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I think that metabolic damage is caused by a few factors: overdoing the cardio, under-eating, dieting for too long, and not having a post-contest plan. By staying leaner in the off-season, you're able to decrease the amount of time dieting. This helps keep metabolism higher, decreases thoughts of scarcity, and also decreases the severity of the post-show rebound. A good weight range is 8-10 pounds from stage weight, and that might equate to having to lose 5-7% body fat for the contest. If you're above this range, I would suggest leaning down to a maintenance level and staying there for 6 months to one year. This will give your body and hormones a chance to reach a new metabolic set point. This, of course, requires planning and patience. But, health is worth it! You'll look and feel better on stage, too.
Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia
When trying to bulk, macronutrient timing and training style are key. Even when gaining muscle, it's possible to stay within 8-10 lbs. of contest weight by being precise. Let's take a look at how to do this. Muscle is gained when the body is in a state of protein synthesis. This usually means that we must run a caloric surplus. In traditional bulking, excess calories are consumed throughout the day. This can cause us to gain fat. Focus on eating the majority of carbs and protein before and after training. This will encourage muscle growth. Reduce carbs when you're more sedentary, and increase healthy fat intake. Try to get at least 1g of protein per pound of body weight. Training style should be centered around compound movements, higher volume, and higher time under tension. This means for example, instead of choosing biceps curls, you'll do close-grip chin ups. In terms of reps and sets, aim for 4-5 sets of 8-10 reps. Higher volume can encourage muscle growth, and the rep range is perfect for building. Time under tension is simply the amount of time that you keep the muscle engaged in an exercise. Focus on really controlling the negative portion of the rep, and spend 1-3 seconds per rep. Use mind-muscle connection to focus on lifting the weights with just the intended muscle. These two changes should help you gain muscle without going into a bulk!Posted By Erin Stern on 11/29/2017
You said to stay within 8 to 10 pounds on off season. What if you're trying to bulk?Posted By Bony on 11/28/2017