The Strength Coach and The Bodybuilder “My journey and the irony of my conquest”
(Managing Director, Athletic Institute Wangara, Perth – WA)
Many months have passed since I undertook the arduous ordeal to become one of Perth’s top ranked Physique models. It’s also been many years since contemplating partaking in such an event. However, as they say “the show must go on” … so this is my story. Let me set the context by telling you a little about myself, my name is Corey Green, I’ve been a Perth boy my whole life and have grown up in the northern suburbs mainly residing in Carramar most of my early adult years. My hobbies have always involved some kind of physical activity, I love all sport and believe we should all play sports growing up, it teaches a lot of great interpersonal skills. However, my love and passion has always been Aussie rules football (which I was dam good at) and because of my drive and dedication for the sport I was lucky enough to represent Western Australia as a junior footballer. I Played with other talented players such as Chris Maston and Eric McKenzie who both went on to make names for themselves in the AFL.
I played for 4-years at the West Perth Football Club as a colt and reserves player before calling it quits. The main reason for leaving was constant disagreements with the head coach of the reserves team. We didn’t see eye to eye on certain issues and I didn’t appreciate being dropped after playing some of my best footy for players who I believe didn’t deserve my spot. However, the decision felt right at the time but regardless of what was right or wrong it was still a very tough decision to make, to turn his back on a potential career (seeing as I was still good enough to play at that level) but, the fun and love of playing had disappeared. So the following season I joined my local club in Wanneroo Amateurs and started to enjoy my football again. Unfortunately, in our final game of that season I crushed a bone in my ankle that saw my sporting “career” finished in the space of seconds. Following this excruciatingly physical and mental impairment, I was on crutches for almost 12 months straight, during this time I had multiple surgeries and many doctors saying that I would never run nor play competitive sports again. When I heard this news, it was like someone telling Picasso he couldn’t paint again. Now, I’m not vain enough to actually compare myself to one of the worlds all-time greatest artist/sculptors, but football was my life, it was all I knew, it was all I loved, it was all I wanted and once again… in a space of seconds it was all taken away from me. I had moments when I would become a little depressed, upset, anxious about the future, but as they say “time heals everything”, thus I begun to look back on my incredible achievements and over time I came to a consensus. I attributed the success I had as a junior footballer to my work ethic, because I believed and still believe it is second to none. I would spend countless hours practicing what I loved and you could never question my passion nor desire. I believe these attributes also gave me great success as a personal trainer, which I was at the time of the injury and since playing for the West Coast Eagles became the impossible dream I needed to focus my attention elsewhere. So I took that work ethic and applied it to the academic setting. Academia was never a strong point for me, however, my new ambition was to become a strength and conditioning coach.
A strength and conditioning coach differs from a personal trainer in a few ways. To become a REAL strength coach, you must complete a 3/4-year undergraduate degree in Sports &/or Exercise science and then obtain a post-graduate degree such as a master’s degree via course work or research. Either way you’re looking at spending between $30,00 and $45,000 on educating yourself (in which is already largely subsidized by the government), volunteering your time at elite sporting associations such as the West Australian Institute of sport, local AFL team or a WAFL (or equivalent) club. I was fortunate enough to do all of this over a few years. You can attain a short course qualification over a few weekends and call yourself a strength coach, but this is quite insulting to anyone who actually is a strength and conditioning coach. It’s awesome you’re educating yourself as I believe it’s a high priority, but call yourself a coach or personal trainer. To add to this, it’s a strength coach’s job is to use the latest research to design programs for athletic populations to enhance their overall performance and keep them injury free. We do this by monitoring training loads, programming recovery, fixing biomechanical flaws in your lifting technique and providing you with the knowledge to succeed.
So now you know a little about my history and journey. Now I believe it’s time you know what it’s like for a strength coach to partake in a body building show.
