2016 Contest Prep - Journey to 1st place
I began prep 18 weeks from the date of the competition because I've never heard someone say that they were ready too early. I decided against hiring a coach, this seems to be a very common trend lately and though there is nothing wrong with it, one of the best parts about bodybuilding for me is figuring out what works and what doesn't.
18 Weeks Out
I was aware that to get into the kind of shape that wouldn't get me laughed off stage, I was going to need to diet hard! With that in mind, I had worked through the off-season beforehand in trying to not only grow as much as possible but to also raise my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) this meant I would be able to lose weight (namely fat) on higher calories.
I was about 18 stone at this point and to be honest I was struggling to get the food down me required to stay at that weight. I was glad to begin the diet...
My starting calories were:
Training Days - 4358 cals - Protein - 344g Fat - 75g Carbohydrates - 500g
Rest Days - 3533 cals - Protein - 290g Fat - 82g Carbohydrates - 334g
Cardio - 30 minute walk on a 10% incline at 2.6 mph 4 x a week.
I have experimented with many different splits through the years and with this one I incorporated a lot of what I had learned without forgetting the basics. I made sure to include squats, deadlifts and heavy pressing with emphasis on progressive overload within certain rep ranges. My main aim was not only to maintain strength but to hopefully improve it throughout the prep. I knew if I could do this then my body would have no choice but to keep the muscle and lose the fat if I was in a caloric deficit.
Monday – Quads/Calves
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Chest/Delts/Traps/Calves
Thursday – Rest
Fri – Back/Hams/Calves
Sat – Arms/Abs
Sunday – Rest
12 Weeks Out
After 6 weeks of steadily lowering calories
my daily intake was now:
Training Days - 3200 cals - P - 294 F - 55 C - 329
Rest Days - 2983 cals - P - 278 F - 56 C - 294
Cardio had not changed as I had been able to lose fat just by manipulating my diet and keeping everything else the same. I had heard that to know what's workiing, make changes on their own instead of changing everything at once, doing this enabled me to make life a little bit easier for myself and still get the results I wanted. I was going partially by the scales but also by the mirror and if I wasn't happy with what I saw in either, I would make adjustments to either carb or fat intake as necessary.
8 Weeks Out
This is where the hunger kicked in! Up until now I thought this was a breeze but now, halfway through, the hard work began. Cardio had been increased incrementally to 5 sessions a week with the speed up to 3mph and the incline set to 12.5%. I did these fasted as soon as I got up in the morning. Calories were getting pretty low:
Training Days - 2823 cals - P - 280 F - 55 C - 259
Rest Days - 2303 cals P - 254 F - 44 C - 194
I was only halfway through at this point and that was becoming painfully clear to me. Doing the simplest of daily chores was exhausting all of a sudden and I was certainly making use of little pick-me-ups like Diet Coke and Tesco's finest Sugar-Free Red Bull.
4 Weeks Out
Mentally, I'm finished at this point. The weeks have been dragging by and just standing up out of my chair seems to require super-human effort! I'm aware I've become miserable, not helped by difficulty sleeping and when I do get to sleep, I'm woken up by hunger pangs and the occasional brain-storm of some new recipe that I want to try when this is all over!
Cheat meals are a thing of the past now. Now the contest date was getting closer I was beginning to experiment with different ways of carb-loading and what my body responded to best. Up until a few weeks before I would stuff my face on a Sunday night with Pizza, onion rings, cookies and ice-cream until I reached food coma status and would wake up leaner and lighter in the mornings after replenishing glycogen and stoking the metabolism up but now it was time to get serious.
Training Days - 2383 cals - P - 272 F - 23 C - 229
Rest Days - 1883 Cals - P 236 F - 20 C - 164
I had a fairly successful carb-load involving lots of
low-fibre, low-sugar, low-fat carbohydrates such as crumpets and muffins so a week later I really pushed the boat out and nearly doubled the portions - DISASTER! I spilled over and it took a few days to get back on track but I had learned a valuable lesson.
Over the following weeks very minor changes were made to the diet and I also experimented with sodium depletion/loading which I didn't respond well to at all.
Cardio had been increased to 6 times weekly.
1 Day Out
By now I was ready to go. I had depleted glycogen stores fully on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of that week to allow for some 'super-compensation' to occur with the following carb-load on Thursday through to Saturday. I followed the pre-rehearsed plan and every thing went very well with no hiccups.
The above pictures were taken in a hotel in Birmingham that my Wife and I stayed in the night before the contest. I had just been tango'd with my pre-tan base layer and what a difference it makes! Not only to me but also the bed sheets, the toilet seat and just about everything you so much as breathe on! The stuff got everywhere!!
On the day of the show I ate as normal and then a few hours before I had the Subway that I'd been looking forward to for weeks. This filled up my glycogen stores a bit more and gave the added vascularity via sodium, simple carbs and fats.
The rest is history and nothing feels better than having months of hard work validated by achiev