Being a competitive ‘fitness’ athlete may not be what people are initially led to believe. This line of work in reality requires raw dedication, countless sacrifices and a lot of time, money and especially, support. It takes serious commitment to even reach the competitive level; months on end, of hardcore dieting and training all comes down to just a few seconds on stage, to showcase your hard-earned physique. This is a sport that requires precision and timing. Even the slightest offset in terms of diet, training, mindset or approach, could give the competition a clear edge.
Let’s take a glimpse at what a typical day looks like in the life of an NPC Figure Competitor.
Usually, a figure competitor will engage in weight training anywhere between 5 and 6 times a week. Cardio is done no less than 4 to 5 times a week.
The day ideally starts at 4 am or earlier. Some prefer getting in a quick cardio session in the morning. Others prefer getting a head start; packing their food, getting ready and heading off to work. Most figure athletes have day jobs, and choose to workout either early in the morning (usually 45 minutes or less) or during the day, if their jobs allow it. However, some are completely and utterly dedicated to the sport, and may workout 2, sometimes up to 3 times a day.
- An ideal morning meal looks like this: 6 egg whites, ½ cup oats, along with a grapefruit, or any piece of fruit that’s low in calories and high in fiber. That gives you just enough protein to preserve lean mass, while keeping the metabolism fired up, and just about enough carbs to provide a sustained release of energy. Not to mention the fact that it prevents the body from storing unused energy as fat. About 3 hours later, especially those who prefer not working out first thing in the morning, a high intensity cardio session is the order of the day, no more than 30 minutes. Following that, 5 ounces of chicken or fish, along with a cup of green vegetables and 1/3 cup of brown rice, provides enough calories for recovery as well as a steady release of energy for the next few hours. Again, three hours later 6 ounces of lean ground turkey with some salad, and a piece or two of fruit, fulfills all nutritional needs.
- Usually around 1 in the afternoon is considered a good time to unwind, if the job allows it. A quick powernap can do wonders to rejuvenate and recover from the first half of the day. A fourth meal is taken at 2 pm, ideally 6 ounces of any lean meat, with fibrous and starchy vegetables and a 1/3 cup of brown rice. Between the afternoon meal and evening workout, a lot of competitors go back to their day jobs to fulfill any obligations or commitment.
- This is the most crucial part of the day for most aspiring competitors; this is considered the best time to engage in weight training, often followed by a 30-minute cardio session. Some forego the cardio though, as too much (more than 45 minutes a day) may impair the metabolism, and cause excess fatigue, which would inevitably cut into recovery times. A post workout whey protein shake is a good fix; it’s convenient and refuels muscle cells within minutes.[/list]
About an hour later, comes the last meal of the day which again, typically consists of 5 to 6 ounces of lean meat, along with a cup of vegetables or salad. Adding a case in protein shake to that, gives one a steady release of amino acids to fuel muscle growth and aid in recovery during sleep.
Only the ones most dedicated and determined to this profession of becoming an NPC figure competitor continue to be a part of the industry and at some point, even set out to become pioneers, motivators and leaders.