Thursday, July 17, 2008

Win Win and "Sex in the Off Season"

Ha! You all really may have thought that I was going to discuss sex in this post (really I wouldn't know where to begin..) but I'm going to discuss what makes sexy toned stay tuned.

First of all though, my win win for today. I had been feeling mildly discouraged by my lack of ability to really get in there and cane it being a MHMF, but today I improved on my efforts of last week and when I consider that 5 short weeks ago I was proud of my 4.5km/hr treadmill walk, I am really grateful for how well my recovery has gone really, shoulder and all.

Today I did 14 90/30 treadmill cycles and pushed the speed up to 10.2km/hr (running, yeah!) and increased my time on the elliptical to 12 minutes of harder work. Then I did some shoulder work that the physio has given me. It's very basic, yet very specific, which I love. I got to do some very strict seated rows and bent over barbell rows and I also got to do some serratus activation (which as Lisa would tell you, helps create a nice stable bench press). I am learning so much about shoulder anatomy and dysfunction and am going to spend a day with her in the clinic assessing sports injuries. I think if ever I went back to study physio could definitely be an option.

I also got an email from a dear friend today about coping in the off season.
"I want to be leaner!"
"I want to be stronger"
"I want to be bigger (gain muscle)"
"Do I need to cut back on cardio to get stronger?"
"Is thirty minutes of weight training enough?"

Many competitors often feel "lost" in the off season, once their competition was over. All of that focus that you channel into leaning out and preparation, posing and routine seems to have flown out the window. There doesn't seem to be any good reason to eat well or go to the gym because it's all over. Yet you want to compete again.

In saying that you want to compete again, you've already got another goal. And if you're anything like me, you will want the package you bring to your next comp to be bigger and better. If this is your goal, then listen up because the biggest changes in physique will come in the off season and reestablishing your goals is a must. Most natural figure competitors need to add more muscle so establishing a strong focus on muscle growth is a must.

Everyone asks me how lean you can stay whilst gaining strength. My own experience has shown me that if you are eating well and consciously eating more good quality food, that you can stay reasonably lean in the off season - this will vary from competitor to competitor of course, but it's usually in the ball park of 5-7kg over the weight you brought into your last competition. Focusing on improving your body composition rather than being too hung up about your weight is a good idea. For example, if you're maintaining roughly the same weight and gaining strength, you're probably adding a bit of muscle and losing a smidge of body fat - very positive. Stay too lean and restrict your eating comp style and you'll lose muscle - simple as that - the very opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

Aiming for increases in strength is an excellent idea as increased strength correlates with increased muscle mass - just check out our resident powerlifter Lisa Stokes ( ) . Off season is a great time to get rid of many of the useless isolation moves bodybuilders do - they may make you look pretty, but they are not going to improve the way you move anytime soon and replace these with big meaty compound lifts that use a lot of muscles, burn a lot of calories and have functional value in real life. I'm talking about pushing, pulling, twisting and squatting moves such as chins, deadlifts, squats and bench presses. These are a powerlifter's bread and butter and should be yours in the off season. If you are doing these moves and the bulk of your workout is taking 30 minutes (not including warm up and cool down), it's probably a good sign. These big moves fatigue you quickly.

Doing too much cardio can be detrimental to the goal of gaining muscle but it is a contentious issue as to how much is too much. I usually don't recommend more than 30 minutes a day, 4-5x a week if you're trying to gain muscle. If you do less than that,even better. However, I love a bit of cardio so I have to watch my nutrition to account for this. If you're planning to do more, eat appropriately for recovery (this is where a good post recovery drink such as Surge can be incorporated).

The other thing to work on is your mental game. Walk into the gym with the goal of becoming bigger at the forefront of your mind and don't take any prisoners when you train. You get out of it what you put into it.


Kek said...

Ah, good sense....that's what I like! :o)

I'm copying and printing this and sticking it on the wall next to my desk. Just in case I forget that skinny is bad.

Splice said...

What a freak'in awesome post!! This is exactly where i'm at right now, off season, strength training, minimal cardio and lots of good nutrition!
Thank Liz :-)

katiep said...

Thanks Coach - needed that today. Still secretly freaking out about what to do post comp. I wish I could just switch off my brain and enjoy where I am right now instead of struggling all the time.
This post helped to make me remember that getting HUGE is just as valid as getting scrawny lean.
Thanks for your expert advice and friendship. You have made such a big difference to my life ...

Kimmy said...

Great post Liz. We all get so caught up with that number on the scale.
Live with pASSION

Lisa said...

Excellent post!