7 Tips to Help You Lean Out and Get Stage Ready
Approximately 54 percent of adults in the United States want to lose weight. As you know, though, there’s a big difference between shedding a few pounds for health reasons and losing weight so you can be ready to step on stage for a bodybuilding competition.
Do you have plans to compete in the future? Are you ready to drop excess body fat and show off all the muscle you’ve worked hard to build?
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” keep reading. Listed below are seven steps you can take to start leaning out and getting shredded for your next competition.
1. Drink More Water
In the past, a lot of bodybuilding competitors have made it a habit to reduce their water intake to avoid looking bloated when they get on stage. Of course, you don’t want to chug a gallon right before your show, but you shouldn’t be limiting water during your training. In fact, while you’re cutting, make it a priority to consume more water than usual.
There are a few reasons to boost your water intake during this time, including the following:
- Replenish Water Lost During Training: When you’re pushing yourself in the gym, you’re going to lose more water through your sweat, so you’ll need to be extra diligent about rehydrating yourself
- Stave Off Cravings: Drinking water can help you ride out cravings and avoid giving into them
- Enjoy Better Pumps: Consuming enough water helps to deliver nutrients to the muscles, which allows for a better pump and improved recovery
Consider using a product like ProSupps HydroBCAA alongside your water. It’ll help to replenish your electrolytes for maximum hydration while also giving you a healthy dose of branched-chain amino acids to improve muscle recovery.
2. Cook at Home Whenever You Can
Sometimes, eating out or ordering in is your only option when you need to get food on the table in a pinch. For the most part, though, try to prioritize cooking your meals at home as much as you can while you’re prepping for a show.
Cooking your meals at home is a great way to save money, and we all know how expensive bodybuilding prep can be, between new swimsuits, entry fees, and incorporating additional supplements into your routine. Another reason to cook at home, though, is that it gives you more control over what you’re putting in your body.
Cooking your meals yourself helps you to be more precise when it comes to measuring the number of grams or ounces of a particular food you’re taking in. You don’t have to rely on estimates from restaurants or food manufacturers (don’t forget, the FDA allows them to be off on their calculations by 20 percent). This allows you to ensure you’re truly meeting your daily calorie and macronutrient needs.
3. Include Refeeds in Your Routine
As you know, when you’re dieting and leaning out for a show, you need to eat in a calorie deficit. If you’re not taking in fewer calories than your body burns, you’ll never achieve the physique you need to be competitive on stage.
The good news, though, is that recent research led by physique sports expert Dr. Bill Campbell shows that you don’t necessarily have to spend every single day eating in a deficit. In fact, incorporating “refeed days” into your routine can help you to preserve lean muscle mass, keep your metabolism elevated, and stay sane during the dieting phase of prep.
The study from Campbell, et. al looked at two groups of physically fit, trained men and women. They were told to cut for seven weeks and consume the same weekly average of calories and macronutrients. The difference was that one group was in a continuous 25 percent calorie deficit (their daily calories were cut by 25 percent) and the other ate in a 35 percent calorie deficit for five days and then spent two days eating at their maintenance calories. Their extra calorie intake came from carbohydrates only.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the group that had refeed days experienced more significant preservation of dry fat-free mass (this includes muscle mass) and resting metabolic rate. You may want to consider taking this approach during your next prep. It’ll give you a chance to take a break from dieting without having a full-blown “cheat day” that destroys your progress.
4. Focus on Protein and Fiber
There’s a lot of variation in the macronutrient ratios you can aim to hit when you’re dieting for a show. Some people prefer a very low-carb, ketogenic approach, for example, while others do better eating more carbohydrates and minimizing their fat intake. Most experts can agree, though, that the two most important nutrients to consume in adequate amounts during the dieting stage are protein and fiber.
Both protein and fiber play an important role in helping you feel full. Protein is known as the most satiating macronutrient, and it’s also essential if you want to maintain your muscle mass and strength during a cut. Fiber also helps to bulk up your food as it moves through your digestive tract and is very filling.
Hitting your daily protein requirements (about one gram of protein per pound of body weight is a good goal for most people) and fiber requirements (about 25-30 grams per day) can help you fight cravings and stick to your diet.
5. Create a Plan to Curb Your Hunger
Speaking of cravings, it’s also important to accept that, when you’re dieting down for a bodybuilding show, there are going to be times when hunger strikes. Feelings of hunger will likely appear even after you’ve hit your calorie and macronutrient goals for the day, especially when you’re deep in the throes of prep and are close to stepping on stage.
For these times, it helps to have a plan in mind for how you’re going to curb your hunger and resist cravings for food that doesn’t fit into your macros. Here are some ideas you might want to include in your own dieting toolkit:
- Brush your teeth or chew gum
- Drink herbal tea
- Add a flavor-enhancer to still or sparkling water
- Keep low-calorie vegetables on hand like cucumbers and celery
- Write in a journal to distract yourself
- Take up another activity (playing a game, reading a book, going for a walk, etc.) that can act as a distraction
6. Get Serious About Sleep and Stress Management
Quality sleep and good stress management practices are essential all year round. They’re especially important when you’re preparing for a show, though.
If you’re not sleeping well, you’ll have a harder time recovering from your workouts. This can make it harder for you to see results. It might also slow down your metabolism so that you’re burning fewer calories while training and at rest.
Poor sleep can make cravings worse as well. You might have a harder time sticking to your diet if you’re not getting adequate rest.
Failing to manage your stress well can also slow down your progress. If you’re always stressed out, your body might retain water, which causes you to look puffy and bloated when you step on stage. Stress can also intensify cravings and cause you to overshoot your calorie goals.
7. Use High-Quality Supplements
When you’re dialed in as far as all other aspects of your training and dieting are concerned, the right supplements can give you a boost and help you ensure you’re ready for the stage. There are lots of supplements that bodybuilders can include in their stack to help with fat loss, including the following:
Dynamine helps to increase your energy and stimulate your metabolism. It does this without causing the jitters and crash that can accompany caffeine consumption.
L-Carnitine helps to boost your metabolism by speeding up the transfer of fatty acids into the cells. This leads to increased energy and improved workout performance.
GABA, which is found in our ProSupps Crash products, promotes a feeling of calmness and helps you to relax and manage your stress. It can help you get better sleep, too.
Start Getting Shredded Today
Reaching stage-ready levels of leanness takes a new level of commitment and discipline. You have to be meticulous about what you eat, how you train, and how you recover. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll have a much easier time reaching your goals and seeing results from your efforts.
There are no magic pills that will get you ready to compete. ProSupps supplements can help to give you a competitive edge, though.