Beep...beep...beep...beep...beep...as I reach over and turn off the annoying alarm clock. It's 5:00 am. As I regain consciousness to the world, I realize that today is the day for which I have planned and prepared for several weeks. I suddenly feel a jolt of eager excitement that I have survived! That elation is soon converted into nervous energy as a sense of the pending day to come overwhelms me.
To begin the day, I will apply a single coat of show tan. First, I need to shower off the competition tan that was applied last night. After, another coat can be applied. It's very important to shave all body hair prior to competing and applying the tanning lotions. It's also a good idea to use baby oil to moisturize your skin up until the day before applying the first coat of tan. After the last coat, I delicately put on an old pair of sweat pants and shirt to protect the coating and prevent any unwanted rub-off on walls and furniture. I also put on an old pair of thick socks and a pair of slip-on surf shoes. My next order of the day is to begin preparing my meals that I will eat during the day. I planned ahead and purchased and prepared a 4lb. eye of round steak. I also prepared three 8 oz Sweet potato.
My first task of the day is to eat. My first meal of the day will be a 6 oz. portion of the eye of round steak lightly salted and a 4 oz. portion of sweet potato with cinnamon and Molly McButter to taste. I sip a very small cup of water as I eat, take 3-99 mg potassium (every hour through the day), and take my protein supplement tablets. No further eating until after weigh-in at 9:00 am. After eating, I prepare all the meals for the day. Keep in mind that a competition can be an all day event so BE PREPARED. I take out my large cooler and fill it with ice. I now cut pieces of the eye of round steak and weigh 2-6 oz. portions and 3-8 oz. portions. After I have each portion measured, I place them in a separate zip lock baggie and mark them. After all the meat portions are measured and bagged, I place them all in a sizeable Tupperware container. Next, I will prepare 5-4 oz. portions of sweet potato. Each measured portion will be placed in a small Tupperware contained with a cinnamon/Molly McButter topping. All meat and potato are placed into the cooler. Next, I place two large Snickers candy bars (Yes! Snickers candy bars - I'll explain later) into a baggy a place in the cooler. Now, I will place several (5-6) 1liter bottles of water into the cooler.
Finally, I'll place plastic-ware, A-1 steak sauce, and a couple small bottles of wine (I'll explain later as well!). It's now time to prepare the gym bag. The first items I pack will be two pairs of posing trunks. I always pack two and sometimes three just in case! Although, I have not competed yet where there was not a vendor selling them. Next, I'll pack three old towels, exercise bands, a walk-man, two Hi-fi cassette copies of my posing music, Pam cooking spray, competition tan, and a sponge. The towels will be used later when applying the Pam cooking spray. I like to use the Pam instead of other oils since it's so inexpensive and spillage is not an issue. It also gives you a very nice gloss on stage instead of a shiny oily look. I think I'm almost ready. At this point, I've really had no time to allow the event-filled day to consume me and have not experience a sense of uncontrollable nervousness. I'm ready to go and weigh-in! Before leaving, I review my checklist once more to make sure nothing is left behind.
The show is being held in Erlanger, Kentucky about an hour drive. I hop into my car and head for the show at 7:30 am! I arrive to weigh-in around 8:35 am. Plenty of time since weigh-in starts at 9:00 am and ends at 10:00 am. I'm starting to feel very hungry. I head to the registration table to confirm my registration and validate my membership with the governing organization. "It's all good". I'm then instructed to strip down to my posing trunks and step on the scale. One of the judges has been tasked with weigh-in and calibrates the scale.
"One seventy four", he exclaims. My face is without expression as I think to myself, "right where I want to be", and quickly place my clothing back on. I can finally eat my next meal. I rush to my cooler and pull out a baggy containing a 6 oz portion of steak and a container of sweet potato. I also pull out the A-1 steak sauce and pour a generous amount over my steak. Yummmmmmmmmieee! After eating, I begin to prepare for prejudging. Relaxation is very important now since, as I mentioned before, undue stress will result in water retention. I pull out the walk-man and listen to my posing music and visualize my posing routine.
After all weigh-ins are completed, the judges will distribute numbers to all the competitors as well as group the competitors into appropriate weight classes. I'm in the Middleweight class. In addition to being assigned my number, which was 90, I handed in a tape cassette that contained the music that I would perform my free pose with at the evening show. Following number assignments, the head judge conducts the athlete's meeting to explain all the rules and requirements. When the athlete's meeting is adjourned, "It's SHOW-TIME"!
I get butterflies just thinking about it as I write! Now the air is filled with the smell of a coming storm. I gaze around and see the intense look on each of the competitor's faces. It's a feeling that you can only appreciate if you have ever participated in a competitive sport of any type. The distinctive smell of muscle juice, tanning lotions, Pam cooking spray (who bought garlic flavor!), and sweat, fill the air and complete the picture. A storm is brewing, I say to myself and I'm right in the middle. It's almost here. Soon the event expeditor calls out that the first class will be going out in 15 minutes.
