Contest Synopsis, SNBF Nationals!

It's been a week since the SNBF Nationals and I've had time to reflect on the entire show. Before I begin discussing the SNBF Nationals weekend, I want to address a particular issue...
It's been a week since the SNBF Nationals and I've had time to reflect on the entire show. Before I begin discussing the SNBF Nationals weekend, I want to address a particular issue concerning "natural" bodybuilding and the future of it. It's been brought to my attention from various sources, including an article in MuscleMag, that natural bodybuilding is tainted by not-so-natural bodybuilders. Now this doesn't seem fair to us drug free athletes who actually have to work very hard for every bit of mass. I am merely bringing this up because the guy who won the show had a slight case of "gyno" evolving in his pectoral region. Now for any of you who are unfamiliar with "gyno," I will explicate. Gynecomastia develops when sterol molecules such as testosterone (steroids/andro) aromatizes into estrogen which builds up causing the formation of female breasts. Now since SNBF bans substances such as steroids, diuretics, andro, etc., how would he develop such an anomaly? I'm not laying the blame on anyone for my shortcoming at Nationals. Instead, I want the guys without any ethics to think about what they're doing to natural bodybuilding. They are literally destroying the idea of N-A-T-U-R-A-L B-O-D-Y-B-U-I-L-D-I-N-G! So gentlemen, please leave the drug free shows to truly drug free athletes such as myself.

Now that I've gotten that off of my chest, my mind is a bit alleviated. Now I will discuss the weekend of the show. As in my previous article, Friday went as planned. What I did Friday night around 9:00 was completely random. I had this crazy idea that since I had made sodium obsolete in my diet, I decided to sodium load by eating a cheat meal which consisted of a 10 oz. steak, 8 oz potato with butter and sour cream, and 8 oz of water.

My theory here was that since sodium has a unique ability to retain water, I would pull water into the muscles using sodium and the carbs from my meal. I felt like a million bucks after that meal and full. Then we proceeded to weigh-ins and drug testing. I met my ideal weight of 175 lbs at a height of 5'6". Needless to say, I passed my drug test. Then my boys and I headed back to our hotel to just relax a bit.

Restricting water for this contest seemed more difficult than the previous two contests. Perhaps it's a psychological thing, perhaps not. The bottom line is, I managed somehow. I did a little trick using Preparation H and saran wrap. What you do is you apply a thin layer of Prep-H around your love handle area and tightly wrap it in saran wrap. Do this every 2-3 hours the night before a show and you won't believe what it does to that last bit of water. What Prep-H does is it literally pulls the water out from under the skin.

About 6 hours before stage time, I drank 16 ounces of water with 50 ml of glycerol to help pull more water into my muscles. I felt this worked extremely well. I got up about 7:00 AM to apply one more round of Prep-H and to eat breakfast which consisted of 3 plain rice cakes with 6 oz of water with 2 tabs of adipokinetix to give me a kickstart. Then it was off to the contestant meeting at 9:00 AM. They gave us a quick rundown of how prejudging was to proceed. So we all headed backstage to begin warming up.

Bodybuilders are strange people. It's tradition that we "hide" our physiques until it's time to pump up and get ready to hit the stage. I was all decked out in my Bodybuilding.com gear until it was time to apply my Dream Tan. After my Dream Tan Application, I proceeded to warm up doing various exercises trying to pump as much blood into my weakest bodyparts as possible. I made sure to stretch a lot between sets to help increase muscle storage capacities to help give me that fuller look on stage.

Then we were called up to hit the stage. I walked out along with the other bodybuilders. The judges ran us through our quarter turns first. I feel nervous b/c I have convinced myself that everyone else on stage looks better than I do. Funny how that works also. "Quarter turn to the right," says the head judge. I shift. "Quarter turn to the right," repeats the head judge. I shift again. "Quarter turn to the right." I shift again. "Quarter turn facing the judges," says the head judge once more. There goes the symmetry round.

Now it was time for the mandatories. The head judge made us perform the following mandatories: front double bi, front lat spread, rear lat spread, rear double bi, best side chest, best most muscular, display of hamstrings, display of calves, abdominal and thigh, display of legs. It was a rigorous prejudging. After a few mandatories were called out, the judges moved competitors around according to the scores they had accrued.

I knew I was in good shape when they moved the likely No. 1 candidate next to me. Then he ran us through a few more mandatories. As he calls for specific poses, you try your best to flex everything as hard as possible. I always start with flexing the legs. Then I slowly work my way up. I also try to make sure I am the last person to hit the pose also so the judges pay more attention to me. As prejudging continues, I begin to sweat profusely under the blistering stage lights. My dream tan runs, I pant, but I remain tight.

"Thank you gentlemen," calls out the head judge. Then we file off and it's pretty much decided. I knew from my position that I was top 3. Afterwards, my friends and I headed off to do some "post contest noshing". We did the traditional thing and had Wendy's. Nothing like junk food to ease the mind. Then it was back to the hotel to view the prejudging tape and take a nap while keeping my feet elevated.

Time passes and the night show is just minutes away. Once again, I go through the whole Dream Tan and pumping up process. They file us out to do our quarter turns and then the first guy poses. I personally thought his posing was bland. Then the MC calls out "Representing Bodybuilding.com from Chattanooga, TN Phano Paul Som." I walk out to the applause of the crowd. Then the music hits and I do my thing on stage.

It's amazing to me that it doesn't matter how much I practice a routine. I always freeze the instant before I get on stage. Then it's just improvisation. Makes me wonder why I even put together a routine in the first place. Anyways, I worked the crowd a bit after some fluid posing and walked off knowing I had done my job. I had managed to place 3rd at Nationals on a 5 week diet and came in the best shape of my life. Now I can only push the envelope even farther and make it better next time around. Until then, train hard, train smart, train NATURALLY!

best wishes,

Phano Paul Som
3rd @ SNBF Nationals Oct. 28, 2000