Emeka Okammor is a man on a mission as he dials in his training and nutrition for his run at a pro card at the NPC National Bodybuilding Championships in November. I touched base with Okammor in between his day job as a security analyst for The Orange County Clerk of Courts and a training session. “In the short-term, I want to prepare for nationals but also help everyone on the Simple Fitness Team to qualify as well.” Looking at the long-term, “I want to turn pro, compete until I’m 60 and help others along the way.”
Bodybuilding is not Okammor’s first taste of success in athletics. He excelled in football, basketball, and track at Southern High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he was a four-year letter winner in all three sports and a two-time state sports honoree. From there, he went on to play four years of Division One Football at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
“I came in as a freshman at 310 lbs. and played defensive tackle.” With the increased emphasis placed on conditioning and weightlifting at this level of competition, he quickly dropped weight and finished his college career at 250 lbs. and as a defensive end.
• 2nd place SHW class, 2012 Southern USA’s 1st place HW class, 2011 Mid Florida
• 2nd place HW class, 2011 Orlando Metro
• 3rd place HW class, 2010 Southern Isles
After college, Okammor turned to bodybuilding. “I’m in love with competing and bodybuilding lets me feed my competitive nature and transform my body.” With only three years of competition under his belt, Okammor’s results speak for themselves with impressive placings in several contests and a sponsorship with Athletic Xtreme. He credits his success to, “researching and educating [himself] along with some trial-and-error.”
For example, Okammor cycles his carbohydrates. After seeing other competitors include brown rice in their diets, he switched from sweet potatoes to brown rice for a carbohydrate source. “I noticed a big change in my physique almost immediately.” Unfortunately, these weren’t positive changes. “I started to hold more water and was really flat.” Luckily, he tried this early on in his preparation for nationals and switched back to sweet potatoes. “You have to find out what works for you and don’t get caught up with what everyone else is doing.” Okammor repeatedly stressed the importance of proper diet in achieving fitness goals. “Nutrition is the most important thing no matter what direction you want to go in.”
Monday: Legs--Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes and Calves
Wednesday: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Abs
Saturday: Arms--Biceps and Triceps
Okammor bases his training around two supplements from Athletic Xtreme. “German Creatine has helped me get my weight where I need it while Ultra Rep pre-workout gets me going without stimulants.” However, he credits a great deal of his training success to a strong mindset. “A lot of working out is mental; you have to plan.”
Okammor trains six days a week with Sundays off. Preparing for competitions, he concentrates on increasing mass with a combination of supersets and high volume workouts coupled with heavy weights. As competitions approach, he increases his cardio with a mixture of HIIT and steady state cardio. “With steady state cardio, I keep my intensity up and work at the top of my maximum heart rate. I like HIIT, but you have to be careful to avoid injury and not burn off too much.”
As the time for our interview quickly passed, Okammor signed off on his cell phone. Time is a precious commodity in his quest for a pro-card. However, one statement he uttered during our interview resonated in my head and perfectly captured the spirit of this competitor:
“You always have obstacles…you just climb over them.”
Mark Kaelin – Mark is an instructor in the biology department at Bellarmine University. He has a Master of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Louisville and is a certified strength-and-conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Mark has been writing since 2001, with work appearing in both consumer and research journals.