Contest Prep Pitfalls

The competition season’s on the way; it’s time to make plans for a successful cut. Wet Wolf’s got you covered with fixes to some mistakes he’s seen competitors make during prep – follow his advice, and you’ll avoid some major pitfalls!

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When I was six years old, my granddaddy took me to his neighborhood ice cream shop for the first time.

“Alright, pup, just pick your flavor, how many scoops, and decide if you want it in a cup or cone, then have them toss on some toppings.”

Easy enough, right? I mean, he told me everything I needed to know up front; all I had to do was accept.

Out my sweaty little hands reached for the two scoops of chocolate mint ice cream in a sugar cone. But before long, I saw this utterly amazing waffle cone behind the counter. I had to have it!

No big deal, a change up was manageable for my granddaddy. For a quarter extra, they just plopped my two scoops of chocolate mint into the dark, crusty waffle cone.

But wait, I looked through the glass window at the huge assortment of flavors and saw the triple chocolate chip brownie. Already a few licks into the chocolate mint, I pleaded my case for a double scoop of triple chocolate chip brownie in a waffle cone.

All set and grinning like a Cheshire cat, I had the exact ice cream I wanted.

Oh no, I forgot about the toppings! I absolutely couldn’t live without the sprinkles and the crushed up Oreos smothering my decadent double scoop of chocolate bliss.

Granddaddy wasn’t having any of it, though. I guess that last plea for sprinkles and crushed Oreos was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He grabbed my precious waffle cone, tossed it in the trash can, and then dragged me kicking and screaming to the car.

It’s funny because this same situation went down just last week. Only it wasn’t over ice cream, and this time, I was the proverbial granddaddy.

I Want it All and I Want it Now

“Hey Wet Wolf, can you have me ready for a show on July 10th?”


“Can you offer me a discount?”

Say what?

The next day…

“I’d like to see your credentials.”


Two days later…

“I’d like for you to send me a contract.”

Instead of voicing all her requests up front at the ice cream counter like a discerning adult, she was more indecisive than a persnickety six year old!

I’d seen her kind a dozen times before. And at her next comment, I decided to pull the lever and let the guillotine come crashing down:

“My husband had these questions…”

I knew where this was going, but decided to have a little fun with it.

“Is your husband doing a contest, too?” I asked.

“All major purchases have to have his approval, or they don’t happen.”

You see, the husband had this little tart on a very short leash. Not only were her communication skills worse than a six year old with a speech impediment suffering from Tourettes, but she relied on a sugar daddy for all of her spending approval.

The saddest thing of all is that she was forty and had three kids!

You see, this sassy elf had already failed before she ever began.

This leads me to quite possibly the biggest pitfall I see when initiating the transaction for a contest prep program.

The involvement of a third party can create tremendous friction between the coach and the athlete. I have an ironclad policy that states that if anyone from a sugar daddy to a mother to a husband contacts me regarding the training of an individual then all ties are immediately cut with no refund.

I had a stripper I was training six years ago who had a sugar daddy. He wrote all the checks for his little sprite with comments on the memo line of the checks regarding improvements he wanted to see in her.

He was even gracious enough to call me on several occasions to voice his input on what supplements he was trying to score for her.

There’s an old saying, “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” And it definitely holds true in the contest prep scenario.

Cardio Killed the Figure Star

Another thing that’ll kill the contest prep is continuing to perform the same type of metabolic activity that you’ve been performing for the last few months, or even years.

I don’t care if it’s running, a body pump class, or the elliptical machine. Just as you make constant changes in your diet, you need to switch up your aerobic and anaerobic training.

If I had to pick one single form of cardiovascular training that’s absolutely awful for a Figure competitor, it’d be distance running on pavement, with spinning classes a close second.

Typically, the spinning fanatics who compete in Figure competitions have very little appreciable muscle development, and even when on stage have almost zero muscle definition.

In fact, I knew two different girls who used spinning classes as their main source of energy systems work in preparation for their shows last year. When both girls were on stage, nary a cut was to be found.

They had dieted and peddled away any resemblance of myogenic tone they might have kept had they not crashed their energy deficit into oblivion with chronic spinning classes. Neither girl even looked like she lifted weights.

Forget a six pack, or even a four pack, that cute belly button ring didn’t have the slightest resemblance of abs to go along with it.

From their soft and supple gluteus to their kyphotic posture to their silicone implants, they were better suited for a day at the beach, or at best a bikini show.

Would you say this describes you?

“I’ve had enough, Wet Wolf! I think we need to get down to basics so you can start making some sense and stop sounding so childish.

“Fat-burning, steady-state cardio all boils down to how it affects your heart rate, whether or not it works any muscle groups, and if so, which ones, how many calories you burn, etc. So, how is this any less effective than any other form of cardio? If you can actually articulate your reasoning, then maybe some of us will consider your argument.”

I’m not quite sure I grasp the meaning of the word “cardio” you keep using. Do you mean any exercise that gets your heart rate up? Because I had a girl do a set of squats last week and she was panting like a bloodhound at the end of the set.

