Concordia seniors Brock Jas and Jeremy Welter, along with chemistry professor Darin Ulness, recently competed in the Northern States natural bodybuilding competition in Elk River, Minn. and brought back several trophies. Jas received first place in the collegiate division and second place in the novice division. Welter received second place in the collegiate division and third place in the novice division. Ulness received fourth place in the short men’s open.
The three Cobbers are all fairly new to bodybuilding. The Northern States competition was the first for Jas and Welter, and the fourth for Ulness. Welter became interested in bodybuilding when Ulness and Cobber graduate Dave Mohl were training for a competition. Jas joined his roommate Welter because he’s always enjoyed working out.
Most bodybuilders only do one to two competitions a year because it takes six months to train and prepare, Welter explained. This training includes dieting and working out. The first three months are dedicated to building mass while the last three months work on dieting. It takes between 8 to 12 weeks of hard dieting to lose fat.
“Basically, from the beginning of the school year we were being very careful about what we were eating,” Jas said.
It’s the exact opposite of starving because the men have to eat five to seven meals a day instead of three, Welter said. They’re careful to get all of the carbs, proteins, fruits and vegetables and to avoid any unnecessary sugar and fat.
“It’s the best I’ve ever eaten in my life,” said Welter.
Eating healthy before a competition takes some work all in itself. Ulness typically cooks most of his food for the entire week on Sunday. Welter and Jas cook all of their food for the following day the night before. They also go through eight to nine pounds of chicken and about four dozen eggs a week.
All three also had to work on building body mass. It’s about getting bigger and stronger, they said. Their individual workout programs vary, but all three lift weights and do cardio several times a week.
Besides building mass and cutting fat, looking good at competition also requires some Pro Tan, a self-tanner used by many bodybuilders that helps bring more shadows and define muscles under the bright stage lights. It takes a half hour to an hour for a coat, and they apply six coats before competition.
“We spend a lot of time painting,” said Jas with a laugh.
Support from friends also helped add to their success.
“Without the support of Jeremy and Darin, I would never be able to do everything,” said Jas.
Despite the intense training and dedication, all three say they loved the experience and look forward to doing it again.
“It’s really a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work, but there’s no way I feel it wasn’t worth it,” said Jas.
“The ends definitely justified the means,” Welter said in agreement.
The public perception of the sport is often one of vanity and arrogance, but really requires intense dedication and commitment, Ulness said. The public often looks at the extreme cases, noting steroid use, Welter added. On the contrary, the Northern States competition was a natural bodybuilding competition and no illegal substances were allowed. All competitors were tested with a lie detector and anyone caught abusing the policy could be banned from entering a show for seven years.
“It’s about what the human body is capable of doing on its own,” said Welter.
Bodybuilding promotes a healthy lifestyle, as well as self-confidence, the three said.
“Bodybuilders are really put up on stage and judged. It requires you to take criticism, be able to present yourself, and be humble amongst other competitors who have worked just as hard,” Ulness said. “It makes you think of your body image in a positive way.”
Jas, Welter, and Ulness are currently in the off-season, but will begin training soon for an upcoming competition at NDSU on March 28.
Marisa Paulson is a senior and the news & features editor of The Concordian, although she still writes when she can. She plans to attend the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in fall 2011.