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Posted on July 09, 2014
My journey started a long time ago as losing the right kind of weight has always been something that I have struggled with mainly due to being uninformed about nutrition and due to my relationships with food. I’m always looking to stretch and grow and as part of studying to become a personal trainer and ultimately a holistic life coach I wanted to go through the natural bodybuilding competition preparation process to becoming a Bikini Model.
Muscle Building/Bulking Phase
I went through a muscle building phase to begin with which consisted of split muscle group hypertrophy weights training 5-6 days per week, continuing to up my calorie intake with lots of sleep for growth, I spent roughly 6 months focusing on this phase.
At around 12 weeks out from competition I started the shredding phase which consisted of slowly lowering my calorie intake week by week, introducing volume training with light and heavy split weights training, slowly introducing steady state cardio and HIIT, then around the 7 week period upping the cardio to 6 days a week.
beginning of my muscle building phase I trained 2-3 times a week with a
personal trainer and the other days with a training partner of a similar level
who was also preparing for the same competition. I also went through a
nutritionist who worked together with my trainer, a nutritionist is important as
each person is different, so there is no one size fits all approach and the
things you learn about yourself from having a trainer and nutritionist are
My nutrition was and still is all about eating unprocessed organic foods, super foods, hunter gatherer or paleo style. My diet was made up of low gi carbohydrates, lean sources of protein with a preference for white meats and fish, alkalising vegetables and healthy sources of fat. Eating every 2-3 hours with 5-6 similar sized meals a day and focusing on when I ate certain macro nutrients like fats and carbohydrates especially around training times.
Final Weeks of Preparation
In the final weeks of preparation this is where the intensity of training was at its highest and calorie intake was at its lowest. Mainly my carbohydrate and fats intake were lowered which effected my energy levels. These weeks are the hardest and many competitors rely heavily on caffeine to get them by which creates all sorts of negative feedback loops.
I used (and continue to use) the isagenix system to ensure I was getting the correct amount of nutrients and using natural sources of caffeine to look after my adrenal glands. Athletes are some of the most toxic people in the world with the amount of air they breathe and food they consume, so it is crucial to cleanse the body to avoid plateaus with training and nutrition.
Final Days of Preparation
Competitors play around with their sodium, water and carbohydrate intake during the final week and final days of competition but this does not play as much of a role for the bikini division, so we did not alter these things too much. I tapered off my training a few days out from competition and did any heavy leg training at the start of the week to ensure I presented a polished look.
States and Nationals
The 2 weeks in between INBA WA State Championships (where I placed 5th in Bikini Novice Short Class) and INBA Nationals in Sydney, I continued as I had been previously.
I cannot express enough how important it is too strategize and be prepared for post competition, it is just as important as the competition preparation process and it is crucial to do a reverse diet as part of this. Naturally because your body fat drops so low it wants to feed and bring this back up to a healthy level to have stores in the case of illness. A good rule of thumb is to go back to where you were with your nutrition 4 weeks out and up the calorie intake from there, still doing some lower intensity cardio and continuing with weights training.
This is something that is not widely spoken about enough and if people aren’t made aware of this then they can cause long term metabolic damage to their bodies.
This is where it’s important to look at relationships with food, to learn not to beating yourself up for eating certain foods, you don’t want to develop an eating disorder we are prone to human error and cannot be on 100% of the time, accept, forget and move on however I say this with a caution to ensure you do not lose control, it’s about finding that balance. Make sure you reflect and critique the process you went through so that you know what to improve on next time.
Next Competition Preparation
I am currently 1o weeks out from Season B of competitions where I will be competing in the same category Bikini Novice Short Class at INBA WA State Championships in September. This time with my preparation I have chosen to train myself as I am currently studying personal training, and I want to really focus on the mind to muscle connection so a lot of my training will be alone. In regards to my nutrition I continue to use a nutritionist who is also a trainer providing me with a training program, the focus is on incorporating a lot of meal variety to prevent boredom and maintaining a nutrient surplus, I will continue to Isagenix and an array of super foods.
Conclusion and Take Aways
The competition experience should be an enjoyable journey, no doubt the first one is the most stressful but you learn for the next one, no regrets. I would recommend daily meditation and doing the things you enjoy to keep your stress levels down, getting enough sleep, listening to your body, surrounding yourself with positive motivated people (you meet plenty of these along the way) and not letting your social life suffer. I found it beneficial to have infrared detox saunas not only for the health benefits but to help me to maintain mental balance.
Competing is partly about training, nutrition and what your body symmetry and condition comes in as, but the other part is about your appearance and stage presence. Do posing classes and practice posing daily, get a bikini made that fits you well and is a flattering colour and arrange a professional for your hair, tan and makeup on the day. It is really disappointing to see competitors on stage that put so much effort into their training and nutrition only to be let down with how they present the overall package. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from the judges as part of your guidance going into the next preparation.
Remember that a smile on stage goes a long way, and throughout this whole process to remain calm, positive, enjoy it and most importantly stay humble.