The Brutal Truth About Your Competition and your Expectations

THIS BLOG IS ABOUT PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION! ❤


As a coach, I have lots and lots of brand new athletes who begin their journey on my team.

As their shows grow closer and closer ,it’s common for them to tell me..
“I thought I’d 
1. be showing more muscle
2. look  just like the Instagram competitors
3. be tighter
4. be more defined
5. have more muscle
or some variation of this.

The hard truth is
If you started your prep having not done a full off /grow/build  season, you did it backwards. Yep. I said it. As athletes.. we NEED a full grow season before we begin to prep for stage.
It is very common to see people who “workout” think they can cut down to what you see on the gram. It’s not the same as taking a strategic off season, eating, building, and then cut to unveil what you have built.

In 2012/2013, it was common to see coaches advertise “12 Weeks to Stage”  and starve a sister to stage lean.  It was a simpler time back then because the bikini physique was not pumped , super conditioned or showing striations. It was beachy.  BEACHY.

wonderwoman
This was 5 weeks out from my first show.

Fast forward to the ultra competitive nature of the stage of today. Conditioning needs to be on point. If a new athlete has begun her prep without mature muscle, she will come in lean and sexy but without the visible conditioning she is thinking she should see.

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In every cut.. we lose muscle. EVERY one.  That is real. We work so hard to keep what we have when we are on a cut.  If you are lifting heavy and training with high intensity and keeping your protein higher.. you are doing your best to keep that valuable muscle for stage.  You will not be building any muscle in a caloric deficit.  If you are on the normal path of losing body fat, and your calories are lower, you will be fighting to keep the muscle you have.

If you have very little muscle to start with.. you can certainly come in lean and gorgeous but with visible work to do.

WE ALL HAVE WORK TO DO.

Does that make you unworthy to compete? 
Not at all.
Does it mean you are going to lose?
Not necessarily.
Can you even win?
Of course you could!

Why bother? UGH.. well..

Because this sport is about improvements. When you compete, you must look at what you brought to the stage and work with your coach for improvements.
Do the work and come back with a better package.

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Build build build your physique but know you can get better every show!!

Your first show should be a baseline. It’s a BASELINE.

You gain experience, you gain, knowledge of your body. You gain reality checks and you lose the nerves associated with the competition process. You become less about the madness and all about strategy.

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In 2013 I needed much glute work. I still do! Middle pic is lots of food, lots of lifting  (2016) Final pic is 2017.  I’m a work in progress because I want to get better.

We all have to take the time to build mature muscle to get the IG look. Some of those women are NOT natural and it’s deceiving.  No offense to anyone who is not natty just be realistic!!
There is no fast track to mature muscle when you are natty.

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Ashley in 2015 and 2018. She is lighter on the right BTW.

It’s surplus of calories and progressive overload on your muscles. It’s diligence and time spent to create the physique you want. #science

No magic. Science.
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coach j
Julia Before and at the UFE World Championships in Toronto

Post Show:  Bad sportsmanship is never ok!!
I should have placed.
The judges hated me

I’m quitting my coach for another coach. I should have won.
I’m quitting the sport. I deserved to win, that other girl didn’t.
This show is rigged. The judges have their favorites. 

Boy, doesn’t this sound familiar.  First of all.. being an athlete isn’t’ when you are walking on stage in your sparkly bikini, it’s how you handle yourself. Being a real athlete is about sportsmanship as well as hard work.  Frankly, being pissy because you didn’t get what you wanted actually shows on stage. Yep.. you don’t think it does.. but it sure does.

It shows in your social media. It shows in how you treat others in your show. It shows.
Disparaging other athletes in public or social media reflects badly on YOU. Your friends will always  side with you.  Pro-tip: keep that conversation between you and your coach and be gracious in your placing. Your judges see your social.. just count on that. It looks bad.

Hey.. honestly…There is no guarantee.  Body building is a subjective sport and as athletes we never know who will show up. We don’t really have a solid handle as an industry on criteria.  Each federation seems to want something different or  perhaps the judging isn’t consistent. We already all know these things, yet we choose to step on stage.

