Bodybuilding contest season is now fully underway. For individuals interested in competing for the first time on a bodybuilding or fitness contest, today I want to discuss 5 tips that will prove helpful to your contest prep. In addition I will also discuss the importance of conditioning, as if you are conditioned, your chances of winning improve exponentially even if you are out massed. With that said, I will start by sharing my 5 tips to first time competitors below:
1. Give Yourself Extra Time
I have numerous reasons I suggest giving your self more time than anticipated. There are too many unforeseen circumstances that can come up that can slow progress. Just because your dieting does not mean the world stops revolving. Not only this, but I see way too many individuals miscalculate the time it will take them to get ready due to higher than thought body fat levels.
2. Make One Change At A Time
Dieting, just like building muscle is a slow process. My philosophy is to make 1 small change at a time to see how your body reacts from it. Not only is your goal to diet the fat off your body, but also to learn how your body reacts to different variables. When you throw a multitude of variety at the body you don’t know which change is responsible for the progress.
3. Make Small Diet Changes
Similar to the above; don’t make huge changes all at once. You have to leave your body room to adapt and make further changes again once progress stalls. Often times a 200 calorie drop will elicit plenty of fat burning. If you were to do it in 500 calories increments, it significantly cuts the number of times you have the ability to adjust calories down. Remember, your body will quickly adapt to any changes you make. Also large changes in calories and cardio can result in a slowed metabolism and muscle loss.
4. Track Progress
Do not go about your diet haphazardly. It is best to track everything using multiple tools. Use the mirror, use a scale, use body fat calipers, etc… The more tools that you utilize the better choices you can make when making changes in your program. (Note: Lee has a great article on tracking bodybuilding progress here: Staying Motivated By Tracking Your Bodybuilding Progress Correctly)
5. Plan To Be Ready Early
This really goes back to giving yourself enough time, but also has additional facets. If you find that you are ready slightly early, this gives you time to increase calories slightly as well as back off cardio. Allowing the body a small break in cardio and slight increase in calories will result in a physique that is usually sharper on stage. Being ready early also gives you ample time to adjust water intake and carbs to see what your best look for show day may be.
Although most of these tips are just common sense, in the heat of the moment and in a diet restricted state, we often do not make the best judgments, The advice given will allow you room for mistakes along the way and not leave you in a last minute frenzy. With that said, let’s now turn our attention to the important topic of conditioning:
The Importance Of Conditioning
I currently see a crop of competitors that are taking the stage that are not anywhere close to being fully ready to be under the lights. I say current crop because when I first started competing over 10 years ago, it was not nearly as prevalent as an issue as it is today.
There are varying stages of competition. State to national level and even the pros. Regardless of what level you are competing at, you consistently see the physiques that come in top shape, placing ahead of physiques that should be winning, but lack the final details. It is true that genetics play an important role in physique sports. This will set the limitations on certain items such as shape, structure, and ultimately your muscular size potential. Regardless of your genetic potential, I have yet to find an individual that cannot come into a contest dry, hard and peeled provided they work their ass off with that as the main goal. Remember that if you are not conditioned, then anyone can beat you. So what’s holding you back?
I try to rationalize the reason this is happening and the facets that have taken place during the last 10 years and this is what I have come to conclude.
In the last 10 years we have seen the onslaught of social media. For those interested in fitness, competing is the “cool” thing to do. Selfies, gym pics, and dreaded cardio post run rampant. 10 years ago, as I currently still do, I competed for myself. I really didn’t care if anyone knew I was going to be on stage. For me, it was solely about bringing the best package I could to the stage. I feel with many, and not all, social media has brought on a “look at me” mentality. For those looking for assurance from others, rather than pleasing themselves, I believe its hard to push to the places you need to go to reach your true potential when you are not doing this for yourself.
Everyone wants a shortcut, and everyone wants their dreams to come true. As I discussed with the social media, we now have a boom of social media physique trainers. Some of these trainers have never competed themselves and have no business coaching, but they are great at marketing. The marketing that is delivered right to our smart phones shows us an easy way to make our physique dreams happen. The myriad of these ploys are endless. I have seen the IIFYM, while others taught post workout poptarts. Others will show the success they had using high carbs and no cardio, and the list goes on. Does some of these systems work? Yes for those blessed with the correct genetics, but not for most of us. To feel there is an easy quick option to get where we want to be sounds like the perfect product.
Now this is a word no one wants to hear. In all honesty though suffering is only a perception. When you truly get into peak condition you will have feelings that are different from normal dieting. You will be lethargic. You will be hungry. You will drag through workouts at points. Your sleep may be disturbed. How you deal with these feelings is only a perception. If you dig in and enjoy the process you will get where you need to be. The issue arises for the individuals that don’t have the deep desire. They want to find ways around these feelings. The way around these feeling does not lead to the same place.
The Key To Achieving Great Conditioning
Again, as I stated at the beginning of this article, the key to achieving great conditioning is to start your program early. Choose a good program, such as Lee’s Get Lean program, start early and stick to it no matter what. The consistency of execution will take you to the level of conditioning that will win you shows.
Although I am not an older competitor, I feel like I still have an old school approach to competing. Maybe it is not even an old school approach, maybe it was the way I was raised. I was taught that there are select items in your life you can control and there are others out of your control. I know that I may not even be a mass monster, but I do know that with hard work, discipline, and determination that you or I can get into peak condition. Like anything in life, don’t complete half the job, take it all the way and reap the benefits of being the best-conditioned athlete on stage that day. Best of luck to all that will be competing this season!
About the Author
Marc Snyder is an active NPC Bodybuilder and current 2013 Mr Ohio. Marc has created a balance in his life with the sport he loves and the family of 2 kids and a wife that he lives for. Marc has been involved in many avenues of the fitness industry. He is a certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach. He also has experience in clinical exercise physiology working in the field for nearly 2 years.
It is now Marc’s goal to educate and guide individuals through yèt-their health and fitness journey by utilizing the knowledge he has gained over the years. He operates SnyderAthletics.com an online nutrition and training website to help people. achieve their goals.
Please follow Marc on his journey of continued progress by following him on his website at SnyderAthletics.com , facebook at www.facebook.com/NPCMarcSnyder and twitter at www.twitter.com/SnyderMarcA. He post his daily lifestyle tips on these feeds for you to access and utilize in your health and fitness journey.