When you hear someone say they are prepping for a bodybuilding show or competition, it basically means they are going to prepare their physique to step on stage and compete against other bodybuilders. The aim of the preparation is to get body fat as low as possible while maintaining or increasing lean muscle mass. The process can be gruelling, prolonged and in depth. Quite often bodybuilding prep requires restricted calories, heavy intense weight sessions, regular cardio and posing practice.
The length of time to prepare can vary anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months depending on the person, the ultimate competition goal, the type of training and diet being followed and also the coach/trainer the competitor has employed (if any).
The bodybuilder will have to plan the competition well in advance to have the best chance to get their physique into the best shape possible. Once a date has been selected they may then approach a coach to take control of their nutrition or training or both. They may also go at it alone.
They will sit down with their coach and come up with a plan to achieve the best result possible, they may plan to compete in multiple competitions/shows with the idea to “Peak” at a particular event. The plan will also involve their initial training program and diet plan which is revisited on a regular basis throughout the preparation to make required adjustments, this is to ensure results don’t come too fast or too slow and progress continues. It can be a tricky juggling act to get the timing right. If results come too fast then there is a risk that they may peak too early or if results come too slow then they may be playing catch up closer to the day.
As the competition date nears there should be closer attention payed by the coach/competitor. More regular adjustments may be required as the body can change day by day. It’s in these later stages that the process begins to get very difficult mentally and physically. Calories are often very low but the workload in the gym remains at an elevated intensity and volume, this is also dependent on how the competitor is responding to the training and nutrition.
As the day approaches this is where there is a fine line between presenting a competitive physique or missing the mark all together. It’s quite common that coaches/competitors will make drastic changes in diet and training in the last one or two weeks under the assumption that the changes will lead to dramatic physical changes. If you’re not “in shape” by this point of the prep then there’s not a lot of magical things you can do to catch up, in fact it could be more detrimental to the outcome.
A few tips from the team at Schembri PT
- Give yourself plenty of time, for example, if you’re retaining body fat levels 20% and above don’t plan to compete in a comp in 8 weeks.
- It’s a good idea to have an off-season plan as well as competition prep plan. The off season is often a neglected period and not really taken as seriously as it should. Off season training is a very important part, this is where you build your physique.
- If you’re going to employ a coach, make sure you do your research! This is a must!
- We do recommend getting a coach or someone to be accountable too.
- Once you find a coach that you’re happy with, trust them and the process.
- Avoid drastic changes towards the final weeks.
- Always remember that you have chosen to put yourself through this process, there will be moments of frustration, irritability, fatigue and monotony. Don’t take this out on the people around you.
- Have fun with it and enjoy the journey.
If you need help, Schembri PT are always here!
Thanks for reading,
Schembri PT Team