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Rising Star: Natural Bodybuilder Matthew Ogus Talks With Simplyshredded.com

How did you get started with bodybuilding?

I started working out when I was 15 in my high school weight training class. Fortunately, it was through an educated strength and football coach whom I learned the basics from. Results came fast as newbie gains of course, but I noticed that I could continue progressing as long as I applied the foundational concepts and rules of lifting weights. I had a burning fire to become bigger and stronger; I liked the results I was getting, and it was pleasing to know that my results came from my hard work. I think that’s the reason why so many people love bodybuilding or fitness in general. What you put in, you get out.

I kept at it and 4 years later, after getting over the feeling, that same feeling that keeps the majority of weightlifters from ever becoming competitive bodybuilders (“I’m not big enough”), I finally stepped on stage at my first bodybuilding show. That day I learned that I really knew nothing about bodybuilding.

Where does your motivation come from?

My motivation comes from my desire to succeed. My motivation also comes from love and all of the energy I get from the people around me.

What workout routine has worked best for you?

During my current bodybuilding offseason I’m training with the Jim Wendler 5/3/1 program. I like this program because it keeps my workouts structured and I don’t have to really think about what I’m going to do any specific day or week.

Many people see it as a powerlifting program, but it can work great for bodybuilding as well, since becoming stronger is a key part of gaining muscle.

The program focuses mainly on the progression of 4 main lifts: the military press, deadlift, benchpress, and squat. Don’t worry, those aren’t the only exercises that I do. The 5/3/1 pertains to the cycling of percentages that is key to the program. The program consists of monthly cycles, where each week 1 utilizes 65, 75, and 85% of a training max for the main lifts with 3 sets of 5 reps each. Week 2 utilizes 70, 80, and 90% of the same training maxes for 3 sets of 3 reps.

Week 3 utilizes 75%, 85%, and 95% of the same training maxes for a set of 5, a set of 3, and a set of 1, respectively. On the last set of each workouts main lift, except for deload weeks, I go for as many reps as I can muster without hitting complete failure.

Week 4 is a deload week, where the percentages for the main lifts go down to 40, 50, and 60% for 3 sets of 5, and the weight for assistance lifts is also dropped. Deload weeks are very helpful to let the body recover and to be able to continuously progress month after month. You can think of it as 3 steps forward, 1 step back, repeated. At the end of each monthly cycle, 5 pounds is added to the training maxes of upper body main lifts (military and benchpress) and 10 pounds is added to the training maxes of lower body lifts (deadlift and squat). For assistance work, I go with “Boring But Big” on week 3’s which includes 5 sets of 10 of the main lift after the heavy 5/3/1 sets.

On other weeks, I rotate the exercises as well as order of pushing/pulling, but I make sure to focus on free weight compound movements. Here is what my workout week looks like:

Monday: Deadlift/Lower Body

  • Deadlift 5/3/1 style
  • Compound Leg Exercise (Front squats, hack squats, lunges, variations of deadlift, etc) 5 sets of 5-10
  • Calves (Standing calf raises, donkey raises, leg press machine calf raises) 5 sets of 8-10 superset w/
  • Abs (Hanging leg raises, dragon flags, windshield wipers, cable crunches) 5 sets of 10

Tuesday: Rest

  • Recovery day

Wednesday: Benchpress/Upper Body

  • Benchpress 5/3/1 style
  • A Pull (T-bar row, barbell row, dumbbell row, chinup, or pullup) 5 sets of 5-10
  • A Push (Incline/flat benchpress or dumbbell press, seated or standing military dumbbell press, dips, etc) 5 sets of 5-10
  • (Optional) Another push or pull 5 sets of 5-10
  • A Bicep exercise (week 1: barbell curls, week 2: dumbbell curls, week 3: preacher curls, week 4: any) 5 sets of 8-10

Thursday: Rest

  • Recovery day

Friday: Squat/Lower Body

  • Squat 5/3/1 style
  • Compound Leg Exercise (Front squats, hack squats, lunges, variations of deadlift, etc) 5 sets of 5-10
  • Calves (Standing calf raises, donkey raises, leg press machine calf raises) 5 sets of 8-10 superset w/
  • Abs (Hanging leg raises, dragon flags, windshield wipers, cable crunches) 5 sets of 10

