Blast The Competition With This 13-Week Pre-Contest Supplement Plan!

Gain the competitive edge with this helpful 13-week supplementation plan to take your contest prep to exciting new levels. Here’s a detailed list of what I followed as I prepared for competition. Bonus: Tanning tips and more! Check it out.

I am focusing specifically on supplements to assist a bodybuilder preparing for an upcoming competition. These were used over a 13 week pre-contest prep. Read about what worked for me.

Just when you thought it was safe to start reading the supplement articles again, I'm BACK! And this one is gonna make you hurt.

This time I am focusing specifically on supplements useful during contest prep. Since this area of supplementation and nutrition is so controversial, I will not get into the science, just what worked for me and how and when I used it. I also realized that if I was gonna talk the talk, I'd better walk the walk. So I ran a full contest prep and got my own butt up on stage.

My transformation began at a weight of 232 lbs and body fat level of around 20% and ended at a "weigh-in" weigh of 188 lbs and a body fat level at or below 5%. This preparation spanned a 13 week period.

Before After
+ Click To Enlarge.
Ctgblue's Transformation.
Read More About It Here.

I must first give a shout out to my friends at "The Total Package" for helping me with the nutritional part of the equation starting around the middle of the prep. Without their help I would definitely not have finished with the fantastic conditioning I did. If you are a competitor, they can definitely bring you into a show in the best condition you've ever been.

I will be taking you through the prep starting in week 13 and working down towards the show. My main areas of focus will be as follows:

This article will only mention items I have tested recently and will probably not rehash many of the items mentioned in the previous articles, although they are all to be considered in their appropriate categories. I am also not biasing any reviews on price, but only on how well I feel they meet their claims. Hint: if they are mentioned here, I feel these supplements meet their claims.

The main groups of people I will focus on in this article are primarily competitors, but any lifters who really work hard to continually push themselves to be bigger, stronger, leaner, or better can use these to their benefit. I am not talking to the habitual cardio junkies or the guy you see curling in the squat rack with a 10 on each side. I am talking about people like me and my wife, who bust our @sses in the gym and can always use a little edge to push us past those dreaded plateaus.

All of the products I have listed were tested by me, during the course of an often brutal 13 week prep period, ending on stage.

During this time I only wanted to work with companies who had proven to me that their products met the claims made. I worked primarily with products from: Cutting Edge Labs, Axis Labs, IDS, SAN, Scivation, and Higher Power, with proteins from Optimum Nutrition, Bioplex Nutrition, and the Syntrax Nectar line.

As always, I supplemented plenty of NOW Glucosamine 1000 and MSM 1500 to help combat the pounding my ankles and knees would take from all the extra cardio. I also supplemented with Fusion Nutrition's new version of FUBAR when I was not taking a pre-workout drink with stimulants in it, this stuff is very good and the new formula does not build up in you causing any sleeplessness. Good job on the new formula!

My goal this time was to lose little, if any, strength until the final stages of the prep where the brain realizes that injury can occur. I was able to do this by lifting as heavy as possible, with good form and sacrificing a few reps here and there as I progressed through the weeks.

It worked. I stayed very strong and even gained some strength back in the middle of the prep. Then I got the chance to do a "recovery month" using supplements from one of our "hot new" companies.

Weeks 13 Through 9: From 232 Down To 215

Cleaning It Up

During the first five weeks I focused on cleaning up the diet. I tried to get rid of most processed foods and replace them with whole foods. I was not really worried about carb intake, but in getting my nutritional profile straightened out and targeting body fat while preserving muscle.

During this time I used the following items at the following times:

Axis Labs Adipo-X is the first fat burner/thermogenic I went with. Based on the experiences I had with their other products, I felt this would work for me and I was right. It helped control hunger and definitely played a role in the initial "fat dump" I experienced. I would take this with breakfast and lunch. No jittery feeling and very little, if any, crash when it wore off. This stuff is pretty strong, so follow the dosing directions.

My pre-workout supplements included items I also took throughout the day.

I would start each day with a mix of Scivation Xtend, CEL NOX Surge, and a half scoop of CEL Refuel. This gave me energy, creatine, nitric oxide stimulation, some free form proteins, and a few carbs to get me going at 5am.

I would follow this with some CEL n-CREAse with breakfast and some CEL Edge-NO later in the day. This kept creatine and nitric oxide levels up and helped keep my muscles full while I was depleted of my usual high carb intake.

My goal was to keep nutrients flowing through my body to avoid as much muscle loss as I could. I wanted to fend off the catabolic state my body wants to switch to during a negative calorie balance. I know some people can get away with some of this, but I lose muscle much faster than I put it on and, at my age, I cannot afford any muscle loss going into a show. I am not a mass monster, so every ounce of muscle counts.

