When I work with a client I like to start their preparation in the off-season already, because then I have full control of their progress, and I’m able to dial them in on time without the need for crash diets or other hectic last minute strategies. I prefer keeping my clients’body fat below 11% in the off-season, which makes it easier for me to monitor how much lean muscle they put on, and to see where changes need to be made. It also keeps them motivated when they’re leaner in the off-season. I believe in keeping eating programmes very basic during this time. For instance, I’ll use different protein sources that are higher in calories, like fillet steak and chicken breasts. Pre-contest I’ll change that to leaner sources like hake and whey isolate shakes. In terms of carb sources,
I like to include oats, white rice, white potatoes and spaghetti in the off-season, which I’ll change to brown rice, salt-free and sugar-free Weetbix and sweet potatoes before contests. Basically, my off-season eating plans have wider variety so my clients don’t get bored easily. I’ll generally have a cheat meal whenever I feel like it, until 12 weeks out so that I don’t lose motivation, as one cheat leads to another. And that’s exactly why I dont let my clients have cheat meals closer to shows. It’s also a good idea to switch things up between the off-season and pre-contest prep to shock the system. As an example, stay away from fat burners in the off-season to stop your body building a tolerance to them. I like to add fat burners from around nine weeks out. The same goes for cardio in the off-season. Rather leave it for the pre-contest phase when you need something to kick your fat loss efforts up a gear. And make sure you don’t peak too soon. Thats why you need a coach to monitor your progress, or a training partner who can offer his qualified opinion. Dont listen to too many people though, that’s when the mind games start to mess with you. Taking pics every week, at the same time, on the same day, with the same background, is another great way to track progress. It is also a good to take body fat measurements.
In terms of training, many athletes believe that you should only train with heavy weights during the off-season, but I have a different view. However, there are many routines out there, and what works for one athlete may not work for another. As long as you pump blood into the muscle and break down as many muscle fibres as possible you’re on the right track.
With so much to gain in the off-season I would suggest that you start working with a trainer or coach, if you intend to, during this time. This will give them enough time to study your body and see how it responds to different approaches. Too many guys these days use’copy and paste’ diets and training plans, which are unlikely to win you any competitions.
LOUIS SAYS Dont listen to too many people though, thats when the mind games start to mess with you.
JOHAN BOSSIE BOSHOFF 2015 PLANS
While it is every athlete’s goal to improve from year to year, sometimes we have a year where we don’t progress in the manner we had hoped. Now that 2014 is well and truly behind us I can admit that last year was really average in terms of my competitive career. I certainly wasn’t in my best shape ever, and I believe that I can do much better. That is why Nella, my coach, and I decided to review the year that was to determine what we did that didn’t work. Based on our review we have decided that we’re going back to basics with regard to my food and my training programme. In the past I didn’t really do cardio, even when my body fat wasn’t that low before starting my prep season. However, this year it is different as weve done our homework and reviewed what has worked for me and my body in the past, and what hasn’t. That means we will be adding cardio back into my prep routine to assist with my conditioning, and make up the difference in my metabolism, which is no longer what it used to be.
ANDREW HUDSON TRANSITIONING FROM OFF-SEASON TO PRE-CONTEST PREP
With the upcoming contest season looming I thought I would give you guys a few tips on how to transition smoothly from the off-season into the pre-contest prep phase.
Before you even start with your pre-contest prep there are a few things you should’ve done during the off-season, namely:
Figured out what foods and supplements work well for you,
Managed to increase muscle mass,
Kept body fat levels relatively low.
The way I like to work my clients’ off-season plan is to make them very *do-able’, while still sticking to the goal of making maximum progress with the time we have. That being said, I also expect a very high level of commitment from them. When it’s time for pre-contest season, having figured out what foods and supplements worked best, it simply becomes a matter of fine tuning your approach based on those options. It’s not time to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. For some I will have them eat smaller meals more often, while others will get a reduction in calories. It all depends on the individual, but we dont make radical changes to their diet composition.
As body fat levels are low we can still train pretty hard without being overly tired from hours spent on cardio.