Bodybuilding is a sport that requires performing a series of poses on stage whereby the athlete is judged and ranked in accordance to aesthetic symmetry, muscular development/shape, mass and definition. Physique competitors require less mass than those competing in strictly body building, which in my opinion suited me well. Bodybuilding is a whole other level above Physique and requires competitors to be judged on FULL body symmetry, whereas Physique competitors aren’t judged on lower body, hence why we wear board shorts.
Going into this competition I was fully aware of my physical attributes – strong, fit, athletic and above all else an athlete! But in the event I was about to partake in… well these factors don’t really come into consideration. I’ve always struggled to build a big chest and width through my back due to an old shoulder injury from my football days, and we all know rehabilitation receives 100% compliance from all young athletes…. not!
Conversely, my strengths have always been the size of my arms and the definition of my abdominals due to which I believe evidence of my many nights spent in my youth doing curls and crunches thinking I’m going to improve my sporting performance… how little I knew! Never the less, my program was designed to have a 2:1 ratio, meaning chest and back was trained twice as often as my more superior attributes. Although the method sounds like a great plan it’s actually very difficult to gain lean mass while doing such an event because you’re constantly reducing your energy intake over the entire program. However, if you can consume high amounts of energy in the form of carbohydrate and protein around your sessions I believe you can possibly make some slight increases in lean muscle mass or at least maintain your lean mass. The timing of eating food is vital to this process so be sure to load up before and after sessions and just carefully monitor how your body responds. However, this is a blog of my journey not of the science.
One piece of advice I can offer before entering such an event is to start such a journey with a large amount of lean mass preceding the competition preparation phase incorporating a heavy building phase. By this I mean eat a crap load of food and push lots of heavy stuff very often. There is the one exception to the rule here, take anabolic agents, because you’ll grow in all direction almost irrespective of energy consumption. You cannot train when taking anabolic agents and still grow more lean mass than natural individuals who resistance train…. crazy hey! Since I was competing in a “natural” federation this didn’t concern me. I am actually natural by the way, always have been and always will be. One give away is that I’m not that impressive to look at in terms of overall lean mass.
I began the journey on 01/02/2016 and completed 15-weeks of arduous training and dieting to essentially become (in my opinion) less athletically functional but more aesthetically pleasing. My initial weight was 91kg with a body fat of 10.8%. The goal was to be on stage at roughly 4% body fat and approximately 83kg, however the outcome was slightly different. Bare in mind I have an arthritic left ankle (from the severity of the break) and a thickened bursa (inflammation) in my left shoulder. Throughout the preparation period the latter of the two gave me a fair bit of grief. Both of these issues were taken into consideration when devising the resistance training program. Regardless of how many hours programming and the intricacy and attention to detail it took, I already knew that they would both have an effect on my ability to train harder for longer. Given my experience and knowledge I knew I could manage them relatively well. So here’s where the irony comes into play. My philosophy is simple; as a strength coach I want my athletes to be strong yet functional for their sport. My goal is to keep them strong, free from overtraining and look at the body as a system, not in isolation. I do this by using weightlifting variations, teaching proper jumping and landing mechanics, running techniques, using compound lifts with little or no isolation work. So compare this to a bodybuilding program that was devised for the 15-week period, I would always say to myself “a dysfunctional program builds a dysfunctional athlete”. Never the less I was still heavily inclined to follow through with this goal I had placed upon myself, despite my perceived opinion on the program I was going to look the best I had ever looked in my entire life (spoiler alert: I definitely did!). I also knew that whilst I was on stage I would be dehydrated, probably look gaunt and, have what medical professionals consider; dangerously low body fat and be considered borderline unhealthy. Many reports have been shown that when individuals drop below a level of 5% in health body fat it has the potential to severely compromise the body’s immune system, lower circulating testosterone (growth/recovery) levels, as well as increase cortisol (stress) hormone and many other factors also. However, it’s all worth it to look absolutely phenomenal on stage though right?!
