One of the greatest moments during my bodybuilding career was the day I finally achieved that ultimate goal and was honored with the privilege to compete as a professional in the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF). I spent 3 years competing in several shows trying to absorb as much information as I could so that I could improve and learn. I did. Many bodybuilders compete usually 2-3 times per year.
Early in my career, I competed in 8 shows in 12 months. I was committed to learn the ropes and didn't want to waste any time. In the beginning, I realized much success competing as a Light Heavyweight as an amateur in the National Physique Committee (NPC). Along the way, I learned that I could realize more success if I were to compete as a Middleweight.
So I did and I did. I won my first overall and repeatedly won my class in subsequent contests. It was like clockwork. I knew my body and was able to transform my body into winning form with little trouble and with only 6 weeks of pre-contest dieting. I got better and better yet believed my upward spiral was limited by me.
I was used to training heavy and hard and was lifting huge weight even while weighing in the upper 180's (405 lb bench, 600 pound squat) yet staying healthy (no tendon or joint problems). Life was great; however, I wanted more. I wanted to be a pro and I knew I had the work ethic and commitment to the sport but could I achieve this goal?
I then decided to compete in the International Natural Bodybuilding Federation (INBF). Why? I wanted to succeed as a natural. The INBF tests (polygraph and urinalysis) all competitors for steroids, growth hormone and pro-hormones (even some sold over-the-counter such as, andro or norandro).
As anyone would be, I was very skeptical at first until I competed in my first show and, when arriving the day before the contest, was strapped to the "machine" and put through 20 minutes of tough questions. 7 years clean was the requirement and I passed. I knew this was in the right organization based on my goals and commitments. As always, I trained hard and gave my all.
My dream finally became reality on June 8, 2002 in New York City when i qualified as a WNBF pro at the 2002 INBF Hercules. I had very little idea as to what the future held for me. I couldn't wait to make my debut and had every confidence that I would sky rocket. How wrong could I have been? In my first show as a pro, I quickly realized that every single competitor on that stage was as sharp as nails.
As an amateur, in a class of 12, you would usually have maybe 4-5 competitors that stood out from the rest. In my first pro show, I saw nothing but quality and top-notch physiques. The kind you see in the magazines (to help better qualify the magnitude of what I experienced)!
I was in awe and, as you might expect, I was not a top placer. In every pro contest since, the experience has pretty much been the same; however, my desire is un-wavering. I have learned that my previous experience as an amateur was perfect in that life.
As a pro, I'm born again (so to speak). I have learned that I will only find success by reassessing my approach to competing at a new level. I had lost touch with a fundamental training, diet, and strategic philosophy.
Change is necessary and change is good. For so long (as an amateur), I had been successful time and time again once I learned what worked for me. My mistake was trying to use this same approach as a pro.
Does that mean that everything I learned previously was worthless? Believe me, I have asked myself that questions several times. The answer is, "Absolutely NOT"! It means that the information and experience I have acquired over the years must be re-engineered in order to adapt to my current needs. Can it be done? Yes. How can it be done is a different question that must be asked (and answered) from within.
To train as a pro, each and every day must build upon the other. Mentally and physically each day is a building block that increases the potential to realize success. It is no different than other life endeavors. Within any success, to reach greater heights, you must "raise the bar" (and in bodybuilding, add more weight while you do!).
So many times, I would go to the gym with the attitude "business as usual." This eventually led to lethargy in that, instead of pushing myself to get more reps or put on a few more 45s, I would settle for a decent pump.
Time and time again, I did this and, although it felt good, I failed to realize the eventual result or lack thereof. Before falling into my slumber, I always treated each workout as "special." Each workout was treated as though it was my last. I would isolate myself from the past as well as the future. All that mattered was here and now.
Focus, intensity, and desire were applied to each rep and set. These are the fundamental components I seemed to have lost along the way. Regaining the fundamental components with the added realization that "more" is better has led to heavier lifting across the board. Nothing, and I mean nothing is exempt from additional poundage.
As a result, my body requires more rest, consistent quality nutrition, regular massage and stretching, and supplementation. These requirements are necessary and cannot (should not) be taken for granted. In addition, each and every work out differs in some way. Although, basic (bread and butter) lifts remain (i.e., squats, bench, etc.), the order is different.
Non-basic lifts for shape and conditioning (i.e., one arm isolated dumbbell curl, reverse grip triceps pushdown) will be swapped in/out from week to week. So, the reincarnation of the basic fundamentals combined with constant and consistent alternating workout routines, has led to a new beginning.
Always remember what got you there in the first place. It's your foundation for future success. From there, "raise the bar," add more weight, change and BELIEVE.
I dedicate this article to all those aspiring bodybuilders who have realized and/or are pursuing their dreams. Remember to always re-invent yourself and don't fear change!
- Winston Churchill
Good to be back and see you next time!