Lee Priest built his bodybuilding career with exceptional muscular development, aesthetic proportions, and a charismatic personality. In a recent YouTube video, he reflected on the head games of contest preps and discussed his eating patterns, admitting he would consume more food while sticking to a three-hour cardio routine.
Getting his start in the early 1990s, Lee Priest quickly gained recognition for his impressive physique, earning a reputation as one of the most gifted and controversial athletes in the sport. Standing at a relatively shorter height compared to his competitors, Priest compensated with an unparalleled level of muscle mass and definition.
His legendary status in the bodybuilding industry can be attributed to his unwavering dedication to the sport, as well as his distinctive approach to training and dieting. Lee Priest credits his ability to lean out quickly to his unconventional diet philosophy. Eating whatever he wanted for most of the year, Priest would then adopt a strict diet 16 weeks before a show. This strategy contributed significantly to his success in achieving rapid and impressive results.
Lee Priest is now retired from the sport but not much has changed in terms of working out for the 51-year-old. Making simple adjustments to his routine to accommodate his neck injury, Lee Priest is still weight training and doing cardio to keep his form at 213 pounds.
Lee Priest Discusses Contest Preps & 2-3 Hour Cardio Routine: ‘I Used It Because I Never Cut My Food Back
During a recent YouTube video, Lee Priest remembered how much contest prep got to him mentally. Even when he knew was in great shape, the moment he looked at himself, he would feel unsatisfied with how his physique was coming along.
“Those last few weeks, I’ve said it’s more of head game because there’s a video that popped off again. I’m at World’s Gym on the balcony, black tank top on, early morning. They were like ‘Lee Priest you need to take your t-shirt off we need to do it.’ I’m like okay, I’m two weeks out I look good. As soon as I looked in the mirror I was like ‘Oh, what a bag of shit.’
“Through the whole workout, I was just so angry, I had to look in the mirror at myself. Then, that was the Ironman that I won. I look at the video now and I think I look good, but I find those last couple of weeks are all a head game” Priest said.
While Priest was struggling with how he looked at his body, he explained that he still continued to eat enough to stay full, prompting him to simply increase his cardio.
“I used to do two or three hours of cardio because I never cut my food back. I would just keep eating to stay full. I didn’t want to cut my food out, If I just ate more I’d do more cardio. I’d do two or three hours of cardio a day and train later that day,” said Lee Priest.
“I find it hard to just sit there and have a meal and just do it like that. About two [hours is what I do for cardio today]. I still do one to two, but I do count walking from my house to McDonald’s and walking home as cardio.”
Body dysmorphia and mental health are struggles that other bodybuilders have faced throughout their careers. Seven-time Mr. Olympia champion Phil Heath has opened up about his battle with body dysmorphia which he has been dealing with for over 20 years. Heath uses a combination of positive affirmations and focusing on his physical well-being to keep those thoughts at bay.
In regards to overall mental health, five-time Classic Physique champion Chris Bumstead has been open about his struggles with anxiety and fear while preparing for competitions. He claimed that this year’s prep for Mr. Olympia was his hardest ever and just recently revealed that he had suffered a lat tear. In the past, he has shared his fear of failure and the pressures he feels as an Olympia champion.
Being a top-performing athlete comes with a price and some bodybuilders are more upfront about the battles they face than others. Regardless, Lee Priest and the many others who have faced adversity show their tenacity and dedication as they aim to preserve their physiques. Priest’s impact continues to resonate among fitness enthusiasts and aspiring bodybuilders worldwide.