Life after competition can be tough.  Look at post-season as a challenge of its own. Re-introducing normalcy into your life can seem difficult at first, but with the right mindset you can still achieve tremendous gains and success in your off season.

Focus on the fun – defeat the funk!

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Now is the time to gradually re-introduce responsible, off season eating back into your program, while gradually reducing activity levels.

Right after a show, usually our “muscle- to –fat” ratio is high, meaning that our metabolically active tissue (muscle) is high and that our pounds of fat are low.   The body is typically tired, possibly over-trained and definitely under-fed.  It is easy to over-eat after a show, because we have been deprived of calories, carbs and our favorite foods, especially if we had to lose a lot of fat in a short period of time.  Emotionally, it is hard to resist the “treats” but, if you do, you can make incredible gains.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO KEEP YOUR LIFE AFTER COMPETITION IN BALANCE:

**CARDIO**

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If your hours of cardio were high, you must gradually “back off” on the time you spend on these activities. Too often, athletes stop 100%, which results in a drastic change in caloric expenditure. If you were doing cardio, daily, back off to 4-5 times a week, and then less from there.

**SUPPLEMENTS**

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Keep taking your supplements, but wisely! Back off on the ones you may not need in your off-season. For example, you do not need BCAAs if your carbs are moving back up to “normal” levels”.  If you are bringing dairy back in, cut back on your calcium supplements.  Always keep a good quality multi-vitamin in your program.

**WEIGHT TRAINING**

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Weight training time & intensity should decrease, gradually, to increase recovery time. Use a medium repetition range (10-12), no forced reps or crazy intensity. Your body has been through a lot. Time to let injuries heal and over-trained muscles recover. This time frame varies from person to person. Once the body has recovered intensity has to increase to maximize your gains in the off-season.

**DIET**

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If you have been on a calorie restricted diet, with low carbs and – possibly – low fat, these nutrients need to come back into the diet.  No one can live on a low carb diet. It does not support growth or optimal health. Low carb diets promote dehydration, low energy, poor performance,  constipation, moodiness and a plethora of other uncomfortable and health-threatening side effects.

Bring calories up by about 150-300, per day, for 1-2 weeks. See what your weight does. If you still look lean and your body fat has not increased, increase it again, and again, weekly, until you notice your cuts fading, slightly. Stop increasing your calories & let your body adapt to an off-season amount that supports muscle growth but not so much that fat accumulates unnecessarily.  If you increase your body fat too much, you have to work harder during the pre-contest phase.

Add variety back in. There are 10 Leader Nutrients:  protein, carbs, fat, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin.  Most pre-contest athletes have NOT been getting all their nutrients in food. If you were only eating rice, oatmeal & sweet potatoes, why not bring in potatoes, quinoa & legumes? If you didn’t have any fruit for weeks, bring in the low glycemic fruits, first, like berries, apples and pears. If all you ate were almonds, avocado & organic peanut butter, bring in olive oil, seeds and other nuts, in moderation. Have fun with healthy variety. Stick to “foods from Mother Nature”.

Avoid overdoing wheat products, man-made foods, dairy, sugar, alcohol & too much fat. If you do add too much of these, too soon, you may experience digestive complaints, excessive water retention, and/or bloating.  Know that sugar is an appetite stimulant. If you must indulge, do so in moderation but NEVER on an empty stomach.

Your protein may not have to increase, initially. Usually, during the pre-contest phase, it is pretty high. Some competitors may even have to lower their protein intake to make room for the other foods they are bringing back in their diet.

Pigging out after a show may be fun but the aftermath can be damaging, both physically and emotionally. Not only are digestive complaints a given, but the water retention can actually hurt. You don’t want to wind up with legs so swollen, your ankles are as big as your quadriceps and your joints are aching.  Be as smart post-season as you were during training!

**LOOK FORWARD**

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Emotionally, watching all of your hard-earned cuts fade away can be depressing.  After a show, athletes often experience the “post-contest blues”. We spend so much time working on the goal and suddenly – win, lose or draw – it’s over. So much time to fill up with other projects, but how to fill up that time?  This is a “double-whammy”, psychologically speaking.  Post-contest is a time to bring balance back into your personal life. Remember that life is a journey and you may as well enjoy it!

If you avoid gaining excessive amounts of body fat after a show, you will make great gains moving into your off-season, you will see your changes, and you won’t have to diet as strictly or overdo the cardio next time you choose to compete. Remember, post-season is a challenge of its own. Go forth and conquer – we want you HAPPY and STRONG!


Celebrate Brave, Bold, Beautiful YOU!

Coach Janis and the Precision Fitness & Wellbeing Team