AP PHOTOS: Spanish bodybuilders compete for national crown

              In this Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 photo, contestants pose on stage during the 51st national body building competition held in Estepona, Spain. Spanish absolute championship is the largest yearly event on the national body-building calendar, where over 500 competitors compete for the title of Spanish champion on 40 different categories. (AP Photo/Javier Fergo)

ESTEPONA, Spain (AP) — In the sunshine outside a large convention center in the southern Spanish city of Estepona, some very fit-looking people in scanty clothing applied fake tans and rehearsed statuesque poses.

They all had one thing in mind: to win Spain’s annual national bodybuilding championship.

This year’s 51st edition, organized by the Spanish Bodybuilding Federation, drew more than 500 contestants from across the country. It took place over two days.

Most of the contestants came with other members of their clubs or teams. They helped apply the fake tans, directed poses and gave last-minute tips to the contestants.

The center buzzed with people getting ready, resting on mats or exercising. Contestants did push-ups, lifted weights, drank protein shakes and ate from lunchboxes.

On the stage, a presenter entertained the audience, and loud techno music was played to encourage contestants during performances.

Men and women, sorted by weight or height, smiled broadly at the panel of judges while presenting their best poses.

Backstage, the next group of nervous contestants waited to walk onto the stage. Some did last-minute exercises to pump up their muscles, others posed in front of a mirror. There was not much interaction among them — all were completely focused on making an impression on the judges and reaching the final round.

Five couples took part in a Couples’ Bodybuilding competition. The first round consisted of posing as the judges ordered; then it was time for each couple to perform a chosen routine.

There were some basic dance moves, interspersed with calculated poses rehearsed to perfection, all to the rhythm of music.

Long hours of hard training combined with a strict diet and the determination to be the best in the country drive these athletes, day after day and month after month.