IFBB Men’s Physique Pro Steven Cao is about to step on stage to compete in his first Arnold Classic. For the last week, the 24-year-old athlete has been dialed in and itching to get on stage. He plans to come in lean and shredded to take home the win. We caught up with Steven just 12 days out to talk about how he feels heading into the biggest show of his life.

BPI: How has your prep for the Arnold been going?
STEVEN: My prep has been really good. I am actually dialed in earlier than I expected, so now I am just trying to maintain my condition.

BPI: What do you mean by dialed in?
STEVEN: My conditioning is ready to go. Right now me and my coach are keeping everything the same. I am basically waking up every single day ready to go on stage. So we are going to maintain this and treat this show like any other day.

BPI: What makes this show special?
STEVEN: This show is special to me because I just had a hernia repaired. I had surgery back in November. I was out for about 8 weeks. I wanted to come back better and stronger so I set a challenge for myself. I felt like doing the Arnold would be a really good move for me. It’s a huge challenge.

BPI: What should fans expect to see from you at the Arnold?
STEVEN: I already beat my previous package that I won with at Nationals physique wise.  Now my goal is to win.

BPI: Who inspires you?
STEVEN: Someone that inspires me in life is Conor McGregor because he started from nothing and built his own brand. He has a strong belief in himself and that is something I admire. In bodybuilding, Flex Lewis. He carries himself as a champion and his work ethic is incredible.

BPI: What do you say to people who are experiencing a setback?
STEVEN: If you have a setback it is only temporary. As long as you believe you can overcome it and are willing to put in the work, day in and day out, and stay consistent with your plan, you will overcome whatever setback you have.

BPI: What is your first cheat meal after the Arnold?
STEVEN: Pizza and cookies.

BPI: What supplements are the most important for your training?
STEVEN: ISO HD™ or Best Protein™ because it’s kind of hard for me to get my daily protein intake. I tend to use a lot of Best BCAA™ because I want to maintain as much muscle as possible. I like the peach cobbler and passion fruit flavors.

BPI: What do you do to relax or veg out when you are not working out?
STEVEN: I am watching Dexter and started Game of Thrones. I also like to play the new Call of Duty and UFC 3.

BPI: What do you hate seeing in the gym?
STEVEN: My pet peeve is when someone is on their phone and sitting at a machine for a long period of time. When you come into the gym, you need to focus on your workout and be in and out instead of being on your phone.

BPI: What is your advice for future competitors?
STEVEN: If you want to pursue competing and don’t know if you are ready or not, I would recommend getting a coach to guide you towards your prep for a show. Also, discipline and consistency are the main things if you want to be a professional.

BPI: Your transformation video on YouTube has over 2.8 million views. Do you have plans for a follow up?
STEVEN: I plan on doing another transformation video in a few years, maybe when I win the Olympia one day… that is my ultimate goal.