Motivation

3 Things to Think About When Going Abroad to Compete

Travelling to a competition can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time or you’re going alone. The days before the comp you will be tired, hungry and nervous, so it’s important to make sure you have as much comfort as you can afford!

Here are three very important things to think about in the weeks before you travel:

1. What you’ll eat

Travelling is usually a time of exploring new or different cuisines and having fun. But if you’re travelling to compete, you can’t really enjoy local food until after the competition. That’s why it is important to plan ahead your meals for the last few days before your comp. Research the area and your hotel – are there any big supermarkets around? Does your hotel have a microwave, kitchen facilities (forks anyone?) or a restaurant where you can measure, warm up or cook your food (or order for it to be cooked as per your requirements)?

These are key questions you need answered before you leave – you don’t want to be stranded in a new place hungry and having to make poor food choices right before your comp. During my last comp we encountered a few blunders along the road, like not being able to find forks or a place to cook my rice or even a place that sells simple grilled chicken! So think twice before you book your hotel.


2. Where you’ll stay

Once you have a budget set for accommodation, make a list of all the hotels / apartments which fit the bill. Out of that list you need to pick a place which is relatively close to your competition venue and ideally one with facilities for your meals (e.g. fridge & microwave).

Why is location important? If like most people you are using the official beauty partners you will have to walk to and fro your accommodation on the day of the event. Of course you can always find a spot on the floor within the venue itself, but why suffer if you are paying for accommodation? Tanning usually requires 2 trips, and for the ladies there are also hair and makeup appointments to go to. And if the weather is cold you wouldn’t want to have to walk too far out, right?


3. What you’ll wear

I kind of missed this point last time. You need to be comfortable in the day or two prior to the competition, however you also need a separate outfit for show day.

Tanning stains, so it’s important to come prepared with old loose clothes (e.g. strapless beach dresses, large tee shirts, shorts or pants) which will keep you comfy  until it’s time to put on your stage outfit. Flip flops are ideal pre-stage. And remember to keep warm! Even if you are not traveling in the winter months or to a cold country you are likely to feel cold as you will be tired, depleted, hungry, thirsty and nervous!

So remember: plan ahead, research well, check you have everything and pack early!

Motivation

My Weekly Update – 1 week out!

Almost there! This time next week I will already be in Barcelona watching the other categories compete on stage. We are entering the last 7 days before the week, peak week as it is called, there is no turning back? What will the next few days hold in store for me? That even I don’t know… yet! I guess I shall enjoy the benefit of the doubt.

Training

I have now fully embraced the stairmaster ūüėÄ Good for post-workout cardio (15 mins), good for fasted cardio (40 mins), good for everything! I’m finally seeing progress in my hamstrings, which were the toughest part to  work on. Nothing much has changed in my programme from last week – still focusing on supersets, drop sets & other long sets. Only 5 more workouts left!

Nutrition

Since my weight is slightly lower this time,  I didn’t have to sacrifice carbs so much. Really, nothing exciting here – just the usual chicken, beef mince, fish & salmon with veggies meals. I do get to enjoy an omelette on Saturdays though, usually that’s in a nice cafe with a strong coffee. Yep, I can’t wait to have some treats in exactly 8 days!

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No, that’s not soda – it’s iced coffee! Like they say, where there’s a will there’s a way ūüėČ

Lifestyle

This week we had 3 days of public holiday which was a nice break from the hustle & bustle of the office. TV, cinema, online courses, naps – and of course plenty of gym time! Perfect timing (for 2 weeks out). Now I head into the last week, I cross fingers that things at work will not be too hectic, as I juggle packing & pre-stage beauty treatments with the last few workouts (and meals!) Yay!

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Doing my course on uncertainty, complexity & decision making… and waiting for my next meal!
Motivation

My Weekly Update ‚Äď 2 Weeks Out!

Here we are – 2 weeks to go! After a busy week at work and a few late nights, I’m glad to say the end is near.


