Competing in a Men’s physique show (body building) had been in the back of my mind for years as I have always enjoyed my weight training, no matter what I was training for, however I always thought I wouldn’t be big enough to stand a chance against others competing who were around the same age as myself, so the thought of competing was just that- a thought. In 2013 I did the Keri Keri half marathon- still holding the record for fastest time out of the Activ8 trainers (sorry Ryan). I managed to complete it in 1 hour 24 minutes and 24 seconds, in that same year I competed in a charity boxing fight but lost. The following year, 2014, I had the opportunity to do it again and managed to win. In 2016 I needed a different challenge to push my body to new extremes- to test myself both physically and mentally that I hadn’t experienced with training for running and boxing.
At the start of 2016 with no other clear direction for my training I thought to myself there is no time like the present and I would train and diet down for a show, for my own experience regardless of the outcome. With the help of an online coach for clearer direction we came up with a 20 week game plan to get me show ready….yes you read that correct- 20 WEEKS!!
I started the prep on the 6th of June 2016 and weighed 91.5kgs which is the heaviest I have been in my life. The competition was on the 23rd of October 2016 and I weighed my lightest at 77.5kgs, making my total weight loss on the road to the stage 14kgs!! I myself didn’t think I had that much to lose but there is a huge difference on being lean with abdominals showing and being stage ready lean for a competition.
A typical training week for me involved 6 weight sessions a week with cardio only 5 minutes at the start for a warm up. Each weight session I dedicated to different parts of the body day one chest shoulders and triceps (push workout) day two back and biceps (pull workout) and day three lower body (legs) then repeated before an off day. After 6 weeks my online coach re assessed progress and started to implement cardio sessions to help maintain steady weight loss. Cardio sessions were twice a week lasting 30-35 minutes at a time at a steady state (hill walk at a constant pace). As I got further into preparation (the last 6 weeks) a 20 minute HIIT session each week. I used the stationary bike, requiring 10x 30 second 100% efforts with 90 seconds rest inbetween, this was a great way to ensure max output and has been shown to have fat burning effects lasting long after the session has been completed, but is much more physically demanding on the body. Not one training session was missed, no matter how tired, sore or hungry I was feeling.
Diet is without a doubt the most important part of any body building competition no matter what class you want to compete in. Men’s Physique doesn’t require ridiculously vascular skin tearing leanness like you see on the big body builders of the world, but more a beach body look with the judges looking for well-defined abdominals and a nice V-Taper (broad shoulders and narrow waist).
Most believed my diet would consist of chicken breast and broccoli and small portions. Each week my online coach would give me macronutrients to eat (carbohydrates, protein and fat). I could eat what I wanted as long as I hit these macronutrient numbers. Typically I would fast until lunch time (not eat) as I preferred to eat fewer meals but much larger portions as this kept me full and feeling like I wasn’t dieting at all. As the competition came closer my macronutrients were slowly reduced by lowering the amount of carbohydrates and fat I would eat in the day but as this was done slowly (over 20 weeks) I never felt deprived or that it was an un healthy amount of food to keep my body functioning with training sessions and cardio. Vegetables became my best friend at this point as I could eat large quantities of them and they kept me feeling fuller for longer.
Prepping for a body building show is by no means an easy feat as it is more a mental challenge than a physical one, for me at least, as I have always enjoyed training so getting sessions in never really seemed like a chore. A huge help was prepping with a one of my best mates and client -Doyle Lowrie, as we kept each other accountable and pushed each other through numerous training sessions for the preparation. As I lost more and more body fat, clients and friends started noticing a change in my appearance, with comments being made to the extreme of people thinking I had an eating disorder or was very sick. All though most of the comments were made in jest, doubt did start to creep into my mind that I would look and feel inadequate in comparison to those I would be competing against come show day.
In times like this I had to refocus and remind myself why I was doing this, it was me against me and setting out to achieve a goal I set myself regardless of the outcome. Proving to myself that with enough time and dedication to a goal, that anything can be achieved once you put our mind to it you just have to put in the work!!
I ended up placing 4th in my class which is a top five placing that qualified me to compete Nationally in October of 2017. I decided not to compete again that soon as I want to spend at least two years letting my body recover and rebuild (muscle) so when I next compete I will bring a bigger better and a bit heavier physique to the stage.
Trying to lose weight or drastically change your body composition by a certain date or for a particular event/occasion is a huge task. I was fortunate enough to have excellent home support from my wife who kept me on task and helped with meals and weighing all food and also a supportive work environment with work mates asking how I was getting on and feeling throughout the process. The best advice I can give to anyone trying to lose weight for any goal like a wedding, a show or even just summer and to look good in general is to give yourself enough TIME. This takes a great deal of stress off the body both mentally and physically, so surround yourself with people who will support your goals both at home and work as this is where you spend the majority of your time.
Find an approach that works for you and is maintainable for the long term!! No more quick fix diets or cleanses!! If you can’t see yourself following the same approach to your training and nutrition in two weeks two months of two years then don’t do it!!