My Road to the Beachbody Classic
This past weekend, I completed my first physique competition and I wanted to share my experiences with you here. It was an awesome experience. From the start of my prep to the day of the actual event, it wasn’t always fun or sunny skies, but I am so glad that I took the plunge and committed to this event back in April.
The contest was held at the annual Beachbody Coach Summit in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Casino – a killer venue for a first show!
Primary Program: Body Beast
Of course, I have done the Body Beast program several times in the past and there really isn’t a better program in the Beachbody Fitness Program library to prepare you for this event, though it isn’t required. I didn’t follow the program schedule as it is laid out, I did however, use the workouts per the DVDs. I tweaked the schedule to focus on some weak-point training (see below…), my chest and back.
I used these two programs as well to vary the cardio and some of the strength training days throughout the 12 weeks of prep. At 25 and 30 minutes/day these two programs worked out great for either adding in a 2nd workout later in the day or subbing in one to minimize time.
Struggles Along the Way
The struggles were there – trust me! Between food temptations and fatigue, the 12 week road wasn’t always smooth sailing…
Sticking to the nutrition was easy on some days and pretty tough on others, but this was “controlled” to some degree with a scheduled cheat meal, though I suppose my choice of a cheat meal was a bit liberal. I always went with a Qdoba chicken burrito, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t all that bad, but it had a ton of calories, roughly 800 for one burrito! That number can be even higher depending on what you choose for the ingredients. However, taking a break from my nutrition with these cheat meals allowed me to re-focus for the remainder of the week with what needed to be done. One does have to be very careful that a cheat meal doesn’t turn into a cheat day or cheat weekend, it’s a slippery slope if you don’t have the discipline. The best way to overcome this is to plan and if possible, prepare your meals in advance.
I’ve never prepared my meals more than 1-2 days ahead of time, I prefer to have fresh cooked meals and then left overs the next day, so I rarely would actually prepare meals for more than 2 days in advance. Planning meals, on the other hand, was something that I/we did. This minimized trips to the grocery and kept me from grazing or standing in front of the fridge or pantry hunting for something to eat.
Were there days that I didn’t want to get up at 4:45 and workout? You bet! On a few occasions, the alarm would go off and I would seriously consider the snooze, but that wasn’t an option for me. Once I commit to something, the guilt of not following through with that commitment would be more than I could bare. I never missed a workout throughout the 12 weeks of preparation. There were a few days where my workouts totally SUCKED and I felt like I just didn’t have it – but I still got it done. Those are going to happen, to all of us, from time to time. Accept it, get through it as best you can and put those days behind you.
The event was entered by more than 180, though only 80 actually showed up. The competition was broken into two separate events; pre-judging and finals. Pre-judging was held on Thursday morning and the finals were Friday night. I was slotted for the 9 AM pre-judging time, I wanted to get in there earlier rather than later to minimize anxiety leading up to the time.
A few of my fellow TeamRipped teammates were also part of the competition, so I got a chance to chat and meet up with them prior to going in for pre-judging.
Pre-judging went with the following format: you were to perform a 15 second posing routine of your choosing and then you would perform a sequence of standard physique/bodybuilding poses per the judges requests. After which, you would exit the stage and the next competitor was repeat the process. They did this in groups of 10-12 and after the entire group had completed their individual routine/poses, they were all brought back up onto the stage for side-by-side comparisons and then would exit the stage. That’s it…pretty simple right? Simple, yes, a bit stressful and awkward if you’ve never done anything like that before, which is where I found myself.
Once my routine was over and all of the comparisons were done, I really had no idea if I would be included in the final 20. Since you don’t get to see everyone before or after your scheduled time slot, I really had no idea what the rest of the competition looked like.
Finalist were announced at 4 PM later that day and they announced the top 20 in that announcement and would announce the top 10 on stage the next day. I was part of the top 20 and so I still had about 24 hours to keep my head down and focus on the final event. My good friend and teammate, Chet Nichols, was also selected to be part of the top 20!
The finals were held on the main stage inside he MGM Grand Arena, the same venue that plays host to concerts from top performers and boxing matches from some of the most well known in that sport. It was a bit surreal to think about it in that light! We were required to show up about 1 hour before the scheduled start time of the finals to go through a bit of rehearsal, mainly to ensure that all of the competitors knew where to walk around on the stage during different points of the event.
As the finals started, my nerves were sky high and all I could think about was how many people I would be standing in front of in a matter of moments, wearing nothing but a pair of swim trunks! However, once I was actually on the stage and that initial fear had left, it was a pretty cool experience to be a part of. They announced the top 10 for the women first and then the men; I was included in the list of men selected for the top 10! At this point, I was ecstatic and didn’t really believe it at first, but then I started to get nervous again since the top 10 were required to perform a 15 second routine, similar to what was required in the pre-judging…GULP!
Not only was I included in the top 10, but remember my teammate, Chet? Well he was also selected to be part of the final 10 competitors! 2 out of the top 10 from the same team – incredible!
When, my number was called to actually perform my routine, I could really feel my heart pumping and then it was kind of a blur from that point on. I know that I didn’t do the routine like I had practiced it earlier in the day, but I don’t think it mattered too much, I made it through the poses I wanted before the end of the 15 seconds.
While I didn’t make it into the top 3, which were awarded trophies, I was extremely happy with how everything went. After the event was over, I got a chance to meet with Sagi Kalev, the creator of the Body Beast program, and he assured me that I was considered one of the top 5, but my tan, or lack there of, is what hurt me some. Oh well, I guess you live and learn from time to time. I don’t have any regrets about the process or feel like I could have prepared any better for this event. It was an amazing introduction into the world of physique competition and I am certainly open to doing something like this again.