Training

This week was full of long sets. Although still following the same weekly split, we changed a few exercises and added some drop sets and giant sets. This has really left me sore! And finally, after switching most of my steady cardio to the stair master machine this week, my has dropped to 10%. I was about 8% for my last comp, so still a bit to go.

Nutrition

Surprise! I’m still having rice & sweet potatoes ūüôā This is definitely a huge bonus as anyone who’s done comp prep knows. I think starting this comp prep at a fairly low body fat has helped ease the pressure on my diet and training. So far no extreme measures have been taken.

With only 15 days left, my motivation is renewed and I am much better able to deal with cravings. Of course, the occasional fresh salad always helps ūüėČ

September 24th – let the countdown begin!

Motivation

Q&A: How Can I Compete Without Breaking the Bank?

In the last part of our Q&A series we look at the cost of participating in bodybuilding and fitness model competitions through federations, such as the IFBB and WBFF.

Our question comes from my friend & instagram follower @leanlioness : how do you do it without breaking the bank!?

What I have to say:

Competing is indeed costly, and unfortunately unlike other recognised sports (e.g. national & Olympic sports) getting financial support is extremely difficult. Most of the sponsorships offered by fitness & supplement companies are limited to free products and barely scratch the mountain of competition expenses.

Personally, I would recommend looking at competing as an investment in something you like, in your personal goal or or even in improving yourself! Just like you would save money for a dream holiday or education course, so you would need to plan & save money for a competition.

Of course, there are several ways you can reduce these costs, but you can’t eliminate them completely. Another thing to consider is the compromise between saving money & getting the results you want.

Most of the costly things (e.g. training, food & event beauty services) you can do yourself with the help of internet resources, however the experience may be much more stressful. Also having a mentor / coach with relevant experience who can guide you through the whole process is invaluable.

Your question is a good starting point and will helpfully hope anyone who is doing their research on competing. Below you will see a detailed breakdown on all the costs involved in competing and where you can save some money.

Answer from our expert, Lisa Maas,¬†M.S. Nutrition, B.S. Exercise Science and US Women’s Figure¬†competitor:

When I competed for the first time a few months ago, it was not until it got closer to the show that I realized how several little things added up. I already had a gym membership and was used to buying high quality foods, so these expenses were not new to me.

However, once I got further into the prep, I realized that costs added up for things like manicure, travel costs, solarium sessions to get a base tan, jewelry, make up… the list goes on and on.

In hindsight, I know I could have saved much more money had I planned everything more thoroughly right from the beginning.

Now let me help you to get the most out of your prep and look amazing on stage without spending a fortune. Below is a breakdown on what you will have to spend money on and how to spend your money wisely to make everything as affordable as possible.

Some things are optional while others are not.

1.Coach

Even if you have a good training background or are working in the fitness industry yourself, having a coach is worth the investment.

Although you may be able to do this yourself, having someone that holds you accountable, pushes you, and guides you through the program makes the whole process much more effective and enjoyable. Most prep coaches offer 12-week programs and will design your training and nutrition plan.

You may find a coach that can help you with everything (nutrition, training, and posing) or you may need to find two or three individuals to help you.

Approx. cost: $100-$600 /month depending on which services are included

2.Posing

If you are new to competing you should invest in a few posing sessions and having a coach who helps you with this is worth the investment. You could also teach yourself with YouTube videos but this is not as easy as it sounds.

At the end it all comes down to how you present yourself on stage and if you are able to show your hard work. You can save money by signing up for group sessions or session packages.

Approx. cost: Private sessions: $60-$150 /hour; Group sessions: $25-$35 /hour

3.Food

If you are already eating pretty healthy and do your weekly meal prep you already have an estimate about the expenses for food. However, you will probably be eating more protein and more frequently throughout the day.

Food costs for you may go up or down depending on how you ate before. Consider looking into food companies that offer customized nutrition plans and weekly delivery. Pura, for instance, is one of the best companies, preparing meals exactly according to your macros. This may be a little more expensive but saves you a lot of time and energy.

