My Lucky-7 Precontest Tips

By: Dave Payne
2001 Supernatural Overall Champion
Magazine 7 #3

Editor’s note: We at Beverly asked Dave Payne to write this article detailing his contest prep tips. We’ve been working with Dave for four years now and have watched him improve every year culminating this year in his overall win at the 2001 Supernatural. His conditioning, posing and stage presence is unrivaled. Beginner or advanced competitor, we can all learn from Dave’s “Lucky 7 Precontest Tips›. Dave proves luck is really where preparation meets perseverance.

Tip #1 – Get your diet and supplement plan in order

The most important part of your precontest preparation is your diet and supplementation program, hands down. Get in touch with the experts at Beverly and get started on the right diet. It’s easy. You can use their web site, fax-back service, newsletters, or e-mail. All you need to do is provide them with some preliminary information, like your current diet, bodyfat statistics (skinfolds are the preferred method here), and a few pictures of yourself. They’ll set you up with a diet and supplement regimen, and you’ll be on your way! Don’t worry! You don’t have to visit them in person. I’ve been to Beverly just once in 4 years. Everything I learned, every diet and every cardio program I received was via e-mail and an occasional phone call.

Tip #2 – Develop an iron mind

 Combined superb conditioning & presentation to win the 2001 Supernatural overall title.


bodybuilder Daye Payne

Once you get your diet and supplement program squared away, it’s important that you realize that getting ready for a contest is serious business. There’s no room for cheating on your diet, missing workouts, skimping on your supplements, or giving less than 100% effort. Get tough! The true contest is the dieting, training, and posing you do in the weeks leading up to the day of the show.

Tip #3 – Pose, Pose, Pose!

This is the most neglected area of precontest preparation. How ironic! Bodybuilding competition is posing! In 9 years of competing, no bodybuilding judge has ever asked me how much I can squat or deadlift!

I start posing practice at 12 weeks out. I begin with 3 – 15 minute early morning posing sessions per week, holding each mandatory pose for 15 seconds. I work my way around in a circle hitting every pose. After I complete all the mandatory poses, that’s one set. I do 2 total sets.

Each week, I add 5 – 10 seconds until I reach a full minute on each pose. Eight weeks out, I add an evening session. I’m now doing 2 sessions per day – one in the morning and another in the evening. I get up early, take my morning supplements – GH Factor, Energy Reserve and Lean Out – hit the stereo (being careful not to crank it too loud to wake my wife!), and start my session. I do my 1-minute holds for 2 total sets with a 15-second rest between each pose. I use a stopwatch to make sure I’m on track. The entire session lasts 25 minutes.

Dave’s pre contest supplements in PDF format:
Energy Reserve
GH Factor

At my evening session I start with 2 sets of 30-second holds followed by my prejudging drill. I made a 10-minute tape where I call out quarter turns and poses just like the head judge at prejudging. This drill is tremendous for practicing quarter turns. No rest between poses; stay tight the entire drill. For variation use an actual prejudging tape from a previous show. Put it in the VCR, press play, and go through it just like you’re on stage.

At six weeks out I add my 90-second posing routine to music 3 times back to back to end my evening session. I do 2 posing sessions Monday through Friday, Saturday one long session, and Sundays off.

I keep this posing regimen until the last week before the show. If you’ve followed your Beverly diet to the tee, you’ll find you can reduce or eliminate cardio the final week. I use the extra time to add yet a 3rd posing session, 2 more sets of 30-second holds. I can’t over emphasize the difference in hardness and muscle separation these posing sessions will make – you can overdo training or cardio but you can’t pose too much!

Tip #4 – Be consistent in your training

Dave Payne
Lean & ripped contest day

I keep my training hard and heavy throughout my precontest cycle. I squat, deadlift, bench, do bentover rows and hang cleans, and keep all the big lifts in there the whole time. My attitude is that if I used all these lifts to build the muscle in the first place, why cut them out? As the contest approaches I do lose some strength, but I work hard to keep my weights heavy (heavy for me, anyway!) and set weekly goals in my training notebook on the big lifts to keep my drive strong.

Tip #5 – Monitor your progress using pictures and skinfolds

It’s critical to know what kind of progress you’re making with your diet. I’ve found that skinfolds and bi-weekly photos work best. I get my skinfold stats at 9:00 AM every other Thursday morning and always use the same person for the sake of consistency. I have my dad snaps some photos of me. Then I email everything to the Beverly staff (current diet, photos, previous and current skinfolds) where the necessary adjustments to my diet and supplement program are made.

