It is November, we are nearing the end of the bodybuilding competition season… a time that can prove to be a slippery slope for many competitive athletes. There is an underlying feeling among many that they have to keep things under control, not lose their grip on the lean physique they just recently presented on stage (or presented earlier this season), and the psychosis sets in…
The inner voice may say… Take your weight measurement… Track your food intake… Pack your meals everywhere you go… No days off from the gym… Fasted cardio every morning…
The list goes on and on. Are these things inherently bad?… Some will argue “yes” and some will say “no”. It truly depends on the individual, on his or her goals, and on the person’s resilience.
You see, for many women, myself included… we work so hard, for months, for years… to attain a certain look. One that has our bodies at an incredibly low body fat percentage… This look that I love so much… Broad, rounded shoulders, thick veins running down both arms, visible abs, separation of the quadriceps muscles, a small waist, a thinned out face and chiseled jaw line were always the obvious indicators that I was on track during my competition preps in the past.
Many of us will be at the pinnacle point for a few mere days (some even less time than that)… and most lose it in a matter of hours after some yummy treats, salt, and a few liters of water.
It can be devastating… Even if it’s not your first show, even if you have been fairly warned, even if you have read several posts online about what happens to most athletes and what to expect… There is no greater shock than when you see it first hand… as you look in the mirror and it feels like all of your hard work is out the window.
RELAX… It’s not! That shredded physique is not something you can sustain. Of course there are some athletes out there with robust metabolisms. They are genetically predisposed to stay lean, even after putting themselves through the hell of a severe physique cutting phase. BUT most… I REPEAT most athletes are not built that way.
So, why do you feel like you’re the only one that put on weight really fast post show?
Here are a few things to remember…
- You are not alone. Everyone puts on weight post competition. Some people are honest about it, some people never discuss it.
- We live in the Digital Age of people sharing their highlight reels. Many athletes take a stock pile of photos when their physiques are in tip-top shape. The images are stored and posted throughout the course of the off-season. So while it may appear that your favorite fitness model or athlete is ALWAYS shredded… chances are, he or she is NOT. It just appears that way based on social media.
- Most professional athletes are contracted to maintain a certain look all year round… even if it is not the same as stage-ready, it is relatively close to that. They are being PAID… it is part of the job requirements. You are probably NOT one of these people and are NOT getting paid based on your physical appearance; therefore, CHILL OUT and stop the crazy self defecation because you don’t have abs anymore.
- For some competitors a weight fluctuation of anywhere from 10 up to 30 lbs post show is “normal” for them. Now, if you are a 5’1″ woman like myself, no… 30 lbs post show is not normal at all and is certainly NOT good for your organs. But if you are a Pro Male Bodybuilder, then yes, 30 lbs up is not a terrible place to be in the off season, especially if gains are to be made.
Please remember that while it is important not to fall off the deep end and let yourself go during the off season, it is recommended to chill out with training and give your body a chance to recover from a show prep. It’s even more important if you want to put on some muscle size… which most likely will not happen successfully if you try to put on a decent amount of size in a few months (hate to break the news to you).
So, you may not love having some extra weight on your frame while you are in a building phase, but it is a necessity! The body cannot grow if you try to stay in a caloric deficit…. Translation… If you want to add some muscle size, you need to EAT!
You also need to accept that you probably will not have those veins running down your biceps while you are in your growing phase. Perhaps you can enjoy the process of sculpting your dream body and appreciate what your body is capable of.
Celebrate Personal Records of various lifts… Enjoy eating wholesome food and filling meals… Bask in the joy of pushing heavy weight around and appreciate the fact that your incredible body can do so much more than just look good naked.
Hey everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. My name is Tiana Gonzalez. I’m an IFBB Pro Figure competitor based out of New York. I’ve been involved in competitive bodybuilding since 1999 after an old boyfriend convinced me I had good genetics and the right work ethic to get myself ready for a show. It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since! My last time on stage was in 2013 at the Kentucky Pro Show, in Louisville. Since then, I have branched out into other types of training and have come to love CrossFit. It has been a great change for me and one that I plan on keeping in my repertoire for many years to come.
