3 weekends in the life of a competitive bodybuilder - by Ian Munro, 2006 NPA Yorkshire Heavyweight Champion
Photography by Alex McKenna & Michael Phillips
Ian Munro has long been one of the top Natural bodybuilders in the UK, and back in 2006, he set his sights on 3 competitions – never one to give less than 100% in prep for competition, here in Ian’s own words is his fascinating and at times very funny account of what it means to be a top competitor - MJP
Friday 26th May
Arrive at Cardiff airport 11:30am in preparation for BNBF Scottish Championships
Plane delayed due to fog for 13 hours. I’m not happy…
Saturday 27th MayArrive in Edinburgh 16 hours later at 3 amDuring my delay at airport, all of my food for carbing up and preparing was in my luggage (already loaded onto the damn plane) so I actually ate virtually nothing for 13 hours - grrrrr. Contest prep dieting is hard enough, so believe me, its even harder when you can’t get your teeth into even your diet food! By this time my mental state was none too good and I really considered going home and withdrawing from the show. My partner Jayne was brilliant in trying to keep me focused but her parents, who were coming along to the show to support me, couldn’t stand the delays any longer so they cancelled and went home which was a big disappointment to us. I decided that I was going to drive Jayne home and catch a train to Edinburgh Saturday morning. This was for an additional cost of £118. This bodybuilding market aint a cheap hobby…
Fortunately, the plane finally departed and we arrived in Edinburgh in a bit of a state in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Sunday 28th MayArrive at show venue at 11amDuring my stay I only carbed up on the morning of the show with a few rice cakes, honey, jam, and some brandy, with dark chocolate and niacin a short time before going on stage.
The show went okay but the more I look at it the more I felt I was unlucky with my second place, but Jon Clark, who placed first, is a very good competitor and because it was so close I decided I was going to do the NPA Yorkshire the following Sunday. This was my only intended show (originally) but because I felt I was ready I decided to travel to Edinburgh so that Jayne and her parents could have a short holiday (which never happened) for putting up with me dieting.
Monday 29th May
Meeting Jon Clark and Rachael Hayes at the airport going home gave me a mixture of feelings. I had made friends with them both and really enjoyed their company but seeing him with the Overall Scottish trophy fuelled me for the NPA Yorkshire. If I had pushed a quality bodybuilder like Jon then I must have improved.
Just to cap things off the plane was delayed again coming home for a further couple of hours.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday
I used these days to deplete and train the whole upper body over these days, and dropped to around 50g of carbs per day. After my last session, Thursday lunch time I drank a carb drink straight after training and went home and ate rice cakes, potatoes, bananas and honey for the first stage then slowed things down with some apricot pieces and low GI carbs. This continued until Friday evening then I stopped carbing.
The reason for this is that in the past I have bloated and felt uncomfortable with my look and feel that I need a day to calm my body down. Then I will eat only chicken and a bit of broccoli the day before, cutting my water back at around 4pm Saturday. On the morning of the show I ate chicken at 7am and then nothing until 1 hour or so before going on stage. In no particular order I ate dark chocolate, jam, jelly babies and a couple of rice cakes with honey. Basically a lot of junk, which I had never done before, until this year. I also drank some brandy and took some niacin. This had an amazing effect on me but may not work for everyone.
Sunday 4th June
5:30am start to make the long trip from South Wales to Holmfirth
I was quite nervous driving up and also very tired from the show the week before. When I finally arrived at the venue I was lucky enough to meet up with a lot of the UK Muscle guys and they were very supportive and complimentary towards me which made me relax a little.
When I saw John Heaton I knew by his face that he was in shape and even though I felt I was in the best shape I could be it was still daunting thinking about facing the likes of John, Kevin Rafferty, Gus Fisher and Kerry Napier, who later to my relief dropped into the middleweights.
The show went quite quick but I continued to suffer cramps which upset my posing at Edinburgh a week prior. Speaking to a few people at the interval, they said it was between John and myself for first and second. I thought they were joking, I was just relieved that I looked okay onstage!
The evening went well preparation wise and the atmosphere in the Holmfirth Civic Hall was just electric. This was by far the best show I have been to in terms of crowd and atmosphere. I was being encouraged by people I didn’t know which was brilliant for me. All the competitors were cheered and applauded and it made for a perfect show.
When they announced third place to Gus Fisher, only myself and John were left and considering the shape John was in, I would have been happy for second, just on the fact that I had beaten Gus, the defending Champion. I know Gus was slightly off maybe but he is a great bodybuilder, a European Champion as well as a two-time Yorkshire Champ. Then came the decision for second place which went to John. I think during the day things were a bit cagey between us because we have never competed against each other and have both made improvements. But by the time the show was under way I would like to think John and myself created a friendship and mutual respect because we both know it could have gone either way.
To say I was over the moon with the win is an understatement. It was the only show that Jayne hadn’t been present for so I tried to ring her seconds before the overall but was too emotional, that’s me, a 6ft 3in Welsh fairy.
I went out for the Overall knowing that the middleweight winner Andrew Merrifield was outstanding and to be honest backstage he must have thought I was a right weirdo, just gawking at him, but he has the condition and size that is unexplainable. It was the first time I had seen him and he is someone that I would be inspired by and he was clearly the Overall Mr. Yorkshire.
