Is off season important and can it be undertaken without a plan?
This is entirely personal preference of course but my advice, my experience and my results have always been down to having good structure and a plan in mind. To have a body that responds and progresses I see off season as a time to nourish and sculpt without having to carry excessive body fat that not only makes things more difficult further down the line but it also mentally; makes things challenging having no structure to follow or as I like to call it “winging it”.
This is a lifestyle not a fad.
To be able to give yourself a little more flexibility and rest bite from being FULL PREP MODE a plan has to have more variety and also factor in some treat days but these treats and off plan nibbles can soon mount up if they are not controlled. Not only this; the body will crave and your mind will crumble if you do not have structure to your eating habits.
Over the years I have seen competitors come off stage and disappear for months on end, binging and ploughing into all the foods they have restricted themselves of for their prep that one-week post comp turns into months and before you know it 24lbs later they have not only destroyed their metabolism and thyroid function but they also have a destroyed mind. Let’s face it we begin this journey to represent health and get results therefore this is what our lifestyle should reflect.
Off season; my maintenance weight where I can gain lean tissue and improve is around 6/7 lbs over stage weight, I can do this by eating more good calories and having the odd treats I really enjoy but again these will be factored in to my week so that I “know where I am up to”. This makes life so much easier whether it is for a photoshoot or a competition; hence why I am able to compete consistently for 8 months of the year and still make good progress without getting on stage feeling like death.
We learn the hard way…most competitors will do it once MAYBE twice but never a third time, the more experienced you become the more you realise that off season isn’t about piling “bulk weight” on to gain lean mass…it’s about training and eating intelligently and making the cutting down phase far more simple and effective. The more body fat you gain the more you have to lose, the harder you have to work to get the fat off the harder it is to retain quality muscle.
If your body was a cake and you added the wrong ingredients you can be sure as hell your cake (body) isn’t going to be award winning bake off cake, most likely to be the one you end up binning and starting over again…similarly with your body… don’t waste time having to do twice what you could have done first time round.