From the 6am rises to eating a meal every-two-and-a-half hours, no-one could accuse body-builder Micky McKay of lack of dedication.
At the age of 49 Micky, of Oxford Road, Corby, has recently qualified for the Mr Britain competition in Manchester on October 20 and 21.
Although winning the accolade would be a career first for Micky he is certainly not short of trophies, having won 14 cups in the past seven years, including two British titles within 12 days, coming second in Mr England and previously qualifying for Mr Universe.
But success in the sport has come late in life for the fitness instructor.
“I started training when I was 14,” says Micky, who says he was a skinny kid.
“But I got serious about it when I was 19.
“My big brother was into it and had some weights. I just enjoyed the training back then. I was one of six kids, and it was something to do that was free and kept me out of trouble.
“I first competed when I was 21, I don’t think I even placed the first time.
“I always trained with weights but I did other sports back then – boxing from 14 to 19, football from 17 to 34. I always did weights, but the running I did with the other sports took the muscle off.”
It wasn’t until recent years that Micky became really serious about bodybuilding.
“I was in my mid-30s and I decided to take my exams to be a fitness instructor. It took me four years but I got my diploma at the age of 40.
“I set up my business Fitness 121, which allowed me to really concentrate on my training.
“I’m now coming up for 50 and I’m in the best shape I have ever been in.
“For me I really peaked at 42, an age when a lot of people think about retiring from sport.
“It really is a sport you can take up later in life. There are people still competing at 70-odd.”
Along with training his clients each day Micky also puts in hard training, and a very strict diet.
Micky said: “I train Monday to Friday, working on a different body part each day.
“I start at about 6am and some of my clients meet me then and do a 40-minute power walk. I try to train whenever I can between clients.
“I will be doing lifting from Monday to Friday.
“I do about 30 minutes on the rowing machine and weights, then it’s back to training my clients. I finish at about 6pm.
“At the weekend I just do a power walk, it depends on what phase I am in, in my training.
“I do the cardio to get rid of body fat.
“I lift what feels heavy. It is about feeling the muscles and making sure the muscle is working, lifting in a smooth movement, rather than sticking to particular weights.
“I follow nutrition plans and I pay someone to prepare them for me. Luke Nichols sets out my diet and cardio.
“I have my first meal at 7am and then eat every two-and-a-half hours, mostly low-carb meals.”
Micky showed me a sample menu for the day.
It started off at 7am with oats, whey and blueberries. Two-and-half hours later and it is time for a meal consisting of turkey breast and brown rice.
At 11am he has a banana with whey.
At 1.30pm it is white fish with spinach, at 4.30pm a turkey breast, at 7.30pm white fish and spinach and the final part of his nutrition plan comes at 10pm when he has casein.
“This is a whey protein which has a slow release so it is good to eat before you sleep and when you wake up you don’t lose lean muscle tissue,” says Micky.
“I don’t eat the same meals every day and this diet is tailor-made for me.
“Everyone is different and nutrition and supplementation needs to be tailored to training as a whole, which is what I do with my business.
“It annoys me that body-builders don’t get the recognition you get in other sports, and there is this stereotype of weightlifters just taking lots of steroids, which just isn’t true,” says Micky, who is sponsored by Muscle Talk, the bodybuilding online forum. “It actually requires a lot more dedication and training than other sports. I’m doing this all year round, every year, there are no breaks.
“To be in this sport you need to commit to intense training, combined with strict diet, nutrition and supplementation – it is not a good idea to just start doing it without any education.
“I have had aches and pains but I just keep going and I never miss a meal, that’s what champions are made of.”
But Micky, who is coached by James Collier, is allowed the odd treat.
“I’m allowed a cheat meal every now and again, so I can have a Chinese or a chocolate bar or something like that at the weekends. I do have a little bit of a sweet tooth actually.
“At weekends we take the dogs out for a walk. Julie (Micky’s girlfriend) supports me to the hilt and once I close the door to the gym I’m just Micky.”
Judges are looking for muscle definition
Surprising as it might be Mr Britain does not involve lifting any weights, nor is it a test of strength.
“During the competition you have to do compulsory poses, about seven or eight, to show different muscles and their symmetry,” explained Micky.
“You have to put on Liquid Sun Rayz spray tan, which helps to separate the muscles but it helps show up the definition.
“It’s not about strength. It’s about symmetry and condition of muscles.
“It is about defining the body.
“Then there is another round which is posing to music.
“We need to think up a routine, which can be quite challenging.
“I normally just mess about with different songs.
“My last one was an Alexandra Burke song, I like slower music.
“Then the judges look back and do a bit of a comparison.
“The competition will be tough, but I do think I am in the best shape I have ever been in.
“I think your muscles do get more defined as you get older and I have learned a lot more about nutrition now, and I seem to be getting better and better.”
If you would like to train with Micky you can visit his website www.fitness121.co.uk.