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Last week, I competed in my first bodybuilding show. It was an incredible learning experience on many levels, so I thought it would be a good time to share some thoughts with you all.
Bodybuilding is the embodiment of the phrase “tip of the iceberg.” The part everyone sees is much less than what actually is involved in the process.
The part everyone sees is show day. The competitors get up on stage, all tanned out and (mostly) ripped and muscular.
However, the part that no one sees, the iceberg below the surface, is prep. Prep is when shows are really won. I know that sounds cliche, but it is true. Bodybuilding isn’t a sport that one ultra talented individual can walk on stage and come out on top without any prior practice. It takes weeks and weeks of prep to get stage ready. For my wife and I, it took 14 and if you asked me at all during that final week, I wanted even more.
Starting in early March, we began following a more stringent diet, tracking our protein, carbohydrate and fat intake each and every day. We also doubled down on our workout regimens. The wife and I were certainly no strangers to the gym, but we couldn’t use excuses to skip out on a day or two to sleep in. We also had to add some cardio to our routine, which if you ask me was like self mutilation.
Prep is the most challenging part of a show because everything that goes on is a mental struggle. You have to be disciplined with what you eat each and every day. Anytime you are tempted to cheat your diet, you risk putting yourself behind another competitor. If you skip a workout or take it easy on cardio, your body may not be as conditioned as the person you’ll be standing next to on stage. If you skip out on posing practice, thinking its not as important, you guarantee yourself a loss.
Prep was far and away the hardest part of the experience. Motivation is slow coming as you don’t see the fruits of your labor instantly. Its important to look for the small improvements each week rather than hoping to see the big jump all at once.