Approx. cost: Doing your own meals: $320 /month; Using a meal prep company: $680 /month (*food costs vary depending on the country you live in)

4.Supplements

You don’t have to go crazy on supplements. If you don’t have any health issues or compromised gut function that would need extra support, sticking to the essentials such as protein powder and BCAAs may be sufficient.

Approx. cost: $50+

5.Gym Membership

You can skip the membership and get by with a squat rack, barbell and bench, dumbbells and a pull-up bar at home. Otherwise, gym memberships can range from

$45-$140 /month

6.Federation Membership Card

Different federations will have different membership fees. Most shows require you to be a member of their federation before you can register for a contest.

Approx. cost: $60-$120

7.Competition Suit

A new custom suit can start at $150 and can get up as high as you would like. If you could see yourself competing in several shows, investing in a custom suit is a great idea. You can use that suit for several shows and eventually resell it for 50-75% of your purchase price.

If you want to save, you can look for a used suit. You can get a beautiful used one for $120 and up. There are also a few sites where you can rent a suit instead of buying one. Another option is to buy an affordable plain suit and add the stones and bling yourself to offset the costs.

Approx. cost: $120+

8.Competition heels and jewelry

Clear competition heels can range from $40-$60 and jewelry comes down to about $50. You can also add rhinestones to your shoes yourself.

As for jewelry, you will need rhinestone bracelets on one or both wrists. If you compete in figure or bikini you will also need earrings.

Approx. cost: $30-$80

9.Show day makeup

Your makeup must be very dark and should also match your tan. If you buy your own, it will last for multiple shows.

Having a professional do it is a little more expensive but may be helpful at the first show.

Approx. cost: Professionally done: $50-$90; DIY: $80 (multiple shows)

10.Hair

You can definitely do this yourself or have a friend do your hair for you. When it comes to hair, having a professional do it at your first show may be less stressful, but also more expensive.

Approx. cost: $30-$80

11.Competition tan

Using the event tanner is definitely recommended as they will make sure you look amazing on stage (win-win situation). This is more expensive but recommended for the first show. DIY competition tanning products will last about three shows.

Approx. cost: DIY: $50-$80 (for three shows); event tanning service: $100+ (per show)

12.Hotel and Travel costs

This varies depending on how far you have to travel for your show. Competing in local shows keeps these costs affordable.

13.Competition Entry Fees

Costs are about $30-$50 per category entered. This varies from show to show.

Approx. cost: $50-$200, depending on how many categories you want to compete in

14.Manicure

You will have to make sure that your nails are in good shape. You can do it yourself or get a manicure. French manicures look good on stage but in general, color and length are up to you.

Approx. cost: $15-$80

15.Photography

The event photographer will usually offer packages for $60-$75 for all of the pictures they take of you during the show. If you enter more than one category, the photography package may be more expensive.

In addition most competitors schedule a 1 to 2-hour photo shoot the week of the show, which may cost $150+. This is totally worth it though!

Approx. cost: $60+

As you can see, there are ways to keep the competition expenses to a minimum. How much you ultimately decide to spend on each thing is up to you.

I recommend making a list before you start your contest prep in order to prioritize expenses. Hiring a coach and signing up for posing sessions should definitely be at the top of your list.

Don’t let money be the reason not to compete! There is always a way to make it work.

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Motivation

Beginner‚Äôs Guide Part 3: Understanding Individual Strength Differences

 

By Elliott Speed

A gym can be a very daunting place. There are many people that are intimidated by the thought of the gym. Even I, like most others, have been in this position.

The notion of not knowing what exercises to do and how to do them, especially with the new state-of-the-art equipment is enough to prevent people from entering a gym.

Once in a gym it is very difficult to keep your eyes off those around you, and it is very easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others which can very often hinder your results. This also applies to social media.

Today social media is the most popular form of contact for the majority of people. It is also one of the main sources for people to educate themselves and give an insight into their lives.

