Beyond the Lights
Take a trip into the world of competitive bodybuilding and the ensuing climb to the top.
Remember to consult your doctor before starting any diet and exercise plan.
Standing beneath the scorching but brilliant stage lights, the competitors begin to line up. The bronzed sculpture-like physiques stand shoulder-to-shoulder while thousands of fans in the auditorium look on. Each pose is struck with accuracy and precision showcasing each etch of massive, granite-like muscle. Everything – all the exercises, the sets, the reps, the harsh and unforgiving dieting – comes down to this moment, because on the Mr. Olympia stage is where it all culminates. It's the place legends are made and where mere mortals can solidify a legacy, forever engraving their name into bodybuilding history. This is the place, the landmark, where it all happens. All of the years of bodybuilding trials and tribulations come down to this. The climb to the top, albeit with bruises, scars and tears, finally pays off – this is competitive bodybuilding's baptism under fire.
So where does it all start? When bodybuilding spawns another protégé, it does so a far cry away from the stage, beyond the lights. For many, the climb to the top begins in a dungeon-like basement you can probably relate to. The ritual of lifting dusty barbells and iron plates starts slowly but eventually happens with more frequency as the body begins to take on a new form. Your confidence grows along with your newly found muscle, and soon people begin to notice. The next thing you know you're eating high protein and carb meals every couple of hours, and downing whey protein shakes post-workout and before bed following the gospel given from the latest muscle magazine.
Taking heed to this advice only warrants more muscle growth and before you know it, you can't leave your home without somebody commenting on your weed-like muscle growth. The respect from friends and strangers grows and of course the added attention from females isn't bothering you one bit. But at the end of the day, the true satisfaction is the reflection staring back at you in the mirror and your rapidly increasing self-respect. You're paying your dues and the fruits of your labors are showing. And then one day you hear about a competition in the near future and this only motivates you further, bringing you deeper into the realm of competitive bodybuilding. So you ask yourself these questions: What sacrifices am I willing to make? How far do I really want to go? How good do I really want to be?
The Ensuing Climb
And so it begins – the relentless pursuit of competitive bodybuilding and the unwavering commitment to building the perfect, freaky you. From countless high protein, low carb diets etching every detail into each muscle, to taking revolutionary off-season supplements.
Your pre-contest dieting begins 16 weeks out for your first local show. Your protein increases as your carbs slowly decline through a steady pre-contest pace. You begin hitting cardio every morning for maximal fat loss. At four weeks out, you start working on your posing routine – perfecting each pose at the most ideal angles. At one week out, you begin carb depleting to help pull the subcutaneous water out from under your skin to ensure every striation is as visible as possible. After a few days of depleting, you start to carb load – filling your shredded muscles out nicely while the snake-like veins begin to seemingly explode out of your skin. The night before the competition you can barely sleep, and the excitement and nervousness have you itching to get up on stage. When you finally do, the rush of adrenaline is like no other you've ever felt before. Win, lose or draw, that feeling leaves you only wanting more and keeps the fire burning fiercer and fiercer, pulling you further into the pursuit of bodybuilding notoriety.
As the years go by and the shows increase competitively, from local shows, to regional, to national, you continue to get bigger and better. The possibility of snagging that elusive pro card draws nearer and nearer as you pay your dues at the national level – bringing a bigger, better and grainier package to the stage each year – until finally your year comes. You trained with a vengeance and bled out every rep of every set of every exercise until the day of the show. When your name is announced as the overall champion, the celebration of capturing your pro card begins. But, the very next day your thoughts are already on your next show – a special invite to compete in the biggest show on the planet – The Mr. Olympia!