James is flexing his muscles

James Gibson (left) finished third at the recent UKBFF competition.
James Gibson (left) finished third at the recent UKBFF competition.

A former Banbridge Academy student is celebrating his success after placing third at the UK Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation (UKBFF) under 90kg intermediate category.

James Gibson, 24, who is an Avenches Biotech representative, was one point off second place and not far away from first - positions which would have seen him get an invite to the British Championships.

He said: “I was told my tan was not dark enough which meant the judges couldn’t see the definition in my muscle as well as they wanted.

“The two men who placed ahead of me have much more experience of competing at these shows. This was only my second so I’m proud of what I have achieved.”

James explained the rigorous diet and exercise programme that he puts himself through to get into competitive shape.

He said: “For show preparation I would do an hour of cardio at 5am, go to work from 8.30am to 5pm and then straight to the gym. After that, I would prepare my meals for the next day and then get to sleep. Repeat that for eleven weeks.

“It might be a cliché but bodybuilding is a lifestyle. Your whole world has to revolve around it if you want to get anywhere.”

James is in somewhat of a unique position as he also has diabetes, which can make sticking to a strict diet extremely hard.

He said: “My blood sugar level is hard to control on a low carbohydrate diet. With the diabetes it is really about learning for yourself how to manage it.

“It’s tough mentally to watch other people eat the food you want while you stick to your diet.”

James explained bodybuilding’s allure and why it drew him from rugby, which he had loved since school.

He said: “Bodybuilding is something I can do myself. If I don’t succeed I have no-one else to blame. The effort is me alone.

“With rugby, I could have a really good match but if the 14 other players on my team aren’t on their game then it’s not going to matter.”

James is more than just brawn, however, as he is currently training to be a chartered accountant with ASM Ltd in Newry.

He is keeping up his training at Banbridge Weight Training Club but has no plans to compete again in the near future.

He said: “I’m working towards becoming a chartered accountant for the next two years. Once that is out of the way I’ll be back at it.”