To Top

Judgment Day

It had been nearly a year since I had sat down with Randy and drawn up a plan for him to compete in his next contest—and nab his first win—a full eight pounds heavier in all the right places than he’d been at his debut. Thanks to a stroke of luck, he actually had more time to prepare for the show than we had previously thought he would.

The contest was supposed to be held in mid-September, but the promoter had been forced to scramble for a new venue. For the previous couple of years he had been holding his events at a very nice but very stuffy college theater. And I don’t mean stuffy as in needing better ventilation, but rather stuffy as in, “I say, my good man, what the deuce were you thinking when you decided to wear that horrendous ascot?” Seems that a janitor cleaning up after the June bodybuilding event had found an empty whiskey bottle beneath one seat, and—horrors!—the remains of a smoked joint in a bathroom stall. Heavens to Betsy, alcohol and marijuana in a college, where students live chastely and devote themselves to study! Outraged school officials declared bodybuilding fans a pack of degenerate hooligans and banished them.

Meanwhile, all of Randy’s hard training, strict dieting and putting up with a pompous, overbearing bastard like me had come down to one day, and it was here at last. This was a pretty big regional show, second only to the New England in terms of overall numbers, quality and prestige. More important, it featured novice divisions, which gave my protégé a fighting chance to take home the glory.

Weigh-ins and competitor registration were scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. I’d told Randy I’d meet him there shortly after. It was about an hour’s drive north of our area. When I showed up at a little past 9:30, he was freaking out.

“Where were you, Ron? I’ve been here since 8:30!” His eyes, slightly sunken in his drawn face, were wild.

“Calm down, calm down. The prejudging doesn’t even start until noon. What’s the rush?”

“Look at all these guys!” he hissed, eyes darting back and forth as if we were in a den of sleeping vipers that would attack at the slightest noise.

What I saw brought back memories of the nearly two dozen contests I’d competed in since 1989. Camped out and spaced nearly evenly around the dimly lit auditorium were what looked to be about 70 male and female competitors and their entourages, which included significant others and coaches—sometimes one and the same in the case of the women. They looked like refugees.

They wore sweats and track suits, with feet propped up on the chairs in front of them. Some dozed or at least tried to. The stench of Pro Tan was thick in the air. To paraphrase Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore in “Apocalypse Now,” I love the smell of Pro Tan in the morning. Smells like…victory. Actually, to me it always meant that it was time to get up there and show what you’d been working your butt off for over the past few months. To me, that alcohol-tinged aroma meant, “Let’s get it on. Bring it!”

Randy didn’t seem to share that enthusiasm but appeared overly edgy and nervous. I was starting to wish I’d given him the go-ahead to bring that bottle of cheap wine, so he could take a few pulls and chill the hell out.

“How you feelin’, kid?”

“Thirsty,” he rasped. He was exaggerating a bit. I’d instructed him to drink a gallon of water the previous day but to stop all fluid intake at 9 p.m. Since his body was still in the mode of flushing water out thanks to the sodium loading and depleting process, it would continue to shed excess fluid long after he stopped drinking it. I had roughly estimated that he’d take the stage around 1 p.m., meaning that 16 hours would have passed since he stopped fluids. That should be about right, from my experience. Much longer than that, and he’d just flatten out, no matter how many carbs he ate. I say he was exaggerating because I knew there were always a few competitors who took the water elimination to dangerous extremes, going 24 or even 48 hours without drinking prior to the contest. As the body, including the muscles, is composed of roughly 70 percent water, I never thought that was smart—not that I never tried that brainless strategy.

Back in 1993 I took the advice of a Collegiate Nationals winner—who had clearly not majored in premed—and dehydrated myself for close to three days before a show. Did I forget to mention he also advised me to sit in a sauna for 30 minutes, twice a day, on the Thursday and Friday leading up to Saturday’s event? Imagine my horror when I saw that my bodyweight had dropped from 176 to 158 pounds in that brief time. Hitting poses during prejudging was a challenge, as I felt weak as a kitten with the flu and ready to pass out.

I really knew I’d taken dehydration too far when I drank an entire pitcher of water with my meal between prejudging and the night show, yet didn’t urinate so much as a drop—SpongeRon, that’s how dry I was. I was also so woozy under the bright stage lights, you could have told me I lived in a pineapple under the sea. My kidneys were probably looking like prunes too.

