T Nation

First Prep, Where to Start?

Lets say a person was interested in doing a contest prep. Where should they start?

There are a lot of contest prep threads, which are great, but most are featuring guys that seem to know what they’re doing. For example, Zraw’s thread is great, but I am light years from Zraw. So some of what he does I could probably adopt/use, but what to use and what not to use would be the tricky part.

As far as bodybuilding goes, I have no clue.

1.) Have there been threads in the past for 1st time prep or beginner prep?
2.) Are there articles?
3.) How do you determine a strategy for diet? Exercise? Cardio?
4.) How did you determine the length of prep need?

FWIW, I’m doing the research for a “cut” or prep later in the year. It’s one of those bucket list type things I want to check off this year.

Thanks in advance for the responses,

-Chris

I have no clue, but I’m keen to hear what others say!

For reference, I mean even more beginner than yodaddy, who did an awesome job!

The biggest piece of advice I would give you is to start focusing on building your metabolic capacity as much as possible before you start prep. If you aren’t already, start tracking your macros and progressively build them up. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope; add 5-10 g of carbs per week and 5 g of fat every 2-3 weeks and see how high you can get your numbers without excessive fat gain. Also, if you’re doing cardio regularly, start slowly taking it out until you’re doing little to no cardio and maintaining your weight while increasing macros.

This will give you your best chance of getting stage lean without extreme suffering. Too many guys start prep maintaining their weight on 300 carbs per day or less. This doesn’t give you a ton of room for drops. In the same way, too many guys are doing cardio 3-5 sessions per week (even if this is in the form of complexes or hiit). Where do you go from here when active fat loss becomes the goal?

You’ll have to add even more sessions and/or increase the duration to provide a new stimulus for the body. So think of the months before prep as “prepping for prep”. I was able to get my offseason numbers up to 450 c, 105 f, and 250 p with several free meals per week and it has made my prep so much smoother than what I see a lot of guys go through

Thanks for the advice pwolves17.

Tracking macros consistently will definitely be a new challenge. Is it necessary to weigh your food or do you just estimate?

I don’t think cardio will be an issue, I only do loaded carried once or twice a week and I walk a mile or two once or twice a week. In short, I don’t do much these day!

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Thanks for the advice pwolves17.

Tracking macros consistently will definitely be a new challenge. Is it necessary to weigh your food or do you just estimate?

I don’t think cardio will be an issue, I only do loaded carried once or twice a week and I walk a mile or two once or twice a week. In short, I don’t do much these day![/quote]
Id say you will definitely want to weigh your foods. If you haven’t done it before, you’ll be shocked by how much variance there is when you use measuring cups or tablespoons, heck even weighing your protein powder makes a big difference

[quote]pwolves17 wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Thanks for the advice pwolves17.

Tracking macros consistently will definitely be a new challenge. Is it necessary to weigh your food or do you just estimate?

I don’t think cardio will be an issue, I only do loaded carried once or twice a week and I walk a mile or two once or twice a week. In short, I don’t do much these day![/quote]
Id say you will definitely want to weigh your foods. If you haven’t done it before, you’ll be shocked by how much variance there is when you use measuring cups or tablespoons, heck even weighing your protein powder makes a big difference [/quote]

I hadn’t even though about weighing protein powder, thanks!

1.) Have there been threads in the past for 1st time prep or beginner prep?

Mine was done from an entirely beginner perspective with no input from paid coaches.

2.) Are there articles?

John Romanniollos (sp?) article on fat loss on this website served the basic for the start of my prep. It does not need to be complicated at that point and he goes over all the necessary points. You count your macros, time your nutrients, do some cardio (maybe) and be patient. After that I followed the get shredded diet on here.

3.) How do you determine a strategy for diet? Exercise? Cardio?

Would depend on what you are doing/eating up until the prep.

4.) How did you determine the length of prep need?

Depends on how fat you are and how lean you wish to be.

Thanks RATTLEHEAD, don’t you have an old prep log?

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Thanks RATTLEHEAD, don’t you have an old prep log? [/quote]

Ya somewhere, however the format of it is terrible so little information can really be squeezed from it lol.

Has anyone used CBL for contest prep?

