The Fit Five is a new series on Fitnish.com where 5 simple and easy tips are given to help you with a specific topic, exercise or goal that you are trying to achieve. It will give a concise and quick guide to getting the right information that you may require and may not have thought about yet.
In this Fit Five we are looking at getting shredded and preparing for a bodybuilding or fitness competition, where your body fat has to be in the single digits.
The thrill of competing has captured the minds and hearts of many people, all who had to start somewhere. But for someone on that road to their first competition, it can be quite daunting as you are venturing into uncharted territory, doing something extreme that you have never done before. It is a great thing though, as you will learn so much about nutrition, your body and most importantly your WILL. Here are 5 simple tips to get you started:
1. Give yourself sufficient time.
More time is always better. Depending on where your body fat level is, you should be able to gauge how long you need. On average aim to give yourself up to 4 months. This will ensure that it won’t be too stressful on yourself. Crash dieting and trying to get into competition shape in a month is not the way to go and will wreak havoc on your body and hormones.
2. Cut out the junk first.
Assuming you would have already been doing some training already and have been somewhat consistent with your eating, the first step before you change anything else is to cut out the junk. Cut out all the unnecessary fast food, sweets and sugary drinks for instance. Keep them to a cheat meal once a week or so. You will be surprised at the changes you will feel in your body by this simple change.
3. Be consistent.
Something to understand is that you must be consistent with both your training and eating. You cannot expect to lose fat consistently when eating a certain number of calories one day and then eating half the amount of calories the next day with no consistency. Or to train hard one week, then take a break the next. You need to make sure that you stick to your meal plan and training schedule every single day for the next few months until the competition, as it is much easier to make small changes to either, in order to keep the fat loss progressing.
4. Reduce portion sizes steadily when progress slows.
As time goes by you should be doing weekly check ins to see how much you are losing. The amounts will undoubtedly fluctuate but when the change becomes very small or negligible, it is time to alter something small. You should then reduce some calories (remember, gradual small changes), for example reduce the portion sizes of one or two of your meals. You can do this by reducing the amount of carbohydrates in those meals so essentially you cut out a few hundred calories from your diet. Keep everything as is for the next week or so till your check in, and if you see that you have lost more fat, then carry on and don’t change anything. When the progress reduces again, repeat the reduction process and go at it again.
5. Build cardio up slowly.
Too many people throw in a whole lot of cardio when they begin their quest to lose fat. They start off with 5 days of cardio or something ridiculous like that, which is not the best way to go. While you will lose weight, this is not an efficient way to go about it. The same principle as in point 4 above applies here, small gradual changes. Cardio should be built up. For example you could start off with one or two sessions a week then add time onto those 2 sessions each week to make them a bit harder. After two or three weeks you could then add another session and so on.
Basically, you have to introduce something to your body, which initially pushes the body out of comfort and forces it to lose fat in this case. But as time goes on, the body adapts and becomes more efficient at doing whatever you threw at it. Once it becomes efficient at it, the progress or fat loss starts to halt. This is when you then introduce a small change (add another cardio session, or reduce portion sizes) to give it that force and push it again to start the adaptation process.