Road To The British: Contest Prep!

Since last year I have had one goal - solely to win my class at either the BNBF or ANB British this year...
Note: This is part one, click here for part two!

Since last year I have had one goal - solely to win my class at either the BNBF or ANB British this year. This driving ambition has fueled countless workouts and added steel to my self-control when the siren like call of sugar and fat laden treats reared its ugly yet seductive head.

Throughout these articles I wish to show the plan of action I am going to use over the next six months to firstly win my qualifiers and then potentially take the title of British class winner that has infiltrated my dreams relentlessly the past year.

Considering the British championships is not until much later on in the year, my first step is to pin point a qualifying show and do everything possible to turn up looking full, ripped and dry.

I want to enter both natural federations (ANB and BNBF) this year to double my chances of taking a British title and being a bit lazy when it comes to traveling I decided on the two nearest qualifiers to me, The BNBF Central England and the ANB Southeast of England shows.

First up would be the Central show on the 18th of July. This gave me a full sixteen weeks preparation from the beginning of April, but put some positive pressure on me as it was the last BNBF qualifier so it gave me one shot only at receiving an invite to the British.

The southeast show wasn't until September so it gave me plenty of time to address problems in my training or diet should things go belly up at the central.

Where To Start

As with any journey, to get to your destination you have to know where you're departing from. In bodybuilding terms I had to assess my current level of conditioning and size so I could plan my rate of fat loss and which weight class to enter.

At the start of April my bodyweight was eighty kilograms or one hundred and seventy six pounds at a height of five foot six (ok enough of the short jokes). Even before I tested my body fat I knew that I was in the best shape I have been commencing a pre-competition diet, last year I was ninety two kilograms (two hundred and two pounds) at the same point and I was stronger this year having recorded personal bests in the squat (both front and back), weighted dips and pull-ups.

I used a three point test (abdomen, chest and thigh) with skin fold calipers to test my body fat. Although I had access to a bod pod machine which would be much more accurate the skin fold calipers meant that I could retest weekly and keep greater tracking of my body composition and make alterations as the weeks went by.

With some relief the results showed that I was ten percent body fat at eighty kilograms meaning I was only carrying around eight kilograms of lard.

Considering that I wanted to be under five percent to have any chance of winning a qualifier I knew that I would have to drop around seven kilograms of body weight (fifteen pounds) to be seventy three kilograms and have three kg of fat.

Although this meant dropping some lean tissue I knew it would be inevitable as glycogen and fluids would comprise a reasonable amount of the initial loses seen when dieting.

This body weight would put me within one kilogram of being a lightweight (under 72kg class) or right at the bottom of the middleweight class (under eighty kilogram class). Once I dropped all the extracellular fluids to look dry and hard I should be able to just make the lightweight class within sixteen weeks time.

This meant just under 0.5kg (one pound) loss a week, nice and easy!

Diminishing Adipose

Firstly I needed to estimate my caloric need. Using the Schofield equation I determined that my Basal metabolic rate (BMR) was 1889 kcals a day.

Schofield equation (men) = 0.063x weight +2.896 x1000 = BMR kcals/day


In order to determine my overall caloric requirements I multiplied this by my physical activity level (PAL), determined from my occupational activity and non occupational activity (including my weights sessions but not my cardio). This determined that my daily calories to maintain my bodyweight would need to be around 3200kcals

Occupational Work
Non occupational activity Males Females
Light Moderate Heavy Light Moderate Heavy
Non active 1.4 1.6 1.7 1.4 1.5 1.6
Moderately active 1.5 1.7 1.8 1.5 1.6 1.7
Very active 1.6 1.8 1.9 1.6 1.7 1.8

(light is office based work, medium is active, heavy is manual labor)

In order to lose one pound a week I would have to create a deficit of 3500kcals a week or 500kcals a day. I would go about this by reducing my calorie intake by 200-300 kcals a day (down to 2900-3000kcals consumed energy) and performing moderate intensity cardio to burn the rest.

This would not stay constant throughout my whole dieting phase. As my bodyweight drops so would my energy expenditure, coupled with normal homeostatic responses of the body to preserve weight by decreasing metabolic rate this would mean diminishing returns on the fat loss as seen in most diets. To counteract this I would periodise my cardio up.

As it got closer and closer to the competition I would slowly increase the amount of cardio to keep the fat losses coming. This is were it becomes vital to be regularly checking your body fat and ensuring the losses seen in bodyweight are mostly fat as opposed to lean tissue.

Another technique I would use would be to artificially keep up my NEAT (Non Essential Activity Thermogenosis) energy expenditure. Basically when you have an excess of energy your body will increase activity levels sometimes without you even noticing (i.e. you fidget more) and stopping this is one of the first things your body does to maintain your body weight.

In order to make sure by daily energy expenditure is maintained I will gently squeeze squash balls, do finger extensions against elastic bands, and chew sugar free gum throughout the day etc all in order to maintain NEAT.

My diet would be a standard bodybuilding affair, with essential fats, fibrous carbs throughout the day and simple carbs post workout, with each meal containing protein. The daily calorie allotment would be spread out throughout the day over six to seven meals never allowing myself to go more than three to four hours without eating.

This should ensure that my body doesn't start to lower my metabolism as it would be getting a constant trickle of energy. The macronutrient composition of each meal and total energy of each meal would reflect my activity levels (i.e. more energy and carbs around workout time).

I intend to have one cheat meal per week just to maintain sanity over the six months. This meal should also help to refill lost glycogen levels. Some individuals say that a cheat meal will derail your dieting, but one meal per week out of a potential forty odd shouldn't do too much damage unless you plan to eat a small shops worth in one sitting.

During my dieting phase I did not wish to alter my resistance training sessions as this is what built me the muscle and should hopefully maintain it as well.

Current resistance schedule:

    Monday - Back
    Tuesday - Chest
    Wednesday - off
    Thursday - Legs
    Friday - Triceps and rear delts (weak body part day)
    Saturday - off
    Sunday - off

Added to this and the cardio would be posing practice were I would hold each compulsory pose for thirty seconds to a minute to condition myself to the rigors of the stage as well as learn and practice my routine so it goes smoothly and looks professional.

Far too often in the past I have just spent the last couple of weeks practicing posing and struggled during prejudging, this year I plan on doing everything right and spend at least half an hour most evenings.

Far too often individuals try and get too complicated with pre-contest dieting, as long as your fat loss is slow and steady and you have given yourself plenty of time (my downfall at last years central show), you should be able to turn up in ripped condition. Within the next installment I will outline my peaking protocol and update on the results of my first qualifier.