IE reporter Mike Hood sat down with amateur physique competitor Joseph Sanders to ask the hardest-hitting questions about entry-level competitions, what to expect, and where they can take you.


physique competitorsJoseph is the chiseled Oompa Loompa in the center


Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m Joseph Sanders. I’m a Gemini. I’m from Madison, Mississippi. I went to Morton High School (where I was “Mr. Morton High,” to be exact). I then attended Ole Miss for undergrad (that school from "The Blindside” for all the uncultured plebeians).


I see you have very small calves. Do the physique judges even consider them, or do you just not believe in leg day?

Listen, you dick. I dare you to show me one girl that’s looked at a dude and thought, “he’s ugly, but those calves, tho!”


Jesus, someone’s testy. What’s been your athletic history growing up? Sports played, when you started lifting, etc.

Baseball and football from when I was a tot all the way through high school. I was introduced to the weight room in 7th grade but hated it throughout high school. It wasn’t until I was in college and finished with sports that I actually enjoyed lifting.

When did you decide to enter into a physique competition and why?

Funny story: junior year of college I had become a shredded piece of shit. See, the truth is, I was doing pretty terrible in school due to spending the majority of my time partying. I knew I was going to fail out if I didn’t change things up. Therefore, I found refuge in the gym. I was going twice a day, six or seven days a week, and spending about 21 hours a week total in the gym. This went on for about 14 months.

Then, one day I was in the locally infamous Snap Fitness Oxford when I was approached by their head trainer. He proceeded to ask me if I was preparing for a competition. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. After a few weeks of him explaining how competitions worked, I said “what the hell,” and entered my first competition. It was called the “Battle of the Bluff.”

What was your preparation for the physique competition like?

I would wake up around 5 each morning and head to the gym where I would do 20 minutes of fasted interval cardio. I would alternate running for two minutes and walking two minutes. For strength training, I would go back at 1pm and work out until about 3pm. I would eat five to six times a day, being sure to hit macros and drink around two gallons of water. My macros consisted of 2,800 calories: 50% protein, 30% essential carbs, and 20% fats. Prior to my first competition, I was around 165 pounds and 10-12% body fat. When I finally stepped on stage I was 173 pounds and 4.2% body fat.


Exactly how difficult was it preparing for the competition?

It’s a lifestyle, man, a true challenge. I think that’s why I went after it: purely for the challenge. Staying focused mentally and fighting the food cravings were the hardest parts. I had to give up booze, candy, good breakfast stuff like waffles and toaster strudels, pasta, bread, sweet tea. I could go on and on. Fighting the food cravings, especially for candy and salty stuff...that shit was rough.


physique competition side-by-side


What are some of the specifics about competitions, like classes, requirements, etc.?

In Physique they go off of height: A Class (under 5’7”), B Class (5’7”-6’), and C Class (over 6’). I’m a short little bastard, so I fell in Class B at 5’8”. Novice competitions are for first timers. Open competitions are for anyone after first timers.

Were you sponsored? Was it all natty, or were you allowed to juice?

I was not sponsored. You can be, but that usually takes winning a few competitions before you land those. As for the juice, I’ll put it this way: they did not test for the juice. There are such things as Natural Competitions, however, I did not participate in a natty competition.

Where did you end up placing in the competition? Do you feel as though you deserved it?

My first competition, I placed 1st Overall and 1st in Class B (Novice Class). For my second competition, I entered into the Open Class and placed Overall Runner Up and 1st in Class B. I certainly felt I deserved it. I worked my ass off. Not that the others didn’t, but yes, I deserved it.

Did the judges dock you points because you had the frat-swoop haircut during the competition?

I actually cut the Frat Swoop and resorted to a smidgen of hair product. Don’t judge; my mom told me I looked really handsome.

What were the prizes for winning the competition? What were the prizes for each place?

Prizes consisted of a trophy and a firm handshake. Ultimately, contestants are pursuing their Pro Card, which will qualify them to compete on a national level and be sponsored.

Were you disappointed to learn you wouldn’t be wearing a banana hammock, or were you excited because it meant you wouldn’t have to explain why your bulge was so small?

I really was ecstatic to learn I wouldn’t be wearing a banana hammock. I definitely would have stuffed it with gym socks, though.

Why do they make you lube up in that ridiculous fake tan for competitions? What purpose does it serve? Does it smell as bad as it looks? Does it come with free pukka shell necklaces?

The fake tan is applied because of the stage lighting. The amount of light they use drowns out your shreddedness, which is bad news bears. And, I already had the pukka shell necklace, so I declined the freebie.

How long does it take for the fake tan to come off? Does agreeing to wear the fake tan mean you have to wear Hollister jeans and flip flops for the rest of your career?

It was unpleasant to put on, and took about a week afterwards before it all came off. And no, thank God; I don’t like Hollister jeans. I only like their shirts because they fit real tight.

Most of Elgintensity's viewers can’t read, so would you say that your similar inability to read was an advantage or a disadvantage in preparing for the competition?

It was a huge advantage! I watched a lot of YouTube videos to learn how to pose and stuff. So, frankly, my inability to read gave me greater success because it let me learn visually instead of haggling over “words” and other bullshit. Literacy is for fuckin’ nerds.


physique competitorIs learning how to pose for physique competitions really as difficult as people say? Why or why not? Explain a little bit of what some poses are and how you actually do them.

Honestly, yes. You have to learn to control your breathing very precisely, along with activating the exact muscle group you are trying to show. It proved to be quite difficult. Some of the poses include a Front Pose, Side Pose, and Back Pose.

  • For my Front Pose, for example, I concentrated on flexing and activating my core along with my lats.
  • For my Side Pose I mainly focused on activating my obliques.
  • For my Back Pose I tried to broaden my shoulders, activate my lats, and squeeze my rear delts and traps. I think that learning the Back Pose and doing it properly was the most difficult pose for me.

What advice would you have for someone thinking about going into a physique competition?

Find a routine and stick to it. A routine for something that rigorous is everything. If you can create the habit and prefect it, then you’ll be fine. Oh, and don’t keep food you know you can’t eat in the pantry. That’s just playing with fire and you’ll never meet your goals.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about physique competitions?

They are long as fuuuuuck. I was expecting to be in and out in a few hours, but that shit took all day. Almost missed an episode of The Bachelor because of it…

Are physique competitions a good place to meet women, or are you more of a Craigslist/Backpage/general internet kinda guy?

If you like a lady that can make you tap out in 4.2 seconds, then I say competitions are a great place to meet the ladies. Thankfully I had my awesome girlfriend, Chelsey, prior to competing, so I didn’t have to mash that “lonely singles in my area” button on my Pornhub account.

Who would win in a fight: Jay Cutler or the ghost of Rich Piana?

Easily Rich Piana, only because he probably went by street rules. That guy was a dick and his attitude sucked. Too soon?

How much would somebody have to pay you to do Crossfit?

There isn’t enough money in Dubai.

What’s your next fitness goal?

The real world has taken over so I really don’t have the time I once did in college. I plan staying above average though, y’know, try to keep four abs showing at all times.


Thanks for taking the time with us today. Tell your mom I said hello.

Thanks for having me. It’s been an honor. And how do you know my mom?


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