You will gain up to 8lbs overnight. If you have cut water for your show the chances are after purely drinking again you will gain this amount in water weight. Especially if you indulge in a cheat meal after the show. Don’t freak out, this is normal. And this is water weight, NOT fat!
Your coach should write you a reverse diet. If they haven’t already mentioned this, ask them. You need to get back up to your maintenance calories ASAP but you need to do this gradually. Also having a diet in place post show will stop you going crazy with bad food.
You will now never be happy with your body! Once you have been in the best shape of your life, anything other than stage shape and you will feel “fat” and “soft”. Trust me, you are not. You’re just at more of a maintainable shape. To everyone else, you still look freaking amazing!
You probably won’t know what to do with yourself. Less cardio, not as strict a diet, maybe even a week off from lifting! What the hell do you do with your time?!
Keep up your cardio. This will help the body slowly adjust. By all means take a week or so off from lifting but I always recommend my clients keep up some form of daily cardio. It may be shorter sessions than pre comp but it’s something.
You may look like a snake shedding its skin! Depending on which federation you compete with you may have a very dark tan and this does not come off evenly! Scrub until you can’t scrub anymore!
Everyone will ask “Did you win?”. “How much money did you win”. Be honest and don’t be afraid to tell them you didn’t win. This is so much more than just a trophy.
Set a new goal. This will help you stay motivated and keep the post show blues from being too consuming.
Post show blues are real! You will feel lost, unmotivated and even depressed. Try not to let them consume you and understand that this is normal. See point 8 and try to be positive.
Some say it’s physically impossible to get fat in the few days post show so don’t be afraid to enjoy a few treats. But your body is also super sensitive, so use this time wisely. This is the perfect window to grow and increase lean muscle mass so use this to your advantage!
Get feedback. Try not to bother the show organiser as they get hundreds of emails but always order the official stage photographs. This is how you can best assess what you need to improve on for next time. Your coach also has a say here so talk things through with them and decide on a game plan for next time.
Remember this is a subjective sport. You CANNOT please everyone. Have an idea of what you need to look like for the class you are entering but at the end of the day, you have to be happy with the way you look. You are the one who has to walk around with this body for the rest of the year.
Win or lose, be proud of yourself! You worked super hard to get on that stage so whatever the result, give yourself a pat on the back!
Written by Su Farrell
I have been spending a lot of time around people who are preparing for a show for the first time ever and I think some people are unsure of the process or what to expect. I wanted to put together a list of a few pointers that might help you in understanding the journey you are embarking on. If you know what to expect, it might make it a little less tough!
DO NOT expect it to be easy...show prep should one of the hardest thing you ever do in your life. If you cruise through prep, you are not doing it correctly. Go harder!
Your first time will blow your mind! Every day you will see your body as you have never seen it before and this is a crazy experience. Remember to take photos of yourself along the way to monitor the journey. It may be hard but seeing your body change so drastically will make it all worthwhile!
Be prepared to make some sacrifices. This may be your time, or socialising with friends, but show prep requires dedication and sometimes you have to be willing to make these sacrifices.
You will be in the best shape of your life! Knowing that you have put everything you can into prep and knowing that you look the best you could possibly look is an amazing achievement.
You will be hungry! This is inevitable. If you are not, the chances are you are not doing it right.
You will be tired! Reduced calories and hardcore training sessions should leave you pooped.
The mirror will play mind games with you! You will never see yourself how others see you. This is when your Coach comes into play. And you MUST trust them. As you get further into prep, you WILL start to freak out…”I’m not lean enough”, “I’m not dropping fat fast enough”, “I’m losing all my muscles” (my particular favourite mind game!), “I’m not going to be ready”…this is normal. Trust the process.
You will find support in the strangest places. You may find those closest to you do not support you as you may expect them to but your neighbour may come up to you and tell you how much you are inspiring them! Chances are someone is proud of you. There will always be people that will say you have “gone too far” but they just don’t understand. Be proud and don’t let anyone get to you. This is YOUR journey.
You will be thinking about food A LOT! During the latter stages of prep, I watch The Food Network CONSTANTLY! You will see other competitors are the same and pictures of food or “food porn” as people refer to it will be rife on your social media news feeds!
