Getting Into Contest Shape: Part 2.

The last week before a contest is a critical time for most competitors and can be the most psychologically challenging as well. Here are some tips you would do well to follow when close to a competition.
Part 1 | Part 2

So you've made the commitment to pursue the necessary training and diet plan to bring you closer to stepping on stage for your big day.

You've stayed focused and motivated and have managed to progress through the last few months with minimal setbacks or unplanned slip-ups. But now that you're one week out from the contest is there anything you should be doing to kick your progress up into high gear? Most certainly!

The Last Week

The last week before a contest is a critical time for most competitors and can be the most psychologically challenging as well. Everything you do, from how much sleep you get to what foods and liquids you put into your body will help determine how you look in the end.


    The final week before the contest you will need to ensure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep at night.

    Your body is going to be fairly fatigued from trying to continue to train on a low calorie diet and you are going to find that you tire out quite easily.

    Know that this is a natural occurrence that is happening and don't try and fight your body on it.

    Allow yourself the rest you need to feel your best since now is not the time to sacrifice. If you are having trouble sleeping, try various ways to promote sleepiness and relaxation such as taking a warm bath or having a cup of decaf tea before bed (obviously without added sugars).


    During this final week the volume of your training is likely to be quite low. You still need to make sure you are getting your workouts in for the first part of the week so your muscles don't start looking flat and so that you remain focused and don't lose motivation as to why you are doing this in the first place.

    Try and keep the intensity as high as possible while cutting back on the total number of sets and exercises so as to decrease fatigue.


      On the cardio side of things, it will be hard but you must try and keep your cardio sessions up. These are going to be critical for helping you to burn off that last little bit of fat you might be carrying to give you the tight look you are going for.

      By this point you will likely have a pretty good idea as to how much cardio your body needs to lose bodyfat. Some competitors will keep doing their 1-2 sessions everyday whereas others may be able to get away with only performing 5 or 6 sessions.

      It will definitely be in your best interest to perform you cardio as a separate session from your weight training because at this point you don't want your workouts to last any more than an hour in length.

      You need to give your body the rest is demands after each workout otherwise you will not be able to give your full effort. One or two days out you may wish to stop training just so that you can maintain your energy levels while on stage and may only practice your posing requirements to help give you the confidence you need while you are out there.

What Type Of Cardio Program Should You Follow?
If you are looking to lose fat, you know you have to have a great training, nutrition, and supplement program to get results. You also know you will have to do cardio.
[ Click here to learn more. ]


    On the diet side of things, you may wish to become super strict with yourself during this final week.

    Macronutrients: Carbohydrates

      You will want to eat only starchy carbs in moderate amounts right before your training and right after. The rest of the day should focus on water dense vegetables. These will keep you fuller longer and will help prevent water retention.

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    Macronutrients: Protein

      Each meal should also include a significant source of protein. When you are following an intense diet, your body will be using some of it's protein for energy so you need to be sure you are supplying yourself with more than you typically would need to prevent muscle catabolism as best as you can.

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    Macronutrients: Fats

      Keeping some healthy fats in your diet during this week is still essential however watch the amounts you are consuming as these calories will add up fast.

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    Cutting Foods:

      Many people chose to exclude dairy products and fruit from their diets during this week as these products supply simple sugars that will make your insulin levels fluctuate rapidly as well as cause bloating for some people (particularly pertaining to dairy products).

      Cutting The Dairy Products Could Stop The Bloating.

      You may also want to cut out any artificial sweeteners out of your diet at this point as well. This would include carbonated beverages because they can also cause excess bloat and water retention.

      For the final few days before the contest some competitors choose to limit their water intake as well to try and get their skin looking as thin as possible and bring out a more vein appearance.

      This is a somewhat dangerous practice if not done carefully and you will notice considerable differences in how you feel while doing this. So if you chose to try this ensure it is only done short term.

    Carb-Up Phase:

      On the final 1-2 days before, or the day of the competition, one practice that some people find really can contribute to their muscles taking on a fuller look is actually eating some meals containing a large amount of carbohydrates, also known as the carb-up phase.

      The reason for this is because for every gram of carbohydrate you take in, your body will also hold onto 4 grams of water, thus fully saturating your muscles.

