I am sometimes asked outright by inquisitive people exactly what my priorities and strategies are when it comes to getting someone stage ready. It’s a totally fair question, and a monologue that is part of my standard orientation for people when they first join the team. Every competitor is a unique individual with their own needs and particulars, but there are certain things that I deeply maintain are universal.
- Safety first. I know we’re competing and it’s cool to go hard or go home, but you better do it in a smart way that doesn’t put the body in jeopardy. We’re going to be putting your body through a lot of stress, so the least we can do is perform all of the necessary exercises correctly. I request ‘form check’ videos from team members early on for more complex moves (especially barbell moves) to ensure correct body alignment and mechanics.
- Set realistic expectations. Picking a show (or shows) is something we do together. I can tell based on the pictures you send me what a reasonable time frame is to be stage ready. We’ll talk about shows in your area around that time, look at potential vacations that could throw a wrench in your prep, and then make a commitment and mark it on the calendar. Being overly aggressive with show selection is a big problem that leads to doing silly (and potentially dangerous) things to get lean enough in the time given.
- Plan to compete frequently. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will, but we will treat your body as though it is going to do just that. This means we be as kind to it as possible, as a competition diet can be very stressful. You’ll go into your competition weekend with a plan for what to do the week after as well, in order to avoid a massive (and unhealthy) post-show rebound. This way if you do plan on competing again (whether soon after or much later), you’ll be making things easier for yourself or perhaps setting your body up for a very productive off-season.
- No craziness. 2 hours of cardio a day? No. 1100 calorie/day diets? No. If you need that stuff to get ready for a show, you have other concerns you need to address before considering a competition. We can talk about that as well.
- Understanding the judging criteria. Competing in the bikini division successfully and being shredded are mutually exclusive, as an example. If you want to be shredded, maybe the physique division is a better choice to you. A corollary to this rule: understanding the division that best suits your body type!
- Steady communication. I make sure everyone understands I am available via email and text for whatever comes up in between our weekly phone check-ins.
- Support. Competing is a big commitment. I want to make sure that everyone who makes that commitment with me in their corner knows that they will have my support every step of the way. That means providing every detail you need. Being available when you need help. Being a serious reality check when you need it. Asking you to toughen up when you’re having a rough day and being empathic when things are truly bad. A coach is more than just a trainer. A coach should be your most honest critic and your biggest advocate at the same time.