Many who haven't competed or don't understand the sport, would assume that when one works and diets that hard for that many weeks to achieve that level of a physique and look THAT good, that it would be easy to stay in shape even if one was to "binge" or eat a bunch of crap after a contest. The idea behind this is completely false however. You would think that eating whatever you wanted for two, three, four days - even a week wouldn't do that much damage to someone who is in that good of shape.
The misconception here is that people assume competitors won't gain that much weight and even if they do - they won’t get "fat" because they are so lean. However, many don't realize that it is actually easier for a competitor to get out of shape at an exponential rate and quicker than it would be for someone who had never been on a diet, to gain additional weight. The reason being is that with additional exercise, especially cardio, and strict dieting, often times people actually see a decrease in their resting metabolic rate-aka- how many calories they burn on average daily. Our bodies have learned to adapt to additional output or expenditure and therefor can become a bit more dependent on that expenditure to maintain weight. Along with this, our bodies are so used to eating clean food and often a restricted/lowered amount of carbohydrates and/or fats that excess carbs, sugars, and fats will only put weight on FASTER than we may have put it on in the past.
Water retention post show is normal as well. Most competitors restrict and cut water pre-competition and some go to the extremes of diuretics to flush most all water out of the system. When you cut water that hard and then drink water while eating carbs and crap- your body then acts like a sponge and retains and holds on to all the liquid put in the system. It is not uncommon for even a small framed female to be up in weight 5-12lbs in just a few days from the combination of this process. Along with this, most competitors get what I like to call the "competitor layer". Its a layer of excess water held under the skin that feels very "squishy" or "jelly" like and looks very "soft" aesthetically. It is very sensitive and uncomfortable to the touch typically. And often times very disturbing to someone who doesn't understand it. All these physical reactions post contest combined with the mental thought of being in "the best shape of your life" and then ruining months of work in a matter of days can be devastating. The key here is, it isn't ruined- yet.
The hardest part comes when trying to go back to a balanced lifestyle after the immediate binge eating days have been fulfilled. If a competitor is able and strong enough mentally to get back on a post contest reverse diet eating schedule and continues to work out, it is possible for them to see their body bounce back to close to show condition within a week or two regardless of the damage done and physical changes they had seen that first week. However, if the cycle of binge eating continues and they continue to have "refeeding" cycles, the damage can be drastic, devastating, and semi-permanent. When I say semi-permanent I mean that obviously you will not have gained this excess weight forever. However, this excess weight will become "real weight" instead of a post contest reaction of what I like to call "fake weight" or the combination of what I described above- which is mostly water weight.
So seems like after weeks and weeks of eating clean, someone would be able to just jump back on eating clean again and maintain their show shape right? Wrong. This is where the mental fight and post competition "dark place" happens. Most competitors who don't understand what I described above have already fallen into a deep depression regarding the way they look. Asking themselves, "How is it possible that i cannot see my abs anymore after only 3 days?" And feeling so ashamed and embarrassed that their clothes are already tight and they feel so disgusting about what they have done to themselves; so most will TRY to eat clean again. However, being deprived from food for so long can actually change brain functionality and cause someone to turn off the trigger in the brain that tells them when they are full. This is because when the body drops to a certain point of body fat, it actually tries to react in a way that will slow this process down by turning off the full feeling which allows someone to overeat much easier than before. So now you have someone who has been mentally incapable of thinking about anything but eating every three hours struggling with depression, an inability to feel full, a hyper-sensitivity to food they couldn't have before, trying to diet and stay accountable with no goal in mind. Unless you have been in this position, it is indescribable and hands down one of the hardest places to bounce back from physically and mentally.