Do not focus on other competitors photos…you CANNOT control what anyone else is doing. Just focus on you and your progress.
Peak week (the week running up to comp) is the best part! Usually you are doing something different every day (as opposed to the rest of your prep where you do the same thing day in, day out) and you get to carb up! You will look forward to this day like a kid at Christmas!
Show day is so much fun! This is the moment that you get to show off all your hard work, you get to be pampered with hair and make up (guys too!) and you get to rock your banging body on stage! Enjoy it!
Written By Su Farrell
I admit it, I'm addicted to the gym...I love weight training, I couldn't even imagine giving it up as I age. In the past few years I've gone from a frail distance runner who represented her Country, to a strong figure athlete hoping to gain an IFBB pro card. More than ever I'm complemented on my physique, an overt display of hard work. So with this in mind, I wonder why women like me are still such a minority in the weights area?
When it comes to females working out, there’s a glaring and insulting double standard; women should be either thin or curvaceous but never athletic or jacked. No wonder, then, that women tend to treat cardiovascular exercise as the holy grail of female fitness. So here are three of the biggest fears women I’ve worked with had at the beginning when it comes to lifting weights, and why they shouldn’t be a worry for you:
We see pictures of female bodybuilders with veins popping out of their Hulk-like shoulders, and we fear looking like them. I certainly did. Because of this, most women “only want to be toned”. They want the sleek, slender appearance of the Jessica Alba’s of the world. Now, muscle tone actually has nothing to do with the way our muscles look, and what most women desire is actually increased muscular definition and shape. But in order to improve muscular definition you first need to have a sufficient amount of muscle on your body to create the curves and shape of the body.
Not only this, but us ladies simply don’t have enough of the hormone testosterone in our bodies to ever pack on enough muscle to get ‘big’, 10x less testosterone than men in fact. Any women you see like this are generally using unnatural means to create this type of physique, and unless you purposefully seek out hormone therapy, there is simply no danger of that ever happening to you.
At the end of the day weight is just a number. It’s only a very small piece of the puzzle and it says nothing about your body composition. I’m heavy for my height on the scales, but my muscle mass is high and my body fat sub 10% on stage. When you weigh yourself, generally nobody else knows the number; people just see the results by how you hold that weight. If you were 5lbs heavier than you are now with a flat stomach, would you care?
Perhaps even more importantly, strength training increases metabolism even more than cardio workouts. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. That leads to fat loss and an increased potential for overall weight loss. A Cambridge University study found that people who lift weights lose six more pounds of fat than those who don’t, even without changing their diet.
This may happen, but you could also trip whilst on the treadmill or pull a muscle during a yoga stance! As long as you are careful to lift with good form, you are much more likely to prevent injury with weight training than you are to cause it. Research shows that regular strength training results in lower blood pressure, and a longer lifespan. Not only that, but women are more prone to osteoporosis (brittle bone disease), and strength training is a great way to decrease the risk, or even improve bone density.
If you are looking to have a baby, weight training can prevent injury and promote recovery. Deadlifts to strengthen your back reducing the strain of the lower back, and make pregnancy easier. And most importantly for new mothers, help lose your baby weight even quicker!
If you are a woman reading this article, chances are you're most likely a convert already. A member of The Church Of Iron - so as with any congregation, go out and spread the word. Tell your friends and loved ones how they can improve their health, self-confidence and body shape. They'll thank you once the gains start.
Written by Becs Cronshaw
Becs facebook fanpage: www.facebook.com/salecca.becs
Many women want to avoid lifting weights because they’re generally afraid of them or don’t understand how they are going to benefit from them.
Simply: If you don’t lift weights you cannot sculpt your body in to the shape that you want it to be. This is because lifting weights promotes a type of muscle growth known as “myogenic” muscle growth. This type of muscle growth increases the mass and density of a muscle which gives it its shape, which it will retain even after you’ve left the gym.
Cardio has its place in training - the benefits are that it burns calories, which helps to create a calorie deficit, which stops the conversion of calories in to bodyfat.
It also promotes excellent cardio-vascular fitness, which keeps your heart healthy.