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In the fitness industry social media is the main source of advertisement for both athletes and companies. This has a very detrimental effect on those looking to start their fitness journey as most of the well known fitness athletes are in incredible shape. This makes many people feel self conscious.

Apart from body shape, strength is one of the main things people compare in a gym. Looking around to see how much others are lifting and comparing that to our own strength abilities is a common thought process and this can make us feel weak and unfit.

Yet, it is important to keep in mind that strength is very dependent on your goals. If you want to be a powerlifter then yes, strength is an important factor for you. But if your goals are building muscle or toning then strength is not so vital.

In the beginning, it is important to teach your body how to contract a muscle throughout each repetition on every exercise. Lifting the weight through a controlled movement for a full range of motion is much more beneficial than picking a weight above your ability and throwing it around with improper form. This is also a good way to injure yourself.

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But there are more reasons why  you should not to compare yourself to others in the gym:

1. The people you are comparing yourself with are usually complete strangers, meaning you do not know their background. These people may have an extensive sporting background, which has allowed them to become stronger and more coordinated over a  period of time.

2. It is impossible to know how they train. They may not have a 9-5 job or a family and kids, meaning they may train numerous times throughout the day.

3. They may have a fitness coach. Training and diet programmes are extremely important for achieving results, meaning a person will progressively become stronger over long periods of time – after all consistency is key!

4. People progress at different rates. Everyone is unique – each individual has their strengths and weaknesses.

In my opinion it is important to acknowledge this last point and the need to work at improving your weaknesses. Many people also fall into the trap of training the body parts they are strongest in and those parts where they have previously got the fastest results from training.

Don’t let it discourage you if you see someone doing your heaviest squat for several reps Рit takes time and you must be patient. Work hard at turning your weaknesses into strengths and one day your heaviest weight now will be your warm up!

Do not always compare yourself to others. When it comes to training you must be extremely focused on yourself. Only concentrate on your improvements and never feel inadequate training next to someone else.

Your fitness journey is extremely personal and everyone at one time or another was at the beginning of their journey, exactly the same as you. It is true that some have a natural ability to improve and become stronger at a faster rate, however nothing beats hard work and in time you will become stronger.
Motivation

My Weekly Update – 3 Weeks Out!

Here we are at the end of the 4th week before my comp… 3 more weekends and then it’s show time!

Training

Things have remained largely unchanged from last week. I still do weight training 6 days a week and on the 7th day I do 40 mins steady cardio. My workouts usually involve about 6 exercises with light to medium weights or sometimes even bodyweight. The focus is more on the contraction of the muscles. I see a lot more definition as my body gets more toned Рcheck out my triceps  below!

My weight & body composition have remained more or less stable. Anyways the hour or so in the gym is the easy part! Now let’s talk about food…

Nutrition

There have been no changes to my diet this week. This can be a good and a bad thing. THe good part is that I still do have carbs (rice & sweet potato). The bad part is that I started getting bored with my food. I’m sure anyone on comp prep or a transformation journey can understand – there is only so much chicken and broccoli that you can eat ūüėÄ

So this boredom has inspired me to look for alternative ways to spice up my food. Some have been more successful than others. What I would like to share with you this week is my discovery of veggie chips / crisps.

There’s quite a few options out there, but I personally liked the broccoli crisps. I also tried some raw spinach & pumpkin crunchies and dried kale chips. They definitely make veggies more attractive, however do be mindful that some may be high in fat (if fried) or salty flavourings.

 

Lifestyle / The Mind Game

Once again, I’m continued to be blessed with a pretty average week at work. Although the intensity is building up, I’m not working flat out… yet!

Mentally I went through a dip this week. I began to question why I was doing this – so much effort just to be judged on stage for a few minutes by people who did not see me sweat or eat salmon at 6am (when all I wanted was a bowl of muesli ūüė¶ ).

