Salina novice body builder aims to turn pro

? If Ryan Will succeeds in his life’s ambition, a great weight will have been lifted from his chest. In the meantime, he will lift another kind of weight from his chest, back, arms and legs and numerous other parts in his quest to become a professional body builder.

Will, 27, most recently competed in the Rocky Mountain Body Building Show in Denver, where he placed first in the novice heavyweight division and third in the open heavyweight class.

Last year at the same show, he was sixth among the open heavyweight contestants. That was his first body building show.

“Last year, I had no idea what I was doing,” said Will, who has been lifting weights since he was eight years old after seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger on television.

He picked up some valuable techniques at that show that he used to good effect this time around.

A proper diet — for body builders, that is — is essential.

“I dieted for two weeks longer and also, the last week before the show, I cut out my water intake and sodium,” he said.

“That made a pretty big difference.”

By dieting, he didn’t mean skipping dessert.

Beginning 13 weeks before the contest, Will’s daily menu comprised such fare as tuna, rice cakes and egg whites.

“I don’t look at calories. I look at (carbohydrates), protein and fat,” he said.

He tried to keep his total fat intake of his six daily meals to under 12 grams.

He could have pared his food intake even more.

“One thing I didn’t do this time was carb depletion,” he said.

Typically, body builders will reduce the number of carbohydrates about a week before a contest, then the final three days boost their carbohydrate levels. Doing so makes the muscles fill out and look bigger.

“Looking back, I wish I would have done that.”

Will did cut his water intake.

“You want as much water out of your system as possible,” he said. “It makes the skin really tight.”

It also makes for a grumpy contestant.

“It takes a toll,” he said. “You’re really irritable. I’m not a fun person to be around.”

But in the gym, sated with a more calming amount of food, Will is patient and pleasant discussing his workout.

In between bench-pressing a bar full of weights the size of manhole covers, Will explained that body builders are after muscle definition and lift lower weights and higher repetitions. Power lifters, by contrast, who strain to lift the most weight, work with heavier loads and fewer repetitions.

Will also doesn’t perform the full range of motion. He keeps his bench press repetitions, for instance, close to his chest and goes for speed.

“It keeps tension on the chest,” he explained. “If you lock out, it puts pressure on the elbows.”

Will works out at the Salina Family YMCA after his paying job at Advance Auto Parts.

To turn pro, he will have to win his weight class in an open competition as well as winning “best of show” among all first-place finishers.

From there, he would compete among other overall winners. If he takes first at that level, he gets his pro card.

“I can’t explain it,” he said of his fascination with the sport. “It’s seeing how far you can take it.”

His dedication and drive can carry over to any endeavor, he believes.

“If you work hard, don’t give up and sacrifice,” he said, “you can do anything.”