Current residence: Knoxville, Tennessee
Hometown: Dalton, Georgia
Weight: 202 (contest), 240 (off-season)
Contest highlights: ’10 IFBB Sacramento Pro, 202 and Under, 4th; ’08 NPC National Championships, light heavyweight, 1st; ’07 NPC USA Championships, light heavyweight, 1st; ’04 NPC Collegiate National Championships, light heavyweight, 1st, and overall.
Factoids: He’s married to IFBB bikini pro Jessica Putnam, and they have three boxers—Puncher, Pixie and Pricey.
Folks have tried to put Peter Putman down, but they’ve never been able to count him out. They said he’d never win a pro card. He did, taking the light-heavyweight class at the ’08 NPC Nationals. They claimed he’d never be a factor in the pro ranks. He is, after finishing fourth out of 19 competitors at the Sacramento Pro, the largest 202-and-under field in 2010.
Some scoffed when they heard he was dating sexy figure star Jessica Paxson a few years ago. They married in 2007—in Las Vegas during Olympia Weekend.
Peter Putnam was the victim of a drive-by shooting at the age of nine, a senseless attack that cost him the sight in his right eye, but he never lost sight in his goal of being the best person—and athlete—that he could be. That determination and its results led NPC President Jim Manion to select Putnam as the first winner the Steve Stone Heart of a Champion award in 2008.
Got your attention yet? Read on.
LT: You stayed under the radar for most of 2010 but ended the year on a strong note with a sublime showing at the Sacramento Pro in November, just missing an Olympia qualification.
PP: Yeah, that was intentional on my part. I didn’t want any attention or hype going into the show. All I was concerned about was focusing on my prep without any distractions and proving that I can compete on that level. I was very pleased with my outing, especially considering the size and depth of the lineup.
LT: How long did you go between shows—and how much did you weigh at this contest, compared to your last one?
PP: It had been roughly 14 months. I weighed in at 197. Surprisingly, that was actually a little heavier than my pro debut at the ’09 Jacksonville Pro, where I weighed 195. Both weights were lighter than what I weighed in at for the ’07 USA and ’08 Nationals; I was 198 1/2 for those shows. I believe the difference is, I was in my all-time-best shape in Sacramento; I could have been tighter for those two other shows even though I won my class. I still have room within the 202 division to grow and max out my potential.
LT: Do you think you should have finished higher at the Sac?
PP: I think I was placed very fairly considering the competition and was very happy to be put into the mix. The score cards show that a few judges had me third, and one judge actually had me winning, which is very encouraging. Honestly, I didn’t have any expectations coming off last year other than just enjoying competing and, I hope, making improvements.
LT: I hear you incorporated a new training technique that you feel accounted for your best-ever look. Tell me about it.
PP: Ha. I believe you are referring to 3DN, otherwise known as "Three Dog Night." The reason I laugh is because the few people who are aware of it think it’s a joke. Another bodybuilding publication wouldn’t write about it because they thought I was kidding, but it’s a real training protocol.
It was just an idea that evolved and took on a satirical name. I think it’s hilarious, and, to be honest, I’ve allowed it to be viewed as a spoof in light of all the training protocols out there with abbreviated names.
3DN is for real, but the irony is the idea that it’s anything ground breaking or innovative. There are a lot of training concepts out there. Why shouldn’t I have one? [Laughs]
Basically, with 3DN you take the last exercise of a bodypart routine and incorporate three rest/pause sets with 30 seconds’ rest between sets. What makes it so intense is that you increase the poundage on each successive set after resting only 30 seconds.
For example, the first set would be 12 reps, the second would be 10 reps, and the third would be eight. You do the last rep of each set with a focus on the negative portion of the movement. To make it more unusual, you do each set with a slightly different grip or stance. For that reason it’s best to choose an exercise where you can use a handle or machine that allows for different grips or stances.
For example, on 3DN for biceps, select an exercise like upright cable curls done with a cambered bar. That enables you to alter your grip on each set. So you would grab with a narrow grip inside the bend of the bar for the first set, do the second set with a medium grip and the third with a wide grip. Biomechanically, the muscle is being hit from different angles. You can reverse the pattern the next time.
It’s about being creative, but the principle still is the same. You don’t alter the basic workout, just your last exercise. It’s superintense and completely taxes the muscle. I would recommend this as an off-season training technique.
Older readers may know of the band, Three Dog Night. The name comes from an Aboriginal saying that refers to conditions being so cold that three dogs will lay next to each other to get warm.
Also, the technique is similar to DoggCrapp training, with the rest/pause and increasing weight‚ although the shortened rest periods and the grip and stance variations—along with your normal workout not being altered—make it clearly different. Hence the name and why I laugh when people think I’m pulling their leg.
