Figure Show Prep

By Karen Mullarkey, IFBB Pro, August 2010.
Prepping for a figure competition can be a roller coaster ride mentally and physically.
I tell my clients that the easy part is the working out, the hard part is the diet because you have to be mentally strong. You have to be a very disciplined and grounded person to be able to eat clean, hit your workouts hard and to do it for 12-16 weeks. Goodbye social life!

Personally, my diet stays pretty clean year round so I am available for fitness modeling opportunities. I use competitions as a tool to help me stay in shape all year. I prefer to space out my competitions throughout the year so I can stay within 5-8 pounds of my competition weight. You never know when you are going to get a call for a casting or a modeling job.

When I am "In Season" my diet is much more strict with a lot less cheats. I have started my competition diet anywhere from as much as 16 weeks out to as little as 6 weeks. The key to finding the right diet for your body is through trial and error. Once you think you finally find the right formula, you realize that another year has gone by and your body is responding differently then it used to.

Moral of the story, there is no magic formula because you have to find what works for you.

I am blessed with a high metabolism so I can eat more carbs than other gals prepping for a show. The more complex carbs I eat the faster the inches come off. The carbs that I eat consist of yams, brown rice, whole wheat noodles, oatmeal and fruit. I will eat 6-8 small meals a day and will space them out according to how hungry I am. If I am hungry an hour later after consuming a meal than I will eat another one. It is key to listen to your body. If you are hungry, but are not supposed to eat for another 2-3 hours your body is going to go into starvation mode and your metabolism will actually slow down. Donít be afraid to eat ladies! I will space my meals out anywhere from 1-2.5 hours apart depending on my appetite.

Once I am about 10 days out from my competition I will go on a carb depletion if I need to tighten up a bit more. I will usually pull out most of my complex carbs and pretty much eat high amounts of protein, lots of green veggies and ďgoodĒ fats and drink plenty of water. That will pretty much bring me in to where I need to be for my competition. Once I am about 3 days out, I will begin to carb back up so my muscles donít look flat on stage. It is then time to work the stage......YEEHAW (thatís the Kentucky in me)!

When I am in "Off Season", which there really is no such thing if you are trying to stay in shape year round, I will add in a couple of cheat meals on the weekend. Cheat meals help me mentally because they are a reward for eating clean all week. I will stick to moderately high carb diet all week and then add in a cheat meal on Saturday and Sunday nights. The reason I cheat at dinner is because if I cheat at breakfast then I will cheat all day. Again, you have to find what works for you! If I feel that I am getting out of control and starting to put on too much weight then I will go back on a short carb depletion diet so I keep my butt in line. This is where having a good trainer comes in handy because he or she should be able to tell you when you are gaining too much weight. I have no problem telling my clients to slow it down and they thank me in the long run because they wonít have to lose 15-30 pounds to get ready for their next show. Remember, keep it in moderation!

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