A Bodybuilder Is Born: Episode 36 - Self-Improvement In Bodybuilding Will Lead You To Victory!

It has been over six weeks now since the contest Randy and I competed in together, and now you shall hear the tale of his debut and victory. The result is not quite what you would expect. Learn more.
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Article Summary:
  • With no novice class Randy is put in the light-heavyweight class where he is outmatched.
  • After a sound defeat, Randy attempts to drown his frustrations in pizza toppings.
  • An offer for a photo shoot with an attractive figure model quickly brightens his spirits though.
  • It has been over six weeks now since the contest Randy and I competed in together, and now you shall hear the tale of how his competitive debut went down.

    When we last left off, Randy was down to 184 pounds at a little under two weeks before the show, and was headed down Catabolic Road, meaning he was most likely going to lose muscle and hit the stage looking more like a runner than a bodybuilder unless changes were made immediately.

    On my advice, he cut back a bit on his cardio, and upped his protein intake with the help of whey protein powder, a scoop added to each meal, and increased his liver aminos from five to eight with each meal, to provide even more protein, plus iron and B-vitamins to revitalize him from his depleted state (it's a supplement you don't hear much about, but I am a big believer in it).

    Additionally, I had him add a handful of mixed nuts to all meals that didn't include carbs, both for extra calories and energy from healthy fats. The results were rather good, if I do say so myself - hold on a moment as I pat myself on the back. What a waste of money that crappy laser hair removal was, I can still feel bristly hair back there!

    Randy actually managed to get back up to a hair under 190 pounds by the day before the show, properly carbed up, then cut his water late that night and weighed in at 184 pounds at the check-ins. While that may not sound like progress, I can assure you that the 184 pounds he displayed onstage looked much bigger, fuller, and tighter than the 184 pounds he had showed me a couple weeks before. The kid looked pretty good.

    Ron Harris. Ron Harris.
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    Ron Harris At The 2009 NPC Team Universe.
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    Body Proportions

    Unfortunately, 'pretty good' wasn't good enough this time. As there was no Novice class, this made Randy one of nearly twenty light-heavyweights. And at 5-11, he was both the tallest and the least heavily muscled of the lot. Bodybuilding is an odd endeavor, as it goes against everything normal people associate with height and weight.

    In essence, the shorter and heavier you are, the better, although factors like shape, proportion and symmetry, and definition, are also very important. And technically, at least if you go by the charts that the medical and insurance industries use, nearly all bodybuilders are overweight.

    I distinctly remember arguing with a man signing me up for life insurance about this, and showing him my six-pack at whatever I weighed at the time, around 215. "How can you call this fat, you nimrod?" With no comeback, he promptly packed up his briefcase and went outside for a smoke and a donut.

    Ironically, he had less 'risk factors' than I did because he was tall and thin. But yes, we bodybuilders are constantly striving to add muscular bodyweight, and our goal is the complete opposite from that of the average American.

    When Joe or Jane Average steps on the scale and they have gained five pounds, the reaction is usually, "Son-of-a-bitch!" When a bodybuilder sees five more pounds, it's more like, "Yes! That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!" They may even rent out a local VFW hall and hire a DJ to celebrate the momentous occasion.

    The average height of the guys in Randy's class ranged from 5-6 to 5-8, and the guy who eventually won the light heavies and Overall was only 5-4, which was a full seven inches shorter than my young protégé. I knew even before the entire class had weighed in that Randy was not fated to land in the top five.

    Once they all took the stage, this was confirmed. Though I was busy getting ready myself to go on in the heavyweights that followed, I kept wandering over to the side of the stage to keep track of how it was going. Sadly, that's where Randy stayed most of the time, languishing in the shadows near the edge of the curtain while the bigger, more experienced competitors got the callouts and he watched in frustration and despair.

    Ron Harris. Ron Harris.
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    Ron Harris At The 2009 NPC Team Universe.
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    Pizzas And Pep Talks

    I ended up taking second place out of thirteen Heavyweights and was quite pleased. I can't say I was overjoyed to take what I estimated to be my tenth or eleventh runner-up spot since I started competing in 1989, but I was the biggest and best I had ever been, which was a satisfying feeling considering I was pushing 36, and had been told many times over the years to give up bodybuilding and go take up crocheting or bowling.

    Randy was not so happy. When the top five names were called out to receive their awards in his class, he hadn't even bothered to take off his sweats and pump up - he knew he was closer to the bottom five out of twenty. And so, as we sat there in the pizza parlor that night, I did my best to cheer him up and make him understand that it wasn't all about what trophy you left the building with - or in his case, whether you even got a trophy.

