Travis Patten of Freeland. (Photo provided)
Being the top performer in the state is a remarkable achievement in any sport; Travis Patten has done just that and more as a bodybuilder.
Patten, a former Midland High football and wrestling athlete, recently won a state bodybuilding competition and then performed at a national competition in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he finished second in his class for bodybuilding and fourth in his class in the classic physique competition.
“Anytime you go to the national shows, usually the goal the first time around isn’t to win – because there are people that have been competing there for multiple years,” Patten said. ” … You have to work your way down (toward first). I had a good opportunity and was able to present myself well. The judges liked what they saw.”
Patten said the experience of the show, outside of the competition itself, was a memorable one as he was able to make new friends from around the country – Florida, Colorado, California, to name a few states. He said he was able to learn new routines and preparations for shows from so many new people, he said it was a great opportunity.
But one of the best parts of the show was having his mom along for the trip.
Patten’s mom, Jennifer, is the owner of AutoNetTools and is a professor at Northwood University. She made the trip with her son to Tennessee, and Patten said he cherished the time with his mom.
On top of that, Patten’s cell phone buzzed while he was in Tennessee and he saw he had a text from his dad – who had been to all of his games growing up and throughout high school. Patten’s dad asked him the typical questions – “How’s the place?” “Are you doing OK?” Then his dad asked him send the link to the Airbnb where he was staying.
About 10 minutes later, his dad called him and told him to go outside, where his dad was waiting.
“I got super excited when I saw him because it’s a pretty far drive from Midland to Chattanooga, Tennessee,” Patten said. ” … (My dad) being prideful in me is always what I hold on to the closest. With him being there, made it a lot better.”
Patten said the pride he knows his father has in him drives and motivates him to do what he does every day.
Along the way, Patten has built a solid following – he added that having people look up to him is another driving force behind what he does.
“In my day-to-day actions, I think of everybody,” Patten said. “In terms of (if) I want to maybe cheat my diet or if I want to maybe not go as hard in the gym or not go to the gym or whatever the case may be – I (remember my fans and) hold myself to an even higher standard than what I was originally setting for myself beforehand.
“I have more of a purpose, rather than something that I was going after individually.”
Patten has built his following on Instagram with his page (@travis_patten_bodybuildingclub), showing the progress of his physique in the gym along with some of his routine.
On Jan. 10, Patten posted a video of himself bench-pressing 225 pounds in two different clips. In the first clip, taken about 2 1/2 years prior, he executes four reps. In the second, taken just a few days before the post, he rips off 29 reps.
In terms of his training regimen, Patten said it depends on the time of year. Before a show, he said he does not move much weight around – working at about 60% to not cause too much inflammation, which can affect performance at the show due to difficulty of muscle contraction and his having maintained a low-calorie diet for the two weeks leading up to the show.
The week after his show in Tennessee, Patten said he hit the gym hard as he was able to take in more calories. He was able to start doing deadlifts again, a bunch of different weight-training exercises at three to five sets per exercise.
“I felt like my old self,” Patten said. “It’s exciting: my strength is already coming back to where it was prior (to Tennessee) and I’m 30 pounds lighter than what I was when I first started.”
In a normal day, Patten said he works out for no more than 60 minutes from the start of his first working set to the end of his final working set. He does incorporate a few more minutes before his first set for a warm-up – to get the motion and feeling down before throwing some big numbers around.
He also said he focuses intently on the repetition hitting the central nervous system to make sure it adapts to the motion, especially for compound lifting – bench-press, deadlifts and squats, for example.
While getting in the gym is important, there is a greater emphasis on nutrition, Patten said. He recommends, for example, that people eat a 100-calorie cookie and then hit a cardio machine – treadmill or stair-stepper – and go until they see the caloric burn number hit 100. He said it would make people think about what they eat and how much work it takes to burn off the resulting caloric intake.
Patten said he pays close attention to his caloric intake and his metabolic rate to ensure he is burning off more calories than he consumes without losing muscle and depriving himself. That said, it is definitely difficult for him to weigh out his meals and track what he eats.
“It’s more tedious than anything else,” Patten said. “But it’s definitely the best way to go because there’s no guesswork. You’re eating and if it’s not working, you can change it.”
In terms of nutrition, Patten said he has a blend of proteins, fats and carbohydrates mixed into his diet. He usually cooks whole foods – usually chicken, beef or seafood for his protein; rice or strawberries, bagels or English muffins for carbohydrates; and oil, nuts and avocados for fats.
Patten sometimes has days when he eats low carbohydrates, moderate fats and high protein; and other days when he eats high carbohydrates and fats and low protein.
“You really just want to have a good blend of your protein, carbs and fats,” Patten said. “You want to eat based on your hunger levels – about every two to four hours. You can achieve fitness goals by eating one meal a day, but that’s not the way to go. You should either eat a lot of food or not a lot of food in a period of time.”
Boiling it all down, Patten said he is the driving force for his own motivation. He takes each day 24 hours at a time and tries to live in the moment.
“I visualize the moment where I’m on my deathbed thinking about my life. I don’t want to be in that moment and have any regrets,” Patten said. “There are a lot of times that people don’t get to go on and achieve what they want to because they’re scared to. … I choose to do what I want to. I’m not 100% in life where I want to be at, but I’m working towards all of the things I’m wanting.
“That’s all I can ask for myself in this present moment.”
Travis Patten of Freeland. (Photo provided)