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Has anyone used CBL for contest prep?[/quote]

I’m not very familiar with the “official” CBL protocol, but I train mid morning and consume about 60-70% of my carbs at night. I love eating big at night and knowing I’ll get to go to bed somewhat full keeps me motivated during the day

[quote]pwolves17 wrote:

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Has anyone used CBL for contest prep?[/quote]

I’m not very familiar with the “official” CBL protocol, but I train mid morning and consume about 60-70% of my carbs at night. I love eating big at night and knowing I’ll get to go to bed somewhat full keeps me motivated during the day[/quote]

Cool. I know some guys around here (like spidey) post about it quite a bit. I don’t know the official protocol either. Right now I wait until until around 1 PM to eat any carbs. I start training at about 5:30.

Don’t you like Intermittent Fasting?

I did that pretty much for the entirety of my prep.

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

1.) Have there been threads in the past for 1st time prep or beginner prep?
[/quote]

Pwolves and mine are both beginner preps logs. As Rattle said his is available as well.

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
2.) Are there articles?
[/quote]

I am sure there are but like most things in the fitness world there is no cookie cutter approach. The more you know about how you react to certain variables the better it is. For example, Pwolves has more carbs then I do and refeeds much more often than I do but that is because he is playing D# baseball as well.

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
3.) How do you determine a strategy for diet? Exercise? Cardio?[/quote]

Listen to Pwolves. Weigh everything you eat and track it. Make slow consistent changes.

Exercise could stay the same for the most part. Up until now (14 weeks into prep) I have been running a strength-hypertrophy routine. It isn’t until next week (8ish weeks out) that I will be cutting out the strength aspect.

Cardio should be the same as diet. Start conservatively and only add/subtract as needed. I started with one short session and am now up to two longer sessions and one short session a week.

This are the areas where having a coach really helps.

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

4.) How did you determine the length of prep need?[/quote]

By tracking progress. I feel most people would be humbled by how much fat they have to lose to get to stage condition. I ended up having to choose a show a month later than the original one because of this. I think the rough guideline of loosing 1 lb a week should help you figure out how much time you need.

[quote]RATTLEHEAD wrote:
Don’t you like Intermittent Fasting?

I did that pretty much for the entirety of my prep.[/quote]

I like to, I guess I’d call it, “extended fast”.

I stop eating at 10PM and I don’t breakfast for about 2-2.5 hours after I wake up. That’s 12-13 hours most days. I don’t know if it’s a good strategy, but honestly I just feel better throughout the day when I do.

Edit: I should clarify I still eat the same number of meals (and I assume the same # of calories).

Thanks GrizzlyBerg!

Ya, I imagine I’m no lower than 20% bf right now, but (at least this go around) I’m not shooting for anything in particular; although, it would be nice to reach single digit bf. The idea is to “test the waters” so to speak. See if I have it in me to prep for an actual show.

I’ve never considered doing a show, but if I actually look decent I might give it a shot down the road.

I just ordered a scale off Amazon. Should have it next week. Do you measure cooked or uncooked?

I will check out both logs (I’ve followed them a little). Both of you were much father along than I am when you started, but I’m sure I can learn a bunch.

[quote]GrizzlyBerg wrote:
I think the rough guideline of loosing 1 lb a week should help you figure out how much time you need.
[/quote]

Lol, I might need to start like next week… (My goal is to end the “prep” mid October)

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:
Thanks GrizzlyBerg!

Ya, I imagine I’m no lower than 20% bf right now, but (at least this go around) I’m not shooting for anything in particular; although, it would be nice to reach single digit bf. The idea is to “test the waters” so to speak. See if I have it in me to prep for an actual show.

I’ve never considered doing a show, but if I actually look decent I might give it a shot down the road.

I just ordered a scale off Amazon. Should have it next week. Do you measure cooked or uncooked?

I will check out both logs (I’ve followed them a little). Both of you were much father along than I am when you started, but I’m sure I can learn a bunch. [/quote]

The skills of a cut and a prep are pretty much the same. Prep just has a lot more riding on it haha.

Depends on what the package/myfitnesspal has it listed as. My protein sources are almost always weighed cooked. Carbs, veggies, fuits, etc are weighed uncooked. Honestly as long as you are consistent that is all the matters. Choose a way and stick to it. That way your adjustment will be teh same no matter what.

[quote]usmccds423 wrote:

[quote]GrizzlyBerg wrote:
I think the rough guideline of loosing 1 lb a week should help you figure out how much time you need.
[/quote]

Lol, I might need to start like next week… (My goal is to end the “prep” mid October)[/quote]

I have lost 21 lbs in 14 weeks so far, if that helps give you an idea at all.