But then again, I am not a quitter. I set this personal goal and I surpassed my expectations during my first comp. It only seemed right to accept this invitation to step on an even bigger stage and face even fiercer competitors.

Of course, having someone to talk to is key. Talking to my coach made me realize that I am not the only one who struggles. So with the right support, I know I can face this challenge head on.

Like they say, you never know your limits unless you push yourself to them…

Fitness, Motivation

Q&A: How Can I Get Leaner Thighs?

It’s Thursday once again and time to answer another one of your questions ūüôā

Question from @hana_mkb: How can I reduce the size of my thighs? I do follow a healthy diet + I walk every morning (brisk walking). I lost so much weight but my thighs are stubborn. What is the solution? And will having them for so many years will leave them loose and flabby after losing weight?

And this time the answer will be from Mark Doherty, personal trainer and performance nutritionist:

Hi there,

Thank you for your question. In my 20 years of working in the fitness industry this is one very common area I often get asked about from many females. Having stubborn fat can be very frustrating for anyone and it can be easy to blame genetics or hormones which may not be the case in most instances. It may merely be that the correct training and nutritional protocols are not being applied, and on a consistent basis for a long enough period of time.

So firstly let’s talk about training. The fastest way to change the shape of your body and boost your metabolic rate is to incorporate resistance training into your routine. Yes, that’s right it’s time to hit those weights, and I can promise you, you will not get bulky.

Let’s look at bikini competitors Рit’s imperative that these ladies have nicely shaped legs and low body fat levels. They achieve this by training their legs anywhere from 1 to 3 times per week using resistance based movements. Exercises such as squats, leg presses, leg curls, stiff legged deadlift and lunges are crucial to this process.

If you are not currently doing this, it is really important you find a trainer that can take you through these exercises and help design a program catered towards your needs.

Secondly we need to ensure that your nutritional needs are being met to ensure fat loss and also to maintain lean muscle tissue. The most common error females make is dropping their calories way too low and doing way too much cardio.

My top tips for a fat loss diet are:

  • Create a calorie deficit (only a 5 to 10% deficit to start with)
  • Keep your protein consumption at 1gram of protein per pound of lean body mass
  • 90% of your diet should include one-ingredient, wholesome foods
  • Some people prefer carbohydrates and while others prefer fats. Find out what works best for you with the help of a certified nutritionist.
  • Ensure the plan is sustainable and fits into your lifestyle

One final point to take into consideration is that some females, even with the perfect diet and training program, may still struggle with fat loss in their leg/hip region. This may be due to an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. In the past for these clients I have successfully used the supplement DIM (100mg per day). DIM has potent effects on estrogen metabolism and is able to keep the body’s estrogen levels relatively balanced.

I hope you found the above information helpful. Please feel free to contact us at Pinnacle Performance for a bespoke plan that is individualized to your needs.

Motivation

My Weekly Update – 4 weeks out!

Wow, only  a month left – where does time go? Let’s see how I’ve done this week.

Training

I think I’ve finally adjusted to the new training schedule and added cardio. There is a lot more focus on squeezing and activating the right muscles to get that definition. I do 15 mins steady cardio post-workout on most days and a 40 mins session on the weekend.

I don’t spend as much time on stretching and posing practice as I did during the last comp prep, however I do feel better and more confident this time. Of course there is always room for improvement, so I do practice posing about 4 times a week.

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Nutrition

I still do get to enjoy carbs (rice & sweet potatoes) after, and sometimes before, my workouts! Definitely helps to keep me sane ūüôā That + coffee. Yep, that is the secret that is keeping me going with the current diet & work schedule – 2 cups of coffee a day on average.

I have spaced my 5 meals a day a bit to compensate for my working hours + evening TV time ūüėÄ and some coffee in between usually does the trick.

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Lifestyle / Mindset

Luckily, this week has been fairly easy at work and I have been able to stick to a 9.30ish – 6.30pm-ish schedule. Despite that, I am still relying on melatonin to get some decent sleep. Perhaps I have developed some kind of fear of not falling asleep as discussed in this article from PsychCentral.