So even when a competitor gets back to clean eating and tells themselves, "today will be different- I am going to eat clean all day" they typically find themselves making extreme decisions in one way or another. For example, breakfast will start the day off well- they may have their standard oatmeal and egg whites and feel content with the decision and move on. Or they may not even get that far. They may say - well a little peanut butter with my oatmeal sounds good. But then a little peanut butter turns into a few tablespoons, and that will already start the day with a feeling of failure because it is not something they would have done in prep. But lets say they do get through breakfast without "failing". And the next meal they may have a snack of a quest bar or protein bar or something that in others eyes may look "clean" but then the competitor brain will start questioning this decision as well, saying things like "Well that wasn't really a "clean" source" and already giving themselves a little bit of a belief that they failed because this choice wasn't something that they would have eaten pre-show and therefor wasn't going to get them lean again. Once this little belief of failure enters the brain, typically the competitor is in a mind-fuck (excuse my language) once again. They will either say, "Well I already failed so I might as well..." or they will have cravings for something else off plan that hasn't been checked off their "post-competition eating bucket list". And believe me- this is typically a very on-going, long mental list for most. They then tend to eat "poorly" AGAIN, or feel they have overeaten AGAIN, and the cycle repeats itself. Another day of failure and being and feeling "fat".
Along with this, many of us get what I call "stuck in the gym" post competition. See when you are in prep- you can accept that you may be "living at the gym". And you will tell yourself things like, "I will have a social life again when I am done competing" or "I will make time for that after the show". However, now you are battling feeling fat and you even more so feel you need to do additional cardio or lifting in order to fight the damage you have done. So once again, you miss out on social events (however you are typically too embarrassed and ashamed to even show your face socially at this point anyways). This cycle happens to some as well, and it is a feeling of being "trapped" and plays hand in hand with a post competition depression I like to call the "dark place".
Most people don't talk about these things nor do they want to acknowledge this side of the sport. So you may wonder, how do you know all of this? Some of you might be thinking- "OMG, thats EXACTLY how I have felt or what I have been battling". I know because I have been here MANY times. And as I stated in my previous post, I still even today am trying to find balance in this lifestyle. Some people may assume I am genetically gifted and just stay in shape and its all easy and looks so glamorous from the outside. But this is all FALSE. I fight more battles each day then most will ever know, understand, or believe. I have been in very "dark places" in and out of prep for the last three years. Struggling with every decision throughout the day. Knowing so much about nutrition is a blessing and a curse. I feel blessed to have the education I do to make good decisions and understand how foods will affect my body. But does that mean I always am super-human and don't want the immediate gratification that comes with eating half a bag of birthday cake Oreos and a few glasses of milk? No. (And yes I really did this). I know Oreos are all chemicals. I know they offer my body NO nutritional anything- hell I know exactly how they affect my insulin levels and how my body gets absolutely not a single benefit from the saturated fat and toxins I am ingesting. But have I still consumed them, yep. Why? Because I am human and I also make poor decisions when I have nothing keeping me accountable.
I often ask myself if "I will ever live a normal day again". And what I mean by that is, will I ever be able to go through a day without looking at a plate of food and immediately breaking it down into macronutrients in my head and thinking about the way it will affect my body. Fats, proteins, carbs- it’s an immediate reaction and thought to every piece of food I look at. It’s consuming each and every day. I have an ongoing calculation of macros in my head at all times. I know where my carbs are at, how much protein I need, have had, will have. I pre-think about what I will eat next, how my day will go nutrition wise. I stare at foods and ponder eating them. I smell things that I know I won’t eat just to get some sort of satisfaction out of them. I buy foods I wouldn't eat for other people to vicariously live through them. I tell myself everyday wether it will be a high carb, moderate carb, or low carb day when I wake up, regardless of if I am in prep for a show or not. I read menus; I look at nutrition labels- taking mental photographs in my head so I know what foods are comprised of (helps when I am asked by clients). I look in peoples refrigerators,, just to see what "type" of person they are. Yes, nutrition has become my life- my every thought, my addiction.
I remember the days when I used to wake up in the morning, eat whatever the hell I felt like eating, and go on with my day. When I felt hungry I would eat again, not think twice about any of it and just live life. I do not believe I will ever experience a day like that again. EVER. No matter how hard I try to "just not care" even post contest, I know too much about nutrition and am way too pre-programmed now to be able to live a "normal day" ever again. This is the curse of what I do. Its a blessing because it has changed my life in so many positive ways as well, however. I make better decisions the majority of the time just because I am this way. I crave healthier foods because I have eaten them so much and grown accustomed to them. I love foods I never would have touched a couple years ago. I appreciate food like never before. I get satisfaction out of the small things. Like oatmeal. Some people wouldn't think twice about a bowl of oatmeal, but I savor every minute with that bowl. I LOVE that bowl of food. Its an appreciation most will never understand. I also am blessed to be able to share my knowledge of nutrition with others and have seen so many people benefit from my ability to give them a piece of my educations- which is hands down the most rewarding. Seeing clients go from diabetic to diabetic free. Seeing clients pain free, happy, healthy, active, loving life again. All those things make every ounce of this "curse" worth the blessing.