I keep track of my skinfold measurements in a spreadsheet. I can compare where I am at six weeks out to where I was for my last contest at six weeks out to see if I’m on track, ahead or behind schedule. I also put photos side by side in a spreadsheet, to track my progress visually. It’s really encouraging after several weeks to see the transformation you’ve made (provided you’ve stuck with your diet—see tip #2!).

Tip #6 – Cook in volume and plan ahead

One of the biggest challenges for many people is food preparation. I cook all my meat for a 2-week period at one time. I’ll go to Sam’s Club and buy however many bags of chicken I need, and then cook it all at once on Saturday. With the Beverly diets, you’ll get a pre-cooked weight for your meats (example: 8-oz chicken before cooking). What I do is take one of the chicken breasts, thaw it out so that I have exactly 8 oz. I then cook it and figure out how much it weighs after cooking. It normally comes out to about 6 oz cooked. So I then know that 8-oz chicken before cooking is really about 6 oz. cooked. Then I cook all the chicken, weigh out 6-oz portions, and I have all my chicken portions for the next 2 weeks. I’ve been working with Beverly so long now and have been on so many diets that I made a chart on my refrigerator with pre-cooked and post-cooked weights for various portions of chicken!

Beef and turkey are easier. I get 99% fat free turkey breast cutlets, lean ground turkey breast or 93% lean beef from the grocery store. I make patties and weigh them out before cooking. I use an outdoor gas grill to cook the meat, then wrap each portion in aluminum foil, put the portions in Ziploc freezer bags, label the bags (example. 6 oz. beef) and put them in the freezer. The cooking takes me a couple of hours, but it’s worth it. I now have all my meat cooked for the next two weeks. Since I get my skinfolds every two weeks, I know my diet won’t change for at least that length of time therefore I can safely cook for 2-week periods with no waste.

Tip #7 – Don’t listen to the gym experts

It seems that everyone becomes a bodybuilding expert when I’m preparing for a show. I’ve heard all of the comments: You’re looking kind of skinny, You need to be eating more carbs, and my favorite, You’re peaking too early. While these people mean well, most don’t have the slightest clue about preparing for a contest, and many of them have never even seen a bodybuilding stage. The best advice I can give you is stick with your plan and ignore all the advice from the so-called gym experts. The folks at Beverly have years of experience and have worked with thousands of competitors over the years. They will not steer you wrong. Give them the info they need (photos, accurate skinfolds, etc.) and follow the plan to the letter. It’s when you start combining advice from various sources that you’ll get into trouble.

And it gets worse the final week. You’ll hear all kinds of advice about carbohydrate loading, dehydrating, and a lot of other nonsense. Again, stick with your Beverly plan and avoid the advice of the gym experts. Trust me, Beverly won’t steer you wrong!

So those are my lucky-7 tips

I hope you have read something here that will assist you or help you in some way in preparing for your next contest.

I would like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my wife Laura for her endless support, and my parents who support me 100% in all I do. And I would also like to thank the folks at Beverly International for all their wonderful help. Everyone there knows me well from my endless questions, but I am forever grateful to all of them for their patience and great advice.

Here’s a typical day for me when I’m preparing for a show:

  1. Arise at 4:30am to pose
  2. Go to the gym at 5:30 for morning cardio/ab/glute work, then come home for my morning quiet time and food preparation.
  3. Go to work.
  4. Come home from work; go to gym for lifting session and any evening cardio I need to do.
  5. Come home from gym, eat, do evening posing session.
  6. I usually finish everything about 8:30pm, and spend some time with my wife for about an hour or so and then hit the sack and do it again the next day!

My Mandatory Posing Drill:

  1. Front Double Biceps
  2. Front Lat Spread
  3. Side Chest (facing right)
  4. Side Triceps (facing right)
  5. Rear Double Biceps
  6. Rear Lat Spread
  7. Side Chest (facing left)
  8. Side Triceps (facing left)
  9. Ab / Thigh pose (right leg)
  10. Ab / Thigh pose (left leg)
  11. Most Muscular
  12. Start at 15 seconds per pose; work up gradually to 60 seconds per pose

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