Tom Imanishi is an aspiring natural fitness model and bodybuilding competitor. He is 22 years old and he is also a full time student at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Find out how he turned his childhood hobby into a promising career. Tom also shares his diet, workout routines and tips on staying fit.
Would you introduce yourself?
My name is Tom Imanishi. I am a 22 year old aspiring natural fitness model and bodybuilding competitor. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Economics at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
My height is 172cm [5’7’’] and I am currently 68kg [150lbs].
When did you start your body transformation?
Since an early age I have always enjoyed going to the gym and lifting weights. This hobby began when I was around nine years old. During the 2 years I lived in Singapore, I was working out with my father at the gym in our apartment block and at the golf course. As I grew older, I continued to lift weights at the gym, going more frequently in the later years of high school.
I have always been fairly lean and enjoyed playing sports (mostly tennis and football). Attending boarding school gave me the opportunity to make friends who also enjoyed working out, which provided great support for my hobby of weight lifting. I enjoy reading fitness magazines, mostly Men’s Health, and dreamed of one day making it on the cover.
During the later years of high school I began to train towards goals that I set for my physique. However, only recently did I become passionate about bodybuilding and started religiously working towards transforming my physique in the weights room.
After seeing my schoolmate Nick Cheadle enter a fitness modelling competition and start modelling, I challenged myself to follow a similar path and set the goal to prepare for my first physique contest. By committing to this challenge, I truly discovered my love for fitness, nutrition and bodybuilding.
What keeps you motivated?
The prospect of success was and is my primary motivation. My aim is to be successful in the fitness modelling and bodybuilding competitions that I enter, along with one day achieving the dream of being featured in a fitness magazine. In addition to this, the accomplishments and physiques of the fitness models I look up to helps keep me motivated. Some of these people include Steve Cook, Rob Riches and James-Alexander Ellis.
However, after recently creating a Facebook page detailing my competition preparation, I have enjoyed helping others to achieve the goals they set for their own physiques. I have found this to be incredibly rewarding. Posting nutrition and workout advice, answering questions, along with the support from people who have been following me during my competition journey, have been the most motivating factors to date!
Nothing motivates me more than inspiring others to get in shape and to live a healthier life!
What is your workout schedule like?
I currently follow a 6 day split, performing cardio around 4 times a week. On my rest day I may still do some low intensity steady pace cardio and some abs depending on how I feel. I try to do some cardio and core work in the mornings before my first meal. However, if I don’t have time some days I will throw in various core exercises after my workouts in the evening. I am hitting my calves around 2 – 3 times a week, as I feel that this is an area that needs improvement.
I try to increase the weight for each set by a small amount sticking to a 10 – 12 rep max and 3 – 4 sets per exercise. If I fall short of 10 reps for a set, I incorporate what is known as a rest-pause (resting for no longer than 20 seconds and completing the final few reps to reach a total of 10 reps for that set).
Around the end of my workout for a particular muscle group, I also perform drop-sets (after a final set of 10 reps at a heavy weight, reducing the weight by around half the amount and going to failure). I do eccentric negatives to completely fatigue the muscle and ensure glycogen reserves are depleted to allow for the absorption of post-workout nutrients.
I also strictly time my rest periods between each set to 1 minute. This keeps me focused on my workout, prevents any time being wasted in the gym and keeps the heart rate up, maintaining the intensity of each workout and for fat burning purposes.
My current workout looks something like this:
Monday: Back & Biceps
- Bent-over Barbell Rows
- Lat Pull-down or Weighted Chin-ups
- Seated Machine Rows
- Close-grip Cable Pull-down
- Close-grip Cable Seated Rows
- Lower-back Hyperextensions
- Alternating Dumbbell Curls
- Cable Rope Hammer Curls
Tuesday: Quads & Calves
- Leg Press
- Barbell Lunges
- Seated Leg Extensions
- Standing Calf Raises (5 sets, 50 reps, 45 seconds rest)
- Seated Calf Raises (5 sets, 50 reps, 45 seconds rest)
Wednesday: Chest & Triceps
- Dumbbell or Barbell Bench Press
- Dumbbell or Barbell Incline Bench Press
- Barbell Decline Bench Press
- Dumbbell Pullovers
- Cable Chest Flyes
- Seated French Press
- Straight-bar Triceps Pushdown
Thursday: Hamstrings & Shoulders
- Stiff-leg Deadlifts
- Lying Hamstring Curls
- Seated Hamstring Curls
- Military Press or Shoulder Press on the Smith Machine
- Dumbbell Arnie Press
- Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises
- Reverse Cable Flyes
- Barbell Upright Rows
Friday: Biceps & Triceps
- Standing Barbell Bicep Curls
- Alternating Dumbbell Hammer Curls
- Alternating Dumbbell Cross Body Hammer Curls
- Cable Preacher Curls
- V-bar Pushdowns
- Reverse grip Single-arm Cable Pull-downs
- Bench Dips
Saturday: Full-body superset workout
- Squats / DB Walking Lunges
- Seated Leg Extensions / Seated Hamstring Curls
- Bent-over Underhand Barbell rows / Dumbbell Bench Press
- Assisted Wide-grip Chin-ups / Incline Dumbbell Flyes
- Core workout
Sunday: Rest day or low intensity steady state cardio and core.
