There has been a lot of discussion recently about building muscle and losing fat. There are many miracle diets and workouts on the market today. Most of the bodybuilders are confused and puzzled about what to do. Whether you’re getting ready for a show or just want to look your best for the beach, there are steps to ensure your success!
Rule one… Train for strength, Muscle!
Rule number two… Eat to define yourself!
Rule three… Prepare ahead of time!
The first thing you need to do is determine what kind of shape you are in today and where you want to be when you walk on stage or on the beach!
Use the mirror, it will never lie! When I was competing I knew I was fit when just below my belly button, the skin was transparent, that is, without fat. If you had body fat there, you knew you weren’t skinny enough.
The second thing is to start well in advance in the preparation of your contest. In fact, I would start dieting, depending on the shape I was in, weeks later, sometimes 16 weeks or more, so that I could reach my lowest level of body fat a month into the program. I would then eat my way up to my best form in which I would compete. The advantage here is taking the stress out of being on an extremely low calorie diet. I would walk on stage looking healthy and energetic.
The third thing is to NEVER add aerobic exercise unless absolutely necessary. Remember, your goal is to get to the show as big and tough as you can be. If you’re doing aerobics, you won’t be at your best since you’re cross training now. Start weeks in advance so you don’t panic while doing tons of last-minute aerobics to get rid of any remaining fat waste. This will burn muscle and fat, the opposite of what you want. Walking is fine at a leisurely pace.
The fourth thing is to train for strength. High intensity training people! Intense, brief and infrequent! The stronger you are, the bigger and more muscular you will be. I was at my strongest a couple of weeks before the show, always! Forget light weight and high rep nonsense! We are all anatomical diagrams beneath the layer of fat we use on our bodies, no matter how little or how much. I left the last couple of weeks to stop training and perfect my posing routine.
Although there are different types of diets… low fat, high fat, high protein, etc. It’s calories in and calories out. Eat a well balanced diet while reducing your calories by 500-1000 per day. The best way to find out what your calorie maintenance level is is to write down everything you eat for three days to a week. The longer would be the better. Add up the calories you have ingested and divide by those, from three to seven days. If you have neither lost nor gained body weight, that is your maintenance level. If that works out to an average of 3,000 calories per day, start by cutting back to 2,500 calories per day and check yourself in the mirror and on the scale. You should start to lose about a pound of fat per week, but you shouldn’t experience any loss in strength.
Muscle and fat are two different things. Your goal is to train to maintain or increase your strength and therefore your muscle. As? Training intensely, briefly and infrequently… once every four to seven days, depending on your level and progress. Remember, we’re talking about muscle here, not fat. Your level of body fat is controlled by your diet. There shouldn’t be any changes to his training for a show, except possibly to get bigger and stronger. Also remember that dieting will add an additional stress factor to your body, so be aware of that and how you feel. If you find that you’re still not recovered and need an extra day of rest, no problem. Watch your calories and eat the rest.
I have found that I made some of my best gains while training for a show because of the emotion put into it, the mindset, and the effort.
Practice your pose. There are plenty of great movies of old-time bodybuilders posing. I always liked Mike Mentzer and Ed Corney. Get these movies and watch them. Train yourself to have a smile while striking effortlessly graceful poses, if that’s your style.
Find music you’d like to pose to. Classical music is nice, but I’ve also posed for the “Iron Man” theme song. Whichever you choose, practice, practice, practice! Not only does it burn calories, but it allows you to achieve the muscle control needed to show off your hard-earned muscles.
Learn to transition from one pose to another. Set up a posing lamp in front of a full-length mirror, front and back, and start practicing all over again. Practice your mandatory poses while holding them for a minute or two. Start shopping for trunks to pose, color, and cut. Black is a good color to start with and then you can go from there.
Carb loading is done to ensure your muscles are as full and hard as possible when you walk on stage. Many do this technique a little differently, so I’ll give the process I used to upload for a contest.
If I were to compete on a Saturday, I would start the process on Monday. The last week I did very little more than pose every day. My training would almost completely cease, except for one workout at the beginning of the week. Other than that, I would stay active, walk and pose every day, sometimes I would pose for an hour or two!
Starting Monday, reduce your carb intake to less than 30 grams a day and increase your fat intake to compensate. We don’t want to lose calories at this point, so make up for it with fat. Watch your carbs and protein and increase your fat to your calorie level. Be sure to drink plenty of water, as it will seem like you are urinating a lot, due to the lack of carbohydrates to hold water within the muscle.
On Thursday morning, you will reduce the fat in your diet, reduce protein a bit, and add carbohydrates to your diet. Not just any carbohydrate, but those that have a low glycemic index. We want to start eating carbs every two and a half to three hours, small meals; you can add some protein but mostly carbs. At this point, we want to limit our water intake to only that which is governed by thirst. What will happen is that as you start to eat carbs, you will start to drive water into the muscle, including any water that your body may have under your skin. Your body is very efficient! Don’t overdo it! Stay within your calorie requirement, we don’t want any excess to soften you up at this point.
By Friday, during the day you should look pretty good. Continue doing your pose but nothing else. Limit your pose on Friday because I want you fresh for Saturday.
Saturday morning, have a good breakfast but be careful with salt, sugar, etc. Don’t eat too much, but don’t eat less either. Drink water, don’t drink. After prejudging, don’t blow it, continue to control your diet for the night show. Good luck
TIPS and SECRETS
If you reach a point in your body fat loss progress where you are stuck, go off your diet for a day! Eat anything and everything you choose, but then the next day, even though you may be retaining water and appear to have gained a few pounds, don’t worry. This will jump start your metabolism. What a fun way to start off strong!
Sometimes you can control your metabolism by sleeping less. Start by waking up an hour earlier or getting up an hour later. As long as you don’t feel exhausted, you should be fine. Although coffee and caffeine have gotten some negative press, they also boost metabolism and help before a workout.
IF YOU SHOULD
If your metabolism is such that you can’t reduce your calories while eating a well-balanced diet, which becomes impossible below 1200 calories…then add some biking or walking. No more than three times a week for no more than 30 to 45 minutes. This mainly concerns lighter athletes and women. Be careful with aerobics.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
If you stick to science and think about it, you will never be confused or puzzled. The science of bodybuilding has exacting principles just like the science of nutrition. I wish you luck in reaching your bodybuilding goals, whatever they may be!