So last week, Johnna shared that the two of us collaborated and had a meeting of the minds when I was vacationing in South Beach recently. Johnna and I both agree that there are things we each could take from each other, and why not share that with you all?! Last week, we shared with you 3 CrossFit moves that every Bodybuilder should do. Today, I’m going to discuss 3 Bodybuilding moves that every CrossFitter should do. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Why are these so great? Lateral Raises help build shoulder strength. CrossFit is very SHOULDER INTENSIVE, so one could really benefit from doing this exercise to support and strengthen the muscles surrounding this joint. While lifting heavy weight will certainly build strength, let’s put our ego aside and pick up some respectively lighter dumbbells. Most people look at me sideways when I hand them 5 or 8 lb dumbbells… until we get into the meat and potatoes of the set… and then they are looking at me with tears in their eyes asking when they can stop (ok… maybe it’s not that dramatic, but you get my drift).
- Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand. Arms are down by your side. Feet shoulder width apart. Core is engaged. Shoulders are in a neutral position. Chest is slightly lifted, think “stand proud”.
- Raise each arm to shoulder height with elbows very slightly bent. You don’t want to hyper extend your arms here.
- Pause at the top of the movement, when your hands are at shoulder height, and slowly lower down to the starting position.
- Keep your focus straight ahead and abs engaged at all times.
Start by using a light set of dumbbells and doing 4 sets of anywhere from 10-15 reps. Perform each movement with intention using a controlled tempo on the way up and down.
Single Leg Glute Bridge
Single Leg Glute Bridge is an amazing movement for building power in the gluteal/hip region. Have you ever seen a professional athlete with pancake ass? I didn’t think so. That is because most of your power comes from your posterior chain (Rear end, hamstrings, calves). So yes, building powerful glute muscles is all good all around.
- Start Laying on the floor with one foot resting on the edge of a bench or box.
- The other leg is extended towards the ceiling with the foot flexed.
- Lift the hips up towards the ceiling while you visualize touching the ceiling with your heel. Contract the glutes at the top of the movement for a brief second (pause), then lower down to the floor.
- Make sure your glutes touch the floor before you start your next repetition.
Start by doing 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg. This movement can be done prior to lower body work, for example if you are going to do barbell squats.
Banded X-walks are fantastic for working the abductor muscles and activating the glute muscles prior to doing movements such as squats and deadlifts.
- Start by placing both feet inside of a loop-band. You want to use one that is 1/2″ to 1″ thick.
- Crisscross the band, so that the band is creating a figure 8 shape in front of your legs.
- Pull the band so that there is some tension. This can be adjusted as you begin your repetitions.
- Keep knees soft, chest up, core engaged, focus straight ahead.
- Choose which direction you want to move in, left or right. If moving left, step to the left with your left foot, then step your right foot in to return your body to the same width between feet that you started with. Repeat this movement on one side, then begin stepping with the opposite foot back to your starting point.
- Keep both feet parallel to each other, with toes pointing straight ahead. Also try to stay at the same height for the entire site, so you’re keeping tension on your entire lower body and not moving up and down as you move side to side.
Want to try it?
Start by doing 3 sets of 20 steps on each side at the beginning of your workout.
Give these movements a try and let me (and Johnna) know how it goes! We would love to hear some feedback from you! If you would like to subscribe to my blog go to: http://www.fitbytiana.wordpress.com
THANK YOU and STAY WELL! 🙂
While I was in Miami last week, I had the pleasure to collaborate with Coach Johnna at Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach… check out Part 1 below:
One of the recurring undertones in my profession, both with my in-person clients at the gym as well as my contest prep clients, is the desire to see results faster. People… please! If there is anyone that understands this, it is me. A woman that has been on top of the mountain and had her dream physique, only to lose it in what seemed like an unfair pull of the rug from underneath her feet. What feels like a never ending battle to find perfection can be so frustrating.
I say these things daily… “It takes time”, “Be patient”, “The things you want to get rid of didn’t get there overnight”, “Be realistic with yourself”, “Enjoy the process!”
What I will also tell you is this: There are things you can control and things you will have to learn to deal with.
