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Bodybuilder Jamal Collins talks physical triumphs, cheat days & whether he’s an a** man

Jamal Collins set an ambitious goal for himself to get in the best shape of his life when he turned 40. But as it turns out, he exceeded those high expectations.

Collins didn’t just hit the gym or start going for runs: the Californian started training for his first bodybuilding championship.

A long-time performer and jazz singer, Collins was comfortable on stage. The only difference was, he was now showing off his biceps instead of his vocal cords.

Overcoming an array of health problems — hyperlipidemia, hypertension and pre-diabetes — made his physical triumphs even sweeter.

These days, Collins takes part in roughly five competitions per year, and is gunning for bodybuilding history. He recently competed at this year’s Mr. America in Atlantic City, hoping to become the first out gay Black man to win the title.

While only the top three finishers are confirmed at the show, Collins believes he finished in the top five — providing him with plenty of momentum entering his next competition in November.

Queerty recently caught up with Collins to talk about his love for bodybuilding, whether he ever rewards himself with a cheat day and his favorite parts of a well-built man. Here’s what he had to say…

QUEERTY: What do you enjoy the most about bodybuilding?

JAMAL COLLINS: There’s something about the stage that freaks me out, but also excites me. I was a performer in my former life. I used to sing with a jazz chorus, and then I’ve done some things outside of that as well, performing through college. I didn’t have a lot of that in my later life, and this was something that allowed me to perform. You do a routine, it’s easily choreographed in some sort of way. It gave me that, and married that with the physical fitness part of it, which I really enjoy.

What’s your workout routine?

Over the last five years, I’ve really been able to balance that well. Part of that is making sure I go to bed on time, getting up early enough. I weight train six times a week. I do three days on, one day off. My off days rotate, which works well for me, because I’ll have things that hit me at work and I’ll be like, “Oh, I can’t train today, which is perfect, cause it’s my day off.” That varies from time to time.

I’ll weight train in the morning. This morning, I got there at 5:30 a.m., and I trained for an hour and a half. Today was chest and biceps and calves. That’s how I broke it up this one particular day. Other days, it’s back, triceps and abs for another day. Then my third day is typically legs and shoulders. 

We’re run stories about which parts of the body men fixate on, and the lower body actually gets higher marks than the upper-body. Do you have a preference? 

I like a good balance of both! But I would say my focus is typically the bottom half.

We’re all a** men, aren’t we?

Oh yeah!

What’s your diet?

So I’m vegan. I’ve been vegan for like six years. A lot of people are like, “How can you be a bodybuilder? It must be really hard if you’re vegan. How do you get enough protein?” But I get more than enough. I just had a meal, actually. I eat about six times per day. I am very simple. I like certain things, and I make sure I incorporate those things into what I eat. I like things to be easy and consistent. I do use one meat alternative product, it’s called Daring Chicken, and that’s a good source of protein. It’s six or seven ingredients that you can read and understand. Then I make my own satan, like wheat meat. I make that in batches. I take my food with me when I travel. That, endomame, leafy greens. I love fruit, so if I can get my hands on any type of fruit, I’ll do that as well. Then I’ll also make my own protein muffins. That’s kind of like my cheat [meal]. It makes me think I’m eating something I shouldn’t.

Do you have cheat days?

I will have a cheat meal. I wouldn’t call it a “cheat meal,” because usually when I eat anything, I work it into what I’m planning. I always tell this guy I’m seeing, he’s like, “We need to go out and have a cheat meal.” But I don’t want to cheat myself, because that’s the only person I’m cheating. So I have to figure out how to work this in, where it will still allow me to get to my goals, but enjoy it as well.

What are your favorite things to do away from the gym?

I love to hike! I just love being outdoors and in nature. Travel, a nice road trip is fun for me. I’m into all kinds of performance art, so if I can go to a concert or a play or be involved in one, I will. Spending time with my friends I think is another thing I value and treasure. This weekend, I knew I was gonna be gone for a while, so I went and spent Sunday with my niece and two nephews.

What kinds of messages do you get on the apps? How many people reference your ripped torso?

I get a lot of that! Instagram is one of the places. I’ll get random messages in a sexual way. Depending on where I’m at, I may engage. But sometimes I don’t. Most of the time, it’s just like, “Thank you!”

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