“You have to have the drive, the will and a clear plan of attack.”
User Profile Interview: Joe Alves
BBG: Ok, so, tell us a little about yourself: your name, background, where you grew up, where you went to school and for what. What do you do professionally? A mini-bio, if you will.
Joe Alves: My name is Joe Alves. I’m 32 years old and I was born and raised in San Jose, CA. In 1990, my mom and dad packed up me, my sister, a dog and 3 cats and moved from California to Texas…I guess
Dad wanted a change of pace lol. Anyways, we were nomads for a while until we ended up eventually in Springfield, Oregon, which is where I now live. I finished my sophomore through senior High School years in Springfield, graduating in 1997. One year later I enrolled in Lane Community College pursuing a career in the Culinary Arts and Nutrition industries. Well I never ended up being the pastry chef that I had planned to be. Which is probably for the best, now that my lifestyle is not very conducive to stuffing my face with cream puffs all day. At 17 I started to get the bodybuilding bug pretty fierce. My father in competed in his first bodybuilding competition his late 40s! He inspired me to seek out a healthier lifestyle and look pretty damn good in the process! Training and learning the intricacies of nutrition, I worked retail jobs for 12 years. I got married, got laid off, got divorced and ended up working for my father as a gunsmith, which is what I still do fulltime.
BBG: You’re a sponsored athlete, correct? A lot of lifters are looking for sponsors. Can you tell us about your sponsor? And can you talk about what it entails for you?
Joe Alves: Becoming a sponsored athlete was a major blessing in my goals of becoming a success in the fitness and nutrition industry. You have to have the drive, the will and a clear plan of attack that leads to an ultimate goal! I had dreamed of one day becoming a pro bodybuilder. Having a sponsor is an amazing way of getting your name out and depending on the sponsor can be an amazing assist in your goals. When I met Tom Wiens, owner of Max Muscle in Eugene, Oregon, I was barely a week out of my first competition. I had little more than a 4th place win and my passion to sell me, but within the first hour he stopped me in mid conversation and said, “Let’s get you set up, Joe”. Tom and I have gotten to know one another on more than a sponsor/sponsored athlete level! We have become friends and confide in each other. Since his store was barely a month old when I met him, we realized we had a lot to offer together and have been working to support our endeavors. He has been an awesome support for me and it pushes to be more successful. I take Max Muscle supplements regularly now in my pre-contest regimen and get amazing results! Since I have been under his sponsorship, I have had other opportunities arise making my future goals closer and closer! I am always looking for ways to support the Max Muscle name as well as my own. My passion hasn’t slowed down for a second, and in turn helped me connect with you and discover Big Back Grips! I am truly blessed!
BBG: So what brought you into the world of lifting and when? What are your main goals in bodybuilding?
Joe Alves: When I was 17, my dad started a serious effort to lose weight and get fit. He was over 240 pounds and NOT the good kind! He was trained under a former Mr. Oregon, and after seeing him compete for the first time I saw what the achievement was of reaching your goals! Ever since than I have been trying my best to excel in this lifestyle. I plan on bodybuilding all of my life. As bodybuilding is a very disciplined lifestyle, it has defined who I am as a man and how I live my life. I will be competing in the 2011 Oregon State Open in three weeks, the Seven Feathers Classic in October and that will make three shows this year alone. I plan on competing on the nationals and getting my pro card by time I’m forty, so I have another eight years to get pumped ready! I want to support the life and industry that I love and help people achieve their goals! I want to make money doing something I enjoy and be a well-known competitor to bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts around the nation and eventually the world.
BBG: Did you play or excel at any sports?
Joe Alves: lol! I was a short, fat, nerdy little kid! I never liked sports. I was forced to be surrounded by all the jocks that already had the physiques that I knew I would never have. Needless to say after being called “rolls”, I wasn’t exactly enthused to get into sports. I actually got an F in P.E. How ironic is that!
BBG: Where do you work out?
Joe Alves: The two best gyms around are the local Gold’s gyms. There is one about five minutes away from my house so no excuses for me to miss my pre-contest cardio! It’s a small gym but I’m not really big on huge gyms with tons of people anyways. The other one is in Eugene, it’s the bigger gym and has more equipment so I go to that one for variety.
BBG: We’d like to ask about you and Big Back Grips as well. You are a fairly recent convert, but one of our most enthusiastic. Why do you like them? What did you use prior? How do they help your workout?
