Bruce Blackburn eats seven meals and 4,000 calories per day.
After a few weeks of such a diet, most of us would be able to paint "Goodyear" on our belly, but Blackburn actually needs to eat that much.
Blackburn, 24, is a bodybuilder, and he needs that food and six 11/2-hour weightlifting sessions per week to keep his shape.
The Manchester native must be doing something right, because he won the Natural New Jersey contest over the weekend, an American Natural Bodybuilding Conference event. He's only been seriously involved in bodybuilding for two years, and the New Jersey contest was only his second competition outside Carroll.
Blackburn, in fact, said he designed his own diet, tailoring it to his particular competition and metabolism. Unlike some bodybuilders, Blackburn said he is able to eat plenty of red meat and still have a diet that is about 60 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 10 percent fat.
"I've got a fast metabolism," said Blackburn, who also burns plenty of calories at his regular job with a masonry company in Taneytown.
He said he supplements his diet with a minimum of vitamins and minerals.
But he said hedoes not supplement his training with steroids.
In fact, Blackburn competes only in meets that are certified drug-free -- those sponsored by the ANBC.
Unfortunately for Blackburn, that means he's not competing with the most well-known bodybuilders, whose competitors may not be completely drug-free.
Blackburn said many competitors aretrying to make bodybuilding a drug-free sport but, like those with asimilar view in weightlifting, it's hard to convince all competitorsthat the risks of steroids outweigh the benefits of quick muscle gain.
"You just get hooked on 'em, even if you just try them," Blackburn said, noting it is much more challenging to increase muscle bulk without using the drugs.
Use of steroids has been linked to acne, premature heart disease, overproduction of red blood cells, stunted bone growth and reproductive problems among males. Women also may suffer from those problems, along with hormonal changes.
Blackburn said other bodybuilding sanctioning organizations may claim they are trying to eliminate drugs, but don't back the words up with actions, such as tests for all competitors.
"They say they do random drug tests," he said.
Blackburn said he often worked out with weights at North Carroll High, where he played football under former coach Casey Day and wrestled for Dick Bauerlein. But it wasn't until after he graduated that he became serious about lifting and, later, about bodybuilding.
"I had a friend who got me into it," Blackburn said. "He really kind of egged me on."
That friend was Rich Spicer, 42, anotherManchester resident active as a bodybuilder who often competes in masters (over 40) competitions.
While weightlifting simply measures the amount lifted in two events (the snatch and clean-and-jerk) and powerlifting includes three events (squat, bench press and dead lift),judging for bodybuilding is much more subjective. Judges look for muscle definition, bulk and symmetry.
It's possible, in fact, for judges to come up with different scores for the same group of athletes.
Blackburn started by competing in a couple of bodybuilding contests at Four Seasons Sports Complex near Hampstead, where he still trains, before striking out last year into more competitive contests.
He placed third in his class at the Delaware Valley Open in Bear, Del., last year (Spicer was second) in his first attempt, then beat out 17 others to win the men's medium class at the New Jersey event.
Come September, Blackburn said, he'll go back to the Delaware Valley meet and try to show the judges how much he has improved in a year.
"The judges there have seen me before," he said. "They'll be able tosee how much I've changed."