By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca dentist takes overall bodybuilding title
Manteca dentist Sean Sangalang poses in his North Street office with trophies from the GNC Championship where he earned the overall title as well as first place in the Mens Masters Bodybuilding for those over 40. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Sean Sangalang walked into Culver City last weekend with a chip on his shoulder.

Or, more appropriately, his rippled, fibrous traps.

It had been three years since he last competed in a bodybuilding competition in the Los Angeles alcove, and everything that happened on that day went badly. It was his worst finish since he started lifting competitively seven years ago, and the experience brought the strained relationship with his then-coach to a head.

So he gave it a break.

But when he stepped out onto the stage on Saturday after spending the last six months getting show-ready, Sangalang knew that he had put in the work necessary to overcome his anxiety over walking back into the venue.

And the judges noticed as well.

When it was all said and done, Sangalang, a Manteca dentist, walked away with first place finishes in the Masters 40-and-over and the middleweight classes as well as an overall title – beating out every other competitor to take home the top honors.

“I started lifting hard just to relieve the stress of practicing dentistry,” Sangalang said. “I ended up meeting a national level body builder in Concord when my best friend at the time wanted to do a show and asked me to come with him. I didn’t know anything about it at the time – how to hit poses or anything – but he ended up telling me that I should do a show.

“That’s kind of where it all started.”

But getting into competition shape, however, takes more than just a prolonged period of time in the gym lifting heavy weights.

After spending a prolonged period of time – the “offseason” – lifting heavy and putting on as much lean muscle mass as possible, Sangalang said that the prolonged dieting phase comes next. Arguably the most difficult, he consumes high amounts of protein and carbohydrates with little to no fat while continuing to spend time in the gym.

With a competition set for March, he said, he began his diet phase back in November and missed out on all of the good holiday food that everybody gets to enjoy. The results aren’t immediate, but over the course of those three to four months Sangalang said that he notices subtle differences that he didn’t notice before – part of the “process” that he enjoys.

“It’s about seeing the transformation happen,” he said. “You start to see lines showing that weren’t showing before. The progress starts to show every week. Then a month out it seems like every 48 hours something new would happen.

“Eventually it gets to the point where your skin looks thin and you can see the fibers underneath. It kind of freaked me out at first, but that’s what you’re trying for.”

With a medical background, Sangalang said that he was quickly able to pick up on the information that he needed and was able to weed out the “bro science” that circulates around weight stacks and gym locker rooms – information that is passed down, he says, and isn’t always rooted in truth.

Knowing the metabolic processes of the body, he said, is important when you’re talking about recovery rates or the need for certain vitamins and supplements crucial to getting the desired results.

After the big win he went to BJ’s Brewery and Restaurant and enjoyed a jalapeno burger and some mahi mahi tacos – a reward for all of the hard work that went into reaching for and achieving his goals.

But he couldn’t go completely overboard.

Next week he’s competing in the Governor’s Cup in Sacramento against some of the best bodybuilders in Northern California and hopes that his strong showing in Culver City will carry over.

“After that it’ll be back to just a regular cycle where I try and eat good and maintain respectable leanness,” he said. “My family and I got to Hawaii every July and I have to be ready for that.”