Student Spotlight: Adelfo Cerame - A Terrible Accident Paved His Way to Competitive Bodybuilding

Image 1: Adelfo Cerame in his job as a firefighter (backrgound) and as a competive bodybuilder at the 2011 Buckeye Classic, where he took an amazing 2nd place (foreground).
His name is Adelfo Cerame Jr and he is a competitive natural wheelchair bodybuilder and physical culture enthusiast. Although he says of himself that he is just a regular guy that has a passion for fitness, nutrition, and the physical culture lifestyle, his willpower, toughness and absolute dedication made him succeed even after an accident that would probably have stopped the career of any other aspiring physical culturist in its tracks.

It is thus more of an honor than a mere pleasure for me that he was not only willing to recount his story, some of you may already have heard of on Super Human Radio in the SuppVersity Student Spotlight, but that he will also be documenting his preparations for the upcoming Wheelchair Nationals in March '12 in a series of blogposts, images and videos on the SuppVersity.
SuppVersity exclusive:
Adelfo Cerame's Road Road to the Wheelchair Nationals 2012
Adelfo Cerame's Road Road to the Wheelchair Nationals 2012

Don't forget to check back for exclusive weekly updates on Adelfo's progress. In his contest-prep documentation you are goint to learn more about Adelfo's raw-foods approach to intermittent-fasting and in his pictures and videos you will see how diet and training will gradually transform a well-built athlete into a freakishingly ripped muscle-freak with a realistic chance of grabbing his pro-card at the Nationals in March '12.

The Crash, the shock... the motivating challenge

My journey started on November 10, 2005, when I was involved in a car accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down, being diagnosed as a T-12 paraplegic. The reality of paralysis and not being able to walk again was a huge eye opener and reality check for me. I had to cope with the fact that things would be a bit different now, and I would have to learn and adapt to a new way of living. The realization of being a paraplegic broke me down spiritually, mentally and physically. It took me about a year to come to terms with my situation, and once I came to terms, I embraced it with open arms, and used it as a driving tool to challenge and motivate myself. I rebuilt myself from the ground up, from my self-esteem, my relationship with God, my new outlook on life, to my physical fitness and physique.

"It took me a while to figure out the whole dieting scheme and put it all together "

Image 2: Adelfo late 2007 (left) and in summer 2008 (right), when, as a result of research, networking and experimenting, for the first time in his whole life, he was finally able to see his abdominal muscles.
I started getting into bodybuilding around 2007 when I was browsing through “you tube” videos and I saw these guys in wheelchairs posing and flexing in bodybuilding competitions. I was so amazed when I saw these incredible physiques from people in wheelchairs, like myself. After looking and reading more into wheelchair bodybuilding, I thought to myself that I can do this; and that’s when everything began for my passion and love for physical culture.

Through research, networking, and experimenting, I was able teach myself about nutrition, fitness and dieting. Grasping the concept of weight loss and dieting was like finding a formula for a math problem after trying to figure it out for years.  I eventually figured it out and did my first bodybuilding contest in 2008.

Image 3: Adelfo during his firefighting days before the accident. While he was not exactly athletic, he never had weight issues with all the physical labor.
Before my injury, I have always been athletic. I played organized sports all through my childhood and adolescent years. Even my occupation as a wildland firefighter before my injury was physically demanding. I knew about fitness and exercise but did not really understand the aspect of the nutrition side of it until I started bodybuilding. I always thought that I was a slave to my subpar genetics and that I can never attain a shredded physique with washboard abs because I was not genetically gifted, but I eventually proved myself wrong with that concept.

"I had to find a different method of maintaining my weight, because I could not run or hike anymore"

Image 4: Adelfo after his first bodybuilding competition in the summer of 2008 where I took 1st place
As you can see from my photo before my injury, I was never really over weight or obese, I considered my self in pretty good condition, but I never really had that physique that I obtain now. My nutritional habits were horrible, I ate what I wanted and when I wanted, and I drank too much alcohol. During my firefighting days my diet consisted of pizza and a 6-pack of beer on a daily basis and the occasional bar hopping. The only reason I stayed in good physical shape as I was, due to the physical demands of my job. I ran 5-6 miles and hiked on a daily basis, and during fire campaigns, I worked 14-21 days straight doing 16 hour shifts hiking up and down mountains fighting fire, so I was burning hundreds of calories on a daily basis, which allowed me to eat and drink what I wanted, and not having to worry about letting myself go. I did not realize how important nutrition was back then, but finally realized the importance after my injury because now I had to find a different method of maintaining my weight because I could not run or hike anymore to burn the calories that I was so use to just shedding.

