I just recently competed in the Kentucky Derby Men's physique show in Louisville and took second, which automatically qualified me for the NPC Junior National Bodybuilding Championship. Competing in front of a crowd and showing off all your hard work is the fun part. All the “magic” occurs the days and weeks before.
Now many of you may just place everything into bodybuilding when you hear physique show. While they all happen during the same show, physique is much different. One of the major differences is that in physique we wear board shorts instead of posing trunks. Instead of having a posing routine we have 3 quarter turns that we make, showing off the physique in a relaxed state. The judges are looking for an athletic frame as opposed to overall muscle mass, which is what they look for in Bodybuilding.
I have been asked by several people in the past about what goes on in these preparation weeks and decided I would give some insight into what I do when beginning to prepare for a bodybuilding or physique show. First off, I have to pick a show. Without this step it would kind of be hard to compete. This step also gives me insight as to when I will begin dieting. For me it was 12 weeks of steady dieting to get down to the body fat percentage (BF%) I needed to be for the show. Find the show and then next is SIGN UP. A lot of people will start to diet for a show they “want” to do, but a few weeks into the diet they stop and have nothing to keep them accountable. So sign up and get ready to prepare.
Once I have my timeframe I begin to plan. I plan out my training sessions, my macronutrient break down for the coming weeks and my liquid intake. Without some kind of plan I would be setting myself up for setbacks before I even started. So get a plan and make it reasonable. Nothing cracks me up more than the guys and girls who plan to do a 180 during their cutting phase of the diet. When I plan out my diet, I never limit myself on food choices. I simply set my protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber that I will consume in a given day. The numbers I set are all based around the activity level of the different days. During a diet I typical keep my protein level at 1.2-1.4 grams per pound of bodyweight. My carbohydrates are always higher on days I lift weights and low to none on days that I do not. My fat stays between 40-60 grams a day on workout days and around 80 grams on rest days. I have one carbohydrate re-feed day a week. On this day I triple my carbohydrate intake in order to refill my body's glycogen stores and to maintain a high metabolism during the dieting process. As the diet gets farther and farther, I begin to remove carbohydrate every other week, while maintaining high protein and medium fat.
As far as training goes I stick to my strength program I use all year. This program focuses on a major complex barbell lift every day. These lifts are the squat, deadlift, bench press, and standing shoulder press. During the cutting phase I will typically add in a couple more accessories lifts each day to help bring up my body's weak points.
One of the questions I get most often is “how much cardio do you do?” The answer… none. Shocking, I know, but if you have a proper diet and a well-structured strength based lifting program, you will never need cardio to low your body fat. I have seen it and I have trained many clients the same way with the same results, stronger individuals with lower body fat, never having log countless hours on the treadmill for subpar results.
So, I continue this routine all the way up until about a week out from the show. Going into the last week I will typical do my last strength based workout the Tuesday of show week. That Wednesday and Thursday are all circuit based routines in which I am trying to rid the muscle of any stored up glycogen that may be left. Once these are all done, most folks will begin filling their muscle glycogen stores in order to get a “pump” on stage. The amount of carbohydrates is different for each person, I typically go for about 250 grams of carbohydrates over the Thursday and Friday, but I am conservative. I know people who will eat whole pizzas if they feel they are too carbohydrate depleted going into the show.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are thinking about doing your first show. If you are competing in an NPC show, you will need an NPC card. This card is good for any shows in the calendar year and cost $100 dollars. Along with the NPC card each show will have an entry fee. This ranges anywhere from $60 to $150 and need to be sent in a few weeks before the show.
The last thing and probably the most important thing is tanning. A tan can make or break you. It doesn't matter how much hard work you have put in if you don't have a DARK tan. Without that dark tan the lights from the stage will wash you out and you will appear to have no muscle definition. This tan can be bought and applied by someone at your home. But I prefer to get the competition spray tan at the competition. These cost between $75 and $150. Wear baggy black clothes when getting one of these and be prepared to handle sweat so that the tan doesn't run. Also, if you are staying in a hotel, make sure to bring your own sheets and towels. This will allow you to move around and not get your tan all over the sheets or towels.
This is the basic overview of what goes on in the days and weeks before a competition and in future articles I will overview how a show goes and what to expect if you are getting into your first one.
For more information on Chase's ab workout click here.