Shaving for work is something we’ve all done at some point. It might have been for your first job. When your parents badgered you into removing your scraggly teenage moustache before you spent a summer working in a not so fancy hotel in a seaside town… (just me?)
But unlike most jobs shaving, for the gents in this series, gives them an edge at work. Instead of just being part of the office culture it’s a way to help them perform at their best. In this article we talked to Tavi Castro about bodybuilding and how shaving helps him perform at his best on the bodybuilding stage.
Tell me a bit about yourself?
I was born in Mexico but moved to Canada when I was 4 years old. When I was younger I was really good at soccer and got scouted to come to Europe when I was 14. I started in England first for a year and a half and then came to The Netherlands. Ultimately I couldn’t get my visas fixed, but I decided to go to university in The Netherlands because I had friends here and had built a home.
How did you get into bodybuilding?
It was in university. I was studying to be an aerospace engineer, but I had an idea for an online coaching platform called BodyEngineers. This was in 2012 and online coaching wasn’t normal yet, and because I was in university for engineering I didn’t have the time to do a personal training certificate. So I did a bodybuilding competition to give myself some credibility as an online coach – I wanted to let my body do the talking.
How did it go?
I did that first competition with an organisation called Muscle Mania. I was 21 or 22 so I competed as a junior. First in the British Championship, then the European Championship and finally the WorldChampionship in Las Vegas. I ended up winning every competition.
Some of my photos went viral and along with winning all the competitions I ended up in the fitness industry. I was planning to be an aerospace engineer for Airbus and Nasa, but ended up in the coaching because I love helping people. I didn’t compete again until this year because I didn’t feel the need to.
What got you back into bodybuilding?
This year I got the itch to get back on stage and see how I could do against the best in the world in Mr. Olympia. My category is quite new, it limits your weight for your height.
Modern bodybuilding has turned into this crazy freak show. But when I started getting into bodybuilding I was a big fan of Arnold, Frank Zane and the action stars back then. I wanted to see if I could create a similar physique. A physique which is closer to a superhero, or a statue of Zeus.
They brought my category into the Olympia in the last few years. Which I like cos it’s more about the aesthetics of your physique as opposed to getting huge.
How do you prepare for a competition?
Competing means you need to show up at the lowest body fat with the most muscle mass. And still be capable of flexing on stage for a long period of time. The first phase is getting the body fat down, and it can last anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks depending on where you start from.
For example I have a show in October. That’s about 15 weeks away and I need to lose about 12-13 kilos to make my weight category. So my weekly goal is to lose a kilo. So I follow that process.
In the last two weeks you do something called peaking which is where you prepare your body to peak for going onstage. You start drinking more water to flush out any excess salt. Eat less carbohydrates so you get really depleted. Your muscles get really flat, but you lose all the remaining fat.
A day or two before the contest I start eating carbs again to fill out my muscles. I stop drinking water. So all the water from the previous few weeks continues flushing out my body, but if you stop suddenly you get a very thin skin. So your muscles fill out and because the skin is thin they really pop.
What about shaving?
A couple of days before the competition I stop shaving and let my hair grow out. Letting it grow for 3 or 4 days before that moment limits the amount of ingrown hairs and irritation.
To avoid any problems I try not to shave against the grain, and use an aftershave cream to keep the skin moisturised. It takes about 45mins to an hour to shave everything but I have to ask my girlfriend to help shave my back. With bodybuilding I’m shaving my entire body so it’s quite a long process, but a necessary one.
Why do bodybuilders shave?
When you shave it give your skin a smoother look. Because you’re leaner it helps the lines to be more visible, and when you shave really smooth and you apply the fan tan, the tan looks a lot better.
Applying fake tan over an area with hair you really see the hair follicles cos they absorb more of the tanner. This creates these little freckles which don’t look great. Shaving helps makes my definition look cleaner and clearer.
What’s the most difficult spot to shave?
Obviously when you’re a bodybuilder your body is not very flat. Everything is bumpy and wavy. So you do have to go over the same spots at lots of different angles. A more flexible razor is usually better. Behind the legs is really difficult for me because my hamstrings get really wavy. You have to shave over the muscles in strange ways to get all the hairs.
It can be awkward as you have to go over the same spot more than once, which can give you more irritation. And you miss spots, things like that. That’s one of the trickiest parts. Trying to avoid shaving the same spot too much so you don’t damage the skin.
What advice about shaving for your first bodybuilding competition?
Don’t shave more than a day before the contest. Because if you shave any earlier the hairs start to grow back and gets really itchy. So shave the day before the contest or even that morning and to make sure you don’t rush. I’ve made the mistake of trying to rush it and scratched myself.
Do you shave everyday? Or only for competitions?
I don’t shave everyday because it would damage the skin. I shave my entire body once a week. It’s usually the second or third day after shaving when it starts to get a bit uncomfortable. When all the hairs start poking out, but it’s also too early to shave again. Usually if I shave again at that moment I get ingrown hairs. So my routine is to shave my whole body once a week. That’s the most comfortable for me.
If I shave hair that is any younger than 3 or 4 days then I get more ingrown hairs and irritation. So if I’m not prepping for shows I don’t shave more than once a week. I’m sure I’ve shaved my body more than most men.
What does your training look like?
I usually train 6 times a weeks, depending on what phase I’m in. If I’m cutting I’ll do an hour of cardio and an hour and half of weight lifting. But if I’m bulking I’ll actually train less, I’ll do an hour and a half of weight training and no cardio.
The workouts really depend on what muscle group I’m trying to accelerate. For example if I feel my arms need more work I’ll focus more on my arms for a period. I’m always switching it up. So I really don’t stick to any one training method for a long period of time. I’m cycling based on what my goals are at that moment.
And your diet?
My diet is the same. If I’m cutting I’m eating in a calorie deficit. I try to not let myself lose more than a kilo or two of fat per week. If I lose any more than that I feel really depleted and I start to lose muscle. And when I’m bulking I can gain anywhere from half a kilo to a kilo a month max. Any more than that and I’m just gaining fat.
While bulking I focus on my strength: my best bench, my best squat, things like that. I find that’s a better motivator than focusing on my weight. Because unless you’re taking steroids you’re not going to gain more than half kilo to a kilo a month. You have to be realistic with your bulking goals.
I tell my clients to make their motivation about improving their lifts every week, not what they see on the scale. Because if you’re getting stronger and your weight is creeping up then you’re gaining muscle.
What advice would you give someone who wants to get into fitness?
The best advice would be read absolutely everything. Follow people who have the physique that you like and learn from them. When I started I read the encyclopedia of bodybuilding by Arnold and everything about diet and nutrition. Being an aerospace engineer you learn to not take a biased position on things you read very quickly and be sceptical about what your read. I took all the info I got and tried it to see what works for me.
The last tip is to take it day by day. Your body doesn’t change overnight. Have weekly goals, and monthly goals and yearly goals. Make sure to keep them reasonable, because having a goal that’s too aggressive leads people to make mistakes with their health.
Thanks to Tavi for giving us a glimpse into all the work that goes into looking ripped af on the bodybuilding stage. The online coaching company that inspired him to get into bodybuilding has now morphed into a clothing brand, called Body Engineers.
Or want to try a full body shave yourself? We’d recommend our flexible razor to get into all your wavy parts, regardless of how you got them. And add some Foaming Shave Gel and Aftershave Cream to keep irritation at bay.