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For The Competitor
Ashleigh Atkinson obtained her Bachelors of Physical Education from Brock University, followed by her Masters of Human Kinetics from the University of Windsor. Academically, her research areas focused on sport and exercise psychology, but since leaving school, her interests have expanded. The science of bodybuilding, from muscle growth to hormonal impacts and supplementation, drew her in and she has completed a handful of certifications around training and nutritional constructs, including the Nutritional Medicine Profile certificate from the International College of Applied Nutrition & Strength. In addition to the work she does for Muscle Insider, Ashleigh works as a health promotion specialist, runs a successful online coaching business with her husband, and is also a national level figure competitor with the Canadian Physique Alliance.
Is Winning Everything?
Chances are if you set a competition goal to win it all, you’ll likely be disappointed. Here are some ways to set physique goals that will serve you better.
As a physique athlete, you’re likely planning your stage schedule or might have already started prepping. During prep, athletes commonly set goals for themselves that usually focus solely on the outcome of their competition. As competitive athletes, it’s natural that placings are at the forefront of our mind, but is winning or finishing in the top three the best kind of goal to be setting? Are you increasing your chances of disappointment or feeling like a failure? Let’s take a look.
Controllable vs. Uncontrollable Factors
Come show day, there are many factors outside of your control. You don’t know who else is going to show up, what kind of shape your competitors will be in, how many competitors will be in your class, or what the judges are going to reward. Setting goals for the things you have control over, however, such as how hard you work each day, can help you bring your best physique to the stage.
Ready, Set, Goals
For the upcoming season, make a point to set goals that don’t solely revolve around how you place. Having goals that focus on personal improvement can make you feel more successful, long after your spray tan has washed off. Unsure of where to start? Consider these approaches.
1. Being bigger, leaner, or more symmetrical. The goal of bringing a better physique to the stage than your prior appearance should be your ultimate goal each year. Physique improvement is the basis of this sport, and setting a goal based on this concept will ensure you continue to get better as an athlete. Get judges’ feedback from your last competition and work with your coach to develop a plan built around addressing any weaknesses identified. Example goal: I will include two back workouts each week to develop wider lats.
2. Giving your prep 110%. When you’re exhausted and hungry, it can be tempting to cut corners on your prep. Ending your cardio session a couple of minutes early, sneaking a few extra grams of food, or sandbagging your training sessions are only cheating yourself in the end. Others may not know you cheated, but you will. Example goal: I will record my training details to make sure I continue working hard by increasing my weights or performing more reps.
3. Perfecting your stage presence. An often overlooked but incredibly vital component of your time onstage is your posing. Set a goal to practice this aspect all year, including your mandatories, your individual presentation routine, and even how you stand on the sidelines. Example goal: I will practice posing for five minutes after each workout in the off-season, and 10 minutes during prep.
4. Being a better version of you. It’s great to be razor-focused on a goal and to work hard toward it. What’s not great is to be so focused that you isolate yourself from friends and family, or become unpleasant to be around. Being in prep shouldn’t be the reason you stop socializing or treat family members rudely. Just remember, entering prep is a choice and being a more positive person throughout the process will make it more enjoyable for everyone. Example goal: I will connect with my friends each week and spend face-to-face time with them at least twice a month.
It’s unavoidable that you’ll set a goal to place well; as competitive athletes, it’s ingrained in us. However, consider the many different facets of the sport and the countless ways you can be successful before you even step onstage. Setting goals based on the aspects that are in your control will make you feel more efficacious and can help you improve your physique and enjoy the process more. Have a great competitive season!
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