At the end of it all, the key in everyones life - regardless of what you do is balance. It can be the hardest thing you will ever try to find but it is something worth the effort. Post competition balance in my opinion is EXTREMELY tough-due to the physical and mental battles associated. Like I stated before, I am just now finding true balance in my life. Making more of an effort to spend time with people I have neglected due to my imbalance in life the last couple years. I think sometimes people who struggle don't necessarily need a solution, rather need to know they are not abnormal and need to be told "things will be okay". Many competitors feel so lost post show. Alone, depressed, isolated, embarrassed, closed-off. Nobody writes about this stuff, at least I have yet to really come across it. But I know if I was to read it, I think just knowing someone out there understood, someone could relate, someone who looked so "put together" in the public eye had been there too - maybe they would find hope that things can change. Find light in the dark. Find a reason to not give up on themselves and know everything will be okay.
So my suggestions to those of you who need help and may currently be in this dark place are this:
Written by By: Amber Orton
Amber's Facebook Fan page: www.facebook.com//Amber-Dawn-Orton
I have been training for seven years now. I started weight training in high school (age 16) to gain strength for wrestling and crew, and then I fell in love with the weights. It wasn’t until I saw my first bodybuilding magazine with Victor Martinez in it that I said, “Woahhh!!! I want to look like that!” I then joined a gym that was run by IFBB Pro Jason Greer and he really helped to point me in the right direction, and answered any questions I had, really a great guy. Also his mother worked at the gym as well and she was a driving factor for him to compete, so she saw me as a little Jason and wanted to see me do well. She attended my first few shows, and even drove me to one when my family couldn’t make it. If it wasn’t for those two really helping me out, I’m not sure where I would be today.
As a newbie the mistakes that I made were probably the same as everyone else, poor diet, periodization, and training duration. When it came to diet I knew I had to eat every two-three hours, but I didn’t know what I should be eating. I was just shoveling food in my mouth like there was no tomorrow. When it came to training, I didn’t have a set plan, I would just walk into the gym and train for hours, not realizing that I needed to rest and eat. I just loved to train, so I would spend all my time in the gym.
I would tell people to breakdown their day, and prioritize their tasks. This way you can eliminate the things that are most time consuming and replace them with more productive tasks (program design, meal prep, cardio, workouts etc.). When it comes to being consistent, if you manage your time correctly that’s half the battle. I feel like the other factor is motivation; many just seem to lose the motivation to continue training because they are not seeing the desired progress. Just remember that all great things take time, and that you should focus on doing your best each day. If you do your best each day, you will be surprised at the long term progress you will make.
The music I listen to when training varies depending on the style of training I am doing or which body part I am training. If I am training back or legs (typically require more intensity) I listen to metal, and if I am training to focus on form, bringing out detail, or a strong body part I usually listen to Frank Sinatra or classical music. This just keeps me calmer and helps me to focus on what I am doing, allowing me to get better contractions and lift with proper form.
I think about all those that doubted me and said that I wasn’t going to become a bodybuilder and that I would never win a show. I think about my competition and how hard they train, and that I need to train just as hard if not harder to beat them. I also think about all the great people that send me messages and emails letting me know that I am their motivation and their inspiration, and I don’t want to let them down.
When doing my nutrition I plan for the year. I set a goal weight to reach and calculate for that weight, making sure that each meal equates to the necessary totals for that goal. I believe that consistency is key, so if I keep the diet on point and train intensely I will get to where I need to be.
Pertaining to training, I will analyze my physique and see where I need to improve upon the most, and then stick with some core movements for that area. For example I needed to add more thickness to the upper chest (much like every bodybuilder) and in order to do this I would include three incline movements in my chest routine: incline press (barbell or dumbbell), incline cable fly, and an incline free-weight fly usually superset right into dumbbell pressing.
I used to bulk up, but that wasn’t very practical. I wasn’t able to see how my body was really changing and I would always be tired from just carrying around a lot of weight. Now I prefer to stay lean year round and adjust my portions as I meet desired goals. This way is much less stressful on the metabolism, it’s also nice to see exactly where the changes are being made.
