With the sport of bodybuilding growing as quickly as it has lately, more and more people seem interested in the lifestyle. Not from the sense that they necessarily want to DO it, but they’re intrigued about how and why we do certain things. Here are a few of the most common questions I’ve been asked.
1. You’re in prep? So, you just don’t eat?
Nope, we definitely still eat. We eat each and every day – even the day of the competition. However, our food is carefully calculated and timed for our day and training sessions. As we get closer to the stage, the food quantities needs to decrease, and we alter our carb and fat intakes as needed. Our protein intake stays high through the whole prep process in an effort to retain as much muscle mass as possible while cutting body fat.
2. Isn’t it dangerous to be dehydrated for so long?
Well yes, it is dangerous to be dehydrated for a long period of time. But, for a competition, we aren’t dehydrated for a prolonged length of time – usually less than 24 hours. And, throughout that day, we still sip on water from time to time.
3. Why do you have to get tanned so dark?
Whenever you go on stage, whether it’s for a bodybuilding competition or a theatrical performance, you need to adjust your look to accommodate the really bright lights you’ll be standing under. Without a really dark tan, we would look like glowing white blobs, with no muscle definition. The tan helps show off all the muscle separation we’ve worked so hard to uncover.
4. You must be doing hours of cardio now.
Hopefully not! The amount of cardio we do is dependent on how much body fat we have to lose, and how well our diet is tailored to us. The best case is to always keep cardio as low as possible because it exhausts you, and can potentially start wasting away your hard-earned muscle. Cardio is unavoidable for prep, but if you’re in a good place, it doesn’t have to be endless. Other options exist, such as doing circuit-style training, a lot of supersets and dropsets as a way of adding some “cardio” into your training. Plus, maintaining a high intensity of training with heavy weight is always the best calorie burn.
5. Getting ready to compete means you’re trying to get bigger now?
Well, we’re always trying to get bigger (some of us, not all categories), but prep is not the time to actively grow. We’re in a calorie deficit to lose the body fat during this time, not prime for muscle growth. Putting in a lot of hard work with plenty of food in the off-season is when we grow… now we get to uncover our work to see how we did!
6. You must love how you look.
Well… yes and no. This is a judged sport, based purely on your appearance. Every little aspect of your body is going to be examined (and you’re in very little clothing). In order to bring our best to the stage, we’re pretty critical of ourselves. Some days are great, some are ok, and some are just terrible for how we think we look. When you see us posing in the gym, we’re not thinking “man, I look so amazing”, we’re likely thinking, “are my lats big enough, are my quads separating, if I move my arm this way do I look better?”.
There are a lot of other questions and comments I haven’t covered, but these are the ones I hear most often. I always say, bodybuilding is a crazy world, one which is often misunderstood. We’re always happy to answer people’s questions about it. Maybe another post will cover the more personal subjects… Have a great day all!!