Contest Countdown – A Guide to Realizing your Goals

August 7, 2011 by  
Filed under body fitness contest

Contest Countdown – A Guide to Realizing your Goals

Article by Dane Fletcher

Week 14:

* Buy all stored/ frozen food for diet.* Purchase supplements and protein powder.* Outline your training regimen for the entire 13 weeks.* Start building endurance by including cardio if you have been inactive aerobically.

This is the week prior to starting your diet, so you need to be prepared on the morning it starts. Buy all the food you can that stores or freezes, so that on that Monday morning, you are prepared. Frozen chicken, cans of tuna, yams, oatmeal, protein powder, supplements (both for dieting and recovery) and anything else you may need apart from fresh fare.

Remember, think ahead about the type of person you are… do you get hungry at night? What will you do when hunger strikes? Outfit your cupboards with small snacks that are almost calorie free so you can munch on things to tide you over into the next day. Cheating isn’t an option!

The last thing is, you should start to do cardio work, maybe 2-3 times per week within this week prior to hitting it hard. You’ll be thankful you did. Start with the treadmill and up the ante each day you do cardio so you’re pushing yourself into aerobic fitness. Purchase one of those small lunch coolers so that you can pack all of your food for the day. If it’s there, it’s a no-brainer and you won’t need to tempt yourself going into a fast food restaurant or grocery store. Pack baggies of protein, or scoop protein into empty 12 oz water bottles, ready to fill.

Week 13:

* Cook the night before, pack the next morning.* Start writing down everything you eat.* Write down your workouts and details about them.* Get extra rest this week.

This is your start week. On the day prior to this, (usually a Sunday night) you should have cooked a few chicken breasts, some yams, perhaps a little rice, etc. so that you aren’t rushing around trying to put it all together in time. A lot of people buy those Rubbermaid storage tubs, in various sizes, to accommodate salad lettuce and cabbage, cooked chicken breasts, and hard boiled eggs, in order to always have something prepared and on hand when hunger strikes. Keep replenishing these in the refrigerator so that it’s easy to just grab and put together your meals for the day. Once in the gym, make sure that you bring a small spiral notebook to record what you’ve done and basically, what your set and rep scheme was. Make comments about how it went once you arrive home so that you can assess what’s working and what isn’t.


Look at a contest prep cycle as a series of four 3 week periods of time. Within each three week cycle, there are certain things you need to do in order to push yourself into the next realm of fitness. We’ve been clear about how to begin to prepare, now we’ll get more into the fine points of actual tips for training and dieting that will point you in the right direction. It’s pretty methodical, and definitely isn’t rocket science. Just follow the plan and path that thousands before you have taken and you’ll end up successful.

Weeks 10, 11 & 12:

Diet: Each meal in your daily diet should contain some form of protein. Whether you get that from protein powders or from actual meat, poultry, eggs or fish, the protein is crucial for repair and building, as well as speeding up your metabolism to lose body fat. Your diet should also include 1-2 meals that have some kind of substantial carbohydrate, such as yam or brown rice. Try to quit eating those things by 3-4pm in the beginning. You’ll also include 1 cup of cooked oatmeal for breakfast with egg whites, etc. during this phase. Your last couple of meals should consist of quality protein and vegetable carbohydrates, such as broccoli or spinach. Record everything, including amount and gram count. If you don’t know, go buy a book that lists the food values of common portions. Your protein can include some red meat, but make sure it’s lean. You can also have a yolk or two with your egg whites. Keep calories up, but make sure the food you eat is all good food and not junk!

Recap: Record every bit, take in protein at every meal, go easy on the starches after 3pm, don’t cut calories down too far.

Training: Training during the first few weeks should include the weights you always use, but the repetitions should increase slightly. You’ll be howling at night from the extra soreness, but you’ll speed up your metabolic rate, keep your strength and begin shaping muscles in ways you usually never see because you don’t push yourself to this point. Try to take less rest between sets, and trade out one exercise for each body part with a new one that you haven’t done very often. Keep great form, despite fatiguing your muscles much more in these three weeks.

Recap: Move rapidly, less rest between sets, keep weights heavy, increase variety.

Cardio: Your calories have dropped slightly, despite best efforts, because you’re now eating good food and probably don’t know how to eat the same number of calories and have them all be good for you. That’s okay. During this phase, you’re going to really bump up your cardio fast. Add 10 minutes to each session and make sure you get 4-5 sessions this week. (Don’t do cardio on leg days). Use only the treadmill this week and start with 30 minutes, go to 40, then 50, then 60 and start back at the beginning at the first part of the week. Really play with intensity here too. Lots of ways to do this, considering that on a treadmill, you can play with pace, incline, program, time and interval work. Push yourself to do at least two 2-3 minute sprint-like runs in the midst of each session. And elevate the treadmill a few times.

