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Bigger and Badder
The Sacrifice of Competing
There’s a general misunderstanding about what it takes to compete at the IFBB Pro level. I’m not talking about genetics, work ethic, and/or commitment. What most people get wrong is that they think there’s something radically different about doing a Pro show. The truth is that it’s all the same, just a huge step up in whom you’re competing against. If you look around the pump-up room at a pro show, you’ll understand. However, ask any pro what they did to get ready and they’ll tell you that it was exactly the same stuff they did to win their last amateur show.
They got up just as early to start their day, did cardio, prepped the same meals, and probably even followed the same style of workout schedule: Monday: International Chest Day; Tuesday: leg day; Wednesday: shoulders, etc. Same shit. Different show.
In fact, most of them probably worked the same job. I know IFBB Pros who are everything from nurses to owners of shipping companies. Add in a family and kids to take care of, and the level they compete at seems to be trivial compared to making sure they don’t make sacrifices in those departments.
I’m not here to talk about the things that all competitors have in common. I’m here to speak about what IFBB Pros have to do to compete at that level. It’s in the following areas that Pros are different:
Ability to travel while prepping: I saw this first-hand the year I turned Pro. I found myself in a situation at MUTANT where I was working hard on projects and staring down the barrel of a huge trade show season, yet still entertaining the idea of competing. I figured all the top guys do it (travel to all the expos and still prep), so if I wanted to be a pro, now was the time to prove it despite the intimidating schedule. Most people competing at the amateur level will never know the travel schedule of an IFBB Pro during trade show season; it’s a bizarre experience being away from home for a full week at a time once or twice a month, for several months in a row, training in different gyms that you aren’t used to, sleeping in hotels. It all wears you down, so you have to stay focused.
Handling the food situation: While I was away at all those events, I kept track of how all the top guys did things. Some guys have meal prep companies meeting them in the lobby. Others have all their meals inside a big cooler when they check into the hotel. And a small number just live on the edge and hope for friendly chefs at the hotel who will cook some clean meals. Although I’m a fan of either taking my meals or using a meal-prep service, I’ve greatly improved my skills for eating in restaurants while dieting. You have to learn to feed your body during times of airport delays and backwards schedules.
Training at messed-up times: This is actually the hardest part some days. To be a Pro, you have to do a whole bunch of things that will interrupt your plan. Training legs at 6 a.m. is about as messed up as scheduling can get for me. That’s what I call “worst case scenario.” The next day, you might have to train at midnight. That’s really weird for the body, but things have to get done.
So it’s not that I think the Pros have to make more sacrifices, but I definitely think they have to have skills that most other bodybuilders don’t have in these situations.
Train like hell!