Disciplined 'Drago' ascends ranks of natural bodybuildingRICK LUBBERS: Carl Sievert acquired the nickname “Drago” from his college baseball teammates several years ago, pointing at his similarities to the big, beefy, blond Russian boxer that actor Dolph Lundgren portrayed in “Rocky IV.”
By: Rick Lubbers, Duluth News Tribune
Carl Sievert acquired the nickname “Drago” from his college baseball teammates several years ago, pointing at his similarities to the big, beefy, blond Russian boxer that actor Dolph Lundgren portrayed in “Rocky IV.”
It’s an apt moniker. Sievert, a 6-foot-1, 26-year-old Duluth native, has a physique worthy of a “Rocky” movie … and plenty of blond hair. But unlike Ivan Drago, a genetically engineered and chemically enhanced product of a laboratory, Sievert’s considerable muscles were built the old-fashioned way — with sweat and weights — working out six days a week for at least two hours a session.
Sievert competes in natural bodybuilding, an offshoot of the sport with guidelines and safeguards as firm as his 20-inch biceps. Competitors in natural bodybuilding must be free of performance-enhancing drugs for at least seven years to compete, there is a banned substance list to follow and polygraph and urine tests routinely are conducted to keep the athletes honest.
It’s a regimen Sievert welcomes as he aims to sculpt his body to Schwarzeneggerian proportions.
“You can build a great body no matter what; it just takes a little more time,” he said. “I do natural shows because I want to be on stage with people who aren’t taking anything. I want to be on the same level as everybody else.
“You’re responsible for everything that you put in your body.”
That means no junk food sprees, trips through the McDonald’s drive-through or guzzling gallons of Mountain Dew. Sievert said he eats and drinks as cleanly as he competes.
During the competition offseason Sievert consumes a healthy diet totaling 5,000 calories a day, but as he prepares for a show he cuts his intake to between 2,700-3,000 calories while dropping weight from 225 to 200 pounds.
He loads his dinner plate with lots of egg whites, chicken, tuna, brown rice, oatmeal, fruits, green veggies or rice cakes and washes them down with protein drinks or water.
“For most people, the diet is the toughest part — just staying on track with it every day,” said Sievert, who works for TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) rehabilitation services in the Twin Ports.
A weightlifter since he was 12 years old, Sievert applied that discipline toward baseball and hockey at Duluth East. After graduating in 2004, Sievert played baseball at William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Following college, Sievert pursued hardball as a profession by attending open Major League Baseball tryouts around the Midwest in 2009.
But during that time he was spotted working out in a local gym and asked if he had ever tried bodybuilding. He hadn’t, but it wasn’t long before Sievert was pumping up his body and competing as an amateur bodybuilder.
Soon his body looked able to lift small cars, deflect bullets and wrap steel pipes into pretzel shapes.
Sievert progressed from rookie to contender quickly, achieving professional status on Oct. 20 (only his seventh competition) after winning a title at the Northern States Classic in Elk River. He will compete as a pro for the first time in May, an event in Bloomington, Minn., that he already is busy preparing for.
He is working with Brian Ahlstrom of Northeast Iowa-based Ahlstrom Fitness Consulting.
“He’s taught me a lot — posing, the diet, the training, the stage presentation,” Sievert said of his contest prep coach, whom he met at an event in Elk River in 2011.
“Carl has so much potential in our sport,” Ahlstrom wrote by e-mail. “He has great size, muscularity and muscle maturity for his age. Carl is truly one of the most dedicated and hardworking people I know. He is a great client who just puts in the work without complaining or questioning. I wish all my clients were as easy as Carl!”
At bodybuilding competitions, divisions are categorized by height, and Sievert always is placed in the tall division. There is a morning show where most of the prejudging is wrapped up. Everyone in the division is on stage and being judged for size, symmetry, definition, stage presence and posing. Eight different poses are required of each bodybuilder.
Then there is a four- to five-hour break.
At the night show, the top five bodybuilders in each class perform minute-long routines set to music.
“After prejudging, they know who the winners are, so the posing routine is for the entertainment of the crowd,” Sievert said.
Following the routines, winners are announced for each division and the tall and short winners square off, starting with another round of prejudging.
Then there is a pose down … and a lot of gamesmanship.
“If you do a front double bicep, I’m going to get next to you and I’m going to show that I’ve got better front double biceps,” Sievert said. “Whatever they do, you might want to copy them. I like to step in front of them, before the crowd, and kind of get rid of them. That’s all acceptable.”
But even as developed as his muscles are, Sievert said there are ways to make them look even bigger to the judges.
“A lot of people don’t work on posing enough,” he said. “You can make yourself look so much bigger if you know how to show your body the right way. Bodybuilding is such an illusion.”
For instance, Sievert has a wider bone structure in his hips, but he makes his waste look smaller by growing his lats and quads.
“There are so many little tricks,” he said. “Posing is a big part of it. I consider that one of my specialties.”
Eat your heart out, Dolph Lundgren.