No one is entitled to a pro card.  In your first year, not getting a pro card is a good thing. I said it.  I’ve seen many athletes win their pro card on their first show and were not ready to compete at pro level.  They did not do their time coming up and it basically put them out of the competition game.

Not getting a trophy when we thought we deserved one is normal because we all go there with the intention of winning. Sometimes things just don’t go our way.  Sometimes the numbers are tight and it’s literally a crap shoot on who placed higher.

Yeah, sometimes the judges have their favorites. Sometimes they don’t even see you.
Sometimes they don’t like YOU.  Sometimes it sucks.  It’s a subjective sport.

My point here is if you think that the grass is greener elsewhere then you didn’t do your show for the right reason.  Our goals should be to improve our physique and be competitive.  Winning is a cherry on top of the actual cupcake of the competition process.  We can get better and work hard for the next time!  We can try another federation that might be a better fit.  We can figure out where we can work smarter and keep pushing.  Or we can stomp our feet and be mad.  Trust me.. one is easier than the other.

So sorry… but I’m not writing  this to bring you down. I’m asking for you to understand your sport and realize your amazing potential. I’m asking you to focus on what you are accomplishing in a very short time and what knowledge you are gaining in this process.
I’m asking for all of us to stay away from comparisons when you are looking at your  pictures. It is not going to further your progress or goal to compare.

You do not know who will show up on stage next to you.
You do not have any control over the judges likes and feelings. You are in a sport that has literally no criteria and is  subjective.

FOCUS on YOU and your best package. Retool and learn how to apply what you are learning.
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Baby Iggy wants you to know that you are enough.. just work hard!!
Good luck with your show
Coach T

The off-season lie no one wants to talk about.

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Andreia Brazier in her show season and off season.

Let me start this post by saying this
Stage Lean is addicting. To me.. it’s like in the movies when you see a vampire taste blood for the first time.  You are on a never ending path to chase it down, own it and keep it.

Every single time I prep, I swear I’m going to stay stage lean but I don’t. It’s not real and it’s really just a moment in time for most of us.

What is stage lean, really?
If you don’t know what stage lean is, it’s extreme.Personally,  I love my physique at 5 weeks out. As I get closer to stage, I look drawn , tired, frail, tiny, quite bobble headish. On stage, under the lights, in my bikini I look huge. But in reality, it’s the smallest I’ve been since I was 11 years old.  As a women, it’s the ultimate high even though I know how I look in real life.

Stage lean is the extreme phase of body building where you are at your very best, displaying all your hard work and feeling like you own the world.  It’s important to be extremely lean so that your muscle show and you can be judged on them!! I’m not thin. I’m not naturally athletic. I’m not an outlier. I’m not someone any of this comes easy to.

Those few moments in time are everything.  I will take on everything about prep, dieting, training to own those moments.   Seeing your hard work makes it all worth it!

What is off season?

Off season or improvement season is for building muscle and getting gains! It’s important as competitive athletes to work to improve our package each year.  To do so, we must eat and lift.  In a caloric deficit, we are fighting to keep the muscle we have. That means for most of us, in our prep, we are working hard to save the muscle we have! No muscle is growing!

To achieve gains, we must be in a surplus of calories and that’s how we grow!

A solid off season weight would be 8-10 pounds over stage weight.

We are hopeful that post show, we can do our reverse diet properly and move into a lean bulk. For many, it’s simple. For some..not so much.

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The lie: 
The internet provides us some pretty intense  fitness inspiration.   My Instagram feed is all about body building competitions so I have a steady diet of lean, ripped , physiques to keep me motivated.   When you finish your show season and begin your lean bulk, it’s very easy  to get discouraged and feel like you are failing because you don’t look shredded  like the  InstaStars .

So many of our fellow competitors find that post show, they experience the blues and they feel fluffy because now they now comparing their physique to their stage weight.

This certainly has the potential create body  body dysmorphia!

“Look at her.. If she can stay ripped all year, why can’t I? Why am I failing?”

