With 16 weeks of preparation behind us, today was the day all the hard work would be presented on the stage. Up at 5am to begin the day and on the road to Auckland by 7am, the long day ahead of us was being met with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Deano (our younger brother) had pushed extremely hard this prep, our goal right from the word go was to bring next level conditioning and absolutely smash the physique he brought to his last show – we knew we’d accomplished that 6 weeks out, everything was coming together and Dean was just looking better every time we saw him.
Its a funny thing competition prep, people try to understand what you’re going through but unless you’ve been there and done it yourself or lived with someone thats going through it is really hard to comprehend the type of focus and determination that is required to be successful. Transforming your body to the extremes of the bodybuilding stage is such a personal battle. The intensity that you have to meet every day, with every workout, every meal, every cardio session becomes un-paralleled and to uphold this intensity for 16 weeks or sometimes more is what makes it such a challenging sport. Your whole mind set is consumed by the strictest of routines with a high physical output and whether you like it or not life continues to happen around you and there is always things that come up to throw you off your game.
We had to be up at the show a little early to get Dean weighed in and check his registration were correct. This was when we discovered Dean was the only one in his class. This happens quite often at NZ bodybuilding shows as there are lots of different classes and often the low competitor attendance means competitors are scattered all over the place. All that hard work to compete against yourself in our opinion makes the first place trophy a worthless souvenir. We were confident he had a package that could be competitive onstage with anybody so we made the decision to put him up into the Open Mens Class. The toughest part of the Nabba/WFF criteria is if you are in Nabba bodybuilding which Dean is, the classes are defined by height and the competitors weight is irrelevant. This basically means that you can get some absolute monsters in your class and there is nothing you can do but grin and bare it and give it your best. In this instance Dean weighed in at 76.5kg and the guy he was going up against came in at 89.9kg – we were giving away 13.4kgs of muscle- the odds were stacked against us.
We got the athletes meeting out of the way and made our way back stage, they had little dressing rooms that held about 5-6 people in so we found one down the back and set up in a corner with our washing basket full of gears. We go about our tanning protocols a little different than others, some people tan for days before the show. We do a standard spray tan the day before as a soft base then apply top coat thick on the day of the show, bake it with a hairdryer, set it with hairspray then touch it up as we see fit. It comes off relatively quick with baby oil and paper towels so it kind of confines the mess to one day and then it’s all over with. While this is all going on we were alternating between protein/fat meals and protein/dry carbs to fill him up and keep him tight. Water gets pulled back ever so slightly on comp day, just enough to wash each meal down and support the carbohydrate uptake – if water is eliminated there is nothing to attract the carbohydrates into the glycogen stores, it doesnt matter how many carbs you eat if there is no water available in the system you’ll end up looking flat and soft.
We spent a relaxed couple of hours getting the tan to where we wanted it to be, I say relaxed as in we took our time with the process – I was sweating beads as we were in a small warm dressing room and rolling tan on (with a paint roller) all angles of the body is quite the workout. A common feeling shared backstage is the thought of missing your call, you’re sitting back relaxed but always a little tense that you’re not going to get given enough notice to pump up before you are rushed out on the stage. The back stage marshals in this case are absolute saviors, in our case a lady called Bex was darting around notifying everybody when they’d be up regardless of how far away we were or how many times we asked lol, it really does make all the difference backstage for the athletes. Deans class wasn’t on until last, the ‘Open Mens’ class is like the grand finale, generally the biggest most muscular competitors are in the open mens class and they like to save the best for last.
So we got the call – ‘about 30mins and ill need you ready to go ‘- got some quick carbs into him and started to pump up, nothing crazy just nice and slow to get the blood moving and the carbs around the system. After 10 minutes or so he put the dumbells down and I touched the tan up just to make sure everything was looking crisp. Bit more of a pump up then ushered to the back of the performance stage. Thats when it all starts sinking in, standing back stage eyeing up your competition, sometimes its the first chance you get to have a look at who you’re going up against. Routines are first – 60 seconds posing to music of your choice, they dont score the routine but it’s your first impression on the judges. The best idea is to go out there and hit your best shots to highlight your strong points. I waited for Dean to come back stage then I quickly ran around to the crowd to watch him go through the mandatory poses. I managed to find a whole row of empty seats right by where the show photographer was set up – pretty sure there was no-one there for a reason haha but bugger it im going to get a good look at how this all plays out …. and some good phone photos !! They put them through their poses over and over THEN they changed the athletes positions – this was the indicator it was going to be close, if it was clear cut they’d push them through mandatories then announce the winner. Deans competition was thicker set through the chest and delts however Deans legs were stand out, each man had poses that slightly tipped in his favour and they were really getting worked hard up there. Bit of a freestyle pose down to finish it all off and they were ready to announce the winner – ‘in second place number 27 Dean Lawrence’ – bugger !! So close !! I ran back to see him and congratulated him on putting in such a solid effort, there was nothing in it and he gave it 150%. A little bit disappointed that he didn’t win, but hey, all you have to do is be better than your last showing and you’re making progress. I got some fluids into him and started toweling off the tan while friends and family came back stage to congratulate him on the physique he presented. We caught up with the judges and got some really positive feedback – they said it was that close the extra mass and muscle maturity on the other competitor was what tipped it in his favour. Bodybuilding is a subjective sport, everyone has their own opinion on what looks the best and every physique is different to the next one, in this case the judges really had their work cut out for them and the good thing for the competitors is the judging panel at Nabba/WFF were all current and ex bodybuilding champions. So when you’re up on that stage you are getting judged by peers that know what you’ve been through and can respect the work that has put in, that goes a long way.
The next thing on the agenda was food then home. We hit up a burger bar in Ponsonby, kicked back out the front on the tables looking out at a unobscured view of the sky tower while we reflected on the day that had been the Nabba/WFF Auckland Champs.