A Castlegar resident placed first in her category at the BC Amateur Bodybuilding Association’s Popeye’s Fall Classic competition.
Amber Larsen, 30, placed first in the Women’s Physique Tall class at Popeye’s Fall Classic, held Nov. 7 in Coquitlam. It was her first bodybuilding competition.
The Physique class is a more recent recent competition class meant to “turn back the clock to bodybuilding of the 1980s-1990s.”
According to the BC Amateur Bodybuilding Association’s website, “competitors must present a feminine, hourglass-shaped physique, with an appropriate level of size and conditioning, but not show the level of development or conditioning of today’s female bodybuilder.”
“They want to see sort of an hour-glass shape basically,” said Larsen. “So people who can really bring a beautiful, sort of posed, feminine sort of look to the stage.”
She also got first in overall Posing for women in the Bodybuilding and Physique classes.
“Posing in the sport of bodybuilding is basically showing off your physique and showing off your strong points and showing off your assets to the crowd,” explains Larsen. “So most categories have mandatory poses, and so you can kind of have fun with it and play with it. Some people would be really dancy, people with gymnastics backgrounds can kind of make it more gymnastic sort of.”
Five-time Mr. Olympia winner Phil Heath was a guest at Popeye’s Fall Classic — Mr. Olympia being the title awarded to the winner of the International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness’s (IFBB) annual men’s bodybuilding contest.
The motivational speech Heath gave at the Popeye Fall Classic has stuck with Larsen.
“His main message from it was to treat every day like a leg day,” she said. “So you fear leg day, right? You never look forward to it…. So his message was if you fear it, really, really try to pursue it. Do the things in life that you’re going to fear.”
To prepare for the show, Larsen had to build up muscles in the off-season.
“At that point your goal is to keep your cardio low, keep your food intake elevated and high, and do your weight-training sessions — most people are five [to six] times a week,” explains Larsen.
During the in-season (about 19 weeks before the show) she had to gradually cut back her carbs and up her cardio. At one point she went through two to three weeks of only eating eggs, chicken, fish, broccoli, and spinach.
Her coach, Al Clark from Grand Forks, and his wife Nancy, an IFBB pro bodybuilder, introduced Larsen to bodybuilding and have been helping her navigate the gruelling and complicated routines needed to have her look her best for a show.
Oddly enough, part of the prep process was binging on chocolate and other sweets to fill out her muscles.
How a bodybuilder eats on show day depends on how her body is responding.
“For me, my muscles kind of went flat, or tend to go flat really quickly, so I got to eat a lot of sugar show day,” explains Larsen. “So I got to eat brownies, and rice cakes, and jam.”
Winning first in her category has earned Larsen a spot at provincials in June, but she has two years to take them up on the invitation and depending on the full feedback she eventually gets from the Popeye’s Fall Classic judges, she may choose to take an extra season to prepare.