On the heels of his penultimate competition for 2021, Discover Montserrat caught up with bodybuilder Dale Lee to talk about his journey into the sport and why he wants to eventually go pro.
Dale Lee was six years old when he and his family relocated to the United Kingdom following the 1997 eruptions here. Originally from Salem, the 30-year-old now calls North London home.
Lee’s interest in bodybuilding developed as he was winding down his semi-professional football career. As Dale spent hours on end in the gym as part of his football training, he recognised that he enjoyed working out and his body was developing in size and weight which made him too heavy for the game.
“Over time I realised that as much as I loved football, I loved spending time in the gym more,” he recalls.
Lee found himself fascinated with lifting weights and watching his body change. The natural high that came from the endorphins at the end of a good workout session was a bonus. It was a great way to feel good, release stress and pain, he said.
Having a strong network of friends and associates who were already in the field of bodybuilding, their constant encouragement propelled him to take up competitive bodybuilding. “They kept telling me I had the physique to compete in bodybuilding. I focused on continuing to build body mass and prepared for my first competition in 2017.”
That year, Dale competed in two shows, one in May and the next in October.
Food and Workouts Do a Bodybuilder Good
“When building my body, I make sure that the meals are fixed around what my goal is. Currently I’m getting ready for a show and during prep I eat a certain amount of food to help me lose fat while still being able to retain as much muscle as I can. So, at the moment my meals mainly consist of chicken breast, rice/white potatoes, and vegetables. The only meal that is different is breakfast where I have egg whites, oats, raspberries, and peanut butter, all mixed together in a blender,” explained the young bodybuilder.
Choosing to be a competitive bodybuilder requires investment. Lee says his biggest expense is food.
“Being a competitive bodybuilder is very expensive due to the amount of food I have to consume but not only that, I have to clean (non-processed) food which is what makes it so expensive. On top of that you have your supplements (Protein powder) and vitamins.”
He said having a coach is also part of competing as it takes a lot of stress off having someone to calculate your own macros (Fat, Carbs, Protein). He also spends anywhere from 45 minutes up to two hours a day depending on where he is on his preparation journey.
There are a lot of exercises that comprise his workout routine. His main combination involves bench press, squats and deadlifts. Lee started off bench pressing the 20kg bar and now does 140kg. He began squats with the 20kg bar and now does 130kg. Deadlifts also began at 20kg and he can not lift 180kg.
Preparing for a show requires a different routine and what he normally lifts he can’t now as he is not at full strength.
“I work on all areas of my body (chest, back, legs, shoulders, arms). If there are body parts I find I need to improve on I prioritise that body part and train it more often than others. My favourite body part to work on is my chest. It was the one thing I used to do every time I went to the gym when I first started off.”
“My upcoming competition means a lot to me as this is a chance for me to turn professional and gain my pro card. Over the years competing leading up to this show I’ve been improving and making sure the mistakes made in previous shows are rectified. In addition to it being a chance to win my pro card, this will be the last show of the year and the last show I do until 2023. Taking a year off will allow me to build and improve my physique to another level especially because I’m a natural athlete. It takes a longer period to put on muscle than someone who is taking enhanced drugs.
“My ultimate goal is to turn professional and be an advocate for natural bodybuilding. I want to inspire and motivate others in this competitive sport, be their face of hope and determination.”
Lee believes that this sport is good for both men and women and would 100% recommend it to anyone. “This sport puts emphasis on discipline, commitment, sacrifice, and how to manage your time. Not only does it improve your physical appearance, it also improves your personal skills and attributes,” he explained.
My overall experience from the first time I competed has brought me to love the sport of bodybuilding even more. It hasn’t opened any doors as yet but I’m hoping it will in the near future.