July 7th 2001, The NPC Mr. GA!

On July 7th 2001, I competed in the NPC Mr. GA Junior division. I originally signed up for the Collegiate Division but later found out at the weigh-ins that I would be the only competitor in this division.
On July 7th 2001, I competed in the NPC Mr. GA Junior division. I originally signed up for the Collegiate Division but later found out at the weigh-ins that I would be the only competitor in this division. So I did what any person seeking a true challenge would have done, I opted to move up to the Juniors. I said: "What the heck! I might as well see what my physique is really about." Now I will outline what it was like at the 2001 NPC Mr. GA including the last week of dieting, training, feelings of anxiety, and all the pertinent material associated with competition day. I hope you can learn from any of my perceived mistakes and realizations in your pursuit of becoming a better bodybuilder.

As far as nutrition was concerned, I did nothing in way of carb depleting/carb loading. I have always been told that I look better when I'm depleted. So I took it upon myself, with the advice of my trainer/nutritionist Mark Aguilar, to just enter the show depleted. The last week leading up to the Saturday show starting from Monday all the way until Friday was exactly the same with the exception of dropping my water the day prior to the show.

Nutrition wise, I consumed 5 evenly spaced meals throughout the day. Each meal consisted of 6-8 oz turkey or chicken, 6 oz. sweet potato, small salad with 1 tbsp Italian dressing, and as much water as I could put away. On average, I would drink 2.5 gallons of water per day. Here is the outline of what I consumed on a daily basis until Saturday.

-MONDAY-
8:30 AM wake up, 2 g glutamine, 2 tabs Extreme Ripped Fuel or 4 tabs Hydroxycut
8:45 AM cardio #1
9:30 AM meal 1, multivitamin, 1 g Vit. C, 1 tab glucosamine, 400 IU Vit. E, 1 tab antioxidant, 2 g glutamine
11:30 AM meal 2, 1 tab antioxidant, 1 g Vit. C, 1 tab glucosamine
1:30 PM briefly train chest and back, cardio #2
2:30 PM meal 3, 1 tab antioxidant, 1 g Vit. C, 1 tab glucosamine, 400 IU Vit. E, 2 g glutamine
5:30 PM meal 4, 1 tab antioxidant, 1 g Vit. C, 1 tab glucosamine, 2 g glutamine
8:30 PM meal 5, 1 tab antioxidant, 1 g Vit. C, 1 tab glucosamine, 400 IU Vit. E, 2 g glutamine
11:00 PM cardio #3
12:00 AM 2 g glutamine, 1 g Vit. C
1:00 bedtime

-TUESDAY-
same as Monday except for training
today I briefly trained shoulders, arms, and abs
cardio also stayed the same

-WEDNESDAY-
same as Monday but NO weight training...kept doing same amount of cardio though

-THURSDAY-
same as Monday but NO weight training...last day of cardio sessions

-FRIDAY-
meals all the same
water consumption was minimal with constant sips taken throughout the day to avoid dehydration
Total water intake for the day: ~32 oz.

-SATURDAY-
meals all the same
continued to sip on water
no supplements taken today!

There you have it! Wouldn't you believe it that I actually looked the best I had ever looked at any of my previous shows coming in depleted and dry. The hardest part about competing is being able to time when your physique "peaks" or looks its best. It's hard to do because you can be off by 200 g of carbs and be dry yet flat but you can also overcarb and come in too smooth. The last few days of a show is more a science than anything. I, as well as many other natural bodybuilders out there, must be able to find what works best for him/her. This is the true essence of competition. Learning how your body responds to certain dieting and training techniques and adjusting so you can achieve your best look on the day of the competition.

As far as the contest was concerned, Prejudging was quite a long ordeal with 113 competitors total. I remember walking into the weigh-ins at 7:45 AM and not leaving the World Congress Center until 1:30 PM. I almost forgot how much it hurt to be dehydrated until the day of this show. It's a feeling you wish would pass soon but you know that you only have to hold it for just a few more hours. Then you can properly rehydrate your system. Just this thought alone was enough to keep me going. Just a little longer, I would tell myself.

