“Fun is good.”
*Warning – After 30 weeks into prep there may be some typos and grammar errors LOL! Enjoy :)
Contest prep fun? I know for some the thought of restricting calories and doing boring bouts of cardio can be quite miserable. I’ve come to the realization some bodybuilders place an enormous amount of pressure on themselves while prepping. That can be quite overwhelming and it can make for a not so pleasant experience. Especially when contest preps can last for weeks if not months at a time. Lately I’ve been trying my best to avoid the pressure by asking myself one simple question which has allowed me to eliminate some of the stress and to have some fun with the process. That simple question is, “How can I make today’s prep fun? For me, it can be the challenge of simply adding more weight to my lifts or maybe fitting in a customized delicious cake into my nutrition targets.
Chocolate Sludge Whey Cake
Macros – 42p, 62c, 6f
Macros – 42p, 62c, 4f
But, my latest craze is going for long stints of LISS cardio. Last week I jumped on my recumbent bike for 2 straight hours and hammered out 37.1 miles!
2hr LISS and 37.1 miles
I know you might be thinking, “That’s nuts!” or maybe “Borrrriiiing!”I didn’t do it to burn off more fat (but I hope it did) or to grab some extra credit…I just wanted to go out of my comfort zone and accomplish something I’ve never done before. It was a personal goal and I actually had a good time doing it too! So, this Thursday I’ve decided to up the ante and go for 50 miles. By the time this season wraps up, I may have to change my name to Lance…Armstrong that is LOL! No but seriously, these are just a few mini goals I’ve created for myself to look forward to in the short term besides putting all my focus solely on my first contest date which is still 11 long weeks away. Could you imagine what was going on inside my head when I started this prep 30 weeks ago? By the time I hit the stage for the first time this season I will have been prepping for 41 weeks! That can be an overwhelming thought on Day 1, so it’s definitely a good idea to have something to look forward to besides a contest date that is 10 long months away. It’s been the small short term goals I’ve given myself that’s making this process a lot more enjoyable. It really has helped me to enjoy the day to day journey without thinking about a specific contest date that is light years away.
Hardcore vs. Balance
If there is one thing I can say I’ve learned so far from this prep is that it simply doesn’t have to be mentally dreadful or physically exhausting...too hardcore. I know many bodybuilders seem to correlate pain and suffering with progress. I know for some it needs to feel epic like the 15th round of a Rocky fight. Why is that? Why does going through pain, mental anguish or the desire to work harder than anyone else equal to more gains? Is it pride? Is it the ego talking? Could it be the fear of failure? Prep doesn’t have to be an epic test of your mental fortitude to successfully make gains. I can have fun with my prep and it doesn’t mean I’m not working hard or that I’m not dedicated. Having some fun while prepping does not mean I’m soft or that I’m not bringing my best physique to the stage. I’ve won a few titles in the past being hardcore where I trained like there was no tomorrow…like a machine and I was very proud of the fact I accomplished some victories, but in hindsight I took my training way too seriously. Those preps were grueling both physically and mentally and I made it way too stressful than I needed it to be…you know…clean eating (plain chicken breasts, brown rice, and broccoli), super intense gym sessions, tough bouts of cardio, and also closing myself down socially. Umm…don’t dare ask me to go out to dinner… I’m prepping! Why is it that everyone around you has to cater to your training? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? This is all the typical hardcore stuff…train like a champ, eat like a champ, and act like a champ. Do what it takes! It’s all good if you enjoy the hardcore bodybuilding lifestyle, but I would guess 70-90% of us would much rather not take that route and definitely for our loved ones it's probably closer to 100%! Prep can be quite hard, but I can also make it fun with a much more balanced and conservative approach that’s based on using my instincts. I know when to push hard and when to back off. I don’t feel the need to put the pedal to the metal at all times in fear of stalling my progress or because of what my competitors might be doing. My main priority is to maintain balance with my prep, so I can make sure I’m progressing within my own capabilities, but also so I’m enjoying the journey and life in general. So what exactly am I referring to when it comes to balance? For me, it means more balanced food choices (I don’t like the IIFYM label because guys take it too extreme, but I do eat both clean foods and other choices as well), adjusting my training & cardio according to my recovery abilities, and going out to eat socially at restaurants or other functions (I’m not scared to order things that will fit in my nutrition targets).
A balance of food – Chocolate Whey, Carrots, tangerine, String Cheese and Caramel Rice Cakes
By prepping this year with a more balance approach than my last hardcore season of ’09, one might assume I took a step back as far as my progress, but that’s simply not the case.
2009 – a more hardcore approach (166lbs) vs. 2011 a more balanced approach (174lbs)
Although at 174lbs, I’m not as lean as the ’09 photos, I think the point is made that I’m on pace to surpass my ’09 season in size, conditioning and posing. The important thing for me is that I keep applying balance with my prep because I’ve never enjoyed this sport as much as I do now. I’ve realized you don’t have to be so hardcore to be successful in this sport and it’s something I’ve come to realize for myself, but also in learning from my teammate, Alberto Nunez, who in my opinion is one of the best when it comes to applying balance. By the way, he eats Peanut Butter Smiley Face Sandwiches, goes out for Ostrich Burgers with loved ones and friends, trains smart by using periodization, and also takes the time to help others achieve their own personal goals. He proves on a daily basis that you don’t have to be so dang psychotic with your approach to achieve success in in this sport.
But, in saying all this…there is really is no right or wrong way to approach this sport because each individual will eventually find the right path for themselves.
Okay…now on to my progress!
Start of Prep: 12/06/10 – 206.5lbs.
6/27/11 – 175lbs
Goal Weight: 160ish
*Note – Weight has been fluctuating up and down lately, but visually I’m definitely leaner. I will more than likely see a big whoosh with the scale in the next day or two. If I don’t then an adjustment will be made.
Friday 6/24/11 – Lower Body (heavy focus)
Smith Squats – 325 x 5, 5, 5, 5
Rack pulls – 435 x 5, 5, 5
Standing Leg Curls – 30 x 8, 8
Smith Machine Calf Press – 455 x 5, 5, 5
Saturday 6/25/11 – Upper Body (heavy focus)
Bench Press – 230 x 3, 3, 3, 3
Bent Rows – 250 x 5, 5, 5
1 Arm Pulldowns – 110 x 5, 5
Military Press – 150 x 5, 5, 5
Triceps Pressdowns – 110 x 5, 5, 5
Barbell Curls – 110 x 5, 5, 5
Hammer Curls – 35 x 15
Cardio - LISS (light intensity steady state)
6/23 – 120 min am *2 hr LISS/37.1 miles on recumbent bike (personal goal)
6/24 – 30 min pm
6/25 – 60 min am/30min pm
6/26 – 30 min am/50min pm
6/27 – 60 min am/30 min pm
*Note – On Thursday 6/30, I’m going for 50 miles! Oh yea!
Current macros - 165-175p, 265-275c, 20-25f
I’ve actually increased carbs over the past 3 weeks and decreased my protein and fats just a little bit, but for the past couple of days the scale is at a standstill. If the scale doesn’t move in the next couple of days then I will have to make an adjustment. The good thing…as I increased the carbs those 3 weeks I got a nice weight drop (178 to 174).
Feeling really good and looking forward to that 50 mile ride! Until my next blog keep training hard, smart and naturally!
In : 2011 Contest Journey
Tags: jeff alberts natural bodybuilding contest prep weightlifting nutrition balance
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