Since the women are usually scheduled to pre-judge first, I have a few minutes to kick back and relax. Class after class is called out to center stage. Finally after a waiting period that seems to be an eternity, the expeditor calls my class, "Middleweights, you have 10 minutes!" he exclaims.
First, I grab a Snickers candy bar from my cooler. The reason is to spike my blood insulin to help with my "pump" prior to hitting the stage. Another addition to this would be drinking a hot fluid, if available. Now my endorphins begin to kick-in. I start to warm up and stretch. Next, I pull out the exercise bands from my bag and begin to lightly work each upper body muscle group. I start with shrugs, then shoulders, now biceps, next triceps, now chest, now back. I repeat this over and over until I feel a sufficient "pump". Now I start to flex. Just enough to assist with blood flow. I have purposely avoided doing leg exercises. This will make the legs come out even more on stage since your legs have a tendency to engorge with blood and sacrifice those hard-earned separations.
"Five minutes middleweights!", yells the expeditor. With five minutes to go, I pull out a towel and the Pam cooking spray and am lightly coated. At this moment, I'm psyched! I try to relax and mentally go through the execution of all the mandatory poses. "Okay, lets go middleweights", he calls out. It's time. We each line up in numerical order and leave the staging area towards backstage. As we exit the staging area, the expeditor calls out our numbers in order. Once we're backstage we watch as the previous class completes its prejudging round. As they pass us, we congratulate them giving a "hi-five" or two.
The next voice is heard over the loud speaker. It's the Head Judge calling my class to center stage. No time to make any mistakes! I check to make sure I have my number and that I haven't accidentally left my socks on! I've heard it has actually occurred in shows before! We all walk out and as I do, I try to stand as erect as possible to accentuate my size. To the stage we proceed. This is the most grueling time I have experienced during a competition. As you stand facing the judges waiting for instructions, you must keep as tight as possible.
From head to toe, every single inch of muscle must be instructed to flex or tighten. If you are in a large class, this will really test how conditioned you are and you will realize the value of "posing practice". This is also the time to score presentation points by smiling. I'm not actually certain that it means a whole lot in the scoring, however, it helps psychologically in many ways. It seems to alleviate some of the agonizing burning that you will experience as your muscles being to tire. Finally the head judge calls out an instruction, "Quarter-turn to the right"! First, it is important to know your left from your right. Laugh you may, but, I unfortunately fell victim to the horrible experience of facing left on a face right instruction. The embarrassment didn't last long after a few giggles came from the audience.
As you face right, remember to keep as tight as possible. The important areas to focus on are triceps, quads, abs, and chest. Next the head judge calls out, "Face rear". Again, keeping as tight as possible. Facing to the rear provides the opportunity to display a well sculpted back, striated glutes, tight hamstrings and calves. A trick that you may find useful for bringing out the hamstrings and calves is to slightly shift more weight to your toes. This seems to naturally tighten these areas. "Quarter-turn to the right", exclaims the head judge. Again, stay tight!
Finally, "Face front", is instructed. While facing front, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to tighten and flex as much as possible. Once the judges have completed their assessment of the line-up, they excuse the class and we all exit the stage. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity we have been excused. I am overjoyed! The hardest part of the day is done. After prejudging, I decide to eat another meal and take a nap. In previous shows, I have elected to run out and grab a high carb, high fat...meal like pizza or hamburgers but today I decide to wait until after the evening show! Can you believe that? I must be losing my mind. Anyway, it's only 2:30 and the evening show starts at 7 p.m....ZZZZZZZZ....
At this competition, the evening event primarily consisted of each competitor performing his or her free posing routine to music. This offered a chance to show off all your hard work to the audience and have FUN! I especially like this part of any show (now that I have overcome my stage freight) and I always select a song that has some meaning for me. It's also more relaxing since you are not confined to doing mandatory poses. During the free pose it is important to emphasize you strengths. You are typically given 60 seconds during this round of judging.
As the audience began to file into to the event arena, I began to feel more and more anxious. The sheer numbers I saw was amazing. So many people interested in the "Art of Bodybuilding". Finally the announcement was made over the loud speaker that the evening show was about to begin. Class after class, competitor after competitor was introduced by the Master of Ceremonies (MC). Each walked to center stage and performed a free pose routine to music. If you've ever attended a bodybuilding show you will know what I mean when I say, "Entertaining".
Many of the routines you see are the result of hours of practice and can only be truly appreciated if you've ever had to perform one. When it's my turn, I will execute all 8 mandatory poses in an order that I feel most comfortable (Front double-bicep, Front lat-spread, Side chest (best side), Side tricep (best side), Rear Double-bicep, Rear lat-spread, Ab and thigh, and Most muscular. As I complete my mandatory poses, I bow to the judges and wave to family and friends and exit the stage. Whewwww! At one time, the individual free pose was the most difficult part for me. I had always had a fear of standing in front of large groups of people. Imagine how I felt when I would stand, in posing trunks, all alone, and executing something so detailed as posing! Needless to say, I have all but overcome that fear! As with all the other weight classes, after all competitors in my eight class completed their free posing routines, the MC is handed a score sheet by the judging panel.