      People who are very low in carbohydrates tend to have a flat, stringy appearance so this can help remedy the problem in some individuals. Other people however, will not react so well to this and instead will just appear to look bloated on stage.

      Probably the best way to experiment with this practice would be to do your first competition without this carb-up phase, and then take a look at how your body reacts immediately after the contest when you have the typical, 'after contest' cheat meal.

      If you find you actually look better right after this, chances are a carb up meal before hand would be a good idea for you.

      Forum Members Discuss Carb-Ups:

Psychological Effects:

    So now that we've taken you through the pre-contest training and diet, leading right up to the days beforehand, I would like to discuss the psychological effects that occur when someone decides to compete.


      One of the biggest factors you (and your friends and family) will notice is that you may become very irritable, tired and short tempered.

      This is due to the added stress of having to be so strict with yourself and being in a low carb state. I'm sure you've noticed before, when you go for a decent time without a meal you have trouble focusing and are likely to lash out at the nearest person walking by with food.

      This is how you may feel for a good portion of the time right before a contest. In order to deal with these feelings you will have to remind yourself that it is once again a natural reaction and that this phase is only temporary.

      Having the power to tell yourself this will go along way to inducing a psychological state where you can control yourself and your actions towards other.

Pass The Peace: Coping With Competition Stress.
Getting prepared for any form of competition can be stressful to many of us. Whether it is mental or physical, stress can wreak havoc on our lives and bodies.
[ Click here to learn more. ]


      The second psychological factor that you will have to deal with is fatigue.

      Even though fatigue is a general somatic condition, you will be mentally affected when you find yourself very tired and unable to do many of the things you want to do in a day because you would rather just rest on the couch.

      What Does Somatic Mean?
      Of, relating to, or affecting the body, especially as distinguished from a body part, the mind, or the environment; corporeal or physical.

      Don't beat yourself up over this and try to enlist the aide of your friends and family as much as possible to help you get tedious energy consuming tasks done for this time period.

      This will also greatly help reduce the stress and psychological drain that accompanies the frustration of feeling like you are never full of energy.

    Outside Reactions:

      The final psychological factor you need to be aware of is others reactions to what you are doing. People will question why you are doing this and make comments on how you are starting to look.

      It is not the general norm for someone to be at this low of a bodyfat level and some people may make negative remarks towards it.

      You need to understand that some are speaking out of concern whereas others simply just don't understand what this sport is about. Try and explain to them that this is something you are passionate about and that it is only short-term.

      Help those that are concerned about your health to understand that once the contest is over you will resume a more normal approach to eating (still healthy but one without so much restriction) and will take on a more societal accepted appearance.

      Whatever you do, just don't let these people's comments deter you from your goal. This may mean not hanging around some people for this period of time if they are trying to force you to miss your training or eat foods you shouldn't be eating but if you are serious about coming in looking your best this might be a sacrifice you have to make.

      If its people who you are really close to that you are avoiding, possibly explain to them that you just need to focus on your training while doing this and need more time to yourself. This way they will be less likely to feel offended and will give you the space you need.

      On the other hand, enlisting in the help of those who do support your goals is a very good thing to do as these people will help ensure you stick with your plan and provide a distraction during the tough times when you are wanting to throw in the towel and just dig into that extra large pizza.

Do Your Friends And Family Support You During Pre-Contest Preparation?

Yes, I Couldn't Do It Without Them.
No, They Don't Understand Why I Do It.
They're Rather Indifferent.


Competing in a fitness or bodybuilding contest is a fantastic way to take your training to the next level. It will show that you have the determination to do anything you want to do and will give you a great sense of empowerment. Don't expect to do everything perfect your first time around but rather think of it as a learning process.

With each contest you do, you will learn more and more about your body and will reduce the time it takes you to get into contest shape. With each contest you should also be able to see considerable improvements in your physique which will help keep you coming back for more.

Just remember to have fun with the whole process and really enjoy the experience. Yes, there will be trying times when you will wonder what the heck you are thinking, but I can guarantee you, the moment you are up on stage all your hard work and effort will be worth it!

Part 1 | Part 2