It has certainly been awhile since I prepped a competitor but I had SO MUCH fun and the outcome was amazing 😀
Liqin has competed before and won a trophy in each show she’s ever done, so when she came to me and we started working together I knew I had to bring my A game for her because she was going to do the same for me.
We won Masters Sports Model and the Overall, and in 2 weeks she’ll be competing against some of the best in the world in Thailand!
Here’s a basic overview of the things we did with her training and nutrition, and how we adapted everything based on how she was looking and feeling. Sadly we got waylaid for a few weeks by Covid, but thankfully I had engineered her prep in a way that catered for worst case scenarios.
Not only did she get lean enough on time, but by spending our time wisely, looking out for a previous injury and only training weak points, we had some pretty fucking SCHMIK changes to her physique.
Here’s what we did.
Diet Weeks 1-4
Cals: 1540, 145P, 140C, 50F
Diet: We started on 1540 calories at 55kg. Being really light means we have less and less wiggle room to move with calories, so I erred on the side of caution to begin with, with the aim to increase her calories from carbs as we got closer to her show. The leaner the client is, the more carbs I like to give them.
Training: 6 weeks in duration
2 x Back & Shoulder, 2 x Abs & Glutes, 2 x Cardio (35m)
Liqin had incurred a previous shoulder injury, ate no carbs and had spent 2 hours in the gym each day during her prior prep. I’m a big believer in getting as much from the least as you can, especially at the start of a long contest prep. That way if we need to push harder / do more / burn more calories or drop her calories down we have some wiggle room to do so, and we don’t burn her out.
We prioritised her hammies, glutes and back in the first few weeks and didn’t train her quads or chest ONCE. She had great shoulders already but given her injury, I wanted to help to reinforce them so she didn’t have any further complications during prep, so we did a lot of scapula stability work and made sure her associated elbow issues weren’t getting worse. She only did an average of 4 exercises per training session, and I asked her to train HEAVY during those sessions – 4-5 sets of 10-12 on average and give it her all. She was in and out in under 45m each day and I wanted her to increase the weight she used as much as possible, pushing her to progressively add more weight, train close to failure and optimise the volume on those 4 exercises meant we could get some muscle growth happening despite being in a calorie deficit.
Diet weeks 4-6
Cals: 1720, 150P, 180C, 50F
At this stage Liqin had dropped 3kg so I started feeding her up and adding some more calories in. I didn’t make any changes to her training as I always try to avoid changing too much at once (because you never know what is working and what isn’t when you keep chopping and changing everything), so we kept her on her hypertrophy program and didn’t add any cardio etc.
All that changed was her diet and it was going well…. until Covid hit.
Diet weeks 7-14
Cals: 1540, 145P, 140C, 50F Training Days
Cals: 1300-1400, 160P, >100C, 50F Rest Days
Liqin had a good 3 weeks, from week 7 to 10, where she lacked energy and felt fatigued. In any normal circumstance I would have kept a client on the higher calories or brought them up to maintenance to help with recovery and to fight off infection – but we had a time limit so I sadly had to drop her down again and change her over to a training day / rest day diet in order to make up for the 3 weeks we lost.
Unfortunately if you have a specific goal and a deadline and you get sick – you kinda have to suck it up.
Thankfully we had already dropped most of the body fat we needed to by this time as I’d started her cutting right from the start, so we were still going to be on track! We stayed on this diet for the rest of her prep prior to her peak week and dropped from about 53 to 49.5 kilograms.
Training weeks 7-14
Giant sets: 4 days per week, 1 x Full Body Day, 1 x Glutes & Shoulders, 1x Back and Arms, 1 x Abdominal Circuit + Interval training
We increased her cardio to a daily walk for an hour, and went over to a giant set style of training with each muscle group getting hit 2x per week. Again, not a lot of chest or quads and plenty of rotator cuff / shoulder stability in there so she could hit her sessions hard without fear of reinjury.
Her giant sets were TOUGH. 7-8 exercises, no rest, 12-20 reps as heavy as she could go on everything for 4 sets. We manipulated the tempos for strategic muscle groups to try to increase the amount of damage and the length/tension relationship of certain joints. I was still very careful not to aggravate her shoulder injury but by this stage it wasn’t bothering her nearly as much anymore, or at all.
During week 11 we added in a 20 minute bike interval at the end of her glutes & shoulder and abdominal circuit days to get her legs leaning out a bit faster. For the 20 minutes, she simply increased the resistance every 5 minutes so that it was harder and harder to pedal and she got a bit of lactic acid build up. This was strategically placed after her hard leg workouts and on days she wouldn’t be too fatigued so there was minimal impact on the intensity of her other workouts. We stayed on this plan right up to her peak week, and didn’t need to change a thing.
Training: Stopped training legs 5 days before show, stopped cycling 4 days before, no training 2 days prior to comp
Diet: Minimal carbs for 3 days and moderate water loading, 2 days prior bumped up calories & carbs and slowly reduced water intake.
We didn’t really do a whole lot of manipulation this week and I wanted to keep it simple. Her diet was the rest day menu from the previous phase for the first 3 days of the week, then we went back to the 1750 calorie days leading up into the show. Because we kept carbs in for the vast majority of her prep and I knew that she got a great pump when she trained so if we increased her water and carbs just a little we would be right on the money. The night prior to her show I had her smash a GIANT steak, some red wine and some chippies. (There are reasons behind this but 99% of them are the client being able to relax a bit better the night before the show!)