DULUTH — 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 in — 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.
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 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 up with Forum News Service on the sport, his go-to cheat meal and his performance alter-ego.
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.
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: 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.
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.