My Take Aways and Advice
While I don’t in anyway claim to be an expert on the subject of getting yourself prepared for physique competition, here are a few things that I would share that might help you if you decide to do a contest sometime down the road.
1. Give Yourself Enough Time to Prep
I started preparations for the Beachbody Classic 12 weeks from the date of the event. You should give yourself at least that same amount of time, depending on what goals you would like to accomplish for your contest. Ensure that you account for any setbacks; vacations, projects at work or any other commitments that you might have coming up. If you know that a couple of weeks before the contest you are going to be out of town and may not be able to fully commit to your workouts or stick to your nutrition plan, you might want to factor that in.
2. Ask for Help
I happen to have a few friends that have done contests in the past, both body building and physique, so I reached out to them for advice. This was one of the best decisions that I made during my prep. While I do have a pretty good handle on nutrition and the timing of nutrition in order to maximize results, having a coach that has gone through the process in the past with great success was a real difference make in my opinion. Of course, you are more than welcome to connect with me with any questions that you might have on your preparation. If I can’t answer your question, I’ll find an answer. If you would like to work with the same coach that I did throughout my preparation, I’d be happy to share the contact information, just send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Focus on 1-2 Areas for Improvement
This was something I hadn’t really thought about until I starting working with a coach. If you just start preparing for a contest without knowing what areas you really need to focus on, then it is likely that you won’t present your efforts in the best manner possible. For me, I knew that I needed to focus on my chest and back in my preparation, this is called weak-point training. This meant that I had 2 workouts/week where I focused on nothing but chest and back. Those days were my toughest workouts and I pushed myself to the limits I was capable of and beyond. I feel like the extra effort paid off in the end and while, I do still feel like I need to continue to improve my chest, my back has really come a long way in just 12 weeks.
4. Track Everything!
This applies to both your workouts and your nutrition, especially your nutrition!!! I have always been in the habit of using the worksheets that accompany all of the fitness programs from Beachbody. They are great to tracking your progress as you repeat certain workouts and gauge where you have gotten stronger (or weaker…) from week to week. You can download most, if not all, of the worksheet for all of the Beachbody programs here: Workout Sheets.
You will also want to ensure that you are tracking nutrition, almost to a point of fanaticism… With the nutrition plan that I was following, the calories being consumed varied from day-to-day, so I couldn’t just eat the same things an assume that I was hitting my goals from a nutritional standpoint. The timing of nutrition was another thing that I found was pretty important as well. By this I mean, the types (macro-nutrient) of calories that you consume and when you consume them, seem to play an important role in keeping my energy levels up and seeing progress week to week.
5. Practice Posing
This is one area that I really had to work at and this is probably the case for you as well if you have never competed in the past. There are specific poses that one must perform at these kinds of competitions and if you don’t practice them before the big day, you are likely going to fail to impress the judges no matter how good you look on stage.
I started practicing, really practicing, about 3 weeks from my competition and each practice session would last about 10-15 minutes – that’s it! I practiced in front of the mirror to get a really good idea of what each post not only felt like, but also looked like. Using a mirror can really help you form the muscle memory that will make assuming those poses almost like 2nd nature. You’ll also want to practice away from the mirror as well, since you won’t have one in front of you up on stage. Find someone that is willing to provide you with constructive feedback and adjust, then repeat!
6. Don’t Worry About the Competition
It is completely normal to start to size yourself up to your competition, so don’t feel too bad if you fall into this trap, heck…I did, despite the warnings. In the end, your mind is going to tell you all sorts of things to 2nd guess yourself. Don’t listen to those negative thoughts, it’s tough, but you’ve simply got to block that stuff out and believe that your preparation has given you the best results that you could deliver. It doesn’t matter that the guy standing next to you might have slightly bigger biceps or has more defined abs. You can’t concern yourself with those details, focus on you and what YOU have prepared yourself for and let the judges decide who has the best package. Because the judging is subjective by nature, you never know exactly what they are going to be looking for – it might exactly what you have and if you don’t exude the confidence in yourself, it is going to show and in the end your performance will likely suffer.
7. Have Fun!
I know…this one is tough in the moments leading up to walking out on stage. Your nerves are sky high, some of those self-induced doubts may still be creeping in, you are mentally walking through your posing routine, whatever it is – you probably aren’t thinking about how much “fun” you are having. At this point, there is nothing left to do, but have fun with it! You’ve put in all of the work, you’ve done your best to prepare for this one day, you better enjoy it! You don’t know when you are going to do something like this again and you better just let go of all of the pressure you have put on yourself at this point and just have fun with it!
My first competition may not have been the most prestigious or an NPC sanctioned event, but that really isn’t what mattered to me. What mattered to me was committing to something that I have never done before, getting outside of my comfort zone with stepping on the stage and showing off my results in front of a live audience of 1000’s of people. Talk about an adrenaline rush! I proved to myself to I could achieve some pretty awesome results and compete against my peers.
I am going to take a few weeks off of the rigors or my contest prep schedule and relax, take a nice week long vacation and then come back ready to hit it hard again. While I don’t have any other competition plans in the immediate future, I definitely plan to participate in this event again next year, provided it is offered. My plan the remainder of the year to continue to add lean muscle mass using the same principals that I have used in preparation for this event. Admittedly, I won’t be as strict with my nutrition until a date has been determined. Maintaining that level of consistency for an extended period of time does tend to wear on you, so unless you are making a career of this, you need to include scheduled breaks or you may find yourself burned out on the process and your results will plateau or drop off.
I would highly encourage you to commit to something like this, you will be surprised with what you can accomplish if you really focus and do anything that it takes to make it happen. I’d love to help you along the way – let do this together!
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