How we handle bikini competition diet and training for different body types and starting points

Just a quick post about how we handle bikini competition diet and training for various body types and starting points.  We accept clients of all shapes and sizes, and always make it a point to let each applicant know prior to enrollment what our approach will look like for them.

Scenario 1: Initial Cut followed by maintenance/building phase followed by final bikini competition diet cut:

Who this is for: Girls who have a fair amount of weight to lose (~15-20lbs+ for short to average height girls, ~25+lbs for taller girls).  This is a fairly common scenario for us.

Here is what it looks like.

Phase 1: Initial cut to get some weight off: 

When the client has a fair amount of weight to lose going in, we generally will want to get some bodyfat off first before either moving to a building phase, or just a short bikini competition diet break prior to the final cut.  There are several reasons for doing it this way:

  1. The client will tend to be much more motivated once they have shed some bodyfat.  This builds momentum.
  2. You don’t NEED to have excess bodyfat in order to build muscle.
  3. We will be able to better see what we’re working with as the new muscle comes in.  That will make it much easier to determine what areas we need to emphasize or de-emphasize, so that we end up with the nice balanced physique our clients are known for.
  4. If you have a LOT of weight to lose, you will perform much better in the gym if we get you down to a healthy weight.  You will have more endurance, and better range of motion on a lot of the key exercises.  Also girls who carry a lot of extra weight generally already have a high lean body mass (muscle, organs, etc).  So we don’t really need to rush into prioritizing building muscle, and may end up finding (once leaner) that we actually need to tone certain areas down.
  5. An added benefit is that this gives us a nice sneak peek into how you handle being in a caloric deficit, which we will be able to use when the time comes for your final cut, as well as estimating how long of a cut you will need.
  6. You will be far less likely to lose much of the muscle you build in phase 2 (maintenance/building) if you go into phase 3 (final cut) with not too much weight to lose.  Muscle loss while cutting is DEFINITELY a concern for natural competitors, which is the only kind of competitor we work with.

Phase 2: Move to maintenance calories to focus on building/refining key areas:

Once we have the client down to a weight that is a little closer to their ideal stage weight, but still healthy/sustainable, we will move to maintenance calories and shift the focus over to building the key areas (usually at least glutes/hams), maintaining any areas that are about where we want them, and de-emphasizing (atrophying) areas that are overdeveloped.  This also gives the body a nice break from being in a caloric deficit, which will allow the metabolism and hormones to up-regulate, ensuring that we’re in a good place to begin the final cut.  As with all of our building phases, we keep the client relatively lean.  We don’t focus too much on bodyweight, but as a general rule, we like to keep weight gain down to no more than 1lb per month while building.  Reason being is as a natural and a female, you’re very, very unlikely to gain more than 1lb of muscle per month (and it will probably be less).  So more than 1lb per month weight gain is an indicator that you’re likely gaining more bodyfat than we would want.  If we end up having to cut more fat than is ideal during the final cut, then you will be more likely to lose muscle…even if we just go with a longer cut.  So we always go with lean building phases…bulks are for drug using bodybuilders who have the drugs they need to retain muscle while cutting.

Phase 3: Final Cut, and pick a show! (if competing):

Once we have the base of muscle we need, and any overdeveloped areas under control, we begin the final cutting phase of the bikini competition diet.  For non-competitors, we only cut down to a sustainable level of leanness.  So that may only mean losing another 5-10lbs from where we have the client at the end of phase 2.  For competitors, we will of course keep going until they are stage ready.  As with all of our cuts, we work extremely hard to retain as much muscle as possible…so we always keep some heavy weight training in place for the areas we need to build and/or maintain for the individual.  A lot of coaches and competitors tend to move to all circuit training at this phase, thinking EVERYTHING needs to be about enlarging the caloric deficit (and “toning”).  That’s a BIG mistake, as you need to keep heavy training in to retain muscle.  So if we do circuit training, we will at least have some strength training in place for the high priority areas either right before the circuit, or on a separate day, or both.

Often times with new clients, we will want to be in phase 3 at least long enough to get them pretty near stage ready before we pick a show date.  Or we may loosely aim for a show date, but not fully commit until the client is very near stage ready.  This is how we ENSURE that our clients will be at their best.  This is also why with most big competition teams, you may see them bring 10+ girls to a show, but 5 of them look like they could have used a few more weeks or so.  You will NEVER see that from us.

