Bodybuilding contests, the most exhilarating, exciting and fulfilling experience anyone can ever experience. The adrenalin and feeling of euphoria that one experiences just before walking up on to the stage is one of a kind. There is no rush quite like it.
It's the moment where you showcase all of your hard work involved in 12 weeks of intense dieting and anywhere from 6 month to 60 years (in extreme cases) of hard work in and out of the gym. Bodybuilding provides you with the ultimate recognition.
The question is: how bad do you want it?
Welcome To The Ultimate Guide For Contest Prep!
This is a systematic and scientific combination of Research, Trial and Error.
This first article offers an insight in to the psychological aspects and mental preparation for contest prep.
The following series of articles aim to give you the knowledge gained from extensive research in regards to contest preparation. I aim not to provide you with a 'must do' narrow minded approach but a series of options which you can mix and match to tailor your contest preparation to your needs.
It is totally your choice what you decide to do for your contest prep and I urge that you put a lot of thought and preparation in to your plan. Everyone knows that bodies vary from structure, nutritional intake, shape and of course genetics. So it is essential that you shape your contest preparation to your own body.
Listen to your body. It does not need to be tricked and is always one step ahead of anything you do to it. If you make observations and changes to the way your body reacts to diet, training and psychological aspects you will be able to be 100% dialed in for you next competition.
Jason's Three S's Of Contest Prep:
Systematic Plans, Small Changes and Superior Commitment are the three main aspects needed when considering contest preparation.
The three S's will of course hopefully result in one of the top 3 places of your competition. If you plan your strategy and do your research, make small incremental changes and stay committed to your plan you will succeed.
While on the topic of your plan, it is important that you make a plan and don't let anyone else change your mind unless you evaluate what they have to say and think the changes can be implemented easily.
It is a great idea to use a decision making process when solving problems in the gym.
A Decision Making Process:
- Identifying A Problem - e.g. Can't put on size on your Chest
- Finding Alternative Ways To Fix The Problem - e.g. More Incline Bench, Higher Reps
- Analyzing And Selecting An Alternative - Finding which option is good for you
- Evaluating And Measuring The Option - e.g. Have I seen improvements in my chest? Have my measurements increased?
Superior commitment is essential in achieving your plan. If you stick to what you originally plan and have created an achievable goal there is no way you can fail.
Self Directed Learning:
The topic of self directed learning is one which is utilized in many modern day multi-million dollar businesses. We all consider our bodies as temples and would consider it far more important than making a few bucks on the share market (arguable, especially in today's economic situation).
Self directed learning is most commonly described as "when a learner is expected to take responsibility for his/her own learning process" (Rajendran, 2007).
Interactive models of self directed learning identify that it is largely made up of opportunities people find in their environments and the characteristics of the learner themselves (Merriam, Caffarella,1999).
See also, Spear's model which condenses self directed learning into three categories, knowledge, action and environment (Merriam, Caffarella, 1999).
Using self directed learning I have made an observation in the gym.
I have noticed that most people being trained by an everyday personal trainer never look as good as the trainer themselves. Why you ask? This is because the trainee relies heavily on all of the knowledge of their personal trainer. This is only one source of information and therefore, no matter how much the trainer knows it is always preventing you from gaining more insights and educating yourself.
Trouble Understanding Complicated Concepts?
If you have trouble understanding complicated concepts about contest preparation use this: It actually works!
Preparation - Read all the important information, even if it is confusing.
Incubation - If you don't understand it, walk away and forget about it. No use in stressing out, go and grab a meal!
Insight Experience - While you are grabbing your meal your brain is still sorting through all the information and when it has figured it out the light bulb above your head will switch on. This is known as the AHA Effect!
Implementation - Make sure that your new knowledge checks out OK and use it! (Dunmire, 2008)
Motivation- The Bodybuilding Way!
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a simple approach to the motivational factors which fuel an individual's drive. This demonstrates where the average human seeks to fill their needs.
Are bodybuilders average humans? No way!
Let's face it! If you have a look at the original hierarchy of needs, these things are a given for any bodybuilder. The condition of your body alone provides you with enough sex, security, self esteem and vitality. So we have got that covered.
Bodybuilders are an elite specimen of the human species, or at least that's what we strive to be. We have the ability to break pain barriers and put it all on the line to reach our optimal performance. That is why I have created the bodybuilding contest Hierarchy of needs.
Be A Book Worm!
A great source of information on bodybuilding of any aspect is reading material. There are thousands of articles on any topic. Just search Bodybuilding.com and you will find ample articles. Alternatively there are many other sources for information. Flex Magazine, Various DVD's and the Bodybuilding.com forum are good places to start.
Primary information is by far the most efficient way to gather knowledge. Just ask your pals! This way you can debate and critique each others own strategy until you come to a general consensus (or someone ends up with a dumbbell through their skull).
Some tips in getting the best information from people don't always involve going and asking the biggest 'easy gainer' in the gym. The odds are that they have always been able to put on mass no matter what they do. You should always look for the most improved (this is what bodybuilding judges look for too).
You can be sure that this gym member has focused a lot of time of bringing certain body parts up to standard.
Dennis Wolf for example, actually considers himself a 'hard gainer' and has said that if he doesn't eat for 4 hours he can actually lose 2kg's (Wolf, 2008 IFBB Australia, Guest Pose Interview). So Wolf would be the perfect man to ask for advice!
Write Everything Down:
Don't forget to write down your plans and everything you eat. It seems hard, but after a few days you will rely on it. It makes it so easy to plan your diet and is very important to your contest diet, especially the last two weeks. You can use BodySpace - and it's free - to track your workouts, nutrition plans, and everything else you need.
Keep The Good, Throw Away The Bad!
Remember, if you hear information that makes no sense to you, throw it away. Don't let people confuse you, especially when getting closer to a show.
Even if this article seems stupid, move on to another one, don't dwell on it and don't let things stress you out. I am not a bodybuilding genius and am purely providing you with information that I have learned during my limited experience and education (compared to others in the bodybuilding world). I promise I won't be upset if you close this window.
Good luck with your contest and I look forward to hearing your results.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 which will focus on a very important aspect, nutrition. I will provide a quantitative view and explain in detail how it all works!
- Bodybuilding.com, 2008, Bodybuilding.com, www.bodybuilding.com
- Dunmire, C, 2008, The Four Steps of Creativity, http://www.creativity-portal.com/bc/four.steps.of.creativity.html
- Merriam, S, Caffarella, S 1999, Learning in adulthood, a comprehensive guide 2nd edition, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco
- Rajendran, D, 2007, Organisations and management LTE 200, Lecture 3, Self Directed Learning, Australia
- Wolf, 2008, IFBB Australia- Max's Victorian Championship, Guest Pose Interview with Tony Doherty