Just like any other big NPC show throughout the states, I recognize several familiar faces from the 2000 NPC GA. We just talk about dieting, training, and how much we wanted this to be over. We all congregate in the pump up room and begin our individualized prestige rituals. Some guys pump up while other guys just listen to their Walkmans. Me, I just sit there and talk away. As my time to hit the stage nears, I begin to stretch each of my body parts. About 40 min. prior to stage time, I eat a handful of raisins to help raise insulin levels. Then about 20 min. prior to stage time, I eat another handful of raisins to spike insulin levels once again. I don't even pump up because I know that at this point, it is just conditioning and I also know that by hitting my mandatories before going on stage, I will be able to bring out my definition and vascularity. "It's all conditioning from here on in," says a fellow competitor. I just nod and smile at him.

My class is finally called to line up and start heading towards the stage. We patiently wait to be ushered onto the stage while sizing each one of the competitors in the class. I'm still gleeful because I know I've done all I can do to prepare for this show. I also know that I was taking a gamble by coming in depleted so if I fault, then I have only myself to blame. I took the entire show lightheartedly because a non-drug tested show is just for fun, in my opinion.

After an anxious 5 min. in the backstage, my class finally takes the stage. I am on the end at the beginning of the quarter turns. As the head judge finishes calling out the quarter turns, he calls out: "Will #26 please change places with #23." I was in the center! I knew that I was in good shape from this point on. The head judge calls out the mandatory poses in the usual order:

As each pose is called out, I hit my pose and just smile for the audience. For once, I know that all eyes are on me and I know that all of those hours of training and cardio are now coming together. "Thank you gentlemen," says the head judge. We file off and come back on one at a time to perform our individual routines. My turn comes and I walk out there confident as ever. I begin my routine and as I progress from the front poses to my back poses, the crowd begins to applause. I hit my rear double biceps pose and I hear the audience yell for me. Finally! All of that back prioritizing had finally paid dividends. I finish my routine and walk off stage with the audience up and applauding. I just smile and blow them two kisses. Prejudging was finally done!

I head home thirsty as ever but I can only sip water. I elevate my feet and fall asleep. While sleeping, I wake up in a frenzy and grab the container of water. I take three large gulps without even thinking about it. Before I could swallow it, I think to myself: "What am I doing?!?" I quickly spit it back out and regain my composure.

A couple of hours later, I head back towards the World Congress Center for the athletes meeting. 6:00 rolls around and the auditorium starts to fill with spectators from all walks of life. Now my adrenaline starts to rush and I begin to get excited for the night show. Weeks of dieting and training all wrapped up in a few hours. Kind of funny, if you ask me.

Each class is brought out to perform their quarter turns and then brought back out individually to perform their routines. I am contestant #26 so I know that I will be one of the first ones to go. "Twenty two years of age from Athens, GA....Phano Som." As the crowd yells I walk out on stage, give the audience my signature smile, and wink at my family and friends. The music hits and I'm confidently going through my routine. Sixty seconds is all the promoters are allowing us and that 60 seconds went by so fast. I must admit, this is the first time that I actually performed a routine without worry about timing or remembering anything. It just flowed. Perhaps it was my night, perhaps I had practiced enough, perhaps I was just confident. Whatever the case, I knew I was on and so did everyone else.

Now I had to wait until the last competitor posed before they announced the placings for each class. The top 3 of each class were allowed to go on stage and do a posedown before the announcings of the final standings. Fortunately for me, my friends and I always practice posedowns at school. So, I was ready for this. In 3rd place, contestant #25. In 2nd place, contestant #22. And the winner of the Junior Middleweights is #26, Phano Som. What a feeling! I couldn't believe I had placed first in the Junior Middleweight division.

Now it was time for the overall posedown for the entire Junior Division. I knew that the light heavyweight contestant would be tough to beat just because he was a light heavy and the GA judges tend to lean more towards the heavier guys based on past finishings. As I had expected, the light heavy won the Overall. I congratulated him because I knew he was in good shape and deserved the victory based on his appearance. I knew that if I had been just a few pounds heavier up top, I would have taken home the overall title. What can you do though? At the tender age of 22, I have a lot of maturing and growing to do and all I can do is train hard, train smart, and think BIG! Until next time, stay focused!