Wow what a weekend, what an experience and a journey I have just been through. If you didn’t already know, I just wrapped up my competitive season for the year at the WBFF AUS Pro Am show on the Gold Coast. Coming away with 4th place!
This has been by far my hardest prep to date. Within the first 2 weeks of prep I tore my polpetius and at one point could barely walk. I was restricted from training hamstrings pretty much the whole way through. This was far from ideal as the main focus for this show was to build my glutes and hamstrings… trust right!? I was getting weekly massages and physio just to help get me through my sessions.
During my training, I realised I couldn’t quite push in my sessions. I found I was out of breath after 6 reps, I had to sit down in between sets from how dizzy I was and I was fatiguing much quicker than usual. If you followed me for a while you would know I love my cardio during my preps as I find it brings me in the best condition. However, the aim this time round coming into the show was to come in with a fuller, curvier package and to do that, I initially had to drop all cardio while I was going through a mini gain phase. About 6 weeks out of the show, it was time to introduce cardio back into my routine to tighten my body up. I was on the stairmaster doing my usual warm up and found that was even a struggle. My legs felt heavy. Like I had no energy to push. I found myself out of breath, taking frequent breaks and covering less than half the distance I normally would on the stair master. I put it down to the fact I was unfit and had needed to build my fitness back up after its absence in my prep so far.
I pursued my cardio training and after about 3 weeks realised I was actually struggling worse. I found myself puffing walking up normal stairs. I started taking naps in the afternoon, I simply couldn’t make it through the day. I lost my appetite, couldn’t focus on work, I was dizzy constantly and I lost my voice completely. For about a week I put this down to a result of a tough ‘prep’ and dropping my calories. I kept by passing these feelings until I literally was struggling to wake up in the morning.I knew something more was going on. Something bigger than just ‘comp prep’. I went to the doctors and had my bloods done.
My results came back about two weeks out of the show and I tested positive to a chest infection and glandular fever and as a result of all this.. further vocal chord damage.
It was in a way, a relief to know I wasn’t just ‘being lazy’ or unfit. To know there was a legitimate reason for feeling the way I did made me feel a little bit better. I was told to rest by the doctor and pull out of the show. I needed to take some time off training but I had already worked so hard, spent money on this prep and I had already booked my whole week for the show. I knew I wanted to push through this and make it to stage. So the stubborn Milla I am, continued on to the best of my ability.
So I pushed through the final two weeks of prep. I was unable to do cardio as hard as I normally do because I physically couldn’t. I like to see it as a blessing in disguise as it forced me to come into the show with a slightly fuller package. I tend to get carried away in those final few weeks of prep and get fixated on getting leaner and smaller rather than fuller and curvier as requested by the judges
Peak week was an emotional roller coaster. It always is, but this time slightly more than usual. I have experienced more self doubt in the last few months than I have done my whole life. I believe it comes down to going through some big transitions and changes within my life, jumping into the unknown and realising life isn’t as easy as it once was as a kid. I’m growing up and with that comes more responsibility, bigger demands, more pressure all the while trying to figure out who I am and what I want. Again, prep allowed my to dig even deeper and discover yet another layer of myself and that’s what I love so much about competing.
I came into this show with a fuller look. I forfeit my abs slightly with the aim to keep my legs and glutes looking a little fuller and I believe I did that. Competing is all about challenging your body, testing new methods and manipulating your body to create a better look each time.
- I went through a surplus and only started dropping this about 6 weeks out. I got to around 2200 calories before bringing them back down to my baseline of around 1700.
- I stopped intermittent fasting for the majority of the prep and only re introduced it in the final two weeks.
- I was having carbohydrates with every meal up until the final week of prep
- Peak week was very different for me: For the first time ever, I did not carb deplete.
In every other prep of mine, I usually do a 7 day carb depletion. What is that exactly? Now what this is is where I cut basically all of my carbs for a whole 7 days to drop that final bit of fat.
It’s just another term for what is now considered ‘keto’. We go into a keto phase to help drop excess fat and fluid so that we can look extra lean on the show day. Now following the depletion phase, 1-2 days prior to show day, we will introduce carbohydrates back into the diet. Why? The idea is that removing carbohydrates out of your system for a week to then re-fill your body back up a few days prior to your show will encourage your body to increase glycogen stores in the muscle. What does that do? Essentially, it is supposed to create the illusion (if done correctly) that you are bigger than you really are. It fills the muscle so that you pop just in time for your stage appearance and come in looking leaner and fuller than you really are. The down side to this is dropping carbs or manipulating your peak week too much also runs the risk of getting it wrong and coming in worse off. Carb depletion can have you looking flat and skinny on the day or on the other hand, you may in fact ‘spill over’ with your stores and come in looking too fluidy and soft.
I have been on both sides of the spectrum. So does this method actually work? For a bodybuilder with mass. Yes. Of course. For a bikini competitor with a lot less muscle. Not necessarily. So this time round, I really wanted to try something new. See if it made a positive change.
What did I find? I definitely came in softer. Although this was the goal, I came in a little too soft through the midsection for my liking. However, the feedback I have received from you guys has shown me how much people really prefer this look over my leaner one. Was it a preferred look of mine? No. However did I learn something and feel like I made improvements? Yes. Ideally, I would like to come in as lean as I have in past shows, but with more muscle mass to keep those curves. Sounds simple… It most definitely is not.
This is going to take a lot of work, time and patience to achieve but that is what i am willing to do if that means a first placing.
Peak week Training
- I aimed to hit 10k steps per day only as opposed to previous preps of 15k per day and 20 k steps per day in the final week
- I trained fasted
- Throughout the whole prep I only did a maximum of 30 minutes steady state cardio a few times a week. IN other preps I did 45minutes – 1 hour daily in the final few weeks.
- Trained back as in previous preps I stopped training it. Purely because I felt it grows too easily !
- I couldn’t train hamstrings because of my knee injury so I had to focus on overall leg exercises instead of isolated ones.
- My Weights sessions lasted no more than 45 minutes as opposed to 1-1.5 hours in my last preps.
The conclusion I took from this prep was the idea that ‘Less is more’. I gained more muscle than I ever have by being in the gym LESS. I got lean with almost half the amount of cardio I was doing before and on higher calories. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Even if it doesn’t work out in your favour, it is a lesson and a finding. Never a mistake. All in all, I am super proud of making it to the stage and achieving the placing that I did.
As for my next show… to be announced !