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Off season vs contest shape bodies

I received this text from a client the other day.


I have to comment about off-season vs off-season bodies.  She was very happy to see how she can maintain her off-season shape relatively close to her in season shape with a few minor adjustments in eating/training.

The quality of the coach depends not only on how good the client looks onstage but how they look in the off-season as well. I mean who wants to get into only amazing shape only to have that ‘look’ for a few weeks and then with a few weeks of poor eating be back to square one, or possibly gain back more weight than they had originally started.  Coaches should prepare you for the during as well as the after effects of competing in a physique contest.

The numbers of girls competing since the addition of figure in 2003, and now the addition of bikini and other ‘model’ divisions have made the numbers in the shows have exploded exponentially.

When I prep a client (mainly women) for a show I let them know that around 3-4 weeks out this body is not their real body. So basically don’t get used to it. They should NOT try to maintain this shape when they are not prepping for a show otherwise known as the ‘off season’.  The body 3-4 weeks out is about what you can maintain in the off-season with a good balance of eating well, and having those ‘treats’ when you want to.  You CAN be looking good without breaking the calorie bank, so to speak.

Getting down to show levels of body fat, and the shape required to take the stage so that it looks ‘normal’ onstage requires a look that comes off ‘sickly skinny’ in person.   Some girls love the way they look when they get ‘there’, but for most it is not maintainable.  I say ‘for most’ as there are girls who by their genetic makeup, and body type, and metabolism through diet adherence, and training, report that they can eat whatever they want and not feel deprived. I would refer to this as a model shape but a NOT stage/physique competition physique.

I inform my physique clients to understand that after THE show or diet you may feel like you want to eat everything in sight. Like any normal human when you go off your diet for a number of days, train less frequently/intensely, do less cardio/activity – you will gain weight.   Just like weight loss it is not quick, weight gain slowly creeps up on you.

After the show you can give yourself a day or two to eat freely but then you have to get back on a modified post contest diet.  Most times you will feel very shitty when eating this way, as what you eat is not simply more potatoes and chicken. This is why I show my clients what a normal diet is first, before they compete so they know and recognize regular healthy eating. Also it gives them an indication of what the expectation is for the competitive process. Some decide very quickly that it is not for them. And you know what? That is ok. Frequently during the contest prep phase you loose sight of what normal can be for you.

What I never really understood is why girls will spend months getting ready for a show to only undo all their hard work in a few weeks of poor nutrition.  They are also making it harder to lose the weight the next time by gaining a bunch of extra weight. I know it could be due to other factors than simply overeating. The length of your prep, type of prep and how severe it might have been are reasons to gain weight quickly in the post comp period. However, eating uncontrollably and then having an off season body you are embarrassed by, feel sick or uncomfortable does not seem like a positive way to end your competition experience. Sure competing makes you look good, but most time you don’t feel that great, especially at the end.  So after a show you will feel like you want to eat everything as now you have more food options. You need to realize that this feeling is just temporary, and you do have to manage it/ignore it a bit until you body fat comes back up to acceptable levels.  (And if your coach still has you dieting on the same amount of calories post show this is a RED FLAG, as calories should come up post show, slightly, but they should come UP)

So if you do decide to compete, hopefully your prep is not that severe – and if you are in bikini or model divisions it should not be THAT hard to get into shape. And you should have a plan to exit the contest phase, so that you can get back to what NORMAL is.   Model shape is attainable in the off-season, competing/stage ready physique are generally NOT.


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