Bodybuilding and Figure Contest Preparation – The Do’s and Don’ts
Are you ready bodybuilding and figure contest preparation? Competition season is just around the corner! With fitness contests so mainstream these days, bodybuilding and figure contest preparation can be overwhelming and quite perplexing for new athletes.
When you are plagued with information overload from multiple sources you can end up in a whirlwind of how to start your fitness program. The whirlwind can end up in a tailspin where you just keep running around in circles and never accomplishing anything. Does this sound familiar?
Now that you understand the basic foundation let’s cover some basic do’s and don’ts of bodybuilding and figure contest preparation.
Consistent Off-Season Diet
In figure contest preparation you have to have an off-season. You can’t realistically look 100% polished on your contest day if you haven’t maintained a clean and consistent off-season diet. You can’t go from eating pizza and burgers all winter and attempt to clean-it-up come January and expect to enter a show in May. While you can make some physical changes, you will not be in the shape you could have been in if you ate well during your off-season phase. Off-season is the time to build muscle density and quality. It’s extremely complex to attempt to build density and lose body fat at the last minute. Wikipedia notes, “The general strategy adopted by most present-day competitive bodybuilders is to make muscle gains for most of the year (known as the “off-season”)”
Last Minute Preparation
With figure contest preparation you can’t wait to the last minute. This can fall under the lines of the above to some degree, but what I’m putting emphasis on here are those who decide on a contest at the last minute, thinking they can start from scratch and prep in twelve weeks. Bodybuilding and figure contest preparation takes time, effort, and vision. While I have seen athletes take the last minute approach, it was rather apparent that they were not prepared and just competed for the sake of saying, “I did it.”
Of course limiting and even restricting carbohydrates will get you lean, hard and defined for the stage, but too many competitors use this tactic completely wrong. You can’t realistically cut carbohydrates until you have them in your diet first. You need a base to start lowering from.
In figure contest preparation, the best approach for reducing carbohydrates and losing body fat is to cycle the carbohydrates down slowly. This way you are always presenting something new to the body on a weekly or bi-monthly basis, and it keeps your body responding by burning off body fat. By the time you are in your final week of dieting you may be on very low carbs and showing a good amount of muscle definition. However, you can’t get to this point overnight. Dieting down correctly takes time and it should follow a structured formula.
Supplementing your diet is essential in bodybuilding and figure contest preparation. When you prepare for a contest you are putting your body under a great deal of stress mentally, physically, and nutritionally. You must compensate with supplements that supply nutrients. For starters you should supplement your diet program with a high-quality vitamin/mineral. Adding sports nutrition supplements to assist in muscle growth and recovery are a plus and a fat burning product can help reduce body fat to some degree. Great supplements to consider would be metabolism kickers as well as muscle recovery products such as glutamine, creatine, and HMB.
In figure contest preparation cardio is a good fat loss tool. Cardio is a method many athletes use believing it will get them cut and defined. Although cardio is excellent for the cardio-pulmonary system, too much of it can tear down your overall muscle development and put you into overtraining mode. Many newbies begin with an appalling amount of cardio, up to an hour or two a day the first month. When your body adapts to this amount of exertion, what does it have to fall back on? Three hours a day?
A better cardio tactic would be to start your cardio program 16 to 20 weeks before your show, starting with cardio three days a week for 15 to 20 minutes and build on that every week in a slow manner. This way you have a backup system.
Last Minute Fatal Tricks
This is the lethal downfall 90% of the newbie’s and even some veteran competitors fall into; last minute fatal tricks that can destroy you on contest day. Don’t get this confused with last minute tactics used to further prepare you for contest day. A fatal trick will be something along the lines of creatine-loading the week prior to a show or eating a dozen donuts the night before your big day. Yes, I’ve seen these “tricks” used before and it will destroy a ready physique in a matter of hours.
General Steps To Take for Bodybuilding and Figure Contest Preparation
In figure contest preparation you have to eat well year around. When a contest is about 24 weeks away begin to clean-up your diet by omitting the apparent junk food you may sneak in during the day. Limit your bread and dairy intake as well. After a few weeks of general cleaning up, start tracking your calories to find your caloric baseline. Take your stats and design a diet based on your lean body mass and activity level. Make sure you feed your body a complete meal every three hours. Tweak your diet only when it shows no positive results. A tweak would be considered something minor, such as lowering the carbohydrates, or adjusting the calories, or changing the cardio. Do not do all at the same time. Use only one tactic at a time.
But Most Importantly
If you simply cannot make proper adjustments, hire a personal trainer. It’s far better to have a watchful eye over you than for you to destroy your own plan at the last minute when panic strikes. While your trainer’s plan may not appear effective on paper or at the time, you must have faith in them. Preparing for a contest is a far different avenue than general dieting and it can have many unfamiliar faces.