Mark Ritter

The Evolution of a Bodybuilder

Body Muscle Volume 4

The erudite English biologist, Charles Darwin, explained life as a constant struggle, a plastic adjustment and permutation made by all species, both the best of natural selection and survival of the fittest. It goes on all around us even today.

Indeed it does. For example, Mark Ritter once weighed 100-lbs dripping wet, dined on sugary cereal for breakfast and worked out using the Weider Haphazard Principle. Now, some 6-7 years later, Mark has mutated into a symmetrical 170-pounds lean and mean National Physique Champion. You could say that our Body Muscle cover man has evolved into a real bodybuilder. Bodybuilding really is survival of the Fittest -- literally. And so, even Darwin would have been proud.

Now a National middleweight bodybuilding champion, Mark, like almost everyone with 18" biceps-stars in their eyes, grew up idolizing the massive guys in the bodybuilding magazines. Indeed, Mark started iron pumping at a precious 14. His early workouts though, were not precious, done in his uncle's crowded garage; they consisted of just a couple chest and biceps exercises.

Mark Ritter lat spread

But, by the 5-year mark, Mr. Ritter was a powerhouse at the local Powerhouse Gym. So much so, that at 21, Mark decided to compete in the Northern Kentucky Bodybuilding event. Mark notes that about 80 percent of the gym suggested I must go see Roger and Sandy Riedinger well before competing.

Mark did, and adds, "As I was arriving at their Beverly International Nutrition Center, I was eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a protein shake for my second meal, lunch at Skyline Chili, a mid-day second protein shake and for dinner, I ate whatever mom prepared for dinner." (This was just about as haphazard as his training was some years earlier, especially goofy for someone doing a competition).

At any rate, Mark went on a “Beverly Plan” 11-weeks out from the Northern Kentucky. It worked, and he won both the Novice lightweight and the Open lightweight class. A week later Mark entered the Battle of Champions and won Novice lightweight, Open lightweight, Junior Overall and Novice overall. A few weeks later at the Cincinnati Mark won the Juniors and the Open lightweight. (1999 was not particularly a good year for anyone else competing in the lightweight class in the Southern Ohio/Northern Kentucky area)!

Looking back, Mark says, “I really evolved. I knew nothing about performance or body composition nutrition before I came to Beverly. I learned from Roger that muscle is not built on good intentions, but frequent quality protein and my diet contained about 25 percent of the daily protein I needed and currently eat.”

Mark had to become a master of muscle-building menus, with the expertise worthy of an honorary Doctorate in fat burning and muscle building. (Mark is now even a Beverly nutritional counselor). Mark has an incomparable depth of experience now in real world eating and supplementation. In fact, in order to broaden his nutritional education, Mark has earned his bachelor's degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Cincinnati. Mark understands the biological and physiological processes behind training and nutrition to apply both on a daily basis with a multitude of trainees. As Mark's competitive bodybuilding career has progressed his expanded nutrition knowledge has been crucial.

Mark posing on the beach in Hawaii

Mark’s Training & Diet

A couple of years ago Mark decided to go for the NPC Junior USA. Knowing that the competition would be rough and tough at the NPC Junior USA, he decided to come in at the very top of the lightweight class instead of being a small middleweight. This strategy was well thought out, as with his sharp conditioning and natural shape, Mark kicked butt in his class. (It was after that Jr. USA, Mark took some time off of competition to finish his degree).

Gain 15 lbs of Lean Muscle Mass
NPC Aloha Muscle and Collegiate Nationals MW Champion

Mark’s next contest was the 2002 Aloha Classic in Hawaii. The Aloha had 65 top competitors, with a particularly good middleweight class, but Mark won his class!

This made him confident that he could do well at the NPC Collegiate Nationals. Even though, (in his opinion), he was not as ‘tight’ as he was at the Collegiates in Hawaii, nonetheless, Mark convincingly won his class. His physique was dramatically improved over two years earlier. Like Darwin said, it’s all about evolution.

Body Muscle asked Mark to expound on his evolutionary process:

  • Super hard training by itself, won’t make it
  • Most people do not live nutrition and you must
  • This seems to be a limiting factor in everyone’s ability to gain
  • Most people are not consuming enough high quality protein frequently enough
  • Beverly is far and away the best of the bunch and it’s not just my opinion. It’s everyone’s opinion.

  • Change your training around. In the past I trained a lot like Dorian Yates
  • I started with 2-3 warm-up sets then did 1-2 heavy sets to failure
  • On the very last set, I added forced reps for 6-8 reps. This worked for me. But –– For my last contest, I trained a bit lighter, using more sets and higher volume
  • I also responded well to this. I had trained heavy for so long that I started to injure my shoulders and knees. This change in my training style saved me. I healed and stimulated new muscle. Change has value!

  • Stay lean year-round. I don’t “bulk up” in the off-season
  • I stay around 6% bodyfat and make great gains
  • This is the first time I ate lean in the off-season and used ample supplements

Training split:

2 days on, one day off:

  • Day 1: chest, biceps and abs
  • Day 2: legs
  • Day 3: off
  • Day 4: shoulders, triceps and abs
  • Day 5: back
  • Day 6: off
  • Repeat

Basic Nutrition:Calories: 3,600 – 4,000 a day

Macronutrient breakdown:
50% protein, 20% carbs, 30% fat, spread over six meals. Carbs earlier in the day, tapering off over the day

Protein Sources:

Eggs, beef, chicken, Beverly Ultra Size or Muscle Provider. Beverly Mass Maker in the off-season as a post-workout 7th meal. Beverly Ultra 40 Liver, Mass and Muscle Mass Amino Acids and most of all, Beverly Muscle Synergy for anabolic kick!

More about Mark’s Supplements: