I usually watch at least a couple of thousand people compete each year. However, at the end of the year, only a few truly stand out for something special that they accomplished – these are the people who make it to the annual SeriousAboutMuscle.com Bodybuilders of the Year list. For 2010, here are my three picks:
Quebec’s Dickens Lambert is 5’10” tall and weighs about 195 pounds on the competition stage. He is rarely, if ever, out of shape, even in the off-season. Dickens is a formidable natural competitor who has won a slew of competitions over the years, including both IDFA pro contests held in 2010: the International Championship last July and the Pro Universe in November.
I watched Dickens compete at both of the IDFA shows, and although Erik Alstrup pushed him extremely hard for the top spot in July (something I’ll talk about more below), he was a deserving winner each time. All told, Dickens Lambert is a great competitor and it’s no surprise that the IDFA featured him in the inaugural issue of their magazine that came out in the middle of 2010.
Dickens' past track record and his competitive accomplishments this year are why he’s included as one of SeriousAboutMuscle.com’s Bodybuilders of the Year for 2010. But there has also been this question on many people’s minds: What’s next for Dickens? I’m not sure anyone knows. Dickens is quiet to the point of being reclusive, and he rarely lets anyone know his plans. When he competed in July, it seemed like a last-minute decision – I saw him a week prior when I was in Montreal and there was no commitment from him then. What’s more, some people at the Toronto show commented that they thought this competition would be his last. From what I could tell, that was all conjecture; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. Dickens has a wife, two small children, and a career outside bodybuilding. In other words, he’s got plenty of other things to do. But regardless of what the future holds, Dickens Lambert had a banner year in 2010, which is exactly why we’re including him here.
Erik Alstrup’s impressive competitive comeback in 2009 was one of the main reasons he was selected as one of our Bodybuilders of the Year last year. I’d never seen anyone make a return to the stage the way he did. This year Erik is included because of his continued competitive accomplishments and, as well, because of the positive and inspiring mindset he brings to the sport, in addition to the motivation he gives to others.
No other drug-free Canadian competitor I know of has stepped on the stage more than Erik has in 2010 – he competed in a number of contests in a number of organizations, both in Canada and the United States. Erik is from Ontario, but he spends quite a bit of time in Miami these days and that might be why he feels comfortable competing on both sides of the border. Erik is a combination of quantity and quality. He won most of the competitions he entered, and he came the closest of anyone to dethroning Dickens Lambert in the IDFA’s pro ranks. The way they both performed at the July International Championships was as close as it could get for the first- and second-place positions. In fact, I actually had Erik winning in a number of poses and, in my opinion, that contest could have gone either way.
But winning isn’t everything to Erik; instead, what seems to get him charged the most is stepping on stage and performing for the audience, as well as training other competitors and motivating almost everyone he comes in contact with. Erik didn’t win in Toronto against Dickens, but he was the star of the show that day – his posing routine in the finals brought the loudest ovation of the show, and even though he was busy preparing himself to compete, he was equally busy helping the competitors he personally coaches. And when he wasn’t doing that, he spent the remainder of the time talking to others about the benefits of natural bodybuilding.
Bodybuilding needs a star spokesman right now and Erik Alstrup is filling that role perfectly. Given all his accomplishments, competitive and otherwise, it’s no wonder Erik is once again one of our Bodybuilders of the Year and we’re happy to have him as one of the main contributors on SeriousAboutMuscle.com.
No other new competitor this year surprised me the way Ontario’s Bill Garland did. I first saw Bill compete in the novice division at the IDFA Montreal Classic in July. I was amazed by his near-perfect symmetry and I was floored by his rock-hard condition. Bill easily won the men’s masters and overall novice titles, and I’m pretty sure he would have won the open division if he had been allowed to compete in it that day.
But Bill did compete a week later in the open division at the IDFA’s International Championships in Toronto and won the lightweight class; however, he lost the overall title to heavyweight winner Oge Robin. Following that contest, Bill took a few months off from competing, but he then resurfaced at the IDFA Ottawa-Gatineau Classic in October where he won the lightweight title again, and this time he was also awarded an IDFA pro card. One week later Bill, competed professionally in the lightweight division at the IDFA Pro Universe and won; however, the overall Pro Universe title went to Dickens Lambert. Bill didn’t win every contest he competed in, but, obviously, he did pretty darn well in all of them.
Bill’s competitive record alone this year would be impressive enough to include him on this list, but, as I said, he surprised me for a couple of other reasons, and it didn’t have to do with all those wins. First, when Bill hit the stage at the Montreal Classic he was 49 years old – it was the first time he had ever competed. At a time in his life when most men have already hung up their posing trunks, Bill has just started, showing the physique of a man half his age. Why such a late start? Although Bill had been weight training off and on for a very long time, he got serious about weights when he was 40. But, even then, it was not necessarily to compete; it was more about overall health and staying in shape. Bill only considered competing at the very beginning of 2010 when his trainer, Brad Antaya (of the Belleville YMCA), encouraged him to do so. He was originally shooting for the IDFA’s May 15 Novice Classic show in Toronto, but couldn’t make that date because of other commitments and ended up making his debut in July. You know the old saying: Better late than never.
Besides his age, the other thing that was most surprising was his weight. Everyone in Montreal was floored by Bill’s rock-hard condition – rarely do competitors get as ripped as he was. After the show a group of us were talking and Bill came around so we asked him a few questions and complimented him on his condition, something Bill seemed rather surprised about. He had no idea how good he look onstage, even after winning. In fact, he was quite taken aback by the accolades. But you should have seen everyone’s jaw drop when he told us his weight that day was 128 pounds! You read that right: one, two, eight. Bill may only be 5’5” tall, but, still, everyone there thought that he looked like he weighed 150 pounds, if not more. It goes to show that superior definition, not bodyweight, is what matters most on the stage. That’s because when you are super-lean like Bill was that day, you can look much larger under the lights than you really are. There are a number of competitors who fixate on how much they weigh, not what they look like, who could learn a lot from Bill. As a result, Bill Garland, all 128 pounds of him, impressed me like few other competitors this year, and that’s precisely why he’s one of SeriousAboutMuscle.com’s Bodybuilders of the Year for 2010.
Now that 2010 is fully behind us, we have the 2011 season to look forward to. Will Dickens, Erik and Bill be back to compete and be as impressive as they were in 2010? Or will be there be a new crop of notable competitors who will make our Bodybuilders of the Year list for 2011? Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see how the year unfolds. Until next month . . .
. . . Doug Schneider, Publisher
Doug Schneider is the publisher and chief photographer for SeriousAboutMuscle.com.