We talked with Ivan Blazquez in November, 2019.
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Ivan Blazquez and I’m 40. I live in New Orleans, Louisiana. Regarding major accomplishments this has been a banner year. I’ve currently competed in 49 bodybuilding shows dating back to 2005.
In 2016-2017, I had some injury issues that emerged and sidelined me from bodybuilding competition but I still did some bike rides and triathlon races. This year, I’ve stepped back onstage in the classic physique division and have landed two 1st place finishes in master’s classic physique and a 3rd and 4th place finish in open classic physique.
I also accomplished the never before done feat, as far as I know, of competing in a bodybuilding show (OCB Cajun Classic) Saturday at 11 a.m. and a triathlon (Jennings Tri) Sunday at 8 a.m., in under 24-hours!
I’ve competed in several triathlons this year and many bike rides and I have set many PR’s this year in my performance. It’s just unbelievable to me. Some of the big breakthroughs I think are my experience with racing via knowing the courses, along with incorporating some new race tactics dealing with “exercise & nutritional efficiency.”
So I’ve become more efficient regarding race pacing and race day nutrition. My swim has become much more efficient regarding my breathing and my technique, such as being more streamlined along water in addition to pulling the water better. I attribute a big part of this to years of training but also, believe it or not, beet juice and a high antioxidant plant-based diet.
Beet juice (I buy Biotta Organic Beet Juice) has been shown to improve exercise performance and efficiency. The evidence suggests it “Gets more energy out of each breath.” So this comes down to mitochondrial function and primarily the aerobic pathway.
Essentially, when energy is produced, some energy is lost via heat dissipation, rendering an imperfect system or not 100% efficient. Well, the theory is beet juice improves this efficiency rendering less energy lost as heat and more of this energy put into energy production!
Beet juice also has cardiovascular benefits by improving circulation and reducing the rate pressure product (heart rate x systolic blood pressure), all of which are beneficial for performance, function and health. I also apply the science of acid-base balance (alkaline precursor foods), bioenergetics and resistance training to improve power output on the bike and overall exercise economy.
My biggest improvement on the bike was by first, buying a lighter more aerodynamic bike (2019 Giant TCR). My previous bike was a Giant Defy (entry level road bike) weighing around 22 lb. My new road bike (Giant TCR) weighs about 16.5 lb! I also have a good tail-less aerohelmet with a face shield.
Some of my bike PR’s this year have been a 21.8 mph average for 12-miles at the 2019 Soleman Triathlon, which landed me a 9th out of 72 overall bike rank! My top speed achieved on the bike was 38.6 mph descending at the 2019 Sunfish Triathlon. I just hit a PR recently at the 2019 Tour de Jefferson with a 23.1 mph average for 7.68 miles with a group and then 22.1 mph average for 21-miles!
Another factor to these breakthroughs is Muir energy gels, an exogenous carbohydrate source. These energy gels are unlike any on the market in that they are whole food gels that actually include vegetables/herbs in the gel!
For instance, they have sweet potato-oregano, blackberry-thyme, etc. These gels are science-and-health-based gels in that they contain actual pureed fruit and veggies and are sweetened with some simple yet healthier sugars like blackstrap molasses and coconut nectar.
Now for the intensive purposes of racing, they are ideal and this is the only time I consume them aside from perhaps performance-based workouts. They are a rapid digestible mulitple-transport carbohydrate source containing both glucose and fructose, which optimizes glucose uptake to hard working muscles in desperate need of a fast rate of energy production & utilization.
I also PR’ed in the swim this year with a time of 2:08 for 150 yards and 6:36 for 400 yards. I just also competed in my second bodybuilding show at the OCB Battle of Miami and did very well and improved from my last show coming in fuller, more conditioned and also being more masterful with my posing.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
So my typical training day is simply moving. My workouts vary but there are many staples. So cardio is big for me because it trains the cardiovascular system. Lately, I’ve been increasing my weight training frequency and liking the results. So my main training philosophy is concurrent training or “TriBodybuilding.”
