Sometimes people, that is those that do not take common interest in the said topic, can find it hard to comprehend why people do or don’t do certain things. It is all about education around the topic that will help people to find purpose in your actions. So, there can be a lot of scrutiny around why we, as fitness, bikini, body building or other do some of the things that we do. I am here to explain why some things are done. Not all reasons will be relevant to all people or competitors; it can depend on the person and their own requirements. But these are some of my explanations:
- Decrease Caffeine – I know some athletes that continue to drink 10 shots of coffee a day. That’s fine, but for me, I choose to reduce it during my comp prep. That means limiting myself to 1 black coffee a day and not within two hrs post training, one black tea and the rest of my liquid will be peppermint tea or water. Caffeine acts as a stimulant, which raises the hormone cortisol in your body. Cortisol is particularly high post training, so I don’t want to raise it any further by drinking coffee right after. Cortisol can be a cause of holding excess fat around the mid-section (no not the only cause so don’t go blaming it entirely). For me, my mid-section is one of my hardest spots to budge, so it reduced caffeine can help me and reduce my stress, it’s a small compromise.
- Take Measurement – Ever heard people talking about getting their measurements done? What their Body Fat have dropped to, their percentages and high priority areas? Measurements can be done using skin fold tests – make sure it’s the same person and points every time for consistency or a DEXA scan. These provide a reading of where your body fat levels sit at that point in time, with varied accuracy that needs to be considered. The reason for this is because when planning to step on stage, we have a goal body fat, no necessarily weight. These readings help to know your target points, what you have to lose and your diet and exercise can be manipulated to suit. Not only this, but having your measurements and photos done can be a great motivator as sometimes the scales don’t move even though there is progress.
- We take supplements – from zinc, magnesium, fish oil, HCL, multiV, D3, glutamine, protein and other. They all help promote a healthy balance, and should not be restricted to the use of athletes. They help with things such as balancing your hormones, keeping your immune system up, fighting sickness, strong hair and nails, healthy joints, recovery, relaxation, repair, sleep and cravings. Not everyone takes these, but I swear by my D3 for keeping me flu free!
- We practice posing – and take selfies! We are getting on stage in a tiny bikini; we need to know how to work it! Our posing does just that and it won’t look good unless we practice, practice, practice! So you might see some of us strutting around the gym in booty shorts and hooker heels, but the gyms have the best mirrors! If we can’t feel comfortable in our own gym with minimal watching how can we on stage? Selfies, I have recently discovered do help with confidence, so take a snap or two, you don’t have to share it with the world.
- Hooker Heels – That 6inch clear plastic things we have to wear in our bikini round? Why? I know, they are ugly, but I swear they are the most comfortable and supportive shoe I have ever worn. I have even heard of women getting married in them as they can’t be seen under their dress anyway, but create some amazing height. They help to elongate your legs and even help you to really get your strut on, kick your hip out and make the most of sexy. Not all competitions call for them, they also don’t all have to have straps either, but majority wear them. Just do your research.
- Eating every three hours – From every 2.5-3hrs, I will have a nutritious meal of veggies, protein and good fats in front of me, and depending on my program carbs too. Eating every 2-3 hrs helps to ensure your metabolism keeps running, it stops you getting hungry – after all we aren’t trying to starve ourselves! It’s about ensuring the content it the correct stuff. You won’t see me with a ‘healthy’ fruit smoothie filled with only juice, no fibrous pulp, sorbet and yogurt during my competition prep. I’m eating whole foods, whole meals and good nutrients. I probably eat more than you on a daily basis.
- What’s with all the protein? – Protein in every meal? Yes! Muscles are made of protein aren’t they? So we need to fuel them with this. Not only that but protein is great at keeping you full for longer, they aren’t empty calories. Now some people think we eat TO much protein. Everyone will eat different amounts depending on what they weigh, goals and muscle mass. But say for example you eat some salmon, you eat a whole fillet right? I eat half in one meal. Say you eat eggs for breakfast as well, maybe some smoked salmon on a cruskit at morning tea, your chicken salad for lunch and 250g eye fillet for dinner, not to mention any other nibbles or combinations, cabana, bacon in your salad, salami or a big seafood basket… that probably equates to around 700g of meat in one day.. I eat about 840g.. Not much different really? Mine is also lean, and not batter coated and oil cooked.
