As coach and owner of TS, I am always looking for a new fitness challenge to try. This weekend, I will be competing in my first physique show.
Physique is a type of bodybuilding that focuses on muscle form more than the extreme size of muscles. Contestants wear board shorts and are barefoot on stage.
According to the The National Physique Committee, the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the United States, physique judges will look at the following:
Muscularity and Body Condition
Judges will be looking for fit contestants who display proper shape and symmetry combined with muscularity and overall condition. This is not a bodybuilding contest so extreme muscularity should be marked down.
Stage Presence and Personality
Judges are looking for the contestant with the best stage presence and poise who can successfully convey his personality to the audience.
Bulking and Leaning
I ’ve spent the last four months training for this physique show and have had to modify my normal exercise routine. My training has been divided into two stages, a bulk -up phase and shorter cutting phase.
Normally, I stick to a Metabolic Resistance Training regime mixed with cardio. For this physique show though, I’ve had to make significant changes to my routine.
For the first few months of my bulk phase, I concentrated on split body training or dividing my workouts to focus on specific body parts, like legs or back. I’ve also relied more heavily on exercise machines as opposed to the free weights that I often use at TS.
After building up my muscle mass, I’ve had to lean out my body before the competition. When you are putting on muscle mass, you are also putting on a bit of fat during the process. By doing cardio for over 50 minutes daily and modifying my nutrition, I’ve been able to lose some of that fat to allow my muscle to be more defined for the competition. The impact has been noticeable--you can see my improved muscle definition.
There have been a few side effects from this new routine, though. I have not been able to focus on my mobility as much as I normally would and has found myself a little less limber than usual. Since my cardio has been steady-state on a treadmill, I’ve also has lost a bit of endurance, too.
Watching My Nutrition
One of the biggest changes that I have had to make was my nutrition. I have followed a strict macros-based diet that allowed me to put on more muscle mass in the first half my training and I’ve mainly subsisted on lean protein like fish and cut my carb intake. During my bulking phase, I was eating five times a day and consuming over 4,000 calories. As I’ve leaned down, I have dropped my calorie intake to about 2000 calories a day but now eat 7 times per day to keep my metabolism going. I do find myself craving carbs, like bagels, as I get near competition. I also need to drink at least two gallons of distilled water in the final days of training to flush out any bloating in my body.
Creating New Habits
On top of the physical aspect of the challenge, the hardest part for me has been developing new habits to change my daily behavior. I’ve had to change my workout schedule times and methods, my diet, and sacrifice some of my social life to meet my goals. Even as an owner of a boutique fitness studio, I ’ve had to find outside help, including a fitness coach and a posing coach. Everyone needs that additional push and added accountability to reach one’s goals.
You can’t grow without pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. I plan to give my body a short rest after the competition and incorporate HIIT to improve some of the endurance I’ve lost over the last few months and add back functional training.