Getting Shredded Takes Time
When you first start your bodybuilding journey, whether you decide to be a competitive bodybuilder or just make bodybuilding a lifestyle, you have to understand that the progress you want to make takes time. Nothing happens overnight. It takes years of consistent training and dieting to result in a professional physique. Have your goals set, and if it’s to be a pro bodybuilder, strive every day to be your best. Most pro bodybuilders have trained for decades to be where they are. Very few get the fast track to being at the top level. Those who have made it have dedicated their lives to being the best they can be every single day. It’s not impossible to make big changes quickly, but don’t be discouraged if your progress is coming along more slowly than someone else.
Getting in shape for a bodybuilding show and getting in shape for the summer are two completely different things. When you are preparing to compete as a bodybuilder it also takes time to get shredded and still maintain muscle mass. Dieting and extending your prep for a few weeks won’t get you truly ready for competition. Most bodybuilders give at least 16 weeks to prepare and get in the best shape possible. Depending on your body fat, you may need even more time.
Start with More Food
How should you start preparing for a bodybuilding show? Assuming that you are giving yourself plenty of time to trim the body fat, start with eating the most amount of food on a daily basis that will elicit a positive response. You have to get your metabolism revved up and one way to do that is by feeding your body proper amounts of food and optimal types of food. It’s best to eat more food while still seeing your body shape up, then remove the additional carbs or fats from your diet in the following weeks of your prep. If you start at the beginning of your prep eating very little, then there is nowhere to go. You would already be eating minimal food and you can’t decrease food to nothing. So eat as much food as you can that will still get your body in shape.
Another reason to feed your body is so that your muscles will have plenty of support to train hard in the gym. You want to keep strength up as much as possible while you are shredding. Training harder will not only keep the muscles fuller and bigger, but also increase your metabolism.
Start with Less Cardio
By training hard in the gym and having your diet on point, you should start your prep with the least amount of cardio needed to elicit a response. I like to start off with 20 minutes of cardio 5 times a week at a low intensity when I start to prepare for my competitions. As the weeks go on, not only will I lower my calories as I mentioned before, but also increase the cardio time and intensity. Some people need more cardio to keep the metabolism up, while others may need very little. Walking on a treadmill at a low speed is a good start to cardio. As I progress toward my show, I like to do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on the bike or elliptical, or I may do the stairs as well. Once again, if you start your prep doing a large amount of cardio, your body will assume that’s normal and adapt to it, so it won’t be as effective later in the prep. You could wind up having to do hours of cardio.
Some People Respond Faster
Just because you are doing the same amount of cardio, train the same number of days, and eat the same quantity of food does not mean your physique will respond like everyone else. Nobody is the same. Genetics, your lifestyle, your job, your stress levels, and the amount of rest you get all play a role in fat loss and muscle gain. Even if all the daily life activities are the same, genetics can mean the difference between doing more or less cardio, eating more or less food, or losing or gaining weight. This is why every plan should be individual. If someone else is seeing results faster than you, it could just be because of how their body is responding to their plan. As long as you’re seeing consistent progress, then that’s a positive thing. Just like training in the gym, do not focus on what others are doing, just be confident in knowing you are giving your all and seeing progress in yourself. Consistency and persistence will eventually prevail.
Start with Lighter Weight
Don’t expect to lift as much as a professional right away. It’s great to have that as a goal, but be smart and train with a purpose. When I go to the gym, I have a reason why I do what I do in every lift. Some days are for heavier weights and some days I train with more volume. All of my days are to produce maximum hypertrophy and hyperplasia. This means my main goal is to expand the muscle volume and create new/more muscle tissue. Strength is not my number one intent—building a great physique is. A stronger muscle is typically a bigger muscle, and a bigger muscle is typically a stronger muscle. However, strength does not always equal more muscle. Focus on form with every repetition. Be the best at performing every exercise. Hit every angle of each muscle group. Be as intense and focused on your weak body parts as you are with your strong body parts. Learn to love training your weakness so that you can make them your strength. Lastly, remember that this bodybuilding journey is a long term one. It will take years of consistency. Remember, everything you do now will payoff in the future.