Get enough sleep
Sleep is number one thing the body needs to recover and for the brain to function well. If you are restricting calories in the weeks leading up to your competition, you may find that you have trouble sleeping through the night. You will need to find ways maintain or even increase the amount of sleep you get to help cope with the added stress on your body. This may mean a ten minute nap every afternoon or going to bed one hour earlier than usual.
Set up a training and eating schedule
Start this as soon as you decide to compete. You will need months to get your body ready for the competition so get on a regular schedule early in order to be successful. What you eat will change as you get closer to the competition, but when you eat should stay pretty much the same. The body responds best to consistency.
Eat high quality, nutrient dense foods
A common misconception is; “I’m building mass so I can just eat everything under the sun to bulk up”. This attitude can cause a few issues: 1) You may find you put on extra fat as well as muscle, which means you have to work a lot harder to lean down. 2) Eating poor quality food will not help your energy levels, recovery between sessions and can possibly have a negative effect on building lean muscle. Stick with lean proteins, lightly steamed or raw vegetables, raw nuts, avocados and cold pressed oils while training for a competition.
Be kind to yourself
This applies to everyday, but especially during the 3 weeks leading up to the competition. You will almost certainly feel tired and bit slow as the competition gets closer. This is simply a part of Fitness Competitions. It doesn’t have to be horrible, and the above strategies will make this part less painful, but never the less, be kind to yourself. Don’t over commit to events or extra activities, keep your focus on the competition goal during this time. Tell your friends and family about your competition goals, you will want all the extra support you can get!
Get a coach
A coach will make the training process easier. The less you have to plan and think, the better. A coach will plan your workouts and your meals. This allows you the luxury of simply executing a plan aka “doing as you are told”. Trust me, you will want to be told what to do and not have to plan anything yourself as the competition approaches.
This is hard. Don’t let nerves get to you, stick to the plan and you will look great on stage. Many of us start to panic about 4-5 weeks out as we think that we aren’t looking stage ready which is correct since you won’t be stage ready until the day of the competition. The training and nutrition plan that you will follow is meant to have you “peak” on competition day. Trust the process and your coach.
Restrict calories too early
This usually happens about 4-6 weeks out. Athletes start to make small adjustments to the plan their coach gave them because they are concerned that their body isn’t responding. Cutting calories too early at any point in the process will leave you tired and even cause your body to fight harder to hang on to the fat you are trying to lose. Remember, the on stage appearance is not a maintainable health state. You want to limit the amount of time your system has to be in that place in order to minimize any negative long-term effects on your metabolism.
Eat poor quality food
I cannot stress this enough. Eating processed food will not help you gain muscle. Chemicals in processed food are not recognized by the body and therefore, your body will tend to store these products in your fat cells.
Overuse Weight Loss Supplements
Avoid anything with the label Fat Burner, as theses tend to wreck havoc on athletes metabolisms and hormones. There are some healthy options for supplementing as an athlete. For more information on this, contact Caroline@ functionhealthclub.com to get a personalized supplement program.
Binge eat after you get off stage
This is very dangerous. Many people have ended up in hospital with kidney issues and even kidney failure due to extreme eating after a competition that shocks the body. Make sure you increase your calories over the course of 3-5 days. Continue to eat small meals every 2-4hrs. Stick to natural foods that are lower in sodium and incorporate healthy fats like raw nuts, avocados and cold pressed oils. ~ Caroline Mundell, Co-owner of Function Health Club, Certified Nutritionist, Personal Fitness Trainer and Yoga Instructor.