The training program I wrote consisted of resistance training 6-days per week for at least 2-hours a day. I had recovery weeks, in which I would train for 5-days for up to an hour with the volume of weight significantly reduced. Recovery weeks are important, don’t ever devise such programs without them. In fact, both my nutritional diet plan and progressive training plan incorporated recovery weeks. I’m 28, but know my body very well and I know I’ll need those recovery weeks to prevent further injury. (You can see a picture of my program breakdown below). My diet was written in conjunction with my colleague Ken Blowfield, who is also a founding director at Athletic Institute. This guy is knowledgeable. I like to think in our partnership, he’s the academic, and Holly Shawcross and I are the coaches. In the beginning my energy intake was ~3200kcal a day declining to ~2300 by the end of the 15th week keeping to a macro-nutrient breakdown of 25, 35 and 40%, carbohydrates, fats and proteins respectively. For me the diet part didn’t pose much of a challenge. I’ve never had problems with motivation or dedication. I have always been one of those people who once they’ve decided to do something very few could question me, or talk me out of it. All you can see in me is my dedication and what I like to believe as my incredible work ethic, or my drive to success. Having said that, the first few weeks of food preparation took a bit of adjusting to. Spending 3-4 hours cooking on Thursday’s and Sunday’s got old pretty quick. When you run your own business, day’s off are few and far between in the early years so spending half your day off cooking was awesome. Although by week 6 I had food preparation down to a fine art getting it done within 2-hours. Repetition, repetition, repetition (to paraphrase the recent song “eat, sleep, rave, repeat” it was, “eat, sleep, train, prep, repeat”).
People told me a “sh#t” poser would never win… hence my dedication to find the perfect pose
So given this is my first show posing practice was paramount according to previous competitors and the federation. I hired a posing coach 1 x weekly for the entire 15-week preparation. In my own time I practiced 2-4 times a week for 20-minutes depending on how far out I was. The closer to competition the more I practiced. The INBA offers posing classes for all competitors that run for an hour each. These classes begin 6-weeks out form the event and although optional, if it’s your first time competing I would recommend them. At these optional posing classes, the coaches inform you that if you are unable to pose you are unlikely to win. Why? This is because you are marked on stage presence and personality. So now that I had my training and posing under control I could focus on the most important part of the preparation, the food.
I can’t stress how important it is to have the desire to compete in a bodybuilding show. The key word being desire, not “will power”. I remember reading a book about the difference, if you truly desire something you’re less likely to fall or stumble on the journey because the underlying drive exceeds the unmotivated moments or mental lapses. If you’re relying on “will power” you’re going to find it hard, because just telling yourself not to eat that piece of chocolate, or in my case peanut butter is a flawed plan. You’ve got to want the end goal more than anything at that point in time. In my first month of preparation I had 2 weddings, and we all know how good weddings are for free food and alcohol. I was so dedicated (some may say rude) that I left one of those weddings to buy some food from a local deli because they weren’t serving a chicken or fish main like most weddings. So my only option was to eat my dinner in the car park so I didn’t offend the bride or groom, I’m sure they would have understood. So whether you’re home alone or driving in your car make sure the desire is strong because you’ll be constantly surrounded by temptation. Remember, the only person who will know is you, and it will depend on your character and honesty if you tell your coach or nutritionist. Also make sure your diet is updated weekly if possible and every 3-4 weeks update your BMR (Basal Metabolic rate) and energy intakes based of your progressive weight loss and body fat measurements (i.e. if your coach isn’t factoring this into your program design, they’re probably not the coach for you! It’s called periodising your nutrition!).
