Bucknell students Compete in bodybuilding competitions

Jacob Feuerstein, Print Managing Co-Editor

The KLARC, most often frequented by students looking to find a way to exercise without traveling outdoors in the cold winter months, is also a home base for a few students who aim to compete in bodybuilding competitions this Spring.

Keith Cassar ’22, Victoria Groody ’25 and Mia Hursh ’23 all train in the KLARC, take classes, and either have competed or plan to compete in amateur bodybuilding shows this Spring. Bodybuilding, which gained popularity in the late-19th century as a form of competition, is a process by which individuals aim to grow their muscles enough to compete against others in judge-scored shows. The training for such shows is often grueling and intense, requiring many hours in the gym and many more hours of careful dieting and planning. While it might sound interesting to try some of the dieting and training techniques that these students utilize, it is important to remember that before trying anything new at the gym, you should speak to your physician or find a personal trainer to make sure any new plan is right for you. I spoke to the three students this past weekend to learn more about how they became interested in the sport, their training and dieting practices and how they have balanced such a time-consuming activity with their school work. 

Hursh, who plans to compete on April 23 and 24 in the OCB Atlantic Super Show and the OCB Best of the ‘Burgh, respectively, has aspirations to acquire her Pro Card in the Bikini Open division. When asked to describe her process for preparing for the upcoming competitions, Hursh detailed a little about her training plan and dieting efforts, “During the week, I wake up [around 6:30] in the morning… to go to the KLARC for 30-40 mins of fasted cardio with a protein shake.” In addition to the cardiovascular exercise, Hursh does a combination of HIIT and weight training to look her best. Explaining her weekly routine she said, “on Monday and Thursday, I do HIIT [and] weight training to strengthen and condition my upper body while including a few brief lower-body workouts… On Tuesday and Friday, I do HIIT [and] weight training to primarily strengthen and condition my lower body, including a few short upper-body exercises.”

For Hursh, bodybuilding has familial ties. Her mother competed in shows and they even used the same trainer to prepare for her first formal competition, lending her additional expertise and understanding of the sport. Her advice for anyone looking to explore the world of bodybuilding is to, “seek the assistance of a coach or personal trainer if you are lifting [or] training for the first time,” adding that “you [must] be dedicated to the sport and willing to make long-term lifestyle changes to see the results you desire.” 

This was a theme that continued into my conversation with Cassar. Cassar, who placed third in the Powerhouse classic in Connecticut on April 2, reflected on some of the difficulties associated with his time-consuming and strenuous training schedule “Watching my friends eat delicious food right in front of me, missing out on parties and get-togethers because I had to get to the gym, and the lack of interest and concentration that I was actually able to give someone completely diminished [towards the end of my preparation for the show],” Cassar said. 

Cassar, who initially came to the University as a member of the wrestling team in 2018, was prohibited from competing with the team because he had too many previous concussions to do so safely. Looking for another challenge, he took up bodybuilding. Cassar retells his story, “Since I needed a physical struggle in my life I naturally gravitated towards bodybuilding and becoming stronger while simultaneously sculpting my body as if it was clay,” Cassar said. “I am fascinated with the ways in which our bodies respond to stress and how one could drastically change their entire physique by just exercising.”

For Cassar, consistency was everything in preparation for his competition. From timing, weighing and tracking every meal to working out six days a week, the demanding schedule took a toll on his relationships, “it put a lot of stress on my relationships and I as I became distant and solely focused on being the best that I could for the show.” Despite the time-consuming schedule, Cassar recommends that individuals looking to try working out “have fun with it” because “someone is much more likely to… get to the gym if they enjoy the way in which they are training or the way it makes them feel.”

Another individual who has fallen in love with the discipline of bodybuilding is Groody. After getting tired of long-distance running after her first marathon, Groody said she “started working with an online certified personal trainer and registered dietitian through a lifestyle-oriented fitness program and spent a solid amount of time in a bulking phase last summer tracking macros and building muscle.” Groody, who competed in the NPC Natural Ohio Championships on April 2, said that balance is the most difficult part of the difficult preparation stages for stage competitions. “Finding a routine that works for you is crucial, and I found getting up around 4:30 a.m. to knock out weight training and cardio in one session all before my first class at 10 a.m. worked best for me.” 

Like Hursh, Groody uses professional coaches and dieticians to help determine her training plans and stay safe through the difficult process of preparing for competition. Groody said, “my coach provided me with macros, a training plan, and cardio, and we made small changes each week increasing cardio and decreasing food.” On the importance of trainers, she said, “I highly recommend starting with a reputable coach at the beginning of your fitness journey to make sure you benefit as much as possible from being new to training and that you’re eating enough to build muscle.”

As far as tips for individuals looking to try working out for the first time, Groody, like Cassar, believes that having fun is important. “My number one tip is to live and love the lifestyle first,” she said.

(Visited 144 times, 1 visits today)