Joe Alves: I literally fell in love with BBG’s the first time I used them! I wanted to stay fresh so I didn’t use any pre-workout drinks or powders. I did a short set of bent over barbell rows, wide grip seated pull-downs and a set of dumbbell rows. I was used to using leather gloves but the thing I hated was that the grip would always wear off and the finger holes would rip! I can’t tell you how many pairs of gloves I have thrown away! The thing that I love about using Big Back Grips is that you barely have to wrap your fingers around them and the bar to get the greatest friction you have ever felt! Gloves will wear out, causing you to grip harder and lose strength and heft. I went from puling 120 pounds on the seated pull downs, to pulling 150 pounds for the same rep range!! I immediately felt an amazing pump in my lats and I swear I could feel the width of my lats growing! I’ll never train without them now!
BBG: What are your biggest accomplishments in your workout history so far? : Titles, personal goals achieved, etc.
Joe Alves: My biggest achievement would have to be the year and a half it took me to diet and train down to my first bodybuilding competition. With the help of my awesome trainer Eric Mccormack, who is a former Mr.Oregon, I lost 61 pounds of fat! I learned more about nutritional supplementation and how to manipulate my body with proper diet, exercise and nutritional supplementation than in my 14 years of weight training! I competed in the 2011 Oregon Iron Man and placed fourth in the Men’s Novice Middleweight. Stepping onstage was a goal of mine ever since I saw my father do it years before. To do the training, the diet and have the will power to push through the arduous task it took to get that far and than reach it was a milestone in my life. And now I am surpassing that!
BBG: What is your workout schedule like?
Joe Alves: Because I am pre-contest, my routine is very basic and meant only to achieve a good total body pump. I train two days of the week only. Upper body on Mondays and Wednesdays, and two hours of cardio every other day.
BBG: What about your diet?
Joe Alves: I eat VERY CLEAN! I’m eating 7 meals a day, 3 meals consisting of whey protein. I eat only white meat protein sources pre-contest. Egg whites, chicken breast, tuna and 99% fat free ground turkey meat. My carbs are clean burning and complex. Brown rice, oatmeal, cream of wheat and whole grain cereals. The one thing that I do that a lot of bodybuilders do not is eat fruit pre-contest. At this time my diet is very low in calories but my metabolism is raging! Fresh fruit sources two to three times a day keeps me thinking straight and doesn’t spill over to fat reserves. I drink two to three gallons of water per day which keeps my joints feeling lubricated and my body hydrated.
BBG: What are your favorite exercises or body parts to work? What do you consider your best body part? Do have a body part that’s especially challenging to make headway on?
Joe Alves: That’s a toughie! I would have to say that my favorite body parts to train are….all of them. Except – biceps! Lol. I know it sounds odd but until my biceps started kicking in for size and shape, I hit it hard on everything else God gave me! My father blessed me with great legs and my grandfather blessed me with a wide back! Because I love training and improving my weak points so much, I have learned to love training everything so I could watch them grow and get big! When I started to train and diet for my first show, I began to really see my body take shape and form. By losing over 60 pounds of fat and leaning down, I was able to see what I actually carried around with me. It’s easier to build on something when you can see it! So biceps still aren’t my favorite to train, but now that I now how they look at solid potential I always give them all I got!
BBG: If someone were going to work out with you, what are they in for, what’s your workout style? What would you want from a partner?
Joe Alves: I’m pretty unique in this category and mostly a pretty passive training partner! I don’t do the military style screaming two inches from a guys face. Spitting and yelling in my face while standing on the leg press for added weight, bawling about what a girly man I was never gave ME any drive to succeed. That sort of thing just made me lose concentration and want to KILL my training buddy lol. I take an approach not unlike Jay Cutler or like my father taught me. I am very goal oriented when I train. I move with proper form, full contraction and smooth controlled movement. Most often I train alone because I honestly haven’t been able to find a partner dedicated to this lifestyle as I am. It IS possible to get big without a training partner, you just have to train smart and know your limitations.
As soon as I walk through the gym doors I know what muscle group I’m going to hit and how to hit them.
I don’t chitchat, I don’t flounder, and I don’t sit down on the equipment and text my buddies for fifteen minutes. If I were to have a training partner, they would have to be dedicated and ready for a solid workout! I’m a hardcore trainer but I train smarter now days than I did when I was in my teens. I have corrected total strangers on their form before to keep them from hurting themselves. My partner would have an understanding of proper form, corrective spotting and give just enough constructive push to make me drive past my limits.