 

 

Scenario 2: Recomp

Who this is for: Girls who don’t have a lot of fat to lose or a lot of muscle to gain.  I’d love to be able to give you a bodyfat % range that these girls would typically fall into, but unfortunately bodyfat testing is not ANYWHERE NEAR as accurate as people claim, and you really can’t quantify aesthetics anyway.  So we just use the eyeball test here.

Recomp basically just means improve body composition…so less bodyfat, and more muscle…more or less simultaneously.  This requires PRECISION with the bikini competition diet.  You really have to eat RIGHT at that caloric “sweet spot” of just enough to support building, but little enough to drop bodyfat.  Depending on how much bodyfat you have to lose and how much muscle you have to gain, as well as how quickly YOUR body is able to do either of these things, the scale may or may not move much…but you should be seeing changes in the mirror.  There will likely still be a need for at least a short final cut if competing.

 

Scenario 3: Lean build, then cut

Who this is for: Girls who need to prioritize building, but don’t have too much fat to lose.  These girls will tend to be pretty close to ideal stage weight already, or even in some cases below ideal stage weight.  If below, we would likely still end up cutting once we have built the base of muscle, because there will be at least SOME bodyfat gain during even a lean build.  A lean build is somewhere in between a recomp and a ‘bulk’ (we don’t do bulks!).  A recomp however would probably be too slow for many underweight girls, and in extreme cases, some girls even need to gain a little bodyfat (anorexics, etc) to be stage ready.

So we begin with a lean build, where we aim to minimize fat gain while building the key areas, maintaining areas that are already about right, and “unbuilding” overdeveloped areas.  Once we have the foundation we need, we begin the cutting phase of the bikini competition diet.  This is handled the same way we handle phase 3 in Scenario 1 (above).  So really Scenario 3 is Scenario 1, minus phase 1.

 

Scenario 4: Straight to cutting all the way to show day

Who this is for: Girls who already more or less have the foundation (aka a bikini girl hiding under a layer or two of bodyfat) and just need to cut.  This is most commonly the case with girls who have either competed within the last year or so, or have in one way or another ‘looked the part’ within the last year or so.  So in this case, we already know what we’re working with pretty well, and can just focus on the cutting phase of the bikini competition diet, for the most part.  Any muscle they may have lost since they were last lean we should be able to regain even while in a caloric deficit (“muscle memory”).  Once in a while with a Scenario 1 client, we get through phase 1 (initial cut), and can see that they’re shaping up so well that we are able to either just continue cutting, or at least do a short diet break (~2-3 weeks) and then do the final cut.  However, in most cases, Scenario 4 is reserved for girls who have had the fully prepped competior’s physique fairly recently and just have to get lean again.  And in some cases, we use this approach for girls who need to LOSE muscle overall/don’t really need to build anything.  If you need to lose muscle, a lot of it will be lost towards the end of the cut when you are lean enough that your body will begin to more readily shed muscle.

 

What we DO NOT do:

Bulk then cut

We NEVER bulk up our clients!  This is something bodybuilders thought was necessary way back in the day, in order to build enough muscle.  They got away with it because the steroids and various drugs they took allowed them to retain muscle while losing LOTS of bodyfat they had gained during the bulk.  This WILL NOT work well for naturals at all!  It’s far better to stay at a healthy bodyfat/bodyweight year round so that you don’t have to cut too hard or for too long.

 

Hard cut/crash dieting

We NEVER do the extreme low calorie dieting or crash dieting.  Drug using competitors (yes, many bikini girls take drugs) get away with this, but naturals will not.  If you do this as a natural, you WILL lose muscle, and will also be much more likely to rebound post-comp.

 

Hope this helps!  If you fill out the application below, and upload current photos (or if you don’t upload photos, I will just email you asking for them). I will give you my assessment in terms of which approach we would take, as well as roughly how long it might take to get you fully prepped.  We utilize the approaches above for non competitors as well, but we would only get you down to a sustainable level of leanness.

Interested in training with us?  We work with competitors AND non-competitors via online all over the world.  Just fill out the application below and we will get back to you within 1 business day.

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