Hobbs resident Hochmayer to compete for world bodybuilding title
Herbert Hochmayer thought his best days as a body builder were behind him.
Understandable. Hochmayer is 50, he has been into body building since the age of 15, three and a half decades at it, and didn’t think he would have any relevant bodybuilding moments to look forward to at this point in his life. Adding to the passage of time, Hochmayer endured shoulder surgery a few years ago and has since suffered a small stroke, battled COVID twice, and torn his left bicep.
So all things considered, fair to assume Hochmayer was done, right?
Wrong. On November 5 the Hobbs resident will be in Berlin competing for the World Fitness Federation’s world championship of amateur bodybuilding. Hochmayer will be 51 by then, yet will have a chance to be at the height of amateur bodybuilding competition, the height of his career.
“Honestly, it’s the dream come true that I started with 35 years ago, to get a world championship title,” Hochmayer said recently at Big Steve’s Gym in Hobbs.
“I think it’s great,” Steve Mares, owner of Big Steve’s Gym said. “I think stepping out there and going to other countries and competing in other countries is no different than competing here, but when you step out there you know where you stand. You get top five, you’re doing good.”
Hochmayer has stared down middle age with his bodybuilding before. When competing in the master’s over-40 division in Venice Beach six years ago he took first place. And earlier this month Hochmayer was in Celaya, Mexico competing for the WFF Mr. Universe Masters over-50 title and winding up in second place.
Aside from the personal glory, the satisfaction, Hochmayer’s showing in Mexico gave him a barometer of himself.
“I did not know at all in terms of where do I rank,” Hochmayer said, “and so getting second was fantastic; I never believed that I could be that high up. I have problems with evaluating my performance until I see the pictures afterwards. So now I’m kind of one of the favorites for Berlin. Two weeks ago I was a no-name; in Berlin I’m one of the favorites to win my class. So I’m looking at 14 weeks to really step up, which is still possible.
“This is going to be the biggest show of my life,” Hochmayer added. “The Mr. Universe that I did a couple of weeks ago was the biggest one, and the world championship is one step up. … For an amateur bodybuilder this is about as high as I could possibly dream of going.”
For Hochmayer it has been an unsteady climb past his health problems, which could’ve staggered a person half his age. But he has been dealing with adversity much of his life. Ironically, adversity is what kick-started Hochmayer’s bodybuilding career when he was a teenager growing up in Gaaden, Austria, not far from Vienna.
“I started working out when I was 15, weighing 135 pounds,” he recalled. “I was a tiny guy.”
Because of that, Hochmayer was picked on, beaten up a lot.
But he attacked the weights, built himself up. Hochmayer graduated high school at 16 and by his 10-year reunion he weighed 270 pounds.
“So that was a fun reunion,” he said.
Hochmayer eventually made his way to the United States, and was reunited with his brother who was working as a chef for Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in Las Vegas.
Hochmayer studied to be an accountant and eventually got married. He and his wife Jennifer started a family and settled in Phoenix. Their road to Hobbs was first paved when their daughter and her boyfriend moved there, and Jennifer eventually moved to Hobbs as well. Hochmayer soon followed after getting financial affairs settled in Phoenix.
Hochmayer’s bodybuilding efforts hadn’t led him too far yet, so the self-doubt crept in. He started thinking that he had wasted his time, wasted his life.
Though it turned out that Hochmayer’s most exciting bodybuilding days were ahead of him, many of the days in between were disheartening. The shoulder surgery knocked him back. The small stroke was a big blow. The two run-ins with COVID hammered him even harder, to the degree that he was forced to use a cane for a while.
Then one day more recently, Hochmayer was walking up the stairs of a townhouse in Hobbs, and had almost made it to the landing when he fell. He reached to grab the railing, and that was when the bicep tear occurred.
All very disheartening indeed.
“It’s traumatic,” he said. “Your shoulder you need in every exercise, so with shoulder surgery, it’s big to come back from that. I don’t have to tell you about a stroke; even if it’s a small one that’s a scary thing, right? COVID was really bad for me. So it was one setback after another, and you get further and further out of shape. So every time you’re trying to restart, you’re starting further down in the hole, further in a deficit. So by the time I came back from the surgery I was in the worst shape of my life.”
Aside from his general conditioning, the shoulder surgery in particular was a concern for Hochmayer. “That is normally a career ender,” he said.
But Hochmayer pushed back, powered through, and worked himself into a second-place amateur Mr. Universe finish just weeks ago. And now, while doing accounting from home, Hochmayer is working out at Big Steve’s, training for one of the biggest days of his life, the biggest of his bodybuilding career.
It takes a bit more than pumping iron, it’s adhering to a diet. Hochmayer eats six or seven meals each day, starting with oatmeal and fruit, then a protein shake, which gets his system ready for the rest of the day. His remaining meals can be any combination of beef, chicken or fish. “For bodybuilding training,” he said, “you need that protein.”
And there are other details. Hochmayer has to consider what his posing music will be; he’s partial to Keith Sweat. He has to hit the tanning bed because the bright lights trained on the competition stage offer enough glow. His body can’t glow too.
Hochmayer still has three months before heading to Berlin, a place he has never visited previously, despite growing up in Austria. He plans to leave on Oct. 29, a week before the event, giving himself time to get over the jet lag.
And the following Sunday, Herbert Hochmayer will be onstage in Berlin, the biggest stage of his half-century on earth. Far from being done, Hochmayer is trending upward.
“What other sport can you do at my age where you can be better than last year?” he said.
“Seeing him on stage,” Mares said. “You can’t beat that.”