Virtually all the hard works has been done, fourteen hard weeks of dieting and looking much harder, bigger and better than last year. The question is am I looking good enough.
The fourteen weeks have been eventful, both for me and natural bodybuilding in Britain as well. The first big issue was with one of the federations (ANB) going through some political issues and a group of promoters breaking off to form a new natural federation, the NPA (Natural Physique Association).
For a variety of reasons relating to traveling and the stress added to my partner with the competitions I decided to put my eggs in one basket and compete solely with the BNBF this year. Considering this I decided to enter another BNBF show two weeks earlier as well as the BNBF central instead of doing the ANB southeast in September.
To be perfectly honest, considering which shows to compete in were the least of my worries. I made a big move by giving up full time work to look after my eight month old daughter full time whilst my partner went back to work. This is a great bonding experience and I fully recommend it to any father, but it left me with a problem with a place to train (I used to do all my training in the gyms I was personal training in).
For a variety of reasons I wasn't able to get to a gym during the week, this meant that although I was able to train my legs at the weekend my upperbody needed something to maintain the mass I had built over the offseason. The end result was me training late at night in the local park using some adjustable dumbells, weighted belt for chins and dips and the childrens play apparatus at the park to actually do the chins and dips. Although it wasn't perfect it did its job and shows that the basics work fairly well. To be honest the set back only added fuel to my already stoked motivational fire.
One Week Out From The BNBF Southern
The last week of dieting has so many view points on how to peak for the big day its enough to give you a headache. I tried to extensively research as many view points as possible on this area and came to the conclusion that it's best not to do anything too radical.
Considering this sodium loading/depleting and all the messing about with salts was abandoned and just allows me to work within my normal electrolyte intakes. After reading a lot of Joe Klemczewski work I began to agree that it was to easy to push your body a bit to far one way and end up holding water rather than expel it.
The only things I planned on doing was manipulating my carbs slightly before the big day and ensure that I would continue to expel water through adequate water intake as well as trying to use a few methods to ensure I didn't reabsorb the water.
The week before the show would look like this.
|Day||Water Intake||Carb Intake||Protein|
|Sunday||1.5 liters||Off The Scale||Off The Scale|
This would allow me to carb deplete throughout the week and refill on the Friday and Saturday (with the hopeful aim of some supercompensation). With the decreased levels of carbs there would be a corresponding increase in protein to maintain muscle.
The carbs on friday and Saturday should pull water intracellularly, as carbohydrates are solutes and water follows solutes (each gram of glucose should pull roughly three grams of water with it into the muscle). Two days of carb loading should be enough as glycogen usually refills at a rate of around 4-5% an hour when on a high carb diet. Having a short carb up period allows me to reduce the risk of overspilling as well.
The high levels of fluids consumed throughout the earlier part of the week should ensure that my body excretes all the extracellular fluid to maintain homeostatis of fluid levels.
I would stop consuming fluids at around six or seven o'clock on Saturday evening, my body should continue to expel fluids and to ensure that I don't reabsorb the fluids I would have a small glass of wine before bed (alcohol inhibits aldosterone, which usually reabsorbs fluids in the kidneys). I would also stop the carbs around the same time as the water and just have a small steak or piece of turkey at night before going to be bed (protein aids in dehydration).
Throughout Saturday and Sunday I would consume around 5-10g of vitamin C in order to try to expel more water. Considering that vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, any over consumption will cause the body to expel it which will pull more water out again. Small sips of fluid throughout the day combined with my vitamin C was the only thing I was going to have fluids wise on sunday.
Throughout Sunday I planned to eat just grilled turkey steaks and one or two small bananas to maintain my energy but avoiding any deleterious effect to my conditioning, after the show will be a different matter altogether.
The Actual Day Of The Show
After waking I eat my banana and turkey breast and tried to shake the fog from my head that occurs when your sleep deprived from nerves and having to get up every few hours to urinate all the water out. The competition was a three drive from my house so I set off nice early to avoid the Sunday drivers and ensure that I got there with plenty of time to spare.
I must have really pissed off my mother who came with me as I repeated played the ninety seconds of my posing routine as I went through it in my head for the entire three hour journey.
Arrived in the town of Dorchester with time to spare, in an attempt to relax we found a coffee shop that was open and ordered my mother a drink (I was attempting to keep away from unscheduled fluids). The scene was almost comical as the morning went on as slowly the coffee shop filled with more and more bodybuilders most with gaunt and severely darkened faces.
The atmosphere did little to settle nerves as the inevitable sizing up of competitors took place. After what seemed a lifetime the time came to head over the road and enter Dorchester corn exchange where the competition was set to take place.
Things didn't alter much as waiting in the coffee shop was exchanged for waiting in the lobby as slowly each class was called through to the pumping up areas in the same order as the running of the show. I was closer to the end so it seemed a fairly long wait.
At the weigh in I was shocked to find that I was a full two kilograms (five pounds) under the weight limit when I was fully clothed. If you have read the first part of this article you would remember I had calculated just making the class, so either my drying out technique was working big time or the change from heavy lifting to a modified alfresco session in the park had meant I had dropped a fair amount of mass.
The time came to go backstage to tan and pump up. There were five in my lightweight class (originally there were meant to be seven but it's always inevitable that some don't show). After sizing up the competitors I could see my closest opponent would be Tim Day, he was big in the upper body and nice and tight with it but I felt my symmetry and leg mass would hopefully swing it my way.
We were called out for the first two rounds and it felt as if we were on stage for what seemed the shortest time ever. After round one I was confident but going into the second round they judged us as a group and then called out three competitors to do the mandatory poses. I was not in this group of three, which meant I was either out of the running or I had taken the class easily - the thumbs up from Tony Montalbano (ANB British Lightweight champion 2003) from the audience went some way to settle my nerves - but not much.
Again the wait for the evening show felt a very long time (maybe I'm just damn impatient). Finally the evening show arrived I headed backstage got tanned up and set about mentally going through my routine.
Once the wait was over I was the first of the lightweights to go on, as usual I rushed my routine slightly and failed to hit the rhythm of the music properly but was just happy to be there and get it done. Backstage I was chatting with the other lightweights especially Rob winter who helped make the time go quicker by being very friendly and open.
We were called back on and the pose down ensued. After an enjoyable couple of minutes we were called back into line and the results were called out in reverse order, crunch time was here and a wave of relief and joy surged through me as Tim was called second followed by myself in first.
I tried to get the drug testing out of the way - big mistake. The water didn't want to flow even after knocking back a litre of fluids. I was told to come back after the overall and was just praying the large dose of fluids wouldn't harm my condition too much. Waiting backstage with the other class winners my money was on Marcel Apfel the middleweight winner for the overall. He was big, balanced and grainy hard especially around the obliques.
We were called on one by one. We each had to do two poses in the center light and then move into line. The first round went as normal, but during the compulsories we had to go through it several times. I later found out that the overall was tied - three judges had Marcel for the overall, three had myself as the overall winner.
I find this a huge compliment considering the quality of Marcel's physique. In the end the head judge went for Marcel, a decision I felt was totally justified as I felt he seriously out muscled me. Marcel will be a serious contender for not only the Middleweights at the Britain but also for the overall British title and WNBF pro card.
For me it was one day off the diet on the Monday and straight back into the diet as I had the central show in two weeks. My weight class will probably be harder there as a former Mr. Greece will be in the lightweights, but I look forward to the battle and continuing on the road to British.
* All photos courtesy of Parham Donyai of LA muscle.
Note: This is part two, click here for part one!