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Can I Lose Body Fat & Train for a Competition at Home?

 

What Type Of Equipment Do I Need To Lose Body Fat?

A lot of figure and bikini competitors think they need the latest high tech equipment or training philsophy to get ready for a show. I’ve always gone low-tech when I train clients. I use to work in large gyms with hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment…. but I would only need a corner of the gym, a few dumbells, a bench, a bosu ball and a few other low-tech pieces of equipment. My clients ALWAYS got the best results! This is why I developed my diets and training program… to dispell all of the misinformation out there about training, diet, and exactly what it takes to get ready for a figure or bikini show. I also realized that most of your training will be done on you own, without a trainer looking over you shoulder (if you’re lucky enough to get a knowledgeable trainer)

The other day, I received the following email from a Julie Valencia who used by online program to get ready for her first show in Toronto Canada. She prepared in her house without fancy equpiment or a trainer. She proves that determination goes a lot further than the latest piece of exercise equipment or DVD fad workout.

“Hi Terry, 
   I just want to thank you for the training and diet program (http://www.figurecompetitiondiets.com/).  As you can see from the attached – I kicked ass today.  I won the IDFA      (International Drug Free Association) Transformation Challenge Award, Novice Figure Short Award and the  overall Novice Figure Award.
I stood by your plans and never gave into the negativity nor the other suggestions – I never gave up.  It definitely was one of the most challenging journeys to date (with two kids on my own)…but I managed. I did it!! All at home with a few dumbbells, a barbell and my own body. “

Then I received the following email a few days later…..

“Hi Terry, 🙂
    I want it to be known that I did not use one piece of gym equipment throughout the whole process and that I trained at home in a 8×11 room (except for dumbbells and a barbell).  🙂 
It was a frustrating process until I found your program…being a single mother …all I could think about were my kids throughout this whole process and how this would shape my business… (ValenciaFitness.com)
thanks, terry” 

What Program Should I use?

The most important factors in training to lose body fat or a show are hard work, the proper diet and smart training. Don’t get caught up in the newest piece of gym equipment, cardio machine or new fangled exercise DVD that promises to burn 3x as many calories as the last exercise craze. Whatever program you decide to follow, just make sure it burns enough calories and preserves the muscle you already have and it will work, as long as you train hard enough. The unfortunate part is that many of the workout programs I see, either don’t burn enough calories or don’t put enough load on the muscle (which may lead to muscle loss during the fat loss process). So pick your programs wisely.   …..Terry Stokes

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When you Can’t Lose Another Pound!

womans_fat_loss_bootcamp_buffalo_terry_stokesThe dreaded weight loss plateau

(the article below was originally written for a course I ran for figure competitors… But this is actually the same advice I give anyone who has reached a plateau in their weight loss efforts. it’s simple advice but it comes from training hundreds of women)

One of the most frustrating things about getting ready for a figure competition is when you encounter a fat loss plateau. As a competitor you understand that there is no buffer for not getting in shape – you either hit your mark on contest day… or you don’t (then you kick yourself for training and dieting for 12 weeks and not getting in your best condition). So when you get to a point that fat loss slows or stops, it’s easy to go into panic mode. Slashing calories in half is what some competitors do. For those who decide to do that, they are going to have a miserable time mentally and physically as their body tries to adjust to 50% less calories. This is something you definitely want to avoid at all costs.

When overcoming a fat loss plateau you must attack it from 3 sides:

  1. Diet
  2. Workout
  3. Cardio

Diet: First you must tighten up your diet. This may mean cutting your diet by as few as 100 calories a day. You want to avoid cutting too many calories because this may cause your metabolism to slow down and go into ‘starvation’ mode.  Once this happens, it’s hard to fire the metabolism up again.

Workout: You must increase the intensity of your workouts. Basically train harder: (1) lift heavier weights, (2) perform your normal workouts (same reps and sets) in less time, (3) add on an extra 15-20 minutes to your normal workout time, (4) take less time between sets so that the workout is more cardio-like etc. There are many ways to increase workout intensity. The important thing is not to ‘coast’ but make sure each workout is at a high intensity level.

Cardio: Step up your cardio intensity. This may mean just going harder for the same amount of time, for example, you may be able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes. What you want to do is try and run 3.2 miles in the same 30 minutes, then eventually 3.5 miles in that 30 minutes.

– Or you may change from a less effective form of cardio cardio workout (ex elliptical machine) to a more effective form of cardio (treadmill or outside running). This is a very effective way to increase the amount of calories you burn in a workout.

BIG MISTAKES:

One mistake I see is when competitors try to do it all by slashing calories… DON’T do that! You will lose weight initially but your metabolism will slow down too much and all progress will stop. This will make it very difficult to lose further body fat. It’s much wiser to attack it a little from all 3 factors instead of just one.

Another Mistake I see is competitors who decide to double their cardio in order to lose body fat. This will work initially but it may take a toll on your body and mind… this can lead to burnout (mental and physical exhaustion).

So, If you do experience a plateau, don’t panic and do something drastic that will cause your metabolism to shut down or that will cause you to burnout… Just use moderation in adjusting your diet and training. This is the one ‘secret’ behind my success in training fitness and physique competitors over the past 10 years.

Nope! You Still Gain Muscle and Lose Body Fat at The Same Time… Sorry!

personal training buffalo ny terry stokesOne of the biggest misconceptions in physique sports is that it’s possible to build muscle and lose body fat at the same time. Sorry to go against all of the ‘experts’ out there, but this is impossible to do! Whether it’s a trainer telling a client, someone selling a book or someone repeating what they heard another person say, it’s just not possible.

Basically in order to lose weight you need to take in LESS calories than your body needs to maintain it’s current weight. The exact opposite is true of someone trying to gain muscle/weight: you need to take in MORE calories than your body needs to maintain it’s current weight.

