Flying With The Phoenix - Part 3, Workout For Contest Prep!

Jaime Filer is 16 weeks out from competition and she is aiming for the stars: her pro card! Discover how Jaime builds the perfect workout to get ready to compete and how you can too in part 3 of her contest prep series - Flying With The Phoenix!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Article Summary:
  • Consider using a full body workout to switch up your 3 or 4 day body part split routine.
  • Using an upper body and lower body split allows for less recovery time.
  • Cardio is an essential part of contest prep.

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Flying With The Phoenix- Contest Prep Workout

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Everyone says that "Nutrition is 80%," implying that while working out is in the equation, it certainly doesn't account for the majority of your progress during contest prep. I've learned recently that this isn't necessarily always true.

From the end of January (when I came home from college) until the end of June, I was working two jobs; one of which ran from 6:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., and the second ran from 4 until 9. I was assistant general manager of a high end personal training studio during the days (while taking a few clients prior to 8am most mornings), and then in the afternoon/evening, I headed over to a different commercial facility and was a personal trainer there. The average day was 12 hours, but there were 'special' times where I went straight through for almost 14 hours.

I know people will probably tell me "Where there's a will, there's a way", but I don't know if those people have actually tried personal training and/or helping to manage a gym for 14 hours straight. It's not only extremely emotionally draining, but it's also physically draining to work hands-on with clients all day. The problem with the lack of energy though, is that the whole process of being too tired to train and subsequently not training is that it becomes a vicious cycle.

I wouldn't train because I didn't have the time, but then I would become lethargic when I did have the time because I didn't have the energy (due to not training). You can see how this type of pattern would get me in trouble and affect contest prep.

The Problem With The Lack Of Energy Though, Is That The Whole Process Of Being Too Tired To Train And Subsequently Not Training Is That It Becomes A Vicious Cycle
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The Problem With The Lack Of Energy Though, Is That The Whole Process Of Being Too Tired To Train And Subsequently Not Training Is That It Becomes A Vicious Cycle.


Finding The Time To Train

Things turned around July 22 though, because my bosses realized that as a certified personal trainer and exercise physiologist, I'd probably be better off working the floor as a trainer than the desk as an administrator. So I was off the hook and free to train myself whenever I wasn't training clients as of the last week in July (thankfully, it coincided with being 16 weeks out).

As for the actually training protocol, prior to the last week in July, my "protocol" was just "Train WHAT you can, WHEN you can." So some days, if I only had 30 minutes free I'd train shoulders or just do HIIT. If I had a solid hour straight because of a cancellation, then I would hit legs. But I was inconsistent and haphazardly going through the motions. Once I became a full-time trainer though, I actually wrote out a routine for myself.

For the first 12 weeks of my prep, I'll be using an Upper/Lower split. My legs are my weakness, so I'll be training my lower body on Monday and Thursday, and my upper body on Tuesday and Friday. I find that the upper/lower split is what's best for me in terms of maximizing my time in the gym (given how little it is) from both a quality and quantity perspective.

I Find That The Upper/Lower Split Is What's Best For Me In Terms Of Maximizing My Time In The Gym
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I Find That The Upper/Lower Split Is What's Best For Me
In Terms Of Maximizing My Time In The Gym.

What I mean by that is that 4 days in the gym per week isn't too much for me to handle with my schedule (whereas a 5x/week body part split would be), and what I do in the time I have will be productive and efficient. Combining your entire upper body into one workout will take advantage of the maximum calorie burn you can get.

Think about it, you can train your arms on Monday, and do 3-4 sets each for biceps and triceps (anything more would probably be overkill), and then do the same thing for shoulders, arms, back and chest the other days of the week - hitting each part once per week. Or, you could combine them all and chose 1- 2 exercises per body part and end up hitting your entire upper body twice per week, for double the stimulation. Doesn't the latter option sound the best?

In addition to dividing my workouts into upper and lower halves, I also divide them into "Strength" and "Hypertrophy" days - a concept I got from Layne Norton, with my own spin.

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The Workout
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Essentially, Mondays and Tuesdays, I do roughly 4-5 sets per exercise, working between 4 - 6 reps (MAX 6 reps, minimum 4). Thursdays and Fridays, I work in a higher rep range (roughly 6 - 10 reps), and do only 3 - 4 sets per exercise. It's been said "What builds muscle, maintains it;" that's why I don't let the mind games of contest prep affect me when it comes to lifting weights. I still try and go as heavy as I can two days a week, then back a little the other two days a week. It seems to be working well so far.

I Don't Let The Mind Games Of Contest Prep Affect Me When It Comes To Lifting Weights
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I Don't Let The Mind Games Of Contest Prep Affect
Me When It Comes To Lifting Weights.

I stick to the basic bodybuilding moves when it comes to choosing exercises. I don't believe we have to get all fancy and creative especially when it comes to contest prep - You just need to do what works and keep it simple.

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Here Is My Current Split
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Monday: Upper Body Strength

Tuesday: Lower Body Strength

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Upper Body Hypertrophy

Friday: Lower Body Hypertrophy

Saturday And Sunday: Rest

As I get closer to the show (4-6 weeks out), I will most likely split this up into body parts (chest day, back day, arm day, etc.) in order to focus more on my weaknesses, and make sure my workouts don't take too long (because I will probably be depleted of energy at that point). But for the majority of my prep, I'll be using this 4 day-a-week split.

As for cardio, I do 4 days a week of steady state cardio for 45 minutes (again, this will probably increase as we get closer to the show, depending on my progress or lack thereof). Two days a week, I do intervals going all-out for 15 seconds, then active recovery for 45 minutes. I do a 5 minute warm up, 12-15minutes of 15:45 intervals, then a 10-15 minute cool down. Right now, I can handle this frequency and intensity. We'll see what happens as I get leaner and have my carbs lowered.

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