Ask yourself - "What is my goal in fitness competition?" Is it for personal achievement or is it to be one of the best in the industry? When you have determined your goal, then you can structure your training around that goal. Top fitness competitors train at least six hours per day in conjunction to getting ready for a fitness event. If your goal is to be a top fitness competitor, your training will and must be consistent in that range. How far you want to go is up to you. Either way you will get the joy and fulfillment that you have set out for.
LET'S GET STARTED!
Your training program must be designed to consist of morning and evening sessions, with aerobic and anaerobic activity. A split routine would probably work best because you are working different muscle groups on successive days, therefore allowing ample recovery time for muscles not being trained. Example: If you work your chest and triceps today, you would work your back and biceps tomorrow. Another example is a six day/two per day: AM chest, PM back, etc. Assess your physique to determine what method of weight training is needed.
Six Months Out: Train with weight at lower reps and higher weight or intensity for strength. Strength training is one of the factors in fitness competing. You have to show it on stage. Train to get as strong as you possibly can for the next four months. Make sure that you have a partner/trainer to help you with forced reps, negatives, and squats. Keep in mind that it is not necessary for you to train to failure at every session. Keep track of your progress and make the appropriate adjustments to your workouts as you go along. This method of training is not only going to improve your strength levels, but it will help to add some muscle as well, so you can sculpt your body and fine tune that additional muscle at two months out during your defining phase.
Three Months Out: Move your aerobic training sessions to twice per day. Endurance is another factor to be mastered in your routine. One AM session for a minimum of thirty minutes on an empty stomach, for obvious reasons, and an evening session for a minimum of forty-five minutes. This can be moved up to two months out depending on your body-fat levels at twelve weeks. Focus on symmetry.
Two Months Out: Train for definition and symmetry. Your strength and endurance will remain because during those first four months you should have developed your routine and have been training it at least three to four times per week. There should be an adequate number of strength moves in your routine to help maintain your strength levels. You should have also incorporated training your strength moves into your workout sessions, separately from your routine. This will not only help to make your routine cleaner, but will also make those moves appear effortless when executed. If your diet is balanced and structured properly, you will be able to keep your muscle from going too catabolic during this time. Remember that everyone has a different body type in general. Genetics as well as age play a very important role as to how your body will react to certain methods of training. You may need more or less time to define and sculpt. Knowing how your body responds to certain training methods will help you and your trainer structure your program to develop a winning physique.
One Month Out: Assess your body-fat level, and make appropriate adjustments to your aerobic sessions. You may not need the evening session anymore. Or up your morning session to forty-five minutes, and evening session to thirty. Stop all weight training ten days out. Train routine full-out two to three times per week. Train strength, gymnastics, dance, aerobic, or cheerleading moves only during the warm-up before you practice your routine. Do not train those requirements in a separate session anymore. You are basically just maintaining and fine tuning before your show. Your routine should have been ready two weeks ago. Now is not the time to make unnecessary changes to your routine. Get plenty of rest, and prepare to deplete and load during this time. Five days out, you will do no training at all except flexibility, and train your routine one time at the beginning of the five day rest before show. Then a slow walk through two days before. Do not train routine again until you are on stage in front of the judges.
Stay strict and do not deviate from your training or diet. PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! If you are going to use gymnastics (which is not a requirement) in your routine, you should train with your gymnastics coach at least two times per week, and train your gymnastic moves everyday. You should also train any dance, aerobic, or cheerleading moves that you will be using in your routine every day as well. It is not necessary to train so intensely for a local event if you have a good idea of what your competition is like and you are confident that you can make the top five to qualify for nationals. However, if you haven't trained properly it will show in your performance and in your presentation. If you expect to go to a national or world event without training properly, you won't have a good chance of placing well or winning for that matter. The national level is professional, and there are steps to making pro. The competition at this level is stiff. So be prepared the same for a local event, which are not easy to win either, as you would a regional or national event.
Tips When Training:
*Incorporate Plyometrics for powerful jumps and explosive leaps.
*Train your strength, gymnastics, dance, cheerleading moves, etc., at least 5-6x per week in a separate session from routine.
*Flexibility training should be done everyday for at least one hour minimum to include the entire body. Not just legs for splits. Include PNF Stretching: Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation in this regimen for greater range of motion and deeper stretches. Have your trainer help you by pushing you deeper into your stretch.
*Switch your weight training to intervals or a circuit two times per week if you begin to feel overloaded from training, and lighten your resistance or weight for two weeks then go back to your split routine. If you feel over-trained, take two to three complete days off entirely and rest. Reassess your training program and make adjustments.
*Other workout techniques include: Supersets, Trisets, and Pyramid Training. Large numbers of sets are usually not needed when training this way. However, do not train this way everyday. **Remember, you are training for fitness not bodybuilding.
*Limit two to three exercises per body part. It is not necessary to do several different exercises per body part. That over-fatigues, over-trains, and causes unnecessary soreness in the muscle. Besides, you're going to be doing plenty.
*Keep in mind that when training routine and strength moves that your entire body is being worked-out as well, so structure your weight training to routine training. For example: if you have several moves in your routine that require extensive tricep/bicep or shoulder strength, those body parts will be worked-out just by using your own body's weight, and may not require an overly intense weight training workout in addition to that. Train Smart!
*Stay within your target HR Range when doing aerobics so that you burn stored fat more efficiently. Anything over your Max. HR is only putting strain on your body. Do aerobics for at least 30-45 min. at a rigorous pace for endurance staying within your range.
*Train for Peak Performance!!! Not exhaustion. Stay Focused! Stay Positive! Be Confident!