Saturday, August 6, 2011

NPC USA Nationals, What Happens in Vegas...

by Kris Pitcher

When I tell people about my recent trip to Las Vegas for the 2011 NPC USA Bodybuilding, Figure, Men and Women's Physique and Bikini Championships and IFBB Pro Qualifier (put that on a poster) I heard the same thing over and over. Did you compete?

As I looked at my chunky-monkey physique, albeit shaping up nicely for my upcoming regional show October 1st...I thought there's something to share here. This was confirmed by my friend who not only is always interested in what I'm doing, but she's also fascinated and thought I should share it with readers.

Todd Scott
Competing at the national level is like any other sport, you're with the cream of the crop. In order to qualify to go to nationals you need to place in the top two (for bodybuilding) at a regional, national qualifying show. Not all regional shows are sanctioned by the NPC (National Physique Committee) as national qualifiers.

People travel from far and wide to compete, and support, in the event. Because travel effects your hydration level a lot of people like to arrive on a Tuesday for a show beginning on Friday. There are two schools of thought; arrive early and get settled, find the grocery store, the gym etc. and hunker down; or arrive the day before prejudging having stayed at home right up to the last minute where you have all your own comforts.

The schedule usually entails two days prejudging on Friday - where the judges compare your physiques, run you through mandatory poses, and you complete 60-90 seconds of "free posing" to show them your physique. This is where you are scored. An athlete must "hold" his/her condition through the second day of the competition when the evening show occurs.

The evening show is where each athlete is announced by name, given a short bio, they do their choreographed posing routine to music, placings and awards are given. It's usually decided, but placing could be changed, and should you win your weight class you will compete against the other class winners for the overall. It's truly a marathon for these competitors.

During this time they are carefully managing their food and water intake. They might be taking pictures and sending them to a coach who's at another location to make a determination on what/how much they should eat/drink. They are applying competition tanning color, trying to rest...all while being anxious and up against the best of the best. This is the big time.

The shows are sponsored by supplement companies and in the lobby of the venue at UNLV there were loads of goodies to be had. Sample packets of protein, protein drinks, bars, energy drinks, amino acids and all kinds of things. It was like a bodybuilders trick-or-treating heaven! I loaded up!

It's "big time" because professional status is at stake. Winning your "pro card" is the goal for these athletes. This elevates your rank and status, you become a professional bodybuilder. The class winners of certain weight divisions (the judges decide) win their pro card. This is the road to becoming a professional in this sport.

I certainly confirmed that dieting and traveling go hand in hand. I cooked, weighed, bagged and deep froze meals for myself and my husband for 3 1/2 days. We each carried on a soft-sided cooler which fit under the airplane seat. Everything was perfectly frozen after our 4 hour travel day. I even threw in a few small cooler packs (which I was prepared for airport security to take away from me).

Prepared with two smaller lunch bag sized thermal bags and my cooler packs we were prepared to take 3 meals each where ever we went. We were set. When we got to LV we hit the grocery store for eggs and veggies, and we had everything we needed to stay on track for our own contest prep.

If you've read this far you deserve to hear the juicy part...we stayed NW of the strip in a rental house. It was very adequate, but unless you are WAY out of town, things are working class. We came home Friday night to find news vans, crime tape and what looked like a CSI scene. Only this was no drama. There was a murder several houses down. I slept tight knowing it would be a very safe night.

It was a great experience for us to see a show of this calibre. Motivated, humbled, and filled with pride for the athletes we were there to support we came home energized for our own journey to the stage.

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