Sailor wins bodybuilding championship

PO2 Chris O’Leary is the winner of the B.C. Amateur Body Building Association Championships held on July 9. In the photos above he shows off his medal and award-winning physique.

PO2 Chris O’Leary is the winner of the B.C. Amateur Body Building Association Championships held on July 9. In the photos above he shows off his medal and award-winning physique.

Rachel Lallouz, Staff Writer ~

Dressed only in a royal blue bikini, Petty Officer Second Class Chris O’Leary wowed the judges with his elegant posing routine, deeply tanned body, and well-defined muscles in the July 9 B.C. Amateur Body Building Association Championships.

Judges assessed his tan colour, condition, how crisp his poses were, how symmetrical he is, the flow of his routine, and his confidence.

After the judges tallied their scores, the sailor was awarded first place in the welterweight division, earning him an extraordinarily large medal to add to his collection.

He has won seven provincial championship titles in four different provinces since he began competitive bodybuilding in his early twenties, starting in 1999.

“My competitive nature comes out when I’m on stage,” he says. “I want to showcase my physique the best I can and put on an entertaining show for the audience.  I absolutely love it. It makes the 12 to 16 weeks of hell worth it for just those three minutes of glory.”

He refers to the human body as a clay sculpture, which, with a little persistence and discipline, can be pushed to new levels of achievement by adding a bit more muscle to those areas that require more balance.

“You identify your weaknesses and try to improve them through training to transform any weaknesses to strengths,” he says. “The main goal is to improve the physique so that you can be the best version of yourself you envision, and can be.”

Weightlifting has been a part of his life since his teen years. It wasn’t until he caught the bodybuilding fervour that his physique began to take shape, and compe­tition became a reality.

To ready himself for a competition, he begins four months before show time.

In the first stage of his intensive training, PO2 O’Leary exercises six days a week, starting his workouts with 10 minutes of cardio on an inclined treadmill to warm up and get the blood moving throughout his system. He then lifts weights for roughly two hours a session.

Some days he works out circuit-style, completing a variety of exercises in sets using the different rep ranges, drop sets, super setting and training styles depending on how his body is reacting along the prep phase.

“Then you have the nutrition aspect of training, which is extremely regimented. I eat seven small meals a day, roughly every three hours, and depending on what phase I’m in for training; a day’s worth of calories will be between 3,000 to 2,000, which varies depending on what phase of the prep I’m in.”

In the final “depletion” phase, PO2 O’Leary concentrates on depleting his muscle cells of their sugar stores, spending between four and six days eating only proteins, green vegetables, and “good” fats for energy. He says it is crucial to consume sodium and keep his electrolytes in balance, as this is key for the muscle contraction needed when posing a routine.

He uses a method called refeeds or better known as cheat meals to speed up his metabolism along his prep phase, which ends two weeks prior to competition. It provides a psychological reward for the bodybuilder and also spikes his energy which translates to a spike in insulin levels, tricking the body into getting overloaded with calories. Once the metabolism has been increased, it burns the newly ingested calories and then burns through additional calories from fat stores.

“The challenges of being a bodybuilder means that you go through a brutal last week of training, water loading and water depletion,” he says. “And then there’s all of the extra work on top of training – perfecting your routine, getting a song cut, booking your spray tan, and completing all necessary pre-show registration.”

Being in the military can add an additional challenge when training for competition.

“If I’m deployed, I need to plan logistically for finding a gym wherever I go, and I need to take my food with me. But the military very much supports the fitness aspect of what I do.”

With a neck full of medals from amateur competitions, PO2 O’Leary is looking to add one from a pro-card, a document awarding official competitor status that would give him the right to compete internationally.

This will mean switching weight divisions from welterweight to men’s classic physique, and a focus on aesthetics and the balance of the muscles and muscle groups.

“Although this isn’t for everyone, I believe that anyone can do this if they put their mind to it,” says PO2 O’Leary. “The mind is the biggest tool. Training is only 10 percent of it; the other 90 percent is determination and drive.”

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