Body-builder scoops prize

A BODY-BUILDER in his fifties today proved he is still in his prime after he won first prize in the national Amateur Body-Building Association championships.

A BODY-BUILDER in his fifties today proved he is still in his prime after he won first prize in the national Amateur Body-Building Association championships.

Alan Harris, 53, from Woodpecker Road, Ipswich was crowned champion in the over-50s “Masters” division at the annual competition in Dudley, West Midlands on Sunday.

Mr Harris, who reached the final after winning a regional qualifier in Yarmouth in June, impressed the judges with a posing routine set to Chad Kroeger's “Hero,” and beat off five other competitors to take the trophy.

He said: “I am delighted, I did not expect to win anything going up there. I have been up there before and it is quite a good class. I had qualified and I wanted to say I had done the finals, but I walked away with first place.”

Alan had to undergo a rigorous 12-week, protein-rich dieting regime to prepare them for the final, eating an incredible eight meals a day - quite a demand for his wife of 13 years Gloria, 45.

He also had to fit an intensive training regime around his shifts at Port of Felixstowe, where he works as a crane operator.

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He said: “When I get ready for a show I am down the gym seven days a week, one to two hours a day. In 12 weeks I went from thirteen-and-a-half to 12 stone.

“My wife prepares all the diet for me, and if it wasn't for her I probably would not have been up there. She backs me all the way.

“On the day of the show, you start taking complex carbs like pasta and potatoes, then simple carbs like rice cakes and jam, then before the show you have brandy and dark chocolate to heat the inside of your body up and bring your veins to the surface.”

After their tot of Dutch courage, the contestants apply fake tan and go on stage one by one to perform their own posing routines set to music of their choice, before lining up for the judges to compare them in compulsory poses.

On Sunday, among the 400 spectators were Alan's wife of 13 years Gloria, 45, and Lesley along with Alan's other brothers Paul and Kevin.

Alan said the win was his greatest achievement in 17 years of bodybuilding, which began when he started weight training with his brother Lesley, who is also a competitive body-builder.

He said: “I used to be a heavy smoker, so when I packed up smoking I wanted to get fit again. I did a few weights and it really just went from there.”

There was also a taste of success for Alan's friend and training partner Andy Davies, 41, who finished third in the novice category for first-time competitors.

He said: “I am delighted. I went there for the experience because I had qualified and I ended up walking away with third place.

“When you look at yourself you do not really notice yourself grow, and you look at other people and think 'God, they're massive.'

Andy took to body-building because the strongman competitions he used to compete in were not frequent enough, and required too much travel. He hopes to do two or three more body-building tournaments next year.

He said the main problem he encountered in training was the lack of variation in a bodybuilder's diet, with which he shed two-and-a-half stone before the competition.

He said: “The food is just monotonous, it has to be very plain: boiled chicken, boiled pasta. And on top of that you are expected to put make-up on, get up on stage in a small pair of pants and smile.”

But Andy, who has two teenage daughters, added: “When you are holding your trophy and you see the looks on your kids' faces, it is all worth it.”

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Alan Harris reveals his daily diet for the run-up to a competition:

“I'll eat a little bit at a time: small portions but regular. For breakfast I'll have a couple of ounces of porridge with cold water. Two hours later I might have a chicken breast with salad, then a couple of hours after that, tuna with salad and pasta. Then maybe egg whites with salad and pasta. I'll carry on like that throughout the day - small portions but regular. I'll also drink protein shakes. I have my last meal at about 10pm, before going to bed at midnight.”

Alan outlines a typical week's workout for a bodybuilder.

He said: “I have to fit my training around my job. If I'm on an evening shift, I'll go to the gym first thing, and if I'm working in the morning I'll go after work at about 8pm.”

Monday: One hour back muscles, 30-45 minutes cardio

Tuesday: One hour chest and arms, 30-45 minutes cardio

Wednesday: One hour legs, 30-45 minutes cardio

Thursday: One hour shoulders and neck, 30-45 minutes cardio

Friday - Sunday: One hour cardio

Three to four times a week: One hour abs.

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