Craig Roberts Contest Prep: Final Prep & First Win!

I just wanted to kind of go in under the radar and not mention it to anyone who wasn't directly involved in helping me get ready. But word started to spread... Here's my final prep and onstage experience. It was amazing!

Part 1 | Part 2

The Results Are In

Well, it's over. My very first contest under my belt, and my very first trophy on my shelf. I can't believe all the positive response I've received from friends and family and people at work. I really just went into this contest wanting to keep it casual and low-key.

I just wanted to kind of go in under the radar and not mention it to anyone who wasn't directly involved in helping me get ready. But about a week before the contest word started to spread, and people kept coming up to me one after another to wish me luck. Then after the competition, they all came back to offer their congratulations. I just wasn't expecting it to be such a positive experience.

Final Week Of Prep

I had some important changes planned for my last week pre-contest. The last week is when a lot of competitors change a few details in their preparation hoping to time everything just right to get the best look on contest day. This is how the last few days pre-contest played out.

arrow Workout:

    My normal workout covers one or two body parts a day for three or four days a week. The last week pre-contest, however, I was at the gym each day Monday through Friday with a low intensity upper-body workout.

    Kris Gethin suggested that I let my leave my legs out of the workout routine, so they would have a chance to rest and not hold too much fluid. I also cut out all my running the week before. All my cardio was either walking or an easy bike ride.

arrow Water:

    I took the Scivation Showtime Tuesday through Thursday along with an increase in water consumption. Friday I cycled off the water pills and cut way back on my water.

    The idea was to get my body used to expelling all my water, so the day before the show I would come in nice and dry. It seemed to work pretty well because on the day of the show my conditioning seemed to be right where it needed to be. I was nice and dry, but my muscles were still full.

    Everyone will react differently, so you might have to consider what you know about your own body, and adjust your water manipulation accordingly.


      • Normal water consumption.

      Tuesday Through Thursday:

      • Increased water consumption along with Showtime water pill.

      Friday And Saturday:

      • Cycle off water pills and decrease water consumption.

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arrow Carbohydrates:

    I kept my carbohydrates constant the week of the show except for the day before when I increased my intake. On that day, I had my normal oatmeal in the morning, and added another two servings both the night before and morning of the show. I also had another serving between prejudging and finals.

    The reason I chose to load up on oatmeal rather than Krispy Kream or pancakes or candy is I have been off of all those things during my diet, and if you suddenly start eating something your body isn't used to, you can shock your body which can cause you to retain water or even feel sick or lethargic. I had my regular protein throughout the day as well, but this is just my carbohydrate schedule.

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      Monday Through Thursday

      • 1 cup oatmeal in the morning


      • 1 cup oatmeal in the morning
      • 1 cup oatmeal for dinner
      • 1 cup oatmeal at night


      • 1 cup oatmeal about four hours before prejudging
      • 0.5 cups oatmeal about two hours before prejudging
      • 1 cup oatmeal about two hours before finals

arrow Rest:

    Proper sleep is one of the most important and neglected parts of pre-contest prep especially for me. I did increase my sleep the week of the contest; however, I know I could have done a lot better. The thing is your body is depleted of carbohydrates and water, you are low on body fat, and preparation is just stressful besides that, so if you aren't getting enough sleep your results will suffer.

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    Another important tip about sleep I picked up along the way is to sleep with your feet elevated. Normally you spend the entire day with your feet below your torso, so that's where gravity carries all your blood and other fluids, so it can be hard to get a nice shredded look in your legs.

    If you rest your feet on a couple pillows at night while you sleep, it gives your legs a chance to drain, and you will have less water retention and swelling in your legs and feet. It helps make your legs look tighter and your joints look smaller. I also did this after prejudging while I waited for the night show to start.

The Routine

The posing routine gives each competitor a chance to really show his physique in the best light possible. This is where he can really go in and emphasize his strengths, and it is basically his last chance to influence the judges decision.

The routine is also the only part of this whole competition that really made me nervous. There are two important parts of the routine: music and posing.

arrow Music:

    The most important thing to consider for your music is to pick something you like. If you pick something just because you think it will get the judges or the audience all excited, but you really don't feel that great about it, it is going to reflect in your performance.

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    Another thing to consider is to pick a style of music that reflects your personality or the part of your personality you want to express. If you are normally an intense, outgoing person, then something like Enya might not work for you. Any type of music, whether fast or slow, can work. You just have to seriously consider whether you can make your choice work for you.

    The last thing you might consider is to pick a song that has a lot of solid beats where you can set your poses. If you can let the music emphasize your poses, it will help make more of an impact, and you will get a better response from the people watching.

arrow Posing:

    I tried to practice posing to my music a week or two out, but I could never seem to make time for it. I ended up putting something together between prejudging and the night show. There are a couple points that did help with my posing though.

    The first thing is practicing the mandatories. If you have those down pretty well, you will be able to fill your time pretty easily.


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    The next thing that helped me is practicing posing to my music over and over again. I just put the song on repeat and kept posing, and after ten or twenty times, I had a pretty good idea of what I was going to do on stage.

    Another thing that might help is to write your poses down. That way you have a visual reminder as you practice, so you don't forget that perfect pose.

