NGA Heart Of America Professional Championship!

On April 14, 2001, I competed in my second professional show. The show was the 2001 NGA Heart of America Professional Championship, held in Peoria, Illinois.
On April 14, 2001, I competed in my second professional show. The show was the 2001 NGA Heart of America Professional Championship, held in Peoria, Illinois. After my lackluster performance in my professional debut last October at the NGA Professional Universe in New York City, I vowed to improve on my initial 9th place showing. I was fortunate enough to place 3rd in Peoria, although the competition was very good.

There were only 7 pro competitors, but each one brought a symmetrical package. The pre-judging in the morning had us performing quarter turns first. This round was only 5 minutes or so, then we did our individual posing routines to music. I was number 1, so I was first out of the gate, and posed to "The Terminator". My routine was good, but nerves got the best of me when I faced the rear for my rear double-bi. My right leg started to shake (due to the adrenaline), but I quickly remedied the problem by slowing down my breathing. Other than that small mishap, the routine went very well. I then had to wait through all of the other routines, while trying to maintain my pump. We were then filed back on stage for the compulsory pose round.

I am on the right.

They split us into two groups. Competitors 1-4 were on stage first. They took us through the eight mandatories, requiring 10 poses, as they asked for side chest and side tri, from both sides. After we completed our poses, competitors 5-7 were asked to come onstage, and we were asked to be shuttled to the back of the stage. I felt this was a small error by the organizers of the event, because competitors 1-4 were actually onstage for about 5 minutes longer than competitors 5-7. This may seem insignificant, but when you consider that we were then asked to go through the compulsory poses another 4 times (with all competitors in one line), while moving some competitors around for comparison (namely me), that extra five minutes becomes significant. Under the hot stage lights, a profuse sweater (me) will begin to run and sheen much more the longer he is up there. By the 4th time through compulsories, I could feel the definition fade from my striated tris, and chest. They were now covered with a mess of sweat, Pam, and Pro-Tan. This is not an excuse, just an observation. Anyway, after a total of roughly 35 minutes on stage we were finished with pre-judging.

At the night show, we followed a similar routine, in that we were all filed out to do quarter turns and a few compulsories for the audience, and then we each performed our routine for the audience. Then came the moment of tension. The top 3 were asked back on stage for a posedown. First out was Robert Green, then Tommie Robertson, Jr. Although I felt confident because of my performance in the morning and the fact the judges had moved me right next to Robert Green a few times, I was a little nervous at this point. They then announced my name, and the posedown was on. I had alot of fun in the posedown. I hit a front double bi right behind Tommie for fun (the audience loved it), as I am 6'1" and 215, and he is 5'4" and 170. I also tried to chase down Robert, but he decided to cruise to the other side of the stage when I came in his hood. This could be seen in one of two ways. Either he didn't want any of me, or he felt like I didn't belong on his stage. My ego says the former, common sense says the latter. Anyway, here's how it broke down.

I am in the red.

Robert Green from Witchita, Kansas was the unanimous 1st place winner. He also took 1st in the NGA Professional Universe last October. He is the complete package. He is roughly 5'10" and 200-210. He has a very full chest, high and wide lats., and full quads. I felt as though I compared favorably to him on front and rear double biceps, as well as overhead ab/thigh. His high lats and full chest blew me away on the front and back lat spread. I also would have given him the side poses based on overall thickness, but I felt I compared somewhat favorably. His thickness was also too much for me on the most muscular pose(s). His color is also outstanding. He kind of just glows onstage. I do think the main area where he can be exploited is in conditioning. He is ripped, but not sliced. If I could hit my diet perfectly, and come in sliced, I feel we may be closer than he thinks.

Tommie Robertson, Jr. from Cincinnati, Ohio was a near unanimous 2nd place. He got one 3rd place vote (I received the only other 2nd place vote). He has great symmetry on a smaller package than Robert. He also has high and wide lats, and full quads, as well as unbelievably full hamstrings. The sweep of his hamstrings from the bottom up looks like a natural version of IFBB Pro Tom Prince's sweep. Incredible! Tommie has great stage presence, and is a real gentleman backstage. I feel I compared favorably to him on pretty much all the poses except front and back lat spreads. In fact I felt I beat him on most poses from the front just on sheer size. He also could be a tad harder, but I felt he was actually better conditioned that Robert, although Robert's size and symmetry made him the undeniable 1st place winner.

