At 16 weeks out your training becomes very important. This is a great time for you to add a little more muscle tissue. As noted above, a number of our workshop clients added muscle during the first eight weeks of their contest preparation. This was a result of three factors – improved nutrition, an emphasis on targeted supplements, and a back-to-basics training program based upon sound, fundamental training principles. Nothing fancy here, just what has always worked – a progressive program based on basic exercises.
1. Your training program must be progressive in one or more of the following areas:
- Amount of resistance or weight used for a particular se
- Number of reps performed with a particular weigh
- The amount of Time in which a particular series of sets are performe
2. Some indispensable do’s and don’ts:
- Keep a workout journal. It can be a spiral notebook or as fancy as you like. Keep track of every training session. Use the “star” method to track your progress. Every time you use a heavier weight than before on a set, get more reps with a particular weight, or complete a series of sets in less time give yourself a star in your journal. A 10 Star workout means you did an extra rep or used more weight on at least ten sets during your workout. Finish the whole program in record time and you get another star. We have a training diary sheet that you can download online to track your progress off our main website page: Training Diary PDF download
- Use proper form. You don’t get a star if you raise your butt off the bench or have your spotter lifting 50% of the weight while he says, It’s all yo
- Make sure each exercise is working the correct area. If you’re training back yet getting a pump in your arms – something’s wrong. Loosen your grip and focus on pulling with your back. Use the your hands are hooks philosophy. Conversely if you’re working biceps and your lower back is stiff the next day, that’s a sure sign you’re cheating way too much on your curls
- Use a full range of motion on every exercise to develop big, full round muscle bellies. That means squats to parallel or below not modified good mornings. Full-range Leg Presses not lock outs to see how much weight the machine holds. Bent Over Rows should be performed in the traditional manner – flat back, torso near 90 degrees, legs bent slightly, pull weight to upper abdomen – use traditional or reverse grip but DON’T make it into an inclined thrust pulling the weight to the top of your thighs
Train 2 days on, 1 day off.
Day 1: Legs
Day 2: Chest / Triceps
Day 3: off
Day 4: Shoulders / Biceps / Legs (feeder workout)
Day 5: Back
Day 6: off
In this program you’ll use two of the oldest and most basic progression schemes:
1. Pyramid Training: Add weight lower the reps each set.
Set 1: 12 reps with a very easy warm-up weight – not all you can do for 12 reps
Set 2: 10 reps still pretty easy
Set 3: 8 reps – use a weight you could get for 9 – 12 here but stop at 8
Set 4: 6 reps – use a weight you could get 6 – 8 reps with but stop at 6
Set 5: 4 – 6 reps – a max set. Here’s where you can earn stars in your training journal. Once you reach 6 reps add weight to the final 3 sets (which will earn a star on each of these sets next time) and start back at 4 reps on set #5. Exercises using the Pyramid system are marked with *.
2. Double Progressive System: Use the same weight for all sets. Start at the low end of the suggested rep range. Gradually increase the repetitions, usually adding one rep each week until you reach the top number of suggested reps for each set of a particular exercise. Then add weight and start over at the lower end of the rep scheme. Exercises below where you should use the Double Progressive System are marked **.
3. We are also going to incorporate a very advanced method that will help you bring up your weak body parts using what we call “feeder workouts”. This concept is explained in full on our bodybuildingworld.com website under the title at “The Ole Double Whammy”. All workshop clients were instructed to read this article before attending their first session. We recommend you do the same so that you understand how to incorporate the “feeder workouts” correctly into your pre contest training routine. Choose just one area to concentrate on. If you try to do a “feeder workout” for a different weak part each session you just end up making the program ineffective. Pick one weak part and use the feeder workout for that part only for the next four weeks.
- Here’s how to set up you’re basic program
- to continue to build muscle while you lose fat:
- Day #1 – Legs / Calves
- 1. Squat* – Pyramid 5 sets x 12 / 10 / 8 / 6 / 4-6 reps
- 2. Leg Press** or Hack Squat** 4 x 10 – 16 reps (you may want to increase 2 reps per workout here)
- 3. Leg Extension** 3 x 12 – 15 reps
- Superset #4 and #5 4. Leg Curls** 3 sets x 10 – 12 reps
- 5. Lunge or Straight Leg Dead Lift** 3 sets x 10 – 12 reps
- Superset #6 and #7 Seated Calf Raise** 5 x 10 – 12 reps and Free Standing (no weight) Calf Raises** 5 x 25 – 50 reps
- Shoulder Feeder Workout
- Machine or cable side laterals: warm-up x 10-15 reps, One Extended Work set – 8-10 reps (close to maximum), reduce weight by 25-30% then immediately perform 6-8 reps to failure.
- Biceps Feeder Workout:
- Seated Dumbbell Curls: warm-up x 10-15 reps, One Extended Work set – 6-10 reps (close to maximum), rest for 3 deep breaths then 3-6 more reps, 3 more breaths then 1-4 reps to failure.
That ends Day #1. There are lots of opportunities to earn “stars” in your training journal. Don’t be in a big rush to use as much weight as possible in each exercise. Try to leave each workout knowing you can improve in at least one exercise the next.
- The training journal is an integral part of this program.
- Your goal is to make slow and steady progress. Use the “star” method to track your progress. A 10 Star workout means you did an extra rep or used more weight on at least ten sets during your workout. Finish the whole program in record time and you get another star.
- Day #2 Chest, Triceps, Calves
- 1. Bench Press (pyramid)*
- 2. Incline DB Press (double progressive)** 3 sets x 6 – 8 reps constant weight. First session do 6 – 6 – 6 and gradually add reps and earn stars until you get to 8 – 8 – 8 then add weight and start back at 6. If you get bored adding reps, reduce rest time between sets to earn additional “stars.”
