Nothing irritates me more lately than hearing someone say, “I’m going to compete.” Then looking up and seeing a person with no shape, no muscle and displaying no evidence that they’ve ever seriously dieted or trained.
When did competing become something so trivial? So blasé. Just something you do. You’ve been training for a few months, “you look sick bro…. you should compete!” Why? Just because you play mini golf every now and then, doesn’t mean you go enter 18 hole golf tournaments.
I don’t compete.
Why? Because I have a shit physique and I’m too small. There, I said it.
I should say from the start, that I have the utmost respect and admiration for the guys and girls who set the standard within the competition community. It’s the ones at the other end of the scale I have issues with
Competing to me means honestly believing you have a chance at winning the competition. Whatever it may be. Believing that you’ll be the best out of the people there.
It’s not participating. It’s not showing up. It’s about winning. Being number 1. That’s what competing is to me.
Competitive bodybuilding is a ridiculously arrogant sport. It’s selfish and arrogant. I don’t say that as a criticism. It’s more of an observation.
It is an individual pursuit of a completely subjective idea of perfection.
It’s spending years and years working your ass off in the gym and kitchen trying to build your body into something that the general public hate and only a small select few will appreciate.
It’s sacrificing the normal social aspects of life, so you can train and eat in certain ways in order to grow and shape your body.
And after you’ve spent the majority of the years looking puffy and overweight, every now and then you’ll diet down to the brink of death on no food and hours of cardio, risk ruining your hormones levels for life, forcing those around you to put up with your moods due to hunger and not enough sleep, so you can stand on a stage because you honestly believe your body is better than everyone else’s.
For a trophy.
I understand it is more than that. I understand I’m looking at it from a narrow-minded point of view. However to me, if I’m going to put myself through the hell of getting ready for a bodybuilding show. If I’m genuinely risking my health for the rest of my life. If I’m risking my relationships with those close to me and even risking my job in order to stand on stage, then I’m doing all of that to win.
Some how, somewhere, that idea of winning seems to have been lost on most competitors these days.
Bodybuilding shows are turning into expos, not competitions. The number of competitors grow each year, while the number of people who should actually be standing on stage, basically stays the same. I used to give my brother shit years ago when he competed saying, “wow, you were the best of the 4 people that turned up. Aaawesome!” What I see now, almost 20 years later, is even though there are 15-20 people in each division, really only 4-5 should actually be there. Back when Damon was competing, only the best people did turn up. If that meant there were only 3 or 4 then so be it. Everyone else stayed in the gym trying to build a physique worthy of standing on stage. It was a case of train for a few years. Build a physique, and then if you’re good enough, maybe think about competing. Today it’s more: want to compete because all your friends are. Start training for the first time. A few months later stand on stage regardless of condition or lack of muscle. I had someone say to me they didn’t want to feel left out of their circle of friends by not competing. My reply “if your friends jumped off a cliff?”
I thought standing in front of a large group of people in your underwear was supposed to be something night mares are made of? Why would you willingly do that when you’re not in condition?
Bodybuilding and physique shows are the hottest ticket in town. Everyone is doing them. Even those who don’t really train. The federations keep making different divisions to cater for the lack of muscle all these new competitors don’t have. Now everyone can win a trophy! I would say pretty soon it will be a case of screw training, just slap on some contest colour, buy some posing trunks or a bikini and jump on stage. Except as harsh as it sounds, for many, that would appear to be the case already.
After looking at the pictures from the most recent contests from around the country, my jaw was hanging low with a genuinely confused look on my face. I found myself repeatedly saying, “how does that person think they can stand on stage? They have no muscle!” I wont even get into the bikini / fitness girls that stand there looking like they are about 15 weeks of dieting away from STARTING a comp prep.
Call me an asshole but what do these people see when they look in the mirror?
Me? When I look in the mirror I see a small, relatively muscular guy with arms that are too small, legs that are too small and non-existent calves. My shoulders are too wide for the proportions of my body and it makes everything else look small. Yes I have abs and veins running down my arms but do I think I could stand on stage in a bodybuilding show? HELL NO!
Maybe they will make the “small arm, small leg and no calf” division soon. Hang on, that’s fitness model isn’t it?
I’d make a federation where competitors are selected to compete. People send in pictures of themselves and the best are chosen. This way not just anyone can turn up and stand on stage. Only the best. You need to have muscle, have a physique and be in condition to even be considered. From the beginning of the screening process, the competition has begun. Who gets in? Who doesn’t? There is a purpose to this. A meaning. Not just pay your registration, fill out a form and turn up. Even though you’ve only been training for 6 months and you’re only competing because your friends said, “you should totally compete, you’re huge!”
I think that bodybuilding should be considered one of the hardest sports there is. Competitive bodybuilding takes it to the extreme. I am genuinely astounded at the amount of armchair enthusiasts that have invaded the sport. They don’t diet. They don’t train. Yet they wear the logos, drink the cool brand supplements. They take enough selfies on a daily basis to fill a hard drive. Posting them online as progress pics “can finally see the cuts coming through!” No you fucking cant! You look no different to 6 months ago! Changing filters and lighting isn’t conditioning!
I have people coming to me frequently saying they want to compete. Borrowing the popular internet phrase, the first thing that comes to mind is, do you even lift?
I’m not saying people shouldn’t have dreams to stand on stage. If that’s something that drives you then that’s great. I’m aware that everyone needs to start somewhere. However, just because you lost a truck load of fat and look 100% better than you did 12 month go, it doesn’t mean you’re competition ready.
I used to be fat. Very fat. I understand what it feels like to go from being a ball of lard to lean. I understand the work it takes to get there. I understand the feeling of elation you get when you can fit clothes half the size of your old ones. I understand the feeling of wanting to stand on the rooftops and scream “look at me I’m no longer fat!” I understand the feeling of wanting to show everyone how much better you look after you’ve changed your body. I get it, I honestly do. What I don’t understand though is why that qualifies some people to think they can stand on stage in bodybuilding contests? You’re standing there being judged on your body, not your story.
If you lost a ton of weight and you look the best you’ve ever looked, that’s awesome, congratulations. Be happy with what you’ve done and make sure you never go back to the way you were. But just because you’re skinny now, it doesn’t mean you should enter a bodybuilding contest. Leave that to the people who should really be there. The people who have spent their lives training for it.
I know many will read this and say I have no right to comment on competitions when I don’t compete myself. What right do I have to judge other people? Because it’s different when a panel of judges gets you to pose in various ways, picks apart your body and then ranks you? I’m a prick for saying people shouldn’t have dreams and aspirations and blah blah blah. But it is my respect for the people who genuinely should be in these competitions that has shaped my opinions. I look at some of the top guys in the country like Nathan Wallace and Justin Firgaira and ask myself do I really think I could compete with them? Of course not. They would absolutely destroy me. I would be laughed off stage and rightfully so. That doesn’t mean that I stop training and dieting. I’m trying to build the best body I can, for me. I’m just never going to be good enough to stand on stage.
When I was younger I wanted to play in the NBA. I was a good basketball player too. But I’m 5’4. It was never going to happen. As much as I wanted it to, short guys from Australia don’t end up in the US playing professional basketball. And just like I wasn’t destined to play in the NBA, not everyone is supposed to be a competitive bodybuilder. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s not for everyone. That doesn’t mean you can’t train and build the best body for you.
Fuck a trophy.