Off Season or Progress Season???

With the end of contest season right around the corner, the off season is upon us. This may be the worst possible wording for this time of year, because to make optimal progress, there is nothing off about it. I believe the technical term that should be used is improvement season, or maybe progression season, but definitely not off.

Where competitors go wrong…


Bulking is the term many use as their means to chase a scale weight or to indulge in foods that meet there fancy. Chasing a number on the scale is one of the worst things an athlete can do. Yes, it is ok to have a plan that is achievable, but a number that your chasing solely for the purpose of gaining weight gain is not the route that will yield the results you desire. For those looking to excuse their wants to indulge in foods not normally seen during a dieting phase, yes this is the time, but restraints need to be set. Bulking is a fine word to use in context of adding some unneeded fat as you grow, but it should be more so a term that you are slightly out of contest shape due to water and a small amount of fat.

For optimal off season progression the goal should be to add a small consistent amount of weight while staying lean. It is in my experience the best way to do this is by following a program similar to your contest diet, but bumping calories in small increments over a period of time. Staying consistent with your regimen allows for you to add small spikes throughout the week ensuring enough fuel for lean muscle gains while keeping body fat in check. Tailor you daily caloric intake based upon training, and treat yourself weekly with managed cheats and it will keep you progressing and body fat levels under control.

Non-Progression Based Training

During phases of contest prep, athletes are focused and consistent with training. Seeing results with the physique daily allows for high motivation levels . During non-preparation phases, this motivation can slip, as we do not see the changes in our physique. This is why many competitors go to the scale as a way to motivate them self with weight accumulation. Progressive based training allows for you to compete with yourself in the gym and see gym based results that you may not see in your physique. As you push your training and reach new levels of strength and progress through your programming, your body must adapt and change. Going through the same workouts weekly will not provide sufficient stimulus for new growth of muscle. The answer is simply beat the log book. Progress in the gym and your body will follow.

The above recommendations are about as basic and simple of advice I can provide in an article. I assume just about every athlete knows this, but many times a reminder is needed to keep us headed in the right direction. Starting in the right direction from the beginning of improvement season allows for a leaner stronger physique that will allow you an easier more productive contest prep for the season ahead.

About the Author
DSC_9331Marc 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 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 , facebook at and twitter at He post his daily lifestyle tips on these feeds for you to access and utilize in your health and fitness journey.