Tilbury’s Kass Bowden Wins OPA Bodybuilding Competition
Taking first in the 21 and under division, Kass also competed in the open light middleweight division. “Usually if you’re under 21, and it’s your first show, you have a better chance. The weight class I was in was all 30-40 year-olds,” he explained. “Some guys have been bodybuilding for 20 years and you can’t really get lucky in this kind of sport. It’s all about time and how long you have been doing it.”
Weighing in the competition at 167 pounds, Kass said he wasn’t really nervous, even though it was a record-setting field for London of 200 competitors and a sold out crowd, including several friends and family members who comprise “TEAM BOWZ”, his competition supporters.
“I felt better that I thought I was going to,” he said. “The crowd was huge. They broke the record in London for members competing, usually they have about 150 competitors and there were 200 this year and the hall was full of spectators. It was a packed crowd.”
Kass said much of what he’s learned about bodybuilding has been learned through online research, though he credits his friend and fellow TDHS grad Travis Winkworth for mentoring him in the sport. “The guy who really coached me through it was Travis. He’s done it before, and had done two or three competitions. So I went to him for advice and he kept tabs on me,” Kass explained. “At first I thought it was just training that really mattered but that’s about 20 percent of it, what you are eating is everything.”
In order to prepare for the competition, Kass put himself on a strict 12-week bodybuilder’s diet. “It was all the same stuff all the time: six meals a day – chicken, steak, sweet potatoes, rice, and egg whites. I tried to drink two gallons of water a day, but always drank at least one gallon. Coming into the competition, I reduced the water intake and took protein and amino acid supplements,” he explained. “I dropped weight, not a whole lot, but enough. When I started I was just under 180 and I dropped to 167. I was trying to lose fat off my body, so I went from 13 percent body fat to two percent body fat in 12 weeks. It’s funny because four days after the competition I was back up to 185 pounds, so I gained 20 pounds back in four days.”
In the gym, Kass worked out six days a week with weights for about an hour. Six weeks out from competition day he added an hour of cardio every other day, then at three weeks out switched to an hour of cardio every day, on top of the weight training. “As the competition got closer I lowered the amount of weight because I didn’t want to injure myself, but I did not want to lower it too much and lose what I was working for,” he said. “It’s all a balancing act, there’s a real science behind it.”
Once in London and registered for the competition, he visited one of the professional tanners to do face tanning Friday night. He then had to wake up at 6am Saturday to get tanned again, his body this time. “It was kind of a rough night”, Kass said. “Because I was competing in the morning and I had to wake up at 3am to eat, 5am to eat, 7am to eat and then 10:30….so I wasn’t sleeping. It was kind of rough that way. My fat percentage was down to about two percent, so when you’re at that point, everything you’re eating reflects in what you look like. So I had to have a certain amount of proteins and carbohydrates in my system by certain times. If you eat this at this time, then you eat at that time, then you can look the way you want by the time you get on stage”.
Pre-judging, which is where competitors earn the scores that decide where they will place, began at 11am. Winners weren’t announced until later in the evening, during the night show. “When the night show comes, you go out on stage for the pose down. The night show is a lot more about having fun, and doing you posing routine,” he explained. “The top five go out to perform their posing routine for each class, and then they call off in reverse order, with the first place winner being the last on stage. All the actual scoring is done in the pre-judging from earlier in the day.”
Afterward, having been up for well over 24 hours, celebrating was kept to a minimum. He and his friends went for pizza and then he simply went home to catch up on some much needed sleep. Now, with his first big win behind him, Kass has decided to focus on school full time – he is in the electrical engineering technician’s program – and put off competitions until after he graduates. Managing the challenge of school and a preparing for a bodybuilding competition at the same time was a bit much, so he’s choosing to focus on school for now. “I couldn’t imagine trying to do that again – it was hard at times. After school I had to worry about making my food, getting to the gym, and then getting my homework done. I’m going to take a couple of years off from competing while I finish college and try to save money for a car. But I’m definitely going to keep up a certain diet, that I can afford, that isn’t crazy,” he said. “While I was training I was spending about $150 a week on groceries, just on myself. Now it is going to be cheaper food – keeping a certain diet but not a competition diet. I’m thinking maybe in 2014 or 2015 I’ll get back into competition form again, as long as I can keep the muscle and mass there. If you’re doing that as a lifestyle it only takes 12 weeks to prepare.”