Philip Ricardo Jr. was a last minute entrant into the Mr. America 2021 – but he’s confident the experience will help him be better prepared for this month’s Natural Olympia competition.

In 2019, Philip Ricardo Jr. became the new champion of the Natural Olympia competition. The event is an all-natural WADA compliant version of the Mr. Olympia. They have no direct affiliation – but the prestige is the same for the natural athletes who compete in the INBA/PNBA bodybuilding leagues. Ricardo Jr.’s victory also came the same year Generation Iron produced Natty 4 Life – the fourth film in the Generation Iron documentary series.

Now in 2021, Philip Ricardo Jr. is ready to reclaim his title at the Natural Olympia happening in November. And he believes that the Mr. America might just be the linchpin to help him bring his best physique to the stage. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Philip Ricardo Jr. discusses the challenges of being a late entrant into the Mr. America 2021… and how it will ultimately help him win the Natural Olympia later this year.

Philip Ricardo Jr. is one of the most iconic natural bodybuilders currently competing in the division. He won the Natural Olympia in 2019 and has remained one of the most skilled and impressive competitors in the league. So it was exciting when he was announced last minute to compete at the Mr. America 2021 competition earlier in October. While the announcement was exciting for fans and helped bring an even bigger spotlight on the historic competition – this wasn’t a secret announcement that Ricardo Jr. had been prepping for.

In fact, the decision was just as much a last minute call for Philip Ricardo Jr. as it was for the fans. This meant that his contest prep was shortened. It wasn’t ideal and it was a true struggle for him in the weeks leading up to the show. Ultimately, Ricardo Jr. did not win the Mr. America competition. He’s not concerned though – as he saw this event as a key strategy in preparing for the biggest natural bodybuilding event of the year. The Natural Olympia.

It’s a strategy that is equally risky as it is rewarding. IFBB Pro competitor Iain Valliere committed to the same sort of tactic when he competed at the Arnold Classic just two weeks before competing at the Mr. Olympia. On one hand, it can throw off timing and cause the athlete to be “off peak” when he or she steps on stage. On the other, it can keep the athlete in full preparation weeks before – and then adjust any small issues noticed in the first competition just in time for the second.

Philip Ricardo Jr. seems to believe that the prep for Mr. America will push him harder – giving him an advantage when he steps on the Natural Olympia stage this month. So perhaps the goal wasn’t to put all of his eggs in the basket of winning Mr. America. Instead, it pushed his contest prep harder than ever before, took the Mr. America placing in stride, and is now confident he will be in the best shape of his life when he steps on stage in Las Vegas for the Natural Olympia.

Only time will tell. But as a previous Natural Olympia champion – we know he has it in him to present a championship-winning physique. Will the Mr. America prep do him more harm than good? That remains to be seen. We wish him the best as he battles to reclaim his title as Natural Olympia champion.

You can watch Philip Ricardo Jr. talk in more detail behind the scenes of the Mr. America 2021 in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above!

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.