Just one week after my competition and I have been feeling anxious. Going from 6 days of workouts, early morning cardio, meal prep, and every thing that involved ‘Comp Prep’ has come to a stop. So what now?
For me, I continue living the basics of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. I won’t stop working out or eating clean, I modify my plan. I continue eating my meal plan with modifications. For example, I recalculated my calorie intake to a maintenance amount and from there I fill in the blanks for my macro nutrients. I use this as a guide for when I prepare my daily meals. It’s important to understand after a bodybuilding show you have to slowly increase your calories to re feed yourself and not rebound. It’s also important to give yourself some time off. Some competitors continue if they have multiple shows in their schedule but when you have finished your last show of the season taking a week or more from the gym is ideal for your body to get much needed rest and recovery. Here are a few tips to consider after competition season.
Rest and Recovery
After putting your body through months of vigorous training, disciplined eating, and the depletion leading up to your show it’s time to take a breather. This means not working out and allowing your body to rest. Trust me, this is an important part of the post show process. My first few years of competing I didn’t listen and was back at it a day later doing an hour of cardio and weight training. The results kept me tired and my workouts suffered. I learned getting enough rest and sleep (not just post season) is beneficial to your recovery from competing. For more information on this topic click here.
Calculate maintenance calories and eat
A lot of competitors have a hard time post show because they stop meal prepping and start eating whatever they want but this can send them down a spiral of bad eating and quick weight gain. When you have depleted your body with low calories and restricted macros it’s vital to plan for post show nutrition. Believe me, my first show I gained 20 lbs in three weeks and I never let that happen again. Unfortunately I did not have the proper guidance but learned it was the route to take. Get with your coach and ask about a maintenance plan before moving towards a building phase. If you are looking for a coach please contact me directly.
Get back on a regular workout routine
This is not a hard thing to do for most competitors. We find the gym to be our happy place and spend hours upon hours there weekly to get the results we want. After talking to your coach about the next steps you should also make short and long term goals to keep you motivated and planning for your next show if it’s the direction you want to take. Also, a regular routine will keep you mentally fit. I have seen a lot of competitors go through post show blues and even reported feeling a void. It’s normal after coming off a natural high of adrenaline from the show and not having a plan or direction.
Get feedback and work on building or growing for next show
Feedback from the judges and your coach will prepare you for what to work on next. If you are an amateur looking to go Pro then you want to get as much feedback from every show and train to create the look and symmetry required to take it to the next level. I competed in four national shows before earning my pro card as an IFBB and some of the feedback I received was my quads were too big, my lateral delts too small, and my back not wide enough (this helps create a smaller waist in bikini). With this information I focused on these specific things as I continued to work on everything else.
At the end of the day a post show plan can have a large impact on your next steps. Spiraling into bad eating can negatively affect the way you feel and lower motivation. Then trying to recover and lose the weight you gained can be a challenge if you do not have a plan. Bottom line…listen to your coach. We know a thing or two about this and believe me it’s not fun to watch someone throw away all of their hard work.
CPT, Nutritionist BSc.