My goal this past competition season was to place Top 15 in the Nation. I am proud to report that I did that and was able to surpass it by placing 11th in my most recent competition, Team Universe.
After accomplishing your goals its important to reflect on your journey and reflect on areas of improvement. This mental activity really helps me to create new goals and formulate the right plan on how to get there.
I have listed 11 areas (coinciding with my 11th place placement)that were/are areas I struggled with and can improve on during my off-season.
1. Coaching: trusting your coach is important in this sport. I recently transitioned between two coaches. There was a period of transition of erasing one coach’s training principals and learning and embracing a new coach’s training.
2. Intensity of Cardio: With new coaching came new cardio. Unlike in the past, where I did long periods of steady-rate cardio, this season I was forced to get out of my comfort zone and do more fat-burning cardio pushing my body to achieve 70-80% of my MHR. Very challenging but highly effective in transforming my physique, particularly my legs.
3. Nutrition: Also, there was a new form of dieting. I had 7-8 small meals/snack throughout which included combination of complex carbs, protein, vegetables, good fats and low GI fruits. This was a new form of dieting for me and took me awhile to adapt to.
4. Cheat Meals: Cheat meals are essential in a strict diet regime because it is one of the few way you can reward your yourself for following a consistent strict diet. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to cheat. I struggled in keeping with a more clean cheat meal and limiting the amounts of “cheats” I had. This is something I will be paying close attention to in my food journal to catch bad patterns and understand time periods when craving are at the their strongest. At the end of the day, dieting is all about sharpening of you will power and something I continually strive to get better at.
4. Recovery: As athletes it is essential that you take days off to recover and that you get at least 7-8hrs of rest. As busy and driven as I am, I found it difficult to take days off or to go to bed early. I will focus more on this during my off season to make it an established habit walking into in-season 2011.
5. Hydration: Water is very important in passing nutrients through the body and keeping the metabolism revved up. Also, keeping the body hydrated keeps muscles loose and ready to work. Unfortunately, I found numerous occasion that I was dehydrated which led to cramping, hunger craving, even poor posing. Staying hydrated is something that is highly important to me – Water bottle with me at all times!
6. Posing: you can train hard for 18 weeks and throw it all away by not being confident on stage and “presenting the physique”. I saw this firsthand at my showing at Jr. Nationals. I walked out on stage with my chest down any my posing was missing that certain level of confidence which causes doubt in the judges mind about your poise and presentation. At my showing at Team Universe, I did much better but still have a long ways to go and will continually work on being “Classy, Sexy, Cool” on stage.
7. Tan: getting your color just right can make all the difference on the stage. If you are not dark enough it can make you look washed out on stage and highlight areas of weaknesses. Unfortunately, at Jr. Nats I was 4 shades lighter than I needed to be on stage which made me look flat and highlighted weaknesses in my legs. Getting my color right is something I am going to spend some time on working. I am thinking of trying a new product called liquid rays and will have a couple practice trials with it.
8. My biggest Developmental Area: My legs are my main area of focus. This year I was able through the help of Mike Davies training was able to get my legs smaller and more streamlined with my upper body. I have gotten continual feedback from judges, my coach and friends and family that the difference between my physique and the athletes who place higher than me are my legs. While I was able to get my legs significantly smaller than last year and present a more well rounded physique I still have a long road ahead of me. I will spend my off season targeting my hamstrings and focus more on fat-burning cardio.
9. Isolation vs. Compound Movements: I compete in a sport that judges you on shape,proportions and symmetry. In order to present this type of physique you have to do the right training. Unfortunately, I spent the last two year primarily doing compound movements, the wrong type of training. In order to really bring out my shape I have to focus more on range of motions and isolation of different muscle groups.
10. Sport Massages: As hard as I train, I sometime forgot how important it is for the muscles to get a weekly break down through sport massages. These sports massages are not only important in helping break down the muscle but it helps to prevent muscle impingement and keeps the fascia (insulated of muscle)hydrated. By adding these massages in my competition prep, I saw a dramatic difference in my reducing muscle impingement which lead to be better posing on stage, particularly in my shoulders and back. I will continue to get these massage through my training to help work out kinks and muscle tightness.
11. The Right Suit: The right suit helps present your best physique. Unfortunately, for my first show this season I had a suit that was cut in such a way in made my waist look big. In my second show, Team Universe, I went with a more flatter suit cut which highlighted one my strength my waist line. By doing so I was able to place higher and present more confidently and showed in my posing.
So based on my journal throughout my competition season and a week’s time of reflection these are the areas I can continually get better at and ready to put the right off season program together to make sure I am continually tracking towards my dream of turning Pro.