Muscle Sport Magazine

Introducing Domenick DiBenedetto, Classic Physique Competitor & US Navy Petty Officer

Courtesy of Domenick DiBenedetto

I am Petty Officer First Class Domenick DiBenedetto and currently stationed onboard the USS Iwo Jima stationed in Mayport, Florida. I have been in the Navy for 12 years and have had been deployed three times for 10 months – twice with the USS Kearsarge and once with the USS IWO JIMA. I have been part of multiple military operations including Operation Odyssey Dawn, Carpe Diem, Trident Juncture and the military strikes  against Syria last year. I am a Search and Rescue Swimmer with 10 rescues and was awarded Surface Search and Rescue  Swimmer of the Year for the U.S. Navy in 2014,  as well as the USS Kearsarge Sailor of the year in 2012.  I was also stationed at communications station in Hawaii from 2014 to 2017 when I started my bodybuilding career.
I started lifting weights in 2013 on deployment in the ships gym and after watching “Pumping Iron,” I wanted to get into bodybuilding. When I transferred commands from the Kearsarge to NCTAMS PAC Hawaii, I met my Mike Kawasaki, who is still my coach. Immediately upon training with him, we prepped for the Paradise Cup in 2014, which I got second in the bodybuilding lightweight novice division. The following year, I competed in the Ferrigno Legacy and got first place in bodybuilding novice lightweight, as well as winning the open middleweight. After that show, classic physique opened up and I was very intrigued. With Kawasaki’s Permission, I switched to classic physique and won the Aloha Muscle Short Class. However, I lost the overall.
With minimal time left in Hawaii, I competed in the first ever Classic Physique National Championships in 2016 and got sixth place out of 37 competitors. I continued the journey for my pro card at NPC Universe where I placed third out of 22 competitors. However, since the competitors who got 1st and 2nd won their pro cards in the Masters Division, I was awarded an IFBB pro card.
Immediately after that – literally one week – I transferred to the USS Iwo Jima where I started my bulking season to put on mass to compete in the IFBB. The ship’s gym is a Rocky IV style gym – no mirrors, no music, no air conditioning. If you are in the Mid East, it’s 90 degrees on a cool day. If you are in the Arctic circle, it’s 40 degrees on a warm day. The ship rocks up and down and you have to be very careful lifting in order to not hurt yourself. Furthermore, you have to wake up at 0330 hours (that’s military time for 3:30 AM) just to eat, lift and then stand watch.
Out at sea, we stand watch for 12-14 hours at a time, as well as responding to man overboard calls, general quarters, fires and emergencies in the ocean 24 hours a day. So the only time to train is in the morning, assuming nothing happened at night while we sleep. I train usually before my 14-hour watch. Normally, I get up at 3 am, have a protein shake with some Species Nutrition Carbolyze and Isolyze and then workout, shower and take on my day. Normally my diet is is a great deal of canned food – canned tuna, canned chicken almond butter and Cheerios. Sometimes, I can get hustle food from the cooks and keep in the mini fridge I have in my work space. However, that is not often and it’s only when the cooks don’t have any food left. I usually use Species Nutrition Vmineralyze, Omegalyze and Fiberlyze to keep my nutrition out at sea since I am eating so much canned food. But with enough will and determination, I was able to go from 165 pounds as an amateur in the NPC to 180 pounds for the IFBB in 16 months.
Being in the military and  competing is no easy task; it requires support from my shipmates and Chain of Command to assist with my training and dieting regimen. While prepping for the New York Pro, I had to stand 24 hour duty days every six days that consisted of a four- hour guard watch, fire drill drills medical training, flooding training and 24-hour emergency response.
I have to meet the standards of the U.S. Navy as well as the standards of an IFBB pro, which often means going to bed at 9pm and waking up at 3am everyday just so I can get my training in. Often I carry my food around with me and have to plan out each day so I can schedule my meal times. So I literally take it day-by-day. Aside from my duty day, I work from 0700 to 1600 Monday through Friday conducting training, ships maintenance, fire drills and handling trouble calls for network administration which is my primary rating.
Be sure to follow Dominic on Instagram – @dibz_ifbbpro

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