- Increase Water, and then cut it out – In the final weeks leading to a competition, yes we up our water content dramatically. This gets out bodies into a ‘flushing’ routine and riding the water from our body – it’s not a detox. So when we do stop water consumption, often 24hrs out from competition, we continue that fluid passing routine, until we are hardly passing any at all.. you know when you wake up a bit dehydrated with no fluid in your system as you haven’t drunk for like 12 hrs, and you notice how flat your abs are? Now you know why. During standard preparation though we drink normal amounts of water, what is recommended we all drink plus extra if exercising excessively as any healthy person should.
- Reduce salt – Linked to the purpose of water, salt makes you retain fluid. So by removing it, it ensures our body isn’t holding on to nay more than it should. That means spice mixes, jarred products, canned goods and minced meats or patties, are all no go once salt is removed. So yes, diets can get a little bland at the end. Just stick to whole meat, and steamed veg 😉
- No cardio – Oh I love this rule! Sadly it doesn’t tend to last the whole time though. I have nothing wrong with the body of a cardio athlete, in fact you get what you train for and everyone has different desires. But have you noticed (some sprinters excluded) that generally your cardio athletes are not overly muscley? Toned yes, six-pack yes and long and lean generally. And makes sense, I wouldn’t want to run a marathon with an extra 20kgs of muscle on me either. This means while we can avoid it, in particular off-season, and while the diet gets the results, cardio is kept to a minimum. It can also be seen to have more effect when you go from doing none to adding it in, as it shocks the body into a new training regime, changes are seen.
- The one shade off black spray tans – You might not understand this one until you see a show where someone is way under tanned, and they look silly on stage, ghostly in fact. It makes you look good, makes your muscles stand out more, helps hides lumps, bumps, cellulite etc. Not to mention prevents you being washed out on stage, those stage lights are SUPER bright. Think about when summer rolls around, we put shorts on for the first time and your legs look translucent as they come out of hibernation. Similar concept ;).
- Carb up – The best part of deplete week. At the start of the week you often start on high carbs, each day these are reduced and the middle of the week you might even have none – this is a sad day. But come the day before, its carbs nearly every meal, and it’s amazing. It helps to ‘fill’ all your muscles back up. You might notice your veins popping out as the carbohydrates will you back up. But careful not to overdo it, it can cause bloating as well!
- Eat Sugar before stage – By that it means strawberry jam or honey on your rice cakes. Some people will use peanut butter (I wish my trainer would let me), red wine (I would drink the whole bottle) lollies, chocolate and many others. I don’t like to complicate it. By this stage strawberry jam is heaven. Also the honey should be raw, to ensure no nutrients are lost which happens during the heating process, visit your health store. This process helps to get the blood pumping, and aids in your pump up.
- Rice cakes – Typically eaten once you cut out water, they are a dry carb source. Meaning you are not putting fluid in that you have gone through a process to remove! This is important! Rice for example is cooked in water, is expands, meaning it absorbs the water.. you then eat that! Eating it will put fluid in used your skin, you won’t get that ‘dry look’ on stage!
- Deep heat/Beta Alanine etc – These are used before getting on stage, they make the competitor hot, a little flushed, get the blood pumping and are used during the pump up. They make you Vascular! The look many want to achieve to step on stage.
- Pump up – you know when you train and your shoulders are looking nice and full? That’s the blood filling them up, its what’s called a pump. So when you are stepping on stage to show off your muscles why wouldn’t you want them full? Pump up is done before getting on stage, it gets the carbs into them, and maximizes that hard work!
- Pig out afterward – This isn’t required, but name a body builder that doesn’t head straight for their favourite treat. Whether that’s a milk latte, Tim Tams, pizza, Reeses peanut butter cups or like me a packet of chili lime roasted cashews from The Red Bridge Café, YUM! We all want to have food/s that we have deprived ourselves of for so so long. Besides receiving a food coma by the end of the night, I also tend to have messed with my digestive system something shocking, given myself a gut ache and the energy of a child on 6 red bulls. Every time.
I hope that answers some questions as to why we do some of the things we do. However crazy some of them have a strong purpose. And there is more than one way to do everything