Many bodybuilders take time of from the gym after a show. Of course, taking a break to spend time with the family and friends who supported us while we focused on ourselves during a contest prep is therapeutic. However, I firmly believe in getting right back into the gym.
Here’s why.Think of the body as an old locomotive train during your contest prep. You keep feeding it with the right fuel and those wheels start turning. You gain speed and momentum as you steamroll ahead. You do come to a stop at your show, but it’s so easy to pick up full speed again because the fire is lit. The wheels start turning again and get up to full speed in no time.
Now, imagine you allow that train to sit for too long. The fire you lit now dies. In order to get that train moving again you have to reignite that flame—but it’s harder because the next show is so far away. There seem to be more things going on that keep you out of the gym, and the motivation starts to die.
I’ve realized that the optimum time to grow is immediately after a show. Just like that locomotive, your metabolism is still revved up, the supplements you’re taking are still active, and your body wants to grow. That train is still moving full speed ahead and you can make quality gains. Here’s how to do it.
First, limit the post-show binge. Going longer than two full days of eating bad food will make you extremely sluggish and unmotivated to train. Your body is used to clean foods during dieting weeks, so it has to work harder to digest all the fats, sugars, and simple carbs you’re loading it with. You also subject yourself to developing edema, when the dam you’ve built cracks and the flood gates open. Hands and feet swell up, and back pumps come from simply picking up a 45-pound plate. High-sodium foods can being a main culprit here, so P.F. Chang’s may not be the best choice for a post-contest meal.
If you get back to your regular diet and increase your carb intake gradually, you’ll have more than enough energy for great workouts. I’m usually back on my regular diet by Tuesday after my show.
Now for training: Of course, after extreme dieting and depletion, joints can be brittle, so you don’t want to shift immediately into sixth gear with your training. I recommend circuit-style training so you don’t overtrain any muscle group when the body isn’t ready to handle it just yet. Your body is still in recovery mode.
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