Diet and Nutrition

Pinnacle Strength – An interview with Brad Cardoza

Are you tired of lifting weenie weights in the gym, and of not looking like you actually get under the iron on a weekly basis? How’d you like to look the part, have the lifting power and the brains to match? Meet Brad Cardoza–as one of AtLarge Nutrition’s sponsored athletes, this man is a different breed of strongman.

Strongmen have always been big, powerful and rugged looking, and now they’re beginning to come in super sizes. They turn heads wherever they go, silence a room when they enter and frighten children and their mothers by their presence. They’re walking mountainous, boulders of muscle poised to lift, hold and/or pull hundreds and thousands of pounds.

That’s Brad Cordoza. At 28 years of age, Brad weighs in at 240, is 5’10 with body fat fluctuating between 8-10%. Brad not only looks like a bodybuilder, he also possesses the strength of a power- lifter and a strongman. This man is the real deal.

Wannabebig: Hi Brad. To start off, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?

Brad Cardoza: Sure.

I started lifting weights with my football buddies in high school. I didn’t know much or have very good coaching, but I knew I wanted to be big and strong. Like a lot of guys do when your 15 years old. The only problem was all I did was bench, bench and bench.

Yeah, yeah, yuk it up. We’ve all done it at some point in time. By my junior year in High school my bench was 320 and my squat was non-existent. It wasn’t until I got to college that I found out how to lift correctly and started training my lower body and the Olympic lifts.

I currently hold a B.A., and a NSCA – CSCS certification. I’m a USA Weightlifting Club Coach and a NSCA – CPT.

Wannabebig: Wow, you’ve got lots of letters attached to your name, you must be important.

Brad Cardoza: Funny guy.

My most memorable accomplishments and/or contests won were, breaking a 27-year-old school record in the hammer throw at UMass. Amherst, qualifying for Division 1 Nationals for the hammer throw, winning my Pro Card at the Azalea Strongman festival in Virginia, and placing fourth at the 105 KG Pro National Championships. Currently, I make my living as a Strength Coach / Personal Trainer working out of Gold’s Gym in North Dartmouth MA.

Wannabebig: What were some of the biggest mistakes (we’ve all made a few) you made when you first got started with weight training?

Brad Cardoza: The biggest mistake I made was putting most of the emphasis of my workouts on my upper body. Luckily my lower body caught up very quickly, but I wish I started about 4 or 5 years earlier on the squats and deadlifts.

When did you start seeing real results from your training?

Brad Cordoza: I had a pretty decent upper body after a year or so of training in high-school, but it wasn’t until I got to UMass. that I started getting some good numbers on
my squats, cleans etc.

Wannabebig: Have you sustained any injuries during your training years? If so, what were some of them?

Brad Cardoza: I didn’t have many problems with injuries until starting strongman training. In the last year I have had multiple back issues that have kept me at bay. Four weeks before my Pro Nationals I pulled my hamstring real bad doing deads. Most recently I am dealing with a hernia, which I will be getting surgery for in the middle of November.
Needless to say I am taking a little break from the heavy stuff.

Well, best of luck, and I hope you have a speedy recovery! How did you get involved in doing strong man competitions?

Brad Cardoza: I have a buddy named John Sullivan who I worked with in Boston for a couple of years. He basically made fun of me until I tried it. I was addicted after the first day of training. I also have a great group of guys to train with including heavyweight pros Art McDermott and Dan Ford.

Wannabebig: What type of training philosophy do you follow? Does it change when you’re training for an event?

Brad Cardoza: I like to consider myself a little bit nuts. I basically train heavy all year with short breaks here and there (usually called overtraining). I don’t like to write out planned breaks in my cycles; usually I just pay real close attention to my body. Once I feel like I have been working a little too hard I’ll back off a little bit. It’s hard to take breaks when you’re a successful newbie to a sport. I feel as though I have a lot of catching up to do.

Wannabebig: Well, so far so good, by the looks of it.
What type of nutritional strategies do you employ (meaning, do you follow a high carb low fat, medium protein intake, low carb approach etc)?

Brad Cardoza: Once I started doing meal replacements 3-4 times a day I got lean real fast. Now I just eat everything in sight. Some weeks it may be pizza 3 or 4 times, other weeks I might be good and have my chicken prepared and so forth. I just try to get as many calories as I can without putting on too much fat. I also make sure I am getting at least 250 grams of protein a day.

Does it change when you’re preparing for a competition?

Brad Cardoza: Usually I have to lose about 5-10 pounds to weigh in at my comps. The week before I might watch my carbs a little bit, but that’s about it. So far I haven’t too many problems getting less than 231 lb’s.

Wannabebig: In your mind, what is your most impressive feat of strength?

Brad Cardoza: Since training for the sport I realized I have a really strong posterior chain. Stones are my best strongman event, and about 3 or 4 months ago I loaded the 420lb stone. To give you an idea of how heavy that is, it’s heavier than the last stone on the televised Worlds Strongest Man competitions on ESPN. I‘m not sure if any other lightweight competitor has ever loaded a stone of that weight.

Besides that, beating a bunch of successful pro heavyweights at my last competition was very exciting for me as well. I also completed a 300 lb-per-hand Farmer’s Walk for 150 ft. about a month ago, which was a good personal best for me.

Wannabebig: For overall body strength, which exercises, do you feel give an individual the best bang for their buck?

Brad Cardoza: Squats and deads. There are many different variations you can do here as well. My two favorites are box squats and RDL’s, but I also love heavy single leg support stuff like split squats and step ups. The Olympic lifts are up there too but they usually take a little more time to master.

What about supplements, where do they fit in and what role do they play in your training?

Brad Cardoza: I have always believed in supplementation. At least 120 grams of my protein a day comes from shakes, and I will always be taking some type of recovery supplement as well. I like to keep things simple, right now its basically At Large Nutrition’s ETS and Opticen.

Wannabebig: What are your future goals?

Brad Cardoza: After surgery I am going to re-evaluate where I am and decide what my next step is going to be. I have actually considered training for a Body Building show, but I know, come this winter, it is going to be time to start training for next years pro-nationals. I missed going to World’s Strongest Man in Finland by two spots, this year. I don’t want to let it slip by again.

Written by Maki Riddington

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Pinnacle Strength – An interview with Brad Cardoza discussion thread.