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Color Me Rad 5K Run Saskatoon

posted by Fitness Focus    |   July 9, 2014 18:35
Calling All Gym Members and Non-Members!  Color Me Rad 5K, our team is growing and now all of our team members receive one month free at the gym.
 

DON'T RUN ALONE! 
If you want to partake in the 5k madness of Color me Rad but have no one to run with, join our team in support of the Children's Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan.

TEAM FITNESS FOCUS
September 6th, 9:00am Wave Time
TEAM CAPTAIN: Blackwell
PROMO CODE: Children

QUESTIONS: info@fitnessfocus.ca

REGISTER: http://www.colormerad.com/race/saskatoon

Color Me Rad 5K Run Saskatoon

posted by Fitness Focus    |   April 16, 2014 17:14

Color Me Rad is coming to Saskatoon with a tsunami of color that will make colored tears of joy run down your cheeks and will renew your will to live.

Color Me Rad is a 5K that fires off in a blaze of color bombs, color cannons, color mortars, and multi-toned courses that guarantee your outlook will be brighter, your boyfriend will be more affectionate, your boss will finally remember your name, the hair on your head will grow back and the hair on your back will fall out, and your gray outlook will turn green like a spring morning.

Historically, running has only been acceptable when trying to escape the law, personal responsibility, the truth, and grizzly bears.

Instead of running FROM something, get ready to run FOR something at this year's Color Me Rad. Run for the hell of it.

Don't want to run solo?  Join Team Fitness Focus on September 6, 2014 at Deifenbaker Park
Promo Code CHILDREN
Team Info: TEAM FITNESS FOCUS
Team Captain: BLACKWELL
Wave Time 9:00am
QUESTIONS? info@fitnessfocus.ca
 
http://www.colormerad.com/race/saskatoon

 Color me rad saskatoon Fitness Focus

Squatting With Proper Technique

posted by Fitness Focus    |   February 1, 2014 16:50

All too often in the gym many of us are performing our squats with improper technique, there are 2 causes for this.  The first and common reason is that we tend overload the weight and use more than we should causing us to sacrifice technique as well as depth on the downward part of the squat.  The second reason is that we are generally taught to limit our squatting is to lower our thighs to just below parallel rather than perform full ‘arse to grass’ squats, because it is a ‘safer alternative’. The argument for this is that a full squat places much more stress on our knees and ligaments.

While from a static anatomical standpoint, this argument is seemingly true, our body actually behaves different in a dynamic movement under load. For example, supporting structures like cartilage and ligaments work to dissipate the intensification of stress on joints. On sensing the increased load, stretch receptor cells in the joint alert the brain to increase the muscular and ligamentous stability in and around the joint capsule, thus preventing injury. 

It's not all black and white though, there are circumstances when a full squat would not be initially advised, such as people with damaged knee cartilage or post knee operation patients, also  individuals with disc bulges or spinal issues. In the majority of clients with knee issues though, it is ironically their years of half squatting, poor technique and the lack of full squatting that forms the root of their problem.

 
The Benefits

 So, if a full Range Of Motion (ROM) squat is not bad for us, what exactly are the advantages of performing such an exercise?

• Recent research has shown that full ROM squats help to strengthen the ligaments around the knees, and maintain the capsule integrity.

• Squatting through a full range of motion helps to minimise imbalances of the quadriceps muscles by forcing the muscles to work through the lower half of its movement capacity, as well as reduce imbalances between the quadriceps and hamstrings.

• It encourages optimal muscle recruitment and activation over a larger range of motion, leading to better quadriceps development.

• Deep squatting helps to activate the lower fibers of the Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO), which serve a critical purpose of stabilizing the knee during movements like running and jumping.

• Full squatting is an instinctive movement pattern of the body, like walking or breathing. For example, perfect squatting techniques are best observed in children, who perform the exercise with ease and without instruction.

• It can help to eliminate knee pain caused by patella-femoral tracking syndrome which ironically can be caused by muscular imbalances and tight iliotibial band as a result of partial squatting.

