As I’m only 23, bodybuilding is still pretty new to me. Having a long competitive 2015 in contest preparation certainly took its toll on my body. Winning two regional shows and finishing 3rd in the natural figure UK ranks didn’t come easy; each second, minute, day was a battle to ensure I gave it everything I had.
As the hype of last year’s success came to an end this was where I really needed to refocus. Taking on positive feedback from the judges allowed me to know exactly what I needed to work on for 2016. The whole bodybuilding lifestyle is second to none, and being so young there are many distractions and sacrifices you need to make. A lot of my friends and family go out often, have holidays, meals out and when my off season had begun this was when I could give my time back to my loved ones.
But all the nice treats and food soon becomes boring and I am very soon dying to get back into the gym to put all the calories to good use!
I train the same all year round. A push, pull, legs; upper, lower split is currently working wonders for me. It’s challenging yet manageable and allows me to really push my body. I log all of my lifts using a log book, which has brought my weights up crazy amounts since last year. If I could advise one piece of kit it would be a log book; this doesn’t have to be a particular type of book, buy a cheap note pad and pencil, it will do the same job! Each week I try to increase my lift by maybe one rep or add a small amount of weight to the bar. This progression will gradually build strength, leading to improvements.
I am a massive lover of compound movements (the good old squats, deadlifts and bench), there is nothing more satisfying than walking out of the gym hitting a new personal best. I really rate BULK POWDERS™ liquid chalk and lifting straps; they get rid of the worry of my hands slipping during exercises enabling me to really focus on the lift in question.
In my off season I eat very similar to contest prep, however I have treats here and there, enjoy meals out and attend special occasions. I don’t do too much cardio either although I do enjoy the flexibility to do random things such as swimming, jogs and walks along the beach. My aim is to build muscle, therefore, the reason I don’t stick to a specific cardio protocol is so when I start competition preparation my body gets a little shock, to hopefully spur on the fat loss phase.
Now my off season between October and April has come to an end, it’s time to knuckle down and ‘get back into the swing of things’. Here’s where the routine comes back along which is my favourite thing about bodybuilding. The first step, I take all possible cheat foods or treats out of my diet and stick to my normal meals, this creates a deficit straight away. Everyone is different and some need a cheat meal once per week to psychologically allow them to then hit another week on their diet. For me, however, cutting cheat food out completely works best as I lose the cravings of treat food ‘I’m currently sat here typing thinking what does chocolate even taste like lol?’.
Each week I assess my progress, normally by pictures as the scales can massively fluctuate, as many of you may know. Depending on your individual goal will establish how to track your progress. You may want to gain weight, lose fat, get fitter and each goal will have an optimal way to monitor improvements. As the weeks go by my cardio slowly gets introduced while keeping my calories as high as possible, then the food finally needs to be cut a little. Slow and steady wins the race; always remember minimal changes can have the biggest effects!
I tend to stick to the same BULK POWDERS™ products all year round. Each product has its own benefit on my health and meets my daily training needs accordingly. Being a natural athlete, I get drugs tested by WADA standards and polygraphed regularly therefore knowing exactly what I am putting into my body is essential. BULK POWDERS™ don’t just have amazing tasting products; each ingredient is listed and clear.
Here are a few of my regular products:
I am currently in preparation for my first show of the year in August, and hope to have another successful season and do BULK POWDERS™ proud! Their products have got me to where I am today. I intend to not only better myself but to meet new like-minded people and help others on their individual journeys. I aim to inspire as many people as possible and will continue to do so. Set some realistic goals and smash them! Here’s to a great 2016!
About the Author
Rachael is one of our sponsored athletes – a dedicated competitor within natural figure, a personal trainer and sports scientist. When she’s not writing, she’s winning trophies, and when she’s not winning trophies she’s doing her bit to encourage more women to lift.