The team here at Function are all very proud of Andrew, one of our amazing Personal Trainers, who recently competed in his second bodybuilding competition! Read below for his story on preparation, training and show day!
The decision to compete was a natural one. Working out has always been a passion of mine and I and have always closely followed many fitness celebrities and bodybuilders.
There was a small issue of me being stage fright, but I am well aware that growth happens outside of your comfort zone so I figured why the hell not?
I’ve competed in two shows so far: the WNBF Vancouver Naturals held in 2018 and 2019.
Among many to choose from, I decided to compete in a very strict federation, the WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) where all athletes are tested for use of PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) to allow for an even-playing field.
It takes several months to prepare for a show. For my first show in 2018, I hired an online coach to keep me accountable and provide guidance. For my second show, I decided to do it solo.
It was a gruelling 3 months of preparation to bring my bodyweight from around 170lbs to 144lbs (lightweight, I know). But to be completely honest, I still wasn’t show-lean enough.
Having excess fat hides your hard-earned muscles and definition, therefore it’s necessary to have very low body-fat when stepping on stage. Somewhere in the range of 5-10% for males and 10-16% for females are common body-fat percentages for competitors. Note that this level of body-fat is extremely unhealthy and NOT sustainable.
To get to this level of body-fat it’s absolutely necessary to accurately track your food intake. You simply can’t effectively lose weight if you don’t know how many calories you are consuming.
If you’ve never tried counting macros or calories…I highly recommend it. You learn so much about your body and nutrition through the process. And once you learn the fundamentals, you can literally play with your bodyweight/physique at will. (Will cover Calorie Counting in another post!)
The venue for both shows took place in the theatre at Capilano University. While the audience began to trickle in, all of the competitors were in the waiting room downstairs. This is where the magic happens. Here, as they waited for their division to be called, competitors can be seen getting their spray tan fixed, pumping up, or eating rice crackers and candy (quick carbs allow for a better pump).
On stage, the lights blinded you. You couldn’t even see much of the audience, let alone the judges. I remember being so nervous at my first show, that I was shaking from head to toe. What makes it so hard is that you have to be constantly flexing and smiling non-stop. I literally thought my face was going to harden or fall off or both. It’s strangely calming though, when you realize that every other competitor has the shakes as well. Especially the women competitors, how they’re able to pose and flex while wearing 10 inch heels beats me.
There are many different divisions in bodybuilding. I competed in the Men’s Physique division. This is a different category from the traditional bodybuilding you may be aware of (Arnold Schwarzenegger much?). In Men’s Physique, athletes are required to wear board shorts and are judged for overall shape and musculature. You don’t need to have the extreme muscle mass and leanness required from the Bodybuilding division, rather you’re judged on overall male fitness model qualities and total aesthetic appeal.
Competitors in the Men’s Physique class are typically divided by height (unless there aren’t enough competitors). Once on stage, the athletes are lined up and are required to hit several mandatory poses. Along with the mandatory poses, all competitors perform a solo T-walk (similar to a model walk) showcasing your physique. The judging criteria is quite complicated so I won’t get into it, but the athletes are rearranged on stage according to judge picks. The key is to look confident, smile, and consistently flex your muscles.
Regardless of the results, there’s a feeling of euphoria when you step down from stage. All the gruelling months of hard work and preparation comes to an end and you’re left with a weird but highly addictive high…
Am I done with Competing?
No, definitely not. I’m a pretty competitive person and I’ve become hooked into competing. I know where I need to improve so I’m taking a few years off to grow and add quality muscle to my frame. The next time I compete I’m coming for the win. 😉 🏆