Amateur athletes don’t often have the luxury of being able to focus solely on their sport. They hold 9 to 5 jobs, have responsibilities at home and other obligations and yet must be very disciplined to keep to their training and diet.
Often coworkers, friend and even relatives have no clue about the amount of time and effort they are putting in day in and day out.
Local Minneapolis athlete Miles Dombrovski epitomizes this quiet focus as he puts in two-a-days to prepare for his first NPC competition. We talk about what motivates him, who inspires him and more.
MMG: You are competing this spring in the National Physique Committee (NPC) MN Gopher Classic this spring. Can you explain for us what that competition involves?
MILES: The competition is all about how contestants’ bodies show proper shape, proportion, muscularity and overall condition.
The NPC is an amateur physique organization and hold competitions nationwide for male and female athletes.
There are divisions for bodybuilding, physique, bikini and figure within NPC competitions. Men’s physique competitions feature the guys walking out on stage in board shorts who complete a few simple turns for the judges.
They’re judged on their stage presence, muscularity and overall physical condition.
MMG: Are you excited? Nervous? As the competition quickly nears, how are you feeling?
I’m definitely excited! I think some nerves before the competition will help me get amped, but I’m not feeling nervous yet.
I will be practicing my posing well before the competition, too. I have no clue what it will be like when I get to the actual stage, so I’m just going to approach the competition day with an open mind and do my best to prepare beforehand.
MMG: What motivated you to register and compete? I understand this is your first competition. How did you get into NPC?
MILES: I got motivated to compete simply from wanting a new challenge. I’d always been a physically active guy, but I felt I wanted something new to work toward. Registering for the NPC is actually simple – you just apply and pay your fee.
MMG: Is there a community in the Twin Cities of people involved with NPC? Was it easy to get involved with or something you had to seek out on your own?
MILES: I train at Los Campeones Gym in Minneapolis, and there’s definitely a mix of bodybuilders and physique competitors at the gym.
I’ve gotten to know a few competitors outside the gym as well. I’m definitely pumped to meet more athletes at the competition in April.
MMG: So what does a normal week of training look like? How many days on? How many days off? And what type of workouts are you doing? Break it down for us.
MILES: I’ve found that working a standard 9-5 job left me with a limited window of time during the day to get in and crank out my training sessions. But now that I’m less than 12 weeks out from the show, my weeks are more regimented.
Right now, I’m working out 2 times a day Monday through Thursday. I like to get into the gym for about 45 minutes in the morning, then use the rest of my energy later in the evening after work for dedicated muscle group work.
Cardio and ab work usually falls in the morning.
I’ll typically take Friday off, but I tend to get antsy and go in on the weekends to work on anything I feel needs attention.
My workouts emphasize hypertrophy right now, but about once a week I’ll test my strength on the three big lifts.
MMG: Do you ever take your training outside of the gym at all?
MILES: During the winter I tend to stay indoors because I’m a wuss when it comes to the cold; but in the summer I like to play tennis, bike and run.
A friend and I are going to start indoor rock climbing soon, too.
MMG: How does diet factor into all your training? Do you follow any plans or have any rules that you follow in terms of eating and drinking?
MILES: I eat five to six meals a day and track all of my macros. I’ll be starting carb cycling in a few weeks to really lean up.
I don’t start my day without making my own coffee in my beloved French press, but I drink so much water during the day, it’s ridiculous.
Definitely at least a gallon per day. I keep my shaker bottle with me at all times, and just keep refilling it with water as soon as I finish it off.
Hydration is key. I’ve also cut out alcohol as part of the prep diet.
MMG: Your training sounds very disciplined. Any tips?
Benjamin (Loehrer) was very good about explaining to me how simple everything related to training can be – diet can be simple, staying hydrated is simple, getting the right amount of sleep is simple.
Once I started to notice a good change in my physique, it came down to asking myself how bad I wanted to compete and what sacrifices do I need to make in order to make it happen. So I made a complete shift in my day-to-day priorities.
I chose to start tracking all of my food intake in the MyFitnessPal app on my phone.
I chose to only drink water or coffee in the morning. I make sure I get a good night’s sleep every day.
My friends and I will go out for sushi happy hour rather than drinking. Making the right decisions for your health becomes easier every day once you get in the habit. The first step is to just start.
MMG: What other factors are important to your overall physical and mental wellness?
MILES: I meditate at least once a day and my sleep is crucial to recovering after workouts. I go to bed no later than 9 PM and get up by 6 AM during the week for sure.
MMG: You recently posted a side-by-side photo of yourself from February 2014 and one from December 2014. You were already in good shape, but the transformation is impressive. Besides the physical, what has been the biggest change you have seen in yourself over the last year?
MILES: That selfie is ridiculous, but I was kind of blown away at what I had accomplished in that time period. My cousin and I are really close so we’ll talk a lot about how the “lifting lifestyle” really influences so many more aspects of your life.
I’ve never been happier and more confident with myself than I am now. I get so much more out of my relationships with friends and family because I feel good about who I am and because they support me in my endeavors.
I’m just more centered than I was a year ago because I’m taking really good care of myself.
MMG: Who do you look towards for guidance? Do you have any mentors or role models that are important to you in your life and in your training?
MILES: I think everyone who trains at Los Campeones admires Benjamin Loehrer at least a little bit and he’s been my go-to guy for training tips, diet questions and motivation.
I’ve told him that finding his gym has been a lifesaver because I actually felt the motivation to get healthy and fit just by stepping foot inside the building.
MMG: What’s the best piece of advice you have received in terms of your training?
MILES: The best advice I’ve ever received actually came to me after an injury. I hurt my shoulder last fall and my brother told me to make sure I’m “listening to my body” – meaning, if I can tell that my body isn’t rested it’s okay to take a day off. Or if maybe that weight you’re attempting is just a little too heavy, check your ego and lighten up so you don’t get hurt like I did.
MMG: A lot of your training is lifting and I imagine alone. How do you push yourself when you are by yourself to keep going and work hard?
MILES: I personally like the “lone wolf” aspect of hitting the gym. I’m not a chatty guy when I’m training.
I usually plug in my earbuds, blast some rap music and just go. The most anyone will get out of me is maybe a smile or a wave, but I promise I’m not angry!
MMG: What is different for you when you have a training partner? Does it help or hinder your workout?
MILES: I definitely prefer training alone for the sole reason that I can crank through my session quicker that way.
I’ve trained with partners before and it’s usually best when you’re both at the same intensity and there’s no bullshitting.
But if it’s a more casual lift, you’ll be there an hour longer than you expected and feel like you got nothing done.
MMG: What has been the highlight to date of your training and entering into this world of NPC competitions?
MILES: Seeing results! And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the flexible dieting IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) allows.
No matter how many contests I enter in the future, I’m just happy to see my hard work pay off.
MMG: And what’s been the biggest lesson you have learned along the way?
MILES: The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way actually has nothing to do with training at all. I’d say the biggest lesson I’ve learned is who my real friends are along the way.
It was interesting to find out which old friends, classmates or whatever were judging my Instagram before & after shots.
But I definitely got some fuel out of “the hate” as they say, and kept charging along with the support from my close friends and family.
Now, I just laugh negative comments off because the Internet is not real and no one should ever take something like an Instagram selfie seriously whatsoever.
MMG: Finally, the name of this site is based on the idea of a “goat” in CrossFit. It is an exercise, lift or movement that you suck at and need to work on. What is your goat?
MILES: Bench press! Without a doubt. I’ve always had a fear that the bar will just drop down and crush my esophagus, so maybe I need to spend some time bonding with the bar so I’m not so scared.