Serge Rurik's Guide To Pre-Contest Training

Serge Rurik's Guide To Pre-Contest Training

Sep 14 2016


I bounced around training styles and what I feel was the ideal approach when prepping for a contest. Bodybuilders Coreausually go a little crazy and alter their training so far away from their "off-season" training that it's sometimes unrecognizable. I think that's a huge mistake. I have always maintained that the training you did to build your body is the same training you need to do as you run up to a show. The hardcore and heavy training while dieting is, in fact, the main stimulus that allows the body to hold onto and keep that metabolic-boosting muscle while you drop calories to get ripped. If you make the mistake and "lighten up" on your workouts, and fall for the trap that more sets and reps will lean you down, often the muscle ends up looking lean, but lacks that crazy dense look. So swapping "heavy" for a little lighter and a lot more "volume" often backfires leaving you discouraged. The body ends up looking in-shape but misses that something extra that's says, "Holy Shit!" Think Branch Warren or Eduardo Correa. That's dense and it sure doesn't come with lighter weights and super set. So while there's a great emphasis on diet- eating less carbohydrates, increasing protein and keeping dietary fat lower, many bodybuilders don't know how to tweak their training to maximize muscle size. Here are The Technician's 5 must-do's to look like a freak!

1.) Stay Heavy

While there is some wisdom to performing higher reps before a contest, the fact remains, bodybuilders should (generally) not train in a rep range higher than 12. Heavy weight is a core stimulus for muscle groronnie_colemanwth. Every bodybuilder knows to add size and get bigger; you have to increase the amount of weight you lift on most of the basic exercises. On the other hand, bodybuilders often train lighter before a contest which is a mistake. When you train too light, muscle tissue shrinks giving you either a smaller or flatter appearance. In addition, when your muscles shrink - or you lose size from training too light - the body's metabolic rate tends to drop.

While no ripped-to-the-bone bodybuilder can expect to train as heavy pre-contest as he does in a mass building phase, it is essential to train as heavy "as possible" before a show. Heavy weights maintain the stimulus on muscles before competition which helps you retain muscle while engaged in a rigorous diet. When the poundages or "weights" you lift plummet before a contest, the result is a loss in muscle mass. In general, you ought to be able to lift 90% of your normal weights in a pre-contest phase. For example, the bodybuilder who bench presses 300 pounds for 8 reps in the off-season, ought to be able to lift 270 pounds (and, yes, up to 300lb) before a contest. When a bodybuilder lifts less than 90% of his off season weight, rest assured, he's going to shrink and lose a lot of mass. Why? The stimulus is no longer enough to keep the muscles from atrophying. It's the old saying, "You don't use it; you lose it!"

2.) Shorten the Rest Periods

Before a competition, decreasing the amount of rest in-between sets is a good way to increase the total calories burned in each training session. In particular, shorter rest periods tend to burn up stored muscle glycogen which, in turn4beb7-BranchWarrenf_frH_002, causes a shift in metabolism causing the body to burn additional body fat. The pre-contest bodybuilder can rest as little as 40 seconds on smaller body parts such as biceps, triceps, calves, abs and 1 minute for larger body parts like chest, back, quads and hamstrings. As a rule of thumb, bodybuilders can burn more calories and body fat with shorter rest periods. In fact, very short rest periods - even shorter than those I just recommended-- might even be better for ripping up; however, if the poundages or ‘weights used' drop below the 90% threshold mentioned in tip # 1, then you'll end up losing muscle mass. Therefore, keep your rest periods brief before competition yet maintain heavy weights. If your weight begin top drop below 85% or 90% of your off season poundage, you may be training too quickly between sets. In that case, I would suggest you slow down a bit and keep the guidelines I suggested; 40 seconds for smaller body parts and 1 minute for large. Of course, there are always exceptions. That is, you might want to rest 45 seconds to a minute on smaller bodyparts and up to 90 seconds on larger body parts. Keep an eye on your poundages. If you can maintain them close to off season poundages, then try shorter rest periods. And if the poundages start to fall, make an adjustment and rest a bit longer.