He next calls out to the stage the top five placers, in no particular order, in that class to center stage. Now the real excitement begins! After a brief pause, he begins to announce the final placers...In fifth place...number...56...Allen.... As each number and name is called, the competitor is handed a trophy. This continues until the last two competitors remain. I am one of those two. At this point I feel as though I'm in a dream and begin to realize that the next number he calls will be the second place winner meaning the only one not called is the class winner! I say in my head, "Please don't call number 90...". I'm 90 is why. As the MC begins to read, "And in second place, number 93...", I desperately resist the urge to leap from the stage as I am overwhelmed with gratitude. The MC continues to announce...and the 2001 NPC Northern Kentucky Bodybuilding Middleweight class champion is, number 90 Delbert Hickman!". Yes!!...Yes! I won!
As my jubilation settles, I remind myself that I will need to get mentally prepared for the overall. The overall event is the last event and its purpose is to compare all class winners in order to determine the overall champion. Being a Middleweight, I have two more classes to wait through (Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight) prior to hitting the stage for the overall! My first order of business is to head backstage and try to relax and stay warm. After heading backstage, I grab my exercise bands and start to slowly warm-up. Between warming body parts, I take small bites from the Snickers bar I brought and sip on a hot cup of coffee (with cream and sugar!). I hear the crowd cheer as the Light Heavyweight class winner is announced.
Now, I begin to intensify my "pump-up". I head to the free weight area and begin to do light, high-rep sets with the straight bar and dumb-bells. Still eating the Snickers and sipping the coffee! Finally, I hear the Heavyweight class winner announced. As I do, I drop to the floor and grab a quick set of close-grip push-ups. I'm ready! The expeditor calls for all the class winners and lines us up. Other valiant competitors offer support as we line-up. We are then lead to the stage in class order, Bantamweight, Lightweight, Middleweight, Light Heavyweight, and Heavyweight. Not much time to think! The MC introduces us and we head to center stage. Staying as tight as possible, I walk out, position myself in view of the judges and stand as erect and big as I can. The head judge calls for us to perform facing movements. As I perform each movement, I concentrate on every muscle fiber.
After completing the facing movements, we are then directed to perform each mandatory pose for comparison. Side by side, we all attempt to execute, with utter perfection, our mandatory poses. Each flexing as much as possible in order to gain the attention of the judges. Now the MC announces that the pose-down will begin and directs the music controller to start the pose-down music. This is where it really gets exciting for the audience! As the music begins, each competitor is free to pose as they wish. My first thought is to find the best lighting on stage. Next, I will try to accentuate my strengths against my competition's weaknesses (Sound familiar?).
Over and over and over we pose and pose and pose. As we do, we jockey for attention from the judges! The crowd is on its feet and yelling the number of its favorite competitor. Finally, the music stops and we squeeze out one more pose and get back in line. As we do the MC queries the crowd for who they think the winner is! He then requests the scoring sheet from the judging panel and begins to announce, "The 2001 NPC Northern Kentucky Bodybuilding Overall Champion is...number...102...Chris Meyers"! The crowd cheers with acceptance! Congratulations Chris! (sorry if the number was incorrect). We all congratulate each other and exit the stage. Although, I didn't win the overall title, I was extremely pleased with the event. For one, I was healthy and fit enough to be there. For two, the sponsors, judges, and audience were great! For three, I enjoyed the positive competitive spirit that each participant brought to the show. For four, "I'll be BACH!" (BACK!) :-).
After the event and every event I participate in, I feel a bit down. Not because of a bad performance or regrets, however, a feeling that I trained so hard for weeks, I dieted so diligently for weeks and now it's over. That will last for all of about 10 seconds. Then I'm re-charged! I remind myself that I am still in the "game" and need to prepare for my next event. I'm then even more energized because I know that tonight I can have a "free" meal! This means my favorite of all favorite foods, PIZZZZZAAAAA! Before I leave, I take every opportunity to congratulate all the competitors that remain. Next, I head to the judge table and ask for a critique from the head judge. This is the most important thing that any competitor should attempt to do before leaving. It WILL help you improve for the next event. I cannot stress how important it is enough!
Well, everyone that's it! Twelve weeks ago, I started down the road to this contest. I began to write about my journey at eight weeks to "Show-Time". Now, after all the sacrifice, I came into my first show very much improved from one year ago. It's attributed to all the critiques and advice from the judges, Roger, Sandy, and staff at Beverly International, and my own personal commitment to myself. Thank you all for the great things you provided. In my next article, I'll address what I call "Important Competition Factors". These are the factors that I believe in my mind are necessary in order to be one step ahead of the competition. Stay tuned and again, thanks for reading!
"Courage is the capacity to confront what can be imagined...."