The Clug Report BNBF Novice Heavy weight 2nd Place
Once you decide to enter a bodybuilding comp the first thing you will notice are the amount of varying opinions people will contribute about how you should be getting to shape. Carb cycling, potassium monitoring, sodium depletion, water retention, cheat meals, the list goes on. Many of these things things work well but the most important thing I have learnt from my experiences, until you have actually stepped on stage you are not really going to know how your body will respond to any of these things. In short if have a plan stick to it. (Make sure you write a plan).
My initial plan was to prepare for the Welsh Novice BNBF comp in 8 weeks. Starting on the 1st of May, being ready 2 weeks before on the 25th June for the comp on the 6th of July. This would give me time to make adjustments if needed. My starting weight was 102 kg/ 16.6st so I figured that I should aim for a competition weight of around 95kg/ 14.9st (I was very wrong). To achieve this I decided to drop my carb intake to 200g a day gradually dropping this down week by week depending on how I looked. My protein intake would increase and my essential fat intake.
For my training I wanted to see if I could do the whole thing without doing any cardio. Apparently cardio makes you loose muscle? I did not want that. In theory as long as my weights workouts where intense enough to create a calorie deficit, the weight should come off? To do this I would increase my rep ranges, lower the rest between sets and add supersets.
What actually happened
For the first 4 weeks my diet consisted of the following
Mass Shake – (57g of protein, 69g of carbs)
Eggs – (20g protein)
Banana – (29g carbs)
Shake – (47g of protein, 3g carbs)
Meat/ Fish – (80g protein)
Porridge with fruit – (80g carbs) or sweet potato – (60g carbs)
Casein shake – (47g protein, 3g of carbs) or meat/ fish of equivalent protein content
Totals Protein – 250g Carbs – 200g.
At this point I was not counting my fat intake.
This looks pretty clean and perhaps if I had stared earlier this may have been sufficient to loose the weight but after 4 weeks my weight had only dropped to 99kg and I still looked very soft. I was training 3 – 4 times a week with no cardio.
Now at 6 weeks out, I decided to attend a bodybuilding posing course at Empower Gym near Ponty. The course is run by Mike Gelsi and his partner who have competed and judged bodybuilding at the highest levels. This was probably the most important thing I did in my entire preparation. Not only did I learn how to conduct my self on stage understand how to present myself, it gave me a massive shock. Standing next to 2 times Welsh Champ Kenneth Mudoola who was also in attendance made me realise how far off I was from contest shape. I know its unrealistic to compare myself to a guy who is on the brink of becoming a pro but it made me realise two things. Firstly gym ripped and bodybuilding ripped are two very different things. Just because you have got abs, a vein on your biceps and have seen pumping iron mean you ready to walk on stage. You need to be shredded. This means being able to see seratus, hamstrings, glutes and striations on the major muscle groups. Secondly I had 5 weeks left to prepare. My options were to quit and wait until next year or amend my diet and training accordingly. For the entire drive back to Cardiff Ken kept checking if I was ok as I had gone mute having seen his shape!
Now up against it I decided to adjust my original plan. Simply I dropped all carbohydrate from my diet and added cardio. The first week of zero carb was pretty tough, in fact thats a lie I was a zombie for 5 weeks. I started my cardio off with hill walks every morning. After 2 weeks of still little results (95kg but still looking soft) I bit the bullet and increased my training to 2 hours cardio and 1.5 hours of weights a day. Luckily my DJ schedule had reduced to 3 nights a week so I had lots of time in the days to train.
It looked like this
Meal 1 – Coffee, spoon of coconut oil
40mins run around the lake
Meal 2 -Eggs
1.5hour weight training
Meal 3 – chicken veg
1hour of cardio bike/cross trainer
Meal 4 – chicken veg, spoon of coconut oil
Meal 5 – chicken veg
I was now training every day, due to the amount of training I would choose weights circuits using body parts that did not hurt that day. I would only take a rest day if I could not move. Some days I was so tired I could not sit on a static bike and pedal. It sounds dramatic but at one point I was so fatigued and over trained that walking became an effort. But the weight flew off. In the last 4 weeks I dropped 8kg in weight. In order to get in to the best possible shape I would train up until 2 days before the show. Ideally I wanted to be ready a week out and have one week to rest but time was not on my side.
