Bodybuilding competitors are sometimes called obsessed with their workouts and diet, but there are a few habits they possess that can be stolen from them.
This isn’t to say that you have to measure all your food and neglect other aspects of your life to get your workouts in.
I’m talking about the positive attributes that help competitors stay in the kind of physical fitness that places them in the rare three percent of the population.
The intensity in training and how competitors eat all contribute to the lifestyles that they lead and how they maintain high work ethic as well as continued muscle growth and muscle maturity.
1. Steal Their Intensity
Competitors have this ability to maintain a kind of intensity about their workouts that keeps them working hard six or seven days per week. They have a passion and a drive year-round that makes it possible to be consistent in the gym and with their diet.
The sport of bodybuilding isn’t limited to just in-season or one prep for a show, but a way of life the competitor has adopted. They don’t chat while at the gym or leisurely wander from one random machine to the next, they know exactly what they need to be doing and work hard at getting it done.
Competitors don’t skip reps or sets, they try to accomplish more than planned. It’s this determination to stick to a plan for the gym and life that should be taken from the competitor.
Figure out a plan, be it strength training or diet, and stick to it. Develop a passion for what you are doing and give it all your effort. Be specific about your plans too!
Like a goal to get your deadlift over "X"-hundred pounds or to have your abs show for the first time in your life. Lay out exactly how you intend on getting there by what you’re going to be doing in the gym as well as what kind of diet you are going to keep.
Plan, but like a competitor, allow for adjustments. Don’t let plateaus ruin your consistency or determination to reach the goal. Track your progress and make changes when needed, like changing diet or healing an injury.
2. Steal Their Self-Control
Dieting is not easy for most people, including competitors. It takes will-power and the desire to eat clean and for a purpose to be consistent. Some competitors can abstain from eating any junk food or having any cheat meals – bless those people!
Remaining consistent in diet includes cheating when intended, which can be every week or every two weeks and strategically chosen. The cheat is a meal, NOT a whole day, and usually limited to either sweets or saturated fats like pizza or wings.
There’s also the rare individuals that can IIFYM their entire prep or lifestyle and control how much they have of the ‘junk foods’ and include whatever food whenever desired. I’ve found that I do not do well with eating junk foods because I tend to go overboard with portions. Whatever method happens to work for you, the point is the cheat is planned and intentional.
Over eating and eating food that you should not have will happen. We’re all human and over-eating food you haven't planned into your day already or spontaneously eating junk food at a moment of weakness should not ruin your entire diet.
Competitors aren’t perfect either, but don’t fall off the wagon as soon as a slip-up happens. Avoid situations where you will have temptations or low will-power. For example, don’t keep your favorite sweets in the house and don’t go to a family event, which has food completely off your diet, without healthy food with you.
One small mistake is not an excuse to fly off the handle and binge eat for an entire day or week. Like competitors, learn that mistakes happen and moving forward from them without making them bigger is most important.
3. Steal Their Ability to Plan
When it comes to bodybuilding, patience is definitely a virtue and instant gratification is not going to happen. It’s great to have immediate and fast results when it comes to cutting fat and losing weight, but that isn’t what is always best.
Using every tactic in the arsenal when you first start to try to lean out leaves you with no tricks up your sleeve when you hit plateaus and need to make adjustments. Much like competitors, it’s better to gradually cut fat using one tactic at a time and then implementing other strategies as needed throughout the process.
When trying to cut fat and retain muscle losing about one to two pounds per week would be a good goal. Have patience and give the diets and methods you’re trying time to take effect – about two to three weeks.
While leaning out, cling to all the muscle that you’ve worked so hard to achieve! Throughout the process of leaning out, muscle mass is going to be lost. Proper supplementation, diet, as well as gradually leaning out will help to retain as much muscle mass as possible. Proper supplementation is important to help the body repair muscle tissue from what is done in the gym and build new muscle mass.
Another trait of a smart competitor is knowing when their bodies are entering into a state of metabolic damage. The chronic dieter will have some classic symptoms, which are when the body is retaining fat even with plenty of exercising and operating at a caloric deficit. Be smart and remember that there are periods of bulk needed with adequate calories.
Just like competitors, everybody needs an off-season as well as time to recover.
Using these characteristics from competitors can help instill consistency, dedication and persistence through all different phases of bodybuilding.
Learning from the discipline it takes to compete can inspire you to keep a healthy and active lifestyle that will achieve physique goals without having to step on the stage.