Essentially, I find it’s a great training approach for metabolic health and an overall balanced training program. The science of this method comes in the “application/execution” of it. So many may or will think potential muscle loss with triathlon or endurance training, but this is where the “application/execution” aspect I previously alluded to comes into play.
So the type of triathlon and cardio that builds muscle or minimizes concurrent training caveats is HIIT style cardio and/or shorter duration cardio. But even with longer duration cardio, this can be also be addressed with overall caloric intake and diet quality.
So there are many branches of triathlon aside from Ironman in Kona. There are super sprints, sprints, olympic distance, ½ ironman, full ironman. I mostly do super sprint and sprint triathlons, which is like a time-trial or HIIT workout. These races rarely go over more than 90-min and many are over in 45-60-min.
I find these types of triathlons are anabolic not only due to the relatively short nature of them but also the mode of activity. So based on some research, cycling has actually been shown to be one of the most anabolic aerobic activities due to the inherently similar body position and muscle involvement of a squat.
Swimming is great for the core, lats and shoulders and running is great for the core and legs. In fact, here’s a fascinating paper outlining these aforementioned points and showing concurrent training may even augment muscle growth. I find it also optimizes body composition and overall health/fitness.
Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy with Concurrent Exercise Training: Contrary Evidence for an Interference Effect
Concurrent Exercise Training Lecture by Above Study Author Dr. Kevin Murach
Also, the nutritional status can also play a role in the response. Doing sprint triathlons requires being fed and believe me, when I race I am fully fed. I carb & calorie up leading up to a race and beet juice load, which is also a great juice that drives up nitric oxide levels, ideal for “the pump” both in bodybuilding and performance in triathlon. This leads me to my training style regarding nutritional status.
I train with a mixed methods approach incorporating both fed and semi-fasted training. I call it semi-fasted because it’s mostly similar to a fasting-mimicking diet in that for my “fasted workouts” I’ll have low calorie, high nutrient foods such as plant-protein in the form of less complete proteins like pea, hemp or pumpkin and I’ll also include some empty calorie, high nutrient spices/herbs such as ginger, cayenne, wheat grass, mushroom powder, etc.
Sometimes I’ll have a veggie juice as well. On fed training days, I eat up and go train. Both nutritional status methods have pros and cons like most things do, but I enjoy incorporating both and getting the best of both worlds, similar to my concurrent training approach. My favorite exercise is either a single arm DB row or inverted rows for the back.
For me this year, I attribute my success to having the following mindset or thought process, “Don’t compare or think about what you did in the past. Simply put yourself out there, show up and let the suspense of not knowing take over and simply think about the process or execution of the task in the moment.
So each race or show is it’s own and has nothing to do with what was done in the past. Focus on the present and be pleasantly surprised by totally investing time and energy into the task at hand with undivided attention.” This focus has really made a difference with my triathlons, rides and bodybuilding shows.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
It’s all about passion for me. I have a burning passion for this field and enjoy helping others through exercise, diet and overall health/fitness. For me, I document or journal. This is great for accountability, motivation and feedback. It allows me to continue making progress in a variety of ways and paths.
I also enjoy the mental health benefits of exercise and eating a sound balanced diet. My best hack would be metabolic-style training and also incorporating stability/mobility, which balances metabolic and functional fitness.
This constitutes a comprehensive approach in that we work not just the mirror muscles, but also the muscles we can’t see in the mirror that play a vital role in function, alignment, posture, balance, etc.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
As aforementioned, it’s been a banner year and I’m truly enjoying the ride. I’d say the biggest factor is rest & recovery (R&R). Eating a nutrient-dense diet has really allowed me to recover faster, thereby allowing more training time with less down time. But make no mistake, I certainly take my down time and I’m a big fan of yoga, which I most certainly include in my training program.
I used to take yoga classes of which I learned a ton. I also wrote an article about yoga on bodybuilding.com. If you put “Yoga Enhancing the Art of Bodybuilding AND Ivan Blazquez” it should come up on first page.