I do get about 6 hours a night (on a good night), which is less than the 7-8 hours I used to get before my last competition. However, that came at the expense of my social life (which was limited exclusively to the weekend). This time around, I am spending more time socializing or doing other hobbies such as reading & watching TV.

In the end we all get the same 24 hours, what we do with them is up to us. Here’s a typical working day in my life:

  • 1 hr in bed… waking up, stretching, having my first meal & getting ready for the gym ūüôā
  • 1.5 hrs in the gym
  • 1.5 hrs commuting
  • 9 – 10 hrs in the office
  • 2 -3  hrs rest & recreation (reading, working on the blog, catching up with friends & family, lazing in bed ūüėÄ etc.)
  • 1 hr house chores / prep for the next day or for the gym
  • 7 hrs in bed (although falling asleep can take me more than 1 hr sometimes)

Seems like a lot of time when you put it on paper no? You can always find some time for your personal goals ūüėČ

Motivation

Q&A: What is the best diet for abs?

This week we’ll be answering some questions from my Instagram followers (thanks guys!).

Question from @themulhaq and @suzyshedid: For flat belly, what will be diet plan? I’m talking about abs, which is the hardest part and there is always confusion about the diet plan, what to eat and not … There is a lot of people talking about abs training, but not much about nutrition.

Answer from Kim Barnard, Level 3 PT

There isn’t one best diet for achieving abs per se. Abdominals exist on everyone but they are hidden under a stubborn layer of fat around your midsection.

By decreasing your overall body fat percentage and increasing your lean body mass these will start to appear. To do this you need to ensure that your body is operating at a calorie deficiency through proper training and eating.

It is important to note that other aspects can affect achieving those flat, defined abdominals like genetics, bloating, food allergies, inflammation, etc.

Bloating for the majority of people is caused by food allergies or the inability to break down food in your intestines which causes imbalances in gut bacteria. In your gut there are trillions of good and bad bacteria that compete. Sometimes when the bad outweigh the good this can lead to an imbalance which leads to bloating or excessive gas.

Taking a probiotic promotes good bacteria levels throughout the body and helps to balance non-friendly, pathogenic, gut bacteria such as Candida fungus or E. coli.

Here are some guidelines to help shift the fat and get abs.

  1. Achieve optimal gut health by taking a good quality probiotic.
  2. Make a note of foods that cause bloating and avoid these. For a large proportion of the population dairy and gluten are the biggest culprits.
  3. Eat a balanced diet ensuring you are having the correct amounts of macros (protein, fat and carbohydrates).
  4. Ensure you are getting plenty of fiber which will lower glucose levels and cholesterol while improving digestive health.
  5. Avoid sugar or processed foods.
  6. Ensure you are getting plenty of sleep, high stress levels impact your ability to lose fat.
  7. Ensure through proper training and diet you are achieving a calorie deficiency.

Hope that helps!

Motivation

Workout of the week: Back

As we are getting closer to my competition, I’ll be sharing with you the full workouts I do with my trainer.

Let’s start with one of my favourites ūüôā The back workout:

 

  1. Single Arm Cable Lat Pulldown – 3 sets x15 reps each arm; tempo: 3secs down, 1sec pause, 3 secs up, 1 sec pause.
  2. Hammer Low Row – 4 sets x15 reps; tempo: 4secs up (release), 1sec pause, explosive pull, 3secs pause (squeeze).
  3. Seated Cable Row (with rope) Р4 sets x15 reps; tempo: 4secs down (release), 1sec pause, explosive pull, 3secs pause (squeeze).
  4. Hammer Single Arm Supinated Pulldown – 4 sets x15 reps each arm; tempo: 3secs down, 1sec pause, explosive pull, 3secs pause (squeeze).
  5. Precor Machine Seated Row (neutral grip) – 3 sets x30 reps; tempo: 2secs down, 1sec pause, explosive pull, 2secs pause (squeeze).