Brains and brawn: Army officer competes and wins bodybuilding competitions

| July 15, 2016 | 0 Comments


Story and photos by Maj. Karen Roxberry
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs


SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — If you’re thinking about competing in bodybuilding, you’re going to need more than barbells and your favorite bench at the gym.

“Working out is the fun part,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sean Aikman. “But you have to have nutrition discipline, planning and a pure love for the sport.”

Also, if you think bodybuilders aren’t academics, think again.

“Bodybuilding has led me to pursue my bachelor’s degree in exercise science,” said Aikman, who is assigned to 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 25th Infantry Division Artillery as a target officer. “Now I am a graduate student working on my degree in human performance because of my passion for the sport.”

A certified personal trainer, Aikman has competed in four bodybuilding competitions. He placed first in the novice category for the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) during the International Natural Bodybuilding Federation Polynesian Muscle Mayhem at the Hawaii Fit Expo in June.

Aikman lifted weights in the off-season to keep up with larger physique football players while he was in high school.

Aikman said that he starts identifying competitions six months ahead and really starts his training plan 10 to 12 weeks out.

“I like a slower progression than others who start their training plan four to six weeks prior,” he said. “I take it slow and don’t degrade myself.”


Armed with research and a plan, Aikman’s weekly workouts to prepare for the WNBF were grueling and consisted of combinations of lightweight with high repetition exercises and heavy weight with low repetitions.

“I concentrated on both the concentric and eccentric movements of each exercise and I isolate muscle groups throughout the week,” said Aikman.

He had a work out plan for everyday of the week. Aikman says even Sundays were not spared and he would often do extra cardio on that day.

Although bodybuilding is an individual sport, Aikman did not train alone for WNBF. Staff Sgt. Russell Barker, a targeting noncommissioned officer also attached to 2nd IBCT, trained with Aikman consistently and says he now plans to compete next year.

“I have always had an interest in weightlifting, trying to get bigger and stronger,” said Barker, a native of St. Petersburg, Florida. “But after meeting Chief, he showed me the educational perspective on bodybuilding.”

Similar to his approach to working out, Aikman uses planning and research for his nutrition. Aikman says all his meals are evenly portioned and weighed. He also drinks at least a gallon of water a day.

“My nutrition plan is much more detailed but may not be suitable for most,” said Aikman. “It generally consists of lean meats such as chicken breast, fish and ground turkey with sweet potato, brown rice or oats and of course all green vegetables with fruits.”

Prior to getting on the competition stage, Aikman says there are a whirlwind of emotions. Backstage is buzzing with other competitors trying to get more vascular and finalizing their last minute preparations.


Aikman spots a fellow bodybuilder.

“As soon as you get on stage, time just stops,” said Aikman. “It’s the longest 90 seconds of my life.”

Aikman says that posing on stage is actually one of the hardest workouts.

“You are flexing every muscle in your body, trying to look calm with a smile on your face,” he said. “Every muscle in your body is shaking because at that point your body is so tired already from all the training you have done.”

After Hawaii Fit Expo, Aikman also competed and won the 2016 Ikakia Bodybuilding Championship and is nationally qualified with the National Physique Committee. He now has two years to compete at a national show to receive his professional status pending winning in his division.

When not training for competitions, Aikman fuels his passion for the sport by helping others through personal training and pursuing his master’s degree in exercise science with a concentration in human performance at American Military University.

“I train people to because I want to teach them how improve their health and way of life through simple changes,” said Aikman. “Nothing is impossible, you just have to start to be great.”

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