I do yoga instinctively. I do it on a needs basis, which varies from 1-3 days/wk. I spend anywhere from 15-60 min depending on time and if I feel I need to spend more time with it that particular day. Overall it’s great and I enjoy it a lot. Feel so much looser and relaxed afterwards.
My most important goal is continued health and fitness. I simply want to continue my work in the field, progressing in my own knowledge, skills and abilities and continuing to elevate my ability to help my clients and others improve health and fitness.
I also wouldn’t mind collaborating potentially with a willing author for a research study again like I did in 2012: Muscle Activation of the Torso During the Modified Razor Curl Hamstring Exercise.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I train smarter not necessarily harder. I also have learned a lot from my reading and research along with experience seeing and observing many PT’s, sports doctors, etc. I incorporate a lot of functional and injury-prevention training into my workouts.
I usually allot one to three days of this type of exercise per week depending on the season and what not. I do lots of footwork exercise, balance, stability & mobility work. It feels good to train comprehensively like this and covering the bases.
However, for acute injuries I utilize RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). I also modify things as needed. I also credit nutrition too. My nutrition is high in anti-inflammatory foods. A recent discovery has been montmorency cherry juice, any brand.
I’ve noticed a difference and montmorency cherry juice has been around for a while, but just recently have I experienced these evidence-based purported benefits. Cherries are high in polyphenols and have multiple benefits from sleep enhancement, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, etc.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I follow a nutritarian-vegan diet. Nutritarian is summed up by the equation N/C = Health. Nutrients/Calories. A nutritarian doesn’t count calories, they count nutrients. In other words, not counting calories, but making calories count.
I also don’t leave anything to chance and do follow general recommendations by taking B12 (Whole Foods brand “Bluebonnet Earth Sweet Chewable“) and algae oil (Nature’s Way NutraVege Omega-3 Plant Extra Strength). Other than that, it’s fairly straightforward eating our fruits & vegetables and eating unprocessed whole foods.
My approach is simply to be balanced, conditioned and have above average muscle for my height-weight. It’s called the fat-free mass index (FFMI) and is a good objective tool/measure to “know” if one has enough muscle versus the subjective naked eye test. To get your FFMI, I’d suggest finding a good reputable website with an online calculator.
This is why I never pre-judge a client coming through the door by simply looking at him/her. I have an idea, but the truth comes out when we assess body composition. And remember, muscle does not take up a lot of space because of it’s higher density.
Regarding calories, I don’t really track. I simply make calories count through caloric quality/nutrient density. Fortunately being a fitness professional, going out is hardly problematic as most already know my eating preference, so there’s a general preliminary understanding about it and I appreciate that understanding and reciprocate that by not being judgemental of what others eat nor pushing my way of eating unto others.
I simply encourage and meet people where they are just as we would want in return. Regarding my favorite go-to superfood, it would be raw garlic. In fact, my most popular YouTube video is a recipe showing how I eat raw garlic tastefully and easily.
My Raw Garlic Recipe:
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
Dr. Fuhrman is the main basis of my nutritional knowledge. As aforementioned, there will be pros and cons about things, but with Dr. Fuhrman I simply take the best and leave the rest.
Overall, his diet approach and knowledge are at the highest level I’ve seen and he’s a good teacher. I definitely workout to music. A mix of genres, mostly hip-hop, but also some rock, heavy metal and even some meditative instrumentals.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Focus on movement. It’s all about physical activity and this is something everyone can get on board with. Find enjoyment in a routine you do, which will increase your adherence and consistency to it.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
Yes, I am, but mainly at the gym I work at. I can do some online coaching, but’s on a limited basis mainly being a health/fitness consultant advising on exercise programming, etc. I’m not a registered dietitian so I can not give out diet plans. I can guide and educate, but can’t tell people what to eat.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
My YouTube: @Ivan25
My Instagram: clinicalhealth_fitness