Josh Diamond doesn’t hesitate when asked who his favourite athlete is—Tom Brady.
“He was picked in the sixth round, almost the last pick in the draft,” Diamond explained. “He wasn’t gifted, he’s not fast, he’s not strong, not big, but he was determined and he had heart.”
Diamond certainly emulates his sports hero in terms of discipline and work ethic. While studying pharmacology full-time at McGill, he also recently trained for, and won his first-ever bodybuilding competition–an International Drug-Free Athletics (IDFA) competition on Oct. 1–in the men’s physique category.
Between school work and bodybuilding, Diamond is always busy.
“My gym bag is pretty much a second home,” Diamond said. “I have three meals, workout clothing, supplements, and then all my books and laptop.”
When he’s not in class or at the library, Diamond is at the McGill gym. He works out for two hours every day, taking only one rest day a week if he thinks his body needs it.
Maintaining his diet has been the most difficult part of his training.
“For the first couple months, [you eat] really clean,” Diamond said. “Closer to the competition […] you start eating things like tilapia and asparagus, like really not many calories.”
For Diamond, the preparations immediately before the competition were gruelling. He chose to go on a low-carb, “keto diet,” and ate almost no carbohydrates for two weeks leading up to competition day. To ensure he’d be in peak condition for judging, he also cut water 24 hours before stepping on stage. Once the competition rolled around, though, Diamond treated himself to a day of relaxation.
“If you get stressed out, there are hormones in your body that can start to put on fat,” Diamond said. “And, actually, the day of the competition, you eat more carbs than you usually do. Kind of gets your blood glucose levels higher, puts more blood in the muscles. Makes you look better on stage.”
Competitors also use other last-minute techniques to showcase their bodies, including, of course, the notorious spray tan. Spray tanning is important to keep the stage lights from washing out competitors’ muscle definition.
“Because I’m very pale, I had two sessions of spray tan,” Diamond said. “One the night before, and one right before I went on stage.”
To the average student, bodybuilding may sound like a substantial time commitment—and it is. Diamond was clear that it’s only worthwhile because he truly loves the process. In fact, he thinks that the biggest misconception about bodybuilding surrounds the motivation behind doing it.
“I think at my level, [there is a misconception] that we [bodybuild] to make other people think we look good,” Diamond said. “I do it because I enjoy doing it. I enjoy waking up and going to the gym at seven in the morning. I enjoy preparing meals, and all that kind of stuff [….] I don’t do it for other people. And I think when a lot of people see a bodybuilder, they think, ‘Oh, it’s an egomaniac, maybe a bit narcissistic.’”
Through all of his dedication and hard work, Diamond has certainly come a long way. Once a thin high school kid with ‘skinny kid abs,’ he never expected to get involved with bodybuilding, but his friend Behruze Perey convinced him to start working out.
“At first it was torture, and I didn’t ever want to go [to the gym],” Diamond recalled. “But he made me go every once in a while and then I got addicted to it.”
Now that he has a competition win under his belt, Diamond’s next step is a bigger competition in May, this time in his home province of British Columbia. Until then, he’ll continue to split his time between the McGill Fitness Centre and McLennan Library.
What’s your favourite muscle on yourself?
Abs. That’s an easy question.
Do you have a favourite cheat day food?
I don’t know if you’d call it a cheat day food, but I love any kind of like Basha, Boustan. That’s not a good answer, it’s kind of healthy.
What’s a really bad cheat food?
It would have to be like burgers and fries […] A&W is my go-to. When I’m really hungry, I’ll just order like three teen burgers. The cashier is always like, “three?”