Carl Sievert wasn’t sure he’d compete.

After weeks of prepping for his 17th natural bodybuilding competition, there was a chance it’d be canceled due to the pandemic. “You put yourself through that work lifting and training. … I’m very grateful they were able to do it,” he said.

With face masks and social distancing, the Duluth man competed — and won — the heavyweight 2020 International Pro Elite World Championships in late October in Kansas City, Missouri.

When gyms were closed due to Minnesota mandate, Sievert exercised daily at home with his set of 20- and 30-pound dumbbells.

“As a bodybuilder, you can’t control who shows up to the stage. You can control what you can and worry about yourself. The main goal is to look better each year and make your own personal improvement,” he said.

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Carl Sievert performs preacher curls during a recent workout. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Carl Sievert performs preacher curls during a recent workout. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

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Sievert, 35, went pro in 2015 and has since placed at many competitions around the country. “Bodybuilding is such an illusion,” he said in a 2013 News Tribune interview. "A lot of people don't work on posing enough. You can make yourself look so much bigger if you know how to show your body the right way.”

Sievert took time to catch the News Tribune up on the sport, his go-to cheat meal and his performance alter-ego.

Carl Sievert
Carl Sievert

Q: What attracted you to bodybuilding?

A: I wanted to be big and strong like my dad and also wanted to be the best I could be for baseball and hockey. I knew I would have an advantage if I started weight training.

After college baseball at William Penn University in Iowa, I needed something to keep me competitive and a new goal and journey to pursue. I’ve always enjoyed training and pushing myself to the limits, so bodybuilding was a perfect fit for me.

I love the sport because it’s like a never-ending project. You’re never done. You can always get better at something. It keeps me motivated.

Q: What has participating in this taught you about your physical, mental and emotional health?

A: Competing and going through everything that goes along with the sport has a huge impact on every part of your life. You really have to be mentally strong in order to fight off any temptation and stay on track.

If you truly want to be your best, you’ll do whatever it takes to get there.

Personally, it’s easy for me to stay on track because of my competitiveness. You couldn’t pay me to cheat on my diet or slack off in the gym.

Finding balance is very important because the sport can consume you. Every choice you make throughout your day has an impact. As you get closer to competition, everything becomes tougher. Your energy levels suffer from low body fat levels, and it makes easy tasks seem way more challenging than they really are.

Overall, I’ve learned that I can push myself to extreme levels if I want something bad enough. I think everyone is capable of more than they think.

Carl Sievert of Duluth won the heavyweight 2020 International Pro Elite World Championships in late October in Kansas City, Missouri. Sievert is taking 2021 off from competing to focus on making improvements, building muscle and he and his wife are welcoming their first child. He'll be back to compete in 2022, he said. (Photo courtesy of Scott Diestler, LiquidSpectrum)
Carl Sievert of Duluth won the heavyweight 2020 International Pro Elite World Championships in late October in Kansas City, Missouri. Sievert is taking 2021 off from competing to focus on making improvements, building muscle and he and his wife are welcoming their first child. He'll be back to compete in 2022, he said. (Photo courtesy of Scott Diestler, LiquidSpectrum)

Q: How do you take care of your body in between workouts / after a competition?

A: I train one muscle group per day. That way they can recover properly, and I avoid overtraining. Rest and nutrition are obviously very important.

After competition, I raise my calories and focus on growing. If you’re always dieting or always super lean, it’s tough to build muscle or make improvements. The off season is when you improve and get better for the next competition season. It’s a time for your body and mind to recover from a very demanding competition season.

Hormone levels are all out of whack when you’re extremely lean, and it usually takes several months for them to get back to their normal levels.

Q: You mentioned a 22- to 24-week dieting track to help with losing pounds vs. losing muscle. What’s a standard meal at the start, and end, of a dieting plan?

A: The goal is to lose weight slowly in order to keep as much muscle mass as possible. If you lose weight too fast, you will also lose muscle.