 

15 Minture Free With a Personal Trainer

posted by Fitness Focus    |   January 17, 2014 14:02

Now is your chance to jumpstart your training. It's the New Year and a great time to take your training in a different direction; 15 minutes free with a Personal Trainer is an excellent opportunity to get answers to those questions you have about your training.  Maybe there are areas of your workout that are missing something or maybe there's a part of your routine you could work on.  Have questions about diet and nutrition?  Ask a Trainer about ways to improve your diet and weight management.  If you have been planning on meeting with a Personal Trainer, why not setup a 15 minutes meeting to get the ball rolling?

Contact Fitness Focus at (306) 244-6413 or by email to info@fitnessfocus.ca to reserve your spot today.  Free training sessions will take place Friday, January 24th at Fitness Focus. If you Prefer Specifically a Male or Female Trainers Please Let us Know.

Canadian Adult Fitness Tax Credit

posted by Fitness Focus    |   November 25, 2013 13:56

The cost of the Canadian Government’s plan to implement the Adult Fitness Tax Credit is stated to be much lower than the originally estimated cost researched by Fitness Industry Council of Canada. On September 25th, a report from the federal budget office was released. This report proclaimed that the implementation of an Adult Fitness Tax Credit could cost the government upwards of $268 million over five years. If the credit were implemented, it would allow Canadians to claim a non-refundable tax credit of up to $500 for eligible physical activity program costs against their taxable income at a rate of 15 per cent, or a maximum of $75 deducted from tax payable. In 2007, Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) commissioned an economic report from the Centre for Spatial Economics (CSE), which outlined the potential costs of implementing the tax credit, as well as potential economic benefits that would result from its implementation. The federal budget office currently estimates that the implementation of an Adult Fitness Tax Credit could cost $268 million over five years. The 2007 CSE report estimated that it would cost government $389.5 million, which makes the government’s prediction $121.5 million less than expected. 

Based on the CSE report, the implementation of the tax credit would also create an economic benefit of $625 million over five years in net healthcare savings versus the tax loss. If both the federal and provincial governments participate, the health care savings would reach $1.1 billion by 2029. With an implemented Adult Fitness Tax Credit, the CSE report estimates the number of physically active adult Canadians would increase by almost one million people. Research consistently shows that a physically active person is more likely to have better health outcomes than a non-active person. Regular physical activity is effective in the prevention of several chronic diseases, untimely saving health care costs. Additionally, the likelihood that workers would miss work due to illnesses related to physical unfitness would decrease. During the 2011 election campaign, Prime Minister Steven Harper pledged that an Adult Fitness Tax Credit would be implemented once the budget was balanced. In March of 2013 at the House of Commons, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty updated his fiscal plan. He stated that the goal remains to balance the Canadian budget by 2015. “The lower cost estimate by the government is positive news for an Adult Fitness Tax Credit and the fitness industry. The estimated cost of the program, and the anticipated balancing of the budget, makes the possibility for an Adult Fitness Tax Credit even stronger,” says David Hardy, President of FIC. FIC is dedicated to continue lobbying the government to ensure that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s re-election promise from April 2011 of implementing an Adult Fitness Tax Credit is completed once the budget is balanced (expected in 2015). For more information on the Adult Fitness Tax Credit or to review the CSE report, please visit http://www.adultfitnesstaxcredit.ca

10 Tips and Tricks for Weight Loss

posted by Fitness Focus    |   June 16, 2013 16:01

Here are 10 tips and tricks for weight loss that you may never have heard.

1.       The weight loss equation

The easiest way to explain the process of losing weight is that weight loss occurs when the body consumes less calories than it burns.  So the simple equation goes like this: Calories In – Calories Out = Weight Loss.  There are obviously many other important factors involved here, but keeping this simple formula in mind can be helpful in many situations.

2.       Monitor your daily calorie intake

Do Not obsess over counting calories. Being aware and maintaining a clear idea about the number of calories you're consuming daily is important to keep on track with weight management.  Get to know how to use food labels; know what you are eating in terms of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and remember: 1 gram of Carbs=4 calories, 1 gram of Protein=4 calories and 1 gram of Fat=9 calories. 

3.       Eat at predefined hours

Plan to eat your meals at the same time of day, everyday.  This helps digestion since our biological clock is synchronized with our brain and stomach.  Also, eating with consistency will help your know when it actually needs food, versus when your brain wants food.  Eating with consistency makes it easier to monitor and maintain weight management. 

