London’s James Hollingshead is in the home stretch to the 2022 Arnold Classic UK, scheduled for Sept. 23-25, 2022, in Birmingham, England, this weekend. “The LDN Bodybuilder” recently completed one final rigorous leg workout and provided his fast-growing base of YouTube subscribers with some insightful commentary before he hits the stage.
The 33-year-old hopes to add the 2022 Arnold Classic UK title to his existing haul, which includes the UKBFF Junior British Championship, UKBFF Heavyweight Championship, and the Europa Pro Bodybuilding contest honors. Now honing his physique for the spotlight of the IFBB, Hollingshead is leaving no stone unturned. Check out his physique update and final leg workout in the video above.
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Bulk As Long As Possible
For many bodybuilders, bulking is halted several weeks before the competition date to leave time to cut — when the focus is dropping body fat and sharpening muscle definition. Hollingshead likes adding to his body weight for as long as possible to continue to add solid muscle.
“A couple of days ago, I had a refeed day,” he says. “I pushed my weight up to the heaviest I’ve been for quite some time. I got my weight back up to 280 (pounds). Going to be, probably, three or four days until I can shift the excess weight [and] get back down into baseline.” Hollingshead can hold his weight down the wire, knowing he can cut comfortably.
“Any of you guys that know me that follow me know that I have next to zero issue with getting body fat off,” says the IFBB Pro. Hollingshead has achieved success in competitions with just six weeks of prep. “My body just loses fat really quick, but at the same time, it has a real issue with retaining muscle.”
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“I’m not meant to be a big chap,” laughs the man-mountain, who believes his body to be more suited to his other athletic endeavors, such as skating, running, and swimming. “Strength is not a problem, I’ve always been strong, but my strength isn’t really something that correlates to size.”
Hollingshead says his critics, such as those who comment on YouTube, have questioned why he puts so much emphasis on eating rather than leaning in the run-up to a contest. The Londoner says that his gigantic food consumption is necessary to maintain and add to his muscle mass.
“If you go on stage, you could be shredded to the gills, but if you don’t have a certain amount of size, you will not place top three,” says Hollingshead. “Musculature is the main, first objective in bodybuilding. That’s why [they call it] bodybuilding because you have to build muscle. The Olympia is the best show to see that. If you look at the top five, they are the most muscular people in the line-up.”
Prioritizing Calories Over “Clean” Foods
“I don’t enjoy the eating,” laughs Hollingshead. “It gets to the evening of the day where I get to eat (or refeed), and I honestly feel trash, but if I don’t do it, and I just bump calories in by using my existing foods, clean calories, it just doesn’t do anything. And, the amount that I have to eat in clean food; the volume of, say, rice, the volume of potato, or anything like that, it’s so much that it really stresses my stomach out because these foods just aren’t calorie-dense. So, when the objective is just to get as many calories as you can with food that doesn’t necessarily take up the most space, then that’s why you have to use foods that are not typically on plan.”
James Hollingshead’s Leg Workout
Hollingshead likes to begin his workouts with hamstrings because he finds that quad exercises can tax him to the point where he can’t give his hamstrings the attention that they deserve if worked last.
- Hamstrings: Standing leg curl, seated leg curl
- Quads: Leg press, back squats
- Calves: Calf raises
- Abductors: Abductor machine
- Biceps: Seated biceps curls
The bodybuilder follows the five-set rule for this workout, executing five sets on his hamstrings, quads, abductors, and calves before throwing in five sets on his biceps for good pre-contest measure. The five sets for each body part are mixed and matched between exercises depending on how he feels.
James Hollingshead’s Advice for Aspiring Bodybuilders
“I just wish for them to have amazing experiences and don’t take it too seriously like I do sometimes,” Hollingshead shares. “… remember that you’re with a really elite bunch of great people, and when you are around them at these shows, take it in, talk, communicate, have fun, laugh, smile; it’s a brotherhood. Sometimes at these shows, you get so caught up in what’s expected of you and the placings [that] you forget that you are all people who have worked incredibly hard to get there. Use the experience as an enjoyment.”
Suppose Hollingshead is victorious at the 2022 Arnold Classic UK. In that case, he says he wouldn’t shy away from future contests in preparation for a shot at Mr. Olympia, instead opting to build his confidence on stage and keep busy. Hollingshead says that staying out of his comfort zone is key to his continued progress, and with a winning attitude like that, who can get in his way?
Featured image: @hollingshead89 on Instagram