As for me, here's how I saw it. I was bigger than ever at a competition weight of 215. I was actually 210 on Wednesday and really loaded (550 grams of carbs/day) heavy on Thurs, Fri, and Sat to get up to 215. I was in a distant 3rd, garnering on 2nd, 2-3rds, and 2-6th place votes. Obviously, the competition was very close, as total points for 3rd-6th ranged only from 20-25 points. I believe the judges who voted me high up liked my overall size and symmetry, and the judges who had me lower focused on my obvious weak points (detailed below).

I was the tallest guy in the competition and was as thick or thicker than everyone except Robert. My arms were the biggest in the show. My quads were equal to or better than everyone's, although my striations became somewhat blurred as the pre-judging wore on. My lower back is as thick and detailed as anyones. My calves are as big and more detailed than anyones. My shoulder width and depth was very favorable. Where I needed serious improvement was in my old nemesis, my back. Although it has improved enormously over the past few years, I still need way more width from top to bottom. Because I have very low lat insertions, my lats need to be that much bigger to fill in all of their area. Guys with higher insertions appear to have way wider lats, because the angle between their insertion and origin is greater than mine. If I were able to pack on about 5-10 pounds of mass, my symmetry on my front and back relaxed poses would improve dramatically. My glute-hamstring tie-ins have improved alot, and my glutes were even striated, but, my hamstring detail sucked! I need fuller hamstrings, particularly near the knee joint, and I need to diet down to 200-205 and come up to 205-210 in order for me to be full and sliced.

I am in the red.

Next up for me is knee surgery (which I had performed on May 9th). The surgery was to remove a torn meniscus on my medial and lateral sides, as well as torn cartilage on my femur. The doctor also did what is called a notchplasty where they actually shave off a little bit of the femur in order to make more room for my ACL. He also performed a new prcedure known as a thermal shrinkage of my ACL in order to shorten it and help it to regain it's stabilizing characteristics. He also removed some old hardware from my tibia that was left over from my ACL reconstruction in 1986. In all he performed 6 different procedures. My layoff time is expected to be 4 weeks on crutches and in a brace locked at 30 degrees of flexion, and 2 more weeks of just the brace with no more than 30 degrees from full extension. During this time, I will be unable to perform any cardio., or leg training, but plan on continuing seated upper body exercises. At the 6 week mark, I can start open chain exercises, and at the 12 week mark I can add closed chain exercises. In all, it will be about 3 months until I can squat, lunge, leg press, etc. Can you say atrophy?

I hope to gain back all of my lost size in my leg as soon as possible, and may possibly compete in a show or two in the fall of 2001, but most likely will take some more time than that, and plan on the Spring of 2002.

On June 2nd, I will be the head judge for the NGA Northwestern Natural held in Boise, Idaho. I would like to wish all of the competitors good luck.

I am in the red.

Finally, I would like to thank for sponsoring me in my professional endeavors. These guys are super standup dudes that really have a passion for making bodybuilding a well known sport. They are all about support of the athletes, which is super cool. They don't ever ask me to write about the supplements I take, they just want me to be honest and report what I am doing. Truthfully, with my busy lifestyle as a full time Personal Trainer and bodybuilder, I wouldn't be able to accomplish as much as I have without their supplements. These are the supplements I used in my preparation for the NGA Heart of America Professional Championship.

Click for more information:

1. ProLab Creatine Monohydrate (5 grams daily)
2. ProLab Glutamine (15 grams daily)
3. Myoplex Deluxe Chocolate Lovers Pack (2-3 daily)
4. Designer Protein Strawberry (3 servings daily)
5. Bio Protein Bars (Honey Yogurt is my favorite, 1-2 daily on high carb days)
6. Myoplex Low Carb Bars (all three flavors rule, 1-2 daily on low carb days)
7. Xenadrine EFX (I only use 2 tablets prior to training 4-5 times weekly, as I have borderline hypertension). I use it for a pre-workout boost, rather than as a straight-up fat burner.

If you have a busy lifestyle, try to integrate these into your program, and I guarantee you will see results.

Until the next article, train hard and be fit.

Yours in fitness,
Todd Opheim