Contest Training

You need to continue lifting weights to send the signal that your body must hold onto that muscle you've built. Keep lifting as you normally do. If you intentionally lift lighter weights, the muscles may adjust to the decreased stress put on them and be more likely to lose size, especially since you’ll be at a calorie deficit. The goal in contest dieting is to lose fat and retain muscle. Definition comes from lowering overall body fat so there’s less of it between the skin and muscle. You don’t really want the muscle to change when dieting, you want it to be shown more clearly, and that happens as fat is burned and skin is closer to the muscle showing more lines (less cushioning masking lines, cushioning meaning fat). You can add some cardio to your exercise program to help with the burning of fat. Cardiovascular exercise burns additional calories, and continues burning fat long after the cardio session has been completed. As the weeks go by, you can increase the cardio session’s length, if needed, to continue losing 1-2 pounds per week. Fitness and figure competitors (or women competitors in general) may need to do more cardio than a male bodybuilder due to slower metabolisms, in part from female genetics and in part from not carrying as much muscle mass as a male bodybuilder.

Just beware when dieting that you don’t overdo it. If you do too much exercise without taking in enough fuel (food) your body can actually work against you. It can go into starvation mode and fight to hold onto fat instead of burning it for energy. You have to keep a slight negative caloric balance, not an excessive one. Symptoms of over dieting/exercising are your legs starting to feel heavy when you walk, energy becoming drastically low for longer than a few hours (like for days), strength while working out goes down drastically, and metabolism slowing down (less frequent bowel movements). If these things happen, you’re not burning fat as efficiently as you could be, and trying to diet and train becomes harder!

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