T Nation

Do You Really Need Contest Prep Coach/Trainer?


#1

First post here on T nation, I love the down to earth no bullshit mentality that is found here in spades. For a little background I've competed on and off for years six shows total now, and I've always came in well... not "peaked". I've been toying with the idea of hiring a coach/trainer who has the reputation of always placing guys, but have hesitated because part of the fun for me is figuring out what works best for me.

I don't know about you guys but whenever I approach one of these coaches to talk they clam up, unless you're going to throw down the cash to hire them. Now I can't say that I blame them because to some it's their livelihood, and that wouldn't be best for their bottom line. I'm not looking for a paint by numbers approach I get so much satisfaction from the learning aspect not just the results.

What are some of the things I can do leading up to my next show myself to learn "how I respond to things"? And then apply it on the big day. That's what you always hear right "we'll see how you respond to things". What exactly are they, the coaches/trainers, manipulating diet and training wise to determine the best course of action? You'd think after 16 years I'd know what makes my body work better than they ever could after 16 weeks, but then again maybe not.


#2

[quote]npcaldwell wrote:
First post here on T nation, I love the down to earth no bullshit mentality that is found here in spades. For a little background I’ve competed on and off for years six shows total now, and I’ve always came in well… not “peaked”. I’ve been toying with the idea of hiring a coach/trainer who has the reputation of always placing guys, but have hesitated because part of the fun for me is figuring out what works best for me.

I don’t know about you guys but whenever I approach one of these coaches to talk they clam up, unless you’re going to throw down the cash to hire them. Now I can’t say that I blame them because to some it’s their livelihood, and that wouldn’t be best for their bottom line. I’m not looking for a paint by numbers approach I get so much satisfaction from the learning aspect not just the results.

What are some of the things I can do leading up to my next show myself to learn “how I respond to things”? And then apply it on the big day. That’s what you always hear right “we’ll see how you respond to things”. What exactly are they, the coaches/trainers, manipulating diet and training wise to determine the best course of action? You’d think after 16 years I’d know what makes my body work better than they ever could after 16 weeks, but then again maybe not.[/quote]

Everything you’re saying is showing exactly why you SHOULD hire a coach. Unless of course you simply enjoy banging your head against the wall. You’re obviously fucking up every time you’re competing. I’m guessing you’ve never come close to winning a show. If winning matters to you, hire a coach. At least one time. I get what you’re saying about having fun figuring out what works for you, but based on what you said… you’re not figuring out what works for you. That’s not very fun.

You sound like you’re being very hard headed. And no, I don’t think 16 years of experience with yourself should be more useful than 16 weeks coaching. Think about it. Coaches have that 16 weeks with you AND they’ve coached dozens, maybe even hundreds of other clients for similar 16 week periods. They actually have far more experience than you do.


#3

Hey flipcollar thanks for the input, I really have been considering hiring someone I see your point about the numbers of people they’ve trained and the knowledge that comes with it.

To be honest I had my best luck back when I was competing as a teen and didn’t really know anything, I just ate and trained the same way all the time and come contest time I’d throw on some protan and head for the stage and place in the top three. Fast forward to my last contest in 2009 I dropped to much weight to fast, 70 lbs in three months I was way fatter than I thought and didn’t give myself time to tighten up, I was so depleted going in but this stil earned me a third place in the novice heavyweight class at a NGA show. I know I wasn’t my best for that show, not even close.

So fast even further forward to today and I’m sitting at 212 lbs and 12% body fat, I’ve got 24 weeks until the next contest, weight is coming off at a steady 1.5 lbs/week, I keep enough carbs coming in to get a pump every workout, and have just recently started using cardio when the weight loss stalled at around 215. I think I have plenty of time to get where I need to be and then experiment with peaking for the last month or so to make sure I get it right.


#4

Hmnnn, while I understand why some people don’t answer questions (everyone on IG who has done a single contest if that seems to offer online coaching these days), I’ve actually had a good number of people approach me as actual clients because I always answered questions online without doing the “hire-me-tease-answers” that seems to be pretty popular. There are actually plenty of Pros that enjoy actrually helping and don’t focus only on making a buck of anyone they can.

What I think is the best part of having a coach, and I honestly do believe that not everyone needs one, is the set of objective eyes. Prepping yourself is certainly doable, but there are advantages to handing over the reigns.
-Someone with more experience has probably already seen almost every type of hiccup or issue that may occur
-Someone with more knowledge of what actually happens during the process of shedding fat/maintaining LBM is certainly advisable compared to just following a plan printed in a magazine.
-Someone who has been in/to enough shows and knows all the finer points of contest day
-and Most importantly, a second set of eyes is huge! When I did my very first contest, I know that my training partner was such a BBing fan, and had such a great eye in assessing physiques that I could truly rely on him to be brutal in how I was looking as the date neared.

