Inside Look: Preparing for a Fitness Competition
To most people, when they think of a body building competition, the first things that might come to mind include everything from spray tans to wondering how that competitor got as lean as they are. What many people do not realize is the work and the discipline that goes into doing a competition. Competing as a bikini athlete, staying on track throughout “competition prep” is absolutely crucial. A typical preparation for a show ranges from 6 to 12 weeks, depending on the competitor. This is the time period where diet and training have to be spot on, as there is no room for slacking off.
Every diet is going to vary from person to person. For myself, I make sure I stay eating mostly clean year-round, limiting my “cheat” meals. I try and track my macronutrients as often as possible, allowing for more of a flexible dieting approach to my nutrition. I always make sure I am drinking at least one gallon of water per day as well as eating my meals every two and a half to three and a half hours.
It is important to keep in mind that my meals/proportions are calculated to my body, taking my training into account as well, meaning that what works for me may not work for another person as well! An example of a day of meals on a competition prep diet for me is as follows:
10 oz. egg whites
2 oz. quinoa
3/4 cup zucchini
5/8 cup avocado
– Training –
1 scoop Six Star® 100% Whey Protein for Her
2 oz. quick oats
4 oz. chicken
6 oz. sweet potato
3/4 cup broccoli
(1/2 tbsp. olive oil)
2 oz. salmon
1 oz. wheat pasta
3/4 cup celery
5/8 cup avocado
4 oz. lean beef
4 oz. sweet potato
3/4 cup zucchini
1 1/4 tbsp. peanut butter
Throughout my competition prep, I tend to follow a fairly strict workout regimen. I train six days per week, doing cardio four to five times per week. For cardio, I will usually do three days steady state for 30 to 45 minutes, and two days of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) for no more than 20 minutes. The usual training split that I follow sticks along side with upper and lower push, as well as upper and lower pull, incorporating different movements for each body part every day in the gym. Every other day just about, I will do a couple of movements that focus specifically on core, and then there will be one day where it is strictly for cardio and abs. A sample workout of mine is as follows:
HIIT: Treadmill sprints for 15 minutes
Core-Focused Exercises (I perform my core program before my lifting program)
Kneeling Cable Crunches – 4 sets of 20
Swiss Ball Crunches – 4 sets of 20
Medicine Ball V-Ups – 4 sets of 20
Bench Flutter Kicks – 4 sets of 20
Back, Chest, Biceps
Preacher Curls – 3 sets of 8–10
Dumbbell Flyes – 3 sets of 10–12
Cable/Barbell Rows – 3 sets of 6–8
Pull-Ups – 5 sets of 4 (pull-ups are tough for me!)
Bench Press – 3 sets of 8–10
Overhead Cable Curls – 3 sets of 12–14
Face Pulls – 3 sets of 12–14
Another major part of competing, as well as any part of the fitness industry, is recovery. The most important factor while working out or doing something physical is to listen to what your body is telling you. If you feel like you must take a rest day, then that is what is necessary. For me, getting the right amount of sleep is something I hold at a high necessity. I can feel the difference in my training sessions and throughout my day overall if I do not get at least 7 hours of rest. Just as muscles take time to grow, if they are being overworked to a certain point, your body will not respond the way you hope it will.
My supplement stack while preparing for a show or just in maintenance mode in my off-season are almost exactly the same.
Planning to compete in a show is not for everybody. It takes an extreme amount of willpower, determination and confidence that will all be tested in many ways throughout your prep period. Everyone sees the final product of the glam look on stage, but not many people know the work that it takes to get to that point. Competing is a passion for me, and I enjoy every step of the process, including the ups and the downs, and know that by trusting the process, it will all come together in the end.