4.       The importance of Water

Dehydration, lack of energy, tiredness and headaches are just a few of the effects from not drinking enough water.  Many of us make this critical mistake. All the maladies aside, when it comes to weight loss, water can assist detoxification and the removal of unnecessary toxins from the body and skin but also helps with digestion and keeps the stomach full, which reduces hunger and the unnecessary consumption of calories. Like vitamins and minerals, water also has a daily recommended intake.  For women, its just under 3 liters of water per day and for men its about 4 liters.  So, begin your day with a cold glass of water to restart all your body's natural functions for the day and don't forget to carry a bottle with you at work, during your daily errands and of course in the gym.

5.       Do not rush into getting super-fast results

Follow a slow and steady regimen to manage your weight loss and keep it off.  Taking on a crash diet from the Internet will end right where you started before diet.  Proper, healthy weight loss takes a bit longer.  Take time to do it right, and learn the proper changes to your lifestyle to make your weight management something you can do for life.

6.       Learn how to lose weight the safe way

Even people that have made healthy living part of their lifestyle for year make mistakes and often just aren't doing things correctly.  So as a beginner, its important not to get discouraged; there are many paths along the way to your goals and a lot of them will be dead-ends. If you are new to dieting and weight loss then most probably you are confused from where to start and what should be your first step etc. This is very common and one of the most popular questions we get from our readers the last 6 years. In my opinion before even starting a diet or weight loss program you should do some reading and familiarize yourself with the basic weight loss concepts. I am not suggesting spending days learning the theory, after all losing weight is a practical matter, but learning a few important concepts in advance can prove very helpful in the long run. The guide you are reading now is a good starting point as it covers all aspects of weight loss, fitness and dieting; you can continue reading our other articles as well since we have planned to gather all the information you need in one place.

7.       Keep a food and emotions journal

For many people emotions and feelings are associated with the quantities of food consumed.  When you are stressed or depressed you turn to food (and especially fatty food) for comfort. This is may be happening to you as well and you know that this is bad and can destroy all your hopes for losing weight. You cannot easily control this but one handy tip to try is keeping a food and emotions journal. This is basically a piece of paper (or an online food journal) where you record what you eat per day and your emotional state. If you do this for a couple of weeks and go back and have a look at the results you may identify some patterns and take some precaution measures. For example you can remove sweets and snacks from your cupboards and replace them with healthy alternatives. By doing so when you are feeling stress and turn to food for relief you will not end up eating a tone of calories but food items that are at least healthier.

8.       No need to measure your weight on a daily basis

As mentioned before, weight loss takes time and getting on the scale everyday won't make the process any faster but most probably will add more stress and frustration. Instead try to weigh yourself once per week with consistency; that means the same time of the same day every week because the later in the day will always be high than your weight in the morning.

9.       Never try to follow more than one weight loss program at a time

If you choose to follow a commercial diet or weight loss program then concentrate on one program at a time. Good weight loss programs have different phases, each phase having a clear start and finish goal. Follow the program guidelines correctly for the time required and evaluate your results at the end. Mixing different programs together or not following their instructions will not generate any good results.

10.   Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you are not getting any results. The Internet is a great way to learn how to lose weight but sometimes other factors such as diseases, functional disorders may hold you back. A professional (a doctor or nutritionist) will be able to identify these and suggest ways to overcome them.

 

Trusted Saskatoon Presents Talk to the Experts on Newstalk 650 Saskatoon

posted by Fitness Focus    |   December 18, 2012 12:26

This latest show we are featuring is the TRUSTED SASKATOON  HEALTH & BEAUTY SHOW

On December 15, 2012, Newstalk 650 Radio and Trustedsaskatoon.com presented to you, Talk to the Experts with 3 local Trustedsaskatoon.com businesses, Spa Ahava, Hairstyle Inn and Fitness Focus. The 3 experts on the panel were answering questions asked by the trustedsaskatoon.com fans on the topics of beauty, health and fitness.  All of the Trusted Facebook Fans who entered a question had a chance to win a prize package from the 3 Trusted Businesses worth over $500 as host, Brent Louks chooses the best question!

This episode's' Trusted Saskatoon Experton the topic of fitness is Garret from Fitness Focus a Trusted Saskatoon Gym There were over 100 questions submited and the 3 partners will answer all the questions in later trustedsaskatoon.com blogs..so If your didn't hear you answer on the show they will still be answered by the experts...enjoy!

