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by Big E
So, you want to know what it’s like to get started in this sport? Most people don’t start working out and hitting the gym with the idea of one day obtaining a pro card. Many times it’s just someone looking to improve their self-image or an athlete looking to train to help improve their game, whatever sport they play. In my case, I just wanted to be the biggest and strongest all around.
My father got into weight training, and I started at a very young age. I honestly had no thoughts of competing until I turned 17. At the time, I had no idea that there were teen competitions, so I figured I would turn competitive around the age of 22. From the beginning I was very determined to meet my goals, no matter how long it took.
Looking back, I can clearly remember the night that changed my life. I was about 13 years old. Around 11 pm I was flipping through some channels and I came across an old Mr. Olympia show. Watching the competition got me so motivated that I jumped off the couch straight to the floor and started doing push-ups.
That one memory plays a very important role in my success in this sport. That memory gives me the willpower to come to the gym consistently every day and not just show up to show up! When I get to the gym I am full of determination and drive, I am ready to do whatever I have to just to get that muscle stimulation. Muscle doesn’t grow overnight; you have to work really hard for it. Dorian Yates put it well when he said, “Add a brick to your home.”
Keep in mind that every single day counts. If there’s ever a day that you don’t feel like training, you better know that your competitor is in the gym trying to surpass you. During my high school years I wasn’t really into partying and I didn’t go out too much. People would ask where I was and my friends would answer, “He is probably working out.” That’s just how it was.
All I ever did when I wasn’t in school was work to pay for my supplements and train. Some people would say I had no life, but I never saw it that way. Like I said, I wasn’t really into partying; my idea of entertainment was playing sports and working out. After 2 years, I was set on competing. I was so sure that I wanted to be a part of this sport that nothing else mattered. I was enjoying what I was doing and the outcomes I knew I would gain.
A lot of people, mainly teens, come to me and tell me that they want to compete, but they do not understand the hard work and sacrifices that have to be made to become a champion. Just because you work out and have some kind of build on your frame does not mean that you have what it takes to be a competitive bodybuilder. Some of these people even believe that they are going to step on stage and take the show because they have big arms or big shoulders. What they do not realize is that their entire lifestyle is going to have to change if they want to be competitive in this sport.
If you want to win, you can’t slack off. You have to do what it takes every single day and be very consistent with your intense training. Show up when you don’t want to show up and finish every single set to each rep. When you don’t feel like showing up, you better think twice because each workout counts. There are no excuses… “I’m too tired today” or “It’s only one day, what’s the big deal?” Missing training sessions is unacceptable, especially when it comes to doing cardio. Even if you have to wake up earlier and do cardio in the morning, you better find a way to get it in because it doesn’t matter how big you are. If you show up out of shape or holding water, you simply won’t win.
The training is actually the easiest part for me; getting through the diet is what I consider the hardest thing in this sport. How you stick to your diet shows what you are made of. There are no words to describe the dieting, you just have to experience it to know how difficult it gets, especially the last couple of weeks. It’s stressful and it even affects your personality, making you more susceptible to a short temper.
Dieting can take a real toll on your body. For example, your energy levels become very low and you may start blacking out in the middle of your workouts (at least I do). Dieting is what will make or break you as a competitor. Anybody can work out, put on some pro tan, and get on stage, but only a true competitor will do what it takes to win.
Growing up, I did not worry about having an expensive watch or going out with friends to party. Those things did not fulfill me. I was happy being able to afford all my monthly supplements and noticing new gains. If becoming a competitive bodybuilder is something you really want to do, think about it twice like I did. The road is hard and sacrifices have to be made. It’s an every day inner struggle. Most of the time you will be alone, people won’t understand why you put yourself through this kind of torture, and no matter how much you may explain it they may never understand. You will ruin your relationship or relationships.
Despite all this, this is the path I have chosen and these are the sacrifices I have made. If you were to ask me if I would do it again, without hesitation my answer would be yes. I would do it all again because even though I have given up a lot of freedom and luxuries, when I accomplish my goal of being crowned Mr. Olympia I will walk amongst a very select few. I will be remembered as one of the greatest bodybuilders in history.