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Educated at the University of Western Ontario, Dan employs his degree in Kinesiology as the foundation of his personal training business Elite Physique. He’s also a National level bodybuilder and judge. Dan’s earned a reputation for his knowledge and his tell-it-like-it-is approach to performance enhancement!
Off Season Carbohydrate Competency
The keys to a successful off-season can be summed up in two concepts: consistency and carbohydrate competency. The focus of this article will be carbohydrate competency, so I’ll leave consistency for a future column. In a previous “Elite Physique” column, I discussed how I like to cycle macro ratios, so this month I want to delve a little deeper into why short bursts of dieting during the off-season are critical for continual muscle growth. Most seasoned veterans have heard of the post-competition rebound, and it’s considered the ideal time to hit a growth spurt and really pack on high-quality muscle. Why is the four to six weeks following a 16- to 20-week diet phase so productive? The simple answer is carbohydrate competency. The body returns from an extended state of carbohydrate deprivation and is primed to use this macro more effectively than at any other time during the year (this is one of the reasons why I strongly suggest all of my clients diet hard once every year even if they don’t plan to compete). This is carbohydrate competency at its peak. Using these macros more effectively equals greater growth, and improving from year to year is paramount to earning an IFBB pro card.
I’m sure you’ve seen someone attempt a bulking phase only to pack on a little mass with a greater amount of fat accumulation. Instead of just rolling on over to the feed trough and chowing down while visions of sugarplums danced in his head, he should have had a more structured plan. I’m not talking about a “clean bulk” either (please don’t get me started). What your friend failed to realize is that there’s a point where a fat body just becomes more efficient at storing body fat (poor carbohydrate competency). Conversely, there’s a point where a lean body becomes more efficient at staying lean and packing on mass (superb carbohydrate competency). Please read that again as that’s a very important point.
In the off-season, it’s next to impossible to maintain a totally shredded physique and still make gains, so you need to find the sweet spot between packing on too much fat and staying shredded. I’m certain you’re thinking, “Tell me something I don’t know.” Yes, but knowing and doing are two different things. You need to treat your off-season with the same respect as you would for contest prep. That means tracking your food, counting macros, etc. And yes, that means mini-diets.
Here’s a short plan to keep the gains coming. Maximize your carbohydrate intake so you’re seeing consistent muscle growth. One sign that carbohydrate competency has diminished and it’s time to start a mini-diet to reset how efficiently your body utilizes carbs is when that same amount of carbohydrates stops producing muscular gains and starts producing fat gains. Typically, a four-week mini-diet before rebounding out and breaking the growth plateau is common. So if a guy started a diet at 200 pounds, he may have to diet to 180 pounds and rebound out to 205 pounds (a five-pound gain!). At this point, he should start monitoring his carbohydrate competency to see when the next mini-diet commences. This “two steps forward, one step back” ensures continual growth in the off-season. No one gains muscle continually, and this is a creative strategy to guarantee that you make the most of your off-season.
I’ve only touched on the basics of enhancing your off-season. If you want to optimize your off-season, you should seriously consider working with us before your next physique event. Check out our website at www.elitephysique.ca.
For more info about off-season diets, click here!