My post-workout shakes included protein and oats plus Waximaize or just protein and Waximaize, depending on what muscle groups I worked that day. This helped replenish my depleted muscles and kept gave me energy without bloating.

I also used IDS L-Glutamine with MSM which definitely helped with my recovery. I have noticed that I am one of those people who can see a noticeable increase in recovery ability when I use glutamine supplementation. I always have some on hand.

Weeks 8 Through 5: From 215 Down To 208

Switching Things Up A Bit

During this time I switched thermogenics and made a goal of eliminating most of the simple sugars and starches from my diet. So the Refuel and Waximaize had to be dropped at this point.

IDS Ripped Tabs are the fat loss/thermogenic I switched to for this 4 week period. Based on the experiences I had with their other products, I felt this would work for me and I was right. It helped control hunger.

I would take this with breakfast and lunch. No jittery feeling and very little, if any, crash when it wore off. Now during this 4 week period, my "weight loss" slowed, however my body composition continued to change and I became leaner at the same weight. Looking back at my log, my diet could have been even cleaner at this point and perhaps the weight loss would have been more, but the fat loss was still happening.

As before, I would start each day with a mix of Scivation Xtend, CEL NOX Surge. This gave me creatine, nitric oxide stimulation, and some energy to get me going at 5am.

I would follow this with some CEL n-CREAse with breakfast and some CEL Edge-NO later in the day. This kept creatine and nitric oxide levels up and helped keep my muscles full while I was depleted of my usual carb intake. I also kept at the glutamine twice a day, using my supply of Higher Power Micronized L-Glutamine.

I also started supplementing with one of my favorites, IDS V-50. Having had excellent responses to this supplement previously, I wanted to see how effective it would be in a negative calorie environment. All I can say is that as I became leaner, I also became stronger, reversing any drops in strength I might have had the first 5 weeks.

Since I was losing less weight, getting leaner, and getting stronger, I must assume that I might have been adding a little muscle.

Example: My heavy working set on HS Wide Press had been 5 plates per side, with a little help at liftoff. As I progressed through this 4 week time frame, I found that I no longer needed a liftoff and was actually getting another rep or two on my heavy set.

I was able to take this strength increase all the way into the last two weeks before my brain told me that extremely low carbs plus really heavy weight "might = injury." I could not afford an injury at this point.

Weeks 4 Through 2: From 208 Down To 195

Cranking It Up Several Notches

CEL N-Cinerate now became my "go to" thermogenic. I only had enough of this for a month and waited until I needed it. Combining this with two a day cardio and cleaning out all simple sugars from my diet really made a difference.

The weight and fat started falling off of me at an alarming rate. I added in Vyo-Tech Ab-Solution Plus to help with the loose skin I was beginning to see around my waist. Yes I started too fast, but that wasn't stopping me this time. The Ab-Solution really helped tighten up and smooth out the skin and did not keep me awake when used at night.

I would still start each day with a mix of Scivation Xtend, but had to switch my pre-workout drink to SAN Fierce as it has no sugar and no calories. This gave me creatine, nitric oxide stimulation, and some energy to get me going at 5am. I also added in some whey protein isolate to help keep the muscle on during the long post-workout cardio sessions.

I would follow this with some CEL n-CREAse with breakfast and some CEL Edge-NO later in the day. This kept creatine and nitric oxide levels up and helped keep my muscles full while I was depleted of my usual carb intake. I also kept at the glutamine twice a day, using my supply of Higher Power Micronized L-Glutamine.

Final Week: From 195 Down To 188

Same As Before, Just Less

I used the same supplements this week as the previous three, I just used a little less. I dropped the cardio at the beginning of the week and only had a few depletion workouts as I low carb'd the rest of the fat and water from under my skin.

The Ab-Solution was critical here as my waist was really coming down and I had the loose skin problem.

3 days out I started to take Shredded by SAN to help flush water and salt. This product worked great, no cramping, very mild natural diuretic action. I will use it again for sure.

Day Of The Show: 188 And Ripped

Where Did My Fat Go?

I must tell you, if you've never done a show, the last 24 hours are magical. Friday morning you are looking in the mirror thinking "Damn, I should have started my prep 4 weeks earlier, this lower back fat will never go away," only to wake up Saturday morning to find that the "fat fairy" has paid you a visit and taken all of it away for you, but just for the day.

You see veins in places that were smooth, striations in areas that you never imagined, and a conditioning you never thought you'd see. This day is all about food manipulation, carb loading, and water control, so there are really no supplements here. Just one last dose of Shredded to top it all off.

