Connor LaVallie is a 23-year-old champion natural bodybuilder, certified personal trainer, fitness model, wellness coach, speaker, avid traveler, author, and graduate student. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago and is currently pursuing his DC degree (Doctor of Chiropractic) with an emphasis in clinical nutrition from the National University of Health Sciences. He runs a successful fitness/nutrition consulting business and publishing company called ConLaV Creations LLC. He believes hard work, discipline, consistency, and patience is the key to making progress in any area of life. Bodybuilding and fitness has allowed him to share this passion and philosophy while helping others, and that has been the greatest reward of all.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started with bodybuilding?
I have played football, basketball, and baseball my whole life but injuries and a kidney illness ended my football career last year, my freshman year in college. The next summer my interest in bodybuilding became apparent when I took a trip to Colorado to visit my grandparents lodge. One thing I always kept constant despite my injuries was my diet. I made sure I was getting all the correct nutrients I needed to maintain maximum muscle when I was unable to train. I also made it to the gym 4 days a week to keep what I had. I knew nothing about natural bodybuilding at the time… that is until I left for vacation a few months later. When I arrived in Colorado, I was feeling pretty healthy and my strength was slowly returning to normal. I was especially excited for this trip because the lodge I was staying at had a fully equipped gym right outside our room. I began lifting and my hand wasn’t hurting at all so I decided to slowly increase weight for a few pyramid sets on deadlifts. Before I knew it, I was pulling as much weight as I had when training for football camp and the adrenaline was back. I was in the zone.
As soon as I finished my final set, a big guy wearing an Optimum Nutrition sweat shirt came over to me and asked me how old I was. I told him 18, almost 19 and he complimented me for the work I had done. I asked him about bodybuilding and he said he competed when he was younger and that he had the time of his life. He also explained that it kept him out of trouble as a kid and taught him an incredible amount of discipline. I was instantly intrigued by this because training has always been my favorite part of football, besides scoring touchdowns and hanging with teammates. I loved football, basketball, and baseball, but I was also burnt out from being on a schedule. Team sports are great, but I wanted to work out on my own time, develop my physique and do it in the healthiest way possible. I knew I had the discipline, a fair amount of knowledge; all I needed was a place to start. That night I made my way up to the computer room and found Bodybuilding.com. On the front page there was a link featuring “knowledgeable natural bodybuilder Layne Norton” I read through his first article, then the second, the third, I was so excited learning about his experiences from when he was my age. Right then and there I realized my goal would be to compete before I turned 21. The next day I made my way to the gym and completed my first “true” leg day filled with all types of intensity techniques I had used in the past, but never for the sole purpose of muscle growth. I now had the vision to complete my goal so I set up my own bodybuilding style program focusing on gaining lean mass. The progress I made led me to check out a few shows and I was hooked from there.
How do you stay motivated?
I see bodybuilding and fitness as a foundation for success in other areas of life. I’ve always believed that anyone who wants to fulfill their potential in life should start with taking care of their physical body. A strong body will lead to a strong mind…knowing this pushes me everyday in pursuit of my full potential in and out of the gym.
What is your current workout routine?
I train with weights 5 days a week. I have tried several different routines in the past while always paying attention to what my body responds to best in terms of frequency, volume, and intensity. Depending on how I’m progressing I may devote an extended block of time to either 1-3 reps, 4-6 reps, or 8-15 reps for power, strength, or hypertrophy only. An example would be:
• Day 1: Lower
• Day 2: Push
• Day 3: Pull
• Day 4: Off/Cardio
• Day 5: Repeat cycle
All in all, I feel it’s important to utilize effective strategies for gaining strength while working in the lower rep ranges. Invariably, this allows me to use heavier weights when I move on to higher rep ranges… ultimately leading to more muscle. I think it’s crucial not to fall into the “paralysis by analysis” trap and understand that there are really no rules when it comes to training. As long as you’re using correct form, supporting your efforts with sufficient calories, and getting proper rest… the only requirement is HARD WORK. Don’t over think it, listen to your body and give it your all every single day.
What is your diet like?
Out of all the variables that go into creating a more impressive physique, the area I am most fascinated with is nutrition. This area is very distinct for each individual and it’s important to learn how your body responds to different amounts and types of foods. I make sure I eat enough protein each day to support muscle gains and I fill in the remaining calories I need from fiber-rich carbohydrates and mostly essential fat. I take in roughly 1-1.3 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight depending on my goals; I will adjust the other macronutrients as well in order to add muscle or lose fat. I try to reach my totals each day while sticking to these types of foods:
• Sweet Potatoes
• White Potatoes
• Ezekiel Breads
• Whole Wheat Pasta
• Olive Oil
• Flax Meal
As long as I am meeting my needs for the day it doesn’t matter as much which foods I choose, so things will frequently vary. I enjoy eating “clean” and I usually don’t deviate from the foods found on the perimeter of the grocery store which include produce, meats, and dairy. I’ve found that supplying my body with the most naturally occurring foods works best because I assimilate those nutrients the easiest and I feel a lot better because of it.
What are your top 3 favorite exercises, and why?
• Bench Press
If you’re at all serious about building muscle or attaining a great physique… these three movements are your foundation to do it.
What supplements do you use?
If there was one thing I could go back and change in my fitness pursuits, it would be to learn nutrition and pay less attention to the thousands of supplement ads out there. It was frustrating at times while growing up and not obtaining the results I expected from certain products. However I learned a lot in the past few years about various supplements and I’ve discovered which ones made a contribution to my progress. In addition to a solid multi-vitamin/mineral, I also take micronized creatine monohydrate, whey/casein/egg protein powder, fish oil pills, and branched chain amino acids. Through trial and error, I’ve found that these are the five most effective and economical types of products on the market.
What is the most common bodybuilding question that people ask you?
• What supplements do you take? (see above)
• What’s your diet like? (see above)
• Do you have a webcam? Yes…. but NO.
Who are your favorite fitness models/bodybuilders?
• Evan Centopani
• Mike O’ Hearn
• Layne Norton
• Alberto Nunez
What is your favorite quote?
“It is a shame for a man (or woman) to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his (or her) body is capable” ~Socrates
If there’s any one skill that I’ve seen in champions – (people who have really achieved their highest desires) – it’s an unbelievable level of persistence. They’ll change their approach as necessary, but they won’t abandon their ultimate vision.
What are your plans for the future?
• Earn my DC degree (Doctor of Chiropractic)
• Continue to build my consulting and publishing business
• Become a positive role model and ambassador in the fitness and nutrition industry
• Earn natural pro status