When it comes to cardio I prefer HIIT or Steady State cardio. I usually do HIIT after a weight training session and for 10 minutes. I don’t have set time frames that I would sprint for, I just sprint as long as I can, rest until I catch my breath, and then spring again. When doing Steady state, I will usually do this fasted or late at night before I go to sleep; if I chose steady state over HIIT I will perform it at 50% heart rate max.
When doing cardio I prefer to use an elliptical, this way I can set the incline to target the glutes and hamstrings.
Monday: Chest and Biceps (Mainly a pressing day)
Wednesday: Back (Rowing and Rack Pulls)
Thursday: Shoulders and Triceps
Friday: Rest or Weak Body Part
Saturday: Hamstrings and Back (pull downs)
Abs and Calves are done three times a week randomly.
Cardio (3-5 times a week): Cardio will be done either post workout or a second session later during the day. If I feel like I have lot of fat to lose I will do fasted cardio in the morning first thing.
Reps and Sets
Currently I am sticking within the 6-8 rep range with roughly 4-5 sets per exercise. I recently became a Muscle Mania Professional Bodybuilder so I need to pack on some size. Sticking within this rep range has allowed me to pack on some serious size and thickness to my physique. When lifting I am not just moving the weight from point A-B, I focus on controlling the weight and making sure I am contracting the tissue through the concentric and eccentric phases. A lot of people will implement this style of training when getting closer to a show to help bring out separation, I figured why not train like this year round and develop an amazing physique.
When getting ready for a show my diet is very simple. All meals (and I mean all meals) become fish, sweet potato, and broccoli. Fish is high in protein and high in fat as well, this will allow my body to mobilize more fatty acids because it recognizes that there is a constant supply of healthy fats and no longer needs to hold on to the stored fat. Sweet potato acts a natural diuretic, allowing me to hold less water and making my water depletion phase a lot easier. Broccoli just has great health benefits test booster, detox, and cancer prevention just to name a few benefits. This is what I found works best for me.
Favorite bodybuilders include: Arnold, Franco, Sergio Oliva, Frank Zane, and Victor Martinez.
1. Take things one day at a time. Make sure you are doing your best each day to achieve that end goal.
2. Find motivation to keep going, follow an athlete or an inspirational speaker, anything that can help give you that extra push you need.
3. Diet is key! If you are eating for your desired physique you will get it.
Born: 01/15/1991 Weight: 180lbs, Height: 5”8
Julian Navarro's facebook page: www.facebook.com/juliannavarroofficial
Harrison Twins interview: Harrison-Twins
Harrison Twins Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/HarrisonTwins
Yes, always trained together since the age of 16.
Yes, we have similar styles in the gym, we train together all the time so every session is planned and done together.
As newbie’s in the gym we didn’t do as much compound lifts as we should of (squats and Deadlifts) mainly. As we got older though and more experienced we definitely saw the errors of our ways and we now smash compound lifts.
We would say, “get some discipline” and “stay focussed on your goals in hand”.
Yes we listen to music when training, our playlist mainly consists of deep house tunes with a dirty beat, really gets us in the mindset for lifting.
When digging deep for that last rep we don’t really think anything, we just concentrate on our breathing and shifting that weight.
We don’t really plan ahead that much to be honest with diet, we just count calories mainly. With training we do yes, we have set days for set workouts, which will always be planned for weeks and weeks ahead.
Outside the gym Owen is most proud of becoming a Royal Marines Commando at the age of 17 years old.
Both of us are also proud of becoming pro footballers after high school.
Inside the gym, we’re both proud of the aesthetic physique we have built over the years through staying focussed and consistent.
We don’t bulk and cut, we just stay lean all year round, as we hate not being ripped. Depresses us if we lose shred.
Click for workout routine: Workout-Routine-Harrison-Twins
Whey protein, BCAA’s
1. Stay Consistent.
2. The body will go where the mind will push it.
3. Stay focussed on your goals.
Owen and Lewis Harrison “Harrison Twins”
Height: 5 foot 10 inches
Harrison Twin facebook fanpage: www.facebook.com/HarrisonTwins
I have always been an active person, but didn't acknowledge the benefits of healthy eating and weight training until the age of 23. It was then that I started making necessary changes to push my body to a new level.
