Fitness/Figure Competitors: Beef Up In The Off Season With These Great Tips!

There are those women who like muscle, but want to attain it naturally. Want bigger lats, shoulders, quads, and glutes - this article is for you! Get some great nutrition and training tips for making great healthy gains in the off season.

There are federations where the Fitness and Figure competitors are ideal at a healthier muscle size than others. For the natural athletes this can be a tall order.

There are also those women who like muscle, lots of it; but want to attain it naturally. Want bigger lats, shoulders, quads, and glutes? This article is for you!

-> Long Term Training With Periodized Planning:

For these muscle gains to happen, especially if you are not charmed with great genetics, you need to consider long term training with periodized planning toward an overall goal.

Look ahead at least a year and pick a contest date or if you are simply interested in the body but not to compete look ahead a year and pick a date of choice, be it an event or birthday. This will keep you focused on the overall muscle gain goals during your hard work toward success.

-> Increase Calories:

Diet is a huge factor and I am a fan of upping the calories; keeping clean off season but allowing cheats on weekends and higher protein intakes during this point. I aim for a gradual increase to 4000 calories per day then again tapering slowing into pre season to a lower 2500 to 2800 cal per day. Of course this is relative to my size, weight, height, needs...

I also like to take in 2 gm protein per lb of bodyweight per day and I do put on a bit of body fat indicating the extra protein is being stored but it's a fine balance and works for me. Protein grams lower once I am into the other seasons.

-> Meals & Water:

Meals can run up to 9 per day, literally eating every 2 hours. I try to get a gallon of water per day but do find it hard to get past 3 liters, do try to keep that water intake high during this type of program.

-> Eating Clean:

Try less cardio, eat clean yet eat more! Add more dark leafy green veggies to your daily meals and take advantage of eating more fruits while you can as well. They are higher in sugars so you want them in moderation normally but on a bulk diet you can up the intake of your macros as long as you go with clean choices.

Have more nuts and nut butters, increase starch with more sprouted beans, legumes, ancient grains and tubers. Allow some fat padding, but keep it in reasonable.

-> Types Of Protein:

I also suggested that you take in some slower burning type protein 1-3 hours before bed since your body does a lot of muscle repair during sleep, at night. Casein is slower to metabolize allowing a constant feed. You can buy the protein powder for casein or eating some dry cottage cheese also works!

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-> Strength Training:

Work your strength component early into off season in order to lift more at hypertrophy level training during off and in pre season. Choose 1-5 sets of 4-8 reps.

-> Rest & Recovery:

Rest longer between sets than you normally would. Stretch during that time if you like. This helps the blood bring oxygen to the muscle which helps fuel it toward the next set.

Adequate rest days are needed with a day off between really heavy training days.

-> Ideal Exercises:

6 ideal exercises for bulking stages excluding bodyweight work are 'compound and old school lifts' such as:

1. Barbell Squat:
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2. Leg Press:
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3. Seated Chest Press:
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4. Mid Back Row:
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5. Overhead DB Press:
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6. Deadlift:
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-> Plate Loading Machines:

If you are lucky enough to have a gym equipped with plate loading machines then you should make use of them. They allow you to pile on the weight while keeping you in form without your stabilizer muscles having to do too much work in turn giving you the ability to simply concentrate on making the lifts. It also allows increments of as little as 5 lbs if need be.

I am not saying you should not do DB and Barbell work with chest or mid back rows because barbell work is also ideal for off season bulking lifts but I do suggest that you utilize the luxury of your gyms equipment to really blast your muscles hard! Stack on the weight, sit into the machine and give it your all.

Add small increases to weight lifted 2-3 times per week for a few weeks. Working with the lower reps also encourages heavier lifting increasing your strength so that later when you lift at 75% during hypertrophy stages, sets of 10 for example, you can lift more weight toward those reps than before because your muscles have been conditioned to lift more at each percentage of lift you choose.

-> Larger Muscle Groups:

Another reason the exercises listed are ideal for off season bulk training is because they utilize large and many muscle groups to complete the lift, in turn demanding more of your body forcing your body to accommodate your demands meaning it has to become stronger and gain more lean mass to do so.

You get that metabolism fired up by using more muscle groups; this increases your anaerobic capacity so that you are efficiently burning fat to the end of your day.

-> Tweaking Exercises:

Tips to tweak your exercises would be to go wide on squats and ATG, same with the inverted leg press. Try to keep that lower back glued to the backing pad when doing the seated chest press while ensuring both sides are pushing with equal force.

For overhead shoulder press you can keep the elbows slightly in front of shoulder, the wider you go the greater chance for shoulder damage.

Deadlifts are great done both SL and soft kneed. I would alternate then every few weeks. The key is progressive overload.