For many bodybuilders,

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their passion for lifting weights began in high school. Whether it was getting strong for football or just wanting to put more size on a teenage frame, it was the start of a lifelong journey. But not many teenagers have the desire or discipline to actually compete at that age. Between school, family obligations, and maybe even a part-time job, fnding the time to work out, do cardio, and cook clean food generally dissuades most from even thinking about it. But Cody Montgomery has done all that for the past several years, winning the NPC Teen Nationals twice. Now a freshman at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Montgomery is preparing once again for the Teen Nationals, hoping to sweep both the Teen—which would make him an unprecedented three-time champ—and the Collegiate overall trophies.

Montgomery is not your average teenager. Not only does he train seven days a week while attending school full time, but his first semester college GPA was also an impressive 3.5. And let’s not even get started about his diet. It’s the of-season, yet, like clockwork, Montgomery still eats his seven clean meals a day, allowing himself only two cheat meals a week—either In-N-Out Burger or some variation—on Sunday nights. Between the 2012 and 2013 Teen Nationals, he put on 16 pounds of muscle. He can thank his age for some of that growth, but the rest is clearly due to his focused approach to eating and training. It’s hard enough for most people to stick to a contest diet, but Montgomery never complains. For him, food is fuel. Food makes him train harder. Food helps him add 16 pounds every year. His capacity for self-discipline makes him mature beyond his years.

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His contest diet is done

True grit diet
by 2011 NPC Collegiate overall winner and fellow Texan Jonathan Irizarry ( They met through a mutual friend when Montgomery was just 15 years old and had competed at Europa but was looking for someone to help him properly train for the Ronnie Coleman Classic. A partnership was formed. Their meeting spot became Metrofex Gym in Plano, now known as Destination Dallas. That’s where Irizarry supervises Montgomery’s training when Montgomery comes back home from college for weekends or breaks.

I asked Irizarry what a normal day looks like in terms of diet. “Cody eat seven times a day—standard bodybuilding fare like oatmeal or grits with a dozen egg whites or eight ounces of beef and two cups of rice with a little barbecue sauce,” he said. I wondered if it was a challenge working with such a young bodybuilder, and he assured me, “Cody is very meticulous. He’s almost OCD in terms of his diet. He leaves nothing to chance.” Sunday is a cheat day in the off-season. Well, really a partial cheat day since he only does it for his last two meals.

When dieting, though, Sunday is a “refeed” day, which always begins after a very heavy leg workout. His traditional refeed is spent hitting a local pancake house to get several stacks with chocolate chips, bananas, candy, and a lot of syrup. However, it’s important to note that he never does a pure junk food day. His 4,000-calorie refeed days, which consist of mostly clean carbs after the decadent pancake meal, are carefully calculated to coincide with his weekly diet plan.

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After a run at

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doing both his training and diet, Irizarry decided to focus just on the diet portion of Montgomery’s prep, directing him to John Meadows to design a “Mountain Dog” training plan just for Montgomery. That style of training has become immensely popular in the past few years due to its intensity and ability to pack on muscle quickly, if done properly. Some of the basic concepts Montgomery follows that work especially well because he’s still a teenager are the “pump day” and “power day” rotation. Because he’s trying to put more size on his legs, he works them twice a week, one day being a heavy “power day,” doing barbell squats for 6–8 reps, one being a “pump day,” which consists of a lot of sets of high reps in the 15- to 20-rep range and machine movements. His workout changes almost weekly, so it’s never stale or predictable. I asked Irizarry what exercises he thinks work best for Montgomery, and he told me, “For his physique everything has worked with the Mountain Dog training. His back has always been his strong point, but he lacked in hamstrings and that’s really progressed over the past year since we’ve added in heavy stiff-leg deadlifts.”

Montgomery went over his detailed workouts for both his strongest part—arms—and his weakest part—back. Arms are the one body part he never trains twice a week because they are a strong point. However, he always trains biceps and triceps together, sometimes doing all triceps exercises first, sometimes alternating one biceps then one triceps exercise. Though it’s a principle he follows for all workouts, time under tension is particularly important for arms day. Montgomery tries to do a three-second count for the negative portion of the movement. He usually begins with cross-body hammer curls because they hit the brachialis. He also wants to ensure he warms up properly for heavier curls later in the workout. Next up are concentration curls, and if he doesn’t do concentration curls, he’ll do cable curls instead, either from a low pulley or higher up on the dual pulley from both sides at once. He makes them harder by squeezing at the top. Alternating dumbbell curls are always done last because the muscle must be fully warmed up in order to work it to its full extent. He squeezes for one second at the top and tries to lower the dumbbells as slowly as possible.

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His triceps exercises vary, but the triceps workout always begins with rope pressdowns to warm up the muscle. Skull crushers, either lying down flat on the bench or on an incline bench if he has a spotter, come second. One tip he has is to make sure you bring the bar down behind your head, not down to your forehead as you see a lot of lifters do. This was a piece of advice given to him for avoiding elbow problems down the road. He normally finishes triceps with the one-arm dumbbell overhead extension followed by a set of close-grip pushups.

Unlike his arms,

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his back is a work in progress and the biggest focus for his off-season. Though he’s always had a good back, his mission this year is to add detail to it. In order to potentially compete at the USAs, he knows he needs more size—but more important, he needs a back that is well-defined. He does a lot of lat pulldowns these days, using both a wide and narrow grip. After a few warmup sets of pullups, the wide-grip lat pulldowns are done first, warming up his entire back. He then does several sets of narrow-grip pulldowns in order to focus on thickness through the center of the back and the rhomboids.

When he moves on to seated cable rows, he pulls the cable and, as with his biceps work, holds for a second with his elbows by his side while squeezing his back. He finishes of with dumbbell pullovers, but instead of doing them lying across a fat bench, he lies the other way, with his head hanging of the end of the bench. He lowers the dumbbell as far back as he can but only pulls it back to his forehead, stopping far short of where you normally see people stop the dumbbell. Doing it this way also hits the serratus, a muscle well known to top bodybuilders.

Montgomery has the work ethic and genetics to be a great bodybuilder. He predicts he’ll be about 10 pounds heavier than last year. If everything goes as planned, we may even see the first three-time Teen and Collegiate champion taking on his coach at the USAs the very next week! FLEX

True grit workout