Being ready to compete in a bodybuilding or fitness competition takes a ton of hard, work, consistency, and dedication to not only your lifting routine, but your diet as well. Week after week you will be on the grind, unable to stray from the contest prep diet to ensure you get the best results possible going into your show. These two basic principles will never go away if you desire to do shows. But, if you are questioning whether or not you should compete and you haven’t before here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself.
What are your reasons for wanting to compete?
Is it for the love of the sport? Is it because you want to be the best? Or is it simply a fun challenge? Well regardless, you need to have some strong reasons why you are doing this, because when you start getting closer to your competition, your depleted, and not able to eat certain foods, being able to justify your means can sometimes be tough. You start telling yourself, well who really cares if I do this or not, or i’m not going to place well anyway etc. People will justify anything when they are uncomfortable or when the going gets tough. So keep in mind that whatever reason you are deciding to do this better be a good one.
Who are you?
No really though….What I mean is who are you trying to be? There are a ton of different federations and divisions these days so you could go a bunch of different routes. You have regular bodybuilding, physique, classic physique etc. All of these carry with them a different look to achieve. For visual images I urge you to look up the difference in the builds of these competitors, and different body weights they carry for the show. Before starting any show prep, get a good grasp of who you really are and who you are not. Do not let someone talk you into doing a bodybuilding show when you clearly have the build of a physique guy.
Are you willing to do whatever it takes?
Bodybuilding and Fitness are extreme sports in that it takes a great deal to get your physique to a top level. So, if your goal is to not only compete, but to become a professional you gotta ask yourself are you willing to do whatever it takes to not only compete but to win? The bodybuilder of today has there competition schedule down to a science from there training, diet, sleep schedule, and supplementation, everything is planned out.
One last note
I want to leave all you future competitior’s with one last piece of advice moving forward. Do not get frustrated. There are a few things you need to keep in mind. For your first show you will not be ready. I don’t care how much prep you do you will not be ready for your first show. In fact there is a good chance you will not even make the top 10. But that’s okay. You are not expected to come out of the gates getting first or second. That will come with time. The first step is going through the prep the best you can and then moving forward from there.
To actually determine if you have truly hit a major sticking point ask yourself some basic questions such as has my training been on point, every session? Or have I been eating enough protein and other nutrients to support my workouts. Have I been getting enough sleep to recover properly? All these things will ultimately play a big role in whether you progress or not, so make sure these three are nailed down first.
Ok…Your Stuck, What Now?
To break through a lifting plateau there are little things you can add to a workout to up the intensity and help you push past that sticking point. One of the simplest to incorporate is the drop set. The drop set is an additional set that will be included immediately after your last set of a particular exercise. So let’s say you were struggling to increase your bench press and you were doing the following weights…
Bench Press 3 sets x 6 reps with 225lb
Here you are performing 3 working sets of 6 reps per set. Now what a drop set is, is were you add an additional set onto the end of the workout. The key to this set is to perform it immediately after the 3rd set with as little rest as possible. Another key here is you will be lightening the weight up for this set by as much as 40% and performing it as many times as you can until failure. So Something like this….
Bench Press 3 sets x 6 reps with 225lb, then 1 dropset for AMRAP with 155lb
The term AMRAP simply means as many reps as possible. So if you hear someone at the gym say this that is what they are referring to.
So try adding this in your routine and see if it helps you break through. The drop set technique can be added onto any of the main lifts like a barbell bent over row, squat, or military press. Where ever you may be having the biggest struggle try throwing it in and see what happens.
Hard work will beat out talent if you want it bad enough. Learning the self discipline and focus to work toward your goals is the toughest and yet most rewarding and fulfilling experience of your life. I feel bad for those who will never understand this. Do you have a goal this year you are striving toward? If so, ask yourself am I taking the necessary steps on a daily basis to make this happen? Remember every day counts toward that end result! So what are you going to do?
Spread coconut out on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and cool. Pulse in a food processor a few times to chop the coconut flakes into smaller pieces.
Use a serrated knife to chop the chocolate into tiny pieces. Put half the chocolate in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining chocolate. If needed, continue heating the chocolate in 15-second intervals and then stirring, until completely melted.