I made the long but worthwhile trip home to South Wales and arrived at 1am in an emotional state. This meant so much to me as I had plans to enter this show since the BNBF British Finals 2004. I now know how stupid I must have looked half covered in dream tan blubbing on the doorstep in the early hours.
It was only then I realised I was on my way to Barcelona on the following Friday for the UIBBN European Championships.
Friday 9th June
Bristol AirportI couldn’t believe I was flying out to Barcelona and just to make it to this competitive level was something that I couldn’t have dreamed of. I was soon brought down a peg when yet again there was a delay in my flight. This was made easier meeting up with a gang of NABBA boys who were going to compete in Dublin. I had a lot of kind words of encouragement from Justin Trollope and Gerry Morgan, and this was just the start of being made to feel like a proper bodybuilder.
I was the last of the NPA UK team to arrive in Barcelona, and was met at the airport by Michael Phillips, Lloyd Stewart, and his good lady Anne, and from there we went via taxi to the resort of Sitges just on the outskirts of Barcelona. When we arrived the whole set up was very professional and the NPA pulled out the stops by putting us up in a great hotel with fantastic views of the sea and all the trimmings. Overall I was impressed with the organisation of the NPA and the effort that Michael Phillips had put in to get us there. All I had to do was not let anyone down.
The weigh-in was the night before the contest; you had to go to a conference room and strip down to your trunks and get weighed. This for me was quite nerve racking because the other countries were there and there was nowhere to hide; even though I was in shape I had not put any tan on and after all, this was a step up for me.
In the evening Lloyd, Launder Philogene and myself sat eating rice cakes and having a glass of wine talking about the fact we had missed the start of the World Cup. I felt really settled with the team and started enjoying myself. I was fortunate to meet Kevin Skelland there and he was a proper gentleman giving me words of encouragement, which meant a lot to me considering we would be rivals if we ever competed together, and by the way, he was looking very impressive, with great arms!
I was rooming with Mike Williams and Michael Phillips who both encouraged me and made me feel a confidence that I haven’t had; by now I was taking the whole experience in and it was great!
Saturday 10th June
The day of the show
I felt I was looking good on the day and we made the short walk across to the venue. Again, this was a nice looking venue, backstage was covered top to bottom in polythene so not to get dream tan all over things. It looked very clinical.
There were 14 classes and mine was the last but one class on. I was told that only the top six competitors would be asked to perform their routine in the evening so I did feel a bit of pressure to make the cut which was looking quite a task for me – confidence has never been one of my strengths! The rest of the team had gone on stage and completed the pre-judging but they all hung around for me until I had been on-stage. It went quite well for me and I felt my posing improving probably due to the fact that this was my third show in three weeks. There was a bit of confusion with the judging because they did not speak English but I was looking across slightly and waited until the other guys made a move.
After pre-judging I was waiting until the evening show wondering if I was going to make the top 6 and do my routine. What happened next was both very unsettling and funny and was a twist that I will never forget, and it also brought the house down over the lunch when the rest of the team was informed.
Back-stage the competitors were grouped and lined up ready to do their routines. It was extremely dark behind a series of interlocking curtains and I started to get focused and pumped up pretty sharpish. I took a swig of brandy and I was ready to go. When I got in line behind the curtain I couldn’t help but notice that the guy in front of me was very different in his physique. His lats were huge and considering I could only see their silhouettes they all looked very, very good in comparison to the morning. So as I waited second in line to do my routine a French guy shuffled along to me and took a hold of my arm and shook his head to indicate that I wouldn’t be required to do my routine. I was absolutely destroyed and felt that I had let the team down because they all thought I would make the last six. My pump disappeared and I slumped down. I said to him “no routine, no routine?” and held my hands up to indicate top six. He shook his head and looked down. Mike Williams came backstage and I told him what had happened and we stood there gutted, and I really didn’t want to face the rest of the team. Mike went back and probably told the rest as I took a few minutes to get myself together. When I finally started to go back towards the rest of the team I then bumped into a few competitors from my class.
I had only jumped in with the wrong bloody class, that’s why I hadn’t made the top 6! I was so wrapped up with things that I lined up with the wrong class - I was feeling a right Herbert but also felt that I kind of had a second chance. With that I got Mike and started pumping up again – I took another swig of brandy (a large one!), and lined up with the rest of my class, like I should’ve done in the first place – doh!
I finally got to do my routine and I settled for the fact I had got sixth place simply because of the standard was so high. When they announced I was fifth I was over the moon and quite emotional. Well, to be honest I was in a state considering what happened.
The perfect day ended with a perfect meal with the perfect company and all was finally over for me.
I would like to thank the following people for their encouragement and warmth toward me:
Lloyd and Ann Stewart
Launder and Eileen Philogene
Carl and Carol Streeter
Michael Phillips, for a professional trip well organised and with a lot of effort and consideration. Also all the people I spoke to at the Yorkshire the week before who made me believe this was possible.
Finally, I would like to give a big thank you to my partner Jayne for making me push for these shows harder than I thought I could do. She was a big factor in the condition I achieved this year, constantly giving encouragement and also a critical eye when need be.
NPA Yorkshire Heavyweight Champion 2006