08 Jun Pumping Iron With TC
Commitment. Dedication. Two very powerful words, a couple of just a handful of words in our language that still demand great respect – they’re not thrown around lightly. When a human being can relentless reflect the true meaning of these words to a discipline in life, it can generate phenomenal results. A prime example is the man featured in these photos. TC is a competitive bodybuilder.
TC walked in my studio door, shook my hand and said, “I’m sorry if I come across a bit grumpy.” No seriously, that was, like, sentence two. He quickly explained it was a nearly uncontrollable result from his torturous diet. I’m no bodybuilder, but I’ve lifted weights steadily since high school, and with that have a good understanding of the world of body building (it’s unavoidable if you spend any decent amount of time in a gym). I had an instant level of respect for TC, as I’ve long understood the grueling journey big-time bodybuilders have to walk, and at this moment of shaking my hand, he was reaching the tail end of that very tough journey – the leaning diet phase. If this was ‘Lord Of The Rings,’ he’s at the point where Frodo had spent two and a half movies worth of dodging and fighting bad guys, finding himself at the Black Gate of Mordor. So, yeah… a lot a pain and effort.
TC spent months and months eating like a horse and working out every day to gain as much mass as he can. A number of weeks before a bodybuilding competition, he starts a super strict diet, geared to shred every ounce of fat off his body while trying to maintain as much muscle as possible that he worked super hard to pack on during the bulking phase. And when I say strict, everything calorie is tracked and portions measured (and ingested at specific times throughout the day). For example, one aspect of TC’s diet allows for 14 almonds daily. That’s right, not 12, not 15, but 14. He’d been on this diet for a couple weeks before meeting with me. So while still working out his body every day (pushing the body to the limits), which is craving max calories, he has to have absolute self-control. There are no “cheat days.” Ever. You cannot cut any corners if you want to compete at the highest level in this sport. Like I said, commitment and dedication. The enduring of pain, sweat, and effort in the gym every day, and then denying your body the fuel is it craving every hour of every day (I’d imagine it feels much like taking off for a 3-day walk through a desert without anything to drink). All of this, for months, for one competition, so that every muscle pops for the judges to see when he stands on that stage. It is inspiring to witness. It was an honor to capture this feat for TC.
A bonus to photographing a bodybuilder for a couple hours – you get all of your weightlifting inquires taken care of. Sure, I’ve been lifting for a while, but who better to ask than this guy?
All of these photos were taken in Matty Photography studio. I keep all my free weight equipment in the back room (it’s the only way I find time to workout), so we can easily turn the studio into a makeshift gym – pretty cool.
It’s not all about getting a particular set of muscles as big as you can, no, there must be balance to the entire body. Symmetry is a huge goal of a successful bodybuilders. A sculpting of the body, if you will. Every muscle is built with intention, to compliment every other muscle on the body. And speaking of symmetry, the serious bodybuilders train very hard on getting the key poses perfected. Like TC, they usually attend posing classes to learn how to nail each key pose on the spot. It makes sense when you really think about how difficult it would be to flex a number of major muscle groups all at the same time and not look like a complete idiot about to fall over. TC tells me that posing class is absolutely exhausting, as you have to pose and hold for 45 seconds. Ouch. Can you say “cramp!?”
At the time of these photos, TC was 1-2 weeks away from competing in the 2015 Jay Cutler Desert Classic – the sole reason for all of this extremely hard work. I asked him how he thought he stacked up against the competition. He replied with a, “you never know who is going to show up to a particular event, nor how hard they have worked since the last time you have seen them, so I have no idea.” And that’s the fascinating aspect of competing in bodybuilding. In reality, the competition is already over by the time you get there. The real competition started years and years ago, when TC walked into the gym, pushed his body to the limits, and decided he set his sights to compete with the best. Your true competitor is yourself. That every morning you wake up and you consciously make the decision to give it everything you got for one more day. And another, and another. When you step out on that stage, the only thing left to find out is who worked harder every single one of those days.
I’m happy to announce that TC placed 1st in his division, and 5th in the overall at the competition! Way to go, TC. I can’t imagine how good that felt. What a reward for all that work, commitment, and dedication.