsen mentions how bodybuilding is often frowned upon in the functional fitness world:
Everybody makes fun of the guy in the corner doing the biceps curls.
Both men agree that scrutinizing an athlete in either sport for their choices is nonsense. In Bumstead’s view, CrossFitters push their bodies “to insane limits” and acknowledges Ohlsen as “a very competitive athlete.” To succeed in either sport requires discipline and commitment. The difference being that, come game time, CrossFitters race against each other, whereas bodybuilders present the work already completed.
Bumstead and Ohlsen get to business with dumbbell incline bench presses. Bumstead expresses the mental barriers bodybuilders are challenged by in the gym when under-fuelled during a prep. The 120-pound dumbbells Bumstead locked out felt like 300 pounds to him in the moment, but he knows that despite running on fewer calories, he hasn’t lost much muscle. Training his mindset to push past that illusionary feeling of heavier weights is key to success.
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Bumstead and Ohlsen move on to cable flyes, chest flyes, and dips while reinforcing the idea that every person’s body will react differently to specific training frequencies. For some, a whole week on, full week off schedule is adequate. For others, two days on, one day off might work better.
Bumstead and Ohlsen took every set of each exercise to near failure. Although he didn’t mention it, Bumstead seems to know his science. The way he trains is the International Universities Strength and Conditioning Association’s (IUSCA) position stand on hypertrophy training.
Ohlsen and Bumstead stroll into a room in the gym where the walls are lined with mirrors, heavy bags hang from the ceiling, and the lighting is pointed downward for some immaculate shadows. The first pose is the front lat spread — a move that is second nature for Bumstead. Ohlsen, who knew nothing about posing prior, struggled a bit.
You don’t want to look like you’re constipated in the face, right?
Bumstead may be a champion bodybuilder but doesn’t appear too far removed from the struggles of posing. The rub is flexing every muscle “as hard as you can and…looking like you’re not doing anything.”
Posing is an artform Bumstead has mastered. He is the first bodybuilder ever to win the Classic Physique division three times. His goal is to leave a legacy in the division where future Classic Physique competitors will look back and aspire to look like him. If watching one of the greatest CrossFit athletes on the planet pose next to Bumstead revealed anything, it is just how much of a pioneer Bumstead is in the infancy of Classic Physique.
Featured image: @nohlsen on Instagram