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A former “Mr. Montana,” Troy Saunders won his class and overall title at the 2005 German bodybuilding championships. Also, he won the title for the European Armed Forces Military Powerlifting Championships and won his class and was named outstanding lifter of the 2005 Military National Championships.

How long have you been doing this?

My first competition was in 1989 at Luke Air Force Base (Ariz). But as far as training and lifestyle, since I was a very young age. Since I was 5 years old … It was just one of those things I just always wanted to do. There was just that aspiration to work out and be fit.

You got an interest in this when you were in kindergarten?

Yes. Exactly. In fact, I was very young. I was doing sit-ups and push-ups.

What is it about performing or competing that makes you want to do it?

Initially, I was impressed by the physique. But more impressed by what you could do with it, the amount of weight you could lift. I grew up on a farm. You do a lot of labor on the farm. It makes you pretty strong.

What kind of farm was it?

Well, it was kind of a combination. Predominantly a lot of pigs. I grew up in Iowa. They average 25 million pigs — that’s slaughtered a year — that far exceeds the 3-4 million population of Iowa. So, that’s a big industry there. But also worked in traditional hay, some corn, soy bean cultivation.

So, what’s your typical workout routine?

The most hours I ever spent in a gym working out at one time might be two hours and that’s if there’s a lot of people and you’re waiting for equipment or training to go on. But, generally, it’s about an hour and a half of actually lifting three times a week.

What about diet? Do you have a specific diet?

For me, I think my everyday diet is pretty lax. But for most people it’s not normal in the least … My strict diet when I compete is extremely strict. It’s not a diet that would make sense for somebody who wants to get into shape because it goes beyond a daily regime that you can maintain to something that's extreme to do an extreme thing.

When do you start the diet?

A good bodybuilding diet starts probably 12 to 16 weeks out. And it’s not ultra strict. But you start cutting out those things that naturally put a little more fat on. If you do occasionally eat sweets here and there, you cut that out. If you have a lot of certain types of starch — breads or anything — you start cutting out bread and you start eating rice and some potatoes. Less pasta because the more processed the food is, the less beneficial the nutrients are. You try and eat more whole, natural foods. As you go along, you start cutting more and more until the last probably four or five weeks, I’ve cut down to just fruits possibly. And the last couple of weeks I’m down to no carbs and just fibers.

How long do you plan on competing?

To be honest, as long as I enjoy this, I’m having fun and I feel that I could always do something a little better, I’ll keep doing it.

How much do you bench?

I’m hoping to do like 410 to 420 for the next competition.

Interview by Scott Schonauer.

Master Sgt. Troy Saunders

Hometown: Kingsley, Iowa

Title: Bodybuilder/powerlifter

Age: 37

Day job: School superintendent for the Transportation Training Center at Spangdahlem Air Force Base, Germany. He has been in the Air Force 18 years.

Europe readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to news@mail.estripes.osd.mil.

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