    This was not easy, both because he was so upset, and also because the majority of his attention was devoted to inhaling greasy slices of pizza at a frightening rate that showed no signs of slowing. Randy had already put away almost a whole large cheese pizza with pepperoni and sausage toppings, and it looked like he might just keep going until his belly burst open and some little pizza-alien flew out and escaped into an air vent, where it would quickly grow into a huge pizza-alien and kill us all, one by one. Sorry, I've been watching a lot of the Sci-Fi channel lately.

    "Randy, I think you did a great job today," I began.

    "Pfft," he replied after swallowing yet another bitten-off chunk of crust, sauce, and cheese, plus the toppings. This universal sound of disgust is referred to by my wife's Cuban grandmother as "frijendo huevos," or frying eggs. When Randy did it this time, a little gob of orange grease flew from his mouth and sailed past my head. I ducked it just in time.

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    "I know you didn't place as well as you wanted," I said.

    "I didn't place at all," he shot back, talking with his mouth full. Luckily, having been around bodybuilders for many years, I can understand people speaking in this garbled manner and am not the least bit offended at having to see their masticated morsels.

    "That's not true," I countered. "Last place is a place." From his scowl and evil glare I could tell he failed to see the humor in my attempt at light-hearted sarcasm. "Look, we both did very well today," I told him. He looked at me with incredulity.

    "Are you high?" he asked.

    "No, and it's a good thing for you, or else you wouldn't have had a chance with that pizza. But seriously, we both looked better today than either one of us ever has in our lives, right?" He shrugged. I sighed and unzipped my digital camera, and turned it on to show him some photos my wife Janet had snapped during prejudging when the judges humored the also-rans at the end out of respect for their having worked hard and shown up, and given them a callout.

    "Look here," I said, turning the little window part toward him and pressing the button to advance the photos. "Check out the cross-striations on your quads, the splits between your biceps and triceps, that six-pack. Don't tell me you were ever this big and cut at the same time, ever in your cotton-picking life."

    "Yeah, so, you got second, you almost won, I looked like someone who wandered in off the street," he sulked.

    "That's not true at all," I said, shaking my head for emphasis. "Look, your body is primed to grow right now whether you know it or not. You're going to take a week off to rest up and eat, and then you're going to start slamming a lot of protein and moving some seriously heavy weight. I'm going to have you adding a Parrillo 50/50 plus shake to every meal and put you on a routine of nothing but basic free weight movements for a few months, and I guarantee you will pack on at least ten pounds of muscle."

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    The Silver Lining

    That seemed to raise his spirits a little, but not as much as what happened next. A regular-looking guy walked in with a totally stunning local figure competitor who had just won her class. Apparently they were an item, based on how closely he squeezed her tight little tanned body to his. He introduced himself to both of us and then turned his attention to Randy. The guy was starting up a fitness clothing line, and wanted Randy to do a photo shoot for their first catalogue.

    As I have mentioned before, Randy was blessed with some dashing looks and he does have a decent physique, which is actually more 'marketable' than the walking sides of beef that most champion bodybuilders these days resemble.

    The guy wanted to pay Randy a thousand dollars to do the shoot, appear in the catalogue, and perhaps star in a print ad in the bodybuilding magazines, plus he would keep all the clothes he modeled.

    All of that sounded enticing enough, but I think the fact that this figure competitor was going to be the female model was what really sold Randy. In fact, I am not sure Randy was even listening to much of what the guy was saying, as he was too busy gawking at her and drooling.

    The offer could have been to flay his skin with whips, roll him around in salt, and deep-fry him in boiling vegetable oil, and he probably would have agreed to it as long as this hottie was positioned in front of him. When they left, with the girl finally saying her first and only thing, a high-pitched but adorable, "See ya," Randy was in a much better mood. He should have been.

    Ron Harris. Ron Harris.
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    Ron Harris At The 2009 NPC Team Universe.
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    Conclusion

    "Kid, there were plenty of other bodybuilders in that show today who placed higher and were bigger and better built at this moment in time than you are, but he asked you to represent his clothing line. I think that's better than a crappy trophy," I said, kicking my own trophy that rested by my left foot. "For instance, I was sitting right here and he didn't ask me." The little self-pitying comment went right past the grinning Randy.

    "Wow, she's hot, huh?" he sighed. Luckily I wasn't terribly jealous of Randy's handsome countenance. God gave me other gifts. For instance... well, I can't think of anything right now, but that's not the point. I'm sure there's something.

    The point is, neither Randy nor I had won the contest, but that didn't mean we hadn't both won personal victories. Bodybuilding is all about self-improvement, or beating your own previous personal best. And hey, if you can meet some hot women and get some free stuff along the way, even better!

    Ron Harris is the author of "Real Bodybuilding: Muscle Truth from 25 Years in the Trenches," available at www.ronharrismuscle.com.

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