By Kyle Finneron
As I write this I am looking at my “finalist” trophy from the Organization of Competition Bodies (OCB) Men’s Physique show I competed in earlier this month. Since my last column I have consumed a nauseating amount of food, I’ve been sick twice, which is very rare for me, and I’ve been more stressed than usual. The hardest part of any new undertaking is the unknown.
As much as we like to plan and think we have all of our bases covered, without a doubt there will be something that comes up and hits you in the mouth, since you weren’t ready for it.
Training for the show was intense almost every day for three months. I was eating every few hours— around 3,300 calories per day. The vast majority of those calories were from protein. I have never eaten so many raw egg whites (pasteurized of course) in my life. Most days I would eat close to, if not more than, a pound of chicken or turkey, too. Not to mention the mountain of carbs. I had not been used to eating carbs, since previously I was on a relatively low carb diet. But I won’t lie, that was probably one of the highlights (although I’ll be fine never eating steel cut oats again!)
What I found as the competition date drew near was that I really had no idea what I was doing. This was a fact I had to keep close to the chest. I was often asked “Are you nervous? Do you think you are ready?” I know these people were just being nice, but it slowly puts the thought in the back of your head, “Am I ready?”
Most people, when they compete, will find a coach to help them navigate the complexities of the process. Call it hubris, but I thought I could crack the code on my own. I even wrote a column about it.
The truth was a bit more complicated. I learned that your diet needs to change as you get closer to the show day. But there are mountains of information online about the “Best way to prep for a show.” Some people say cut down on water the last week; others say it depends on the person. What a wonderfully vague answer! Some people talk about cutting out carbs until the day before the show and some people say you should eat more carbs the week leading up to the show and adjust as you get closer. The problem I ran into is, I didn’t know what to look for and what to adjust. I’ve heard people say to competitors, “you need more water” or “you need more carbs to pull the water into your muscles.” This is an alien concept to me. I was admittedly outside of my breadth of knowledge.
The last week before the show was probably the worst for me. I couldn’t find a straight answer to what I should be doing during “peak week.” After poring through all the information from sources I respected in the fitness community, I came up with a game plan. My carbs would be high on Monday-Wednesday and then taper off until Saturday, “show day.” The workouts didn’t change much, except that I wasn’t going to push quite as hard. I stuck to my game plan and from what I could see it was working.
Now all I had to do was figure out this weird tanning lotion that came in a can… More on that next week.