Image 5: 2010 was not a good year for Adelfo. In the beginning stages for my prep for the 2010 season, he was bed ridden for almost the whole year, due to an pressure ulcer on my behind that was infected with MRSA and needed surgery.
Throughout these past 4 years of my experience with bodybuilding and the whole physical culture lifestyle, I have gained a lot of knowledge about nutrition and fitness. My diet and training methods have evolved and will continue to keep evolving, because of my willingness to keep an open mind and apply and experiment with new strategies, methods and philosophies to my diet and training.

"A perfect diet should be something that you can convert into a lifestyle"

I have tried many, and different approaches to dieting. Through experiment, trial and error, I have taken what has worked for me and used it to build (or still building) a perfect diet, which suits me. I feel a perfect diet should be something that you can convert into a lifestyle not just a 12-week thing then get off of it. A diet should be flexible where you can still be happy, social, and not live like a hermit due to the fear of  “F” ing’ up your diet. I call it find your happy medium.

For my nutrition, I am a big fan of having a high fat, high protein, and low-carbohydrate diet. I feel that my body runs better on fats, but I understand that carbohydrates have their place and importance in nutrition, so I also incorporate some carbohydrates into my diet.

Making a handicap your training advantage

You think you could use some advice on your own training, diet and supplementation regimen and want it from someone who obviously knows what it takes to build muscle and lose fat? You can reach out to Adelfo via Facebook.
For my training I like to lift heavy and I’m not a real big fan of resting in between sets even if I am lifting heavy. Since I no longer have the use of my legs, I have the advantage to train individual body parts twice a week. An exemplary week would look like that:
  • Monday- chest/ triceps (emphasize chest)
  • Tuesday- back/ biceps (emphasize back)
  • Wednesday- rest
  • Thursday- triceps/ chest (emphasize triceps)
  • Friday- biceps/ back (emphasize biceps)
  • Saturday- shoulders and 1 body part depending on what I worked out on Friday.
  • Sunday- rest

Adelfo finds sticking to basic supps both economical and effective

For my supplementation, I try to just stick to a quality protein powders, bcaa’s, creatine and oils like macadamia and coconut oil. If I have extra money to spend then I’ll supplement with N.O.’s , pre-workouts (only when I prep), fat burners and beta alanine.

Intermittent fasting is the newest tool in Adelfo's contest prep arsenal

Image 6: There is no doubt - Adelfo knows how to get (back) in shape.
What drew me to Intermittent fasting was the claims that some have made by being able to hold single digit BF% year round. I have no problem cutting for a contest and showing up on stage in great condition, but the hardest part for me, and I think I speak for most, is being able to maintain that contest physique. Even on a high fat, low carb diet (anabolic solution diet) during my off-season, I still can't hold my contest physique unless I was on a calorie deficit, but who wants to do that all year!

Convenience is a big plus of intermittent fasting

Another factor that made me want to try Intermittent fasting, and I think it was the deciding factor for me to experiment with it for my upcoming contest prep, was the relief from not having to prep meals for the whole day and waking up super early just so I don't miss breakfast. I was just getting burnt out on prepping meals and basing my daily schedule around my meals. My meals kind of dictate how my schedule goes.
Coming soon: Dr. Andro's Intermittent Fasting Write-Up - All about its effects on your training, your physique and your general health. You may also want to check out my posts on glycogen-free muscle growth in the meantime.
A final word from Dr. Andro: If Adelfo's bio got you interested - and I am pretty sure it has - make sure you don't forget to check back for the upcoming SuppVersity exclusive "Adelfo Cerame's Road Road to the Wheelchair Nationals 2012 - Raw Foods and Intermittent Fasting Pave His Way"! The best way to make sure you don't miss it, is to join the SuppVersity Facebook page, where you will find all the daily updates on what's going on in the world of exercise and nutrition science.
Disclaimer:The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. It is by no means intended as professional medical advice. Do not use any of the agents or freely available dietary supplements mentioned on this website without further consultation with your medical practitioner.