When I started my prep I was unaware of how much water you body holds and the significant difference this can make to the hardness f your physique. 2 weeks out (with advice form Dr Craig Joyce) I increased my water intake to 8 litres a day. I took 10g of vitamin C and a healthy spoon full of glycine before bed. The combined diuretic of this had me pissing like a racehorse every 5 minutes but drastically aided my weight loss. In the last week it contributed to a drop in 2kg.
I really began to notice the weight loss when my clothes started to feel too big. To stop my trousers falling down I had to purchase a new belt. Another tell tale sign of weight loss is the so called “crack head’ look. I begin loosing weight in the face, jaw lines and check bones became more prominent, gaunt is the correct term.
The subject of cheat meals is a controversial one. The main idea is that you have a a high carb meal to trick your body out of starvation mode and start burning more fat. A pizza every 2 weeks is ok but some people go completely over board and have a cheat day gorging on as much as they can before the day is over. This is counter productive. During my 5 weeks of zero carbs I had one high carb day where I consumed 500g of brown rice. That was enough to give my metabolism the kick start it needed after 3 weeks of depletion. So have your cheat meal but don’t go crazy. I think that having a Burger King is just reminding you of what you can’t have. If you can handle it go for it, but if its the tip of the junk food ice berg just up your clean carbs.
The main problem with this type of extreme dieting is the lack of flavour and cravings for something sweet. Diet Coke and other sugar free beverages became my new best friend, but 2 weeks out I had to stop drinking them as they contain chemicals that hold water. To add flavour a little blue cheese or spice mix rubbed onto a chicken breast livened things up. But again a week out this had to be dropped due to the sodium content.
Sodium is a tricky thing to control. Too much of it and it makes you hold water, too little and your sodium channels won’t work, you get cramp. I just added salt to all my meals in the weeks leading up to the comp. This way if its high then when you stop adding salt you will have lower levels. I stopped adding Salt a week out and only drank low sodium mineral water. I have no idea if this actually works, but during the comp I started to cramp up. This may have been from an accumulation of fatigue, in future I would maintain a little sodium in the last few days to stop this happening.
As I mentioned earlier I attended a very useful posing course at Empower gym. I am not going to go through what I learnt, thats a secret. What I will say is that there is no point dieting for weeks on end and getting in to great shape if you cannot present yourself well onstage. Don’t fall at the last hurdle. For a lot of people a Novice show will be the first time that they have stepped on a stage, in any form. Luckily I have been fortunate enough to have 14 years worth of performing as a DJ so I don’t mind making a tit out of my self in front of a crowd. Again just watching Pumping Iron will not give you the insight in to stage etiquette, posing and transitions to make you look like a pro. Study other body builders watch Olympia videos on youtube from across the ages and see what works.
Along with posing tanning is one of the final pieces of the jigsaw that can get completely forgotten about. Buy a good tanning product, read the instructions. Get a good base tan, I went on sun beds to get a nice colour first so I only needed 2 coats, again research this well if you come on stage looking like a muddy Rambo your going to get marked down. I had my buddy 2011 Novice 2nd place hero Andrey Yordinov help apply my tan. If you can’t find any help get a girl to do it. They know about these things and do it well.
I choose something that was not currently in the charts, The White Stripes Ball and Biscuit. It was slow enough to take my time, but builds and had enough edge to create an impact. Bodybuilding shows are boring as hell, if your music has already been played in a different class then the impact will be lost. Top tips, nothing to silly, or too emotional. Choose something that complements your physique. Thanks to Danielle for her help with my routine.
So with the all the training, dieting and water loss completed it was show time
As this was my first show and I had not exactly nailed my conditioning I decided to play it s safe and carb up the day before heres how it looked.
Saturday Carb up
9am – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine, 500ml of water, vit c
10am – 500ml water, vict c
11am – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine, 500ml water, chicken breast, vit c
12pm – 500ml water
1pm – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine, 500ml water, vit c
2pm – 500ml water
3pm – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine, 500ml water, vit c
4pm – 500ml water
5pm – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine, 500ml water, vit c
6pm – 500ml water,vit c water stops
7pm – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine, vit c (1 small bottle of volvic to sip on)
8pm – vit c, glass of wine
9pm – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine,
10pm – vit c, glass of wine
11pm – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine,
12am – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine, glycine
The idea was to gradually add carbs every 2 hours in small amounts so there was no over spill. the Lucine was meant to aid the uptake of glycogen. We (Team Clug) decided to use Lucine as opposed to hydrolysed whey protien due to the lower sugar content. The bottle of water was used so I could directly measure how much water I was drinking (if i had too) during the drying out period. I actually did not take on any water for 20 hours the wine in the evening was enough to quench my thirst.