Saturday: Military Press/Upper Body

  • Military Press 5/3/1 style (depends what week it is)
  • A Pull (T-bar row, barbell row, dumbbell row, chinup, or pullup) 5 sets of 5-10
  • A Push (Incline/flat benchpress or dumbbell press, seated or standing military dumbbell press, dips, etc) 5 sets of 5-10
  • (Optional) Another push or pull 5 sets of 5-10
  • A tricep exercise (lateral head focus on week 2 and 4 – rope tricep extensions, long head focus on week 1 and 3 – standing french press) 5 sets of 8-10

Sunday: Rest

  • Recovery day

I vary my rep ranges greatly because it depends on the lift, whether it’s a push or pull, and sometimes I like to lift super heavy at low reps, and other times heavy at medium or high reps. Sometimes I like working up to a 1-3 rep front squat for example, after my 5/3/1 squat or deadlift, or perhaps a 1 rep max pullup or chinup on an upper body day. Whatever it is I choose to do after my main lifts, I make sure to not complicate it, and especially not to overdo it. The progression of my main lifts is my main priority, the volume and progression of my accessory lifts are secondary.

With this program, I successfully combine progressive overload through the main lifts, and more progressive overload as well as progressive tension overload via the accessory lifts.


Performed 3 times a week using a stairmaster machine, burning 400 calories per session. Day/time doesn’t matter. I prefer it post-workout, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Arms are worked once in a while, but not prioritized. If you’re unaware, you really ought to look up the Jim Wendler 5/3/1 program. You may really enjoy it!

If you have to pick only 3 exercises, what would they be and why?

Deadlift, Squat, Benchpress (4th would be pull/chinups). These exercises are very effective in gaining strength and muscle, plus I find them very fun to do.

What is your diet like?

I’m currently on 50-75grams of fat, 425grams of carbohydrates, and 225grams of protein per day, roughly. I get my foods from generally whatever I feel like. I aim to eat a couple servings of fruits and vegetables per day as well as drink between 2-3 gallons of water. Since I’ve been asked a lot about my contest diet, I will provide some information on it. During my 2011 contest prep season, I began at 50f/200c/225p and over the course of a few months, gradually increased it to 50f/300c/225p, and finally for the last couple weeks before each competition did 50f/250c/225p.

I’ll include not just a sample diet, but what and how much I was eating around my competitions.


Actual Meal Diet using 50f/250c/225p

Meal 1: 23f/89c/42p

  • 1 large egg, 184g egg whites 4 CLA pills, 4g fish oil (pills or liquid), 130g oats add stevia and cinnamon for the oats, drink some coffee or green tea, eat eggs with hot sauce.

Meal 2: 6f/54c/46p

  • 5.5oz chicken breast weighed cooked, 250g russet potato weighed raw, add garlic, pepper, onion, and hot sauce for the chicken.

Meal 3: 6f/50c/44p

  • 5.50z chicken breast, 250g sweet potato weighed raw, garlic, onion, pepper, hot sauce for chicken.

Meal 4: 4f/50c/35p

  • 6oz tilapia weighed cooked, 250g sweet potato weighed raw, garlic, onion, pepper for the sweet potato, vinegar to dip the fish in.

Meal 5: 4f/0c/30p

  • 6oz tilapia weighed cooked, vinegar to dip.

Uncategorized: 9f/11c/32p

  • 150g raw spinach, 1 scoop Bodytech Whey Tech Pro 24, 28g slivered almonds, the protein was normally eaten post workout, the spinach was usually eaten later in the day with the almonds as a snack.

 What is your supplementation like?

My supplementation is very basic. All I need is 5 grams of Creatine per day, a Multivitamin, some Fish Oil, and I’m good. Protein powder is a convenience food.

Favorite Quote?

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky

Bodyspace: ttp://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/mattogus/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/flexforall
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/flexforall2
Youtube vlog: http://www.youtube.com/flexforall3

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  1. luke nyler says:

    ripped to the bone bro!