Click here to check out the full show

 

1. Becky Laliberté - In terms if fitness and health, what are some ways for an almost 40 year old woman to help improve flexibility and strength without having to spend hours at a gym. Are there instructor led classes that might be better for this? Or is weight lifting and stretching enough?

Stretching is always a good thing to practice for your overall health and to prevent injuries in day to day activities. Stretching is incorporated into every group fitness class but is also something you should learn to do on your own.  For such a vital part of ones wellness, the benefits are well worth the time spent; and it really only takes 10 to 20 minutes to get a good thorough stretch. Remember, it’s something you can do at home too; either in the morning before you start your day or in the evening to help unwind and relax.

It is recommended to stretch after a light warm up, before you begin your workout; but stretching throughout your workout between exercises can be very beneficial and time saving.  As blood gets pumped into your muscles as you use them, a good stretch will help push the blood out and make way for fresh oxygenated blood. You can also improve your flexibility by weight training with proper (full) range of motion through the exercise.

 

2. Laura Ellis- Fitness Focus: As a female who is not an avid "gym rat", I find the gym can be an intimidating place. Insecurities about not being in as good of shape as I would like to be to start tend to keep me away, along with all of the new types of equipment and my lack of knowledge in using them. I tend to feel lost in the midst of everything. Short of personal training, what do you recommend for someone who wants to get in better shape, but is reluctant to take on a gym membership?

It’s important to remember that everyone is at the gym for the same reason, because they want to improve themselves in one way or another.  One way to overcome the intimidation factor is to have a workout partner, everyone feels better when they have a friend with them. Having a workout partner is also a good way to stay on track and accountable, to make sure you show up on time for your workout everyday.  You may also feel a little less intimidated if you choose a workout time when the gym is a little less busy.  The majority of people try to get their workout done immediately after work around 4:30 – 6:30.  If you prefer the gym to be on the quiet side try to avoid these busier times, at least until you’ve become more acquainted with the equipment.

 

Your health does take a certain degree of dedication, but before committing yourself and your money to a gym, take the gym for a test drive.  Look for a facility that won’t pressure you and that offers a free-trial period that’s yours to test the waters, find your comfort zone and see if it has all the amenities that meet your needs.  A trial period is the perfect time to ask questions about equipment and get familiarized with the gym; staff should always be willing to give you some direction to get started out in the weight room.

 

3. Neils Thor- Fitness Focus-I use interval training to keep in shape. What other methods maximize my time to keep fit?

The idea behind interval training is to keep it is fast paced.  This same principle can be applied to a traditional style of weight training by increasing the intensity.  Lower the rest time between exercises will keep the heart rate up, thus working your cardiovascular system.

 

4. Holly Stasiuk Fitness Focus- Please explain what is a spin class? Costs? Also, how much does a personal trainer cost?

Spin Class is an instructor-led group class on stationary bikes.  The instructor takes the group through a 45 minute to one hour workout at varying paces and difficulties.  It’s a very thorough workout and great class for anyone from beginners to experienced class-goers because the user chooses their own difficulty on their bike.

 

5. DeAnne Robblee-  Fitness Focus: I have arthritis in one knee which makes squats, running and even walking very difficult sometimes. What kind of equipment do you have that I could still get a good cardio workout without killing my knee?

When it comes to arthritis and some of the major movements such as squats, progression is the best way to go.  Start doing the exercises with virtually no resistance/weight. For cardio, keep things very low impact.  Stationary bikes are one of your best options, we have upright style and the recumbent (laid back) style, as well as spin bikes. We have elliptical cross-trainers are a close simulation to running combined with skiing and have very low impact.  There are also steppers that don’t involve much impact; a person would have to try to see if that would work for them.

 

6. Fanterra Fisher- What kind of training is required by your staff to have to work at the spa? Please comment on standards of cleanliness as well. Thanks

There are several different areas of expertise at Fitness Focus that all have their own required skills. Most importantly, all staff is CPR and First Aid Certified.  Main Gym Staff are knowledgeable about the layout and mechanics of the gym to make your time here as convenient as possible.  Personal Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors have years of experience with proper certifications and insurance in their respective fields.

