Ripped To Shreds: NPC Team Universe Champion Jeff Rodriguez Talks With

How did you get started in bodybuilding?

While attending college at U.C. Davis in 2005, I met someone at the gym named Joe Rogers and he was getting ready for a local bodybuilding show called The Chico Show. Joe saw potential in me and tried to convince me to do the show with him. I did not know much about bodybuilding at the time, but I looked up to natural bodybuilders like Jeff Willet and Skip LaCour and wanted to experience competing in a bodybuilding show. With three weeks left until the show, I decided to compete in the show, just for the experience, and ended up winning the overall. A year later I met photographer Bill Comstock at the 2006 NPC Contra Costa. Bill encouraged me to compete at the NPC Team Universe later that year; a show I consider to be the top drug tested bodybuilding show. I ended up placing 2nd in the middleweight class my first time at the Team Universe.

Since then it has been my goal to win the overall title at the Team Universe.

Where does your motivation come from?

My motivation for training, eating/dieting and bodybuilding in general comes from myself. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle and hobby for me.

I enjoy training, eating well, and striving to make improvements in the gym and to my physique, so my motivation comes from enjoying what I do.

What workout routine has worked best for you?

There is not one routine that has worked best for me. At different times, different routines have worked better or were more appropriate. When I first began training, I used the Max-OT routine exclusively, and it worked very well for me. I put on the most amount of muscle doing this routine; then again, this was also when I first started, so I probably would have put on the most amount of muscle with whatever routine I started with. After a few years, the constant use of heavy weights and low rep ranges, and doing mostly compound exercises took a toll on my joints. I stubbornly tried to continue doing what I was doing since I was unsure of changing things up, but I realized I was no longer able to make good progress and forced myself to try something different. I started doing more high volume and reps workouts, and this worked well for a while. Nowadays, I try to find a nice balance of lifting heavy/low reps and other times (whether it be in the same workout, or as a different part of my planned workout cycle/a few weeks of each style at a time) I try to focus on getting a better “feel” on the reps, slowing down the negative, increasing the volume/reps. So I do not think there is one routine that has worked best, necessarily.

I think it is a combination of different ways of training, applied appropriately at the right time, and keeping variety in my routines (to change up what the body is used to and keep training fun) that has worked best for me. I try to vary my routine from time to time, but the routine I used preparing for my last show was a 4 day routine, with 2-3 days in a row and 1 day off:

1) Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

  • Flat Dumbbell Press x3 sets 4-8 reps
  • Hammer Strength Press (flat or incline) x3 sets 6-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Flys x2 sets 8-12 reps
  • Close Grip Smith Machine Press or Hammer Strength x3 sets Dips 6-10 reps
  • Cable Push Downs (1 or 2 arms at a time) x2 sets 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Laterals (seated or standing) x3 sets 6-10 reps
  • Cable or Machine Side Laterals x2 sets 6-10 reps

2) Hamstrings, Calves

  • Stiff Legged Deadlifts x3 sets 4-8 reps
  • Lying or Seated Leg Curls x3 sets 6-10 reps
  • Calf Press (1 or 2 legs at a time) on Machine Leg Press x3 sets 8-14 reps
  • Seated Calf Raises x3 sets 8-14 reps

3) Back, Traps, Biceps

  • Hammer Strength Pulldown x3 sets 6-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Rows x2 sets 8-12 reps,
  • Machine Pullovers x3 sets 8-12 reps
  • Shrugs x3 sets 8-12 reps
  • Dumbbell Curls (seated or standing) x3 sets 6-10 reps
  • Hammer Strength Preacher Curl x3 sets 8-12 reps

4) Quads, Abs

  • Leg Press x3 sets 6-10 reps
  • Squats x3 sets 6-10 reps
  • Hack Squats x3 sets 6-12 reps
  • Cable Crunches x3 sets 10-14 reps
  • Machine Crunches or Reverse Crunches x2 sets 10-14 reps

Photography By: Isaac Hinds

What is the best way to train for hypertrophy specific gains?

I do not think there is one best way; nor do I really know 100% for sure what IS the best way. I think there is a time and place for both heavier and lighter weights; both lower and higher volume. I think it’s best to have variety in one’s training routines and make little changes along the way, keeping things fresh, and not doing the same thing constantly.

Learning how one’s body responds to things and what it needs at certain times (whether you need to back off/rest, or go hard) is an important, acquired skill that most people can learn through trial and error over time.

What is your diet like?

Many of the diets I have followed are listed on my blog. My offseason diet varies from my contest prep diet in that I have a lot more calories and variety of foods in the offseason, while in my precontest diet I like to keep things very simple and eat the same foods and a lot less calories, of course.

In general, I follow a high protein, moderate carbohydrate, low fat diet. For my last show I followed a diet that looked like this:

  1. Mashed potatoes + Whey Protein
  2. (Post workout) Mashed potatoes or Dextrose + Whey Protein
  3. Mashed Potatoes + Egg Whites
  4. Green Beans or Broccoli + Tuna
  5. Green Beans or Broccoli + Egg Whites + Omega Oil Blend
  6. Green Beans or Broccoli + Tuna + Omega Oil Blend
  7. Green Beans or Broccoli + Egg Whites + Omega Oil Blend

When trying to cut down do you prefer to use HIIT or just normal cardio?

I prefer to use both, actually. In the beginning of my contest prep, when I’m a bit more out of shape, but eating more carbs I prefer to do HIIT.

As I get closer to the show, I like to decrease the intensity to a moderate intensity and increase the duration to about 25 minutes.

What is your supplementation like?

My supplementation is very basic:

  • Whey Protein
  • Creatine
  • Beta Alanine
  • BCAA
  • Glutamine
  • Caffeine

Photography By Bill Comstock

Favorite Quote?

There are plenty of quotes I like, but one that I kept thinking about as I got ready for my last show was a quote I read by Andreas Munzer:

“The lesson I learned is that we too easily deceive ourselves into thinking we’re exerting enough effort. To take ourselves over the top, enough is never enough. Only more than we ever thought possible is enough.”

Photography By: Isaac Hinds & Bill Comstock