  2. Jose says:

    About time they interviewed you Matt! sick pictures by the way!

  3. Samantha K says:

    great work Matt

  4. Nathan says:

    I was doing MaxOT training for about 4 months with good results but I think it’s time to change. I will give your routine a crack… Thanks for posting it and congrats on the SS feature! Amazing conditioning

  5. Dimitris says:

    good good work!!
    viva natural fitness and BB…

  6. Leyla says:

    Haha nice. Good youtube vids too, been watching you since day.

  7. RippedInDa410 says:

    Second shot from the top, looks like the perfect physique, IMO.

  8. olli says:

    Your my idol! hehe lol

  9. Kyle says:


  10. ---- says:

    Some of the best abs i’ve seen. from ulysses to plitts. perfect shape and torso length everything is balanced. Thats as perfect as it gets and shredded so dry so tight and grainy arghhhhhhh give it to me baby!!

  11. joel says:

    crazy abs!

  12. benji says:

    Congrats, this is bad ass!

  13. Great run down on your training and diet. I eat very similar and find it gives me a great balance of staying lean and strong, without feeling flat and tired.

  14. sonny says:

    made him drop his pants at his car..haha

  15. Faust says:


  16. Björn says:

    bombastic form ! excellent Abs & Shoulders. Just Upper Arms has slightly room for improvements – but its a nice trainingroutine too ! … nice to see that
    even a moderate volume plan with 2 or 3 Rest Days does the work !

  17. sxckent says:

    fuaark man always mirin you

    the love diet vid got me to count my cals and im finally gaining now

    keep it up

    look jewc

  18. IGOY says:

    Simply shredded, im just sayin

  19. Mike says:

    Looking good, but hard to believe it’s natural.

  20. FlexBallard says:

    more feet videos!!!

  21. Paul Stone says:

    Matt: great meeting you this past July in Seattle! You are an inspiration to an old dude like me;
    and hope I can continue to be that also for you.

    You ROCK!

  22. Charlie says:

    You’re going to be one of the top natural bodybuilders in the near future. Hope you do well bro and thanks for sharing all that information.


  23. Anthony says:

    Yo man, I know you from youtube videos.

    Agree, 5/3/1 is very nice.

    Keep all doing what you are doing man and stay healthy ;-)

  24. D.W says:

    @ Mike

    He is a certified NATURAL bodybuilder, regardless of what you think he’s not on anything.

  25. Wow You are a beast! Thanks for sharing the information!

  26. megame says:

    can somebody explaing: howcome some people take in 200+g carbs while dieting and others drop it low… both seem to get results?

  27. Zack says:

    Megame: For dieting, the only important thing is that you consume less calories through the day than your body needs to maintain weight. So, if you need 3000 kcal and you eat 2500, you will loose weight, regardless if you eat 200 carbs, 300 carbs or 100.

    Results come from your overall calorie intake, not from how many carbs you eat.

  28. Solar Leucine says:

    Congrats being feature on SS. :) Matt Ogus cake is one of my biggest motivation.

  29. Miko Chieppa says:

    How tall is matt? one question on the 5/3/1 exercises. For week 1,2 and 4 for the main moves such as deadlifts, do you perform 3 sets of 65%max, 3sets of 75%max and 3sets of 85%max of 5 reps each respectively? and week 3 you do 5 sets of 75%max 3sets of 85%max and 1 set of 95% max of 5 reps each. please someone correct me if im definitely on the wrong side of the track. I also find the program doesn’t incorporate enough lateral and posterior delts. yes, some of the exercises like dips and presses will work the shoulders. Ultimately this is suppose to be a off season progression program aiming to develop every muscle group. I’ve never trained a 4 day split routine. is this approach more suitable for ectomorph’s or mesomorphs. im 167cm mesomorph

  30. Drake says:

    some set of abs he has

  31. akera says:

    It really does depend on the individual as all of our bodies are not the same. Some of us hardgainers and some find it rather easy to pack on the weight.
    Do as Zack says about the 500 calorie reduction of your maintenance weight a play around with your carbs alittle.

  32. Truston says:

    Can I do that wokout that ogus displayed for my actual workout and get the strength and physique results?

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