Consistency, says Victor Martinez, 2007 Arnold Classic champion and runner-up at the 2007 Mr. Olympia contest, is the most important thing in bodybuilding.
Martinez should know. The consensus was that the “Dominican Dominator,” as Martinez is known, was ready in 2008 to claim the most exalted title in bodybuilding, that of “Mr. Olympia.” But God, or fate, had something else in store for him because he suffered a knee injury that forced him out of competition that year.
The following year, then, it was with an amalgam of delight, curiosity and sympathy that Martinez was welcomed back to the contest stage. But then, only three months before the September Mr. Olympia, Martinez’s sister was murdered. The tragedy required Martinez, father of four, to assume “head of the family” duties. He placed sixth in the show.
Martinez does not give excuses. Like a dogged fighter, the 37-year-old puts his head down and pushes forward, with the aforementioned consistency — a quality that has perhaps made him one of the best bodybuilders to walk the stage. What he has to show for it: a physique that blends monstrous size, exquisite lines and superb conditioning.
Who better to teach and motivate you? Here, Martinez shares with M&P readers the formula that has made him one of today’s top bodybuilders.
If you were to boil down Martinez’s training philosophy to a simple plan of attack, it’s this: Employ good exercise form, do 10 reps per set and don’t overtrain.
• Good form: You don’t get to be 270 pounds of hard muscle without handling some heavy poundage — but you won’t find Martinez doing unsafe or jerking movements to move the weight. That’s because he’s a stickler when it comes to exercise form, which helps prevent injuries and build muscle.
With his years in the sport and in the gym, Martinez knows the right (i.e., safe) way to do things. Earlier in his career, having an experienced trainer helped him avoid developing bad habits, including the exercises and poor form that can lead to injury. “A good trainer also identifies exercises you need to incorporate in order to address weak points and exercises you don’tneed to spend time on,” he says. “But understand that no one person knows all the answers. I try to get different opinions.”
• Ten reps per set: In general, Martinez stays at 10 reps during most sets. “It works for me. But every once in a while, I do higher 15- to 20-rep phases. Everyone’s different. You need to know your body and work with it. See what works best for you. But four to six — no, that’s too low. That’s more for powerlifting.”
Having a workout partner helps, Martinez says. “The challenge, the competition, the push — with a partner to spot you, you won’t be afraid to lift heavy. Training alone, you don’t get the extra encouragement.”
• Don’t overtrain: Martinez lifts weights four days a week and rests the other three. “I spend less than an hour in the gym at a time,” he adds. The half-hour before his workout, Martinez thinks about that day’s game plan. Once he sets foot in the gym, there’s no wasted time. After a five-minute warm-up on the stationary bike, he heads to the weights.
Martinez hits each bodypart once a week, except for abs and calves, which he trains twice a week. For lagging bodyparts, his advice is unequivocal: “Before you think about adding a second day for a lagging bodypart, make sure you check your form on your exercises for that bodypart. The problem is usually not how many times you train, it’s your form when you do train.”
Put muscle groups that you want to bring up or give extra energy to at the beginning of the week, Martinez advises. “That’s why I do quads on Tuesday,” he says. “My legs are fresh and I have more energy.”
Your body’s not responding to your workout? Change your routine, the Dominican Dominator says. “If I don’t see changes after a month on a new routine, I change it. Your body adapts to new workouts quickly.”
In the offseason, Martinez performs 20 to 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio two to three times a week. But not for fat burning, he’s quick to add. His treadmill walk helps him keep his cardiovascular system healthy without sapping his ability to recover, sparing energy for heavy-duty weight-training sessions.
Diet and Supplement Lessons
Despite minimal offseason cardio, you won’t find Martinez looking fat. Ever. “I eat about six meals a day and stick to clean foods,” he says. “I never go more than 15 to 20 pounds over my contest weight.” Here’s Martinez’s “get big, not fat” advice to up-and-coming bodybuilders.
• Eat clean: “Your objective is to gain quality weight without getting sloppy,” he says. “If you’re trying to put on size, don’t rush it by eating too much junk food. Sure, French fries and lasagna will put on weight, but how much of that is fat? Eat bigger portions of clean food. If you want, add sauces and condiments like steak sauce and ketchup. Just don’t drown your food in them.”
Careful drink choices are key, too. “If I have a craving for soda, I have one a day, max, diet soda only,” Martinez says. “I drink a lot of water and sparkling water.”
• Diet smart: “Give your diet time,” Martinez instructs, “but don’t let yourself get stuck with a diet that’s not working. You may have to change your portion sizes depending on how much weight you need to lose or gain.”
And as for that weekly cheat meal, enjoy it. “It helps mentally,” he admits. “But try not to have it at night, when you’re less likely to work it off.” For Martinez, three or four slices of pizza does the trick.
What’s key, Martinez says, is knowing how your body works and working with it. That means constant evaluation and understanding that what works for Martinez — or anyone else, from another top pro to your training partner — may not work for you. Just as with training, find out what does make a difference in your development and stick with it.