Stir the coconut and chopped Brazil nuts into the chocolate. Pour the chocolate into each cube in the tray (using a bowl with a pour spout makes this easier). The chocolate will come about halfway up each cube. If desired, ingredients can also be pressed onto the top of the chocolate squares (like coconut flakes or dried fruit).
Put the tray in the refrigerator until the chocolate is completely set, 2 to 3 hours.
Carefully remove the chocolate squares from the tray. Store in an airtight container in the pantry, or in the refrigerator if your house is warm. The chocolate bites will keep for several weeks.
So this topic came up the other day with a client of mine so I wanted to touch upon this a little more for everyone. My client to be unnamed has been battling lower back pain and was trying to put together a solid leg workout without barbell squats. Telling a guy like me with a background in raw power lifting to prepare a leg routine without squats is like saying you want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the jelly. You are missing the single greatest link to the chain of success here. But, in my wisdom I do realize not just squatting will build the legs up, but in the process there are exercises to stay away from, especially to avoid knee pain. The single greatest movement for causing knee problems is….wait for it…..the leg extension!
Why Not Leg Extensions and What Can I Do Instead?
The major issue with the leg extension is that when you lift the weight up to contract the quadriceps’ muscles, all the tension is focused on the patella. Years ago people used to think that squatting was bad because it puts too much stress on the knees, when the truth is that the leg extension, even when using sub maximal weights, will apply more pressure to your knees than a heavy squat workout.
So what can you do instead of squats if you are having low back pain? The best exercise to use as your new primary movement in your leg routine is a dumbbell split squat with your back leg raised…See below.
Give It A Shot
I would highly recommend giving this one a try. It will keep all the pressure off of your lower back, and still hit the legs in their entirety just like a squat. As far as number of reps or sets, this will vary depending on your fitness goal. Personally, since I am still able to squat not having any back issues I use this as a secondary move to squatting, performing 3-5 sets at 8-12 repetitions per leg. But for someone using it as a primary movement I would be sure to get a good 5 sets minimum in on this to make sure you are getting enough work in on those legs! So what’s your favorite leg exercise? Leave a comment below on your favorite go to moves for leg workouts.
So you finally pull the trigger and get started on a new training routine to begin reaching those goals you desire. A few months in you are seeing a little bit of change and then something happens….You completely stall out. Why? Everything seemed to be going well? Here are a few reasons that may be able to help you figure out what the real problem is.
You Grew Complacent- This reason is actually the most common problem I see in my clients. All too often complacency kicks in quickly because you never had a clear goal set in mind in the first place. You wanted to lose some weight, and in the first few months you did, which is good, but now subconsciously you begin telling yourself that you did what you set out to do. So now your workouts lose the proper intensity, you start just going through the motions, and next thing you know you begin skipping out on the gym all together until next year. To avoid this trap so many fall for make sure you have a clear goal, and be sure to make sure your reasons why are strong enough to get you through the hard times.
Your Diet Does Not Match The Goal- Another common issue I see is your diet is way off from where it should be. This goes both ways too, whether your goal is to put on muscle or weight loss, I see it on both sides of the fence. For example, a young athlete trying to put on muscle will most likely not be successful eat chicken and broccoli three times a day. No different than someone trying to lose weight going on a lose weight quick starvation diet to where they end up stalling out on progress after two months. Make sure you get with someone that can help you dial in a meal plan before you begin your new routine, that way you start off on the right foot and are not digging yourself out of a hole later.
Your Sleep Sucks!- Not getting adequate amounts of sleep each night prevents our bodies from having the correct hormonal responses to both help us recover from the day before, and also to aid in fat loss….Yes fat loss! Getting enough sleep allows the body to release the proper amount of growth hormone throughout the night so we recover, feel energized in the morning, and over time see better fat loss results.
If you pay close attention to all three reasons you will notice that they are truly all connected to one common denominator…Bad planning. A wise man once said if you do not have a plan then you plan to fail, and does that statement really hold true for most people. So the best advice I can give you this year is before you jump in head first nail down a specific goal you have in mind, and then put together the meal plan and training routine that will be best suited your your needs. Sounds simple enough, but every year 80% off gym memberships are never used once! So easier said than done in this regard, but everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t wait any longer and get after it today!