Junior Ahmed Elnaggar won first place in the Teen’s category of the Men’s Physique NPC East Coast Championship competition on Nov. 6. He also placed second in the True Novice Men’s Physique category and fifth in the Open Class C Men’s Physique category.
Elnaggar started bodybuilding after sophomore Justin Barrera introduced him to the practice, Barrera said.
“We knew each other through high school,” Barrera said. “We actually wrestled together, but I was always more into the bodybuilding. It wasn’t until we came to college together and I started training with him that he started lifting.”
Bodybuilding is an athletic practice involving lifting weights to build muscle proportionally, Elnaggar said.
During his years as a wrestler in high school, Elnaggar only did calisthenic workouts, he said. Calisthenics are low resistance, bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups and squats.
“It built my base for getting my body in shape,” Elnaggar said.
In July 2021, after Elnaggar had been practicing bodybuilding for nearly a year, Barrera and Elnaggar decided that Elnaggar was ready to do a show, Barrera said.
“What goes into a show is the amount of time and preparation that you have to do to lower down your body fat to certain levels to compete,” Barrera said. “The whole point of a bodybuilding competition is you’re comparing someone's physique and body to other people.”
Elnaggar competed in the East Coast Regional Championship hosted by the National Physique Committee. The organization, founded in 1982, is an amateur physique organization hosting hundreds of events around the world every year, according to its website.
Barrera admired Elnaggar’s determination to compete, he said.
“It takes a lot of discipline to do it,” Barrera said. “He was on a 16-week prep of just straight diets that were no sugars -- just straight protein, meats, carbs, rice, oatmeals, no sweets, no saturated fats. Watching him go through, it was very interesting how it didn't break him.”
Elnaggar had to use his friends' apartments to cook meals and could not eat at the Heilman Dining Center while dieting for the competition, he said.
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“D-Hall was completely off-limits for me, except if I wanted to grab cucumbers or spinach or something,” Elnaggar said. “My diet consisted of a very, very lean protein source. I looked at the macronutrients of the Spider Chicken, and it had seven grams of fat and I was like ‘Wow, I can’t even have this.’”
Elnaggar’s diet was special preparation for the bodybuilding competition, but for the average healthy eater, the dining hall has a lot of great options, Elnaggar said.
Tiara Fulmore, a senior and supervisor at the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, has worked at the gym for four years. This semester, Fulmore saw Elnaggar at the gym every day, she said.
“Honestly, sometimes twice a day where I would see him in the morning while I was working and then later that evening when I came back to maybe workout or something,” Fulmore said.
When Elnaggar needed heavier equipment for training, Fulmore managed to get the 100-pound dumbbells he needed, Elnaggar said.
“I talked to our equipment manager,” Fulmore said. “And then we got 100-pound dumbbells, so now we have two new dumbbells, which is really nice. ”
On Nov. 6, 2021, Elnaggar went to New Jersey to compete in the NPC East Coast Championships.
“Judges judge your top half, so from your waist all the way up, and they just look for the aesthetic of the physique, if you’re proportionate, the symmetry of your muscles, how mature your muscles look and stage presence,” Elnaggar said.
Barrera told Elnaggar to pursue the Open category where anyone in the same height class, regardless of size or experience, can compete, Barrera said.
“I told him to compete in it because you get a range of where you’re at,” Barrera said. “He placed fifth, which is very good for his first show.”
Fulmore was proud of Elnaggar when he posted the videos and results from the competition, she said.
“I was screaming, especially when I saw that he got fifth place in Open [category],” Fulmore said. “That’s against mad people -- not just people in your age range, not just newbies.”
Elnaggar came to the gym and showed Fulmore his medals, she said.
“It seems like he went from zero to 100 so quickly,” Fulmore said. “Watching his journey has been absolutely amazing because I feel he’s transformed himself.”
Elnaggar celebrated his win with his family, friends and coaches, he said.
“It was a great experience,” Elnaggar said. “[I] loved every second of it, and definitely gonna stick with it and continue––take a year to just grow and get better and compete again hopefully next year."
Contact features writer Lillian Tzanev at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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