Very often, when there is a reduction in food intake, you see a commensurate increase in insulin sensitivity, and training becomes more enjoyable because of the enhanced pump that generally comes with this.
Contest prep for most means that sh%t just got real, which is when they start looking for alternative ways of doing things. Well, I firmly believe that what you did to build the muscle should be good enough to retain the muscle. Again, do not try to reinvent the wheel in terms of your approach to training.
Save your fat burners for the last few weeks, as you need to get your body fat and weight moving in the right direction naturally, before you start adding in these fat-loss aids. If you can do this you will have a less tiring contest prep phase, and you’ll still have a trick up your sleeve to dial things in just before the show, having held off on the fat burners initially.
The mental aspect of this transition is also very important You need to stay confident and optimistic about how you’re going to do. A positive mind governs a positive body, and vice versa. Make sure you do everything you’re supposed to do, because you can bet that your competition is. Think about the show and how you want to do. And I mean, really think about It. The way I see It Is, if youre going to do something, do it 100% or not at all. Throw yourself at your contest prep and strive for greatness! In the end most people wish that they had done more, or that they were more strict on themselves right in the beginning, often because they realise that if they had had another week or two then their chances of doing well would’ve increased significantly. Don’t be that guy or girl. Stick to the plan 100% from the start.
On a personal note, I’m off to Ohio to support clients of mine at the Arnold Amateur. While I’m there I’m going to have a few sessions with my coach. John Meadows. I will be sure to share my experience with all of you in the next issue. I have also pretty much decided what my first IFBB Pro show is going to be. but I will wait for my next column to let you all know which ones I will be doing.
ACHIEVING MY 2010 CONDITIONING
In my previous column I mentioned that I planned to get back to the level of conditioning I achieved when I won the IFBB Muscle Evolution Grand Prix in 2010.I have decided that it is better to come in more conditioned for the open class pro stage, so I am no longer going to chase size. This is how I plan to do it, keeping in mind that I was much lighter back in 20I0. Regardless of the muscle mass I was carrying, my conditioning back then came down to my diet as far as I’m concerned. Back then I basically followed a
very low carb, high fat and high protein ketogenic-type diet during my pre-contest prep phase.
This meant that for the eight weeks before a show I had little to no carbs, lots of animal protein, and lots of healthy fats, including nuts like almonds, and I added MCT oil and flaxseed oil to my food. I would then introduce a carb loading day every few weeks, or days, depending on how far out I was from the show. At one stage I remember going 14 days on just protein and fat.
In terms of supplements, I tried to keep it basic, and stayed away from the flavoured products which tend to have sugar included. My sponsor. Supplements SA provided me with plain BCAAs and Glutamine, and raw, unflavoured whey isolate, which really helped. Obviously the taste isn’t great without flavouring, but you do what you have to to get ready for a show.
While I ate a lot of green veg, mainly broccoli, my lack of diversity in this area made a multivitamin very important. I was taking one twice a day, and was boosting my intake by supplementing other important micronutrients
in my diet.
I would then carb up two days before the show, which was enough for me to fill out as my glycogen capacity
drops quite low when following this dietary approach, I was also drinking lots of water during this phase, especially to assist with processing all that protein.
The lack of carbs meant I didn’t hold that much water, which was really good. I think that’s what enabled me to get really dry in 2010 and deliver that level of conditioning to the stage. One element that did prove difficult was maintaining training intensity as the show approach due to the lack of readily available glycogen-derived energy. That will always be a challenge, but one that just about every bodybuilder faces to some degree.
“IN THE PAST I DIDN’T REALLY DO CARDIO, EVEN WHEN MY BODY FAT WASN’T THAT LOW BEFORE STARTING MY PREP SEASON. HOWEVER, THIS YEAR IT IS DIFFERENT AS WE’VE DONE OUR HOMEWORK AND REVIEWED WHAT HAS WORKED FOR ME AND MY BODY IN THE PAST, AND WHAT HASN’T.”
“REGARDLESS OF THE MUSCLE MASS I WAS CARRYING, MY CONDITIONING BACK THEN CAME DOWN TO MY DIET AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED”