I entered my first bodybuilding show this weekend. Admittedly, I was nowhere near ready for an open category, and I probably wasn't physically quite ready for a novice category. But, for me and my journey - my story - I was in the best shape of my life, and mentally I was ready!
There were a few reasons I did this show. First, I have no intention of letting this be my last show, and I wanted to get rid of all the "jitters" that come along with the first experience of something like this. Being on stage in front of people is nothing new to me, I've been involved in theater and performing arts from a young age. I've played the piano for over 20 years, and while it's been a while since I've been on a stage in front of people, it's a lot like riding a bike. I, however, have never been on a stage in less than my boxers. That was a new experience! I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some trepidation about stepping out on a stage by myself, doing a posing routine in front of a lot of people in a glorified speedo.
But that brings me to reason 2 for doing the show. I'd set a goal for myself when I got back into lifting 2 years ago. My goal was that I would eventually do a show. It was a commitment I made to myself, and I was going to follow through with it. That's what got me through the routine, on stage, and what I think kept me sane during the whole experience.
Doing a show is no easy task - there's preparation that will break you if you let it. From severe dieting to grueling workouts and cardio sessions, there's a commitment there that you have to make that's above and beyond anything I've ever had to do before. Add in the micro-managing of carbs, fats, water, the micro-micro managing in the few days and hours before the show, and it gets complicated really fast. It's not easy. It's not something everyone should try. It is, though, very rewarding if you can do it and follow all the way through. There are tolls to pay on the contest prep road - the mental toll, the physical toll - it's taxing on your body and on your mind. You have to keep focus on what you want, and it's something that you have to really, really want. Your body and mind are screaming at you the entire prep as you push yourself past limits you didn't know you even had, but you have to keep going - you have to push. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, and prepping for a show is certainly anything but easy.
I placed 4th out of 4 in my category. The placing really doesn't bother me, I didn't enter the show with any expectations that I'd just run away with the class and beat everyone down, I had realistic expectations based on what I saw in the mirror. The competition was very tough in the class, and the other competitors certainly had more training experience than me, even if we all were in our first show. The things I learned from the show are priceless.
The overall view is that I know what I need to do for my next show. I know the shape I need to come in, and I know the work that I'm going to have to put in to get there. I'm going to be training harder than I ever have before, and I'm making a commitment to myself to be a very competitive Open competitor on my next go round. I'd love to be a heavyweight, or a superheavy my next show, but that's going to be determined by what looks best on my frame. I'm going to attain the shape and look that I'm going for, and the scale can just fall wherever it needs to.
Doing the show has provided me more motivation than I've ever had before. The more microscopic view is I found out things about my body that will aid me the next time I start cutting. Certain foods I'll avoid, certain timings I'll have to follow. I have a notebook full of notes that I kept during the prep, and I'll be referring to those throughout my next prep.
If you're thinking of entering a show, I offer this advice: think about why you want to.
Are you doing it for the experience, or are you doing it with the intention of annihilating the competition and being "the next big thing". If it's the latter, you probably need to look in the mirror a few times, and make sure you can back up that claim, or you're setting yourself up for disappointment from the beginning. It's better to go in for the experience on your first time 'round. Learn all you can, talk to the other competitors back stage. You'll make friends, you'll learn things you never knew, and you'll be better prepared to go back into the gym, train, and come back to annihilate all your competitors!
Check your ego at the door. You're part of a show, you're there to entertain the people in the audience. They're there to see you, true, but you have a commitment to them to provide quality entertainment. I think this principle is lost with a lot of competitors. Bodybuilding breeds and encourages large egos - let's be honest you have to have an ego to do what we do - but remember that without the people out there in the audience, you couldn't be on the stage showing off what you've worked so hard for.
I'm now officially in offseason. My focus now is growing, keeping as lean as possible, and really keeping my attention on shaping the muscle and getting fuller. I'll be keeping logs here on what I'm doing, and how I'm going about doing it. Remember, I'm just an average Joe who 2 years ago was a very overweight, out-of-shape 185 lbs. 2 years later, I'm a much leaner competitor stepping on stage at 192lbs. Calculating, I estimate I put on just over 35 lbs of lean mass in those 2 years - not a bad increase. I'm now taking the experience I gained over the weekend, and I'm going to continue improving.
I mentioned this was an ending and a beginning. The introduction to this story is now over. The page has been turned and Chapter 1 can begin. The story hopefully ends after a successful pro career, but we never really know what's in store for us. I know that in the coming chapters, I'm going to be doing everything I can to attain a pro status. The first steps of that journey have been taken. It's now up to me to continue the path, continue the story and find out what plot twists lie ahead. It's a very exciting time!
I'd like to give thanks where they're due - my trainer / coach Marion Benton has helped me go from where I was to where I am. He's helped me figure out a lot of the health issues I have (even figuring out some things my doctors couldn't in 30 years!). He showed me how to train, how to eat, and really helped me get from where I was to the point where I am now.
I'd also like to give a big thanks to Beast
for letting me use this megaphone to the world. Their products are awesome, and I'll be using them in the upcoming offseason. I definitely couldn't have kept up the energy in the last few weeks of prep without the Beastmode Preworkout powder
. It's now a permanent part of my workout arsenal!
If you're a new competitor, someone who's thinking about getting into competition, have any advice for a competition neophyte or have any comments or questions, leave them below, and we'll get a discussion going.
Lift heavy, be strong!
Wayne is a former “IT” guy who decided to take his love for fitness and turn it into a new career. Now a personal trainer by trade, Wayne spends his spare time hitting the weights and learning all he can about bodybuilding and nutrition. He stays true to his IT roots by staying active on Twitter and several online games.