Steamboat Springs For most of us — those without the eight-pack abs, the cut pecs and arms devoid of any sort of fat — Bill Northrop and Lance Hoffman’s celebration meal might be the only part of bodybuilding that seems appealing.
But for Northrop and Hoffman, who are literally and figuratively hard to miss nearly every night at the Old Town Hot Springs, they might have found their calling. The two competed in their first bodybuilding contest Aug. 7 at the Warrior Classic in Loveland.
The two-year process of working out nearly every day, dieting and doing cardio paid off.
Northrop finished fifth in the 171-pound novice category, and Hoffman finished third in the 176-pound novice and open categories.
“We decided a couple years ago we wanted to do it,” said Northrop, 29. “Not this event, but get in a show. This event came around and was about enough time for us to get ready. It takes a couple years to get ready, to get the mass on and all the fat out.”
Putting in the work
Judging from the competition, it won’t be their last. Each talked about what it was like to see a transformation in his body and how the result was worth the work.
Each started lifting weights years ago. Hoffman started after his divorce, and after two years of working out, he went from 173 pounds to 197. Northrop, who has his personal training certificate, started working out years ago at a slim 130 pounds. Through weights, he bulked up to 208 pounds.
The two worked out with a group of six people years ago.
“We were all just a bunch of meatheads taking over the gym,” Northrop said. “They decided they wanted to keep doing the meathead thing. I wanted to do shows my whole life. He talked about doing it, and we started doing it. That’s when we really started to progress.”
The two-year process involved putting on lots of bulk at first. The two would consume as much as 6,000 calories a day and work out two hours a night.
With eight weeks to the show, they started cutting, a process that involves as many as four hours a night in the gym and a strict diet. With six weeks to go, they started cutting the calories in half. With four, they cut the carbohydrates in half. By the last week, it’s zero carbohydrates and zero sodium.
The Monday before, they each drank a gallon and a half of water a day. That dwindled each day until Friday, when they would just have sips.
“It’s pretty much hell,” Northrop said.
When the show starts, the judges look for body symmetry and make the bodybuilders do seven mandatory poses. Each was on stage for about 30 minutes, flexing and tightening his muscles the whole time.
“Thirty minutes holding every muscle tense — it’s a long time,” the 37-year-old Hoffman said. “You felt like you were in the gym for four hours. You come real close to cramping.”
But the feeling each got couldn’t be matched. Hoffman said there weren’t butterflies, instead just excitement.
Northrop said the only bigger rush he got was skydiving, and it was close.
“It felt good,” Hoffman said. “It’s to see what you can actually push your body to do. You take it to the extreme and then cut your body up.”
Back to the meal
When the two finished, bodies depleted, they went for a celebration meal at Old Chicago. The dinner was impressive.
Between the two of them they ate three pizzas, half a bacon cheeseburger, a full appetizer sampler and a whole cheesecake.
“We ate like kings,” Hoffman said.
Now the two are turning their attention to The Rocky competition November in Denver. Each said that now that they’ve done one, they know what to expect and better ways to prepare.
Hoffman said his goal was to do a show before he was 40 years old. He’s moving to Phoenix and said in the future he’d like to train people for shows.
Northrop said he hopes to get his pro card one day. To get a pro card, bodybuilders have to win three events or place first in the all-around competition at a national qualifier.
Now that the first one is out of the way, however, don’t expect either to relax. They’ll again be constants at the Old Town Hot Springs, putting in the work for that one day of glory.
“That one day came and went so quick,” Northrop said. “But it was worth it. I want more.”