Monthly Archives: May 2009

Figure Competition Diet

I am writing this post out of anger, The anger over the Hydroxycut recall by the FDA due to suspected liver damage and the anger I feel after learning a local figure competitor ended up in the hospital a few days before a figure competition after following some crazy competition diet prescribed by a trainer whose only goal was to put a competitor onstage at any cost. Both of these result from ‘shortcuts’ being taken to get lean for a competition.
No figure competitor should ever follow a competition diet that they feel is ‘strange’, ‘not normal’ or take supplements they think will bring about faster weight loss… just go with your common sense.

For example:
– if someone wants you to eat the same two foods everyday for weeks…
run like hell!

– if your trainer tells you that fat burners are the only way to lose weight
…run like hell!

– if you start hearing terms like, dehydration, carb loading, carb depleting, clenbuterol
…start thinking about getting your money back.

– If a male bodybuilder says: “You can follow the diet I used for my competition”
…run fast

– If it’s a week out from a competition, and you look in the mirror and you look out of shape (too much body fat for a competition) but your trainer says that you are just holding water and he/she will carb load, carb deplete and dehydrate you the last week to get rid of it.
… you should run and run a lot because the only way to get rid of that fat is going to be some extra cardio (but hurry, you only have a week!)

The bottom line is that a figure competition diet should consists of common and basic foods in the proper combinations and ratios. There are no supplements, special or secret diets that will get you leaner than a basic diet which changes as your body changes (the key to getting lean). And don’t believe athletes who promote supplements, the only reason they do so is because these companies approach them after they become popular.

Always remember:
It’s what you do in the first 10-11 weeks that gets you ready for a show… not what you do in the last week.

For a complete guide to dieting for a figure competition you can check out my book just for this purpose. It contains 31 figure competition diets. here

Beatdown 101

During a training session the other day one of the competitors I train said: “You should call your training style Npc_judgesBeatdown 101.” I laughed because I always tell people that getting women to lose body fat is like being in a fight. It’s me against their stubborn metabolism – sometimes I’m trying to increase someone’s metabolism that’s been damaged from years of anorexia, bulimia etc. (that’s the hidden side of competitors/competition that I will get into at a later time).

I remember the first time I gave someone a diet and they actually lost weight… while eating more food and more often! I thought “Holy #@#% this really works!” Then I started training competitors who needed much lower body fat percentages than Mrs. Kramer, the 52 yrs old woman who just wanted to lose 10lbs for her high school reunion.

The fight begins:
How many nights have I stayed up calculating carb, protein and fat ratios for (insert name)…so that I can get her body fat down from 15% into contest range (around 10%). I know she is working her butt off and following her diet. “Why is it so freakin’ hard for woman to lose weight?” I repeatedly ask myself.

I try to think of solutions:
“Should I have her do cardio, first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach?” (hmmm… I already cut her carbs in the evening, by the time she wakes up in the morning she won’t have enough energy to complete a decent cardio session at 6:00am)
“What about splitting her cardio up into 2 sessions?” (hmmm… 2 cardio sessions and a weight training session everyday might be hard because she has a 3 year old and a 6 year old and her husband works 10 hours a day).
“Got it! I’ll just increase her cardio!” (oh, I forgot her old knee injury is starting to act up and I may need to DECREASE her cardio… yikes!)

Competitors don’t sleep well at night when their weight/body fat percentage doesn’t change:
They text me, email and call me… all day. I give everyone the same speech before dieting starts but no one seems to remember:
1. Your fat loss will fluctuate: down 2 lbs one day… up 1 pound the next day
2. There will be times when your fat loss will slow down despite your hard work… this is your bodies way of trying to hold on to fat and water
3. There are no magic pills or potions that will help you lose weight faster (the first question I get is: “Is there something I can buy to help me lose weight faster?”)
4. Patience, patience… It may take a new diet 1-2 weeks before it works – as body fat decreases a new diet will have a lesser effect than an earlier one because there is not as much fat to lose.

