In part one of “From Powerlifter to Bodybuilder – Why and How I Dieted to 7% Body Fat”, I outlined the first stages (introduction and diet) of the process of me reaching contest shape over the past 3 months or so.
This second part will continue the same theme, including supplements, my training, posing and other considerations. Soon thereafter, the third part will address the show itself and how I fared, while the fourth will present how you could do it too with lots of tips from the trenches!
How – Supplements
Supplements formed an extremely important part of my dieting protocol. I genuinely could not recommend supplements more while carrying out a fat loss protocol. Here’s what I used and why:
- Deluxe Nutrition Caffeine Tablets – I took 2 tablets each day generally and in the last two weeks I upped this number to 3 tablets a day (with last dose no later than 4pm). Caffeine allowed my energy levels to be acceptable on such low calories (and no carbs) to train and to function in work. Moreover, it also acts as the most effective fat burning supplement you can buy in my opinion, with good metabolic effects.
- Deluxe Nutrition Casein – I took 2-3 servings per day, one during the day and two at night generally. Deluxe Nutrition’s casein is perfect here as it is low calorie and low carb; this allowed me to get high quality protein in without using up too many of my allocated calories. I would make a casein mousse to eat (small amount of water mixed with the casein) and this granted me much better satiety (feeling more full) than I would have if I had drank it in a shake.
- Deluxe Nutrition 100% Protein – Probably around 1-2 servings a day. Again, this was used similar to the Casein for its low calorie and low carb content.
- Deluxe Nutrition BCAA’s and L-Glutamine – to get Amino Acids in between meals with none of my calorie quota affected.
How – Training
In part one we discussed my diet, now comes the other part of the pie..training! I have to admit, coming from a background that revolves around increasing your strength, training throughout the diet was something that was often hard to get motivated for.
Acknowledging that my strength levels were waning day by day because of such low calories and carbs produced something resembling a slight inferiority complex. Amplifying the motivation, or lack occasional lack thereof, was the fact that I had such a scarcity of energy to even get excited for training anyway so it produced a nasty catch 22.
However, training is of course necessary and I did what I could to keep the stimulus up. The only thing I really changed from my usual Powerlifting training was a little more isolation work such as calf raises, leg extensions and the preference of machine work if energy was low. I also added in more tempo or ‘pump’ work to increase mind-muscle connection, even though there was no way of me gaining any muscle in such a deficit of calories.
Throughout the duration of the diet from July, I trained in the gym roughly 4-5 times per week and completed cardio/conditioning sessions 4-5 times per week also (and added walking where it was required) generally as follows:
Monday – ‘Upper Body Session 1’ (Push/Pull) and 1 hour cycle (to and from work)
Tuesday – ‘Lower Body Session 1’ (Push/Pull) and 1 hour cycle (to and from work)
Wednesday – Off or sometimes played Badminton and 1 hour cycle (to and from work)
Thursday – ‘Upper Body Session 2’ (Push/Pull) and 1 hour cycle (to and from work)
Friday – ‘Lower Body Session 2’ (Push/Pull) and 1 hour cycle (to and from work)
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Mixed session depending on energy levels (this could include some Olympic lifting etc)
Even though my energy and strength levels were not the best I still managed some nice Personal Bests throughout the cut (particularly on bodyweight-influenced exercises because of my decreasing bodyweight). Here are some of the PB’s I hit:
- +70kg Dip and 35 bodyweight Dips – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDRDZXVYdH4
- +42.5kgx3 Pull Ups and 27 bodyweight Pull Ups – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kw_Law-dLIw
- 115kg Clean – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqrb3uBCmSA and 107.5kg Clean and Jerk – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-As1ZhiGBM
- 5kg Snatch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWA2f1YduqY
It should be noted and accepted that in the last few weeks before a show, one should not expect any PB’s or the like as the body is not in the right state for any increases in strength. I hit all of the above lifts up to 3 weeks out from the show; the last two weeks were a lethargic haze.
How – Posing & Other Considerations
One aspect of the whole experience I was very new to and found tough (especially on diminishing energy levels following training and cardio) was posing practice. In a bodybuilding show, generally you have mandatory poses (some of which can be seen in Figures 2-5), but you also have a personal posing routine which you would carry out with poses and music of your choice.
This was something I really struggled with when I began doing it, partly because I had no clue how to construct a routine and also because I am no vain showman – I am just a useless powerlifter who is used to squat, bench and deadlift ha ha. I did read up on what I could but it wasn’t enough. Without a lack of support network to help me I felt I was up the creek.
I didn’t know many local bodybuilders who could help, outwith my friend and champion bodybuilder Steven Macdonald who was busy prepping and competing in Miami at the Natural DFAC World Championships a week before my show.
However, I was extremely lucky to meet a friend of a friend a month or so out who was in Aberdeen on a temporary basis for work. Chris Carter..I cannot speak highly enough of this guy.
Perhaps the most critical and influential factor during the process and to me actually doing the bodybuilding show was Chris. Personally, he had competed a number of times in the past and through this experience he helped prep me in not just posing, but also many other specifics of the ‘art’ of bodybuilding. I have met few people as selfless as Chris; he did not need to help me as much as he did.
He would often train a long gruelling squat or deadlift session and meet me straight after and even on his off days after work to help develop my posing and techniques that would allow me to maximise my strong body parts and minimise my weaknesses.
This may sound insignificant but when I had never done a show before it was invaluable and I’d like to thank him again for everything he helped with.
Hold tight for Part 3 of “From Powerlifter to Bodybuilder – why and how I dieted to 7% body fat” where I will address the day of the show and how I fared! Soon.