BY SYDNEY MUSSER, ASST. SPORTS EDITOR
With one glance at his biceps alone, junior and bodybuilder Nate Lawrence strikes an imposing figure.
But the International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Middleweight World Champion is anything but unapproachable, speaking humbly of his strenuous 20 weeks of intense diet and training.
Lawrence competed in the International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Middleweight event, coming out on top as champion as well as landing second place in the Junior Division.
But what is natural bodybuilding?
According to Denny Kakos, the president and founder of INBF, “It happened because there was a need: thoughtful athletes realized that the drug usage associated with strength training and bodybuilding was contrary to good health, sportsmanship and the true spirit of athletics.”
Given that bodybuilding requires tremendous dedication, effort and focus, how did Lawrence come to decide to compete?
He said: “When I was a little kid, I wanted to look like a superhero. I loved the comics. I really wanted to look like them, specifically Wolverine.”
While Lawrence lacks the adamantium claws and bushy sideburns synonymous with the Marvel Comics character, he’s certainly nailed the muscular look. But maintaining such a physique is a daunting task.
“It takes years,” he explained. “It’s a 24-7 sport. I have to eat every two hours. It’s surprising, because it’s 80 percent diet. I spend 20 dollars on food a day, so I have to work hard to support that, and I can’t eat from the cafeteria.”
He continued: “I’ve been eating just egg whites, chicken, lean turkey breast, sweet potato, brown rice and tuna for the past 20 weeks. But I’d like to stress the natural part — no protein shakes, no drugs, or anything like that. We get drug tested. I like the more aesthetic, leaner look. It’s really an art form.”
Lawrence had his first show at the age of 18, stating that the competitions “feel awesome.”
Lawrence said: “There are different rounds. There’s a prejudging session, and you get results later on. But they mostly judge you on the symmetry and shape of your body. We’re on stage from any time between five to 20 minutes, and you’re flexing every muscle on your body the entire time.”
But what do bodybuilders do once they’re finished with a competition? The work doesn’t end, even then.
“You get to eat a little more, and can sleep whenever,” Lawrence said. “When I was training, I had to eat eight meals every day, wake up at six and get to bed at 10. I get to be a little more free now.”