I get questions from folks asking for tips for natural bodybuilding competitors ALL THE TIME. From bikini, to figure, to women’s physique – folks simply want to know if it’s possible to step on a stage and stay natural.
There seems to be this underlying idea that in order to compete you HAVE TO use drugs, and that’s simply not true.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to sit here and sugar coat things for you. In order to achieve a certain look, a certain hardness and fullness, for a great majority of people, using some kind of supplemental help is a necessary evil. But I’m not going to say that you HAVE TO choose to use… You can simply want to step onto the stage on YOUR terms, come in as best as YOU can, and do the absolute best that YOU can do.
So, now that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the advice that I’d give to you as a natural bodybuilding competitor.
During Phases of Dieting Keep Protein HIGH
The game of bodybuilding is all about keeping on as much muscle as you can, all while losing as much fat as you can. And let me tell you something, that ain’t easy AT ALL.
In order to be able to come in lean, keep your size, and just try to halt fat loss as much as possible, you have to really up that protein intake. During phases of dieting think about keeping protein closer to 1.2 to 2 x body weight in pounds. So for a 150 pound woman, this could be between 180g to 220g of protein per day.
Get your protein from a variety of sources such as eggs, lean meat like chicken, turkey, and white fish. But also include some fattier meats like salmon, beef, or bison, as well. There’s no need to simply focus on just extra lean meats, as fats play a crucial role in your diet too.
Give Yourself Enough Time to Diet for Your Show
I can’t stress this one enough. It’s crazy how many people think that they can just get ready for a show in 8, 10, or even 12 weeks. Even as a seasoned pro myself, I like to take about 16 to 20 weeks to diet.
In fact 20 weeks is my absolute favorite because it allows me to slowly clean up my eating for the first 4 weeks, and then still leaves me with a good 16 weeks to fully dive into a contest prep.
The more time you allow yourself to diet, the better you’ll be at keeping on muscle and size. Give yourself too little time, and you’ll be forced to rush things, go to extremes, lose a ton of muscle – and hence look stringy and soft on stage.
Take Longer Off Seasons
As a natural competitor, muscular development and growth simply takes longer. The AVERAGE person can expect to put on UP TO about 1 pound of muscle – PER MONTH. That’s a pretty slow pace. And to be honest, most people will hit shy just below that average.
Changing your body is not going to be a quick process you can do in about a month or two, or maybe even in 3. You might need to take a good 6 to 8 months COMPLETELY OFF DIETING before you see some real results from your training.
In fact, competitors back in the day used to do this. It wasn’t unheard of to see a competitor take a full year off! Now, I’m not saying you have to do that. But I’ve taken a break as long as 3 years! And the passion I have for the sport coming back is tremendous. Not to mention all the quality muscle I have, and body that’s super primed to diet really well come prep time.
So never neglect your off season, and spent PLENTY of time building your physique.
Don’t Compete Too Often
The final thought I want to leave you with today is the fact that the stage will always be there.
This kind of ties into what I was saying about taking longer off seasons. Look, we have all been there as experienced competitors. Doing 5, 6, up to 10 shows IN A SEASON. Let me tell you something…
That’s a WHOLE lot of dieting. In fact, it’s too much.
Your body can only hold conditioning for so long. And as a natural athlete, you’ll find your metabolism slowing down, and your body just ceasing to respond to the stuff you’re throwing at it. Eventually, you’ll have to say enough is enough, and hang up your posing suit. This is especially true for the enhanced athlete as you’re less able to push the limits in a crazy long season.
Heck – not even enhanced competitors can!
Keep in mind, each time you step on stage, the goal is to get better and better. And you can only do that during your improvement season – when you ARE NOT competing.
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