I wrote a few weeks ago about setting up cycles/phases for your offseason in order to be better prepared come competition cycle time. In this article I am going to detail what I will be doing over the next several months in order to do that for my next competition.
Apparently everyone hates this word now, but I don't care. Hate away. Because I like it. I like it. Yes, I wrote that twice.
I have written for a while that my goal has been to be a leaner 242er, however it's obvious to me now that the 275 class is where I am going to compete for however long I continue to do so. Obviously the goal now is to eventually become a leaner 275'er. For me, that means being a VERY LEAN 255-260, then eating up going into the meet and landing right at 275 or so.
Now in some circles being a 275er means being 290+ and cutting weight. And yes I used to belong to that circle, and I do think it's an option. But for me, I'm far happier eating up going into a meet rather than making the last week or so of meet prep miserable with a weight cut.
After talking with his most excellent sire, Brian Carroll, about this (since he literally wrote a book on weight cutting) here are benefits and drawbacks to both options.
Eating up - Benefits
Fewer things to worry about, which means less stress.
Not depleting glycogen, ATP, water, etc at any point.
Knowing there won't be a possible reduction in performance due to the cut.
Eating up - Drawbacks
Possibly eating past your weight class (almost happened to me)
Weight cutting - Benefits
Being bigger than your weight class (well duh!)
Some guy (not many, but some) find they feel stronger after a quality recomp (gaining the weight back)
If the weight cut is small, then virtually no hampered performance
Weight cutting - Drawbacks
Not making weight and suffering for no reason
Higher risk of injury due to severe dehydration (on larger cuts)
I have heard/read every reason for doing a weight cut and not doing one. I will say this, it's just up to you. It really is. If you have personal goals to hit certain numbers at a certain weight class then doing a cut, and a proper recomp, CAN be a good option. My own personal opinion at this point is that anything over about 7% bodyweight tends to hamper performance for most people. So if you want to be in the 220 class for example, don't get above 235.
Even better, concentrate on being a very LEAN 235. The more muscle you carry, the stronger you're going to be obviously. There's no reason to eat above a weight class where all you are doing is packing on the fat. Fat is non-functional tissue, and regardless of what you read about leverages, doesn't lift anything.
This brings us back full circle. Recomping for the offseason.
For the next several weeks I will be working to trim as much fat off as I can, and then working back up from there. This process is mostly diet related, as training is training and not really dependant on fat loss goals. You don't train to "lose fat". You train to build muscle mass, or get stronger. You don't change around training to burn more fat. Can you do that? Yes. Is it optimal? No. This is why I rarely understand when people ask me if they need to change their training around to accompany fat loss.
Well yes, and no. Sort of. It sounds like I contradicted myself, but let me explain.
When you are dieting you still need to train hard and give your body a reason to hold on to the muscle you built while in a calorie surplus. And lifting is still the stimulus for that. You aren't going to build NEW mass while in a calorie deficit, but training hard gives the body a reason to hold on to the lean tissue underneath your chub.
My own personal opinion is that you need to train like you ARE training for hypertrophy when dieting, rather than strength, because (as I have discussed many times) more reps mean more growth. Fewer reps tend to translate to greater strength, but less growth in regards to efficiency (been over this too...3 sets of 10 > 7 sets of 3). Since growth isn't like to occur in a deficit, it's better to maintain muscle by using a method that is more efficient at growing muscle.
So even when dieting, train like you are trying to grow. Keep the reps and volume high. When you are ready to add calories back in, you need not change anything in training and can watch yourself grow and get swole/jacked/yoked, etc.
Also, don't ask about my diet. I am working with Trevor Kashey now on it and he's done some amazing shit with people so if you'd like to hit him up, do so.
Training - Specialization
Despite the fact that I know I won't be in a growth phase, I will still prioritize some areas in my training. This specialization will continue on throughout the entire offseason, just like last year.
The areas that I will be focusing on at various times this offseason will be as so.
1. Arms - I want to get that 500 bench under my belt. And I've never seen a big bencher with small arms. If he did, then he's the exception. On the average, the biggest benchers also tend to have the biggest arms. If you want a bigger bench then getting a couple of tickets to the gun show will help.
2. Glutes - I won't be doing any of that ridiculous shit you see women doing in those glute videos. While they may work to firm and tone a round womanly ass, I need to focus on getting glutes that are obscenely large and strong. Once again, you've probably never seen someone sporting a large ass that couldn't squat worth a damn.
3. Traps - Yes I know, I did that last year as well, but no one EVER has traps that are too big.
As I sit here and write this, I have the flu. Once I am well again here is what training will look like for the next 6 weeks, minimum.
Day 1 - Press/Arms
Bench - base building model I
Incline Db Curls supersetted with hammer curls - 4 sets of 8 reps
Rope Pushdowns - 5 sets of 20
Machine Curls - stack + rest/pause sets
Dip Machine - 350 method
Day 2 - Legs
Leg Curls (lying) - 4 x 8
Pause Squats high bar - base building model I
Split Squats (weighted) - 5 sets of 8
Day 3 - Back/Traps
Meadows Shrugs (dumbbells) - 4 sets of 12
Hammer Low Row - 2 sets of 6, 2 sets of 12
Rear Delt Machine - 4 sets of 20
Day 4 - Press/Arms
Incline - base building model I
Db Preacher Curls - 3 rounds of rest/pause
Overhead Tricep Extensions - 5 sets of 20
Reverse Curls - 4 sets of 10
PJR Pullovers - 1x20
Day 5 - Legs
Leg Curls (seated) - 4 sets of 8
Hack Squats - 4 sets of 8 @ same weight all 4 sets
Lunges - 200-500
Day 6 - Back/Traps
Meadows Shrugs (cambered bar) - 4 x 8 (heavier)
V-Bar Chins - 5 sets of 5 weighted
Upright Rows - 3 strip sets (probably using a cable)
Final word -
Offseason mass training is something Brian Carroll and I will be discussing at the upcoming seminar in January at MadTown Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin.
Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn from 40+ years of training, fucking up, learning, and achieving.
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