Cheat Meals & Alcohol
Definitely have a cheat meal once a week to keep some sanity, however don’t have a 3-4-hour binge eating “session” or a whole “cheat day” unless you are 17 and competing in the teenagers division. I know people who sit down and stuff as much food as they possibly can in their “prescribed hour/s of ‘eat whatever you want’ “I don’t recommend this. I am a firm believer in no alcohol; it provides nothing of significance from a nutritional perspective and if you ask your coach “can you have it?”, re-think entering the competition. This to me shows lack of desire and the mindset of someone who won’t give you everything. My cheat meal was pretty standard across the preparation, 1 whole meat deluxe pizza from Crust (in which was within my “cheat meal” prescriptive energy consumption”), I washed that down with a can of diet coke [you know… just to stay healthy 😉 ]– but of course many papers have been published looking at the severity of overconsumption of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame commonly found in diet drinks, but this was only for my prep of course:). In the final 6-7 weeks I introduced some ice cream (choc chip cookie dough) as I was ahead of schedule in regards to loss of body fat percentage and my weight being slightly down due to getting diarrhoea. Before starting the preparation, I had toyed with the idea of having no cheat meal to give me an edge over my fellow competitors as I knew they would be indulging once a week. In hindsight if I didn’t have a cheat meal once a week I think I would have enjoyed the process a lot less and probably gone insane (So, thanks Ken for convincing me and factoring it in to my weekly consumption). Having that meal each week is like a light at the end of a very long tunnel, once you get there it’s great and when it’s over, your focus for the week ahead is realigned. One thing I also found with the cheat meal, and fellow competitors may have found the same, was you become very anal about that meal being perfect. If your mind is set on that meal all week you don’t want anything to jeopardize it, and you’ll stop at nothing to make it perfect. An example of what lengths you will go to for that meal was when I left a movie theatre midway through a movie at 9:30pm to literally run down to Baskin Robins before it shut at 10pm. I had to sneak the delicious dessert past the usher under my jacket and back into the theatre, the look my girlfriend gave me when I returned was probably justifiable in retrospect.
Over the Hump
Nine weeks had passed in my preparation when the left shoulder started to really feel the workload and became inflamed. This increased inflammation made it very difficult to train chest and shoulders at this point because pain during session was starting to get almost unbearable. This wasn’t ideal as these are two of my weakest areas. So I saw my local GP, got some prescription anti-inflammatories and antacid tablets to push through. This isn’t a recommendation I would make to anyone with bursitis. Either way, I only had 6-weeks left so reducing the training or intensity wasn’t an option. The day after receiving the medication I visited the toilet 15 times with not one solid stool. I would continue to visit the toilet between 10-15 times a day for a further 3-weeks. Sorry about the image but this is an honest account of my journey and I’m sure I don’t have to inform you how uncomfortable and inconvenient this was. Chronic Diarrhoea halfway through competition preparation wasn’t something I had planned for given it is accompanied by dehydration, loss of salts and a decrease in overall energy levels, so this 3-week block was slightly more challenging. To this day we are still unsure to what caused it, my money is on the antacids, as I’ve been very familiar with prescription anti-inflammatories for my arthritis. It may have also been some case of salmonella poising from under-cooked chicken, however this is unclear.
No matter what the setbacks the focus was still on the big day. I knew I was tracking reasonably well regardless of the diarrhoea, but I wanted to get proof. So I got myself a body composition scan at 4-weeks out from the day and was happy but also worried to see I was at 5.6% body fat at 83.3kg. Now considering earlier, I said I wanted to be 4% at 83kg a few questions came to mind. Given I was still a month away and at my goal weight I knew it was going to be very hard to not lose weight (lean mass) and still drop a further 1.5% body fat. This meant I was highly unlikely to compete at 83kg like I desired. However, my business colleagues Holly Shawcross and Ken Blowfield stated, “it’s better to be ahead of the game than behind it”.
The Closing Stages
Let’s talk about the final week! It’s fair to say the feeling was bitter sweet. I was excited to jump on stage and reveal all the hard work, but also relieved to be over this horrid overconsumption of boring “healthy” foods and never ending hours of work “gym”, training “gym”, business “gym” and any other form of gym “gym”! The final week’s sessions consisted of high intense interval training (HIIT). I hand selected 10-15 exercises, half resistance based and half cardiovascular based and would complete in circuit fashion to a timer of 45-seconds work and 20-30-seconds of rest. The sessions included 4 rounds with a 3-minute recovery between each for a total session time of roughly 45-60 minutes depending on the number of exercises. At this stage I chose exercises I generally enjoyed to try and keep the motivation going. I would also incorporate some bike riding at night to continue dare I say “fat burning zone”. The final week would have been challenging if I was eating my recommended amount of energy, let alone having a 30% reduction of my recommended amount by this stage.
