Wole Adesemoye is a WBFF muscle model amateur world champion and winner of the BBC TV programme Last Man Standing. He is a Maximuscle sponsored athlete and lives in London.
Congratulations on the title, Wole, and winning your pro card. How does it feel?
It was an unbelievable accomplishment and I really wasn’t expecting it. I am still walking around on cloud nine. I was hoping for a top three finish to win my pro card, so to walk about with the win is incredible. I’m my own biggest critic and was looking at myself every day in the final weeks before the show worried I wasn’t going to be ready and that I wasn’t losing enough weight. I was doing an insane amount of cardio towards the end – up to three hours of steady-state a day – to try and get down below 100kg on stage.
Why were you so determined to lose some size and get down to a stage weight of 100kg?
After last year’s amateur show in London I was told I was too big. I felt that I was trapped in a grey area where I was too big to be a muscle model, but too small for bodybuilding. I’ve never wanted to go down the bodybuilding route so I had to do something about my size and that meant dropping weight. I was about 105kg at London and gave myself the target of getting on stage in Vegas for the amateur Worlds under 100kg.
It must have been to tough to hear you were too big?
It was but it gave me a clear objective of what the WBFF were looking for. Once I knew that, I could work towards it. I took the feedback as positively as I could and used it to my advantage. They wanted lean and mean so that’s what I had to deliver, so everything was then focused on dropping some weight. I’m not one of these people to go straight on to social media and complain about not winning or making up excuses. I took the information on board, worked out my plan, then got my head down.
Did you manage it?
I was about 101kg on stage so I didn’t lose as much as I’d planned, but it was obviously enough! My mentality the whole time I was prepping for the Worlds was that I wanted to prove to everyone that I had a big place in this organisation and that when I stood on stage no one would be able to take their eyes off me. My stage presence was impeccable because I’d worked so hard on my posing and presentation, as well as my physique. I wanted to get to Vegas and give the judges no choice but to reward me with a pro card. I wanted to have such a stage presence that it would have been impossible to ignore me.
Trying to lose so much weight is a big challenge. How hard was your prep diet?
Dieting for a show requires immense discipline. Nobody on this planet enjoys dieting, and anyone who says they don’t struggle with one is lying. I like to eat, but I just put it to the back of my mind that I can’t, but that does become harder when you are low on energy and carb-depleted. But you have to stay focused and avoid temptation. You make sacrifices when dieting and I locked myself away and turned down invites out to dinner and so on. I pride myself on being lean 365 days a year, and I love it. I live and breathe fitness and can’t remember the last time I was more than 10% body fat. I don’t mean that in a cocky way, but this is a lifestyle for me, and my body is a walking talking business card. I run my own PT business so have to practice what I preach and always lead by example.
And how was the training?
Training is easy! I can train to the cows come home. Lock me in the gym and I am the happiest man in the world. I’m like a kid in a playground – I couldn’t be happier – because I love it. Training is where my heart is. It’s my true love. So I never have any problems with getting to the gym and working out. Standing on stage is the icing on the cake.
What’s your advice for someone who wants to compete?
Get a coach, someone you know or someone who’s trustworthy and comes recommended. They will help so much with training and diet prep, and provide advice when you most need it and offer solutions to any problems you have or mistakes you make. They can also soothe the doubts you will have over the weeks that you’re not improving enough. It’s hard to see yourself objectively during prep, so an experienced ally in your corner can make such a big difference to how you progress and ultimately how you look and feel on stage. The most important thing is to make sure you’re having fun. It’s not defined by winning. Your position on the stage doesn’t define you as a human being, so make sure you enjoy it. And remember that only one person can win; far more people don’t win than do.
What motivates you?
My biggest fear in life is failure. As a kid you’d have put all your money on me not amounting to much in life. I had no confidence growing up, and always struggled at school – I am dyslexic so not much of it made much sense to me – and felt destined to be a failure. My brothers and sisters all excelled academically and I felt like a misfit. But my mum always saw my potential and told me that if I wanted something then I had to go get it. I got into sport at school and was very good. I was strong and fast – I ran under 11 seconds for the 10m aged 11 – and did very well at football and rugby, even though I didn’t have a clue about rugby – they just gave me the ball and I ran with it! No one ever caught me!
When did you start lifting weights?
I was 12 the first time I stepped into a gym, although I told them I was 16 so they’d let me in. I’d just follow the older guys around and copy what they did. I guess I became the gym’s mascot! Building muscle came very easy to me, even though I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I liked the way it made me look and feel. It gave me confidence for the first time in my life.
You’ve run marathons, boxed to a high standard, and won the BBC show Last Man Standing. How important is to you that you have the physique but can also perform?
It’s massively important. I see myself as an athlete and although I am judged purely aesthetically on the stage, I still want to be able to perform and use my body. Variety is the spice of life, and I love setting myself new challenges, which is why I’ve run marathons. I was told I was too big to run a marathon, but that just spurred me on, so I did and set a personal best in New York in 2009 of 3hr 50min. I am a freak of nature in that I am very athletically gifted, but you still have to have the right mindset to make things happen. I’m a big believer in the saying that the body achieves what the mind believes.
What’s been your toughest challenge so far?
I was in second place going into the final event of Last Man Standing. It was a 42km canoe race, over two days, in the open ocean of Papua New Guinea. I knew I had to win the event to win the competition. The first day was eight hours of non-stop racing. You get to a point when your body has had enough and you feel like you just can’t go on. That’s when you have to push it and dig deeper. That’s what I did and it gives you a second wind. I won the event and the show through my sheer perseverance and determination to win and that I wasn’t going to quit. That race is now my most motivating moment and I always look back on it to give me the belief I need to know that I can do whatever I want, no matter how hard, so long as I just keep going. I think of that and there are no longer any negative thoughts in my head, and I know that no one can stand in my way. The only person who can ever stop me, is me. I live by a quote by Vince Lombardi [one of the NFL’s greatest ever coaches] who said that ‘Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.’ I can never be perfect, but I can be catch excellence by trying to be.
What’s your top mental advice for building the best body possible?
It’s vital your visualise the physique that you want to build. You need to know what you are working towards, where you are now, and what’s required to get there. I am also a big believer in having physical reminders to keep you on track. For instance, the wallpaper on my phone is a photo of me in peak condition. Every time I pick up my phone I am reminded of what I am capable of and what I am working towards. Pinning a photo of the physique you want on your fridge or somewhere you’ll see it can be a great positive reminder of the journey you’re on and how you are getting closer every day you avoid temptation and keep making the smart and right training and nutrition decisions that need to be made.