What do you mean “whether or not” it works any muscle groups during the exercise?

All cardiovascular exercise works muscle groups! Otherwise it wouldn’t be cardiovascular exercise.

And what’s with this obsession over how many calories you burn while performing an exercise? You should be more concerned with the metabolic disturbance of the activity and how long it affects you once you complete the activity.

I had a girl perform eight prowler sprints last week and she told me that she drove home, collapsed on the kitchen floor, and laid there for thirty minutes before her breathing returned to normal.

The prowler sprints workout lasted under ten minutes, and how many calories she burned was the last thing on her mind as she was gasping for air.

“As always, you’ll have conflicting ideologies when comparing different trainers. Three trainers I’ve spoken to advocate adding spinning to the mix for cardio purposes, even when training for a competition. And one of them even competes and always places either first of second in natural competitions.”

Oh brother, do you mean methodologies? This isn’t a sociology or philosophy debate over postmodernism.

Just curious, but were any of these three trainers the one who designed your leg press and leg extension workout? Look, I’ve lived in a major metropolitan area for the last eight years, having come across, seen, and worked with hundreds of “trainers.”

And let me tell you right now that I’ve never met a single one that truly understood the optimal way of training people. But many of them did recommend spinning classes!

I know a guy at a local gym who only does machine and cable work. The only time he uses free weights is when he does bicep curls. He’s a natural competitor and has won his class the last three shows he’s entered.

But you know what? He’d look even better if he were to use free weights for all his exercises. He won the bodybuilding shows because his genetics were able to carry him in spite of suboptimal training.

That’s the same scenario as the person you know who has placed first or second. They’d look a lot better and hold onto more muscle if they dropped the spinning classes and trained correctly.

“What you’re saying is that spinning is always a bad choice for anyone, correct? Well, that’s simply a ‘cookie cutter’ statement that’s just wrong and rather ignorant.”

Not if you understand the reasons why and yes, spinning is STILL always a bad choice.

For example, using machines over free weights is always a poor choice, but you obviously don’t know that since you have weekly reservations on the leg press.

If I say that hyperextending your knees while performing a stiff-legged deadlift is bad and should be avoided, then that doesn’t mean that some people should try it and see if it works for them.

If I say it’s bad to round your back and protract your shoulder blades when executing a conventional deadlift, that doesn’t mean that everyone should round their back and see if they get good results. Comprende?

Stuff like this isn’t really up for debate.

But just to satisfy your curious little mind, I’m going to list some easy-to-understand, specific reasons why spinning is bad for a Figure Athlete.

• In my experience, they exacerbate any lower body issues a woman may have. If she stores fat in her lower body, spinning makes this worse. Charles Poliquin also supports this.

• If she has a difficult time building muscle in her lower body, spinning makes it even harder.

• Spinning promotes extremely tight hip flexors, leading to non-firing gluteus. It also creates a rounded back and tight pectorals from the riding position. These are prevalent obstacles that the majority of women already have to overcome, but are ten times worse in females who take spinning classes.

• In every spinning class I’ve observed (I’ve never participated) and from the four or five spinning instructors whose brains I’ve picked, although the class does “intervals,” it seems the entire class is performed at an extremely high percentage of the max heart rate, or rate of perceived exertion, the entire time. So, basically, when you’re in a recovery phase of the interval, you’re still at a very high heart rate or RPE.

Flexing Your Diet

Another huge contest prep pitfall is sticking to the same diet every day of the week. I mean, it’s bad enough that these top online guru trainers dish out cookie-cutter diets, but c’mon, at least provide a different macronutrient profile for the different days of the week.

Look, for optimal fat loss and muscle preservation, you’re going to need a different amount of carbohydrates on a brutal lower body weight training session than you are on a day that you don’t even workout.

I recently had a Figure girl show me her contest prep eating pattern that her coach sent her. Not only was it a cookie-cutter program with suboptimal food choices that was sent to dozens of other girls whose physiques were worlds apart, but it was just a “one day fits all” approach.

The exact same foods were to be eaten in the exact same amounts every single day for twelve weeks. It didn’t matter if the morning workout called for a one hour treadmill walk and the evening workout entailed three dozen sets of twenty reps of walking lunges and leg extensions followed by another hour on the treadmill — or the day was completely off.

Each day was exactly the same.

What about a carbohydrate rotation to spike leptin levels and fire up the metabolism? No way, Jose!

What about strategically placing a high carbohydrate meal post-workout to aide in muscle recovery and repair? Forgetaboutit!

What about raising protein and fat levels on the very low carbohydrate days to be used as a source of energy and suppress appetite? Naddachance!

Heck, everyone has heard the ole sayin’, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

So, wouldn’t following a diet that never adapts to the individual’s activity pattern be a striking cliché for the above?

I’m just saying.

About the Author

Wet Wolf specializes in physique transformation, contest prep, eating patterns, and sports performance training for clients in real life and online.


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