As part of my training for the bodybuilding competition, I completed, in this order, these cycles, which each lasted anywhere between two and four months.
1) Holding steady, working weak points
Duration: 4 months
A specialist routine concentrating on specific areas. Here I concentrated on shoulders and chest and calve work among over things.
*Note, I had been working a cycle of “Holding steady” since mid- July. Strength had gone up, and body weight had steadily increased. From around 157lb to 168lb, since my first competition. It is always important to hold the state of being lean, before “Bulking up”
2) Bulking up (a fun part of the entire process)
Duration: 3 months
The bulking up phase, started officially on the 2nd Oct 2013, and involves two workouts, which were alternated. With a frequency of no more than twice a week. It ended around Christmas time 2013.
The method I used was G.V.T, “German volume training”, centering around extremely heavy squats, and it bought my overall bodyweight up to 184 (+ 16lb)
You try to limit as much out of gym activity as possible while you’re bulking up. The results are largely based on a diet which has to be highly calorific and has a lot of protein.
3) Developing a weak area
Developing a weak area, namely the lower back from feet to skull and involved alternating 2 workouts, performed 3 times a week. As my lower back had proven a weakness in the past, this phase proved essential for me. It should be noted that this workout was very much personal to my needs at that time.
Duration: 3 months
- Deadlifts 4 sets, 15, 12, 8, 6
- Bent over barbell rows, 4 sets x 12
- Upright shrugs 3 sets x 8
- Hyperextensions, on a ball, 3 x 12 (weighted)
- Spinal Flex 3 x 30*
- Rear laterals (cable) 3 sets, 15, 12, 8
- Standing Calf raise 20 reps each set
- 1 leg calf 3 x 10
- Stiff legged Dead lifts 4 sets, 15, 10, 8, 6
- Bent over barbell rows, 3 sets x 8
- Good morning on bench 3 x 8
- Spinal Flex 2 x 50
- Leg Curls 2 x 15
- Reverse shrugs, 3 sets x 10,8,6
- Rear laterals with dumbells (Form crucifix laying flat on floor, face down, hold each contraction for 2 seconds) 3 x 8
- Standing Calf raise, on calf machine. 5 sets (HEAVY) x 6-8
- Super set with flat foot calf raises 4 x 100 (between the sets of standing, not on last set)
4) Cutting up again for competition standards
Perhaps in some ways, the hardest phase. The reason is you are training intensely, more often than previously and more than any other time of year, and also putting in cardiovascular sessions as well. You are truly depleted..
The workouts, now twice per day, reps between 8 and 15. With lighter weights. The focus here was all about attaining “The pump”
Duration: 2 months
Accompanied with the cutting stage was a very specific diet that involved eating a lot of fish and minimal carbohydrates as possible.
- Monday: Legs and lower back
- Tuesday: Chest and shoulders, abs
- Wednesday: Arms, abs and neck
- Thursday: Legs and back
- Friday: Chest, shoulders and traps
During this year I have achieved many different looks, and have seen my bodyweight go from 158lb after last years competition, right up to 185lb (having bulked), right down to 163lb (having cut again) and then built up again, mainly through taking on carbs in the final 4 days leading up to the comp, to 166lb for Saturdays competition. I competed 8lb heavier than last year, at about the same bodyfat.. BUT, generally I appeared leaner this time around. I would call that a great year of training.
I never really loosed sight of my abs throughout the entire year, but on the day of the show, they did look extra defined. The secrets behind that was something I never had done “properly” before.
A process of “Dehydration” and more specifically the timing of “Carb loading”, gave a finishing touch, which would have me appear leaner than I thought I could for the day.
To achieve this, the secret is (according to Don Styler) to take on a lot more water than usual, building up to 7 litres a day, around 10 days before the competition. And then on the day before the contest you drink only a litre of water.. that evening, the evening right before the contest, you consume 2 glasses of dry white wine AND you allow a substantial complex carb feed. I had sweet potatoes (all this is fun), in the morning onwards of the actual competition, you feel like DEATH. You really cannot see the harm in drinking a glass of water, and really, that’s ALL YOU WANT to do.. But you are not allowed.. (Not until this show is all over!), but you are allowed to put water in your mouth, to swill it out , but never swallow it.
Another “finishing touch”, was around just over an hour before pre-judging. It involves having some quick release carbs, and more white wine. This further vasodilates the main arteries, makes you appear “more vascular”. Asides all of the above the only other food “Allowed” is glutton free rice cakes, and extremely high coco mass dark chocolate. I followed all of the rules, and think it did make a difference.
I had done enough right to win my class this year, so it was testimony to the fact that hard work really can pay off.
A selection of images from the competition. Check out the poses.