In my last post I told you guys that I was planning on competing in an OPA contest at the end of May this year. I may have forgotten to emphasize what is different about this competition from the one I did in October of this year.
UFE (Ultimate Fitness Events) is the organization I competed in this year. They have 5 categories for women and in order of least to most muscle they are:
1. Bikini – just a nice, fit body, not really emphasis on musculature, but must look “toned” and have reasonable low body fat
2. Fitness – good musculature, but half the scoring is based on a fitness routine involving strength, flexibility, agility and grace
3. Fitness model – what you would see in a magazine like oxygen, very fit, but not “ripped”, reasonable body fat, good definition in the muscles
4. Figure – lots of muscle, but reasonable body fat, no muscle striations, emphasis on symmetry and proportion
5. Physique – this is like female bodybuilding, lots of muscle, visible striations, extremely low body fat
I competed in the fitness model category because I have a lot of muscle but was a little intimidated by the posing in figure.
The OPA (Ontario Physique Association) which feeds into the CBBF and then the IFBB which hosts things like the Olympia and the Arnold classic, have the same categories… except the fitness model category.
So I have decided to take on Figure this go around. I think I was actually marked down for the amount of muscle I had. When comparing to the other girls, they may have been a little leaner than me in some cases, but they almost all had a little less muscle mass than me. That’s not saying they weren’t super fit and defined, especially those girls that were leaner than me, but I just carry more muscle.
So with that goal in mind, my training has to increase my muscle a little in certain areas, a lot in other areas and even out in all areas.
My focus areas for the “off-season” to bulk up are:
Shoulders – all heads of the deltoids and upper back
Glutes – get them higher and round out the medius which is the top muscle
Hamstrings – try to even them out and increase the bump to make them stand out more
Those body parts will be trained 2 times per week, very heavy. All other parts will be trained at least 1 time per week.
But wait… how do you even build muscle? It seems like all everyone talks about is losing weight! If you’re lucky someone will talk about specifically losing fat and maintaining muscle mass. Maybe even “trading” fat for muscle… but what about when you want to actively gain muscle?
Here are the guidelines for hypertrophy (specifically muscle gain):
1. Eat more calories that you burn – this is the exact opposite of trying to lose weight. Take your maintenance calories and add about 300 calories per day to gain 1 pound of muscle per week… or, you know, be human around Christmas.
2. Train like a beast! – lift as heavy as you can within a 6 – 10 rep range for 2-4 sets. You need to be breaking down muscle enough to use all those extra calories to rebuild muscle and not stored as fat. Some fat gain is inevitable, especially if you trying to convert Christmas treat into muscle instead of clean foods.
3. Do only enough cardio for fitness – cardio burns excess calories, in weight loss you want that and it will burn off fat as well as a little muscle. When trying to gain muscle, you want those extra calories hanging around to fuel your muscle. HOWEVER, if you are gaining excess fat, you can use cardio to moderate this and limit the fat gains along with the muscle.
After a bulk, you will need to go back and lean down. But cycling this way will allow you to continually gain muscle without too much fat.