Monthly Archives: January 2009
Not too long ago, those who didn’t want figure to succeed in the male-dominated sport of bodybuilding would say that figure was nothing more than a glamorized bikini contest. Male and female bodybuilders would chuckle at the figure competitors.
This is a response to an email I received from a prospective competitor, who asked the question: “Is figure competition like a bikini contest?”
Let’s get something straight right now. THIS IS NOT A BIKINI CONTEST! The journey you are about to undertake is going to be one of the most difficult you will ever embark on, IF NOT THE MOST DIFFICULT. It is one of hard work, determination and a single-mindedness bordering on obsession……. and often lonely.
The figure competition diet you must follow is enough to discourage anyone who thinks this is easy.
The group you belong to is few in numbers because your goals are radical and extreme: to dramatically change your body by building muscle and losing body fat, reaching a state of leanness and muscularity most women can only dream of…. and then present that body in front of a panel of judges whose job it is to scrutinize your physique from head to toe – looking for flaws!
Somewhere between 12-14% body fat your body will start to fight back. Your hormone production slows… your body is not ‘regular’ anymore. No more periods! “Good… one less thing I have to worry about.” Now hunger is your enemy… as bad as you want to cheat – you can’t bring yourself to do it, because the last time you cheated you cried, felt fat and hated yourself… all over 1 piece of pie! As you get closer Self doubt creeps in:
– “Why am I doing this?”
– “Am I obsessed like everyone says?”
– “Do I have enough muscle?”
– “Can I really do this?”
…nothing is going to stop you now… so you just keep going… because you know
Standing next to you will be another women, who trained just as hard as you (her shoulders will look a little better than yours, you’ll notice). Her personal relationships will be strained from the demands of training and dieting, just as yours will be. Her fiance won’t even bother to come see her compete. Neither your family members or friends understand:
– why you’ve been working out two or three times a day
– why you’ve been packing your meals in small plastic containers and
– why you can’t eat carbs after 4 pm?
– “why are you doing this to yourself”
Why? Why? Why? The only people who understand will be your trainer the girls you train with and the other seven competitors standing along side you……… did I mention lonely?
1) I train girls for figure competition.
2) They train hard.
3) Very hard!
Getting ready for a show most of the girls I train workout at other gyms closer to their homes to get in extra workouts. They do high intensity resistance training, plyometrics, Olympic lifting etc. Their training is fast, explosive and the exercises are unique… No single arm db curls or seated shoulder presses with 5lb weights! They train for maximum muscle retention and maximum fat loss…. they need to get lean! They follow competition diets that very few people could stick to. They don’t need advice… they need to get lean! BUT… Every time they go to another gym the local guru comes over to give them ‘advice’:
“You’re training too hard”
“You’re doing that all wrong”
“I think you are overtraining”
“That’s too heavy for you”
“You should carb load, fat load, sodium load, diuretics, fat burners BLAH BLAH BLAH etc etc etc…”
And then you have the GAWKERS…
Gawkers are defined as: Gym goers who completely stop their workout to stare at women who are training with intensity. I think a 3-legged unicorn would get less attention than a woman doing a set of one-are db snatches followed by a set of jump squats. This often makes the woman so uncomfortable that she decides to train alone in a more secluded area of the gym. It’s a shame that women that are training the right way, performing demanding exercises are looked at like some type of side show freak (like that guy wearing the green knee-high socks on the elliptical)
If a women is in the gym at 12% body fat… looking healthy and strong – SHE PROBABLY KNOWS WHAT SHE IS DOING! Just because she is training hard and it makes you uncomfortable, because you are unfamiliar with the exercises (so therefore they must be wrong), because she is pouring sweat from 35 lb db snatches, because she collapses on the floor after a difficult circuit of pullups and jump squats – Don’t underestimate her ability to train hard and push herself, don’t underestimate her knowledge and don’t bother her – just “Shut up and let her train” – I promise she won’t hurt herself! Promise!
If you’ve seen or heard about the ‘Secret’ you know that everyone in that movie talked about positive thinking and how you must ALWAYS be positive in order to succeed. Well that all sounded good and the people in this video made a ton of money because this is the kind of feel-good stuff people want to hear… but they forgot to talk about the real ’secret’ to success. The fact is, almost any really successful person will tell you about how they were fueled by the fact that people doubted them, laughed at them, about the teachers who told them they wouldn’t amount to much. People are ashamed to say that the negativity of others is the reason why they tried so hard. The top motivational speakers in the world will tell you to embrace these feelings and use them for positive… because it’s normal to try and silence your critics. Those of you who are looking for a career in fitness/personal training are going to hear this: “When are you going to get a real job?” …and being a figure coach is even worse.
Negativity and training for a figure competition:
Every once in awhile I train someone who has a lot of support and not a whole lot of negative forces operating in their lives. THIS IS A GOOD THING! Unfortunately this is not often the case. As i mentioned in my earlier blog (’Why men hate me’)… the smile you see on stage comes with a price to pay. Arguments, questions and criticism all add up as you prepare for a show. What started as this quest to: “Do something awesome” ; “Set an example for my kids” ; “Do something for myself” ; “Finally get in shape” …or whatever your reason is for competing is – has turned into a battle to prove to the naysayers that you can do this.
You would think trying to something like this would be an inspiration to others – and in the beginning it is! You hear: “You go girl” or “Wow, that’s awesome… keep me posted.” As you start to see results, the compliments keep coming: “Girls you are looking good.” As you see more results you get more excited, but the people close to you don’t seem to share your excitement when they realize that you are not just trying to look good for the beach… you are getting ready for a serious competition. Just when you need them most, they start to say:
– “You’re getting too skinny… are you eating?”
– “You don’t want to start looking like a man, do you?” (‘hmmm…. let me think about this for a minute, you ask such tough questions!’)
– “Why do you want to ‘prance’ around in a bikini anyway… are you trying to build self-esteem?” (‘Maybe i am, and what’s wrong with that? One more thing… It’s called POSING!)
– “Who is this trainer and why is he making you do this?” (Newsflash: “I want to do this so, so badly, that I am actually paying this guy money to train me”)
– “Are you obsessed, do you have an eating disorder?” etc. etc. etc…. Read the rest of this entry