Posted on January 24 2018
IFBB Pro Fakhri Mubarak Contest Prep Specialist
3 Things To Monitor During Prep
1) Food – This is where it all starts and ends. As a bodybuilder I was well away of this from the start. Each macronutrient (the body needs a large amount of macronutrients to function, hence the word macro) plays a specific role in your muscle tissue development and maintaining your size during a contest prep. A) Protein is used by the body to not only build muscle but also to repair tissues. Protein is the building block to muscle (only protein can build muscle) both offseason and prep. Protein helps prevent the breakdown of muscle during prep and can still build it. When incorporated with a high intensity work out protein builds extra lean muscle tissue while you are dieting for a show. I recommend 2 grams of protein per lb of body weight while dieting. B) Carbs are used to provide energy to your muscles. Carbohydrates are stored in your muscles and the liver. When you work out your body coverts these stored carbohydrates into ATP and uses it as energy. Carbs increase insulin level in a positive manner in which they ascend other growth promoting hormones and enzymes needed to keep your muscles full of glycogen while dieting. Lowering your carbs is sometimes necessary to burn off extra body fat but when you drop your carbs to low it increases your insulin levels in a negative fashion. The body then uses any source of energy it takes in and stores it in the fat cells. You can put your body in a catabolic state if your carbs are too low. My recommendation for carbs while dieting is 1.5 to 2 grams per lb of bodyweight. C) Healthy dietary fats play a big role in the production of hormones that are responsible for growth and strength increases, like testosterone production. These hormones are vital while dieting. They help keep your body in an anabolic state. Examples of healthy fats are MCT oils, Flax seed oils, omega 3 – 6 – 9 oils, fish oils and CLA among a few others. Healthy fats help spare protein from being used as an energy source. Healthy fats help reduce water retention by assisting in sodium and water removal. I recommend 0.3 to 0.4 grams of healthy fats per lb of bodyweight.
2) Excessive cardio – Cardio does burn calories and body fat but it cannot be excessive to the point that it breaks down muscle. Too much cardio leads to cortisol (stress hormone) which makes you retain water. The correct function of cardiovascular exercise is to burn calories/burn body fat, strengthens your heart and lungs, improves bone density, lowers blood pressure, keeps cholesterol in check and improves overall stamina, not to breakdown muscle! During cardiovascular exercise, your body turns to glycogen that it obtains from carbohydrates for energy (reason you need to eat carbs). If there isn't enough glycogen (carbs) available, your body may turn to fat stores or muscle (again, if there’s not enough carbs) for fuel. Cardio is used to condition the body. If you’re eating enough food to “cushion” your muscle from breaking down then your heart rate should be around 130 to 140 heart beats per min. The last thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t get fat in the offseason then you don’t have to kill yourself doing cardio during the prep
3) Sodium manipulation and “dehydrating” the body – I don’t believe in sodium manipulation. If you are already having sodium in your diet and its keeping you full and you’re getting harder each day just keep it in the same. You don’t want to mess with your aldosterone levels playing with your sodium intake. Aldosterone is a hormone that increases the re-absorption of sodium ions and water and the release (secretion) of potassium ions in the distal convoluted tubules of the kidneys. Sodium manipulation is very risky. If done right it releases more sub q water but if done incorrectly you can look watery and a mess on stage. Your muscle tissue is 70% water. When you “dehydrate”/restrict your body from water you are in danger of losing muscle fullness and actually looking more watery (even though your body fat is low your skin hangs if your muscles aren’t hydrated). You want to hold and be hydrated with intracellular water to make the muscles look fuller and harder. Lastly water is a natural diuretic. You want to increase your water intake to 1.5 to 2 gallons per day while contest prepping. The more water you drink the more water your body will let out, it’s that simple. You also have to hydrate your body before you begin to pull water or you will flatten out at the end of the prep.