Recap: Use only the treadmill these first 3 weeks, add 10 minutes each session, vary intensity.

Weeks 7, 8, & 9

This is where the fun begins!

Diet: These are the weeks that try men’s souls. You’ll cut back to one starch (Example: 1 cup of brown rice, or 1 yam), and will cut your oatmeal in half in the mornings. Eat extra protein and have steamed vegetables or a salad to add fiber. Make sure you finish that one starch by 2pm. You’ll be eating about 6 times per day and increasing your protein to make up for the lack of the one starch. You’ll also add a little flax seed oil in with a protein shake or with your afternoon/ evening meals. This will also take up the slack for the lack of that carb and give you energy to go on. Remember to keep writing this all down each day.

Recap: Cut oatmeal in half, cut down to one starch, increase vegetable intake, increase protein intake, and supplement with a few well-placed teaspoons of flax oil over 2 meals.

Training: Training should intensify during these weeks. The weight you have been able to use is likely waning a bit. To make up for that, increase your number of sets, or keep the number of sets stable and increase repetitions. Add in the occasional super set. You’ll be trying to take less rest between sets. If you feel yourself not getting a pump, use glutamine in 4-5 gram doses a couple of times a day, along with a small amount of creatine, mixed in with about 6 oz of Gatorade and 6 oz of water just prior to workouts.

Drop compound movements such as bench press and start using dumbbells, still trying to keep the weight up as much as possible, while set and rep numbers go up. Begin to pick up the pace and train faster.

Recap: Intensify training, increase set or rep numbers, add super sets, use more dumbbells than bars, train slightly faster.

Cardio: This is where things get tricky. You can keep a constant time of 40-45 minutes for each session, rather than continually adding, but you need to keep intensity high. Use a variety of equipment during this phase, including treadmill, elliptical trainer, stepper, etc., but do interval training on each apparatus. Speed up with less resistance, slow down with greater resistance. Wear a heart rate monitor and dip into the anaerobic zone 4-5 times during a session.

Recap: Keep time constant, keep intensity high, increase variety of apparatus, use interval training, wear heart rate monitor and dip into anaerobic zone several times.

Weeks 4, 5, & 6

Diet: This is where you’ll begin to cycle your macronutrient groups. You’ll move in a 3 day cycle, similar to a training cycle, when you do this. It will look something like this:

Day 1: Low fat protein sources, 2 grams protein per body weight, no added fat and 2 starches for the day, along with lots of vegetables.Day 2: Moderate protein (1 gram per pound of body weight) both lean and semi-lean sources, (lean beef okay), 1 starch, multiple vegetables, and 1 tbsp flax oilDay 3: High protein, variety of sources, (egg whites + yolk, chicken, steak, fish), high vegetable intake, including a salad at each meal, 2-3 tbsp of flax oil (spread out over a few meals), or 2 meals with flax and one with 1/2 cup walnuts.

This will define for you how fast your body can change.

Recap: Follow this exactly, and keep cycling through the 3 day plan over the course of 21 days.

Training: Training sessions for each body part should include fewer exercises, less sets, and higher repetitions. Because you’re doing less overall volume in your workouts during this phase, try to increase the weight again in some exercises. Still use dumbbells and any attachment that lends itself well to full range of motion in each movement. Vary the exercises you do each time so you’re never doing the same exercise twice in one week. Keep the pace as quick as you can, but take appropriate rest when you need it. The variance in diet will likely throw you for a loop! Take in plenty of glutamine in the morning, afternoon and evening.

Recap: Include fewer exercises, less overall sets, but more repetitions. Try to increase weight, and increase the glutamine intake

Cardio: Do 8 sessions of cardio this week – one in the morning and one in the evening – over 4 days, avoiding leg days. Vary apparatus. Also, vary times throughout the week, randomly. One morning, do 30 minutes, and at night, do 25. The next day do 50 in the morning, then do 25 in the evening, going by how you feel that day. Throw in one good intensity based session during the week, but make sure it’s in the morning.

Recap: 8 split sessions, vary apparatus, vary time randomly, throw in one session geared toward intensity.

Weeks 2 & 3

Diet: Bump your meals up to 7 or 8 each day, and decrease the overall food volume in every other one. Keep protein intake very, very high, eating at least 2 grams per pound of body weight. All carbs should come from vegetables, but you may have either

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Get Adobe Flash playerPlugin by wordpress themes