Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Building Braud — Size isn’t only thing that matters in bodybuilding

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

A weekend competition dispelled the myth that bigger is always better in bodybuilding. It’s about more than just bulking up.

“It’s not how big you are, it’s how good you are,” said Scott Griebel, of Soldotna, who placed third in men’s open middleweight class of the 20th annual Natural Pro-Am Anchorage Bodybuilding, Figure and Fitness Championships, held Saturday at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Case in point is the overall winner of the competition, Josh Braud, of Soldotna. Braud expected to compete in the lightweight class, but at weigh-ins he was a pound and a half over the limit, so he ended up a middleweight. Even though he was at the bottom end of that weight class, he still won the division and went on to win the overall championship.
“It’s really cool. I definitely feel I deserved it because I did work so hard, I felt like nobody could do more to prepare for this particular show,” Braud said.

Muscle size matters in bodybuilding, but so do symmetry, muscle definition and leanness. That’s where Braud excelled. He had his body fat down to 3.32 percent, reduced from 15 or 16 percent 14 weeks ago.

“Research and diet made a gigantic difference. If I wasn’t giving my body what I needed, I wouldn’t have done as good,” Braud said.

He got interested in bodybuilding three years ago from friend and now training partner, Geoff Bonin, of Soldotna. Bonin also competes in bodybuilding, placing fourth in the pro division of Saturday’s event.

“I was out of shape and I just started researching pretty much on the Internet and really just realized how much I could change my body with the information that was available,” Braud said. “I started trying the dieting and started changing my body and went from there.

“I don’t know any guy who doesn’t want to get in shape. Anybody wants abs. At least they just want to feel good about something.”

He started seeing results and got hooked from there, logging 45-minute weight lifting workouts followed by intense cardio sessions five days a week.

Gym time is part of the process, but in a way it’s the easiest part, since all you have to do is make the decision once a day to show up and work out. The dieting can be more difficult, because it involves decisions all day, every day, about what you buy at the store, how you cook and what and how often you eat.

Taken to Braud’s level, bodybuilding changes your whole perspective on food and nutrition. Nutrition is paramount in maximizing results, especially with natural bodybuilding, like the Anchorage Bodybuilding, Figure and Fitness Championships, where contestants are tested to make sure there is no drug use.

“The way the population is today, they’re so used to processed food,” Braud said. “They grab it everywhere. It’s not their fault they’re gaining weight — it’s what society brought on them. … Just understanding food and nutrition is the basis of all of it. You are how you look because of what you eat.”

Dieting and workouts become increasingly intense before a show, and it can be difficult to stay motivated, Braud said. But the more you do it, the more you see it as a lifestyle, not as a restriction or burden.

And once it’s showtime, the extra effort pays off.

“It gets stressful, of course, just having to mentally figure out ways to get around that. But the end goal always comes. That day of the competition will get here. It will only last that long, and it’s kind of the light at the end of the tunnel I need,” he said.

With Saturday’s win, Braud can compete in the pro division. He’s already got his sights set on another competition in three weeks. He’s taking this week off to let his body recuperate, and then he’ll be back at his strict pre-show diet and exercise regime.
“I’ll be 28 in less than two weeks. I won’t get any cake on my birthday, but I’ll have some after the second show,” he said.

Bodybuilding has gone beyond a lifestyle for Braud. It’s his passion, shaping how he approaches the rest of his life. He’s attending Kenai Peninsula College studying process instrumentation, but he’s also become a certified personal trainer and would like to open his own gym someday.

“This has given me structure in my life. Everything is scheduled, everything is set, and it has to be that way, but I’m able to accomplish more goals now. I have to be this consistent; otherwise I just won’t do as well in the competition. It just builds upon itself.”
Griebel said bodybuilding is more of a hobby for him, but it’s one that lets him experience the power of setting the bar high and achieving those goals.

“Winning, it’s a nice benefit if you actually achieve that, but actually getting ready for the whole thing and working toward something and having that on your mind as an end goal just keeps me motivated,” Griebel said.

He said he’s lifted weights since he was a teenager, and got into bodybuilding a few years ago as an additional challenge.

“There is so much more to it. I find it really easy to go to the gym and put on weights and lift and build a high amount of strength. With transitioning to this there’s so much more nutrition to it. It’s a body-shaping thing. You have to look at yourself and say, ‘I need to do more here’ and change your whole routine and focus on those areas. It takes a lot more thought than just going to the gym and lifting weights. What you eat makes all the difference in the world.”

This was Griebel’s second time competing in the Anchorage Bodybuilding, Figure and Fitness Championships. Last year he also placed third in the middleweight division. He was hoping to do better this year, but said he lacked knowledge of some of the technical aspects of the competition.

“I’ve gone at this completely independently,” Griebel said. “I just kind of read some things, practiced on my own, I lift on my own. Any resources you can use or anyone you can talk to, take advice. Just knowing all the technical aspects of the show itself, what the judges look for, and all this information you can’t make up for yourself. You need to know from someone who knows.”

Griebel started dieting 14 weeks before the competition by limiting carbohydrates and avoiding other foods on his bad list. The closer to the competition he got, the more structured his regiment became.

“There’s a science to the last two weeks, and I haven’t even figured it out, I’m still learning. Everyone’s different, everyone has to figure it out for themselves,” he said.
He’s got another shot at refining the process in March, when a natural bodybuilding competition will be held in Kenai. Griebel recommends anyone interested in getting into bodybuilding start by asking questions.

“People who are into it, they’re going to be happy to answer your questions. They’re just like anyone else. Most times people are happy to share what they’re passionate about.”
Braud certainly is.

“Everybody who wants to be involved in this might feel it’s too hard or they just don’t have the ability to do it or don’t know somebody to get them into it. There’s a lot of mental strategy they have to overcome,” Braud said. “What I really want to do is I’m trying to get people involved in this.”

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