What can you control?
- How you exercise – intensity, frequency, duration
- What you consume – quantity, frequency
- How you cope with life stress – we all have stress and we all must cope
- Prioritizing yourself – your workouts should be a priority, if they are just something you do when you “get a chance” you will struggle finding results.
What will you have to learn to deal with?
- Managing your time
- Juggling your priorities such as work and family responsibilities
- Sleep – or lack thereof and how to improve sleeping habits
- The process of reaching your goals
Although it can be frustrating, patience is something we all need in the pursuit of our goals. Find comfort in things such as a better athletic performance, like lifting heavier weight, running faster, being able to climb a flight of stairs without losing your breathe… etc. The final outcome is a culmination of many small, mundane and sometimes boring habits repeated over and over for an extended amount of time, perhaps much longer than you care to recognize. The time will pass regardless, so why not stick with the plan and charge forward?
My transition into CrossFit has been interesting and exciting. The perfectionist in me has such high expectations, high standards, and a relentless drive to not only succeed but excel. The 20 years of bodybuilding I once loved and adored have made this transition very challenging… I have a lot of stiff muscles and joints with a limited range of motion. So I suppose some of you are wondering where did things change. When did I walk away from my romance with bodybuilding? And what is it about the controversial sport of CrossFit that I like so much?
Well, it all started with a promise I made to a friend over 3 years ago. She was a former cardio queen who, in her quest to find a new challenge, found CrossFit and got hooked! Ironically, I know the owner of the affiliate location. So, I joined her a handful of times, but it just didn’t grab me. I was still hung up on my weight and what I looked like. A lot of the movements were challenging for me and my health was not 100% after competing so many times. I also was not sure how to incorporate that style of training into my bodybuilding training split.
Fast forward to July 2015… Things started to fall into place for me with my health and I gave CrossFit another chance. The first workout was FILTHY FIFTY which is one of the brand’s well-known workouts. Although it was brutal, I had a lot of fun. When I was able to join my friend, we would have a blast. In fact, I liked it so much, by the time March 2016 rolled around, I rearranged my schedule so that I could attend WODs (Workout of the Day) regularly.
After today’s WOD, I was sitting with my friend talking about where I struggled during our workout and what I need to improve. The owner asked what we were chatting about and I clued him in as to how my cleans suck and the main issue is upper body tightness (which we all know I’m working on daily).
He said, “Well, you’ve only been coming here on a consistent basis for about 3 months… You gotta be patient.”
It’s the same thing I tell my clients… The body will only do but so much and sometimes you just have to give it time to adjust, to change.
Everyday there is a new challenge for me to tackle. My weaknesses are exposed and nag me, but my strengths are equally present and give me a fantastic sense of accomplishment when I conquer! I love turning a weakness into a strength, so facing these challenges during workouts does not discourage me. Some things are improving faster than others… I just have to keep working hard and get better. NEVER GIVE UP!
This is a common question for many people who are interested in competing in a Bodybuilding show, but perhaps do not know what category to enter. The more people you ask, the more confusing it can become. The wave of Social Media “celebrities” combined with the generation of required instant gratification, has really made competing even more convoluted than before. Here’s my suggestion… After watching a few shows, decide which category you think would be most enjoyable for you to compete in… now I use the word enjoyable cautiously here. Let’s be straight, competing is NOT all enjoyable, fun, rainbows and gold coins. It is a lot of hard work. We know this. But the only way a person will get any valuable feedback is by going through the preparation process, getting on stage, having some photos taken and getting a critique from the head judge of the show (This is something you would do post show by sending a polite email introducing yourself along with a stage photo showing your number).
Now, if you have your heart set on a specific division, but perhaps you just need more time to develop a certain body part, than humble yourself, put in the work (which may take years) and focus on that end goal of getting on stage in the division of your choosing. If you decide to keep competing without giving your body ample time to recuperate and develop, you will not evolve and your chances of success may dwindle. Bodybuilding (and all of the other divisions included) is one of those beautiful hobbies that will afford you the opportunity to improve over time. The body cannot develop while under a caloric restriction. So the idea of dieting for a show and trying to “build up” a certain body part at the same time is illogical and foolish. Hypertrophy (GROWTH) requires proper amounts of fuel and a specific method of training.