Plan for the show day was as follows
KEEP LOOKING IN THE MIRROR ADD RICE CAKES IF SOFT
9am – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine, vit c
10am – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine, vit c leave for Newport
10.30am – arrive – glass of wine
11am – sweet potato 250g, 5g lucine glass of wine, vit c
12pm – (depending how I look supplement sweet potato for rice cakes) wine if looking soft
1pm – prejudging
45 mins prior – snickers
20 mins to pump – jelly sweets
(if soft keep adding carbs/ alcohol)
3pm – post judging meal, sausge, burger, or pizza slice
4pm – meal as above rice cake
5pm – meal as above rice cake
45 mins prior – snickers
20 mins to pump – jelly sweets
Again the emphasis was to play it safe not to eat anything out of the ordinary and to stay as dry as possible.
I weighed in at 88kg, I was very happy with this I expected to be around the 90kg mark. To have dropped 14kg in weight in around 10/ 8 weeks was an achievement. In total 18 entered the novice class. It was split in to light weight and heavy weight. I was placed in the heavy weight class competing against 8 other bodybuilders.
I spent most of my day in the pump up room, eating my food and getting ready to go on stage. The BNBF is a well oiled machine and the various classes flew by. I gave my self 30 minutes to pump up. Starting in a full tracksuit to get nice and warm and increase vascularity, I gradually removed layers until 10 mins before going on. At this point I started pumping my strongest body parts in front of the other competitors, playing a few mind games. Now I had consumed half a bottle of wine so was feeling slightly confident. The call for stage was shouted down the hall and we lined up ready to go.
In bodybuilding the majority of the decision making is done in the prejudging, therefore its vital to give everything you’ve got. A lot of people ask whether or not its weird standing in posing trunks on stage, but a combination of adrenaline booze and sugar rush ( I was coming up hard on a bag of jelly babys after 5 weeks of zero carbs) you forget about that and focus on winning. I had the first call out which is a good sign. I was happy with my presentation and felt at home on stage. Its funny the lights are so bright on stage you can barely see past the first row so in no way did I feel vulnerable.
Prejuding over I had a few hours to kill so went for coffee in Newport with Optimum Nutritions Liam Glynn and team Clugston. It was good to have a change of scenery before the evening show.
The evening show is open to the public, the theatre is full and there is lot more noise and buzz. Again the classes race by and its time to step onstage again. This time each competitor completes his 60 second free posing routine before a final bit of judging and the pose down! This all happened so fast its a bit of a blur but apparently I looked composed on stage?
Dave form Daves gym sponsored my class and presented me with my 2nd place trophy. I thought I would be lucky to get third place so was very happy with my placing. With my time constraints I exceeded my expectations and have now qualified for the British finals.
In hindsight I would have started dieting earlier and added cardio from the start. I was worried about loosing muscle but actually found that I can go very low carb and still maintain a full physique. Until you start dieting you don’t realise how much fat and water you are carrying, put simply if you start leaner there is less to come off. Get a plan and stick to it. Make sure you have a training partner, I had pleasure of training with Project Goliath who was also on a weight loss plan.
I think I could have had a darker tan, its surprising how bright the stage lights are and how much they flatten you out. Also I would would extend my carb up period. I found it quite hard to eat such a large volume of sweet potato in such a short time period. I think a 2 or 3 day carb up would be better, I would come in harder for the pre judging. I actually looked better in the evening at around 9pm. I would also make sure that my sodium levels where not too low on show day, during prejudging my hamstrings started playing up, so more salt.
Having actually done cardio for the first time since 2009 I am quite proud of my new levels of V02 max. Also being 2 stone lighter makes things like running a swimming a lot easier. Hopefully I can keep this up.
Overall it was a great experience, many lessons learnt, now on to the British Finals.