There are always areas I can improve - I know I can always be better, and train to bring up those areas.
I have always used a mixture of low intensity cardio including fasted cardio in the mornings and high intensity cardio including hill/stair sprints and interval training.
I love to make a multigrain crumbed chicken schnitzel with a sweet potato, spinach leaf salad dress with balsamic vinegar.
As my time is very restricted my sponsors Muscle Meals Direct have me covered in the food department and I don't have to prep any of my own food.
I have 5-6 meals a day, which consist of lean meats, green vegetables and brown rice or sweet potato.
I allow myself a relaxed meal once a week, which keeps me on track during the in anticipation for this meal haha.
Squats, Deadlifts and Wide Grip Chin Ups.
Yes, I love variety- but definitely a Rock girl, the Gunners, Chilli Peppers, U2, Metallica… but I also like the top 20 too.
AM: Fasted Cardio
Day 1: Quads, Glutes
Day 2: Chest and Triceps
Day 3: Hammies,Glutes, Calves
Day 4: Back, Bis, Abs
Day 5: Sprint Session/Interval Training or Plyos
Day 6: Cardio
Day 7: Rest
Yes, I have goals, which are the competitions I compete in, and I love to inspire people and help them achieve their goals, along the way. Long term I would like to hit the American/International stage.
Being happy with where I am in life.
It’s a bit of appearance mixed with performance, no point looking good if you aren't fit and healthy.
I really admire Amanda Doherty- a mother of children and a huge inspiration in the fitness industry. Also Amanda Latona, such a beautiful girl inside and out!
A good WPI- Syntha 6 Isolate Chocolate Milkshake is a must try, amazing flavour!
A clean Amino Acid, I use Amino X, and for those days that you need a good kick up the butt, I wouldn't go past hyper-fx.
Don't be afraid to lift weights, especially heavy!!
A good diet and consistency.
Year of birth: 1986
Macros per 1 slice out of 10 the batter makes:
Simon’s Channel: www.youtube.com/user/thedietkitchen
Targets: Abdominals and shoulders
Targets: abdominals and shoulders
Tanya Etessam interview: www.cutandjacked.com/CutAndJacked-Interview-Tanya-Etessam
For more of Tanya Etessam visit: www.tanyaetessam.com
I‘ve always been active in sports since I was a kid. I did a lot of running, high jump, football, volleyball and motocross. So I was always fit but I didn‘t start lifting heavy until I got into two car accidents with only 6 months apart in 2008 and 2009. My back and shoulder got injured and nothing was working for me so I started weight lifting to get the muscles around the injuries stronger. And that worked for me so I could be pain free :)
I keep myself motivated by browsing through some pictures of myself on stage, and through pages of some other strong fitness competitors. It always helps to look at videos of fitness competitions.
I’m a big fan of HIIT running and I’ve done a lot of it this year. It shows great results in a short period of time and it also increases your stamina, so it keeps me going because I feel the difference.
My favorite is how I prep my chicken. I take 3 cloves of garlic, 2 cm of leek, a bit of fresh ginger and some chilli spice or cayenne pepper. It‘s all mixed in the blender and then I fry on a pan with Pam spray. Then I cool it down and keep in fridge. It‘s very good with some salad and sweet potato. When I cook the chicken like this, it tastes fresher and better after the time in the fridge.
While I'm prepping for competitions I eat a lot of beef, chicken, white fish, oatmeal, protein shakes and sometimes lobster and salmon. And my favorite green apples :)
When I get cravings I get myself a cup of black coffee. If that doesn‘t work I drink a lot of water and 2 cherry tomatoes... Cherry tomatoes work like magic!
I do, I listen to all kinds of music, all from trance or techno remixes to Norah Jones when the day has been ruff. But I mostly listen to Dj Bl3nd, David Guetta and Pitbull
I do cardio about 4-6 times a week at noon and always a bit after lifting. I lift 6 times a week in the evenings. I’m doing some high rep training now.