    Finally, you just have to be prepared to forget everything you practiced and prepared. No one - none of the judges and none of the audience - will have any idea you just forgot your entire routine if you just keep going, act confident, and have fun.

    Don't pause and give the audience a dumb look, and don't stop and think. Just keep posing to the rhythm, and everyone will think everything is going according to plan.

Show Time

arrow Prejudging:

    I got to the show a few hours early to make sure I had plenty of time to check in, get weighed, dress down, get tanned, and pump up before it was my turn to go on stage. There is a lot to do the morning of the show, and even though I thought I would have tons of extra time, I ended up just getting everything done, with only just a little time to spare.

+ Click To Enlarge.
Craig Roberts At The 2008 NGA Natural Idaho State Bodybuilding Championships.

    A group of us were using the same Dream Tan Red Bronze, so we all helped each other get tanned up (no homo). Since I am pasty white, it took a while to get a good cover over my body. There are problems getting the Dream Tan around the suit without getting it on the suit, so we all tried covering our suit with plastic wrap, but when we took the wrap off, it left a rim of un-tanned skin around the edge of the suit, so the suit ended up getting a some of the tan on it anyway.

    I went from the dressing room to the backstage pump up area when they said I had fifteen minutes before it was my turn, and started to lift some weights to get the blood flowing.

    After fifteen minutes had passed, they said I only had fifteen minutes to get ready... I walked around to rest for a bit and pumped up again. Then they told me I would have just fifteen minutes before I was on stage... That happened maybe one more time before it was actually time for me go get on stage.

    I must have got a real workout from pumping up so much because I was feeling pretty sore a couple days later. Too much pumping up really isn't good for keeping your definition, but everyone in my division had to deal with it, so it was kind of a wash in the end.

    When it was finally our time to go, it turns out that they had called for an intermission by mistake, so they told us to go back and wait for a few minutes again. But when we did eventually make it on stage, I knew immediately that all my posing practice was worth it.

    Since there were only two of us in the division, it didn't take the judges long to compare us and call out the new pose, so if we hesitated or didn't hit the pose quickly or solidly, there wasn't a lot of time to make corrections before they called out the next pose.

    And just like that it was over. I felt pretty good about how I did. Several people told me that from what they saw, I had a good chance of winning, but I'm a firm believer in "don't count your chickens before they hatch", so I was sure to keep things dialed in as I got ready for the night show.

arrow Finals:

    We all had several hours of free time after the morning show, so I threw on some baggy sweats, got some food, and rested up for the night show. This is the point where I got my posing routine ready.

    I had the music ready from the day before since we had to turn in our CD when we checked in, so when I got home, I just put the song on repeat and kind of threw something together. I was still a little nervous about the routine when I left home again, but I was feeling a lot better about it after running through it so many times.

    When we got back to the dressing room, I was surprised how well my tan had held up after wearing all those clothes for so long. I got my tan touched up real quick, and I was ready to be on stage again. Because the touch-up went so fast, I think for my next show I will put my first tan on before I leave home and just get it touched up before prejudging.

    They were a bit more organized for the finals, so after just one pump-up, it was my turn to go on stage. I actually started feeling pretty relaxed right before I walked out to do my routine. I just figured that no matter how the routine turned out, the next minute and a half would just pass by just like all the other minute-and-a-halfs I've lived through before, and that would be that.

    So I walked out there, the music started, I posed, the audience cheered, and I was done. The other novice guy went out for his routine, and after that, they brought us out for the posedown and the award presentation.

    Based on all the positive feedback from friends, and a really good compliment from one of the judges right before the night show, I already had an idea how it was going to turn out. They called out the second place winner, and that left me in first.

    I have never really won anything before, so I was pretty excited to be getting the first place trophy. After that they handed me the mic, and I thanked all my friends and family and embarrassed my girlfriend, and it was all over.

    Did I just say it was all over? Well that's what they told me, anyway, so after I got off stage, I went back to the dressing room, threw my sweats on, and had a handful of candy to celebrate. When I came back up, the guy I just got done competing with told my I'd better get ready to go back on stage because they were letting the novice category compete in the overall.

    I talked to a couple more people, and they all said even though it was unusual for the novice category to compete in the overall, they thought it would be good experience, so they were going to make an exception.

    It was pretty fun to have a chance to go back out there with all the other bigger and more experienced division winners. I figured I was a long shot to win the overall, so I didn't put a lot of pressure on myself. I just went out there and did my best, and took in the experience.

In The End

Competing in this show forced me to learn a lot about training and nutrition, and how to balance it all effectively to get the best results from my own body. My body fat came down from 17% to 6% in a little over a year, and now I'm in the best shape I've been in a long time.

I went into this contest with a casual attitude, and I decided that if I hated it, no big deal; if I liked it, then I would consider competing again in the future. Well, after I got home from the show, I put my trophy on the shelf, and decided there is still plenty of room up there, so I guess I have no excuses.

I think I'll still just keep it casual and fun, but if things are looking good early next year, then I could be signing up for the next local amateur bodybuilding show in April.

For anyone who has ever considered competing, I would say do some research, find some friends to help you out, and give it a shot, and hopefully you can use my experience as a guide as you get ready for your own first bodybuilding show.

Part 1 | Part 2