What cardio cannot do however is build muscle or tone you. This is because cardio training is known as “neurogenic” training. This means that it does not promote muscular density; it does not promote thickness or fullness of muscle, so when you leave the gym you will not retain the fullness or curves created by the existence of fuller, thicker muscles.
This type of constant neurogenic training can be particularly negative for women who have lost a lot of weight as it can leave them looking “skinny fat” where they have lost weight but their skin and muscle tone looks flat and loose.
The most successful bodybuilders in the world will tell you that they haven’t become number one by necessarily lifting the biggest weights – they have got there by being able to contract their muscles harder than anyone else in their field and by increasing the duration of time that their muscles are under load / tension.
What this means is that simply moving a big weight from point A to point B is not necessarily going to equate to muscle tone, development and creating the shape that you want. Often a certain amount of momentum can move a weight, along with offsetting using your own bodyweight to move it. The trick is to think about the muscle you are using to move that weight and focus on squeezing it all the way through the movement, holding the tension at the contraction point, and then releasing again under control.
The more time you spend contracting, stressing and working the muscle the more micro-tears you are going to create in the muscle and it is these tiny tears that stimulate repair, new tissue production and ultimately: growth.
Stop right there! I don’t want to see anyone saying, “I’m going to do fifty reps on a light weight as I don’t want to bulk”. From reading the above you should now know that you need to contract and stress the muscle. Aim for repetitions of either 6 or 12 and the movement should be difficult. If you are finding it too easy increase your weight or if you are getting too big for your class or for the look you want to achieve increase your reps or add a half-rep after each full rep to make it harder for yourself.
Sets should range from anything from 3 sets to 9 or 10.
Personally I usually favor around 6 or 7 sets and 12 reps – that’s just my personal choice.
Compound movements are big, heavy power movements like squats, deadlifts and clean and press. These sorts of big movements stimulate testosterone production due to the sheer volume of muscles involved in the movement and this helps to build stronger, harder muscles. But don’t worry girls; it’s still a tiny amount, which your body is able to produce naturally.
These compound movements also tend to work the entire body and fire up your core as well. Ideally compounds should only be used by bikini competitors once a week to 10 days as they can result in a thicker waist due to the core engagement. One way of getting around this is to wear a lifting belt to disengage your core area.
Isolation is the practice of isolating specific muscle groups. It allows you to focus very specifically on certain muscles, groups of muscles or one area of one muscle. You can isolate an area using both free weights and machines, and it’s very important to keep mixing things up to ensure that you hit a muscle area on its full circumference to avoid either over developed or flat areas.
Do not underestimate the importance of fuelling your body correctly when it comes to building muscle. If you are not using appropriate supplementation you will take a lot longer to repair and it will take longer for your body to build new muscle tissue.
Fuelling with a good amino-acid blend is key both during and post-workout. This is because Amino acids are the compounds that make up proteins. In order for our bodies to utilize the proteins we are consuming then our bodies must contain all 8 of the essential amino-acids required for protein synthesis (essentially the creation of tissue).
A couple of excellent products that I actually use myself here are Gaspari Nutrition Aminolast as an intra-workout shake and Gaspari AminoMax 8000 as a pre and post workout supplement.
A lot of women are also scared to experiment with supplements, as it’s still an area that is dominated predominantly by men and there is a lack of good information out there about what products women can use.
For example creatine supplements are still woefully underused by women as they either believe (totally incorrectly!) that it is a steroid or that it includes male hormone. It is neither of these things. Creatine helps muscular growth, endurance and strength, thus allowing an increase in size as the muscle can go harder and be worked for longer.
If you want tight tone with visible muscle striation and shape, diet is also key. Cutting out processed foods and starting to eat and prepare your food from fresh changes your body and everything becomes firmer and harder.
Diet is also the key factor behind weight loss and reducing body fat, and body fat reduction is the key in tight, toned, visible muscle.
Proteins such as turkey, chicken, white fish, salmon, mackerel and lean beef are all excellent staple proteins for your diet and should be paired with clean carbohydrates, essential fats and large amounts of green and leafy vegetables.
Weight training can lead to a shortening of the muscle as the constant contraction and thickening can also cause shortening and a “peaked” effect. As a woman you do not want to look too thick or lumpy, so it is key to ensure that you spend a portion of your time each week stretching and elongating the muscles.
