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The Road To The 2002 NPC Georgia!

For me, the precontest preparation was nothing short of a roller coaster ride! I started out preparing to do this contest about 9 months ago. But, things never work as planned.

For me, the precontest preparation was nothing short of a roller coaster ride! I started out preparing to do this contest about 9 months ago. Then the death of my grandmother caused me to change my mind about the whole thing when I was about 6 weeks out. I spoke with Phano with less than 3 weeks to go, and I decided to prepare for the contest again. The bad thing was that I had been off of the diet for a little more than 3 weeks. However, I cleaned up my diet, didn't cheat, trained extremely hard in the gym, and stayed focused. It was probably the hardest two weeks of training that I've ever gone through. The diet wasn't so bad, it never is if you do it right.

Three Weeks Out

With less than three weeks to go, I started training three times per day for three days straight and then took a day off. I had to double up on my body parts, which caused me to go to the gym twice to train and then once every morning for cardio. Unlike my last contest, I did not do very high intensity cardio. This was because I was more concerned with keeping as much size as possible, rather than looking as conditioned as possible. NPC contests are non-drug tested contests, so I was up against guys that were hitting the juice while I was still all natural. As a result, it was very important for me to keep as much size as I could and let the diet and vigorous training with moderate cardio take care of my conditioning. Believe it or not, I did not even train or do cardio for the entire last week; I just let the diet take care of everything.

After the first two days of training, I was exhausted and had to take the third day off. I resumed training the following day and stuck with the program from there on out. I couldn't believe how much training was taking it out of me. By the time I had taken my third trip to the gym, I was having a hard time keeping my intensity up and keeping my form strict. I had to stay focused, so I kept my headphones blaring in my ears, walked with my head down, and posed in the mirror as much as possible so that I was reminded of how far I still had to go. This type of training was more mentally punishing than anything. While I wasn't in the gym, I was working on getting my medical school application together and researching in the exercise science laboratory. At the end of the day, I could barely fall asleep because I was so wound up. Believe it or not, I prepared for this contest without taking any ephedra or caffeine.

One Week Out

I was starting to get worried that I wouldn't be ready when I was about a week out. I started taking pictures of myself everyday and noted the progress that I was making and the areas in which I was lacking. Once I saw that I was making gains everyday, I started feeling a little more confident. The diet was really beginning to get to me with about 2 days to go. Glycogen depleting wasn't even that bad because I was still getting about 100 grams of carbs per day. Remember, I didn't want to lose too much size, so with Phano's advice, I kept my carb intake relatively high. The glycogen loading period was definitely easy because I was eating every hour for 13 hours. Unlike last time, I loaded for 3 and a half days until I cut out the carbs.

Weighing In Jeopardy?

I thought I was in real jeopardy because I weighed in at 181.8 lbs. on Friday morning. I had to get down to 176.5 lbs. by Saturday morning, or I would have to compete in the light-heavy weight division. This is always a more competitive class because the light-heavy winner usually goes on to win the overall title in the NPC contests. Since I was going to be competing with guys on steroids, I felt like my best bet of winning would be in the middle weight class since I was in the upper end of that class. I cut out my carbs late Friday morning and cut out my water intake Friday evening. After staying up all night on Friday, I went to prejudging Saturday morning and weighed 175 lbs. (15 lbs. more than my last contest)! I was a little lighter than I had expected, but my skin was super tight, and I still had retained a lot of size. My mouth was dry as hell, but I didn't care at that point. During the morning lecture by the promoter, I could not stop looking around at all of these huge guys; they were freaks!! However, during the weigh-ins, I saw my competition and felt very confident. There was one guy that I felt would be my main competition, but I felt like I could take him, in a natural contest anyways.

