PNBA Natural Bodybuilder Ben Howard Reveals The Unhealthy Toll Of Over-Dieting For Contest Prep

Ben Howard on free weights vs. machines
Image via Instagram @ben_howard_ukdfba_pro

PNBA natural bodybuilder Ben Howard describes the severe health consequences he suffered after over-dieting for a bodybuilding show. 

Strict diets are standard in bodybuilding, especially as bodybuilding shows approach. Unfortunately, rigorous nutrition can place your body under a lot of stress and cause many problems. Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association (PNBA) and World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) natural bodybuilder Ben Howard was on the Longevity Muscle Podcast and discussed how over-dieting for a competition could lead to severe health issues. 

Over-Dieting Health Consequences

Howard said in WNBF shows that he would cut weight to make the lightweight division. However, he admitted that it was his choice to be the heaviest lightweight in the class rather than competing as a healthier, lighter, middleweight contender. Although he had great success in competitions (Pro Lightweight World Champion), his health suffered. Howard stated:

“You get to a point to where you’re dieting for a show that your body starts to fight back a little bit. Sleep starts to suffer. Your hormones definitely take a dip. Your strength starts to diminish. You start to lose muscle mass.

You are obsessed with food. Food focus is really high. Fatigue is through the roof. Then if you’re 5 pounds over the stage weight, you got to keep going.”

Howard described what happened the 6-12 months after over-dieting for a show, despite winning and being a world champion. He gained 40-50 lbs in six weeks, couldn’t control his eating habits, and couldn’t get his sleep back on track. Moreover, he became overweight and had to take three years off from competing to reset his body.

Howard praises not having to cut weight for PNBA shows for making the sport of natural bodybuilding healthier since just an extra five pounds can make a world of difference. 

3 Days a Week Training Frequency 

During the Longevity Muscle Podcast, Howard touched on several other subjects, including why he only trains three days a week—according to Howard, lifting three days a week works best for his body. So after a day of heavy squatting, deadlifting, or pressing, he takes a day off. Any more, and he feels like he loses the quality of the movement. 

Howard also attributes his three-day training regimen to not having to take time off or implement deload weeks. However, guys doing more volume during the week (4-6 days of training) will have to for recovery

Importance of Deadlifts and Volume 

In addition, Ben Howard talked about how deadlifts are your posterior chain’s bread and butter movement. Howard claimed that even targeting his arms between deadlift and squat days will affect his recovery progress, though. He believes it still places too much stress on your body and joints

Ben Howard says he focuses on lower volume with deadlifts and squats instead of a lot of training volume. And he doesn’t believe his back would look the way it does if it weren’t for years of deadlifting. 

Natural Olympia Goal 

In the podcast, Howard clarified his end goal in natural bodybuilding. Howard affirmed:

“My goal is clear, it’s absolutely clear. I want to be competing on that Natural Olympia, the pinnacle of natural bodybuilding and my goal is now to win the Natural Olympia.” 

The clip below shows Ben Howard disclosing his ultimate natural bodybuilding plans – win the Pinnacle of Natural Bodybuilding – Natural Olympia

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As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.