Evan Phillips, UKBFF Athlete, and Absolute Fitness Affiliate will share his five steps to success when it comes to preparation for show day.
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FAILURE TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL!
Set a show date:
First things first! Choose a date or a show and stick to it! It is best to start prep with a definite end goal in sight, with this is mind allow yourself plenty of time as most people prep for 12-16 weeks before their show.
Diet and Hydration:
Diet is a crucial element when preparing for a competition. For most people the shift from their normal daily diet to a prep diet can be a bit of a shock. There are many ways of ‘cutting down' for a show. I believe accountability for your macro’s (protein/fats/carbohydrates) is the best place to start. For many people carb cycling is a great way to kick start their diet. Carb cycling is the process of setting your carbohydrates levels for the day, for example, you'll have high-days, medium-days and low-days. These limits are controlled by you. So for example; a high-day you can set a limit of 200g of carbohydrates, for a medium-day it could be 150g and for a low-day 100g. However, just because one diet works for one person, it might not necessarily work for you so experiment a little, see what works best for your body once you've found what works stick to it- consistency is KEY!
Hydration is another key part prep that far too many people neglect. Most people don't drink enough water on a daily basis, regardless of what you are doing you should be consuming a minimum of 2 litres of water a day. I regularly ask my clients how much water the drink and most of the time I am shocked by how little they consume. When on prep, I aim to drink around 5-6 litres a day which increases during ‘peak week’. Top tip: many people will confuse hunger with thirst. When dieting for a show if you do feel hungry try drinking more water and you'll probably find those cravings will settle.
When it comes to training for a show there is a variety of weight training and cardio. Let’s start with cardio; the first rule is very simple, don't over complicate things! It's completely up to you how you do your cardio, fasted not fasted, LSD (long slow duration) or HIIT (high intensity interval training). My person preference is progressively building up my cardio through the weeks of prep. For example; the first couple of weeks of prep include: 25 mins incline walk on the treadmill 3 times a week. Then I would simply increase the duration and amount of cardio I'm doing a week leading up to the show. By the time you hit 4 weeks out from the show you should be looking to put yourself into a deficit (burning more calories than you are consuming) this will be where the big changes in your physique will happen so persevere with it. Personal tip... Netflix and cardio = success
Now onto the fun side of training…..weights!
You'll hear loads of people talking about their training splits. Even outside of prep life I have always trained each muscle group once a week. My normal rotation would work like this:
Monday - chest or back
Tuesday - legs
Wednesday - chest or back
Thursday - shoulders
Friday - biceps and triceps
With this training spilt I found my body was improving and getting stronger so I didn't really want to change anything and I kept it like this for the first 7 weeks of this prep. However, I wanted to increase my chances of qualifying and so I decided to contact a previous winning contestant to start coaching me (which I'll go into details later) he then recommended I change my training splits to:
Push (Ab session on push days: 4-5 exercises minimum of 15 reps)
Push (Ab session on push days: 4-5 exercises minimum of 15 reps)
I then went from training one muscle group at a time to, two-three a session. Not only that, but I was then training the major muscle groups twice a week. The effects have been amazing and I now swear by this training split. With this way of training you'll find not only will you grow, but you'll become much stronger. If you are currently training for a show and aren't already doing this spilt then I would definitely recommend trying it!
Coach or not to coach that is the question:
As I touched on before I made the decision to get a coach to help me stay on track and it gave me the extra push I needed to qualify for finals.
- It is another pair of eyes, this is important because you can convince yourself that you either look great or, what many people do on prep, overly criticise themselves. Having a coach will help prevent this. My coach pointed out I was coming in way to early and ran the risk of burning myself out before the show. My coach changed both my diet and training and I felt 100 times better off for it. We did weekly check-ins leading up to the show, this was a great way to get the feedback and to make adjustments where necessary. Two weeks out from the show we updated daily and this kept me focused.
- Accountability: plain and simple really. Having a coach makes you feel responsible. Without one I believe I would have cheated more on my diet. Plus you represent them so you don't want to let them down! Listen to the coach and trust in the process.
- Reduces the pressure: all competitors pile tons and tons of pressure on themselves to achieve their goals. Having a coach to plan your training and give you nutrition plans makes prepping far more enjoyable. It's allowed me to fully concentrate on my workouts without worrying about food side of the process.
- Price: I totally get why some people don't get a coach. With the ever increasing cost of food and supplements already making competing an expensive hobby but then adding a coach on top can really amp up the total cost.
- Giving up control: Many people will find this the hardest. Handing over the reins to someone else is a big thing. Trusting in someone to get you stage ready is a big ask but again trust in the coach and in the process! To help ease your mind do your research, see what your potential coach has achieved and what their clients have achieved and then make the decision, don't just jump straight in. There are lots of people claiming that they can offer you nutritional/training plans with absolutely no idea or qualifications to back themselves so do your research!
So ‘peak week’ is the week leading up to the show. This is the week where you will make or break your whole prep. This week is of up most importance, you have to get this right.
To begin with you should already be ‘stage ready’ before you reach peak week! If you are still chasing the last couple of pounds or unhappy with your condition, then it may be best to reconsider your show date. Maybe look into a show a couple of weeks later, this will allow you time to make changes ensuring your body will be at its peak for the show rather than getting on stage unhappy with your condition.
Main stages of peak week:
-Depletion: this is where many people begin to cut most, if not all, carb from their diet. The length of the depletion is totally up to you, how your body adapts to the changes and how it adapts to the carbs you put into your body. I cut my carbs for 4-5 days and then carb load for the 2 days leading up to the show.
- Water manipulation: the idea behind this is to get rid of the excess water sitting outside of the muscle, whilst trying to retain the water inside the muscle. This is the reverse of the carb deplete. At the beginning of the week I would start with 6 litres of water and increase it daily by 1 litre until I hit the 5th day of prep. On the 5th and 6th day I would begin to drop the amount of water to 4 litres and 2/3 litres respectively. Water is then cut from your diet the night before the show to allow you to fully dehydrate.
- Carb loading: by this stage the hard work will be done. The final workout would have been completed and now it is time to rest and fill up on carbs ready for show day. The reasoning behind filling up on carbs is to produce the necessary glycogen for the muscles. The muscles need this to achieve the ‘pump’. Without it, there is no pump and you will become soft and flat come show day!
Top tip: I would suggest sticking to the carbs you've already used during your prep for this period. Your body will already have adjusted to them as you will be consuming a lot, so it's best to stick to what you know works for your body. A good way of finding what works for your body is to do ‘mini carb loads’ during your prep period with different sources of carbs i.e. Sweet potatoes, oats, brown/white rice. On the day of the show you should be eating a couple of rice cakes on the hour, every hour as a steady load.
Thank you for reading, I hope it has been a good insight into the world of competing.
If you need more inspiration make sure to head over to my Instagram page @evantjp_fitness
For anybody interested in online coaching please get in contact either through my Instagram page or alternatively you can email me: email@example.com