- 3. DB Flyes** 3 x 8 – 12 reps.
- 4. DB Pullovers** 3 x 8 – 12 reps
- 5. Close Grip Bench Press* (pyramid) 4 x 12 / 10 / 8 / 5 – 7
- 6 & 7 Super Set – Triceps Pushdown** and Dips** 3 x 6 – 12 reps each – constant weight no rest between exercises, rest only after both exercises have been performed.
- 8. Heavy Calf Raises** 4 x 8 – 12
- 9. Light Calf Raises** or Donkeys** 4 x 15 –20 reps
- Back Thickness Feeder Workout:
- Under-grip Cable Seated Rows Curls (three-second pause at the contracted position): warm-up x 10-15 reps, One Extended Work set – 6-10 reps (close to maximum), rest for 3 deep breaths then 3-6 more reps, 3 more breaths then 1-4 reps to failure.
Back Width Feeder Workout: Shoulder-width Parallel-grip Pulldown (three-second pause at the contracted position): warm-up x 10-15 reps, One Extended Work set – 6-10 reps (close to maximum), rest for 3 deep breaths then 3-6 more reps, 3 more breaths then 1-4 reps to failure.
Day #3 Off
Day #4 – Shoulders / Biceps
1. Military Press* – Pyramid 4 sets x 12 / 10 / 8 / 6 – 8 reps
2. DB or Machine Laterals** 3 x 8 – 12 reps
3. DB or Cable Bent Laterals** 3 x 8 – 12 reps
4. Barbell Curl* 4 x 12 / 10 / 8 / 6 – 8
5. Incline DB Curl** 3 x 8 – 10
6. Machine Curl or Preacher Curl** 2 x 8 – 12
Quad Feeder Workout: Smith Machine Squat (or a horizontal leg press machine) warm-up x 10-15 reps, One Extended Work set – 6-10 reps (close to maximum), rest for 3 deep breaths then 3-6 more reps, 3 more breaths then 1-4 reps to failure.
Calves Feeder Workout
Standing Calf Raise: warm-up x 10-15 reps, 4x25, 1x100 (no weight on the 100-rep set unless you can get the full 100 reps without resting.)
Day #5 – Back
1. Chins** – 4 sets up to 12 reps per set. (If you ever get to 12 reps on all 4 sets, start reducing rest periods or add weight.)
2. Dead Lifts – 3 sets 10 reps (add weight each set but stay at ten reps per set) Concentrate on perfect form and add weight very gradually in 5-lb. increments each week. You can do a compound Deadlift and Shrug movement instead of regular Deadlifts if you wish to stress traps a little more.
3. Bent Rows* or T-Bar Row* – 4 sets pyramid 12 / 10 / 8 / 6-8
4. Reverse Grip Front Pulldowns** or 1 Arm DB Row** 3 x 8 – 12
5. Straight Arm Pullovers** 3 x 10 – 12 (lie on a bench length wise – keep arms straight) 6. 10 minutes of abs
Chest Feeder Workout
Incline Flyes: warm-up x 10-15 reps, One Extended Work set – 6-10 reps (close to maximum), rest for 3 deep breaths then 3-6 more reps, 3 more breaths then 1-4 reps to failure.
Triceps Feeder Workout
Incline Triceps Extension (with an EZ curl bar): warm-up x 10-15 reps, One Extended Work set – 6-10 reps (close to maximum), rest for 3 deep breaths then 3-6 more reps, 3 more breaths then 1-4 reps to failure.
You will follow the workout above on a 2 on 1 off schedule for the first four weeks of your 16 week pre contest prep. At 12 weeks out you’ll follow the same training programs but you’ll go to a 4 on 1 off schedule.
Everything in your 16 week program will be progressive and the results are cumulative. What you do at 16 weeks out and 12 weeks out are just important to your end result as what you do the final four weeks. Be consistent and follow the plan!
It’s never too early to practice your presentation. Posing is one of the most neglected areas of precontest preparation and the bottom line is bodybuilding competition is posing! We send our workshop clients a link to an excellent article written by Mark Tilden, that gives them an excellent primer on proper posing. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mark9.htm.
At the first workshop we spend a lot of time properly executing the front “relaxed” pose. That’s the one where the judges get their first impression of your physique and it is also the one that you will be holding whenever you are not being directly compared. Here are the points that we stress:
- Set your fee
- Legs flexed
- Gut sucked ii
- Chest lifted
- Lats flared
- Chin level and facial muscles relaxed (everything else is tight)
There are other aspects of presentation that we cover in subsequent workshops that we categorize as presentation. These include packing your bag for competition, pumping up, trunks, tanning, oil, the mandatory poses, and your individual routine.
Now it’s up to you!
In sixteen weeks here’s what we want you to be, do and have:
- a lean muscular physique
- a deep tan
- ability to pose perfectly in each quarter turn
- ability to hit each of the mandatory pose
- a skillful individual presentation routine
Contest Workshop Phase 2 – 8 Weeks Out
- Body Composition/Diet Plan Revisions
- Posing Review mandatories; work on a basic individual routine
- Training 8 Weeks Out Training Program
Two amateur Figure athletes, had great results
› Jenn Paul
Flint Mid-Michigan Natural Show. I placed 1st in Tall, 1st in Masters, and 2nd overall.
› Tara Darland
From Size 14 To Size 6 And My First Figure Competition
› Melissa Rayburn
Now starting my 4th year of competing
What my body is capable of and how to use food and workouts to change my physique
› Karina Rhode
How I Earned My Natural Figure Pro Card
I discovered High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and never looked back.