The freshly spray-tanned muscular competitors, veins bulging, are a familiar sight. They walk onto stage to compete in front of judges based upon their physique. The time and dedication to become competition-ready usually takes years of preparation and an extensive history within the sport of bodybuilding. Point Loma Nazarene University sophomore Ryan Bigelow, a business entrepreneurship and commercial music double major, is just beginning that journey.
Originally a sports fanatic, Bigelow exhibited his love for fitness in high school through playing football, baseball, basketball, track, and fighting MMA. After sustaining injuries in football and baseball, his desire to compete led him in another direction.
“I wasn’t playing sports anymore after getting hurt in football and blowing out my arm in baseball. I still wanted to compete in something, so I turned my passion for lifting into bodybuilding,” says Bigelow.
Bigelow began his bodybuilding journey his senior year of high school. His competition prepping currently consists of a commitment to working out frequently and paying careful attention to the food he fuels his body with.
“I go to the gym six days a week when prepping for a competition. My fitness coach and I split up each workout into different muscle groups. Along with that, I do forty minutes of cardio four days a week,” Bigelow said.
Bigelow dedicates two of the days to chest, triceps, and shoulders, then another two for back, biceps, and abs. He then finishes off the week with leg workouts for one day, and shoulders and triceps for the remaining day.
While his fitness routine seems like a challenging commitment in and of itself, Bigelow actually sees his dieting as the hardest aspect of his prepping.
“Dieting is my biggest challenge. I connect with people around food and I always go out to lunch and dinner with my family and friends. I’m a big food guy so it takes a lot of commitment to stick to my diet,” says Bigelow.
“Dieting teaches me dedication because I could be waking up and eating chips at 3 a.m. if I wanted to, but my meal prepping makes me more focused on my goal.”
Along with following a strict diet, Bigelow looks to Brandon Brockway, owner of a supplement shop called Max Muscle, to provide supplements and monitor his progress along the way.
“The supplements suggested were done so in two phases. A bulking phase, where the primary goal is to build muscle, and a cutting phase, with the goal to preserve as much of the muscle I’ve built while decreasing body fat,” says Brockway.
Bigelow looks to his gym partner, fellow PLNU sophomore Adam Gates, for that extra push when his strict routines become strenuous.
“I motivate him when he wants to cheat a little bit; I keep him in check,” says Gates.
“It takes a lot of discipline for him to do this because of how strict his workouts and meal prepping are. It seems exhausting, but he gets through it.”
This commitment to lifting and nutrition has led Bigelow to compete in his first national qualifier for men’s physique this past August, competing within three classes: teens, open, and novice. Placing third and fourth within two of the classes, Bigelow intends to go back next year to try to qualify for a pro card which will qualify him as a professional bodybuilder. This will allow him to compete in the Olympia, one of the highest levels of competition within men’s physique.
Competing against men of all ages at the age of nineteen, Bigelow sees his newness to the sport as both an advantage and disadvantage. While he may lack muscle maturity, Bigelow says his advantage is being able to learn from the other competitors at such a young age.
Reflecting on his future with bodybuilding, Bigelow says “For right now, it’s a hobby but I can see it turning into a profession.”
By: Kylie Capuano