• Choose quality supplements: Martinez has put his name behind one supplement company, MHP, founded by former national-level competitor Gerard Dente. The integrity of the company and its products are the reason for his allegiance. “There are a lot of supplements out there,” Martinez says. “Many are worthless. Go with supplements made by a company you trust — one that backs its products with science. When there’s a lot of science behind a product, you know you’re using a high-grade supplement.”
Success in bodybuilding requires more than hard workouts and clean foods on the dinner plate, Martinez says. It also requires further diligence.
For one, you’ll want to make sure you get enough quality sleep. It’s important for everyone but absolutely critical if you’re a hard-training bodybuilder. Power naps can help fill the gap if you can’t get enough hours in at night. “When I’m wound up at night and have trouble sleeping, I take Cyclin, which helps make the most of the sleep I get,” Martinez says.
He also recommends you get help if you need it. “Once a week, a specialist in Muscle Activation Techniques works on me at the gym and treats my muscle imbalances,” Martinez says. “It has improved my endurance and helped me make greater progress in the gym.”
In addition, he says, don’t let stress wear you down. “In the half-hour before I get to the gym, I meditate a little, and it puts me in the zone,” Martinez says. “I’m going through my workout in my head. But if you’re running from the office to the gym, that can be tough. Try to take a few minutes to leave your stress behind you before you set foot in the gym. You can release a little stress during your cardio, too.”
Above all, it always comes full circle, back to the trait mentioned at the beginning of this article. It’s the one that has kept Martinez among the top professionals in his chosen sport and can help you elevate your game, too. Attack your training, nutrition and supplementation with consistency, and over time, your body will have no other option than to respond. Now it may not be to the level Martinez has attained as a professional bodybuilder, one of the very best of his generation. But that, to be sure, is a pantheon where few mortals have tread, and thankfully, isn’t necessary to consider your bodybuilding endeavors a resounding success.
Victor Martinez’s MHP Supplement Stack
Glutamine-SR Three times a day
Martinez says: “Glutamine-SR delivers more glutamine than other glutamine products and releases it longer — for 12 hours — so I get greater muscle growth and better recovery.”
NO-Bomb Before workouts
Martinez says: “NO-Bomb is a nitric-oxide supplement. It gives me huge muscle pumps, better energy and endurance during my workouts, plus greater recovery and less muscle soreness. It helps burn fat, too.”
Dark Rage Before workouts
Martinez says: “Dark Rage gives me incredible pumps. In the gym, I’m stronger, more focused and can train with greater intensity. I recover faster and build more muscle mass, too.”
Probolic-SR After workouts
Martinez says: “When I switched from taking whey to Probolic-SR, I felt the effects of this protein powder right away. My muscles are bigger, harder and fuller than ever before, and I recover from hard workouts much faster. Probolic gives me a 12-hour supply of amino acids, including high levels of glutamine, arginine and BCAAs.”
Dark Matter After workouts
Martinez says: “Dark Matter contains creatine, amino acids and other ingredients. It absorbs faster than whey isolate, replenishes glycogen and increases cell volume.”
Dren Before pre-contest cardio sessions
Martinez says: “Dren is an extremely powerful fat-burner. I only need to take one capsule a day to burn fat, increase my energy and curb my appetite.”
Anadrox Offseason, morning and afternoon
Martinez says: “Anadrox combines nitric-oxide boosters with powerful fat burners in one formula. It helps me get pumped and ripped.”
Cyclin-GF At bedtime
Martinez says: “Cyclin helps me get better-quality sleep, plus it suppresses cortisol and stimulates hormones that help me build muscle even while I sleep.”
Activite Twice a day, year-round
Martinez says: “Everyone needs a multivitamin. Activite is not like all the others. It’s designed for athletes. Its vitamins, minerals and antioxidants improve my exercise endurance and decrease lactic acid, and its amino acids help my muscles recover and grow.”
A-Bomb Training days: morning, preworkout and postworkout: Off days: once a day
Martinez says: “This is another product that works for you over 12 hours, not just the moment you take it. A-Bomb’s packed with amino acids and other nutrients that prevent catabolism and give your body everything it needs for maximum muscle growth, recovery and top performance.”
Cardio: Victor Martinez performs 20 to 30 minutes of cardio for cardiovascular benefits two to three times a week. He typically uses the treadmill on level 3 or 4, at an incline of 3. For pre-contest fat burning, Martinez likes interval cardio on the stationary bike, alternating between level 6 or 7 and level 12.
Victor Martinez’s Hardcore Mass-Gain Diet
Meal 1: 10 egg whites, 2 cups oatmeal (plain or flavored), 1-2 teaspoons sugar
Meal 2: Steak or chicken (8 ounces), brown rice (1 cup)
Meal 3: Steak or chicken (8 ounces), brown rice (1 cup)
Meal 4: Shake and supplements
Meal 5: Steak or chicken (8 ounces) or tilapia (10-12 ounces), broccoli
Meal 6: Steak or chicken (8 ounces) or tilapia (10-12 ounces), broccoli