The Mid-American Classic
It was the morning of the Mid-American Muscle Classic and my good friend Layne "Str8flexed" Norton was competing in it. After a late night of hanging out with Layne and his family, touring his town, enjoying a mexican dinner with Vin Lo Giudice, Tony, Big Red and Andrea, and entertaining ourselves with some locals I didn't wake up until about 10:30 so it was a late morning for me.
When I woke up Layne was already gone for the competitors meeting and getting ready for pre-judging. I took a quick shower while Layne's altruistic mother cooked us up a delicious and completely satisfying bodybuilding breakfast. After this we all rushed out the door where Vin, Jay and me began to follow Layne's parents to the Henderson Fine Arts Center in Henderson, Kentucky.
After seeing the pre-judging I was amazed. The competitiveness of this competition was unreal and as the judges stated it "unlike anything we have seen from a natural show." Coming out of pre-judging I was thinking Layne could take 1st but he was going to really have to battle it out with another tough competitor that was in his class.
The excitement that followed the pre-judging inspired me to write up some questions to ask Layne after the finals for all the Bodybuilding.com readers. In his room that night I had the opportunity to ask him these questions:
What do you think is the main difference between your physique this year and your physique last year?
I think I'm a little denser this year. Basically the big difference is definitely in my legs. I put an inch on my quads from last year and about ¾ inch on my calves from last year. I'm nine pounds heavier and about the same condition so I'm just basically thicker all over.
What do you do to mentally prepare yourself to go onstage?
To be honest, you really don't have time to mentally prepare yourself. I guess when your getting rubbed down with your oil and pro tanning stuff that's when you need to start going through the motions in your head because once that's done you have to run to the pump up room, pump up really fast, and then get out there.
So if your going to be getting mentally prepared you need to think about what your going to do and how your going to do it while your getting your tanning stuff put on. That's the best time to do it because while your pumping up you need to be just focusing on getting a good pump… don't think about food, think about your contest. Focus!
How does the competitiveness of the competition this year compare to last year?
It's about three times competitive this year as it was last year. Last year I was nine pounds lighter and I'm actually in a little bit better of conditioning this year and I got first place last year, I got fourth place this year...so if that tells you anything about the competitive level.
Honestly, I think there were two or three guys in the novice class that could have done well in the open class. I think the open class had two or three guys that were freaks. I think it was a really good show compared to last year. Last year I was very impressed with it, but I was even more impressed this year.
Do you plan on competing next year? What changes would you like to see in your physique from now until next year?
Well of course I'd like to put on about 30 pounds of shredded mass in the offseason but that only happens in the cell-tech ads so I'd like to put on another quality 10 pounds like I did this last season. [I want to] stay leaner in the offseason [so that] I'd only have to lose about 15 pounds for my contest next year and put an inch on my calves. Another inch on my thighs would be nice too!
What were your thoughts going into the finals?
I thought I was getting my ass whooped [laughs]. No, I thought it was a really competitive show, it was really fun. Even if you don't place as well as you want to… I can't really get mad at myself because I was in better condition than I was last year, I was bigger than I was last year, and all you can ask from yourself is to improve each year and eventually your going to get there.
So going into the finals I was pretty happy. Just… it's fun, I mean the night show is fun, just go in, get pumped up, go out there and give everyone a good show because that's what your there to do.
Do you diet with the help of ephedra?
I diet with the help of ephedra...I use ephedra but to be honest I've never seen a weight loss difference while on it as opposed to regular dieting. The only reason I like to use it is occasionally it will help me focus better in the gym. Other than that I really am not that impressed with it.
But I kept taking that up until the day of the show basically just because it's somewhat of a mild diuretic and I didn't want to upset my water balance by stop taking it a couple days before the show and start retaining water. So yes to answer your question in short.
Although the outcome of the competition wasn't what Layne had hoped for he accepted his placing like a man. A mere week later, he annihilated all opposition in the 2002 SNBF Supernatural Tennessee Championships placing first in the Men's Novice Middleweight (second overall) and first in the Men's Open Tall class. His persistent attitude and insatiable thirst to be number one is the quintessence of what bodybuilding is all about.