As you may recall from my previous announcement, I have decided to compete this year on stage. Since then, I have also chosen my desired category (for now, just the one); Beach Body. The date is fixed too; July 21st, 2018. So, the stage is well and truly set and with the goal clear, work has begun in earnest. This isn’t technically my first week in “prep” (preparation for the competition, including training and nutrition), however, it’s a good starting point as I have recently returned to the gym after a back injury kept me out for almost three weeks.
Therein is our starting point; my return to the gym. I had really been itching to get back, but my body simply wasn’t ready. Putting socks on in the morning was a struggle, so although there are exercises I could do without involving my back, it was far more sensible to just continue recovery at home and allow some proper healing time. Before I came back to the gym, I began loosening myself up by engaging in some home-workouts, implementing yoga and stretching. I’ve found this extremely beneficial not only for helping my back feel stronger but also stretching out other worn out and tired limbs. I’ve decided to implement yoga as part of my prep, as it also brings in the cardiovascular element and so far, doing it three times a week in addition to working out has been very beneficial.
In regards to the training itself, I’ve implemented a lot of changes thus far, bringing my body out of its usual comfort zone. Obviously, weight is still relatively light at present, as I’m still not 100% comfortable with my lower back, so caution is the priority. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean I can afford to slack off. With the weight reduced, volume and intensity have increased. Working sets have gone up to 5 (unless it’s a super-set, more on that in a moment) and reps are high, anywhere from 10-15. To see what that looks like in practice, here’s an example of a leg workout I completed this week;
45 Degree Leg Press
- 2 warm up sets
- 5 working sets, increasing weight each set
- Rep range 12-15
- Weight heavy
- Rep ranges 15-20
- Total of 5 sets
Nordic Hamstring Curl superset with walking DB Lunges
- Hamstring curls form kept to slow, methodical time under tension
- Reps 10-12
- DB Lunges, weight kept light for now (14kg each side, form the focus)
- 3 Sets of each.
Leg Extension superset with Lying Hamstring Curls
- Increased weight on each set
- 12-15 reps on both exercises
- 4 Sets of each
- Weight heavy, increase on each set
- 15-20 reps
- 4 Sets in total
Usually, my leg workouts would include squats, but for now, keeping away from this until my back is completely ready. As you can see, the intensity and volume is present, with plenty of sets and reps in total. I’ve found this to be working well, leaving me feeling exhausted, in a good way; there’s nothing left in the gym when I leave.
Something else I tried this week on two occasions was to train fasted, and early. I noticed a big difference in my strength, struggling with weight that I would normally blast through. In terms of hunger, by the end of the session, my stomach was growling and oats and water never looked so good in my life. Visually, I did notice that I looked tighter and leaner, but that’s down due to having literally nothing in me, of course by the end of the day the expected physique at this stage was showing.
Which leads me on to diet. This, truly, is the hardest part for me. I haven’t reduced my calories by a drastic amount and I’m not losing weight at an alarming rate, but it’s the hunger in general that I’m feeling most. This is clearly down to the reduced amount of carbs, which, on paper, doesn’t look like much, but has an effect over the course of the day. I’m really maximizing my cheat meal (weekly, though the day is variable at present) and finding it helps in the gym for the next day. My struggle, however, is to keep myself in check. A cheat meal this week dissolved into a cheat day, where I went a bit off the rails. I’ve got to be more vigilant and reign myself in, and made a mental note of that and look to avoid this happening again. I think it was just a perfect concoction of feeling exhausted from work and the gym and just having nothing left, so the binge was all too easy to fall into.
The standard meal plan isn’t too complex or different from things I’ve been doing in the past, for a full breakdown head over to my Instagram page and check out my post on this subject.
The final facet of my prep is the posing. Having never been in a competition before, this is new territory for me and something that I was most anxious about. However, after attending a posing camp last month, my confidence was really boosted and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. Practice makes perfect and this is definitely the mantra here, but with one caveat; perfect practice makes perfect. It’s no good me posing every day in all sorts of strange and unflattering positions, so I’m making a conscious decision to film my posing practice sessions and go back through and see what can be altered. As for frequency, so far I’ve had two post gym posing sessions, but otherwise, I’m in front of the mirror daily trying to improve. The hardest pose for me at the moment is the front pose; getting into the right angle naturally and without the assistance of the mirror is my biggest concern.
That concludes this week’s entry, as you can see there’s a lot that’s gone on! Next week is shaping up to be somewhat different already, so keep your eyes peeled for the following entry into the prep diary.