With many of my clients just weeks away from their first bikini/fitness competition, I thought it was a good time to post some of my thoughts on the ups and downs in the final weeks of competition prep.
If you’re at that stage where you’re just 4-6 or less weeks out, you may be wondering “How the hell am I going to get through?”. If you’ve not given yourself enough time to prep, hit a bit of a hurdle along the way, or if you’ve come across a lengthy plateau or two, it’s likely that things will ramp up in intensity in the final 4 to 6 weeks. Carbs and/or fats are likely to be reduced along with an addition or increase in cardio to burn that bodyfat off.
Along with this comes a whole host of issues. Hormone fluctuations, drop in energy levels, moodiness, fatigue, and sometimes a lack of passion for training. I openly admit I really dislike my training in the last few weeks of prep. I liken it to pregnancy, fascinating in the early days watching your body change shape, but towards the end you just want the damn thing over and done with! With less than two weeks to go until my Arnold Classic debut, I’m itching to get on that stage. Yes mostly because I just LOVE competing, but then I can resume a reduced level of training for a while and a modest increase in food!
Bloating and Water Retention:
One of the most common side effects of the hard dieting and training, is fluid retention and bloating. I estimate about 80% of my clients suffer from this during a dieting phase. There can be a whole host of reasons why this can occur but often food sensitivities seem to be exacerbated.
Other areas to look at:
Either too much fibre, or too little can have your digestive system in disarray.
It pays to look at the supplements you are using to see if they have any side effects. Do a little research!
Artificial sweeteners sometimes increase as the calories decrease and cause tummy upsets, so watch out for the addition of too many fake sugars in your diet.
Low carb protein bars often have added sugar alcohols and different fibres in them so read your labels carefully.
Increased cortisol can leave you with unwanted water retention. Keep stress levels low, get plenty of sleep and ensure you are including a refeed every so often to keep things in check.
And also, don’t forget the leaner you are, the more any water retention or bloating becomes visible. You are also likely to be scrutinising your body on a daily basis, so sometimes it pays just to get on with the daily grind and not be tempted to look in the mirror 10 times a day!
A word about social media
Have you been stalking Instagram or Facebook and comparing yourself to your favourite Fitness Model? Whilst I’m not against this completely, (as it can be a useful motivating tool if used with a reality check), we all know that clever angles and filters could have been, and usually are used. If you find it getting you down instead of motivating you, give it up and concentrate on your own journey. Often people only post the happy days of prep and go into hiding on the down days. Remember that the rollercoaster of prep usually affects us all. I don’t think anyone is immune to that, even the seasoned professionals. I’m certainly not! Although with experience, comes better ways to handle the ups and downs.
Keeping a reality check
With the above paragraph in mind, remember that the other girls you see on the stage in photos and in real life, all have different levels of experience and varied amounts of time in the gym. You have to remember that if you have only been training with weights for a year or less, you’re just not going have the muscle size and density of someone that has been training for many years. That muscle density and fullness comes with time…
Be realistic. If you haven’t given yourself a lot of time in the gym training effectively and with a good program, good nutrition and consistency, and you still wish to compete, then do so with a focus on doing your very best with what you currently have. Rarely would someone come into their first show at the top of their game. Have a goal to give your all, do your very best, have fun, make friends and enjoy the journey. The next show you will know what to expect and you can go away and work on improving the things you weren’t happy with.
I have 11 days to go until I compete… wish me luck! I dream of that IFBB Pro Card and I’m giving my all!
Best of luck to all of you hitting the stage soon. You’ve made it this far… don’t give up now!