By Troy Benn
Contest Prep is usually different between men and women, with men being on prep usually 12-14 weeks and women 16-20 weeks.
First general rule of contest prep - Don’t change up what got you there with your exercise. If you trained heavy stay heavy. You may have to go down in weight as you diet, and strip fat, but keep the weights and reps the same as best you can. So many people think, train heavy, to grow, then for prep, high reps, low weight. Stick to what worked and got you there. Everyone has different diet techniques... One thing I would ABSOLUTELY advise is, get a coach! It is almost impossible for you to judge your own progress and do your own diet. That said, most diets will consist of 6-7 meals per day. High protein, moderate carbs, low fat. You will eat the same way 6 days a week, with NO exceptions. Usually at the end of the week the last meal or 2 will be cut out and you will get a "cheat meal". Some coaches will tell you anything you want, go have it. Some will tell you burger and fries, or pizza. Most will also add in a small dessert. This diet WILL get old, remember you are not eating for fun, or enjoyment, you are simply eating to fuel your body, no other reason! Around 5-6 weeks before a show, a lot of coaches will pull your cheat meals from diet, and assess your body per week as they see fit. Maybe you get 3 more cheat meals, maybe you get none. Everyone is different.
Water is important as is salt. Make sure you keep your water at a gallon plus a day and eat salt with all the meats in your diet. You can’t manipulate water in your body without sodium. Then comes peak week. The idea of peak week is to completely deplete your body of everything and then fill it back up a day before show. It is extremely time sensitive and an absolute science. You over shoot it and you will spill over and lose the look. You under cut and you aren’t full and grainy like you need to be. (FYI this is all for bodybuilding, physique and women classes will have very different peak weeks) The full week before the show you start drinking 3 gallons of water a day. Yes 3... per day! You will spend that weekend in the bathroom most of the weekend. Friday-Tuesday 3 gallons, Wednesday 1.5 gallons, Thursday 3/4 gallon, Friday 1/4 gallon done by 4pm. After that no water at all. You are dehydrating your body. The portions start to get cut on Tuesday for your meals, and you are always hungry. Wednesday and Thursday you will probably have zero carbs. Yes, zero. It’s almost impossible to have zero. I think there are carbs in the air we breathe. Thursday night you will be drained, exhausted, moody, doubting everything you have ever known, and possibly looking your worst! Then Friday the carb up starts. Each coach has their own tricks, but the idea is to be tight and full come stage time. The new carbs will suck every little bit of water up into your muscles and out of your skin. This is when you start to look freaky! In a good way.
You will need to spray tan, which can be done outside the venue or most competitions have a tanning company in house that will do it for you that morning of the show. Check with the show you are doing.
Last but most important is posing. Start posing 10 weeks out from a show, learn the mandatories, and routine if you have to do one. Bodybuilders do a routine, physique guys don’t. Posing wins shows, get a posing coach, and go to clinics. DON’T watch videos and try and teach yourself!
This is a basic overview of contest prep in a nutshell. Contest prep as stated above is easy, compared to the mental war you will rage with yourself. Your emotions will be all over the place from day to day, hour to hour. It puts stress on relationships. In the end it’s all worth it and you join the elite, the first time you step on stage. Not everyone can successfully be a competitive athlete. For those of you who are, or are striving to become one, congrats and best of luck! If you have specific questions you know where to find me... Be Strong, Be Dissident.
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