If your heart’s desire is to get on stage and you are willing to do a little trial and error until you find the right division for yourself, you might have a little easier time… doesn’t mean you won’t diet as much as the next person, or be able to skip training certain body parts… But you may wind up placing or having a good competition experience because you chose a division that may be the right fit for your body type/structure/build.
Again, it’s about having clear goals and utilizing resources to achieve the best outcome possible… and that term “best outcome possible” I leave to interpretation. One person’s best might be a Top 10 placing. Another might want to win an Overall title… and another person might want to just be onstage and bask in that glory. There is no right or wrong, it’s about personal goals.
Find someone experienced and honest to consult with, if you feel unsure. I am willing to give my input.
Email me: email@example.com
Remember… Everyone starts somewhere. Never give up on your health and fitness goals!
It is so disturbing as a veteran in the Bodybuilding world, to see so many people searching for instant gratification and shortcuts to success in competing. I hate to tell you, but if your body lacks muscle maturity, density, or size, there is no shortcut to develop that. Of course there are things people turn to in an effort to speed up the process, such as anabolic steroids, but… if used improperly, disastrous and sometimes irreversible, effects will show up… and nothing can be done to go back. I see it often with women who have trained for a short period of time but want to put on muscle. Instead of training heavy, eating more food and giving the body time to grow… they take something recommended to them and a few weeks/months later, freak out when their voice gets deeper, the jawline changes, certain parts of the genitalia become deformed, bald spots form on the head, and then unwanted body hair in other places develops… and this is just to name a few of the visible side effects.
Why do this to yourself?
Oh, that’s right… Some guy from your gym told you if you did “just a little” you would be fine. I’m sure all of his experience with the female body and hormonal system have made him an expert. (insert sarcasm)
It’s tough for me to watch this go on, but I learned many years ago that I cannot get involved, because most of the time the party I’m concerned for will tell me to mind my own business.
Sad… But hey, a plastic trophy and maybe a Pro Card are certainly worth enlarged female genitalia and a beard, right? I know… Horrible… and yes, very true.
Be patient, put in the work and allow your body to develop naturally… You don’t get any bonus points for being a freak of nature or for getting to wear some t-shirt representing a company that will never be in the Forbes 500.
That is my personality… it is my way. I loathe mediocrity and laziness. That doesn’t mean I demand 100% uptime all day and night. Everyone needs down time, of course. But when I venture into something new, I dive right in and do a lot of homework. Yoga is my latest addition, and I must admit, this is one that is staying long-term. It is one month into my practice and I am in love with my journey thus far. Of course, there is so much I don’t know… like the names of poses… but I follow along in class very well and having a good sense of body alignment/positioning, we call it proprioception in Personal Training, has truly helped me cruise along.
I am still lifting weights and doing HIIT cardio 3-4 times per week, but the Yoga is really my priority at this time. Some days, I do both types of exercise, and it has been really interesting.
I implore you to try something out of your comfort zone, even if only temporarily… You just never know, there could be something you wind up truly enjoying… Go for it.
2015 started out with some interesting twists and turns pertaining to my health. I managed to keep things under wraps for the most part and only shared what I was going through with a handful of friends, clients and family. Rather than get into all of the details, I will just say that the worst is behind me now and I am on the road to recovery, Thank Goodness! During the days that I was home resting, I realized that it was time for me to take action with one of the goals I set for myself for the Year 2015…. Start practicing YOGA. Over all the years that I have studied Dance, Karate, Bodybuilding, Strength Training and Powerlifting, I have not spent much time taking care of my Mind/Body and stretching out all of the tightness I created.
I have taken a handful of Bikram Yoga classes, which are the classes conducted in the heated studios, as well as some Hatha Yoga at the gym where I work. So far, I am loving the way I feel. It is rejuvenating to say the least. I am more clear, more at peace and more complete. I will continue to share my experiences, observations, and anecdotes as I see fit. Thank you for being a part of my journey.