It’s Bike Week in Myrtle Beach, and Paul Inman and his wife, DeBorah, are on their motorcycles riding with a group of friends. When they stop for lunch, the others order burgers and fries, but Inman removes boiled chicken from a Ziploc bag he kept in a cooler in his saddlebag. He orders water on this warm May day while the others ask for soda or beer. His menu never varies throughout the day.
Some members of the group seem puzzled, but this is the life of a bodybuilder.
Inman, a 44-year-old former Marine from Rock Hill, began seriously bodybuilding about five years ago when he met a married couple from England who gave him the coaching he needed to get started.
“I’ve always loved the concept of bodybuilding,” he said. “If you look at the classic guys from the past – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Lee Haney – they really gave me the inspiration to want to do it. I’d consistently been in the gym since 1988, but it wasn’t until I met them in 2009 that I really understood what it would take to achieve that. They were hardcore, had competed in all kinds of shows, including the British nationals. Working with them planted the seed and gave me the motivation I needed to get serious about it.”
The hard work comes not only in the gym but in the complete and total lifestyle change that bodybuilding demands. Inman said he has competed and placed well in three shows since 2009. His finished fourth in his first show in the Light Heavyweight division, and in his second show, Inman placed second in the Masters division and fourth in the Open Light Heavyweight division.
At the state championship in 2010, Inman took fourth place in the Open Heavyweight division and seventh in Masters. He is currently preparing to compete in the 2014 Stewart Fitness Bodybuilding Championships, being held Friday and Saturday at York Technical College. His goal is to do one or two shows a year.
“You really can’t do any more than that and have a relationship,” he said. “It is such a structured environment, and if my wife wasn’t supportive of me and what I’m doing, I probably wouldn’t have a wife. It takes a toll on her. ... It takes dedication to this on the part of both people, and that other person has to be willing to sacrifice as much as you do, if not more.”
Inman said he works out at a gym six days per week.
“I spend an hour to an hour and a half in the gym and no more,” he said. “Cardio workouts are always done at home on my treadmill. If you are spending two hours or more in the gym, half of it is wasted time.”
On Mondays, Inman works quads only, using exercises like leg extensions in reps of 15 and squats on the Smith machine in sets of 10 with 10 to 12 reps. Tuesday he works the back muscles, Wednesday he works the arms, Thursday is the day for shoulders and trap work. On Fridays the focus is on hamstrings and calves, and Saturday, Inman focuses on his chest and abs.
“This schedule varies weekly with exercises and days trained,” he said. “You must change constantly to keep growing. I am always looking for new ideas and watching what other people are doing. I look at it like this: if you put in the work in the gym like you are getting paid for it, the outcome will be great. Put down the phone, leave it in the car and don’t let anything distract you.”
Even more important to bodybuilding than the work done in the gym is the diet. Inman said the dietary demands are a total interruption of a normal lifestyle.
“When you’re cooking meals, you can’t just separate what you eat,” he said. “DeBorah comes home from work and cooks dinner for us and it is always centered around what I have to eat. My diet consists of a lot of chicken because of the protein value, which is something I need a lot of. So in a way, this is harder on her than it is on me. In order to get ready for this (weekend’s) show, I started my diet back in December. So for eight months, she’s had to live just as if she’s competing, too.”
“You definitely eat, sleep and drink getting ready for the competition just as much as he does,” DeBorah Inman said. “I am so tired of chicken and turkey. Steak becomes a rare luxury, especially toward the end. It takes time to weigh out the meals and get them prepared and divided up. He eats every two hours, so I have to pack enough in his lunches for him to eat three to four times a day while he’s at work. In a way I guess I am competing – competing to keep up with his food intake.”
Discipline is also an absolute must in successful bodybuilding, Inman said, and he credits his military experience with helping develop his.
Inman said that his core team of supporters other than his wife are Steve Wayman of Rock Hill Nutrition and Dr. Clay Gasparovich at Celanese Chiropractic.
Wayman echoed Inman’s sentiments about the diet being the hardest part.
“Weight training and cardio are easy in comparison,” he said. “A bodybuilding diet really comes down to high protein, about one gram per pound of body weight. You have to eliminate white sugar and flour – basically, all of the fun stuff. No soda, sweet tea, fruit juices, beer, liquor, fast food and so on. It makes it hard to go to the movies with your kids or to family barbecues because you can’t enjoy it like everyone else can.”
Inman said that his advice to anyone wanting to get into bodybuilding is to understand that to do it well, it isn’t something to be taken lightly.
“Your body goes through drastic changes when you are getting ready for a competition,” he said. “Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, things can get interesting. First and foremost, I would say find someone to help you start that knows what they’re doing. Don’t believe everything you read in the bodybuilding magazines because those guys are professionals and that’s not where you start out. Find a good trainer who has been in multiple shows and be willing to let them guide you through the process.”
Inman said newcomers to bodybuilding should also be aware of the expense associated with doing it properly.
“We probably go through 15 pounds of chicken a week,” he said. “Then there is the monthly cost of nutrition – the vitamins, the supplements, the protein, the fat burners – that runs around $300. Getting ready to compete in one show can cost close to $6,000.”
Inman said that when he and his wife are out at the beach or the lake, he feels that sometimes people look at him as an oddity.
“In this day and age of video games and such, people aren’t in the gym anymore like they were in the 80s,” he said. “It seems like it has become socially acceptable to be immobile. But I want to live my life, live it in such a way that I’m like the 70-year-old guy in the gym every day who doesn’t look or feel 70 and is more like 50. Bodybuilding for me is less about winning and more about becoming who it is I really want to be.”