It has been a while since I have caught you up on the strategies we have been implementing to get us in our greatest shape ever. As I am typing this, I am 3 weeks out and things are going great. I have to admit that I am starting to feel that burned out feeling. I found myself for the first time since I started zeroing in on my upcoming contest thinking about the foods I want to eat AFTER the show. I have to dig deep mentally and keep myself active. I can see the finish line and we have progressed too far and too long to go backwards now. I am keeping my eyes on the prize.
My weight has fluctuated up and down a couple pounds the last couple of weeks, depending on what time of day I weigh myself, how much water my body is holding and how much food is in my gut. I have been as low as 177 and as high as 182. Any way I slice it, I am well on target to make the middle-weight class. With a couple more weeks of dieting, water decreasing, carbohydrate loading, sodium depletion, and potassium manipulation I figure I should weigh in about 174. Let's get you caught up on changes that were utilized that last couple of weeks.
5 Weeks Out:
This week's diet changes come from reducing Post-Workout #3 to 1/2 Ny-Tro PRO-40 (125 calories) and cutting my 1/4 cup oatmeal (75 calories). This equals a total reduction of 200 calories.
This stayed the same and I made sure to get that extra 10 minute high intensity cardio session in 4 days this week.
I also made sure to practice my mandatory poses everyday and continue with daily sessions in the tanning bed.
4 Weeks Out:
In Meal #1 we cut 1/2 serving of Kaschi (60 calories). In Meal #2 we cut down to 6 ounces of egg whites and Meal #5 we reduced the portion to 3oz chicken breast. This makes a total reduction of 136 calories.
I kept the same cardio schedule but increased the morning sessions to 12 minutes. I also am trying to include some walking for about an hour on Sunday and Monday for some extra activity and expenditure.
There's nothing magical here. Just the gradual skimming away of calories while doing the best we can to maintain similar nutrient ratios and post-workout nutrient selection and timing patterns. The plan has been working great so far and we'll continue to skim away from total calories as needed over the next few weeks.
Integral Additions To This Year's PreContest Prep
I have competed many times, most of them very successfully. Every time I compete, I try something a little different. Some of these strategies have worked and some of them have flopped big time! This year, everything has come together nicely and it is due to doing a few things very differently. Here is a list of the things I have incorporated that I consider to have the greatest impact on achieving my best condition ever:
1. Increased vegetable intake
I have always tried to get in two to three serving of vegetables a day equaling about 4-6 cups total. This year, I have easily ingested twice that amount per day and have since increased it up to three times that amount. Bodybuilders fear carbohydrate intake when really what it comes down to is the smart ingestion of the right kinds of carbs coupled with the right timing of ingestion. I make sure in the hours that are not surrounding my workout (1 hour prior and three hours post) I have low glycemic carbs only.
These being vegetables and small servings of oatmeal or high fiber cereals. As the show ticks closer and I lower my calories and carbohydrate intake weekly, I add vegetables as they add fiber and bulk to my diet and actually work to stimulate the metabolism. Vegetables are almost negligible in their calorie count as it takes more energy to digest and absorb them then actually exists in the food themselves. It has been proven even in the lay person's fat loss efforts that the individuals who achieve the most success are those who have a large intake of vegetables in their daily diet.
2. Shorter Duration/High Intensity/Increased Frequency Cardio Sessions
I used to do the normal 30-45 minutes of moderate intensity cardio in belief that I was burning stored body fat as my major fuel source. Heck, up until two years ago, I used to even do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach in belief that I was burning 300% more of this body fat. I learned about two years ago that I was burning 300% more alright, a lot of it muscle being wasted. This year, I learned that although fat burning may be greater during the actual activity itself when kept to a lower intensity, fat oxidation is MUCH great for a sustained period after a high intensity session. 24 hours greater!
I would much rather have an increased metabolic rate for a day rather than the short time I put in doing cardio. Those asking, "then why add double cardio sessions in your day if you are already stimulated from one for 24 hours?" The answer is simply to create a greater deficit in my caloric intake. We all know by now, that the greatest factor in stimulating fat/weight loss is burning more calories in your day than you take in. With the decrease in caloric intake, the metabolism is bound to drop as well. Frequent feedings coupled with high intensity, short duration, and increased frequency cardio helps to keep that metabolism stoked.
3. Anabolic Timing Factor
About a year ago, researcher Paul Cribb came up with the Anabolic Timing Strategy that literally has changed the way I feed pre and post workout. Instead of the usual post-workout shake and a meal within a couple of hours, I bracket my workouts with my shakes (before and after) as well as have an additional three small feedings spaced apart within three hours after my workout.
This strategy has kept me big, strong, and full throughout my precontest prep. (For more information on how to incorporate the Anabolic Timing Strategy, check out parts 2 and 3 of my Maximize Your Results series).
An additional factor this enhances is the "frequent feeding" factor I mentioned above. I went from having 7-8 feedings a day to 10-11. I will repeat what I said above - frequent feedings that are moderately low calorically are the best for stimulating fat loss, building/preserving muscle, and keeping the metabolism stoked.
That about wraps it up for now. Again, I am sorry that it has taken me so long to get this out to you. As the contest nears closers and I increase what I do to prepare for it, I am finding that there is barely enough time in the day. It has made the time fly, though. I will get the next part out (weeks 3 and 2 out) the week of the show, I promise. I will then close this series out with my last article covering my 1 week out strategies and a report from the show including the outcome and my reflections. I will try to include some pictures, as well. Stay tuned and, as always, wish me luck!
Pictures will be coming soon.
Note: This is part of a series, click here for week one!
That's it for now... Until next week,