If you’ve ever dieted for a bodybuilding contest — or for an extended period just to reduce bodyfat — then you know what you want to do right after that: nothing but eat all the decadent foods that you’ve been avoiding for the past couple of months. Sure, that’s one way to follow up a restricted diet, but it can turn into a disaster, resulting in startling bodyfat gains. A better strategy is to use this time to gain impressive heaps of muscle by taking advantage of the body’s rebound effect. The best gains of an entire year often come in the first few weeks after a cutting phase, making that period of time ideal for growth. In fact, you can easily add five, six or even 10 pounds of real muscle mass in just six short weeks. Here are seven steps you can use to transition from a diet straight into six weeks of pure anabolism.
1 | Understand your body’s overcompensation mechanisms.
The lucky bodybuilder has a fantastic metabolism that allows him to get ripped to the bone yet retain valuable muscle mass during a precontest diet. For many, getting ready for a contest is an exercise in modified starving. Some bodybuilders have to cut back on nearly everything — fat, carbohydrates and total calories — while pumping up the time spent on cardio to facilitate bodyfat burn. The truth is that the entire dieting process is hard on the body and often throws it into a chronic catabolic state where it loses some muscle or, at best, struggles to maintain muscle mass. The upside is that when the potentially catabolic process is alleviated, the body overcompensates, reverses gears and rebounds into a very strong anabolic state.
2 | Ramp up your intake of carbs and quality fats.
When dieting, you are always restricting something. Consuming fewer carbs and less fat results in less energy. That can trigger muscle loss, but it also sets in motion anabolic signals that can prime the body for major growth when you end the diet — as long as there are sufficient amounts of carbs and fats in your revamped nutrition program. After dieting, the body can’t wait to get growing, as long as you reintroduce the right amounts of these nutrients. In addition, hormones and enzymes help get the growth ball rolling. When you diet, testosterone levels can fall. When you start to eat again, they quickly bounce back. Rising testosterone levels, coupled with an increase in food intake, result in quick and substantial gains in muscle mass. Furthermore, while muscle reserves of stored carbs (glycogen) decline during a dieting phase, glycogen-storing enzymes that potentially pack away a lot of carbs are working overtime. When you finish your diet and start to eat more quality foods, your body swells with massive glycogen stores, which directly impacts growth.
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