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Fitness feature
What’s Your Workout is a monthly feature that spotlights readers and their exercise routines. If you would like to be featured, email Kimberly Dupps Truesdell at
Photos by Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Auburn resident Gus Stackhouse, winner of several bodybuilding competitions, works on his chest routine.
what’s your workout?

Auburn bodybuilder describes workout routine

Aaron Walker acts as a spotter while Stackhouse does military presses during a workout.
Stackhouse uses a variety of equipment including a cable system, various weights and a treadmill.

It’s more than just throwing weight up on the bar.

For Gus Stackhouse, it’s about smart training, a good diet and an incredible amount of focus.

The Auburn resident is a champion bodybuilder, recently earning a title at the Midwestern Body Building competition in July and placing in the top five at the 2013 Junior Nationals competition.

“A bodybuilder has to have samurai focus and monklike discipline,” when training, he says.

The 34-year-old was first drawn to the sport when he was a high school athlete. As he went to practice, he discovered that he enjoyed the workouts more than the sport.

“It’s all me and the fruits of my labor. There was such a draw to the individuality of the sport,” says Stackhouse, who has been participating in competitions for 11 years. “Ultimately, it’s your decision to eat what you eat and train when you train and how often you train and how diligent you are about those things.”

Workout: Bodybuilding

Routine: Stackhouse trains five days a week, splitting his rest days throughout the workweek. He wakes up at 5 a.m. for a cardio session, usually about 50 minutes.

“One thing I pride myself on is that I do cardio a lot, year-round to keep my weight down,” he says. “I’ll switch from primarily treadmill in the off-season to the stepper, which is more taxing and it burns more calories in a session.”

In the evening, Stackhouse heads to the gym for his weight workouts, which can last from an hour to two hours. He follows a split routine, training different muscle groups and body parts on different days.

Weighty matters: “There are a lot of hard-core pundits who say that free weights are the only way to go,” he says. “They might be superior in some aspects but they aren’t superior in all aspects.”

Rather, Stackhouse prefers to incorporate various forms of resistance – dumbbells, cables, barbells and machines – into his training.

“I never eliminate any aspect of training because it leads to an incomplete physique,” he says.

Gear: “I would never train without my belt,” he says.

Diet: While Stackhouse eats mindfully throughout the year, he begins to diet about 20 weeks before a competition, reducing his carbohydrate and fat intake.

“The diet can be very difficult, especially a competition preparation diet,” he says. “You are on restricted calories but at the same time you are trying to push yourself as hard as you physically can, in the gym and with the cardio.”

Most meals involve a lean protein – fish, chicken or turkey – a complex carb such as rice or quinoa and vegetables.

Supplements: Part of Stackhouse’s training regimen includes taking supplements, which he buys at Health Kick Nutrition, 610 E. Dupont Road. Amino acids and creatine, he says, help him build muscle in the offseason and maintain it during competition preparation.

Stay hydrated: “I’m a huge advocate of drinking massive amounts of fluids, so I always have my water jug with me,” he says, adding that it’s not unusual for him to drink a half-gallon of water in a workout.

Upcoming competitions: Stackhouse will compete in the NPC Junior USA Bodybuilding Championship in May in Charleston, S.C. Having placed in the top five this year, he hopes to improve and place in the top four or even top three.

“All we can do as bodybuilders is beat the person we were the year before or the show before. If we can better than what we were the show before, then we’ve won really,” he says. “I can’t control what anyone else looks like. I can’t control who shows up and who doesn’t. All I can control is me. I figure if I can continuously improve myself, sooner or later everything is going to happen.”

Motivation: “When I first started out, one of my original mentors told me to write down six goals that if I had to walk away, no matter what, from the sport … that I could walk away with no regrets,” Stackhouse says. “I’ve actually achieved five of those six so I have one goal left, which is to win the state championship.”