BBG: Is there a bodybuilder out there who your particularly admire? Either for their physique or their character? Or both?
Joe Alves: I would have to say that the one bodybuilder that I admire the most right now would be Jay Cutler, current 4-time Mr. Olympia champion! His attitude towards bodybuilding is one that I have been trying to emulate and form to my own design. He is determined; extremely goal oriented and NEVER gets distracted from his path. He ALWAYS trains smart with proper form and contraction. He uses knee wraps when squatting with the “heavy” weight, and always stretches before every workout. His physique displays his dedication to proper training, diet and nutritional supplementation. Many people today look at me and say “Man, I wish I had your will and dedication to fitness and dieting, Joe.” I didn’t always have that dedication. It took proper timing, and the understanding that your life must take a drastic change to achieve the discipline it requires being a bodybuilder. Being a competitive athlete means your not just losing weight for a wedding or your High School reunion. You’re representing a lifestyle, an industry, and a way of life! Like Jay Cutler, I have to be in shape 24/7, 365 days a year! Especially being a sponsored athlete I am expected to look my best. But one must have the desire to succeed and the will and heart of a champion! Jay never quits and neither do I! But the one thing I admire most about him is where Jay attributes his successes. Hard work, determination and his friends, family and fans are what drive him. I have been amazingly blessed to have so many supporting friends and family in my corner. They have helped me in ways that I can never repay in my mind. But I ALWAYS pay it forward and make it a point to thank and appreciate even the slightest assist that is given to me.
BBG: What’s your advice to people just starting out?
Joe Alves: Have a goal! Have passion! And above all, never give up! Others will always come along and tell you that you’ll never be good enough, fast enough, BIG enough, tough enough…believe me I have heard it all! If it makes you mad when people say that to you, then you’re on the right track. Whether you wish to be a bodybuilder, a weight lifter, a sprinter or whatever else tickles your fancy is up to you. But it requires first the understanding of how to start, where you want to go with it and how far you’re willing to go to get there. Your passion for a sport or lifestyle must be strong and unrelenting. It may take years before you achieve the pinnacle of your desired status. Take this time to learn as much as possible. Talk to people who are already where you wish to be. Talk to professional athletes; go to conventions, expos, write them or join online forums and read magazines. Absorb as much knowledge as possible and apply them to your everyday life. Never be afraid to ask questions. And above all take your losses with your wins. For a while they will be pretty neck and neck. But eventually your dedication and drive will lead to an opportunity to prove your ability. This is how I live my life, acquired my knowledge and attained my goals. It’s still moving so I did SOMETHING right!
BBG: Finally, can you give us your workout for just one body part: back or legs, shoulders, chest or arms, even abs. Just pick your favorites.
Joe Alves: Delts are one of my favorite muscle groups to train. A nice wide shoulder span is part of the foundation of a champion bodybuilder. I was genetically inclined to have a great shoulder width, but it took a lot of training and a proper rep/set scheme before I figured out what worked best for my delts to grow. Here is my typical Delt training routine.
Joe Alves’ Delt Workout:
Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raises:
4 sets X 10-12 reps/increasing weight per set
(1-2 minutes rest)
Standing Barbell Front Raises:
3-4 sets X 10-12 reps/increasing weight per set. This is an awesome exercise that can really develop the front delt tie-in with the upper chest.
(1-2 minutes rest)
Bent Over Dumbbell Rear Delt Laterals:
3-4 sets X 10-12 reps/you don’t have to use super heavy weight with this exercise to make the rear delts grow. This will eventually tie in to the upper back and make your rhomboids pop when doing a rear lat spread!
(1-2 minutes rest)
Seated Dumbbell Press/Standing Dumbbell Shrug Superset:
2 sets of moderate weight dumbbell press for 8-10 reps (no rest) Than straight to standing dumbbell shrugs for 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps!!
That’s it! Your delts should be toast by than. This routine has been in my pocket for a while now and has really made my delts round and full. With the delts, you really have to hit it from all angles and with solid rep-range and form to make it grow. This routine can actually be used for pre-contest as well to shred up your delts for definition. Just use less weight and use a reverse pyramid scheme with an ascending rep range.