‘Beatdown 101’ is coming from all angles – I’m fighting their bodies, their minds and myself… “Is there anything else I can do?” Repeats itself constantly in my mind like a scrolling neon sign.
“Is there anything else I can do?”
“Is there anything else I can do?”
“Is there anything else I can do?”
Five women counting on me to get them in the best shape of their lives… their family and friends will be there… I will not lose this battle – “Anybody got a Band-Aid?”

Figure Fat Loss: Do Birth Control Pills Make It Harder To Lose body Fat?

Dieting for a figure competition is a difficult task. This blog is an attempt to get some feedback on a subject rarely talked about… birth control and fat loss.
I am often asked by competitors if their chosen method of birth control will make it more difficult for them to lose body fat. Many women gain weight from birth control and state that it is difficult to lose it.
But… what I want to know is if anyone has tried to train for a show or tried to get their body fat down low (into the lower teens) and had a problem they think is related to birth control. Unfortunately the women I train who are not taking birth control seem to get the leanest… I hope this is a coincidence but I’m not sure.

When on a figure competition diet those last few pounds that are the most difficult (the pounds that distinguish between a bikini-ready body and a figure competitors body)
This is a touchy subject but my goal has always been to take figure to the next level… so I ask these questions in an attempt to help me and women understand their bodies and to develop the best strategies to help them succeed….
– If you have any experience with weight loss and birth control …good or bad
– Are there better choices (less weight gain) out there?
– Is it possible to tell if the weight you gain is from water retention or fat?
Thanks… I appreciate any feedback on this subject

How Figure Competitors Build A V-Taper

My last few posts have been about the psychological gymnastics one must go through in the figure world, whether it’s with the competition diet or dealing with those closest to you. Today I am going to focus on training because I’ve gotten quite of few training questions lately, so let’s start with widening the back.

V-Taper: Wide back and narrow waist – What figure competitors need to develop to improve symmetry and score higher in competition. The wider your back is the narrower you waist looks… this is the illusion of the v-taper.

Exercises that build the back are categorized in 2 categories:
1) Exercises where your arms are parallel to your body (pull-ups and pulldowns)
2) Exercises where your arms are perpendicular to your body (all rowing exercises)
– Both types need to be performed to completely develop the back

Today I’m focusing on the #1 exercise for building a V-Taper – Close-Grip Pulldowns

Most women are under the impression that wide-grip pulldowns will make you back wide… not really!

The reason close-grip pulldowns are more effective is because the lats are stretched more at the beginning of the movement (arms are extended overhead), which means you are getting a fuller range of motion (the fuller the range of motion – the more muscle fibers that are involved). The wider your arms go out toward the side – the shorter the movement becomes (in wide-grip pulldowns). So my suggestion for someone looking for size is to begin your back workouts with close-grip pulldowns because you are strongest at the start of your workout.

Wide-grip and underhand grip both have advantages:

Wide grip pulldowns hit the muscle from a little different angle which means different muscle fibers are affected, you can also lean back slightly when pulling down to help squeeeze out a few extra reps
The Underhand grip is great because the biceps are more involved which means you may be able to squeeze out a few more reps.

BUT… The best way to use the underhand grip is right after going to failure with the overhand grip, this will help get out a few more reps. Let me explain:
a) perform OVERHAND pulldowns until you can’t do another rep
b) immediately switch to the underhand position and continue the set
c) because you biceps are more involved with the underhand grip, you should be able to pump out a few more reps and really exhaust those lats (this is intense)
caution: always keep a slight bend in your elbows (when arms are overhead) when performing pulldowns. This insures that the muscles are supporting the weight. If you completely extend your arms overhead you put all the stress on the shoulder and elbow joints… ouch!

Posing the back is the most difficult thing for a figure competitor to learn. Many women compete in show after show without learning how to flex their back properly. This will cost you points and leave you looking narrow and unsymmetrical. I wrote a detailed article on my website about posing the back. It explains everything and has some good graphics: