I’m going to just dive right in here: Most girls suffer from post-competition rebounding because they should have given themselves more time to get stage ready.
Ever hear a bikini coach or YouTube/Instagram fitness celeb say this?
I mean how are they going to cash in on the ’12 week miracle transformation’ craze, or the ‘post-competition reverse dieting metabolic repair’ craze, or just get clients in general if they only take the rare client who wants to let their COACH decide when it’s time to pick a show?
How would the fitness celebs on social media get followers that they can sell pre-made programs and ebooks to?
How will they gain more clients/followers if they can’t stamp the words ’12 week transformation’ on top of your before and after pics? Not many people these days are more impressed by long term transformations than rapid ones.
There’s only one way this kind of honesty can work for a coach, and that is if you have a rock solid reputation like we do, and a client testimonials page like ours.
But even then, you’ll still never make anywhere near as much money telling the truth vs. just telling people what they want to hear. So naturally, we’re stuck with ‘reverse dieting’ ebooks and ‘metabolic repair’ coaching services that (attempt to) treat the symptoms rather than avoid the root cause altogether: Rushing to get on stage.
Rebounding is 90% because you lost a lot of weight too quickly and at most 10% because you didn’t get to eat pop-tarts*
*Yes, you can fit a pop tart in here and there if you train with us 🙂
If you lose 30lbs in 12 weeks and get as unsustainably lean as even a bikini competitor needs to be these days, then you are set up for a rebound post-comp. Whether you dieted strictly on tilapia/asparagus/brown rice, or took a more flexible “IIFYM” style approach, or had frequent (planned) cheat meals, or big refeeds…doesn’t matter all that much…you lost a lot of weight, you’re set up for a rebound. It’s how we’re wired. Does it HAVE to happen? No, but it very likely will if you’re not careful.
The key is to simply give yourself plenty of time to lose the weight, or better yet, don’t give yourself a deadline at all until you’re within maybe 10-15lbs of stage weight (and have the base of muscle you need). If the only thing keeping you on track is a deadline/show date, then what are you going to do afterward when you have nothing to prep for AND you’re more hungry than you were pre-diet?
I can promise you that you won’t be thinking about ‘reverse dieting’ or anything other than pizza and ice cream. And trying to ‘reverse diet’ is only going to set you up for more binging and delay metabolic recovery…because you don’t recover from the effects of dieting with more (albeit incrementally less) dieting. If you drop a 100lb dumbbell on your foot does it heal faster if every day you drop a weight on it that’s 5lbs lighter than the previous day’s weight? 😉
What if it’s too late and I’ve already gone against your advice to take my time?
When the Great Metabolic Damage Rant (the fabricated problem) of 2012 conveniently created the Great Reverse Dieting Scam (the fabricated solution) of 2013-present day, ‘reverse dieting’ was mainly just being pitched as something you might try IF you’re already suffering from ‘metabolic damage/adaptation’. But as history always repeats itself, people quickly turned this recommendation into ‘oh cool, now I can go balls to the wall this prep and then just reverse out’, and now ‘reversing’ has turned into a regular, pre-planned phase of the competition prep cycle unfortunately.
I want you to think about that for a second. People who’ve never had any issues simply coming right off a diet and going straight back to maintenance are now being told to ‘reverse diet’ as a matter of routine. Not just the girls who claim to be gaining weight on 1200 calories post-comp…but EVERYONE. So someone who dieted for 3 months for a show will actually be dieting (albeit incrementally less) for 5 or even 6+ months! Sure hope they don’t need to build muscle or compete again within the next year!
Fortunately, we’ve known since the 1940’s that your metabolic rate only drops by on average 10% even after months of starvation, and even then, it recovers within 2-3 weeks. So ‘reverse dieting’ is not only unnecessary, but it’s also extremely unproductive…you need to get calories up quickly before you will really even BEGIN the recovery process.
Sound scary? I just celebrated 20 years as a full-time trainer/coach, my clients don’t ‘reverse diet’, and my clients NEVER rebound. I have yet to find a 20+ year veteran coach who recommends ‘reverse dieting’. I have nothing to sell you…if you want to hire me to be your coach, you have to fill out an application so we can make sure your expectations are realistic. There are no ebooks for sale on this or any website I own. I don’t sell or promote supplements in any way. The only thing you can buy directly from my website is posing coaching. 90% of our girls have placed top 5 since 2010, and NONE of them rebound post-competition.
Okay so what to do if you’ve already made the (potential) mistake of being too aggressive with your weight loss/show prep:
If you know what your pre-diet maintenance calories were, then you can simply go back to that. Some people will say ‘no, you need to base your maintenance calories off your new target bodyweight’. You can certainly do that if you want, but all I’m saying is that at this initial post-comp stage you don’t need to. You’re going to regain a healthy amount of weight, and it really doesn’t matter if you do that on 2200 calories (we’ll just say for sake of example that’s your pre-diet maintenance intake) or 2000 calories (we’ll say that’s your pre-diet maintenance adjusted for your new target bodyweight). You’re looking to not re-gain excessive weight, so you WILL be tracking and adjusting calories as you go to do this…it’s just not likely to happen any other way. So there will be plenty of time to tweak your targets as you get to or near your new target weight…it doesn’t need to be perfect right out of the gate. You’re not going to suddenly blow up overnight because you were 200 calories off.
What if you DO NOT know for sure what your pre-diet maintenance calories were? This is usually the case with people who have a good amount of weight to lose but decide to commit to an upcoming show. Most people who struggle with their weight are either on or off…meaning if they’re not dieting, they’re not tracking and usually eating on average above maintenance . So they don’t know their maintenance intake. This doesn’t need to be handled ALL that differently than what I suggested in the previous paragraph, since as I mentioned there, all we need to do right now is get you to your new target bodyweight with a reasonable caloric intake. So you can actually just go with bodyweight x 15 to calculate calories, and that should allow you to regain a healthy amount of weight quickly enough so that you can begin to recover.
In either scenario, DO be sure and get to the gym and lift weights! You lost muscle if you cut without drugs (please tell me you didn’t take drugs for a bikini contest lol). I assume you want to regain that…and if that’s the case, you should do so as quickly as possible. If you skip the gym, then obviously more of what you regain will be fat…you could end up at your target weight and then STILL needing to gain a few more lbs from muscle after that. Take advantage of being well fed again and hit the gym please. No, you still don’t need to ‘reverse diet’ to allow time for muscle regain…the anabolic rebound will take care of that as long as you get back in the weight room and lift heavy and low-moderate rep ( 3-4 sets 8-12 reps, ~90 sec rest between sets, compound movements).
Once you get to your new target weight, if you’re still gaining, then you just adjust from there…simple as that. Expect to be very hungry for a while post-comp…that’s just a normal hormonal response to having lost significant weight or just simply getting very lean in general. What you DO NOT want to do is take a break from tracking calories and eat based on appetite…you most likely WILL rebound if you do that! The night of your show, eat what you want, the day after eat what you want, but then get back to tracking 2 days after and you will be just fine. If you gained a lot of sub-q water from the 1.5 days of feasting, it will drop after a few days of eating well again…drink lots of water and go for a long walk once a day, preferably outside if weather permits.
Some groups this article left out:
A) Girls who want to put their long term health at a lower priority than their appearance, and just want to stay ripped year round. This is easy…just keep dieting. Or if you want to convince yourself and your followers that your obsession with being ripped year round is healthy, then do ‘reverse dieting’ for the 2-3+ months some of these coaches/gurus are recommending. And then the moment you finally hit the same exact maintenance intake you could have gotten to in 2-3 weeks, cut for your next show so you can stay lean! Who needs building phases anyway! And menstrual cycles? Yuck! (/sarcasm)
B) Girls who are perfectly content just regaining ALL the weight they lost, and have no problem losing it again next prep. Obviously if you don’t mind rebounding, then this article is not for you. As long as we’re not talking about being overweight/obese, and the weight cycling (aka yo-yo-ing) isn’t excessive, then it’s perfectly fine and healthy. In fact, good for you for knowing what you want. But if improving from one season/prep-cycle to the next is a priority, I’d recommend not going this route…you want to be able to see what it is you’re building sooner than 6-8 weeks out :). We keep our clients relatively lean and healthy year round so we can refine their physiques and not have to start their next cut early/cut the building phase short/risk excessive muscle loss having to cut too much.
C) Girls who can contend for a pro-card THIS SEASON, and it makes sense to make a strong push. Physique competition is a competitive sport, and competitive sports are not about prioritizing ‘optimal health’…certainly not at the elite levels at least. You may need to do multiple regional shows to earn a National qualification (yes, you can look near-pro level and STILL get screwed out of a top 3 or 5 these days), and multiple National shows to get your pro card. These aren’t always spaced out nicely, so you have to do what you have to do. After your string of shows are over, THAT is your post-comp period and when you should consider following the advice in this article. Refeeds are for those few weeks you have between shows where going to maintenance isn’t an option yet.
The part where I say that I’m going to be blogging more about topics like this…
…and then I get too busy and don’t post again for 1.5 years, and when I do, it’s about something completely different 🙂 Well, we have 5 coaches now so I have more time to spend ‘refining our message’, so that people who like to read what their prospective coaches might be into can make an informed decision. And now that half our applicants are misinformed and confused from all the conflicting information on metabolism/post-comp recommendations, it’s probably easier for me to just direct them to this new Post-Competition blog category that I’ll be filling with useful content (for real this time).
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