magazines (I will leave that to those
amazing statisticians who can tell you that contest prep is 75%
diet, 20% working out, 4% supps, 1% the length of your hair inversely
proportional to the difference in the albedo of your posing trunks
versus the shade of your tan. I always wonder how they quantify such
things and what is the significance of the numbers, but that's
another story.); but to offer some suggestions on the single most
important factor of them all: your ATTITUDE.
Granted, the four aforementioned factors (or insert any other of
your choosing) are of critical import in and of themselves. What
sets attitude apart is that it directly affects, make that
determines, the extent of success we will have in realizing our
goal. Being the absolute best one can be on stage or
on the field or court or classroom!
So let's define attitude: to me it means having the mental and
emotional maturity and fortitude to set goals and devise plans to
achieve them; an unwavering commitment to stick to my plan,
regardless of how I "feel", to do whatever it takes to be the best I
can be. Following is a list of things that I do to help improve my
focus before a competition. I call it being "hardcore"; my wife and
friends call it monastic. Call it what you want, but if you can do
these things or something akin to them pre-contest training and
dieting should be a breeze-even fun. The first three items are what
I call positive enforcers because they are things that I actually
"do" that strengthen my resolve and attitude. Items four through
nine are things that I gain strength from by depriving myself of the
Either first thing in the morning or after your morning workout if
that is the first thing you do. I'm talking no hot water from start
to finish-don't even touch the knob. Let the water run down your
back, on your armpits (my favorite), or anywhere else you think may
be sensitive to cold water for longer periods of time. Don't worry
the shrinkage is temporary. This is a great way to start your day,
and will invigorate you more than any thermogenic ever will. And I
guarantee that it will cut down on the length of your showers,
leaving time for a few extra sets of crunches.
Eat Something That You Despise
I'm not talking about cockroaches or bull's testicles; rather
something that contributes to your nutritional plan positively.
Personally, I drink raw eggs (a little salmonella never killed
anyone, did it?), or eat tuna-which I cannot stand. However, they are
both good sources of protein and readily consumable, and by eating
something I hate it makes me hard. I can't explain it. It just does.
Announce Your Goals
When I'm preparing for a competition I tell everyone I talk to about
it and that my goal is, simply, to win. Realistically, every guy
can't win every contest, but at least set a specific goal-first in
your class, best poser, whatever. And tell others about it.
Primarily it reinforces your goal in your mind, and if you tell
enough others it can become a constant accountability check for you.
People in the gym or at school or the grocery store will usually ask
how you are progressing before the show, and after the show they are
definitely going to ask how you did. What's so hardcore about this?
Fear of failure is a very powerful emotion. It can, quite literally,
be debilitating. Yet it can be an immense motivator.
No Cheat Day/Meal
To me this seems painfully obvious, but I see a lot of guys do it.
Maybe Bill Phillips is to blame. I am not arguing that it will ruin
your diet, and I'm not even saying that it may not be good for some
people. I am saying that it's not hardcore.
Do Not Avoid Temptation
If your friends are going out drinking or your family is getting
together for pizza or your wife and kids are having doughnuts for
breakfast do not avoid them. Look, touch, and smell junk food all
you want. Just don't eat it (the jury is still out on whether it is
acceptable to chew it up and then spit it out). Just by watching
everyone in my family eating pizza while I drink a protein shake I
This term is a little misleading. What I mean is make sure you get
your certain minimum amount of sleep every night. For me it's seven
and a half hours. Only you can decide how much you need, but once
you decide stick to it. This is where the deprivation part comes in.
My sleep time is "set in stone", and I miss out on a lot of things
because I go to bed at 9:00.
Never Show Any Weakness
This holds especially true if you train at a gym where there are
other bodybuilders whom you may compete against. When I hear anyone
in the gym talk about how sore they are or how bad their biceps are
burning or that they are having a terrible workout because they
didn't get enough sleep last night, I just smile. If it is another
competitor I get so motivated and pumped I can barely stand it-it's
almost primal. I most certainly do not want to give that sort of
ammunition to my opponents.
I try never to complain about anything in the gym or out. There are
too many things to be positive about, and complaining is so
destructive to a healthy attitude. Do not even agree with others
when they complain about the weather or the music or the traffic.
Instead try to turn their complaint into something positive. I have
noticed after doing this to someone a few times they usually stop
complaining to me and find someone else to commiserate with.
Give Up Television
I saved this one for last because I'm sure that some readers would
have already clicked "Back" if they had seen this one coming. I
don't think there is anything inherently wrong with TV. On the
other hand, I am hard pressed to find anything about it that
facilitates my contest preparation. (Perhaps that is due to the fact
that I do not even own a set and haven't for several years.)
The bottom line is: If it doesn't help me improve my physique or
reach my goals I don't do it.