For various reasons lately, I’ve been hanging out in the Bodybuilding.com forums and contributing here and there. I learn some things here and there, share some of what I know, and help some people out with basic stuff. There was a thread in the personal trainer’s forum about the value of a trainer, and whether those who specialize in bodybuilding contest prep are worth seeking out. Here is what one trainer said:
Really, the only thing that a high end trainer may struggle with is understanding salt manipulation come competition time.
However, as a trainer we should all understand symmetrical hypertrophy, and fat burning exercises. It’s basic muscle anatomy and physiology. Train the muscles to a higher volume on a consistent basis while emphasizing heavy weights during a “bulking” cycle and medium, but still challenging weights during ‘definition” cycle….and minimize lifting during the true 4-6 week cutting cycle to emphasize fat loss and muscle maintenance.
I don’t really want to pick on this one guy, but the above quote demonstrates a complete and utter failure to comprehend what goes into contest prep. What he’s outlined here is a recipe to get up on stage looking like garbage. The idea of a bulking, ‘medium’, and cutting cycle with regards to your weight training is dated, ineffective, and physiologically stupid.
Salt (or more correctly, sodium) manipulation? Sure, that helps. It’s not complicated though. What about water manipulation? Carb loading can be a very precise science that could make or break your peak week. What do you do when a client stops losing weight on the diet you’ve outlined for them (and they will)? What about tanning and getting the stage color right? What show is best for you? For that matter, what organization is best for you? Getting a suit that fits, selecting the right shoes if you’re doing figure or bikini, picking the right division for your body type, supplementation (which can be VERY different for a competitor) – there’s quite a bit to think about.
And let’s not forget the single most important thing – posing. You can have the most spectacular physique but if you don’t know how to pose properly, it’s not going to matter. If, as a trainer, you think you can teach someone how to pose without having spent considerable time doing it yourself, you are sadly, sadly mistaken.