On another note, when I began my contest prep at 16 weeks out, I went to a six-day split, hitting every bodypart once a week. That was totally new for me. I arranged three sets of workouts that I alternated every two weeks. I think that was really beneficial in the look I brought to the stage, along with replacing static cardio with HIIT cardio and incorporating split sessions of cardio starting at six weeks out. In the past I did limited cardio, and it was all static.
LT: Well, you were a winner in the eyes of Michael Neveux, who made you and Jessica the subjects of this month’s cover. Then again, if I had your sexy wife standing next to me in a bikini, I might have landed on the front of this book too.
PP: [Both bust up] Yeah, she’s gorgeous and could make anyone look like a winner! It’s one thing to get an individual cover, but it’s very special to be able to share it with your spouse. It’s something we can show our children and grandkids one day.
LT: When did you two last grace our cover, and how did this one come about?
PP: Our first IRON MAN cover was the July ’08 issue. Actually, it was the first stateside cover we shared. I was being interviewed after my ’07 USA class win, but the cover shot was actually taken in September 2005, during our first trip to Los Angeles for shoots. We were so green. I know Mike had never heard of us. It’s cool to reflect from then to now; we’ve both improved so much. We’re grateful for the exposure Mike and John [Balik] have given us in IRON MAN.
LT: You’ve always been praised for your wheels and overall balance but have been dinged about a lack of thickness in your back. I think you’ve handled constructive criticism quite well. Other athletes who’ve done as well as you have might not have been so understanding.
PP: I take it all in stride and definitely don’t lose sight of my potential. No matter if it’s Mr. Olympia or an IFBB Hall of Famer, people can find flaws with someone’s physique. The reality is that I stand onstage with other competitors who have weaknesses in certain areas too. Hopefully, I can continue to improve and bring about a physique with the fewest weaknesses. To me it’s about being my best and bringing a balance of asethetics and muscularity. I feel that with some added improvements—increased back thickness—that I can continue to improve in my placings. There’s no one who knows my potential better than I do. I always say, ignore the critics and do you!
LT: You’ve been an amateur champion multiple times. Can you win on a pro stage?
PP: I don’t see why not—but that’s not going to be my focus. My focus won’t be on worrying about titles or where I finish. I just want to be the best I can be. As long as I do that, I will be successful.
LT: What caused you to catch the bodybuilding fever?
PP: A lot of it had to do with first seeing Dorian Yates in a bodybuilding magazine and then meeting him a few months later at the second bodybuilding contest I entered, the NPC Eastern Seaboard in May ’98. He actually congratulated me on winning my class prior to the evening show, which threw me for a curve since you aren’t supposed to know the results before the finals. I remember the moment vividly. I was passing by Dorian as I entered the auditorium, and he reached out and grabbed my arms and told me. I walked through the door into the empty room and looked up toward the stage. At that moment I literally felt something life-changing overcoming me. It’s hard to explain—it was like an epiphany. I said a silent prayer to God and said if this is what I’m supposed to do, then allow me to be successful and go as far as I can.
LT: That was only your second show? How did you learn about contest prep?
PP: Yes, I fast-tracked, obtaining my national qualification, winning each category from novice, to junior, to open in three different shows all in ’98—not having a clue what I was doing. I had been training for football spring practice at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. I didn’t have any guidance when it came to bodybuilding; no trainer or influences within a gym. I used Franco Columbu’s The Bodybuilder’s Nutrition Book to help me with my contest prep. I used Dorian’s Blood and Guts along with Arnold’s Encyclopedia [of Modern Bodybuilding].
Actually IRON MAN was the first magazine I ever bought a subscription to. I learned a lot about training and nutrition from it in my first years of bodybuilding. When I began my bodybuilding journey, I was attempting something that no one from northwest Georgia had any measurable success in. I had no support, but what I did have was the belief that I could achieve it.
LT: You won more than a title at the Collegiate Nationals in 2004. I remember calling you for an interview, and you were giddy. You were on your way to see Jessica, who had nabbed the overall figure crown at the Collegiates.
PP: Yeah, I also recall that conversation. I was driving from Atlanta late one evening, sometime in early October ’04—on my way to Knoxville for the first time to visit her. I was definitely excited about this girl who I had met at the Collegiates. I felt confident she was the girl I was supposed to marry but unsure if she would feel the same. Obviously, I was right, and we married in October 2007.
LT: Where do you work out, and what’s a typical training regimen look like?
PP: I train at The Rush, West Town location. I’ve been training there ever since I first visited Knoxville. The Rush has 23 locations; this is the original. I have typically trained five times a week as the norm, but on occasion following a show I will go a few weeks training three times a week to get back into the routine.
And, as I mentioned, I trained six straight days for 16 weeks for my Sacramento Pro prep. The body is always adapting, and your training must evolve with it. For example, I will be exploring German Volume Training this off-season and doing some periodizations with giant sets. I’ve never done either.
LT: How about your nutrition? Are you strict most of the year, or do you get the Sherman Klump look in the off-season?
