Bodybuilding

| June 1, 2021

How to Prepare for a Bikini Competition

I’m officially halfway through my prep, and I’m excited about my progress this month. I’ve reduced caffeine, executed a 3 day diet break, hit PR’s, and improved my sleep quality. Typically, competitors start to feel worse as the prep goes on, but in my case I’m doing much better than a month ago.

By Michelle Moen

Read time: 3 min.

I’m officially halfway through my bikini competition preparation, and I’m excited about my progress this month. I’ve reduced caffeine, executed a 3 day diet break, hit PR’s, and improved my sleep quality. Typically, competitors start to feel worse as the prep goes on, but in my case I’m doing much better than a month ago. This is 100% my fault, since I didn’t execute the plan well during my first month, so I’m glad I was able to pull it back together again. In this blog, I’ll dive into recovery, training, and diet, and explain why these are important to have a successful preparation.

Recovery

Prep is a marathon, not a sprint. If you start your prep on super low calories, high cardio, poor sleep and high caffeine intake, you’ll run into problems much more quickly. You need to recover as hard as you train. This means high sleep quality, low caffeine intake, stretching, foam rolling, and spending lots of time in your parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, keep your stress as low as possible. When you’re dieting hard your ability to recover from workouts is decreased, which means more soreness, higher risk of injury, and often, a decrease in strength.

Training

People often reduce training intensity during a dieting phase, due to the drop in energy that happens from reducing calories. This is NOT what you want to do. When you drop calories, you’re at a greater risk of losing muscle mass. It takes a lot of work to put muscle tissue on, so it’s important to preserve as much of it as possible. This means training with intention. Train just as hard as you do in your off-season, or when you’re eating at maintenance. This will send the signal to preserve muscle mass, since you’re putting stress on those tissues consistently. This past month I hit an all time PR on my deadlift, exceeding my previous PR by 10 pounds, all while weighing significantly less. It is possible to maintain, and even continue to gain strength while on prep.

Diet

The biggest mistake people make during a prep is dropping calories too low, right off the bat. The goal should be to diet on as high of calories as possible, while still making progress. It’s been 2 months and my calories have not dropped from my initial deficit. If your body continues to make progress week to week, there is no need to drop them further. You could potentially complete your entire prep on the same calories as you started your deficit on. I also completed a 3 day diet break this month, to offset some of the negative metabolic effects that come from dieting. I noticed I was getting sorer after workouts, hunger was higher, and energy was lower. These biofeedback markers tell me that my body needed a break! I dropped cardio, increased calories back to maintenance, and focused on resting. After the 3 days, my energy improved, soreness was eliminated, and hunger decreased. You could potentially take a diet break for as long as 2 weeks, depending on how much time you have until your show.

Overall, I am happy with my progress. I am right on track with my 1lb per week weight loss, energy is OK, hunger is OK, and my training is still going well. I have 8-10 more pounds to drop before my first show, which is in 10 weeks time. I am expecting hunger to increase this month and energy to decrease, unfortunately there is only so much you can do to offset these side effects. Again, prepping isn’t healthy, it’s a competitive sport, demanding leanness that otherwise should not be achieved. If you do decide to compete one day, make sure you go into it with both eyes wide open. It’s a beautiful, yet demanding sport.

Weight Training: 3 lower body sessions, 2 upper body sessions
Cardio: 5 x 10 min HIIT
Nutrition: 1530 calories (130C, 140P, 50F)

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