It’s finally February, which means the highly anticipated 2024 Arnold Classic is around the corner. In a recent The Menace podcast, James Hollingshead and his coach Milos Sarcev discussed his diet, posing strengths, and how he plans to defeat Samson Dauda on stage in Columbus, Ohio.
As a Men’s Open Pro hailing from the UK, James Hollingshead quickly cemented his status as a top threat thanks to his grainy muscle detail, stature, and dry conditioning. In 2022, Hollingshead shined in his backyard at the Arnold Classic UK event where he snagged a third-place finish.
Determined to secure a qualification for Olympia that same year, Hollingshead brought one of his all-time best packages to the 2022 Tsunami Pro, defeating Alfred Vlad Chiriac and Marc Hector en route to gold. However, once he made it to the ‘Super Bowl of bodybuilding,’ Hollingshead struggled to peak properly, which led to him finishing outside the top 15.
With plans of taking on his teammate Samson Dauda and former Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan at the 2024 Arnold Classic, Hollingshead, joined by Milos Sarcev, laid out their plan and expectations for the big event approaching in just over three weeks.
James Hollingshead Talks 2024 Arnold Classic Prep, Diet, and Game Plan for Defeating Teammate Samson Dauda
Even though James Hollingshead is amid intense preparations, Milos Sarcev emphasized that his diet hasn’t changed substantially in the weeks before the show.
“James is eating the normal foods that he’s normally eating. He’s a veteran of the sport. He’s been there, done that so many times. As you said Dennis, we all see James looking crazy going into the Olympia right, and then losing a little bit. So we are making sure every few days, no, let’s check and inspect what we expect,” explains Milos Sarcev.
“James likes his burgers and fires and he has it right? And the next day he looks fucking perfect, who am I to say no no no, I think you should take this. So far so good, that’s what we are doing. Basically, we just discussed it a little bit. He just needs to do a little run a little test dropping the water just to see where we are at.”
According to Sarcev, Hollingshead weighs approximately 278.6 pounds and looks ‘bigger, fuller, drier, harder, and leaner.’ With very little body fat on Hollingshead’s body, Sarcev believes he just needs to ‘cruise’ until stepping on stage.
“He lost 200 grams so he was 273.8 and now 278.6 and looking bigger, fuller, drier, harder, leaner, everything is going in the most perfect direction,” said Sarcev. “Once you are fat-free, it’s a cruise. It’s beautiful. It’s just don’t be stupid. Don’t let yourself, ‘Oh I can go a little bit more, a little bit more.’ Yes [don’t be afraid to feed the body]. The body is asking for it”
Should Hollingshead properly manipulate his water intake, he is confident he can hold his own against elite contenders in Ohio.
“I think if I was to eat up a little bit now and manipulate water and bring it down, it would probably be a damn good look right now. It could be interesting,” shares Hollingshead.
In a sport where steady refinements are key, Hollingshead explained which poses have improved as of late.
“I’m starting to like my side triceps, I like the rear double. The shots I actually – my shots are getting better from practicing before. I’m actually quite happy with the progress. Are they the best shots against everybody else? Probably not. But for me, every shot even the midsection has improved this year a lot which has helped me a lot with the abs shot and the most muscular. I’ve really been nailing abdominal training better than ever before.”
Despite boasting different physique characteristics, James Hollingshead believes he can overtake Samson Dauda should the defending champion enter this event at less than 100 percent.
“I believe I’ve got him on detail it’s just that Samson has such a nice structure, flow, and fullness, you can’t take away from him his strengths. They are different things, totally different. Samson has the ideal silhouette. I can beat Samson. I can beat him. But it’s whether he’s 100% or not.”
Milos Sarcev shared that James Hollingshead needs to create the illusion of additional width and fullness if he hopes to be in title contention.
“If he is as he is right now, 270.36 and you see he has one pound to lose of body fat and let’s say 10 pounds of water. If he is 260 dry as a desert on the stage with this kind of muscularity and thickness and everything and just creates illusion of the width and fullness.”
“The Shed” underscored that he has merely scratched the surface of his capabilities, revealing that he has operated at just 85 percent of his full potential.
“I think I’ve only been about 85%. I don’t know how to – to be honest with you I’ve never known how to peak for a show. I’ve always guessed. I’ve always guessed. It’s never landed right,” said James Hollingshead.
“Different shows have had different looks, when I won Tsunami I was bursting full. I was so full it made everyone else look flat but was it as detailed as I’d like? Probably not.”
Hollingshead’s road to the 2024 Arnold Classic has been littered with obstacles. While he took the 2023 season off to improve his physique, the UK bodybuilding star was tasked with undergoing a gynecomastia surgery recently. Taking months to recover, Hollingshead intends to make up for lost time with a statement performance.
In addition to a potential showdown with Samson Dauda, Hollingshead plans to prove himself against former Mr. Olympia Hadi Choopan. But that’s far from his only threats. A stacked lineup is headed to the show, including Brazilian stars Rafael Brandao and Marcello De Angelis, whose physique updates have left the bodybuilding community in awe.
Considering James Hollingshead hasn’t competed since December of 2022, fans anticipate the Englishman bringing an all-time best look. The 2024 Arnold Classic live stream will be free of charge and takes place from February 29 to March 3.