Joan Pradells seeks to qualify for Mr. Olympia for the first time this June 17 and 18, an event in which Ángel Calderón already reached second place last year
arnold schwarzeneggerRonnie Coleman and now, Chris Bumstead are some of the men who have raised the name of Mr Olympia until it became the biggest bodybuilding competition in the world. This tournament was created in 1965 by Joe and Ben Weiderwho announced it as the new event with which the Federation of Body Building & Fitness (IFFB) could change the history and dimension of this sport. Since then, and over the past six decades, hundreds of men (and women since the 1980s) have pushed their physiques to unimaginable limits to win the highest decoration in the world of bodybuilding.
It is so prestigious that the fact of stepping on the stage of Mr. Olympia surrounded by the best physicists on the planet already represents a titanic effort for all its participants. To access, first of all, they must get a PRO CARD competing against the best international bodybuilders in the amateur field and, after that, obtain a “straight pass” winning in any of the professional tournaments that are held during the year.
The next event of this kind will take place in Alicanteduring June 17 and 18, and there Joan Pradellsthe most publicized bodybuilder in Spain, will fight to get a place in the next Mr. Olympia in his second year devoting himself fully to bodybuilding. Pradells, despite competing in the category open (no weight limit), seeks to follow in the footsteps of Ángel Calderón, the best national bodybuilderwho made history by being in second position in the category of 212 pounds (96 kilos maximum weight) in last year’s event.
Feeding and training
Both dedicate their lives to the development of their bodies, alternating volume phasesin which they increase their muscle mass, and definition phases, with which they adjust their physical condition to the demands of the competition. “The volume phase occurs when you are out of season, away from the competition, and the definition phase takes place when you are closer to competing. In volume what I do is a caloric surplus. I usually eat rice creams, protein powder, rice, red and white meat, fish such as salmon, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yogurts and fruits, practically the same as in the definition, but in extreme amounts. Also, I train a lot and gradually increase my body weight, which means eating more and more,” explains Pradells, who has reached 134 kilos in this process.
Calderón, due to the weight limits of his category, controls the development of his physique in volume to score 96 kilosa figure that every year, he admits, it is more difficult for him to reach: “I cannot make a volume to put myself at 115-120 kilos, because then I have to give 96. So what I do is a controlled volume, measuring carbohydrates and proteins so as not to gain weight. Even so, I usually stand at 110-111 kilos. In addition, my weight gains are usually quite clean, with hardly any fluid retention, which is why it is not particularly noticeable and it is more difficult for me to lose it,” she explains.
And it is that in that I conquered the definition, in losing the excess kilos so that the muscle comes to light and can be observed in its full form. Both begin this phase a few months before competing, something they usually do “two or three times a year” and in it they reduce the amount of carbohydrates they eat and increase cardio time in training.
Regarding these, in both phases, the sessions are long, “about 4 hours a day” and they consist of performing the exercises repeatedly, trying to do the maximum number of repetitions, until their bodies say enough is enough, “until failure” or above it.
This preparation process, in addition to the incredible physical effort involved, also implies a high level mental engagementsince, the elevation of their physiques to the limit, implies a great suffering.
“The process of losing weight is especially screwed up for me, I’m annoyed all day and I don’t want to look in the mirrorthat’s why I try to take refuge in my wife and those around me, who already know me and know how to treat me,” says Ángel Calderón.
Pradells, for his part, has the support of Marta, his girlfriend, who is the main person in charge of their social networks and is by their side at all times. She explains that living with Joan during preparation is like living with “a premenstrual woman”as it is “impatient and unstable”but that, as she is also passionate about the world of Fitness, in which they met, she takes it “much better than any other girl who may be outside this area and whose boyfriend is a bodybuilder.”
Competing in Mr. Olympia
This hard training process has a clear objective, to reach the Mr. Olympia stage. That is where Pradells wants to arrive at just 26 years old and it is where Calderón, at 41, has already become a regular. The Valencian has competed four times in the largest bodybuilding tournament in the world, qualifying for the final round from his first participation and staying at the gates of victory in the 2022 edition, in which only shaun clarida could separate him from victory.
The American, thanks to his 1.57 m height, has an advantage over Calderón in a category in which weight is so limited. While the Spaniard is obliged to cut his weight by reducing his diet to a great extent, Clarida is not even obliged to weigh himself because he always arrives at the competition well below the limit.
“Shaun Clarida, being so short, starts with a certain advantage because in volume he puts on 100 kilos, so he goes out to compete at 86. He doesn’t even need to weigh himself and he goes out to compete at his best physical moment. I have to do the reduction work, in which it is impossible not to lose muscle mass along the wayThat’s why I don’t compete as I would like, which is how I am when I weigh 105 kilos. Anyway, I hope to win no matter what”Calderon says.
Also, explain that when you get to Las Vegaswhere the Mr. Olympia is held, “you hallucinate, because you see yourself surrounded by the best bodybuilders in the world and, although at first they don’t know you, after so many years, they greet you and respect you”.
The world of bodybuilding is very sacrificed, not only for the physical and mental, but also for the costs involved. Despite the fact that in the big tournaments the participants who remain in the first places are financially rewarded, the amounts are much less than what is invested by these athletes, since they can spend about 5,000 euros per month in keeping their physiques on point.
For this reason, social networks have become a key tool for them, because there, in addition to being able to show their progress and have contact with their followers, They collaborate with different brands that help them greatly with the economic part.
In this section, Pardells is the dominator in Spain. The young man accumulates half a million followers on Instagram and 300,000 on YouTube, where he uploads a daily video showing his routine and his way of life. “After several years dedicating myself to the networks, in 2022, Marta and I began to study the operation of each social network and to investigate the way in which we could exploit each of them to the maximum. We did not try to look for viral content, although we also is important, but we want to lay the foundations of a community through perseverance and showing something beyond training or my physical condition. It’s about sharing the whole process, not the what but the how.”
Also, Joan owns a company called PBS Apparel in which he sells fitness-related products and which is his main source of income.
Thanks to this “boom” on the Internet, Pradells has had experiences such as being invited to programs such as The resistance or be interviewed by Jordi Wild on his podcast. However, he assures that “it is not all good”, and it is that both he and Marta have suffered phone calls, visits to his house and countless looks and comments on the street for the simple fact of being who they are.
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