Yesterday was the culmination of an extremely long journey for myself. A life long dream was achieved and I got on stage to put myself on display up against others in a competition known simply as bodybuilding. Now for anyone interested in getting on stage themselves I will share with you some of my thoughts and feelings of maybe what to expect and how hard you must be driven to prepare if you want to succeed. I am by no means an expert on the subject, but nobody is an expert in their first show, so maybe some of my thoughts will be helpful in getting you to the stage for the first time also.
First off I will start at the beginning and say that this was a dream of mine when I was younger. I just never thought I was big enough or ripped enough or whatever, and I let my doubts hold me back. Well then life happened, and I got married and had kids, and my wife and I wanted her to be a stay at home mother, so I ended up working 60-70 hours a week to pay the bills. Needless to say training fell to the wayside.
Around the age of 30 I noticed that my metabolism just didn't run quite as fast as it used to, and over about a 1-2 year span I put on close to 30 pounds of chub. Going from a average looking 175 to about 205 with a double chin. My kids were older and life was simpler so I decided to start training a little to get back into shape. I started researching online a little and found different forums and what not!
Interview with Jason Slepica, the Night before Prejudging
Now I had goals of strength in mind and not much concern for fat loss, but then the idea of online body transformations came up and I was all for it. I figured I could win that. Got me thinking though, why not take it all the way and get my scared little behind up on stage with some real competition like I always wanted to. And this time there was nothing that was going to hold me back.
Over three months of preparation led me to yesterday. Diet, training, cardio, tanning, supplements...the list goes on. The preparation for such an event can be overwhelming. You better get your head strong before you try to get your body strong for this because it can break you down at times. Now I did get a trainer to set me up with a diet plan and set me in a different direction workout wise but they can't put the work in for you. It has to be you who is determined enough to achieve this goal after all it's not the trainer's goal, it's yours.
I personally never wanted to give up, and feel that if you do come to that opinion you should give up because this type of competition just ain't for you. I trained as hard as I felt I could and stuck to the diet plan 99% of the time. This is where it starts. The dedication you show on the diet will motivate you to show the same dedication in the gym with your training.
Novice Med Tall Class Prejudging featuring Jason Slepica
Now on to the show...
Backstage for the first time you start to get mentally aware of just how strong your competition will be. Guys start getting ready and popping shirts off, and you start looking around for the guys that will be in your class. And even though you shouldn't, you start to size them up. "...am I bigger than that guy...am I as shredded as that guy...?" You can't help but question yourself in your own head, but you have to try to forget it. If will only make you more nervous, and that will lead to your downfall.
Now don't think you can half-ass any one of your workouts and intend to win because - as you will see - if you do this there will be some big ass ripped up dudes that will be on stage with you and good prep could get you the victory. Sit back stage and relax and get your meals in, and kick your feet up. Just simply wait for your group and then go rock it! I personally went with a spray tan to simplify things too, which was $100 bucks but these people spray you three times, then glaze you before you hit the stage. No need for screwing up a pro tan or over-glazing so you look like you rolled in Crisco. (And yes I saw that being used) Make sure to get your pump up in. Don't start too soon and wear yourself out, but don't miss the opportunity either. I saw it happen.
The stage is something that no one can prepare you for. You walk out under the lights and there are a panel of ten judges just waiting to see you in a Speedo. Oh, and not to mention the hundreds in the crowd. Just focus and listen is all you need to do. The head judge says everything loud and clear, telling you what pose you need to hit and then counts 1...2...and by two you need to hit it! If you're a little late don't sweat it. Not that big of a deal. I know I was more focused on hitting the poses then worried about hitting it on the count of 2, and it worked out ok for me.
Jason Slepica Posing Routine and Finals
Now I believe this is where the most prep fails. You need to practice-practice-practice-practice-practice your posing until you could do it in your sleep. They will make you hold poses way longer than you think they will. If you think workouts are tough, give this a shot one time and tell me which you think is harder. I walked away with more muscle soreness and exhaustion from prejudging than any workout I ever did. The front relaxed is nothing like what the name says. You are not even close to relaxed and you will be in this pose for almost 60 seconds when you first hit the stage. Be prepared on this one because it will wear you out. Prejudging is when they decide the winner so this is where you really need to shine. Later in your individual routine it's just to please the crowd, so have some fun with it.
Overall I had an amazing time and got to meet some great people including some Internet friends including Steve Shaw and his wife, and wheelchair bodybuilder Rich Knapp and his wife. Hung out back stage with some guys that I'm sure I will see at future shows and really just tried to make the most of the experience. I did place second in my class which for me was disappointing because I really thought I had it, but I will just have to get hard at it and take the next one. I'll see what the judges had to say and work on it.
Now I know people will say I should be happy with second for my first show, but I would have rather been blown away by overwhelming competition than to be that close to winning, and have it taken away and second guess what minor thing I could have done differently to take the win. I guess that's just the extreme competitor in me. But the reality is you need that drive if you want to win in this sport. It does have a side of arrogance and ego. I mean let's be serious, we are developing our bodies for others to look at. Trying to be the best is what will help you do well up on that stage. Doing it half assed will get you a half assed placing.
One giant thank you to Steve "Bendthebar" Shaw who has driven and inspired me more than I think he will ever know.
Interview with Jason Slepica, post Competition