You’ve been focused on your training schedule for the past 3 months and you’re hitting the gym 5 days a week with your rest days. You’ve seen results in your journey to get shredded. However, there’s a little way to go for you to go in your journey to get shredded muscles and finer definition, as your competition date approaches. Whether you are one-month out or 10 days away, there are some things you can incorporate, both in diet and training, to help you get shredded to the bone and see that lean definition the judges are looking for. Let’s cover what you should be doing to help get you there!
1) The Training: It’s Obviously Not Time to Stop Now
Now’s the time to minimize errors and maximize your training. You’ll want to focus on full throttle lifting, as this will
- Allow you to keep lifting while avoiding injury
- Maintain energy levels; and,
- Preserve your form
It’s also important to avoid exercises that may result in injury. Don’t try to experiment now; you’ll want to focus on doing exercises that work for your body, but slightly modify them to avoid overstressing or straining certain muscle groups.
High Rep Drop Set
You’ll do your standard two to three sets, and after this, add in one high rep drop set. It will tax your body a bit and you might be winded once you’re on set three (of six to eight reps); however, it’s great for accentuating the striations in your muscles and will help with your cardiovascular training as well.
Vacuum & Pose
Between sets, pose. Practice your form, and see the development in smaller muscle groups. Here you can pinpoint areas that might need a little more work as you prep for competition day. After your workout, complete stomach vacuums (two to three sets should suffice). This will help improve overall aesthetic appearance and help to strengthen your waistline.
It’s not time to recreate the wheel or try something outlandish with your workout. Make minor modifications, focus on what’s gotten you to this point, and continue training intelligently.
2) Glycogen Depletion Training
You’re probably not going to pack on 10 pounds of muscle in five days, so how do you make your muscles appear larger? Glycogen depletion. Most adults can store about 250 grams of glycogen in their muscle groups. They can store an additional 100 grams when they’re in a fed-state.’ Muscles appear harder and firmer when glycogen levels are topped off.
Your training goal should be to completely deplete your muscles of stored glycogen as you approach competition day. When you need your muscles to appear their largest and feel firmest, you’ll refill them with carb-loading (but this has to be done properly), to maximize their appearance. How do you achieve glycogen depletion? You’ll want to focus on 10 to 15 reps for your training routine. It’s also important to avoid complete muscle fatigue/failure when completing sets. This can interfere with your body’s ability to replenish lost glycogen levels.
Your goal is not tearing muscle fiber tissue down during these days, but rather, eliminating the glycogen levels in the muscles you’re training. There is a good deal of glycogen depletion training routines you can follow, so find one that works for you/your body.
3) Your Supplementation: Do it Properly
You’re not going to ditch your whey protein now. And, the last thing you want at this point is to get banned from competition for taking an illegal/banned substance. So, you’ll need to know what you can/can’t take. Once you have your list, it’s important to supplement intelligently to maximize gains when training for competition.
If you’re a few weeks out from the competition, you’re going to change things up a bit. Similarly, to your workout, it’s not time to experiment or go crazy with changes, but you’ll make a few modifications. You’re going to stick with your whey and casein blends, but you’ll also include some fat burners. It’s best to start using it before and post-workouts and cardio training. Ease into the full dosage as your body starts experiencing change.
You might want to add green tea supplements to your diet; they’re fat burners, but are also beneficial for your metabolic system and immune health. You should avoid anything with creatine in it because it can increase water retention. Make sure you know what to add/remove and plan your supplement lineup properly to execute the proper plan of attack.
4)Focus on Water Cycling
Your body needs water, it can’t survive without it. But, as you’re preparing for competition and want to get shredded, you need to drink intelligently. To get shredded muscles and maintain them, water levels have to be on point. Your body should be in flushing mode as you near competition; this will help enhance that “dry” appearance you’re going for after getting shredded to the bone.
Say you’re one week out from the competition, how do you cycle water levels? For days one through 5, water intake might be higher, then you’ll gradually reduce intake the last two days before a competition. Doing this can help reduce subcutaneous water elimination from your body to help enhance the shredded state, as the competition day approaches. Your cycle might look like
- Day one and two consume 2 to 4 gallons
- Day three to five consume 2 to 3 gallons
- Day six and seven consume 1 to 2 gallons
Again, depending on how far in advance you begin cycling intake, this might vary a bit. But, it’s a good starting point if you’re looking for a reference point.
5) Mind Your Carbs: Know What to Cut
You’ll also have to be smart with carbs. You’re going to cycle, similarly as you will do with water, as you prepare for competition day. You can’t eliminate carbs entirely as they’re your training fuel source. However, you can reduce certain carbs, cut some out entirely, and focus on knowing what you should/shouldn’t consume (and how much) as you near competition day.
Remember you’re trying to deplete glycogen levels? To support this, you’ll have to focus on cutting carbs during this period. For example, a 200-pound bodybuilder might limit their intake to 50 to 75 grams per day as you begin the glycogen depletion cycle. To compensate, you can maintain a level of 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight as you begin the glycogen cycling period. This will help maintain muscle firmness and strength during this period and help you maintain energy levels.
Once you hit day five and six, you’re going to up your carb intake. If you’re eating 4 to 6 meals, you’re going to consume those 50 grams of carbs per meal (so you’re eating the amount you were eating all day for the first four days, in one sitting). Depending on how your body appears the next morning, you’ll determine whether to go with a starchy/sugary carb meal or simple carbs as your source of fuel. You shouldn’t carb cycle too far in advance, as this can cause imbalances in overall development and appearance. However, a good amount of time is about 5 to 7 days before competition day to help you maximize results.
6) Body Prep You Need to Focus on the Inside & Out
You’ve prepared your body with the training and diet. You’ve done the hard work. But, there are some additional variables you need to consider as you’re heading into competition day. Some things you’ll want to consider include
- Keeping your body in an anabolic state; for most, this means eating every 2 to 4 hours
- Pick an audience; if you have friends/family who know you’re prepping for a competition, ask if they’ll be your audience. Pose, ask them what areas need improvement, what’s good/bad, and so forth. People who know how hard you’re training will be honest with you, so choose people you trust
- Sleep!! We overlook the importance of sleep as we focus on pumping and building. But, without enough sleep, your body will look tired, and your muscles won’t look as full as you’d like them to.
- Balance your cardio levels; if you try to go overboard on cardio, this can result in muscle loss. So, incorporate cardio, but don’t go crazy trying to shed the last 5 pounds with a 5-hour binge
And, don’t forget the importance of a good tan. Tanning agents and bronzers are a good option when you’re nearing competition day. Oil might also help, but see how your body responds, and adjust the amount you’re using accordingly. You need to look good so make sure your body’s properly tanned on your competition date.
There’s no single solution to get shredded as you approach your competition day. Nor is there a single exercise to get shredded muscles when you’re three days away from the competition. You need to prep accordingly, give your body the time it needs, and make sure you’re ready (both body and mind) as you approach your competition day. The more you prepare and the more dedication you have to your craft, the greater your results are going to appear.