PP: I’m not a fat boy, and it would be hard for me to get fat. I have a fast metabolism. My extremities remain very hard year-round, and I never lose my abs, even though my face might indicate otherwise. [Laughs] The key is a solid nutrition plan. I believe you should be on a consistent diet year-round and modify it when necessary based on your goals. I generally eat six to eight meals.
LT: What’s been the biggest change in your training since you started?
PP: Just overall knowledge of my body and how to evaluate progress much more effectively and efficiently. I’m a student of the game and love to continue to learn. I recently bought Bill Pearl’s Keys to the Inner Universe for $70 on Amazon. It’s discontinued and considered a classic. Not many of my contemporaries or younger bodybuilders probably have seen or heard of it. Whatever knowledge I obtain from it will be priceless and will keep me progressing.
LT: How do you cope with training plateaus?
PP: It’s important to be a student of other people’s training protocols; learn why others do what they do. Don’t be stuck in one way of thinking or training. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other concepts or theories. You never know what may spark new life to your training and help take you to another level.
LT: Have you suffered any serious injuries in your career?
PP: I’ve been very fortunate and have not. Minor strains along with tendinitis have been the extent of it. I would say don’t mistake hardcore for stupid when it comes to training.
LT: You are an extremely focused, determined young man. Where does that come from?
PP: Not too long ago I asked my mother how she would describe me as a child. She said I was very competitive, I never liked any other kid beating me. I had natural athletic talents, but for the most part I believe it was my persistent nature to be the best that allowed me mentally to work harder than my peers.
Everything in life is mental, and some people just seem to possess that mental fortitude it takes to be successful. I believe it can be learned through adversity, but moreover it’s something you’re just born with. Adversity can rock your world and change your outlook as well. I experienced adversity at the age of nine. I was hit with a high-powered pellet gun by two teenagers in a drive-by while I was playing in a yard with some friends. My right eye was struck, and the damage was too severe to save my vision.
In an instant, life as I knew it changed. It seemed everyone close to me feared how it would affect me—except me. I was determined to prove to everyone along with myself that I could live a normal life and excel in whatever I choose to do. For me it was always sports, and my passion was football. I experienced a lot of new challenges, but I took satisfaction in getting back out in life and being my best even when people doubted me or my abilities. Adversity makes some people stronger. They persevere, maintaining their passion and realizing their dreams. Sadly, others succumb to the tragedy, becoming jaded or bitter. I didn’t see the latter as an option. Life is too short, and I have much to live for. I hope I can use what I went through to encourage others.
LT: What’s next on your contest agenda?
PP: I’m in the process of deciding. By the time this is being read, I’ll have mapped out my off-season and be heavy into it. My guess would be that I’ll get onstage around August.
LT: What’s your home life like? I mean, two IFBB pros and three kids under the same roof? Even if the children are your boxers.
PP: It’s a wonderful life. We’re so blessed to have each other and to be able to share our experiences on and off stage. We truly are living the dream. Every day I wake up with an amazing woman in a lovely home that God and bodybuilding have provided. We have many wonderful relationships with people who are inspiring and doing so many cool, exciting things. We’re loving the ride and enjoying every bit of it. As far as our children, for now our crazy three boxers keep our hands full. It’s like we’re running a kennel. We’re unabashed boxers snobs. We love our boxers and think they’re the best! They bring us much joy and love.
LT: Do you and Jessica ever train together? Has some dude who didn’t know you two were hitched ever tried to sweet-talk her in the gym?
PP: We’re on the same schedule and go to the gym together. We have trained together at times, but, honestly, our own needs are so different that it’s not remotely realistic for us to train alike at this point in our careers. But it’s nice to go together and share our day with one another. Not many people have the ability to do that. And if they say they wouldn’t want to, that’s crap. Why wouldn’t you want to spend your day with your best friend? Plus, it provides a lot more time for additional cardio, if you know what I mean. [Laughs]
As far as other dudes trying to hit on her, seldom. We’ve been together long enough that most people know. If they don’t, they are usually met with, "I’m married and there’s my husband." They usually skirt off and disappear.
LT: Any words of wisdom for Peter Putnam doubters in the future? Or for the kids in the gym reading this who are hoping to reach the level you have?
PP: This is bodybuilding—plates, bars and dumbbells. There’s no magic tricks, no secret potion or pills. It’s hard work and consistency. This isn’t an easy sport, but life is not easy, either. There are times when we struggle and have obstacles to overcome, but God wants us to give our all knowing it is going to be tough and to prepare ourselves to be our best. There are many attributes to help you succeed. Being a hard worker is a good start. Perseverance is a must. And there’s one trait that is pretty universal for success: Passion!
Editor’s note: To contact Peter Putnam for guest posings, seminars or advise on how to get a sexy pro bikini babe to marry you, write to him at www.PeterPutnam.com. He’s also on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/PumpPutnam. IM