Ross eyes Mr Universe crown By Donald Duff
Stabroek News
April 24, 2004

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Fresh off last year's exploits where he won the US Masters', the Men's Open and the men's Open overall titles, Guyanese body-builder Hugh Ross is eyeing the Mr Universe crown.

Ross, a Berbician, is set to compete in the Musclemania body-building championships today but his win at last year's US nationals have qualified him to represent the United States in the Mr Universe competition in Birminghan, England and the world championships in Australia later this year.

After his fantastic win last year Ross says he took a brief break.

"I felt kind of burnt out, " he told Stabroek Sport.

He re-emerged last year during Thanksgiving to begin what he termed his heavy phase taking advantage of the festive or what he termed the food season to capitalise on the availability of what he termed"all those calories with the stated aim of lifting heavier weight in an effort to put on a few more pounds.

Earlier this year, Ross began training in earnest for today's showdown at Musclemania.

A power-lifter who only recently turned to body-building Ross says the transition was not difficult.

"Well it was not very difficult for me because usually power-lifters are very blocky because that sport is based on brute force. In my case I've always kept my physique very refined hence my transition period was not as difficult."

Ross said other bodybuilders have been amazed at his quick development which he described as "Phenomenal" since he has been a competitive bodybuilder for only two years.

"Guys who I've competed against think I lie when I tell them that I've only been competing for two years especially since they have been trying to achieve what I have achieved in excess of 10-15 years. There are guys who have been competing for more than 10 years just to qualify for the nationals in one organisation. I have qualified in every organsiation. I've qualified for Musclemania, Worlds, I've qualified for the NPC nationals in my first showing and I've also as you are aware won the NABBA's US nationals in both the masters' Men's Open and overall divisions.

On the issue of whether he used anabolic steroids in an attempt to put on more pounds Ross said: "Well my thing is I am not in a quest for excessive power since I do not believe in bulking up for the off season I have always believed in acquiring whatever few pounds I can acquire even if it's three pounds per year but stay lean at the same time. That way I know that whatever gains I make belong to me because it came via the natural process. What I am a true believer in is refining what I do have and it seems to have worked wonders because invariably, almost in all of the competitions that I'm in, within my weight class, I appear to be the smallest however, the most detailed though."

Ross says the main thing the judges look for is a balance.

"They want to see muscularity but they are very, very much embracing symmetry and detailed presentation now."

Ross works from 6am-2pm then gets to the gym at 4.30-5pm for an hour and a half training session.

"That may sound as though it's a short period but believe you me I'm normally crying to leave there long before that time is up because of my level of intensity," he says.

Ross says he tries to focus on what he plans to achieve in his training session even before he goes to the gym. he views training as a job and says each training session is a new challenge simply because he always tries to better what he did at his last session.

"It's not always possible but that's always my aspiration," he says.

When preparing for a show such as Musclemania, Ross operates on a two-on, one-off cycle.

This means that he trains Mondays and Tuesdays and rests on Wednesdays when he incorporates a training session in martial arts which he also practises.

He resumes lifting on Thursdays and Fridays before taking the week-ends off.

"When I'm preparing for a show, however, its all systems go in that I train seven days a week. Whenever I'm not lifting, I'm still in the gym to do my cardiovascular exercises. Normally if I'm off duty on a given day you will find me in the gym at 6am in the morning on an empty stomach doing my cardiovascular exercises," he says.

Ross trains at various places but his actual training base is the Brooklyn Sports Club.

Ross says a bodybuilder's diet is important especially his protein intake which is usually one gramme per pound of bodyweight daily.

"If you weigh 200 pounds then you are looking at 200 grammes of protein perhaps divided into five to seven meals per day," he says.

As a competition approaches Ross says he begins to manipulate his intake of carbohydrates while having his protein from sources such as baked chicken, steak fish and egg whites.

""Contrary to belief it's not as expensive as your average layman's diet because your average layman's diet necessitates him looking for a variety everyday. Mine is almost stereotyped. I know exactly what I'll be eating on a given day. I don't have to deviate. It's like a machine you just give it exactly what it wants.

A week from a show Ross gradually manipulates his carbohydrate intake to the point where he is putting in lesser calories than he is actually burning up. The aim, he says. is to cause the body to burn stored fat to supplement its energy requirements. In doing so the body-builder becomes much more detailed-looking. All the smoothness goes and he becomes more striated.

This is followed by an increase in protein intake whilst water consumption is doubled. This he says helps to flush the body of the toxic build up from the added protein.

The next stage is that the body-builder gradually starts reloading the carbohydrates whilst cutting the water intake. This results in the glycogen from the carbohydrates being transported to the muscles giving them and extremely full appearance. The absence of the water now causes the skin to become very thin in appearance so the muscles force against the skin giving it that detailed look, Ross explained.

The final hours are spent carbo-loading every other hour while sipping teaspoons of water and looking in the mirror to see your final presentation.

Even if he wins the Musclemania overall title and does get that Pro Card, Ross says he does not intend to become a full-time bodybuilder. He declared that at this juncture of his career, he is only doing it for fun. As a former GDF paratrooper he once jumped from heights, but as a world-famous body-builder Hugh Ross is now striving to climb different heights.