Monday: Legs + glutes
Tuesday: Back and chest
Wednesday: Biceps + triceps + shoulders
Thursday: Legs + glutes
Friday: Back + chest
Saturday: Arms + shoulders
I do abs almost everyday :) And always rest on Sundays
My short-term goal now is to get in my greatest shape yet since I will be competing in 4 tournaments in the next 3 months. I'm working a lot on my abdominal area, glutes and shoulders. My long-term goal is just to stay healthy and strong. I do not plan a lot ahead.
I would have to say that I'm pretty proud that I never go too far from on-season shape. I keep a healthy lifestyle all year round, but not that strict during my off-season.
My shoulder and back have given me some trouble but with a great trainer nothing can stop me.
I‘ve always said that the mirror is your best friend and the scale is your enemy. My trainer Jóhann Norðfjörð does measure me every month but that is mostly to see if the plans are working the way we want them. But the scale can change too much between hours so you can not trust it :)
I admire Anna Virmajoki a lot. I think she has the perfect figure. But I also admire Candice Lewis IFBB Figure Pro and Amanda Latona.
I‘ve been trying out the products from Musclepharm and I highly recommend them, good taste and the protein blends easily.
Don’t be afraid to lift heavy! You don’t have to be afraid of getting too muscular since it takes A LOT of work to build up muscles. And never forget to enjoy the process.
I got into fitness in 2006 here in the UK, before that I was a dancer. I start training intensively in 2012 for my first bikini competition which I won and then carried on until my second competition in 2013 which I also won.
Self-motivation really. I like challenging myself, kill the curiosity of what I could do with my own body, how I can change it. I like to experiment with food and training, mixing different training variations, learn and pass on the experiences and information to others to train others in the best way possible.
Upcoming fitness competitions make me driven to make best of myself. A photoshoot or fitness convention also really motivates me to look my best.
My students in class motivate me too, to inspire them, be the role model for them, an inspiration, someone they can look to and strive for their best goals. I feel like I’ve got to push myself, train myself and look my best.
Dancing, running outside in the mornings. A dog is always a great companion :)
I like simple food, like good quality salmon or a steak with fresh vegetables. Sometimes I treat myself with home-made chicken curry :)
Proteins, moderate carbs and vegetables.
I train a few times a week and eat healthy throughout the week. However, I do spoil myself with nice foods and some sweets occasionally. My training is more relaxed when I am off-season. If I know I have an upcoming photoshoot I train more intensely and watch my diet more carefully. When training for a competition my food is clean, following a strict diet provided by my nutritionist coach. I follow a clean food diet, high in protein, vegetables, salad, moderate carbs and good fats. Time to time I treat myself with "naughty" food.
The more healthily you eat on daily basis the less you crave. However when I do feel like eating something sweet, I choose rice cakes with some cottage cheese and agave syrup, or some mango sorbet, or maybe peanut butter and banana mini sandwich bites. Salty... Hmmm... Sometimes I go for thyme and sea salt crackers, or Tyler's healthier option cider vinegar crisps (a handful).
Definitely yes, music is huge part of my life. I always choose it wisely. I love to listen to music whilst training to motivate me, set my mind into training zone. No limits. I love remixes of popular tracks, trance, house, Ministry Of Sound, Armin Van Buuren, Calvin Harris, Avicii, Ibiza selections, etc
Regarding fitness competition, I am planning on competing this year with WBFF for Worlds. That will be exciting, focusing on planning out the training routine.
The main goal is to inspire the new generation using my experience and knowledge of fitness. I am adapting my training and creating my own unique fitness program that I plan to launch in 2014 holding seminars in London and building my brand.
I have a few celebrity clients that I am currently working with to build my client base.
Finally I am determined to become an ambassador for a huge sports brand! Watch this space.
Scale before I start my diet and intensive training then I measure last weeks before the competition. However I judge my body in the mirror for definition and with clothing. If I fit in the same clothes and if it gets tight - I know I gained in mass :)
I like them all, everyone is unique, great in every aspect, I respect them all for their hardwork and dedication.
Whey protein, CLA and BCCA,
Squat, eat clean and carry yourself well.
My overall plan is to motivate people to become healthier, happier within themselves, boost their self-confidence, set goals, make them believe that everyone can achieve their dreams and kill their fears. Fear stops people from achieving fulfillment in their hearts. People should believe in themselves, have faith and accept themselves as they truly are… amazing unique human beings!
Born: 02/10/1987 Height: 160cm (5ft 2in)