My cardio training consists of steady pace cardio most mornings, which allows me to burn fat whilst also keeping energy levels up for my later gym sessions. The machines I mainly use are the stationary bike, cross trainer and treadmill (walking on an incline). I may incorporate some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) some mornings, limiting to 1 – 2 sessions a week.
For my core/abs exercises I tend to mix it up a lot, but try to stick to around 4 – 5 exercises which I perform back-to-back with no rest. I rest for around 1 – 2 minutes after each circuit and repeat for a total of three times. I usually incorporate heavy rope crunches (focusing on strict form) and make sure I target lower abs (e.g. hanging leg raises – 15 reps), upper abs (e.g. floor stomach crunches with feet on a box – 25 reps) and obliques, for which I like to include an exercise with a crunch motion and one with a twisting motion.
What is your favourite muscle group and your favourite exercise for it?
Biceps, as you can easily work them to failure by incorporating many drop-sets and getting a great pump. My favourite exercise for them would be dumbbell cross body hammer curls.
What is your diet like?
My nutrition follows an IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) approach, aiming to reach my protein, carbohydrate and fat requirements each day. A standard diet that I was following in preparing for the recent fitness modelling competition I entered was one consuming 2,520 calories a day; consisting of 260g of protein, 235g of carbs and 60g of fat, which I spread over 7 meals throughout the day.
I try to consume around 60% of my daily carb intake during the first meal and the 2 meals following my evening weights workouts. Protein is spread pretty much equally across each meal. My post-workout meal consists of Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate, a carbohydrate mix (Optimum Nutrition Glycomaize) and fresh fruit (trying to minimize any fats, as this slows digestion). Approximately an hour after, I have a decent meal with protein, carbs and healthy fats. Food sources for my final meal include low fat cottage cheese, low fat Greek yogurt, egg whites, natural almond butter and/or Casein protein powder.
A typical day’s meals may be something similar to below:
- 100 grams rolled oats
- Half a scoop of whey protein
- Half a banana
- 60 grams low fat natural yogurt
- 80 grams blueberries
- 120 grams cooked turkey breast
- 150 grams mixed steamed greens
- 50 grams avocado
- 100 grams sweet potato
- 110 grams cooked chicken breast
- 150 grams mixed steamed greens
- 100 grams brown rice
- 10 grams nuts
Meal 4 (Pre-workout):
- 110 grams lean steak
- 150 grams mixed steamed greens
Meal 5 (Immediately post-workout):
- 1 serve of Iso-100 Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate
- 1 serve of Optimum Nutrition Glycomaize
- 100 grams fresh pineapple
Meal 6 (45 mins – an hour after Meal 5):
- 130 grams Nile Perch fillet
- 100 grams sweet potato
- 200 grams mixed steamed greens
- 200 grams liquid egg whites
- 20 grams natural peanut butter
- 200 grams low fat cottage cheese
What is your advice to anyone who wants to gain weight and build muscles?
Get your nutrition in check! No matter what your goals are for your physique, whether it is to gain lean muscle mass or lose body fat, controlling what goes into your body will determine how your body will look (however don’t neglect a good workout regime of course!). Learning more about nutrition has helped me blast through a plateau, allowing me to gain more muscle and truly have control over how I want my body to look like!
If you are not doing so, try being strict with your rest periods between each exercise set. Having a watch with a timer has helped me during each and every workout to stay focused and to remember to train intensely.
Also, keep track of each workout and meals for the day. I keep a journal of each workout, which I fill out before entering the weights room. Having a plan for the day’s session outlined in front of me keeps me ‘in the zone’ and avoids wasting time thinking about which exercise to do next. By having a record of past workouts, you are also able to see strength improvements over time and can make adjustments to your training if required. Recording calories and the macronutrients of meals consumed each day has also been vital in preparation for my first competition, however I would highly recommend this to anyone who wishes to transform or maintain their physique.
What are your ambitions?
I recently competed in my first fitness modelling competition at the Australian Natural Bodybuilding Nationals Fitness Model Championships and placed in the top six, coming away with 6th place out of a tough 24 competitors. It was a fantastic experience preparing for the show.
I have my eyes set on a few competitions next year, possibly giving bodybuilding a shot. This will give me some time to make some changes to my physique and will hopefully come out with a few trophies next year.