There are many competitors in the Men’s Physique Division that know of nothing else. Since it is a fairly new category and most of the competitors are on the younger side, the vast majority of them have only been up on stage wearing board shorts and not posing trunks. But Luke Koval has experienced it from both sides.
"I started out competing in bodybuilding, as it was my original desire and men’s physique was not around yet," the Hazelton, Pennsylvania native remembers. "I entered the 2009 Slippery Rock University Open, dieted down and weighed 153 pounds. I was placed in the middleweight division and looked so small standing shoulder-to-shoulder with guys coming in up to 175 pounds and ended up in ninth place."
So when he set his sites on the NPC Pittsburgh Championships the following year, Koval knew that he had to make a better showing. "I trained my ass off, ate right and came in only one pound heavier, but looked like I had added 10 pounds because of my appearance," he recalls fondly of that night where he finished as the runner-up.
Koval did not compete in 2011 but decided to throw his hat into a different ring, since the MPD had come onto the scene by then. "Let’s face it," the personal trainer says with total candor, "a 165-pound guy isn’t going anywhere in the NPC/IFBB world. In order to gain more exposure, I saw this as a nice avenue. I am not against competitors using performance-enhancing drugs in this sport as it is their decision, but I have always been a natural athlete and plan to stay that way to demonstrate to my clients and others that you can do it without any added assistance."
In 2012, Koval entered two local and two national shows, qualifying for the latter by placing second at the NPC Lehigh Valley Championships. He is still in pursuit of his IFBB pro card, but will not let that stop him from dabbling into the bodybuilding arena at least one more time.
"I’m planning on entering the NPC Natural Northeastern Championships on March 30 and compete in MPD, but I also am planning on giving bodybuilding another try at the Pittsburgh Championships," says Koval, 26. "But I am setting a goal of competing at the 2014 Arnold Amateur in classic bodybuilding (a sort of hybrid division between open bodybuilding and men’s physique, but wearing regular posing trunks), which is appealing to my attributes."
Sounds like a nice compromise.
North Americans Physique: Class A (16th)
NPC USA Championships Physique: Class B (13th)
NPC Lehigh Valley Championships Physique: Men’s Physique (2nd)
NPC Pittsburgh Championships Physique: Men’s Physique B (5th)
NPC Pittsburgh Championships
Men’s Bodybuilding: Lightweight (2nd)
Men’s Bodybuilding: Closed Lightweight (2nd)
Slippery Rock University Open Middleweight (9th)