Bodybuilding On Wheels

Muscled athletes wheel their way to the victory stand each year at the NPC Wheelchair National Bodybuilding Championships. Promoter Frank Dalto holds the show in sunny Florida. The Wheelchair Nationals is in its seventh year.
Muscled athletes wheel their way to the victory stand each year at the NPC Wheelchair National Bodybuilding Championships. Promoter Frank Dalto holds the show in sunny Florida. The Wheelchair Nationals is in its seventh year. "This show is growing in the number of competitors entering the show each year. Each year the show look's like it gets around 30 contestants." Promoter Frank Dalto said when asked about the show. The 1998 show brought a novice division for those who didn't feel ready to get on stage in the highly competitive open division. There was another bonus to the contest courtesy of IFBB President Ben Weider. The overall winners were guaranteed IFBB Patron Pro Cards. This meant that the overall men's and women's champion would be titled as IFBB Pro's with one exception, they presently cannot compete in the IFBB pro bodybuilding shows.

The hope is that eventually there will be enough wheelchair competitors worldwide that the IFBB will eventually be able to begin their own professional wheelchair division. A few years ago three time heavyweight and overall Wheelchair Nationals champ Victor Konovalov turned IFBB Pro with women's middleweight and overall champ Pasqualena Mitchell joining Victor for the coveted prize of turning professional. They are the first and only professional bodybuilder's on wheels.

The wheelchair bodybuilding competitions are some of the fastest growing shows of the NPC. For a long time, wheelchair athletes used to compete in bench press events through many different powerlifting organizations. Actually, they still do compete in power meets with many individuals holding American and World records in different weight categories. Bodybuilding competitions though, for wheelchair bound individuals, are relatively new, and it has exposed many wheelchair individuals to start pumping iron too. Is it a good thing? No. It's more like a great thing. Bodybuilding now supplies another avenue for wheelchair bound individuals who might not have had anything to look forward to before. But, now they have iron pumping and show preparations to get ready for.

Each year the contest brings excitement as to who will be competing. The contest always brings someone new, with some of them coming in for the first time and beating last years previous champion. The women's wheelchair bodybuilding division has taken giant strides towards developing it's own character too. The female competitors are impressive off stage, as voices for their sport, as they are in competition. The top finishers in last years show were all inspiring and full of encouragement as first-time 1998 middleweight and women's overall champion Pasqualena Mitchell offered this conclusion: "I felt it was an honor to receive an IFBB patch and pin along with all the other merchandise."

Not Much Different

Bodybuilding contest's for wheelchair individuals is not much different from their counter parts. These rolling muscle heads are judged from the waist up on their upper body symmetry, musculature, and presentation. With the numbers increasing, the show has class categories in both the men and women's divisions, and master's competition too.

How does a wheelchair athlete get ready for the stage? Well, they train just like you and me. They perform many upper body lifts to obtain the look needed for the stage. These lifts constitute the following; Chest: Bench press, decline press, incline press, flyes, and dumbbell work also. Back: Pull-downs to the front and back, pull-ups, seated cable rows. Shoulders: Seated military presses, dumbbell shoulder presses, and side lateral raise. Arms: Biceps; Dumbbell curls, cable curls, preacher curls. Triceps: Overhead dumbbell extensions, one-handed dumbbell extensions. Training heavy with intensity is the main characteristic for all bodybuilder's and is also for our wheelchair athletes too.

If you want to see some great athletes getting down and dirty, I suggest you attend next year's event. Preferably, if you are a novice weightlifter or have a friend in a wheelchair we would rather have you get into the gym, pump some iron, and diet for the show and become next year's champion. For those wanting information regarding attending the contest, entering the contest, providing sponsorship for the contest, or sponsoring on or more of the competitors, please contact Mr. Frank Dalto at (561) 627-9638. So, pound some iron, get tight, and we will see you wheeling your muscle on stage or in the audience next March!