When I decide that I'm going to do a bodybuilding contest, three questions come to mind.
- Am I lean enough to get ready in sixteen weeks?
- Am I mentally prepared to go sixteen weeks without cheating on my diet and cardio?
- Am I confident that I have a fair chance at winning my class?
If all of these questions are answered yes, then I know I'm ready to start my contest preparation at sixteen weeks out. When preparing for a contest there are three main factors which will determine my success; weight training, cardio training, and diet.
I'll start by telling you about my weight training. Whether it's a bulking phase or a contest prep. I believe that lifting as heavy and intensely as you can is the only way. I don't believe in all the crazy high rep stuff that a lot of people do when preparing for a contest, I enjoy lifting heavy and I think it works very well for me.
I also compete in powerlifting contests, so I believe that a lot of my size came from heavy squats and deadlifts. When I prepare for a contest I do heavy squats until the last week before the show and I also do heavy deadlifts until a few weeks out. The only reason I stop deadlifting is for safety reasons. My energy is usually very low and I don't want to injure myself.
My training split is the same all year round.
Monday - Legs
Tuesday - Chest & Biceps
Wednesday - Triceps, Calves, & Abs
Thursday - Back & Hamstrings
Friday - Shoulders & Traps
When I get close to the contest I will do calves and abs on Saturday also. Usually I take Saturday and Sunday for rest days and extra cardio days.
Cardio training is a whole different story. Cardio for me consists of either slow walking on an incline, or a slow pace on the stairmaster. I do most of my cardio at home, in the morning, on an empty stomach. I also do cardio after I weight train at the gym. I do about one or two hours of cardio a week during my bulking phase so that I can eat lots of carbs and still stay lean.
When I start preparing for a contest I increase my cardio every week until the final week of dieting. I start with three hours of cardio a week for the first four weeks. At twelve weeks out I increase my cardio to four hours a week. At ten out weeks I increase it to five hours a week. At eight weeks out I increase it six hours a week.
At six weeks out I do one hour everyday for seven hours a week total. At five weeks out I do eight hours a week. At four weeks I do nine hours a week. At three week I do ninety minutes everyday until the Tuesday before the contest. The last four days before the contest I don't do any cardio.
This is a lot of cardio to do and keep in mind that this is slow paced cardio. I keep my heart rate between 120 and 140 beats per minute to burn fat. I will never do more than an hour of cardio in one session, I will split up my cardio into two sessions, one longer session in the morning on an empty stomach and one session in the evening or after weight training.
That sums up my cardio.
Now for the hard part, the DIET.
16 Weeks Out
For the first four weeks the diet isn't that bad.
I eat 200 grams of carbs, 350 grams of protein and 50 grams of fat daily, for a total of 2650 kcals.
12 Weeks Out
At twelve weeks out I start to cycle my carb intake.
I do four low carb days of 100 grams of carbs and one high carb day of 200 grams of carbs. I also bump up my protein intake to 380 grams a day and I leave the fats at 50 grams per day.
8 Weeks Out
At eight weeks out I change my low carb days to 75 grams per day and my high carb day to 150 grams per day with the same cycle. My protein and fat intake remain the same.
4 Weeks Out
At four weeks out I drop the low carb days to 50 grams of carbs and the high carb day to 100 grams of carbs with the same cycle. Again, the protein and fat intake remains the same.
9 Days Out
At nine days out I start a carb deplete for five days, I also drop my fat intake to 35 grams or less, but the protein remains at 380 grams.
4 Days Out
Then at four days out I start to carb up.
On Tuesday I start with 150 grams of carbs, Wednesday I take in 300 grams of carbs, Thursday I take in 400 grams of carbs, and Friday I take in 650 grams of carbs.
Thoughout my entire diet I eat only complex carbs from oatmeal and oatbran. When carbing up I eat mostly white rice, but I also eat some rice cakes with jelly on Friday and Saturday. The last thing to know about my diet is how I come in dry on contest day.
I sodium load for two days, one week before the show. When I start to carb up I drop all sodium from my diet and make sure I drink plenty of water everyday until Friday afternoon. Friday I stop drinking water and on Saturday morning I sit in the sauna until I can no longer sweat. This works very well for me.
This is my sixteen week contest preparation. I'm nineteen years old and have done three contests and I always come in shredded.
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