Monthly Archives: July 2010

Figure Training: Don’t Burn Out!

cardioGetting ready for a figure competition is a process designed to  increase in intensity the closer you get to show day. Unless you possess great genetics it’s going to be difficult to get lean for a show… so you must be smart and not burn out early by doing too much too soon.

Have you ever known someone (not a figure competitor) to start a diet, and the first day… they’re doing an hour of cardio, eating a super-strict and low calorie diet, going to the gym, taking fat burners – and oh yeah, let’s not forget about the colon cleanse concoction they’re taking. Realistically how long will this last? It’s simply too much for the body and mind to handle at one time. I’ve seen figure competitors take this approach and by contest time (if they make it) they look more like a warmed over corpse than a figure competitor. Ever seen a girl’s hair fall out from over training? …I have!

Look, the truth is YOU WILL OVERTRAIN getting ready for a figure show. This is not a sport for the easily intimidated and there is not reason to sugarcoat it. The key is to delay it as long as possible. If you’ve competed before, how many of the following symptoms of overtraining have you had during contest preparation:

  • excessive fatigue
  • irritability
  • sleeping irregularities (high cortisol levels)
  • nagging injuries
  • amenorrhea (loss of period)
  • cravings for sugar
  • loss of sex drive
  • depression
  • anxiety

These are signs of adrenal gland dysfunction caused by overtraining. Many an athlete has experienced this accidently! Figure competitors actually look for some of the signs of overtraining as a sign that they are getting close to competition shape. Competitors always ask me: “When will I lose my period” or “How come I’m still getting my period, should I be working out harder?”

What to do:

When beginning your contest prep, start out conservative on a diet with a decent amount of calories and a workout regimen that is not overwhelming (ex. 1 resistance workout a day and 20 minutes of cardio). As you get closer to your competition, you will increase your cardio to 2 sessions a day while increasing the length of your resistance workouts and cutting your diet slightly. The idea is to increase the intensity of your workouts, while decreasing the calories in your diet. This is a slow and steady process… it’s a fine line bad dietbetween doing it right… and hitting a brick wall. The diet is very important… if your diet is one of those: 1 grapefruit for breakfast, 1 for lunch and a protein drink at 3pm…. or some silly combination like crackers and tuna etc etc…. you are going to have a tough time because a lot of these diets are just bogus and not fit for a guinea pig. Couple one of these silly diets with intense workouts and not only will you become extremely overtrained but you may get sick as well. So make sure your figure competition diet contains good protein sources, complex carbs, fibrous carbs and the proper kinds of fat.

In conclusion:

If it was easy… everybody would be doing it!