By having a longer prep, it gives me plenty of time to cut down and lose weight slowly. You never really want to lose more than 2 lbs. per week. The slower, the better.

A standard meal for me during competition prep would be about 13 egg whites, two to three yolk, and a cup of oatmeal depending on what my current macros (protein, carbs, fats) are at the time.

Eggs are the only protein source I’ve never gotten sick of. My meals are pretty boring when I’m prepping, but I like the consistency and think that is very important.

I eat at the same times every day, and my water intake is always the same. By doing this, I’m able to get a more accurate reading on the scale in the morning. If my food/sodium and water levels remain consistent, I’m able to more accurately track my progress.

Duluth bodybuilder Carl Sievert checks his form in a mirror as he performs bicep curls at Anytime Fitness earlier this month. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Duluth bodybuilder Carl Sievert checks his form in a mirror as he performs bicep curls at Anytime Fitness earlier this month. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Q: Name your go-to cheat meal.

A: Definitely pizza! That’s usually the first thing I get after a competition.

Q: How has participating in bodybuilding affected your life outside of the sport?

A: It has its positives and negatives.

The good thing is that it encourages healthy habits, and I’m able to inspire others. A big negative can be the way it affects your social life and relationships. It can be a very selfish sport, so having people around you that understand what you’re doing helps a ton.

You miss out on good food with friends and family. Your energy levels are low, so sometimes you’re just not yourself.

Overall, I’ve experienced way more positives than negatives. It’s brought me many opportunities that I’m very thankful for.

Q: You and your wife are expecting your first babe this summer. (Congratulations!) Will bodybuilding be something you’ll eventually share with your kiddo?

A: I would love for our child to pick up healthy habits such as eating right and exercising. As far as competing goes, that’s up to them. I wouldn’t encourage this on anyone unless they had an interest. We just hope he or she finds a passion or something that makes them happy.

Carl Sievert poses as his performance alter-ego Shreddy Krueger at the 2020 International Pro Elite World Championships in October 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. “In the bodybuilding world, I’m known as Shreddy Krueger, that’s my alter-ego. … When I do the posing routine, I have a Freddy Krueger hat on and I have the glove," Sievert said. (Photo courtesy of Scott Diestler, LiquidSpectrum)
Carl Sievert poses as his performance alter-ego Shreddy Krueger at the 2020 International Pro Elite World Championships in October 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. “In the bodybuilding world, I’m known as Shreddy Krueger, that’s my alter-ego. … When I do the posing routine, I have a Freddy Krueger hat on and I have the glove," Sievert said. (Photo courtesy of Scott Diestler, LiquidSpectrum)

Q: Tell us about the evolution of your bodybuilding alter ego, Shreddy Krueger.

A: My best friend and I always watched Freddy Krueger movies growing up. It was also my go-to Halloween costume. Years ago while I was getting ready for a competition, a friend of mine said I was looking “Shreddy Krueger” because of how lean (shredded) I was.

The name and the way it relates to bodybuilding was a perfect match for a posing routine. The individual posing routine is mainly entertainment for the crowd, and you’re not really scored or judged on it.

I really enjoy putting a good routine together and choreographing poses to the music of my choice. I usually go with a hard-hitting spooky dubstep song because it fits the theme. I also usually compete in the fall, so it’s just a perfect time to do a routine like this around Halloween. I love getting the crowd going and giving them something to be excited about.

Q: Tips for others who may want to pursue natural bodybuilding?

A: If someone is interested in competing, I always encourage them to hire a reputable coach who knows what they’re doing. This is both safer and you will excel faster by doing things the right way as soon as you start.

If you try it on your own, you go through trial and error and it could take years for someone to figure it out on their own. There are some unhealthy and dangerous practices out there when it comes to losing weight, so hiring someone who knows what they’re doing is your best bet.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three people, alive or dead, (and COVID safely) who would they be?

A: I’m a big hip-hop fan, so besides family I would have to say Eminem, Tech N9ne and Kid Cudi.