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Contest Prep for the Bodybuilder
Lately there has been a lot of talk about building muscle and losing fat. There are many miracle diets and workouts on the market today. Most bodybuilders are confused and confused about what to do. Whether you’re getting ready for a show or just want to look your best for the beach, there are steps necessary to ensure your success!
First rule… Train for strength, Muscle!
Rule two… Eat for definition!
Rule three… Prepare in advance!
The first thing needed is to figure out what shape you are in today and where you want to be when you walk on stage or on the beach!
Use the mirror, it will never lie! When I was in competition, I knew I was in good shape when just below my navel, the skin was transparent, that is to say without fat. If I was retaining body fat there, I knew I wasn’t lean enough.
The second thing is to start well in advance in preparing for your contest. I actually started dieting, depending on how fit I was, for weeks, sometimes 16 weeks or more, so I could hit my lowest body fat level a month after the show. I would then eat my way up to my best form at which I would compete. The benefit here is to do away with the stress of being on an extremely low calorie diet. I would walk on stage looking healthy and energetic.
The third thing is to NEVER add aerobics unless absolutely necessary. Remember, your goal is to enter the biggest and toughest show possible. If you’re doing aerobics, you won’t be at your best because now you’re cross-training. Start weeks in advance so you don’t freak out doing tons of aerobics at the last minute to get rid of any remaining fat residue. It will burn muscle and fat unlike what you want. Walking is OK at a leisurely pace.
The fourth thing is to train for strength. High Intensity Training Guys! Intense, brief and infrequent! The stronger you are, the bigger and more muscular you will be. I was at my strongest a few weeks before the show, always! Forget light weight and high nonsense! We are all anatomy charts under the blanket of fat we carry on our bodies, no matter how much or how much. I left the last two weeks to stop training and perfect my posing routine.
While there are different types of diets…low fat, high fat, high protein, etc., it’s all about calories in and calories out. Eat a well-balanced diet while reducing your calories by 500 to 1000 per day. The best way to determine your calorie maintenance level is to write down everything you eat for three days to a week. More would be better. Add up the calories you ingested and divide by these, three to seven days. If you haven’t lost or gained any body weight, that’s your maintenance level. If that happens to be 3000 calories per day on average, start by cutting back to 2500 calories per day and watch yourself in the mirror and on the scale. You should start losing about a pound of fat per week, but you shouldn’t experience any loss of strength.
Muscle and fat are two different things. Your goal is to train to preserve or increase your strength and therefore your muscles. How? By training intensely, briefly and infrequently…once every four to seven days, depending on your level and progress. Remember, we’re talking muscle here, not fat. Your level of body fat is managed by your diet. There should be no changes to your training for a show except to possibly get bigger and stronger. Also remember that the diet will add extra stress to your body, so be aware of that and how you feel. If you find that you are still not recovered and need an extra day off, no problem. Watch your calories and take the rest.
I found that I made some of my best gains training for a show because of the emotion that was put into it, the mindset, and the effort.
Practice your pose. There are many great movies of yesteryear bodybuilders posing. I always liked Mike Mentzer and Ed Corney. Get these movies and watch them. Practice smiling while striking effortless graceful poses, if that’s your style.
Find the music you’d like to pose to. Classical music is nice, but I also posed on the theme song “Iron Man”. Whichever one you choose, practice, practice, practice! Not only does it burn calories, but it gives you the muscle control needed to flaunt your hard-earned muscle.
Learn how to move from one pose to another. Set up a pose lamp in front of a full-length mirror, front and back, and start practicing right from the start. Practice your mandatory poses while holding them for a minute or two. Start shopping for pose trunks, color and fit. Black is a good color to start with and then you can go from there.
Carb loading is done to make sure your muscles are as full and hard as possible when you walk on stage. This technique is practiced a little differently by many, so I’ll give the process I used to charge for a contest.
If I were to compete on a Saturday, I would start the process on Monday. Last week, I was doing nothing but posing daily. My training would almost entirely cease except for one workout at the start of the week. Other than that, I kept active, walked and posed every day, sometimes posing for an hour or two!
Starting Monday, reduce your carbohydrate intake to less than 30 grams per day and increase your fat intake to compensate. We don’t want to lose calories at this point, so add some fat. Watch your carbs and protein and increase your fat level to your calorie level. Make sure you drink plenty of water as you will feel like you are urinating a lot, due to the lack of carbs to hold water inside the muscle.
On Thursday morning, you’ll cut fat in your diet, lower your protein a bit, and add carbs to your diet. Not just any carbohydrates, but those with a low glycemic index. We want to start eating carbs every two and a half to three hours, small meals; you can add proteins but especially carbohydrates. At this point, we want to limit our water intake to only that governed by thirst. What will happen is that when you start consuming carbs, it will start pulling water inside the muscle, including any water your body may be holding under the skin. Your body is very efficient! Don’t overdo it! Stay within your caloric needs, we don’t want an overflow to soften you up at this point.
Friday, daytime, you should look pretty good. Continue doing your pose but nothing else. Limit your pose on Friday because I want you fresh for Saturday.
On Saturday morning, have a good breakfast but watch out for salt and sugar etc. Don’t eat too much, but don’t eat too much either. Sip water don’t drink. After prejudging not to explode, continue your monitoring of your diet for the nighttime spectacle. Good luck
TIPS and SECRETS
If you get to a point in your body fat loss progress where you’re stuck, stop dieting for a day! Eat anything and everything you choose, but the next day, even if you’re retaining water and seem like you’ve put on a few pounds, don’t worry. This will kick start your metabolism. What a fun way to kick!
You can sometimes control your metabolism by sleeping less. Start by waking up an hour earlier or going to be an hour later. As long as you don’t feel exhausted, you should be fine. Although coffee and caffeine have gotten some negative press, they also influence metabolism and help before a workout.
IF YOU MUST
If your metabolism is such that you can’t reduce your calories while consuming a well-balanced diet, which becomes impossible below 1200 calories… then, add some cycling or walking. No more than three times a week for no more than 30-45 minutes. This mainly concerns lighter athletes and women. Be careful with aerobics.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
If you stick to the science and think about it, you will never be confused or bewildered. The science of bodybuilding has demanding principles, just like the science of nutrition. I wish you the best of luck in achieving your bodybuilding goals, whatever they may be!
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