Can’t count the number of time I’ve read something online about someone losing body fat and gaining muscle at the same time….. STOP please! This sport is filled with nonsense – from competitors believing that if they aren’t champion material by the beginning of the final week before a show, that there are some secret prep-week tricks that will get them into championship condition by show… uhhh No! Or the 110lb figure competitor who thinks dehydration will make her look leaner before a show – in actuality she will become a 105lb figure competitor who will look flat onstage because she just sucked the water out of her muscles! ….I could go on for hours!

Back to muscle building and fat loss: I just don’t understand why this simple concept is not more easily understood among those in this field. Sometimes you just have to tell the truth to clients/competitors: “No you will not be gaining any muscle while losing body fat, what you can do is maintain your existing muscle as you lose body fat by doing resistance exercises.” It may not be what a client or competitor wants to hear, but it’s the truth, and you should never lie just to attract or keep clients.

From 5th Place …to 3 Pro Cards to the Arnold Classic!

Laurie winning figure overallFor a few, figure can be a lottery hit the first time they step onstage… but for the vast majority it’s a longer journey requiring patience and the ongoing desire to improve. When I first met laurie she was soft spoken, humble, shy and amazingly nice. Three years and 3 pro cards later… she is still the same person. When she won her last overall (NPC) there was no big celebration, no fist pumping… just a nervous smile as they brought her the trophy. Afterwards, almost every picture she took she made sure her daughter, Paris, was in it… that’s because she has always kept everything in perspective. When she first started competing the victorys didn’t come easy… after finishing 5th in her first competition Laurie could have easily given up… but instead she used that as motivation to become the best she could be.

Now she is on her way to compete in the Arnold Classic in a few weeks!

Known for her intense training, Laurie is well respected by the other competitors she trains with. She’s so focused that she rarely talks during her workout. She finds a Laurie winnin NPC figure in buffalocorner in the gym, goes 100% during her workout, changes clothes… and goes home.

Precontest fat loss workout: A bunch of hard exercises done back-to-back with no rest… until she is ehausted. The idea is to work the entire body and burn as many calories as possible.

“Get Uncomfortable” – Laurie doesn’t feel she is getting a good workout until she  gets into her ‘uncomfortable zone’ – the uncomfortable zone is usually when most would stop and rest… her goal is to get into that zone and stay there. This is why she doesn’t have to do a ton of straight cardio to get lean… because she burns so many calories in her resistance-cardio workouts. What the uncomfortable zone really means to me is: “Leave me alone, I don’t want to talk because I’m trying to catch my breath… please go away!” Check out the short video clip of her showing me that she doesn’t want to be bothered.

Laurie is the tye of person everyone roots for. Just as gracious in victory as she had been in defeat. Never one to put other competitors down or brag on herself. I realized just how humble Laurie was when I went to her Facebook page looking for some good pitures (since I didn’t get too many good shots at the show), when I noticed that she had not posted one picture of herself… after winning a show she has been trying to win for 3 years! The only thing she posted were things about her daughter… I think that says it all! Congratulations Laurie! Oh yeah, and good job at the competition too!

Laurie performing one of her favorite exercises:

Dehydration for figure competitors doesn’t work…. STILL!

Here are my thoughts on dehydration before a figure competition…

I get so many questions about last week prep and dehydration/cutting water. My stance is still the same… It doesn’t work! Although it SOUNDS legitimate when someone explains how it supposedly work… that doesn’t mean it works.

As far as dehydration before a show to increase definition (bring out your ‘cuts’)… I’ve always said that it makes muscles smaller and decreases definition (and women can’t afford to lose any muscle size or definition going into a competition). Below is a video about one of my favorite bodybuilders, Kai Greene, and his prep for the Arnold Classic. This excerp shows how dehydration can have very negative effects  on muscle size and definition of one of the greatest bodybuilders in the world. If it can negatively effect him… what in the heck do you think it will do to your physique!?

Not only is dehydration ineffective in making you look more definined… it will most likely have the opposite effect!! The only tricks are hard dieting and hard work. Competitors are always surprised when I accuse them of dehydration (when they sneak and do it against my advice). They don’t realize that I can tell from the audience and from pictures. It may be a day, a week or a month … but they eventually confess. They think they are going to make up for that last 5lbs they should have lost with diet and training, by losing 5lbs of water right before the show… this doesn’t work and you may very well lose placings because of it.

How to increase the intensity of your workouts: Part 2

Figure competitors use squats to build the quadsBesides not using enough weight (my last blog post) another big reason figure competitors (this applies to anyone actually) don’t get the results is that they don’t train with enough conviction… they just ‘go through the motions’… Whether it’s lackadaisical movements, half movements… or just wasting time tying sneakers, talking etc., It all adds up to lack of progress over time.  Everyone is entitled to a crappy workout occasionally… but competitors need to consistently train at a different level. If you’re a competitor training in a gym, but your workout looks like everyone else’s in the gym… then you will probably not the get results you seek – a competitor’s workout/energy level should stand out from the average person, in the gym, who is just trying to stay in shape.

In the video, the first few reps are done at about 50% effort… which is ok if you’re just looking to get a little exercise, tone up a little bit… but definitely not for someone looking to compete in a figure competition or lose significant body fat. The remaining reps are done with good energy… this is the type of energy you need in the beginning (of competition training) so that you don’t fall behind schedule… and even moreso close to competition time, when fat loss becomes much more difficult and your energy level is low.

It’s hard sometimes to take an honest look at your diet and workouts when not getting results… everyone wants to feel that they are giving 100%… but in order to succeed you must be able to look at yourself and take responsibility for lack of results and then do what’s necessary to reach your goals.