 

Cleanliness is a very important part of the gym; a dirty environment can dramatically affect a member’s experience. All staff takes part in our daily cleaning routines of the exercise areas, front end and washrooms.  There are several hand sanitizing stations for members to use. We also have after hour cleaners working to sanitize the washrooms and commons areas from top to bottom.

 

7. Kimbrolina Linke -Fitness focus: what are your memberships?

Details about different membership types and prices are all available on the website (www.fitnessfocus.ca).  Membership types are very flexible and you can set a membership up either on a biweekly payment plan with No Contract, or purchase a term membership.

 

8. Jessalyn Monette - As a Saskatonian I am always looking for the best places that will give me the best results. For the three trusted Health and Beauty Partners what makes your establishment unique to Saskatoon?  I am someone who not only looks for good quality, but I want to ensure my money is spent on a good experience, atmosphere and creativity. Does your establishment offer these qualities?

In an industry that is becoming dominated by corporate gyms, we feel that as a locally owned fitness facility we hold many of the same values and standards as our members. We understand the importance of a comfortable and friendly gym setting, and that keeping a mature and positive atmosphere is vital to creating that. Our success is only possible through the success of our members which is a direct result of their positive experience.

Our approach is a little different than the traditional fitness centre in that we operate without contracts.  This sets us apart because our members can rest assured that we are working our hardest everyday to meet all their wants and needs.

 

 

9. Ann Lyte-Maille- fitness focus, is there a time of day that is best to exercise? Or is just good to try when you can?

Everybody is different; some people function well early in the morning whereas others are on their game later in the day.  There are certain benefits to planning a workout at a specific time of day.  For morning workouts you might find you have better longevity throughout the rest of your day.  A morning workout will also boost your metabolism, this will help regulate (steady) your appetite for the day which aids weight management.  On the other hand, a workout later in the day is a good chance to burn off some excess calories before bed or relieve stress from a long day.  Many of us tend to binge eat later in the day; occupying your time in the evening with a workout is a good way to eliminate those habits.  Ultimately the best time of day to workout is when you personally will have the most drive, energy and focus.

 

Being Aware of Gluten Free Labels

posted by Fitness Focus    |   December 12, 2012 02:15

The Accuracy of Gluten Free Labels

The legal term of the phrase "gluten free" does vary from country to country, however current research is suggesting for people with celiac disease the maximum safe level of gluten in a finished product is probably less than 200 parts per million and possibly as little as 20 parts per million.

Certain standards only allow the "gluten-free" label to be used on foods with less than 5 parts per million of gluten, 5 parts per million being the smallest percentage that we are currently able to detect. The following ingredients are typical ingredients found in food that does contain gluten:
  • Wheat Flour contains 80,000ppm
  • Wheat Starch contains 200ppm
  • Maltodextrin, Dextrin, Glucose Syrup all contain 5ppm
  • Caramel Color has varying amounts of gluten depending on the processing method.  It can still affect those with celiac and gluten intolerance.

Wheat flour contains almost 12% gluten; such a small number is still a very significant amount.  Even the tiniest trace of wheat flour can cross-contaminate a product that is gluten-free.  A certain degree of care must always be taken to avoid cross-contamination of foods. 

Gluten Free Bread- Fitness FocusGluten-free diets rule out many of the normal foods that we are all used to eating on a regular basis.  The foods in question span from ordinary breads and pastas to many convenience foods in our diets such as crackers, chips and cookies.  Gluten rich foods are food that also use certain thickeners such as gravies, soups, and sauces thickened with rye, barley, wheat or other flour. Gluten hides in many of our favorite day to day food choices. More and more these days various gluten-free bakery and pasta products can be found in specialty retailers.  Large chain grocers are now dedicating sections of their shelf space to gluten-free pruoucts.  Gluten-free foods tend to cost more than non-gluten-free foods, due to the higher cost of production and contamination prevention.

Other unexpected sources of gluten are non-foodstuffs such as certain medications as well as vitamin supplements, mainly the ones available in tablet form, may contain gluten as a binding agent. People with gluten intolerances might require specialist compounding of their medication.  There are also vitamins available without gluten, the package or label will have symbols indicating so, you may also see after any exclaimers the words "gluten free".