During the final week I slept relatively well considering my hormones had taken a massive hit and my body was under server stress. I did get heart palpitations in one of my last sessions which is obviously out of the norm and slightly concerning, however it didn’t lead to anything serious as your currently reading this article which is 3-months post comp. I’m going to quickly revert back to nutrition for a moment and probably a very pivotal point in this whole journey. So 3-days out from being on stage I was getting excited, cause all I can think about is eating pizza and pancakes. I know I respond well to carbohydrates so we decided to carb load me the night before, which is standard practice along with a water load. Water loading started on the final Monday and ran through to Friday lunch time, over this period I consumed over 35 litres of water. So dinner on Friday was my “carb load” which was 250g of white fish with 530g of sweet potato, this was washed down with 40g of dextrose (sugar).
I woke up the following morning black as the ace of spades with a massive smile on my face knowing I would be competing in only 8-hours’ time. I woke up so thirsty, like my mouth was a barren desert and hadn’t even eating breakfast yet, which was rice cakes and strawberry jam. Competition day is awesome just because you’re eating carbs all day, I wasn’t even thinking of the stage, I was just thinking of eating SUGAR! Ok, back to reality. So I was told not to shower as the tan would wash away reducing the overall effect of what it’s supposed to do, show definition. If you have ever wondered why people get so dark before jumping on stage, now you know. So I got in the car and drove 5-minute drive to the venue, arriving at 11am, two and a half hours before I would be on stage. After arriving I got my touch up tan done by one of the girls and headed backstage with a bag full of thera-bands, Dumbbells and lollies. I’ve got to admit I was feeling pretty confident back stage as I looked around, I couldn’t help but compare myself to my competitors as I knew that my condition was better than most. I knew my chest was going to let me down a little bit, but I knew I had plenty of other strengths that were better. In regards to food I had an itinerary of what I should eat and when, which mainly consisted of rice crackers, Jam and lollies with 300ml of water for the whole day. I was competing in three categories for Physique (First timers, novice and open) at 1:20pm, 2:00pm and 3:00pm, so it was at this point I began to “pump up” and prepare to jump on stage.
Usually when I walk into the gym and start lifting I get an awesome sensation of pump, I feel full and tight and about twice the size. However, as I was pumping up back stage this same feeling wasn’t really happening, I could feel my muscles working and I was getting more vascular but I wasn’t getting that awesome feeling like I usually do. This means that my carb loading phase the night before wasn’t substantial enough and maybe I was too depleted. Ken also suggested that maybe my sodium levels had reduced hence the reduction in fluid retention in the muscular tissue has been negated and thus reducing that hyper-vasculation of musculature. This couldn’t be a focus right now as I was only moments away. All of a sudden I was backstage with one of the event organizers (Mylea Jones) going through the rundown with my fellow competitors and I was feeling excited and slightly nervous. But I knew that I had dedicated myself to the journey better than most and I had worked harder than ever before. I was standing there looking up at the stage as they called out our division, I walked on stage and a calm came over me and it felt good to be up there. That lasted about what felt like 15-seconds when a judge asked me to move from the middle of the line up to the furthest end of the stage, where barely any light was shining down. When I realised I had been moved almost out of sight and I couldn’t get the judges attention I started to seethe with anger. Here I was standing on stage almost out of view after I’ve just dedicated the best part of 4-months to training and dieting, and I’m pretty sure at this point my attitude would have been easy to spot, which didn’t help my cause. We went through our standard poses and let the judges do their work. They called out the top 5 competitors, with my name not being mentioned, I was angry and disappointed to say the least.
I walked off stage to my girlfriend who knew exactly how I was feeling, and being an intelligent girl she approached with caution, but also with open arms to congratulate me on getting up there. That’s the worst, “a pity hug”, and I know in her head it wasn’t that, in my competitive mindset that’s exactly how it felt.