Again, not everyone needs a guide, but you have to look at how things have gone for you and ask yourself if it would be worthwhile. I know a female Personal Trainer who competes, and even though she’s done a decent number of shows over the years, she never really looks great, and except for one show where there were only 6 girls in her class and she placed 5th, she never places at all. At some point, I figure she’s going to swallow her pride and seek someone with more experience and knowledge to help her out, but it never seems to happen. You can’t really force help on some people, especially if they don’t see that they need it. Just my opinion though, not trying to sound negative because I’ve tried casually offering suggestions.

S


#5

[quote]npcaldwell wrote:
First post here on T nation, I love the down to earth no bullshit mentality that is found here in spades. For a little background I’ve competed on and off for years six shows total now, and I’ve always came in well… not “peaked”. I’ve been toying with the idea of hiring a coach/trainer who has the reputation of always placing guys, but have hesitated because part of the fun for me is figuring out what works best for me.

I don’t know about you guys but whenever I approach one of these coaches to talk they clam up, unless you’re going to throw down the cash to hire them. Now I can’t say that I blame them because to some it’s their livelihood, and that wouldn’t be best for their bottom line. I’m not looking for a paint by numbers approach I get so much satisfaction from the learning aspect not just the results.

What are some of the things I can do leading up to my next show myself to learn “how I respond to things”? And then apply it on the big day. That’s what you always hear right “we’ll see how you respond to things”. What exactly are they, the coaches/trainers, manipulating diet and training wise to determine the best course of action? You’d think after 16 years I’d know what makes my body work better than they ever could after 16 weeks, but then again maybe not.[/quote]

Ive only done 1 show so far but hired a pretty well known coach and glad i did. For me, it took out the guess work and let me put all my focus where it needed to be. If youre gonna put yourself through a prep, make it worth your time. It sounds like youre past due to try something different.


#6

In my opinion the main thing you pay a coach for, aside from the knowledge and experience, is to SAVE YOU TIME. We all have those “Man, If I could go back 10 years I would have done ________ differently” … well, a coach is essentially you 10 years from now, and they can show you the way.

Would it be worth $800 to “skip ahead” 4 shows and know what you know then but know it now? For some the answer is a 100% yes, others maybe not. You’ll have to answer that for yourself.

Obviously coaches do other things as well and there are many other reasons to hire them, but the time saving aspect is often over looked. You get to “rent” an experienced brain for months at a time and can use its wisdom for yourself.


#7

I dont answer a lot of questions because you get many “shoppers” tryiung to get as much free info as possible and I dont know how many times I spent an hour with somebody never to hear back from them


#8

You need at least 1 other pair of eyes on the situation particularly when cutting, and especially the last few weeks.

No matter how much knowledge you have, applying it to yourself is completely different than applying it to someone else, and when you’re in a large deficit it doesn’t get any easier.

Because it is a lot of information to process (how you look, how you feel, when and what you should eat, what your schedule is like, how your body responds to training/diet, training history, exercise/cardio selection, water manipulation, posing, weak points, etc) you will probably need to compensate this person monetarily. Even if it is a friend.

If it’s important to you, get a coach.


#9

Granted, I’m not a guy and this is my first post here…but I am going in and throwing my towel into the female figure competitions (bikini seems to be just “skinny girl” and I dont want skinny)…while I am doing great on my own for my bulk, I will hire a coach when I’m 4 months out and ready to cut (january time frame)…I am currently talking with one online who as of right now is just helping a sister out…so he is who I will go with when I’m ready to go. I’ve managed to pack on 24lbs from 111 to 135 and volley between 12-15% body fat through it all, so I’d say I’m good to go, but will need help when it comes to last minute lock downs to pull my abs through.


#10

Thanks for all the replies, makes sense to have the extra set of unbiased eyes and the experience that goes with them. One thing I’ve noticed in my region is one certain “team” usually places people in the top three in any given division, and in my opinion they get those placings because they’re on said “team” not because they’re always the best. I think I’ll save up and go for it at least once, but use a less popular trainer.


#11

I am currently prepping for my first contests (April and June) and have a coach, and I’m extremely thankful to have one.
-I don’t have to obsess or over analyze everything I do as I have someone to guide me.
-If I AM obsessing or over analyzing something, I can bounce it off him and he’ll give me the info I need, educating me in the process. Daily weight fluctuations, training issues or questions, aches and pains, calories, meal timing, posing, etc., anything and everything.
-As many have already mentioned, as the show approaches, especially the last couple weeks, day before, day of, you want the experience of a successful pro to guide you through the process. Water management, tanning, show logistics, etc.

It seems like you have a preconceived notion that all coaches want to do is get your money and give out generic advice, although you’ve never actually hired one. I think, as with any profession, it really depends on who you work with. There’s no doubt some coaches aren’t worth it, but there are also a lot of outstanding coaches that have great experience and can offer invaluable expertise.

When a coach says, “we’ll see how you respond to X,” it’s because they don’t know how you’ll respond to X, as everyone is different. Making small changes is one very important aspect that is often overlooked, as some people go into “prep mode” and make a lot of drastic adjustments in a short amount of time, so there’s no way to tell what exactly is effective and what needs to be adjusted. Small adjustments, consistency and data allow you to really gain serious knowledge.

