BLOOMSBURG- On Saturday afternoon, Bloomsburg University’s Iron Club and the Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders hosted the 2008 OCB Bloomsburg Naturals, and for one student, it was a family affair.
Zach Hoffman, a freshman majoring in elementary education, made his first appearance in a bodybuilding contest. However, Zach wasn’t the only Hoffman to walk out onto the stage in Haas Auditorium that day. Both his older brother and his father joined him in the competition.
Zach’s only sibling, Matt Hoffman, is a 2005 graduate of Lycoming College. Matt now lives on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where he teaches second grade at Accomack County School District. In 2006, at the age of 24, he earned his USBF pro card.
Referred to as “Papa Huff” by his sons, Dave Hoffman is a nurse practitioner by trade. He is the brains behind the whole operation. From years of trial and error throughout his career in bodybuilding, Dave has formulated his own workout routines and diet plan.
Both sons admit their father’s expertise has helped them tremendously. “His advice really saves us from making the same mistakes that he made early on,” said Zach.
Where It All Started
The whole story began last summer, when the three Hoffmans decided that they would enter the 2008 Bloomsburg Natural.
“If you’re going to enter a bodybuilding contest, you need to make your mind up well ahead of time,” said Dave. Done properly, contest preparation requires several months of hard work and dedication.
Throughout high school, Zach was active in athletics. He played soccer, wrestled, and pole vaulted for the track and field team. After passing up opportunities to wrestle in college, Zach decided to follow in the footsteps of his father and brother.
“Zach and I always said that if we entered a contest together, we would talk dad into entering with us,” said Matt.
“Knowing that both of my sons were entering, I just had to make a comeback,” said Dave. The contest would be his first in 13 years. He hadn’t let himself go, though. During his time off he stayed in exceptional shape by working out regularly and entering 5k races, triathlons, and even a marathon.
Although most bodybuilders lift weights four to six times a week Dave prefers three. “Chest, shoulders, and triceps on Monday. Legs on Wednesday. Back and biceps on Friday.”
“Limiting it to three days a week allows us to get things done at high level of intensity without burning out,” said Zach.
Every Sunday, Zach drove home to meet with his father. They would check their progress, practice posing, and discuss workout plans for the following week. Matt was often included in these discussions over the telephone.
“We always switch our workouts up every week,” said Matt. “We don’t like to let our bodies get used to one specific workout.”
The remainder of 2007 was spent trying to pack on as much muscle as possible. This meant extremely intense workouts and lots of food.
“When we started bulking, I was 135 pounds,” said Zach. “By December, I had broken the 160 mark.”
Believe it or not, everyone found it hard to keep up with “Papa Huff” in the gym.
“He’s an absolute madman,” said Doug Woodruff, a junior majoring in English. Woodruff, who is Dave’s lifting partner, went on to add, “I thought I might die after the first leg workout he put me through.”
The diet began on January 1st. Bodybuilders must diet to make all that hard earned muscle visible. The idea is to get your body fat percentage down to 5% or lower.
The Hoffman’s diet basically consisted of lean protein, such as: chicken breasts, egg whites, lean beef, and fish, and complex carbohydrates, such as: oatmeal, whole grains, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables.
According to Zach, being surrounded by the college lifestyle made dieting even more difficult. “It’s hard when your friends come in with a pizza or want you to come out and party, you just have to have self control.”
Also, a great deal of cardiovascular exercise was added to the workouts in order to maximize fat loss.
In the end, after four months of cardio and nothing but healthy food, all three Hoffmans had reached their contest shape. Each had lost over 15 pounds, and had a body fat percentage under 5%.
On Saturday, May 3rd, Matt and Zach awoke to their father cooking breakfast: egg whites and oatmeal flavored with strawberries and bananas. Then it was off to the hometown gym hit the sauna for 30 minutes.
After a quick shower, they headed to Haas Auditorium for the 10 a.m. competitor’s meeting. Next stop was backstage to finish all the last minute preparations.
Dave was first to head out on stage with the masters division (40 years and older). Zach immediately followed his father with the junior division (19-23 years old). Last, but not least, was Matt, who was in the open lightweight division.
When all was said and done, all three came home with a trophy. Zach finished 5th in the juniors, Matt finished 2nd in the open light weight, and Dave finished 3rd in the masters.
They capped off a successful day with some long overdue pizza, peanut butter fudge, and pecan tassies back at their home in Elysburg.
By Jonathan Adams