I approached my second show completely different, with little care of placing and wanting to have fun, I was going to push myself to centre stage irrespective of the other competitors and just smile and flex. I didn’t take it seriously at all and I thoroughly enjoyed it, because I was centre stage and getting attention from the judges, it didn’t help because I didn’t place…again, which means I wasn’t what the judges were looking for. I was standing next to one of the guys who just beat me as we jumped off stage and I was thinking “how did this guy beat me”, the ONLY thing he had over me was a better chest, not by much either, in every other facet I had him covered. So my thinking was, ok I may not have had perfect symmetry but it was better than this guy, but my opinion doesn’t matter.
At this point your thinking “show 3”? It’s ok I was thinking the same thing, if I hadn’t paid for show 3 I wouldn’t have been standing up there. It’s bad enough being told twice you’re not in the top 5, and just on that point, when did top 5 become a thing by the way. In all the Olympic ceremonies I never saw 5 people standing on a podium, you know why, cause its ludicrous. People barely remember who came second half the time, now you’ve just added 2 more people to the equation. Maybe they do this to draw more competitors (i.e. money), or to make you feel like a winner, either way let’s just keep it to top 3. You can tell I’ve gotten over the experience and moved on hey? . Anyway, so I’m up on stage for the final time fully aware that I won’t place unless a few competitors evaporate into thin air, and I look over at my support crew…….and an overwhelming feeling of warmth (maybe love…not sure) came over me. If there was a TOP 3 prize for support, I just took gold, as I had over 30 friends and family screaming my name and cheering, even though THEY knew I wasn’t going to place. At this moment I realized how lucky I was to have these people in my life and it put things into perspective. Now that’s not to say I’m still not disappointed, because I am, because part of me feels like I let those people down, especially because it cost $50 per ticket. It would probably cost individuals $20 per ticket if they didn’t have to buy 5 trophies for each division and then hand out a consolation medal to EVERYONE (worse than a pity hug), we aren’t 10-years old, we can handle not placing…evidently.
The final show had finish and I hadn’t placed, it was time for me to be around my friends and family, eat some pizza, drink some water (how good is water by the way), have a shower and watch the rest of the show. This seems very anti-climactic, but I was very happy with my efforts, I couldn’t have physically trained any harder or been any stricter with my diet (except 1 teaspoon of peanut butter….one time), or planned it any better apart from the nutrition 2-days leading into the event.
Things I learned and my advice
I’ll do my best to keep this section brief, but if you’re thinking about competing make sure you read carefully. Make sure you know WHY you’re doing such an event, if you’re doing it for yourself and not to win I take my hat off to you, because you’ll learn a lot about yourself along the way and your story will be different from mine. If you’re doing it to win, be sure to start your competition prep with overall balanced musculature and get the right coaches involved. Make sure your training and nutrition is periodised by a QUALIFIED coach (check us out www.athleticinstitute.com.au), you sacrifice the next 4-months to train, eat, sleep and repeat. If you have a sensational physique I wouldn’t worry too much about posing, irrespective of what the federation says. The guy who won overall Physique showed up to posing for the first time 7-days before the event…. he walked in and I knew my chances had just dropped dead on the floor, until I saw him pose and I had a pulse again. It was painful to watch him pose, but a week later he took the title, and if I’m being honest he deserved to win based on his physique, after all that’s what the event is called. I don’t care this guy won, but I do care if you’re constantly told you can’t win if you can’t pose and that exact thing happens… well then, as you could imagine you start to get a little annoyed.
When it comes to nutrition make sure you know what your body responds to, if you’re going to do a show play around with your macro-nutrients early in the prep and try to figure it out. I’ll tell you why, the day after comp I had my professional photo shoot, now preceding this I ate McDonalds and pizza the night before and pancakes the morning of. I can’t describe how angry I was when I walked in for that shoot, picked up a set of DB’s to pump up and realised how much better I felt and how easy it was to get that true pump feeling. I feel like I looked twice as good the following day due to serious carbohydrate loading and I wasn’t so dehydrated. So in hindsight, I would have eaten more good quality carbs on the Thursday and had pizza the night before the comp, and pancakes for breakfast the morning of. Psychologically this would have been difficult to do coming into my first show, but knowing what I do now and if or when I compete again this will be my play.