New Research Suggests Brown Rice Can Offer Cardiovascular Protection

posted by Fitness Focus    |   October 20, 2012 06:09

Nutrition questions from around the gym; here are your answers!

Typically, rice is thought to be a healthy addition to the diet because it is a source of fiber. However, not all rice is equally nutritious, and brown rice might have an unique advantage over white rice by offering protection from high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”), say researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Center and Department of Physiology at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

New research by Satoru Eguchi, Associate Professor of Physiology, suggests that a component in a layer of tissue surrounding grains of brown rice may work against angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is an endocrine protein which causes blood vessels to constrict and known culprit in the development of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Brown Rice and Angiotensin II

The subaleurone layer of Japanese rice, which is located between the white center of the grain and the brown fibrous outer layer, is rich in oligosaccharides and dietary fibers, making it particularly nutritious. However, when brown rice is polished to make white rice, the subaleurone layer is stripped away and the rice loses some of its nutrients. The subaleurone layer can be preserved in half-milled (Haigamai) rice or incompletely-milled (Kinmemai) brown rice. These types of rice are popular in Japan because many people there believe half-milled (Haigamai) rice and incompletely-milled (Kinmemai) are healthier than white rice.

The Temple team and their colleagues at the Wakayama Medical University Department of Pathology and the Nagaoka National College of Technology Department of Materials Engineering in Japan sought to delve into the mysteries of the subaleurone layer and perhaps make a case for leaving it intact when rice is processed. Because angiotensin II is a perpetrator in such lethal cardiovascular diseases, the team chose to focus on learning whether the subaleurone layer could somehow inhibit the wayward protein, angiotensin II, before it wreaks havoc.

First, the researchers removed the subaleurone tissue from Kinmemai rice (incompletely-milled rice). Then the researchers separated the subaleurone tissue's components by exposing the subaleurone tissue to extractions of various chemicals such as ethanol, ethyl acetate and methanol. They then observed how the subaleurone tissue affected cultures of vascular smooth muscle cells. Vascular smooth muscle cells are an integral part of blood vessel walls and are direct victims of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

During their analysis, the team found that subaleurone components that were selected by an ethyl acetate extraction inhibited angiotensin II activity in the cultured vascular smooth muscle cells. This suggests that the subaleurone layer of rice offers protection against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. It could also help explain why fewer people die of cardiovascular disease in Japan, where most people eat at least one rice-based dish per day, than in the U.S., where rice is not a primary component of daily nutrition.

“Our research suggests that there is a potential ingredient in rice [subaleurone] that may be a good starting point for looking into preventive medicine for cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr. Eguchi. “We hope to present an additional health benefit of consuming half-milled or brown rice [as opposed to white rice] as part of a regular diet.”

New Research Suggests Brown Rice Can Offer Cardiovascular Protection  -  Written by Jeff behar

Beyond The Weight Room With Melissa Leier: Compeition Nutrition

posted by Fitness Focus    |   October 7, 2012 19:50
How Dieting Impacts The Body And Mind

HOW WE FUEL OUR BODIES and our brains has a significant impact on what we can achieve during a major physical transformation as well as how we function day to day. Athletes who train for physique competitions fuel up for a purpose and have specific goals in mind to reach the desired outcomes. Nutritional plans are different for short-term phases, like a leaning-out phase of preparation for a physique contest, also called the “diet down”, and longer terms, such as building lean muscle mass in an off-season. When it comes to the sometimes extreme practices of contest preparation nutrition, there can be negative impacts on an athlete’s body and mind.

What We Do And How We Do It

Competition preparation varies from athlete to athlete, but generally starts 16 to 20 weeks before the contest date. To sculpt that chiselled, competition- ready physique, competitors do more than adhere to a gruelling workout schedule. Following very specific nutrition protocols makes all the difference while preparing for a contest. The goal of competition preparation is to reduce body fat while preserving muscle.

Food selection, meal timing and calorie intake vs. expenditure each play a role in achieving winning physiques for competitions. The right nutrition plan essentially helps eliminate subcutaneous fat, making the skin appear thinner and allowing muscle striations to emerge, showcasing your lean physique. Then competitors can show off the art of a muscular physique resulting from all their hard work in the gym.