3.) Cycle Short Rest Periods with Longer Rest Periods

You cannot train with shorter rest periods during the entire contest preparation period. Shorter rest periods, in general, can lead to a drop in the amount of ‘weight' you handle which leads to a loss in muscle mass. In simple terms, if you can bench press 300 pounds for 8 reps in the off season and rest 2 -3 minutes in between sets, changing to shorter rest periods might cause a drop in poundages where you won't be able to lift 85 to 90 % of the weight you were doing in the off-season. With that in mind, the bodybuilder can benefit by cycling shorter rest periods with longer rest periods. In other words, he can maintain greater strength levels while incorporating shorter rest periods by using both short rest periods and normal/off season rest periods. The ideal way to cycle rest periods is to train 2 consecutive weeks using short rest periods (30-60 seconds between sets) followed by 2 consecutive weeks following longer rest periods, closer to those typical in a mass building phase (1 1/2 to 3 minutes between sets). Alternating from shorter rest periods to longer rest periods can help aid recovery by preventing a state of overtraining that can occur with exclusively shorter breaks. At the same time, it allows the bodybuilder to benefit from the calorie burning effect of shorter rest periods without causing a marked drop off in the ‘weights' or poundages used

4.) Try High Intensity Cardio

There's a perpetual discussion on how much cardio to perform before a contest and at which intensity. I believe too much cardio is as bad as too few calories. Both will kill strength, recovery and testosterone levels. Fasted- cardio In terms of intensity, high intensity is sometimes really useful. I consider high intensity to be closer to 80% of one's maximal heart rate. The best way this level can be maintained is with interval aerobic exercise where the bodybuilder pedals a bike or walks on a treadmill with incredible effort for 2-3 minutes followed by 1-3 minutes of a cooling period. During the cooling period, the bodybuilder can peddle or work at a significantly lower level of intensity. During this period, the heart rate will remain surprisingly high after having been spiked towards the 80% level during the 2-3 minute period of all out effort. If you choose to perform this type of grueling aerobic work, you can limit each session to 20-25 minutes and perform only 3-4 sessions a week. The other 3 days you can work at a much lower intensity but for a longer time period. I think the high intensity stuff gives a big push to the overall metabolism so that's definitely helpful in getting lean. The downside is that it's an additional high stressor on the body and that, coupled with low calories and trying to train super hard, can leave your body frazzled. In other words, I think daily high-intensity cardio could backfire and lead to an over-trained state where you end up looking like a small marsh mellow rather than a ripped bodybuilder.

5.) Never Train More Than 3 Consecutive Days in a Row

Ok, I should never say never. So just take this tip as a warning. Contest training requires a decrease in carbs and fat to create a caloric deficit and the addition of cardio to facilitate the loss of body fat. This added exercise-plus-drop-in-calorie approach can quickly lead to overtraining. Most bodybuilders fail to recognize the signs of overtraining as they're usually pre-occupied with getting in great shape and fear that taking a day or two off from weight lifting (to avoid overtraining) might prevent them from getting as ripped as possible. Not resting sufficiently leads to over training which, in turn leads to a loss in muscle, a drop in metabolic rate, and a drop in testosterone and IGF levels. The name of the game is push your body to the max, but be careful that you don't over-push it. A lot of times, too many consecutive days at the gym leaves the body flat (from being overtrained), and most bodybuilders mistakenly take that look as being them just being fat! So, what do they do? They say "Shit I am getting worse, I have to do more cardio and eat less" which just causes the downwards spiral to accelerate.

One of the better ways to approach your training before a competition is to incorporate complete days of rest; no training and no cardio. Rest days help the bodybuilder avoid overtraining and allow him to hold onto more mass while dieting. Muscle mass preservation is the key to pre-contest prep because greater mass obviously is what bodybuilding is all about and the more mass you can retain while dieting, the higher your metabolism which, ultimately, makes losing body fat a lot easier. I suggest bodybuilders either use a 2 on, 1 off, training plan where the entire body is worked over a 6 day period and a full day of rest is taken after 2 consecutive days of training. Another alternative is to use the 3 on, 1 off; 1 on, 1 off, method. Here the entire upper body is trained in the first 3 days (spreading the upper body training over these days) followed by a complete day off. Returning to the gym, the bodybuilder then trains legs, hamstrings and calves with the following day completely dedicated to rest. (Then repeat the cycle) This ensures the bodybuilder has sufficient rest which leads to greater muscle retention while dieting.

While some bodybuilders like to train 5 or 6 days a week before a competition-often training 1 to 2 body parts daily every day except Sunday-- it's better to set aside complete rest days as even small amounts of activity (training or cardio) each and every day can cumulatively lead to a loss of muscle due to a drop in muscle-supporting hormones that comes with every-day training. Bodybuilders still believe it's impossible to over train by breaking their workouts into very brief session. While brief training sessions-- lasting 30 to 60 minutes-- might not cause the body to fall into a state of overtraining, chronic everyday training, no matter how brief the training session, can promote overtraining. Continuous training becomes a chronic stress on the body which will, over time, lead to overtraining which leads to a loss in muscle. The answer is take complete days off, even during the contest prep phase!