Class Comparisons

After waiting around for about 4 hours, it was time for my class to go out and do comparisons. First, we all had to do a 60 second routine where we showed off our best poses. I had not prepared anything for this, so I just ran through the mandatory poses. When we were called out, I was the last one in line for our class. However, right off of the bat, the judges called for me to move over and share the middle with another guy (my main competition). This definitely boosted my confidence; however, I was sharing the middle, so nothing was certain at that point. Finally, after the 5 hour prejudging session, I was free to go and eat something. My family, girlfriend (Erin), and Phano and his girlfriend all greeted me after the contest and told me that I had the class, no problem. Phano was on cloud nine because he had once again designed the precontest preparation, and he was proud to see that it had worked. I can say one thing about Phano; the boy knows his shit when it comes to bodybuilding!!

Shawn Ray Roll Call

After prejudging, we all went and ate at Chick-Fil-A where I had a small meal. From there, Erin and I went to my grandfather's house until the night show. His house was pretty close to the contest venue. He and Erin fell asleep and I stayed up watching FoodTV; I was too depleted to sleep. After a couple of hours, Erin and I went back to the venue where I sat through another lecture and listened to Shawn Ray take roll. He was the master of the ceremony and was going to be announcing everyone's name at the night show.

Dream Tan

Due to competitors sneaking people into the backstage area during the morning show, no one was allowed backstage except for the competitors. This was no good because Phano was helping me with the Dream Tan. We had to compensate, so we just put that crap on outside of the backstage doors. He was pissed off about his girlfriend or something, and basically slapped the Dream Tan on me. No problem, I was able to smooth out the uneven spots backstage. Thankfully, the contest was going pretty quickly, but with 97 competitors, it was still quite the fiasco.

My Routine and Ranking

I had only practiced my routine a couple of times on Friday, and I knew that I was going to mess it up. Sure enough, I did. I hit a pose and realized that it was the wrong one. I didn't panic, I just improvised and no one knew that I had messed up! I really didn't care because I was so tired and depleted; I just wanted it to be over with. I felt like pure hell and I couldn't sit still backstage. To pass the time, I kept walking around and talking to everyone (mostly the natural guys, we tended to stick together). Finally, after the intermission, it was time for the awards. My class was called out pretty early since it was the junior middle-weight division. They called out the third place guy and he accepted his trophy. It was down to me and the same guy that was my main competition. I breathed a sigh of relief when they called out his name for runner-up. I could hear my dad and Erin screaming their asses off when they announced my name for first place. It was great, Phano and I proved that a natural guy can compete in a non-drug tested contest and do well. The second place guy knew that I was natural and he also knew that I knew he wasn't natural. He was definitely not happy with the results and stormed off stage. He and I had been talking all through the contest, but he had nothing to say to me afterwards.

Youngest Junior Georgia

Phano had told me that I should take the overall title with not much problem. He also informed me that I was the youngest Junior Georgia winner, taking his place as the youngest when he won the same title last year. I was pretty confident after seeing the winner of the light weight, light-heavy weight, and heavy weight division. I felt that I was a lot more conditioned and not really lacking in size. However, the judges felt differently than Phano and me. During the posedown, I stayed in front of the light-heavy, but it didn't pay off. It was okay because I could hear people calling out my number during the posedown and booing when the overall winner was announced. I couldn't control what the judges thought; all I could do was go out and do my best.

Post-Contest Pig Out!

After my class was done, I snuck out of the door early. The competitors were supposed to stay for a post-contest photograph, but I had better things to do. I had my picture taken with my parents, Erin, and Phano out in the lobby and then headed to Steak-N-Shake for a post-contest pig-out. It was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun competing. However, I think that I will stick with the natural shows because the promoter and others that helped run the show were pretty much dickheads; something that I had not experienced in my last natural show. In addition, the competitors are a lot friendlier, and the mood is more laid back in all-natural contests. For me, competing is all about having fun, not trying to establish a career. Whether you win or lose is not a life or death situation!

-Mr. NPC Junior Georgia, Middle-Weight
David Knowles

Good Luck!!