It is November, we are nearing the end of the bodybuilding competition season… a time that can prove to be a slippery slope for many competitive athletes. There is an underlying feeling among many that they have to keep things under control, not lose their grip on the lean physique they just recently presented on stage (or presented earlier this season), and the psychosis sets in…
The inner voice may say… Take your weight measurement… Track your food intake… Pack your meals everywhere you go… No days off from the gym… Fasted cardio every morning…
The list goes on and on. Are these things inherently bad?… Some will argue “yes” and some will say “no”. It truly depends on the individual, on his or her goals, and on the person’s resilience.
You see, for many women, myself included… we work so hard, for months, for years… to attain a certain look. One that has our bodies at an incredibly low body fat percentage… This look that I love so much… Broad, rounded shoulders, thick veins running down both arms, visible abs, separation of the quadriceps muscles, a small waist, a thinned out face and chiseled jaw line were always the obvious indicators that I was on track during my competition preps in the past.
Many of us will be at the pinnacle point for a few mere days (some even less time than that)… and most lose it in a matter of hours after some yummy treats, salt, and a few liters of water.
It can be devastating… Even if it’s not your first show, even if you have been fairly warned, even if you have read several posts online about what happens to most athletes and what to expect… There is no greater shock than when you see it first hand… as you look in the mirror and it feels like all of your hard work is out the window.
RELAX… It’s not! That shredded physique is not something you can sustain. Of course there are some athletes out there with robust metabolisms. They are genetically predisposed to stay lean, even after putting themselves through the hell of a severe physique cutting phase. BUT most… I REPEAT most athletes are not built that way.
So, why do you feel like you’re the only one that put on weight really fast post show?
Here are a few things to remember…
- You are not alone. Everyone puts on weight post competition. Some people are honest about it, some people never discuss it.
- We live in the Digital Age of people sharing their highlight reels. Many athletes take a stock pile of photos when their physiques are in tip-top shape. The images are stored and posted throughout the course of the off-season. So while it may appear that your favorite fitness model or athlete is ALWAYS shredded… chances are, he or she is NOT. It just appears that way based on social media.
- Most professional athletes are contracted to maintain a certain look all year round… even if it is not the same as stage-ready, it is relatively close to that. They are being PAID… it is part of the job requirements. You are probably NOT one of these people and are NOT getting paid based on your physical appearance; therefore, CHILL OUT and stop the crazy self defecation because you don’t have abs anymore.
- For some competitors a weight fluctuation of anywhere from 10 up to 30 lbs post show is “normal” for them. Now, if you are a 5’1″ woman like myself, no… 30 lbs post show is not normal at all and is certainly NOT good for your organs. But if you are a Pro Male Bodybuilder, then yes, 30 lbs up is not a terrible place to be in the off season, especially if gains are to be made.
Please remember that while it is important not to fall off the deep end and let yourself go during the off season, it is recommended to chill out with training and give your body a chance to recover from a show prep. It’s even more important if you want to put on some muscle size… which most likely will not happen successfully if you try to put on a decent amount of size in a few months (hate to break the news to you).
So, you may not love having some extra weight on your frame while you are in a building phase, but it is a necessity! The body cannot grow if you try to stay in a caloric deficit…. Translation… If you want to add some muscle size, you need to EAT!
You also need to accept that you probably will not have those veins running down your biceps while you are in your growing phase. Perhaps you can enjoy the process of sculpting your dream body and appreciate what your body is capable of.
Celebrate Personal Records of various lifts… Enjoy eating wholesome food and filling meals… Bask in the joy of pushing heavy weight around and appreciate the fact that your incredible body can do so much more than just look good naked.