Mohamed Khaled Natta is a high level bodybuilder turned triathlete. He has recently participated in the Iron Man race, known as the toughest race in the world, and finished it! We got a chance to learn all about his journey, and to get some helpful tips as well.
CWM: When did you start bodybuilding?
MN: I started training when I was 12 years old, but only entered my first bodybuilding competitions when I turned 18. I entered three or four competitions in that year. From 18 to 22 years old I stopped competing, as I was too busy with college work. When I was done with my education, I went back to an intensive training routine, making the Egypt National Team for Bodybuilding and then entered the IFBB World’s Men Bodybuilding Championship in Spain in 2015 where I took 7th place and the IFBB World’s Junior Championship in El Salvador where I took 3rd place. Since then, I have started working and don’t have enough time to train and compete at the same level I used to. However, I found a new passion in triathlon, and decided to try something new.
What are some tips you can share with us about training and competing?
When training and competing at this level, you definitely need a nutritionist to be following your diet. The food and lifestyle is 60% to 70% of the work. Someone that trains very well, but does not eat well or rest enough will not see the best results.
First of all, you need to calculate your personal calorie intake based on your weight, height, gender and age. Then, it all depends on what your goal is as a bodybuilder. If you want to build up muscles, you add calories and protein to your personal calorie intake and if you want to lose some weight, you subtract from it. In my opinion, for bodybuilding the optimum diet is to divide your calorie intake in this way: 40% proteins, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fats. Of course, this differs from sport to sport. Also, for bodybuilding in particular, you need to divide your food into six to eight small meals per day, instead of the regular three meals per day, in order to increase your metabolism.
What’s your workout routine?
In normal periods, I will train for two hours per day, five times a week. Before bodybuilding competitions, I do two sessions of two hours per day, for six days a week. Since it’s an endurance race, the Iron Man competition needs more training hours. During the final two months preceding the Iron Man, I was training 25 to 30 hours a week!
Rest days are the most important. When you train you break your body, and during times of recovery that is when your body is actually building. Rest, healthy food, relaxation and sleep are very important, and I also have massages regularly so that my body can endure the intense training.
I was never a triathlete. However, this year I felt like I wanted to do something different. I started training and joining marathons and I loved the feeling of challenging myself. After a couple of marathons, I heard about the Iron Man competition by coincidence. I really liked the idea of how a human body can stay working for 16 hours straight. I had never raced a bike or swam competitively before, so I started taking swimming and cycling classes and joined short distance triathlons. I really loved the feeling! There are only around 20 Egyptians who finished the Iron Man race before and I was really excited to take part in it, and finish it! I hired a coach specialized in Iron Man training and started training very seriously. It was a really tough two months coordinating 30 hours of training a week with my day job. It was very challenging. I was training before and after work everyday and there was never any free time to go out on weekends or see friends. The hard work paid off, as I finished the race quite easily in 14 hours and 39 minutes and felt an incredible feeling of satisfaction.
So, what’s next?
There are many marathons taking place in Egypt at the beginning of next year, and I plan to participate. Hopefully in April, I will join my second Iron Man, in South Africa. For this year I feel like I am done, it was a good introduction to endurance sports, taking part in two full marathons and an Iron Man race.