This helps to lengthen and stretch them, giving a smoother contoured appearance. This also helps to reduce waist thickness, which can happen from compound movements, and also helps to reduce lactic acid build up so improves recovery and stops you being so sore afterwards!
Written by Georgia Simmons UKBFF
Here is the last instalment of my training and nutrition. 6 weeks out.
Training hasn't changed massively and is still a 5 day split, training 6 days per week, resting on the seventh day. Training and nutrition are designed by my Coach, Phil Learney.
Cardio-vascular work started at 20 minutes 8 weeks out for 2 weeks and then increased by 5 minutes every week to a maximum of 50 minutes in the final week.
Diet doesn't change too much. Carbs in the post workout meal have been removed (from 10 weeks out). Carbs in the post workout drink have been replaced with glycine (from 8 weeks out).
Training and diet continue like this right up until the final week. In the final week pre-comp I will train with Phil as I am usually far too tired to train on my own at this point. Training will be more depletion work. The final leg workout will be around 5 days pre-comp. I will eat white fish and broccoli at every meal. A post-training shake is still utilised.
In the final week I will also manipulate sodium, water and vitamin C. Water loading will begin seven days pre-comp at 10 litres/day, finishing in 1 litre by midday the day before comp. Sodium will be dropped completely 3 - 4 days pre-comp. 10,000mg of Vitamin C is taken every day from seven days pre-comp.
This 12-week period of dieting saw me drop to 4.5% body fat (this was measured 4 days pre-comp) at a weight of 55kg.
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This is my training 12 weeks out from competition. My training does not change massively during prep, but the small changes really do make a difference. Training is now a five day split, training six times per week, resting every seventh day. A my training and nutrition is designed by my coach Phil Learney.
This will be the first week of competition diet. Here is my day's diet. Times will vary slightly depending on what time I start work and therefore get up.
There is no cardio vascular work at this point.
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Su Farrell's CutAndJacked.com: Interview
Part 3: Su Farrell's Figure Competition Prep: 6 weeks out
This is my training 16 weeks out from competition consisting of a 3 day split. Competition diet has not started at this point so my diet is clean but not super strict. Both my training and nutrition is designed by my Coach, Phil Learney.
Deadlifts: 5 sets x 5 reps, 120sec rest
Incline Prone Row: 4 sets x 8-15 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Cable Lat Pulldown: 4 sets x 8 – 15 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Incline Dumbbell Press: 4 sets x 8 – 15 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Machine flat press: 4 sets x 12 – 15 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Cable flyes: 3 sets x 12 – 15 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Bicep EZ Curl: 3 sets x 15 reps, 2121,
EZ Bar Skull Crusher: 3 sets x 15 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Hammer Curls: 3 sets x 15-20 reps, tempo 2121
Rope Pressdown: 3 sets x 15 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Squat: 5 sets x 5 reps, tempo 20X0, 120sec rest
Hack squat: 3 sets x 15 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Leg extension: 3 sets x 15 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Dumbbell stiff leg deadlift: 3 sets x 15 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Lying leg curl: 3 sets x 8 reps, tempo 2121, 60sec rest
Walking lunge: 3 sets x 15 reps, 60sec rest
Dumbbell push press: 4 sets x 8 reps
Seated Dumbbell press: 4 sets x 12 – 15 reps, tempo 2121
Leaning cable lat raise: 4 sets x 15 reps, tempo 1111, 60sec rest
Smith machine calf raise: 4 sets x 12 reps, tempo 2121, 45sec rest
Seated calf raise: 4 sets x 12 reps, tempo 2121, 45sec rest
Standing bodyweight calf raise: 4 sets x 20-25 reps, tempo 2121, 45s rest
Captain's chair: 4 sets x 15 reps, 45sec rest
BOSU oblique crunch: 4 sets x 15 reps, 45s rest
Cable crunch: 4 sets x 15 reps, 45sec rest
Su Farrell's Facebook: Fanpage
Su Farrell's CutAndJacked.com: Interview
Part 2: Su Farrell's Figure Competition Prep: 12 weeks out
Part 3: Su Farrell's Figure Competition Prep: 6 weeks out