By vocation, Alfred Edmond Jr. is a top executive with the media company Black Enterprise; by avocation, Edmond RC’83 (a 2010 inductee into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni) is a serious amateur bodybuilder. In 1999, he entered his first competition; in 2017, as a member of Team USA, Edmond placed second (after not competing for 15 years) in the Amateur 50+ Masters Bodybuilders Class in the Drug-Free Athletes Coalition (DFAC) World Finals. Recently, he made the grueling preparation for a return to the event, held in November. Rutgers Magazine asked Edmond about his preparation and his deep love for bodybuilding. Check out the video in which he explains the larger meaning of bodybuilding in in his life
RUTGERS MAGAZINE: You came in second in the Amateur 50+ Masters Bodybuilders Class in the 2017 DFAC. Was competing your answer to a midlife crisis?
Alfred Edmond Jr.: No. As far as I know, I haven’t had a midlife crisis yet. (Is it too late?) I entered my first amateur bodybuilding contest in 1999, with the encouragement of the owner of the gym in Manhattan where I was training. It was on my list of things to try before I turned 40. I came in fifth out of five in the novice bodybuilder class. (You wouldn’t believe how difficult and strenuous it is to perform the mandatory poses!) However, I had so much fun and met so many great people, I continued to compete once or twice a year until 2002. I earned 10 trophies during that time, competing as an amateur member of Natural Bodybuilding Inc. (NBI), including third place in the Masters 40+ class of the NBI USA Open.
RM: Have you always been a weight lifter? If so, how arduous was the preparation to get into top form to compete?
AE: I’ve been weight training for fun and fitness since I was a sophomore at Long Branch (New Jersey) High School, trying to make the football team at 115 lbs. My football career was short lived (after getting hit by future NFL linebacker Sam Mills in the last practice before the beginning of the season), but my love affair with weight lifting has never waned.
However, there is a big difference between being generally fit and being ready to compete in a bodybuilding show when it comes to exercise and diet. It is really hard. Two weeks before a recent competition, for example, I was at the gym twice a day (45 to 55 minutes of cardiovascular and abdominal work in the morning and weight training in the evening). Other than plenty of veggies, I have carbs only once a day, along with egg whites, grilled chicken breast or salmon, and lots of tuna fish and protein shakes. I eat four to six times a day, and drink only water and occasionally black coffee. Most bodybuilders like to binge on a favorite, high-carb food like pizza after a competition; I go all out for pancakes!
Competitive bodybuilding is one of the few sports where shorter people have an advantage over taller people, all things being equal. If two people have the same amount of muscle, the person with the shorter bones will always look more muscular. The longer your bones, the harder you have to work to achieve the same effect.
RM: What were you doing differently in preparing for your DFAC event, which took place in November?
AE: In order to qualify to return to the DFAC World Finals as a member of Team USA in November, I had to win first or second place in my class in a sanctioned natural bodybuilding competition. Before this year, I’ve been self-trained. This year, for the first time, I’ve hired a coach, the accomplished natural bodybuilder and fitness entrepreneur, Yohnnie Shambourger, who designed my training and nutrition regimen.
RM: What’s your best feature—arms, chest, abdomen? What part of your anatomy required the most remediation to compete?
AE: My favorite feature is arms, specifically my triceps. I just love training triceps! The body part that always requires the most work in diet and exercise are abdominals. You have to get your body fat really low—we’re talking single digits—to get the ripped abs and obliques needed for natural competition. Because these are drug-free shows (no steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs), a premium is placed on really defined (“shredded”), not just big, muscles.
RM: Have you had to replace your wardrobe?
AE: Back when I first got serious about bodybuilding, when I was in my mid-30s, I did have to replace most of my wardrobe, especially my suits and blazers. Until my early 30s, I wore a size 32 short—about the smallest you can get in a men’s suit jacket. I now wear a 42-43 regular—I couldn’t even fit my arm into one of my old blazers! Another problem common among bodybuilders: I have to buy pants with a 34-inch waist, even though I wear a 30-31, in order to accommodate a bigger butt and thighs. You learn to appreciate a tailor who makes great alterations—or, better yet, custom-made suits—when you are a bodybuilder. The challenge is not the size of the body, but its proportions.
RM: What does your wife make of all this? Is she enamored with the all-new Alfred?
AE: My wife, Zara, and I have been together for just under a decade, so she has never known me as anything other than a bodybuilding enthusiast. I couldn’t have a better life partner for my training goals. She is really big into lean, healthy nutrition, and is passionate about natural, organic and non-GMO foods and avoiding processed foods, which is perfect for my lifestyle. She even helped me by shaving, exfoliating, and applying Pro Tan to my entire body (even dark-skinned black people have to tan for shows to prevent muscle definition from being “washed out” by stage lighting) and assisting me backstage for one of my competitions last year!