Posted on January 19, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Your last contest for the year is over.  It is now time to eat, grow and reflect.  This is also the time and place to lay the groundwork for the upcoming season.  Use this time to evaluate all of it; the good, the bad and the ugly!  It is a time for reflection, honesty, and growth as a competitor. Being 100% honest with yourself is a must to make improvements for the following year.

I’m still searching for answers, but have I have found that compiling a “to do list” for my offseason helps me to be better prepared for a “prep period”.  I know that I function better when I establish a plan and stick to it.   Below are some of the things that I try and reflect upon during the off-season:

  1. Think about what shows you are interested in competing in for the following year.  Look at potential timelines and what outside influences could possibly effect each of those prep periods leading into a show or shows.  Develop a workout and diet timeline that you can use during this offseason period.    Some questions that must be answered include: how many weeks of heavy training will different contest dates allow before I need to start another prep period? What are the potential dates that contest preps must be started based on dates of each potential contest? Will the contest date or dates allow me enough offseason time to make necessary changes in my physique?
  2. Take this time and look at different diet plans and supplement plans. Research possible diet changes if you felt yours was lacking in some regard.  IIFYM, intermittent fasting, keto, carb cycles, diminishing carb diet and Paleo all have both strong and weak points.  Research the pros and cons of each.  Try and talk to fellow competitors who have used diets other than the ones you have experience with.  Try new supplements…there are thousands of them on the market.  What are other competitors using and experiencing success with.  PEAK ATP and HMB are two of my personal favorites!
  3. Train to gain.  Heavy compound movements and a less restrictive diet should add up to gains in muscle mass and strength.  Use this time for trial and error programs you have not tried in the past; DC, MI40, TUT, FTS-7 are a few examples of such programs that you may want to try. Superior muscle contractions during this phase are extremely important.   PEAK ATP is essential for me during this time of intense training.
  4. Practice your posing and work to improve upon it.  Your off season is a great time to do this. Work your mandatory poses and improve or reinvent your routine.  Working on posing once or twice a week during this offseason will greatly improve what you show on the stage. Waiting until the last few weeks before contest is stressful and often unproductive.
  5. Cut your cardio.  It is important to do enough to help maintain a fitness level, but not so much as to tap into your CNS’s ability to recover from the heavy compound movements you are performing in the weight room. Off season is a time for growth.  HMB is important for my recovery from these heavy workouts.
  6.  Evaluate your physique.  Use contest and prep photos to pinpoint weaker areas.  Address these areas in you upcoming workouts.  Focus on weak points and develop a plan to improve the areas that are lagging- doing extra sets, intensifying sets you are already doing or even scheduling an extra day in workout cycle to address these areas that are lagging. This is the time of the year that you can have the most effect on these areas.
  7. Use off days to manifest growth.  During contest prep periods everything gets magnified, every day in the gym and every day on the diet has a specific purpose that must produce a specific result…allow yourself to miss occasional workout days when you feel less motivated or when you are a bit under the weather.  During prep periods unscheduled days off are a rarity, use them more freely during your off season.   

I hope that some of these off season tips are helpful. Like I stated above, I’m far from having all the answers, but am constantly searching for ways to improve.   Thanks to TSI and Metabolic Technologies for providing outstanding products like HMB and PEAK ATP that are valuable during this time of growth. Their products will allow you to train harder for longer and keep more of that added mass once you start a prep period.  Good luck in your offseason!

- Tim Nassen, Bodybuilder/Former Strongman




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