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Over the past four years, Seth and Shelby Snodgrass have learned that bodybuilding isn't so much about how much you can lift, it's about training your mind to push past the limits you think you have.
The Snodgrasses, owners of 719 Fitness in downtown Neligh, have learned that lesson after spending nearly every day training and preparing for bodybuilding competitions over the last four years.
Shelby began training for bodybuilding in 2012 when her friend, who was already competing, approached Shelby after she had shown interest in beginning competition. It wasn’t until 2015, however, when Shelby competed in her first show alongside her husband Seth, a former mixed martial artist, who decided to join her after taking time away from his fighting career.
“It’s better to do it together than not together,” Seth said.
Although the two have always lead generally healthy lifestyles, bodybuilding has presented new challenges to them that they never expected.
“Some days are harder than others,” Seth explained. “You just gotta dig deep. I just don’t think there is an easy way to do it. It’s gotta be 100 percent diet and 100 percent training. There’s no cheating.”
The preparation for the couple is an every day commitment. During the time they consider as “the offseason”, Seth and Shelby try to take in as many clean calories as possible. During this time, they allow themselves to be more lenient with their diet, even allowing for a treat meal once a week. They spend this time lifting as heavy as possible in an attempt to build more muscle mass for their next competition.
Once they decide to get into “prep mode”, everything becomes more focused. While they still eat their regular five or more meals a day, they are much more strict about what goes into their body, gradually cutting their carbohydrate intake to a minimum. That is also the time that the workouts intensify.
“Your volume of your workouts start getting higher,” Seth explained. “You want to get as much of a pump into that muscle and as much tension to fill it out as best you can.”
While they rarely do cardio during the offseason, the two add in as much cardio as possible.
“You do a lot of cardio when you’re in contest prep,” said Shelby. “This time, I’m doing cardio eight times a week.”
Besides diet and exercise, a third aspect of bodybuilding is posing. The two work with posing coaches to perfect their form so they can show off their hard work to the judges properly. The goal of working with a posing coach is to create a muscle memory during the poses, as they won’t be able to see themselves in the mirror during a competition.
A new challenge the couple has faced this year while preparing for the competition has been owning a new business. The two started 719 Fitness in December and have noticed they have a harder time shedding fat compared to the last competition, something they attribute to the stress of being a new business owner.
“We don’t get to rest like we used to,” said Seth.
“We had a lot of naps last prep, not this time,” recalled Shelby.
They have also found owning their own gym to be helpful because they now own all the equipment they need to prepare.
The two have learned that, while physical appearance is important, bodybuilding is more of a mind game.
“It’s you versus you. You want to beat what you looked like the year before,” Seth explained.
Working as a couple has advantages for the two as well. They are able to keep each other accountable. They encourage and support each other when they get into the grueling prep period. The two have trained themselves to push through the pain that can occur during intense training. Developing the ability to ignore the physical challenges has helped the couple give it their best during training.
“You leave no stone unturned,” said Shelby. “You just get in that mindset, when you’re on that StairMaster and you think ‘I can’t go anymore’ you have to keep going because you want to get on that stage at your very best.”
While many people admire the physique of people such as the Snodgrasses when they are in competition-ready shape, the two warn against envying that body type.
“We don’t have these bodies when we are not in prep,” Shelby noted. “We just look like normal people with a little bit of muscle. This body fat is not sustainable. It’s not really that healthy. Especially for women.”
Seth and Shelby are in their final days of competition prep, as they will be competing on July 16 in Springfield, Mo. Until then, the two will spend as much time shedding the last few hints of body fat that they are able to in an attempt to impress the judges and return back to Neligh with a few more medals to hang on 719 Fitness’s wall.