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Competition Number 3
The Results are In! Click Here

Well it's official. I've started training for another natural drug-free bodybuilding competition.

First, let's clear up what a natural drug-free bodybuilding competition is, or more precisely, what it is not. It is NOT what most people think of when they envision bodybuilding. There are no 270-pound steroid pumped mass monsters. The contestants look more like the bodybuilders of the 1950's and 60's before steroids became prevalent. In fact, few competitors under 6 foot tall will weigh over 200 pounds. If you met the typical winner in their street clothes, you would think they were just very athletic.

I'm starting a little earlier this time. Going to have about 17 weeks. I figure I have to loose about 15-20 pounds of fat to have my body fat where I want it (4-6% It actually tested at 2.9% according to the Bod Pod, but I think that reading was a little low), which is where I was for the last show. The plan is similar to the previous plan in that I will try to gain weight during the week while lifting weights and burn off the excess pounds during the weekend riding the bicycle, for a net loss of about a pound or so of fat per week. With some muscle gain and a pre-show carb load, this should put me on stage at about 175 pounds. My stage weight for the last show was 166 pounds. With that I won my age group (50+) and took 3rd overall (all ages). One of the judges told me with about 10 more pounds of muscle, I would have had a shot at the overall. So that's the goal - add about 10 pounds of muscle for this year.

My plan is broken down into phases:

Phase 1 (Now - June 1) Muscle Building, Conditioning, and Fat Loss:
There are a lot of extreme workouts in Phase 2. To get through them, my cardio fitness and joint conditioning have to be in top shape. I got through my last two competitions without any injuries. As always, that's my goal again this year.
This is also the primary weight loss stage. The goal is to lose about a pound or so of fat every week. Diet is strict, no wasted calories, except on scheduled cheat days. I personally like to use a zigzag diet method. Days that I weight train I'll consume about 4,000-5,000 calories. The bulk of this is in pre and post workout meals. Off days, about 2,000. This will cause me to gain a little weight during the week, hopefully, some of that being muscle. I'll burn the fat off on the weekends (I'll explain more about why I like the zigzag diet and why it works in a future post). I also do a half-fast on Sundays. It consists of a small breakfast and only liquids the rest of the day for a total of about 700-1000 calories. This I do year round. I find it beneficial for overall health, not just for weight loss.

Phase 2 (June 2 - July 6) Muscle Pumping and Fat Loss - The Icing Phase (also the neglect the wife and family phase)
This looks a lot like what most people think of when they envision bodybuilding workouts. Longer workouts, lighter weights, lots of reps, and little rest between sets. Also, my food intake goes up, so lots more bike riding, hence the "neglect the wife and family" phase.
I call this the "Icing Phase" because this is what you do AFTER you have baked the cake. Most people make the mistake of doing this year round, not realizing you can't pump up a muscle you haven't built. Try putting icing on a cake before baking it and see what happens. Build your muscle base first!

Note: During the rest of the year, I rarely lift weights more than about 3 hours per WEEK. That's not per workout - THAT'S THREE HOURS TOTAL PER WEEK! My workouts look relaxing, as I take longer rests between sets, using this rest time to do stretching, balance work, joint strengthening, etc. I do do other training, such as Parkour, bike riding, trail running, etc.

Phase 3 (July 7 - July 16) Carbohydrate Depletion and Salt Load
NO CARBS - Ouch! The goal is to deplete the muscles of carbohydrates so that when I start stuffing myself with carbs the following week, my body will overcompensate and overfill my muscles. The workouts also become total muscle burnout type workouts to help with this. It's funny, but I used to do a very similar pre-race regimen when ultra-distance bike racing. And people often commented how much more muscular I always looked right before a race. Same effect.
This is also salt load time. I'll add a sprinkle of salt to each meal. Not a lot, just a sprinkle.

This has the downside of making you look really bad. Your muscles will flatten out, your skin will get puffy and bloated. Last year, when I hit the phase, it scared me. You think all your hard work and sacrifice has gone down the drain and there's no way in hell you're getting on stage looking like this. But it's only temporary, so get over it.

Note:  Most people think of pre-race carb loading as just eating a bunch of carbs the night before a race. But without the depletion phase, that is just about useless for increasing the amount of carbs in your muscles. However, it is better than eating gut bombs that will sit in your intestines like a rock during the race.

Phase 4 (July 17 - 18) Carbohydrate Overcompensation and Salt Depletion
Pancakes, Pancakes, and More Pancakes - and Lots of Water. My muscles are carb starved from the previous week and will respond to the pancakes by overcompensating and filling up with carbs and water. Last competition, I was able to gain 5 pounds between Wednesday and the Saturday morning competition time. Granted, this carb pump only lasts a few days. Coincidentally, it lasts about as long as the fake tan does. Hey, but they both look great on stage!
Also, part of this phase is cutting salt while maintaining potassium levels. This will cause my skin to lose water (regardless of how much I drink, and I drink a lot of water before and during the competition), while allowing the muscles to retain water, letting them keep their fullness, size, and shape. The previous week of extra salt helps to make this even more effective. I don't use diuretics, just salt intake manipulation to manage my water retention.

Phase 5 (July 19) The Show.
Stand around in your skivvies trying not to smear your spray on tan all over the place and hope the judges like what they see.
Wish me luck!

I'm no expert and still fairly new to the sport, so don't take anything I say as gospel. Natural drug free bodybuilding isn't easy, so to make it as easy as possible, I studied the best sources I could find, tried different things, some worked for me, others didn't. Find out what works for you and your body. These are the methods that work for me and my body. And with two competitions and 1st place trophies in both, all I can say is, so far, so good.

There's a few other tips and tricks I'll share as time goes by, such as doing a massive leg pump the day before the show - Again Zeb, I apologize.

The Results - THREE-PEAT!!

50-Year-Old+ - 1st place
40-Year-Old+ - 1st place
Open Middle Height - 2nd

These victories also entitled me to my pro card

doctorAs with any nutrition or exercise program, always review them with your doctor to ensure that they don't interact with or are contraindicated by any medications or medical issues you may have. If you haven't trained for a while, start out slow and go easy. If you are pregnant, have diabetes, blood sugar problems, or any heart issues, you shouldn't do this program as it is very strenuous.
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