Personal Trainers Contest Prep
There is a growing misconception with individuals that have competed in one or two bodybuilding shows - they believe they are qualified to prep someone else for a bodybuilding event. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Contest prep personal training requires an extensive knowledge of training, nutrition, metabolism, and supplements, among other things. A good contest prep personal training coach should have experience as a coach and should have competed themselves at some point in their fitness career. Getting ready for a contest is hard work and requires attention to detail which can only be provided by a seasoned personal trainer. A good contest prep personal training coach must be able to read biofeedback and adjust accordingly. They must also have a critical eye for shape, symmetry, and conditioning. Good communication and feedback are critical functions between a personal training coach and competitor for a successful season.
Jeff Cheatham has been a personal trainer since 2004 and an active bodybuilding competitor in the NPC since 2006. While he has done his own contest prep many times, he has also worked with some great contest prep coaches in his bodybuilding career. Jeff has been a studious pupil and is always learning by actively furthering his knowledge to pass on to his clients. He has helped coach competitors as far back as 2009. However, in 2013 is when he really focused on working as a contest prep personal training coach for competitors as his main personal training services. His knowledge, personal experience, dedication, and passion for the sport have caused him to be proficient as a contest prep personal training coach.
Lindsey Cheatham has been a personal trainer since 2008 and began competing in the NPC bikini division in 2009. Lindsey and Jeff collaborate as a team and have completed her contest prep training programs together since 2013. They also work together as a team on all female competitors contest prep plans. In addition to developing training and nutrition programs, Lindsey Cheatham works on posing and presentation with all the bikini competitors and is the heart and soul of the personal training team.
At Accelerated Fitness we believe in customizing our personal training approach to the individual. For most personal training clients with whom we are working with for the first time, we usually employ a 16-20 week contest prep program. This is determined by evaluating the client’s current body fat levels and other factors critical in scoring high during judging. Our personal training team will customize workout programs, cardio, and nutrition for all contest prep clients. A mistake that some competitors make is changing their weight training routine drastically when prepping for a show. The workout program that built the muscle mass is best at maintaining muscle while dropping body fat. The exception to this is when you’re a few weeks out, and body fat levels are extremely low, you may want to back off intensity slightly and increase volume instead to avoid injury. If you are losing strength in your 8-12 rep range while dieting, you may want to reconsider your approach, as this is a sure sign that you're losing muscle mass. Our experience as personal trainers will help keep you on track.
When implementing cardio into a contest prep plan, our personal training philosophy is to use both LISS (low intensity slow steady state) and HIIT (high intensity interval training). This again is customized to the individual. Some contest prep clients may need little to no cardio to get lean, while others have to do more. There are a few training mistakes that we see as personal trainers and always avoid. First, adding too much cardio at the beginning of contest prep. This sets you up for failure because there is little room to make adjustments once your body fat loss slows or stalls. Your body adapts to LISS cardio fairly quickly, and if you start out by doing high amounts of cardio, once you reach a certain point by adding even more cardio to break through plateaus, your body becomes catabolic and breaks down muscle for fuel, which is completely counterproductive. The second is doing too much HIIT cardio. HIIT cardio, sprints, sled pushes and pulls, metabolic circuits, and other types of conditioning can all be great for body fat loss and implemented successfully into a contest prep plan. However, a close eye must be kept on recovery by the personal trainer. If you’re not recovering properly, and it is affecting your weight training workouts, this again becomes counterproductive and can result in muscle loss. Lastly, performing only one type of cardio is not ideal. Changing up the type of cardio performed can be an effective way of preventing plateaus and can increase the effectiveness of the cardio program.
Our personal training approach to nutrition is to start by estimating each individual’s daily caloric needs. This is done by either finding the contest prep client’s BMR (basal metabolic rate) and activity level, or if they have been accurately tracking their daily caloric intake, base it off their food log. Once a estimated maintenance caloric intake is determined, a caloric deficit needs to be created to lose body fat. This should not be an extreme slash in calories but just enough to coax the body to lose 1-2 pounds of body fat per week for the typical contest prep client. Again this may vary based on the individual and their starting point. The next step should be to determine the macros and food choices. Typically protein should be kept fairly high (0.8-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight) to avoid muscle loss, promote satiety (the state of being satisfied), and for the higher TEF (thermic effect of food). For most personal training client’s dietary fat should be kept relatively low (15-25%) of total calories with the remaining portion coming from carbohydrates. However, some clients respond better to higher fat and lower carbs. This is one reason why everything must be individualized and adjusted based on biofeedback. We do believe in allowing for some flexibility in the diet but we believe that timing and food choices both matter and must be considered for optimal results. Once a starting point has been established everything is adjusted and changed based on biofeedback. The use of carb cycling, refeeds, cheat meals, or other methods during the contest prep may be appropriate, but it is all based off the individual.
At Accelerated Fitness we offer personal training contest prep programs for the following:
All our personal training contest prep programs include customized workouts, nutrition, cardio/conditioning, check-ins as needed (weekly at first, more frequently as show date approaches), and unlimited personal training support. We offer both in-person contest prep personal training and Online contest prep personal training. For more information or a free consultation contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For in-person contest prep coaching contact us for additional information and availability.
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Disclaimer: Any nutritional information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be treated as medical advice and should not under any circumstances be used to replace professional medical diagnosis, treatment, or advice. Please consult a medical or health professional before you begin any nutrition, exercise, or supplementation program.