As far as the “learning process” it seems silly to rob yourself of gains and success because you enjoy “figuring it out.” These things don’t need to be mutually exclusive, you can learn plenty working with a coach. I can tell you I have learned quite a lot about myself, my body, my training, nutrition, etc. through working with my coach. You don’t want a coach that says, “do this, do whatever I say, don’t question and just get it done,” or that sends you adjustments or a plan without explanation. You want a coach that you know you can talk to, that will educate you and provide the method to the madness, not just the madness.

It might be a good idea to stop thinking about popularity of a coach and politics and such, and just find a coach who is experienced, who has had success as a competitor, has had clients that look great for their shows (don’t focus on clients who win or place or whatever, this is an offense only sport. If the clients look good, you know the guy knows his stuff), someone who’s a nice guy and isn’t so busy that they can’t answer your questions in a timely manner.

Hope it works out for you, any shows coming up soon you’re thinking about?


#12

A lot of great replies here! I see a lot of really good advice being given.

After gaining experience and learning how straight forward the process really is I began doing my own diet/nutrition. In fact I was able to win my pro card and place in professional shows all while doing my own prep. Obviously this takes confidence which built up over time. Unfortunately, there’s a huge amount of horrible information floating around the industry and it can take years of building enough experience to finally be able to filter out all of the nonsense. Finding a good coach, if this is the route you want to take, is paramount as a result.
A good coach should be able to instill all of the necessary knowledge and confidence a person needs to monitor progress and diet effectively as an individual…without a coach. I always tell people that come to me for advice that if I do my part, you shouldn’t need me! With that said, there are many different personality types out there. Some just aren’t wired up to handle the stress and anxiety a diet can cause. For those people having a coach is always a good thing even if they don’t necessarily require one.
Somewhat off topic…getting back to the original question…
Dieting, nutrition, training is a lot more straight forward than the fitness industry as a whole will lead you to believe. Applying very basic straight forward concepts over the long term is all you need. Making very slight infrequent adjustments is the way to go. Peaking for a show also doesn’t need to be a complicated mess of strategies and complications. The human body is very complicated and those that think they can manipulate it on a finite scale, hour to hour, or minute to minute successfully are likely kidding themselves. Stick to the basics, keep things simple, give yourself ample time, work hard, and you’ll be successful.


#13

Thanks for all the replies and advice to my question. Since I posted this I’ve completed a 10 week bulking cycle where I broke some previous PR’S, deadlift is up from 515x1 to 600x1, bench is up from 265x2 to 315x3 (I know it’s not much for most of you but I’ve never been a strong bench presser), squat is up from 405x1 below parallel to 405x4 below parallel.

I’ve been cutting for a little bit over a month now, and I’m aiming for a show in August so I’m 18 weeks out. My goal is to make the light heavies and be under 198 1/4 lbs, I’m sitting at 219 lbs and 12.5% BF as of now, down from 240.8 a month ago. Some of this was getting rid of some dianabol bloat.

To my point I’ve taken some time to play with my macro ratios since I first posted this and have learned a lot about “how I respond to things” so I think I’m gonna go it alone this time and continue to figure this out as I go. I just keep coming back to the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing it with my hard work and the knowledge I’ve gained and continue to gain along the way, and if I don’t come into the show completely dialed in then I’ll hire some help next time.


#14

15 weeks out from show.


#15

Definitely good progress. 12+ lbs of weight loss per month is impressive indeed. Hopefully you won’t be giving up any LBM and can continue with a good pace over the next 15 weeks.

S


#16

Here’s a progress photo from yesterday, the scale hasn’t moved much but the scale doesn’t tell the whole story.


#17

Wow, great progress. Update on what your diet has looked like over the past month? What kind of adjustments have you made? You’re well on your way!


#18

Thank you littlesleeper. I woke up this morning weighing 203.8 lbs. Current macros are 150g carbs half pre workout and half post workout, 300g protein divided evenly between 6 meals, and 50g fat usually in meals 1,2,4, and 6. Been getting 30-40 minutes of fasted cardio 5-6 days a week, holding my heart rate around 130 bpm, I alternate between HIIT and MISS cardio. One major adjustment I have made the last two weeks was to incorporate a “skipload” on Sunday to ramp up my metabolism, whereas adding extra cardio and reducing fat/carbs had stopped working, I began with a 7hr load on 7/3/16 hit my baseline weight within 39 hours, on 7/10/1606 I increased my load to 10 hours and got back down below my baseline weight within 120 hours following my load. I plan to see what my weight is Sunday morning and either slightly change my daily macros, cardio frequency, or the length of my “skipload” for the coming week. This Saturday will be 4 weeks out from the show, I’ll post an updated progress picture then, I need to loose a little bit more on my abs and lower back, and get below 198 lbs for weigh ins. Crunch time!


#19

Time to suffer -lol.

Looking forward to the next update.

S


#20

Speaking of suffering, do the rest of you guys sleep suffer? As in have a hard time staying asleep as you get leaner? Falling asleep is easy but I maybe average 5 hours a night now, and used to average 7-8 hours per night. Funny thing is I feel rested and don’t burn out as the day progresses.