Hair Removal And Tanning

I feel I must address these two areas as they are critical to looking good on stage.

In order to shave down and not get razor bumps/razor burn, you must start well in advance. I recommend 6-8 weeks at least, shaving everything at least twice a week.

You MUST get the long hair down close before shaving, many people get serious razor burn by trying to have the long hair off with a razor. This technique requires MANY passes and shaves a little layer of skin each time, so after the required number of passes to get the hair off, your skin is raw and irritated.

I recommend a good set of balding clippers from Wahl to take the initial hair off. This gets the hair down almost razor close and can be bought at any beauty supply store. I also recommend a good aloe-based thick-shave cream and a triple-blade floating-head razor.

Practice, take your time, especially on the legs around the knees and ankles (guys, you will appreciate what girls go through to have smooth legs in only a week or two of doing this). I also like a hair inhibitor.

I used to buy the Pro-tan inhibitor, but the store no longer carries it, so check the other brands. My wife explained to me that two things really can help make the difference between a clean smooth shave and habitual razor bumps: Exfoliating and a very good moisturizing lotion. I tried to avoid these two things until I realized how much easier they made life for me. No dry itchy skin and no more razor bumps. As usual, my wife was right.

When it comes to the tan for the show, there are numerous options. I went with Pro-tan instant competition color, but, unfortunately, I used only 3 coats and was not dark enough on stage. I had no replies from other brands so I could not give them a shot. I needed at least 5 coats or more and I had a base tan from Melanotan II and a base spray of mystic tan from a booth.

One item I can swear by from this is the Misty Mate Xtreme Tan Kit, this cut the application time of each coat down from one hour to ten minutes. Best $29.99 I ever spent on a show. Fill the bottle, pump it up, spray it on. After you are done with all the coats, run a little warm soapy water through it and it is clean.

The thing about the Pro-tan Instant Competition Color is that it is very easy to use. Pour it in a bowl, grab a sponge, slop it on, smooth it out. Don't even try to use the sprayer and little brush sponge thing they give you, that is for small area touch up only.

Good luck on this part. Remember, when you think you are dark enough, you are still 2 coats away. Those lights are brutal.

Results From The Show

Now I wound up taking third in my class, not exactly what I had hoped for or feel I deserved, but judging is very subjective and now the next show is in my sights and improving is a priority. I dropped 44 lbs during this 13 week period, lost very little muscle, got down to the 5% or lower body fat range, and never looked better.

I am extremely pleased. My friends at "The Total Package" really helped take me into this show in better shape than I had ever thought possible. Next time I just need to carry more muscle into the show and remember that if the judges can't see the pose well, they can't judge the pose well.

As with every show, I had a great time, met some cool people (Marc—you can't keep ducking me for those training vids), and am looking forward to getting back on stage and improving. If you've been there, you know what I mean. If you haven't, relax and have fun, it's all a learning process. You'll make mistakes, learn from them and do better each time.


Like I said up front, I wondered if I would see any strength gains during this month as I had not really lost any going into this show. I am now quite a bit stronger than I was before starting this prep, and still over 20 lbs lighter as of the time I am writing this article.

So my opinion is that this company, like the others in this article, really backs up the claims of their products with results. Good job A.N.

As always, these supplements do not TAKE THE PLACE of proper nutrition and getting enough rest. With everything else in place (which it should be if you are heading into a competition), the products I have listed will absolutely help to make a difference.

Contest prep is a highly individualized art form. Every person will react in a slightly different way to each dietary adjustment. This is why I avoided any detailed dietary specifics. But just because it worked for me, does not mean it would work for you. The only things I am pretty sure will help you are the products I have listed above. I can say that I kept my protein intake in the 1.5 gram per pound range though almost the whole prep.

A special note for Optimum Nutrition's 100% Casein Protein in vanilla. Without this stuff as my last meal, I would have really suffered. It is very thick and when mixed and put in the freezer for 30 minutes, it can be eaten with a spoon almost like frozen yogurt. A big treat at the end of a long day.

If you are heading into a prep, good luck. If you are thinking of doing a show, go for it. But give yourself plenty of time and don't lie to yourself about how much body fat you are carrying.

Do a good 5 point caliper test a few days in a row, get a baseline, then do it every couple of weeks to check progress. Are these truly accurate, maybe not, but they are accurate against themselves so you know if you are losing body fat of just weight (muscle mass). Show up in the best condition you can, don't give yourself any excuse except inexperience, and you can be proud. It can be a lot of fun. GO FOR IT!

For those of you who know me, welcome back. For those of you who don't, here's the info about me as well as my previous articles.


Until next time, Lift Big 2 Get Big.