For those that have competed before, the inevitable feeling of being “lost” post show is common amongst bodybuilders. It’s common for people to have a tough time easing back into a “normal” diet – or a diet that is less restrictive, and to recalculate goals after being in “mission mode” for so long – basically the relentlessness of dieting and training for a contest with that contest being the only thing on ones mind.
Post Contest Diet – Reverse Dieting, Binging, Cheat Meals, etc
Structuring a post-contest diet may be tough – both for those that could care less about their future goals with bodybuilding as a sport and as a lifestyle and for those that actually want to improve. There is a period where, depending on how lean and in shape you were for your show, a rebound rich in high carbohydrate, junky foods along with intense training is about the most anabolic set of conditions your body has to build muscle. Take advantage of the environment your body is in and grow! But, be mindful that it is extremely easy to lose months of contest conditioning in just a week or two from over binging. You will find it may be hard to eat a normal diet – feeling that whatever you eat is never enough, and you only want to consume more and more food.
This is not only going to pack on the bodyfat, but is also extremely poor for your health to be in taking such extreme amounts of junky foods. Reverse dieting is definitely a more responsible approach (where an individual would ease into an off season diet, the same way they eased into the contest preparation diet up to the show) but I would recommend a period where a little lenience is kept immediately post show, where the body can explode after being in such a conditioned, depleted state. This effect seems to not be as prominent if your body isn’t as conditioned. For instance, the rebound in pure muscle gains and strength would sky-rocket faster for someone that comes up into a show with striated glutes (and everything else) more so than someone who showed up in OK shape.
Post Contest Cycle
It’s common post contest to either completely come off steroids, or to “cruise” to a maitenance dose of around 200-300MG of Testosterone. If you plan to compete as a general hobby and not make it a goal to be a pro, or just value health more than anything, this is a wise idea to let your health marker values return back to normal. However, if you come into a show shredded, the post show environment is the perfect opportunity for you to pack on solid muscle, very fast – and if you can manage a month or two extra with some bulking agents, you can put on some SERIOUS size. I’ve seen people go from a low-end heavyweight, to possibly a super-heavyweight caliber bodybuilder in a few months after a show.
Post Contest Training and Recovery
I’m AGAINST the idea of taking time off post show. The act of competing itself, granted that you didn’t do anything stupid and cooky like water depleting for days and weeks out, using excessive diuretics, etc, then you should be fresh after a few solid days of rest and a few cheat meals. This doesn’t mean go attempt a max the first day back in the gym, but get back in there and after a week or two, go back HARD! Again, this is the time to make the best gains, so with the influx of calories and rest requires, or rather, would be amplified by a solid training regime. Keep the reps both high and low (doing a little bit of both) and you will notice that you will probably be about as strong as you were in your peak off season, just many many pounds less and still lean.