When in “prep mode” for most of it, fat loss is the goal. In the off-season it’s really cool to let “performance” be more of the goal. If you have changes you would like to see in your physique for the next season, eg: to come in with fuller shoulders, overall upper body size increase, etc. training methods to create these changes can be built into the plan and these changes will happen while you focus on better performance during training. This takes the shift away from focusing so much on body composition year round (which can be pretty exhausting and perhaps not very healthy for everyone). If a good and suitable plan is in place to match the goal of performance improvements, while also being geared toward helping your body composition goals come along, everything will just seem to fall into place without having to think about it too much.
If performance improvements are the goal, even on cardio/abs days (eg: increasing sprint speed and/or duration, increasing overall strength during core work, etc), recovery is super important to help see these gains. This can make post workout recovery methods a bit different to help you work toward this than if fat loss is the main goal.
On cardio/abs days during prep, some preps call for no post workout carbohydrate to be taken in, only a source of protein to assist with fat loss. This is the way most of my prep plans have been, too. At this point, a serving of fruit and about 15-20g of carbs from a “starch” is taken in post workout (eg: quinoa, buckwheat Kasha, millet, sweet potato, etc.) . It always feels really good to see performance increases and really awesome that different practices, like post workout nutrition, can help you get there.
The goals this off-season are to continue to feel more athletic, quick, light and stronger by training more “like an athlete.” Not only has this kept things super fun and is such a new way of challenging myself, but it seems to be really beneficial to both stage, off-season shape and function.
With the plan, fullness in the upper body (shoulders/back) will be maintained and perhaps increased slightly while keeping everything else more compact.
I am very excited to get the duration and speed of sprints up and although it may be easier and more enjoyable in the warmer months, when training outdoors is possible, right now the tread mill and indoor track will work just fine.
Core work was not done very often at all last off-season, which has changed and is now being done 2-3 times/week.
Another goal is to limit the time spent doing cardio and focus more on maintaining a healthy range of leanness through different methods of resistance training and nutrition. This will keep things super fun and challenging while allowing for a more adequate recovery between sessions and cut down on the time spent training.
Meal plans and training are always subject to change as I continue to learn what works best for me and what may not work so well. Right now, the plan incorporates upper and lower body super-sets. This can help maximize energy expenditure but is said to not be as taxing on the CNS as super-setting upper body movements together can be. This also can allow for heavier lifts and speedier recovery between sets. Just getting into it last week has been very fun.
The post-show water retention that is pretty common, seems to be gone and the healthy weight gain is so different this time! Where before it would be right around the mid section, everything seems to be a lot more evenly distributed and perhaps even less in the mid section. There is no bloating, or “puffiness” which has become a normal for me. Last time, body fat percentage crept up pretty quickly (even while being relatively careful). It didn’t get very out of hand, but did go over the range that makes getting back into contest shape easier. There was also still some puffiness and quite a bit of bloating/water swings at that time.
Without so many gluten containing food options (besides the post show treats and the few meals with friends and family since the show-which did not feel that great on the digestion or for brain function) none of these options have been taken in and I feel like this is making a world of difference. My thoughts have never been so clear, energy levels are great and I have this feeling of calm that has never been there to this extent before. I know that may sound strange and this may as well, I’m not really sure how else to explain it, but I feel extremely alert but relaxed and calm at the same time.
The external benefits I’ve seen so far: skin tone has improved so much, body fat percentage is only at 12.29% and by how everything feels, although it may still go up a percentage or two, I know it won’t go up much more than that this year. Feeling less “watery” with a more comfortable distribution of body fat is also such a nice change. And strength during training is just so great! Yesterday during training I was thinking “how is it even possible to feel like this?”
Everything just feels so recovered, different and amazing and like there is this awesome connection to my body during training that I have never felt so strongly before. Again, possibly another strange thing to say, but I am not really too sure how else to explain it. It really feels like such a huge discovery has been made since being more vigilant with the gluten containing products and I couldn’t be happier about it. It makes me want to really keep being careful, since it can only keep getting better as body functions continue to improve.
Choosing better options when I’m out with family and friends is easy, when I choose to let it be that way, but I know with Family Christmas get-togethers coming I will have some gluten containing options (by choice). It feels like my body is becoming so much more prepared to deal with some of these things (occasionally) now and it won’t be that big of a deal.
This is just so exciting!!!