By Denise DuBois
It takes willingness, hard work and, most importantly, dedication. Training your body and your habits to match your goals is an impressive feat. Zach Lape knows that story well. After years of commitment to body building, Lape competed in the 2018 NPC North American Championships on Aug. 31. He placed second in the Men’s Physique open class and received the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) Pro card.
Lape is an East Alabama native who found his love for fitness when he was 18 years old.
“I was 18 years-old and 123 pounds. I was so small. I was already like five-foot-six, maybe five-foot-seven on a tall day if I had on the right shoes. I really needed to do something. I went to the gym with a buddy who told me this is how you grow if you won’t get any taller,” Lape recollected.
His first day in the gym, he set up a 135-pound bench press that came to his chest and wouldn’t move.
“I didn’t know what I was doing,” he laughed. “I got in there and put weight on the bench, and it got me. It went to my chest and nowhere else. That’s what I’d seen everyone else doing. So then I put two 25s on it and got it one and a half times.”
That’s when Lape decided on his first goal.
“At 18, I thought I was a grown man and that I needed to be a man. I had no idea I was still a teenager. I decided then that I wasn’t going to quit until I could get that 135-pounch bench,” he said.
With the achievement of that goal came many more, and almost seven years later, Lape felt strong in the gym. But something wasn’t quite right. Pounding down the calories and lifting heavy took him from a 123-pound teenager to a 203-pound man in his mid-20s.
“I was a very strong lifter for my size. I had so much muscle on me but I looked like the Michelin Man walking around with a mouth full of mashed potatoes. I thought you got definition and cut just from going to the gym. I realized my nutrition was so much more important,” Lape said.
That information changed his life. He got on board with a strict nutrition program and sought out role models who he could model his diet after.
Clean eating became important and he began noticing a huge change in his physique. It was about that time that he met Gary Daniel, the manager of Complete Nutrition in Columbus. With proper diet and an exercise focus, Lape made it to a lean 185 pounds with the thought of bodybuilding competitions on his mind.
The first competition was the Cain Classic in April in Fort Benning just to get his feet wet.
“I definitely had to work on some confidence to stop on that stage. I went there not expecting anything or knowing what I was getting into,” he said. But he took the overall win.
The second competition was a national qualifier in Panama City – the RipTide Classic. Again, Lape walked away with a win and the confidence to step on the national stage in Pittsburg.
When he took second place and received his Pro card, Lape said it was a surreal moment on the stage.
“I went back and hit my knees to thank God and shed a couple of tears. It was very emotional,” he said. It was at that moment that all the food prep, exercise and sacrifice was worth it. “It was 12 years grinding very hard through a lot of ups and downs. God was in every bit of it. It was incredible. I felt favor and His anointing. All I had to do was put in the work. So first and foremost I want to give thanks to God.”
Lape already has thoughts for his professional bodybuilding debut, but no plans have been made yet. For now, he will continue to put in the work and see where it leads.
Bodybuilder Profile: Zach Lape, 31
Favorite workout: chest
Hardest day: Leg day. “I enjoy it because it’s a challenge.”
Typical day: fasted cardio, eat, train clients, eat, workout for an hour, eat, work, eat, train clients, eat, cardio, cook and meal prep for the next day
Goal: “I want to get on that Olympia stage. The Olympia is the Super Bowl of body building.”
Advice: “If you don’t love it, you won’t come back. Find a good trainer or a friend with a good foundation. Make sure you’re training properly with the weights. Make sure your diet is right. Everybody is in the gym for the same reason – a better quality of life. No one is judging you.”
Favorite supporter: Abby Blair, girlfriend of four years. “When you’re on contest prep, sometimes you’re not the funnest person to be around when you’re cutting carbs. She was always there and made me accountable.”
Favorite cardio: stairmaster
Favorite cheat meal: Five Guys burger and fries