Thoughts
Someone I admire very much made a post that really brought it home for me..
What if, post competition you were normal? What if you gained a little weight back, you don’t look stage lean and you just  ate at your maintenance macros. Because we are looking at the InstaStars who appear to stay stage lean all year round, we have a skewed view of what is actually normal. His point was, the majority do gain in off season and don’t stay stage lean. So while feeling like we are the ones who aren’t normal.. we actually are. Most of us do, eat, lift and build!!

Chasing the dragon:  As body builders  we laugh and say
Welcome to the world where you are
1. never lean enough
2. never big enough
3. your abs are never good enough

There are athletes out there who never take the time for their bodies to recover. They don’t take grow seasons and they don’t improve. But, recovery is important. As athletes we should take at least the same amount of weeks we dieted to recover. I have a full year between my shows. My body could not take less. One year I did an 18 month off season.
Recovery and improvement are good things. They just don’t look very glamorous!

Judgement: I see posts from athletes who are feeling so strong as they compete then their feed in off season becomes apologetic.  #offseason  #fluffy  #bulking
Off season doesn’t and shouldn’t look like stage lean!   Why are we judging our fellow athletes when they are doing what they are supposed to do ? EAT and lift heavy weights!
Growing a booty means feeding that booty.  Gains come from surplus!
What we can do:
Be kind to ourselves.  Stop listening to the noise of what the InstaStars present. They are not directing it at us. They are selling sups, menus, workout pants. Of course they are going to present their ultimate package all year. They have sponsors!
Also..We do not know these people and their feed could be posts from their prep,  or their photo shoot time frame.  We do not know if they are lean naturally. We do not know if they are enhanced.  We do not know if their pics are enhanced.  Comparison is the thief of joy!

Change the channel: One of my bikini athletes had a great idea. She scaled back her Insta feed to reflect only natural athletes she knew.  This is a protection of her spirit!  She is committed to bring the best HER possible and the unknown variables of InstaStars are distracting!!

Plans: We can focus on the goals of our next competition.  Eating with purpose to support the gains we need to help us come in stronger.   This is when I feel like I’m most challenged as an athlete. Keeping my focus when my body image is low.

Support: I love having a team. We support each other because we know how this feels.  We can keep each other grounded as we navigate this  part of the journey!  There are facebook groups that are very good support systems for competitors. Not all of them are, but if you find like minded friends it can help you feel less like an island!

I wish you luck in your competition journey. I know you are working so hard!

t

20 Weeks out: Mixed bag

Ok.. My off season is still going on for another 2 months. Whew.
To keep things honest, I’m struggling..  I am not
at all used to the building phase and I feel super mushy and bloatedy. We were in Chicago for the holiday. That was positively exactly what I needed.  I brought a lot of
my food but we ate out for 3 days. I was more lax in my food but I did not
have any dairy or fried foods.  I got lots of rest and that was wonderful.

I believe that a lot of competitors are tiny and lean to begin with.
I see them post pics at the beginning of their prep and they are already
ripped out! I’ve never been tiny! haha
I’m about 13 pounds over what I hope is my new stage weight.
I hope to come in leaner and tighter so we’ll see.
This sport takes a lot of patience and will power.
I am resisting the urge to try to lean out  right now, because I know I need to build.
So I’ll bright side this.
I’m pretty happy with my muscle gains over the last month and over the last 2 is
much better than I had in my first show.  I’m going to keep working. My lower body
will get there.  Edit: The first pic if from 10/9.

Muscles are growing.
Muscles are growing.

Carbs, Carbs…
I’ve added more clean carbs to my meal plan because I burn so much in my job along with my workouts.
Here’s to oats and sweet potatoes.

I’m pretty excited that this week, my leg press was 430 pounds for 4 sets.
My lifts are so much heavier than in my last prep.
Here’s one of my favorite moves.
What’s funny is that we had to film this 5 times because I kept falling over. That 45 is heavy, sister. I use the step under my front foot to give more range of motion.
This was shot in October. 🙂

Have a great weekend, xoxoxo