When you’re on stage don’t be the nice guy if you want to win, try and keep centre stage when possible, if you’re in this for your own journey you can stand anywhere in the line-up because either way you’ll be stoked you made it there. As I mentioned earlier in the article if you have a great physique posing isn’t your number 1 priority at the lower levels of competition, but you still need to know what to do and these are my suggestions. If you have a physique that will be hard to beat start posing 1-month from the event, if your physique is good but not well balanced start posing 10-weeks out. At least if your physique isn’t perfect you can manipulate posing positions to either hide or enhance particular areas. I think all competitors should use the posing classes at least 4-weeks out to understand how to move around on stage, Sam Attrill from the INBA does this very well and it gives you confidence going into the event.
The tan…. (sigh) in my opinion was way too much, I was too dark compared to other competitors. Thus, I believe you can over do this here, in my opinion I should have showered in the morning and not got the touch up tan, I feel like the tan looked much better the next day following my shower. Some guys on stage were lighter than me and it looked a bit more natural. I would also recommend using cooking spray to oil yourself up, which I did in my final show, it makes a big difference, that’s just my opinion though. Of course this completely depends on the tan you use, as Ken has informed me oil actually strips off some tan such as Dream Tan.
One of our employees at AI, Chris Ormsby gave me some good advice along with my girlfriends Dad, Tony banks; they both just told me to enjoy the day, that’s hard to do when you’re very competitive, but they were right. I enjoyed my second and third show so much more because I was happy being up there and proud of what I had achieved. People ask me now why I expected to win in my first show? this is simple, it’s not a sport that requires prior experience to win, your judged on your physique, so if I have the best physique and can hold a pose why shouldn’t you? It’s not a sport like golf which requires practicing the same swing for about 10-years before you get half decent at it. The show is designed to show of your physique, if I had a bigger chest I feel like I would have placed top 3, not because it was my first time. Imagine in high school you ran your first 100m ever and you won, but the official walks over and says “sorry mate, this is your first time, you’re not allowed to win”, it’s like that rule in back yard cricket, you can’t get out on the first ball. I guess my expectation were to high considering my physique, because looking back my arms dwarfed my chest, and I haven’t trained arms in a structured program since I was 18 for that reason.
In closing, after going through such an event, it’s given me time to reflect on the sport of bodybuilding and what it takes. I’ve always respected what these guys do, but I have a new level of understanding and appreciation like anything in life after actually doing it. The dedication, determination, the passion, the want, the need is evident in their success. You may question them as athletes, this is fine; but do not question their spirit. By far these individuals regardless of natural or un-natural would have to be some of the hardest, most dedicated and determined people you and I would ever meet. Now, in saying this, they are not functional athlete’s (in my opinion), even though they train harder and are arguably more dedicated, I wouldn’t expect Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime to run the 100m under 12-seconds, or punt a football 70-yards. This is merely an example, my idea of an athlete is someone who encompasses many athletic capabilities such as strength, power, speed, agility, mobility and endurance. This gives a more balanced athlete and training is to enhance specific sporting performance not just aesthetics. The latter is a nice consequence or by-product that happens when training for a particular sport. An AFL player who trained like a bodybuilder wouldn’t perform the same or as well as a player who trained for performance.
I’ll finish by thanking all my friends and family, especially my amazing girlfriend Laura for supporting me through this ordeal. I’d like to thank my business Partners Holly Shawcross and Ken Blowfield for allowing me to reduce my work hours to accommodate the training, food prep and posing. So that was my journey from strength coach to bodybuilder, I hope you enjoyed this read, please feel free to contact myself or Athletic Institute if you have any particular question in regards to preparing yourself or a friend for a competition. My goals moving forward are to dabble in powerlifting, work on creating some size and thickness through my chest and back, just in case I decide to compete again 😉