Bodybuilder Ross Cooper wakes up around 6 a.m. to begin his morning cardio, which consists of a 25-30 minute walk. After that he eats four egg whites with a bowl of oatmeal — just one of six meals he eats every day in preparation for the Mr. and Ms. Ball State bodybuilding competition.

“I'm usually at the gym for two hours. So I lift, then do another session of cardio for about 35 minutes,” said Cooper, a junior journalism major who begins his second workout after class at 5 p.m.

Cooper showed an interest in bodybuilding after attending last year’s competition.

“When I saw the show last year I instantly had a new goal I wanted to achieve," he said. "I wanted to have that ripped look and just see if I could pull it off.”

Cooper is one of 11 male competitors along with the seven female competitors in this year's Mr. and Ms. Ball State bodybuilding competition, which will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The Mr. Ball State Bodybuilding competition began having shows in the late 1960s in Irving Gymnasium, said David Pearson, who has coordinated and promoted the competition for more than 30 years.

“Doing the contest is one of the best character-building events at Ball State,” Pearson said. “Whether you win or lose, you’re really a winner just by trying to compete.”

Pearson said women joined the competition in the early 1980s after he was contacted by a few cheerleaders and gymnast who wanted to also show their muscular strength.

Cooper, like many others who get into the sport, chose to do this show because he has always had an interest in the sport of bodybuilding and weight training.

With an interest in training, Cooper began cutting for the show back in January.

“At times it takes it toll on you to where you are so tired and hungry you want to tear someone's head off," Cooper said. "But you push through it to reach your goals."

After several months of demanding exercise and harsh diet habits, the bodybuilders will perform their posing routine for 60 seconds to a song of their choice.

The competition consists of posing, where each competitor stands on stage and the judges observe everything from their chests, backs, thighs and calf muscles.

The bodybuilders will be separated into three categories for their poses.

The first category will be for the seven female competitors.

The next two categories will divide the men by their height, between medium and tall classes. “Medium” is considered 5’9” and under, whereas “tall” is larger than 5'10".

The preparation process has been tough and grueling for all of the competitors competing in the Mr. and Ms. Ball State bodybuilding competition, whether it is a personal goal by getting up on the stage or becoming Mr. or Ms. Ball State.