Men and women toil exhaustive hours keeping to intensive regimens of diet, resistance training and dedication to look their premium best as they offer fabulously trimmed and sculpted physiques up for judging.

Seriously ripped bodies and athletic figures converge for the 5th Annual Red Stick Classic Bodybuilding, Figure and Bikini competition Saturday, June 11, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4728 Constitution Ave.

Upward of 100 athletes throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas have signed up to compete.

This amateur event is sanctioned by the National Physique Committee (NPC), which coordinates bodybuilding shows nationwide. Each competitor holds membership in this central organization, which offers amateur athletes privileges of competing in its nationwide events.

In preparation for Saturday’s competition, most participants began their own rigorous training regimens about 16 weeks ago, Red Stick Classic co-promoter Bubby Lupo, who also serves as NPC vice chairman of Louisiana, said.

“These athletes monitor their body fat very closely. All diets in preparation for any show consist of high protein, low carb (carbohydrate) and cardio into their daily routines,” Lupo said.

This regimen also includes a complete cessation of any fast foods, opting for lean meats consisting of beef, turkey, fish and chicken.

“There are no creams taken at all; everything is either grilled or baked. Nothing fried,” Lupo said.

Meal times also change for both the male and female athletes. Most training regimens disregard the traditional three-meal-a-day routine, instead instituting a daily intake of five to seven “small” meals a day, taken in two- or three-hour intervals.

Resistance training represents the central core of bodybuilding, Lupo added. “But it’s the diet that really transforms the body.”

While training and nutrient preparations generally run parallel between men and women, there are differences in the technical evaluations between the genders. Men are judged strictly on bodybuilding criteria; however, Saturday’s Red Stick Classic contains varying standards for evaluating female athletes.

Former competitor and co-Red Stick Classic promoter Michelle Marciante explained that at Friday’s weigh-in, a seven-judge panel sets the individual divisional classes for men and women.

The “Novice” class will be first-time competitors, Lupo said. The “Junior Open” is for experienced competitors who have not yet won an award. “Open Class” represents the division containing all the advanced bodybuilding athletes, Lupo added.

Women’s figure, or bikini, classes are classified by “short” (up to 5’4”), “medium”, and “tall” (over 5’6”), Marciante said.

“Men are measured by weight; women by height,” she said. “Men are judged by muscle volume, definition and symmetry; women on athletic figure, muscle tone, and symmetry.” Yet, both follow the same general training timetable and diet routines, the promoters said.

On Saturday, fans get to witness buffed and tanned competitors parading on stage under powerful glaring lights that further accent the glistening contours of highly bulging musculatures and refined figures. At this time, the athlete’s ability to project a series of mandatory poses for judges proves significant to competitors’ rank in the competition.

“You must be able to show the whole package,” Marciante said.

The men’s competition features seven mandatory poses: front double bicep; front lateral spread; abdominal pose; most muscular pose; leg pose; back double bicep, and the side-chest pose.

Meanwhile, the women’s figure competition includes quarter-turn poses, front, side and back.

The Red Stick Classic’s pre-judging portion ends mid-day on Saturday. Participants then break from noon to 5 p.m., and return at 6 p.m. for the finals portion of the event, which features a much more relaxed and festive atmosphere for the athletes and the audience.

“The night show really is the big deal,” Marciante said. “In this community of bodybuilding it’s the place to be seen. There’s music and cheering and it gets rowdy and fun for everyone,” she said.

It also represents the time when medals and trophies are awarded.

All competitors exhibit a community of fellowship and rapport, but ironically their training routines can be very solitary and highly isolated among those dedicated to the sport.

“Many are very secretive in their preparations because they believe that have the discovered the right (training) combination, or have that special trainer. And you’ll even have some athletes who will not sign up for a show until the very last minute,” Lupo said, which perpetuates an aura of mystery and intrigue among the serious competitors on training techniques.

The Red Stick Classic has enjoyed steady growth. Thirty participants competed in its inaugural event five years ago. Last year, approximately 90 competed, and the local bodybuilding event drew around 1,000 fans to the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which has staged the Red Stick Classic since its inception.

Men bodybuilders will be sporting Speedo wear, while the men’s physique class don board shorts (longer shorts worn by competitors in events like surfing where boards are used). Women will be clad in “bedazzled” bikinis, and swimwear often purchased off the shelf, and perhaps modified some, the promoters said.

In addition to the novice, physique, and open classifications, Lupo said a special Police, Fireman and Armed Forces division will be featured for those who work in these occupations.

“We are all in the bodybuilding community, but we all have real jobs out there,” Lupo added.

In fact among Saturday’s competitors, most are active gym patrons and former competitive athletes seeking additional challenges.

The average age of those competing in this year’s Red Stick Classic ranges from 25 to 35 years, Lupo said.

Tickets for the prejudging (morning) session are $20 general admission, and can be purchased at the door. Tickets for the 6 p.m. show are $25 general admission and $30 VIP reserved seating. Advanced purchase for reserved seats is highly recommended. Order forms for VIP tickets can be downloaded at http://www.redstickclassic.com.