Competition nutrition plans aim to trim away fat and this is only done by burning more than you’re consuming to create a calorie deficit. During contest prep, frequent meal times, clean eating and sufficient protein content help preserve lean mass. This allows athletes to reach body fat percentages as lean as six to eight per cent for women or two to four per cent for men without a significant loss of muscle mass.

It Works, But…
Although following an exact and strict plan will achieve the desired physique results for a contest, it should be considered temporary and should change post-contest. A contest prep diet does restrict or limit certain food choices and it may not be wise to eliminate nutrients our bodies may need in the long-term. Some physique athletes go two to three months without fruit or dairy, with limited essential fats/oils, high-sugar foods and starch carbohydrates. All athletes are impacted differently. Some will breeze through a contest preparation and not have anything change with their systems during the different phases of nutrition. However, others may experience dry skin or hair, irregular digestive systems or even emotional ups and downs as a result of a restricted content prep diet.

Carb Depletion And Mental Fog

Reducing certain carbohydrates in the short-term runs the risk of producing a metabolic condition of ketosis, which can potentially cause an athlete to feel lethargic, sluggish and tired. The problem with this is that it can decrease the intensity of training and activity level, which is needed to burn calories. In addition to the physical impact, some athletes report that the lack of carbs creates a “mental fog” or an impact on cognitive performance. The mental fog could result in little things like forgetting where you set your keys down or putting the dry oatmeal back into the refrigerator and the eggs into the cupboard. Therefore, it is important to find a healthy balance of nutrition with sufficient macronutrients to fuel workouts and brain function, while allowing your body to burn more calories than you’re consuming.

Appearance

Some athletes find that having nutrition plans high in protein and low in fat, sugar and carbohydrates, while avoiding excessive sodium and dairy, can lead to the body storing less water. This can reduce the appearance of bloating and help with showing muscularity striation, but sometimes the skin can look less full, showing wrinkles and looking dry. This tends to be even more apparent the day of the competition when water intake is reduced. Often you’ll see athletes with “shrunken in” cheeks or more apparent shadows under their eyes. I find that this look leads to some people’s perception of the bodybuilder athlete as looking “unhealthy,” but this effect usually only lasts a day or two.

Digestion Regularity And The Cheat Meal

The temporary reduction in certain nutritional options can also impact some athletes’ digestive systems—bowel regularity in particular. I recommend staying well hydrated and consuming sufficient fibre from celery, cucumbers, asparagus, spinach and more. I describe it as a reduction rather than an omission because many have found that a strategy that includes a “cheat meal” once in a while can be helpful. This can not only get the digestive system moving again, but can refuel the body full of energy when certain things have been limited. Having one cheat meal every few weeks throughout contest preparation or as needed means you’re not depriving yourself of cravings, making it more do-able to go the distance with super clean eating over the course of several months and not feel like you’re missing out.

The Houdini Abs Effect

The post-contest period can be disappointing to those new to the sport of competition. When an athlete has unrealistic expectations of maintaining the look of the physique they had on stage, it can seem like the weeks of work they put in to lean out can all disappear within one to two weeks. But they are not necessarily “gaining it all back.” It can be the body’s skin cells filling back up with water content from post-contest nutritional and hydration changes, which creates a softer look on top of the muscle. I call this the “Houdini Abs Effect”—there one day, gone the next! For me, it takes several months to shed the body fat to have my abdominal muscles showing, but within three days of re-hydrating they’re gone. Don’t let this play mind games with you. As long as you practice regular exercise, clean eating and healthy lifestyle practices year- round you are doing great, whether you have defined, chiselled abs or not!

Positive vs. Negative

Yes, there are some potentially negative impacts on the body in the short term from the strict dieting necessary for competition. However, more often than not, the positive impacts outweigh some of the negatives. Emotionally, endorphins released from exercise will boost our mood and we will feel great. Regular exercise paired with a clean eating nutrition plan is the key to vitality.

Why We Do It

So, with all of the potential downsides for athletes during contest preparation, why do we do it? Well, it is the personal challenge, experience and sense of achievement that we love. It is the visual confirmation of our hard work. You get to see the curves, cuts, striations and bulk of muscle hypertrophy built up in the gym. It is the sense of accomplishment that we’ve taken our fitness to the next level and the personal motivation that separates us from those who don’t compete. Remember, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!

 

Photos by Tyler Harris

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