February 6, 2008

After taking most of 2007 off, Troy Alves had visions of returning to the stage late in the year and winning the first professional contest of his career. Unfortunately for Alves, that didn?t happen. Instead, two subpar outings ?where he placed sixth at the Montreal Pro and 10th at the Atlantic City Pro – had some observers predicting Alves was on the dowslide. In fact, Alves, the 2002 NPC USA heavyweight champ, has rarely been mentioned in the pre-show hype leading up to the Ironman Pro on February 16. Flexonline recently caught up with Alves and found out he?s not ready to go out without a fight.

FLEXONLINE: How is your prep coming for the show?
TROY ALVES: Very, very good. I?m kind of anxious to get out there. I seem to be the forgotten one. It amazes me because I?ve never placed worse than fourth at the Ironman. Last year, I placed sixth in Montreal and they gave me a 10th at the Atlantic City. I was a little flat, but still everybody has a bad show. Everybody. Now they act like I can?t compete against these guys anymore. I?ve beaten most of these guys already, and now they act like I?m gone. It?s going to be fun to prove these people wrong. I?m far from being gone. I?m going to be battling for a top spot.

FLEX: Last year, you took some time off and put on 10 pounds. How do you rate your conditioning in your two September shows?
TA: It was subpar, especially at the first one. I was big, but I didn?t have that crisp detail. That was a wakeup call to realize that it doesn?t do me any good to be bigger if I?m not going to be as sharp. At the next show, I did the opposite. I sucked down too much to try to compensate for the lack of detail and then I ended up coming in a little flat for Atlantic City. I stayed in good shape after that, so when I started my prep, I didn?t have that far to go to get ready.

FLEX: Do you have a goal in mind for how much you?ll weigh at the Ironman?
TA: I truly don?t have a goal in weight at all. I want to be the most shredded guy onstage and I want to be full. I don?t care whether the weight is 215 or 225, it doesn?t matter. I was on my diet during the holidays and it didn?t faze me at all, because I was in that zone already. I didn?t cheat, and I stayed on my game plan. Week by week, I saw a steady progression with my physique with a dense round look. My waist is going to be super super small at this show, and I think no one else is going to be able to match that. I worked on my glute-hamstring tie-ins, and I think I?ve improved tremendously there. It?s going to be exciting.

FLEX: Who are you looking forward to standing next to in comparisons?
TA: I respect them all, but I want to be next to Phil Heath, because that?s who everybody is buzzing about. I want to see what I look like next to him. He?s got a great physique, and he?s gotten bigger. We don?t know what he?s going to bring to the stage, but he?s obviously going to be improved. I?m going to be improved, too, with mature muscle. I feel like I?ll look pretty darn good next to him; people will be surprised. There are a lot of quality people in this show. It?s a great lineup. I?m driven to show everybody that if you try to knock me down, it makes me work that much harder to shut you up. When I know my body?s changed for the worse and I?m not able to get back in shape, believe me, I?ll be on my way out, but I?m nowhere near there. I?ll be proving that I belong on that stage on Saturday.

FLEX: So you?re looking to get the respect that you feel you deserve?
TA: I don?t know why it was taken away from me. Look at my placings and my history. I don?t know why people act like I don?t exist. I?m not whining about it, but it?s frustrating. It motivates me to work that much harder at the same time. I?m not gone. People who know my physique and know what I?m capable of won?t be surprised, but people who thought I was done will be truly surprised.

FLEX: Any predictions for the show?
TA: I think it?s going to be my best look. As to how they place me, I don?t know. It will be my best and most complete physique on that stage. That?s all you can ask for as a bodybuilder: to be your very best. I have to give a lot of credit to Dennis James, because we?ve been training together and we?ve been hitting a lot of different angles and exercises that have accentuated my physique. That has a lot to do with my preparation and confidence.

FLEX: How is Dennis as a training partner?
TA: He?s super strong, and he?s got a great intensity. I?ve always worked out hard, but I was kind of easygoing, chatting with people in the gym in between sets. With Dennis, what has been great for me is no cell phones, none of that crap, we just get in there and we bust butt. I like his intensity and his attitude toward training, and it?s taken me to another place with my mind.

FLEX: So your intensity level is way up.
TA: Oh yeah, big time. When people see me in the individual rounds, I believe they?re going to say ?Wow.? It?s going to be a great show. I?m looking forward to competing against some of these great bodybuilders.