“Who do you think’s in my class?” Randy continued in that conspiratorial whisper that was starting to irritate me. I looked around with him. There was no way of telling how big anyone was. The contestants either wore clothes that were so loose they could have been smuggling an extra coach under there, or looked as if they’d been planning on climbing Everest. A lot of the men especially were dressed in multiple layers to create an illusion of greater size; a couple of T-shirts, a sweatshirt over that, then a big hooded sweatshirt over that. You couldn’t tell if the guy choking on a plain rice cake in the back row was 150 pounds or 250. The “psych-out” was effective only until it was time to weigh in, because you had to do that in your posing trunks, and nothing else. It had never ceased to amaze me how many of the dudes I had been intimidated by as mass monsters turned out to have a whole lot less mass once I saw their actual physiques. Sometimes it reminded me of those little wooden Russian dolls within dolls.

The women’s fitness and figure competitors had already registered. Since they would compete in height classes, they weren’t required to weigh in.

“Women’s novice bodybuilding!” an NPC official yelled out into the auditorium. A lone woman, a pretty blonde in her late 20s or early 30s, sauntered up onstage where the scale and tables were set up to record your weight, assign you a competitor number and badge, and collect your posing music. I looked around for stragglers, but apparently she was the only one.

“Congratulations, you win!” I hollered, and a few people chuckled. She’d won by default. That had never happened to me, though there were times in the past when I’d envied such luck. Hey, as long as no one else knew you’d been the only one in the class and didn’t have to beat anyone, you could proudly—maybe not too proudly—list that as one of your titles.

If this gal were also crossing over to the women’s open, as Randy was doing today in the men’s, she would have some real competition. There were about 10 other women bodybuilders scattered around the seats, and I recognized a few as athletes I’d seen do very well in previous shows.

The officials took care of her, and then we heard the call for the novice lightweight men. There were only two novice classes, for those over and under 175 pounds. Ten men went up to register for the lightweight class. I was a bit surprised, but then again, our area hadn’t had a novice division in any of its events for many years.

“Man, I am so nervous,” Randy said.

“Just relax,” I told him in my most soothing tone. “You’ve done everything you could possibly do. All the hard work is over; now it’s just time to have fun and let the judges sort you guys out.”

About 10 minutes later, which I’m sure felt like 10 hours to Randy, we heard the call for novice heavyweights. I was very curious to see the guys Randy would be up against, but I was more interested to see what he weighed. Apparently he’d been awake since 4 a.m. and had been eating a small bowl of oatmeal and a half a yam every hour on the hour. We hadn’t discussed weight in more than a week, and he’d been right around 200 then. Six other guys shuffled to their feet and made their way to the stage with Randy, who was doing his best to check them out without being obvious—and failing miserably. As first in line he was the first to strip down to his trunks and step on the digital scale. The guy weighing him announced the weight to the other official, who was sitting next to him and recorded it. They were too far away and talking too softly for me to hear anything.

“195!” Randy shouted to me, not caring that he was making a spectacle of himself. He pumped his fist in the air. “Yes!”

That was 11 pounds heavier than he’d been at his first contest the year before—and with better condition. Our goal had been an eight-pound gain, but thanks to a lot of heavy training and a lot of good eating, he’d exceeded my expectations. Even from this distance I could see how much improved his upper chest, biceps and calves were. I could also see the grin fixed on his face as he put his clothes back on and watched the rest of his class weigh in. A couple of them were clearly not in the proper condition. They looked as if they needed at least another month to get as lean as they were supposed to be.

There was only one man who dwarfed Randy in size, but Randy was much leaner and better balanced than the guy, who had very little back development and hams that were far behind his quads. That was evident just from seeing him in trunks for maybe 90 seconds. There was one Latin guy I thought would be the one to give Randy the most trouble. Other than that, the kid had a really good shot today. As for the open light heavyweights, we wouldn’t see them for another 20 or 30 minutes, but Randy would certainly look like he belonged this time around.

Judgment Day was upon Randy now, and this time he was prepared.

Editor’s note: Ron Harris is the author of Real Bodybuilding: Muscle Truth From 25 Years in the Trenches, available at IM

Instantized Creatine- Gains In Bulk

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Features