Motivation In Defeat – My NABBA 2016 Bodybuilding Motivation

Shreddybrek Most Muscular Bodybuilding PoseComing off my performance at the NABBA North Britain 2016, im left with mixed emotions. However the biggest feeling I have inside of me is motivation.

In my most recent bodybuilding show, I entered the the “Mr Class 2” category for the first time. A huge step up from the novice category I did fairly well in way back in 2016, placing 3rd at the North Britain, and then 6th at the NABBA Britain finals.

In 2015 I placed 2nd and gained an invite to the UKBFF Britain finals, which i opted not to do.

I knew the step up to the Mr class would be a big jump in competition, and I thought I was “ready to rumble”.

This just wasn’t the case however, which was evident from my physique in the line up against 6 other bodybuilders.

The NABBA North Britain 2016 Show

I went into the show knowing I wasn’t looking as good I should (or could) have, which i’ll discuss further below. However I still wanted to do it, as I didn’t look “out of shape”.

The afternoon judging was enjoyable, with a friend of mine competing in the first timers, a few lads from the gym I train at competing in the Juniors, and another friend competing in the same class as me.

The delays throughout the afternoon seemed to make me more anxious as I was just waiting and waiting. I knew there was 7 in my calss after I registered, and from hearing just a handful of the competitors names, I knew straight away id be coming last.

I confirmed this to myself later that day when I went backstage to pump up and saw my competition.

A sense of “wtf am i doing here” overcame me, but I thought fuck it, im here now, nothing I can do other than get up on stage.

In a line up of 6 other monsters its hard to stand out at a bodybuilding show, but I hit my poses the best I could, and then waited for the night show.

The night show itself was great. There was a table of 10 friends and family watching the entire thing. I was enjoying myself up until it was time for me to get back up on stage (I jest).

However when I heard “and in 7th place…. Adam Foster” a fire was lit under my arse.

Not because I was mad with the decision – it was fare. I looked the worst on stage. I was disappointed in myself for letting myself get last.

What Went Wrong?

In all honesty, nothing “major” went wrong. I began my contest the weekend after Christmas, and before new Year. Plenty of time to get ready, 17 weeks I believe it was.

On New years Eve I went for a meal out in a restaurant. Something I dont normally do during contest prep. Outside of this however I was bang on with my food choices, meal timings, and macros. During contest prep i always aim to be absolute bang on as its the only way to even try and build muscle and lose fat at the same time. If you aren’t 100% accountable for everything in your diet, then you can’t expect to make proper gains.

I saw the first few weeks as “transitioning” phase from “normal eating” to full blown contest prep. However other than the very rare meal out somewhere, in which I kept my food choices basic, a chicken and rice, steak and potato, i was pretty full on from week 17 out.

I came down with tonsillitis on New Years Eve, and was ill with that for about 2 weeks. I lost well over a stone in that period, and unfortunately it wasnt all fat.

I felt so weak, and could barely train when I had it, however a few weeks into prep i felt “back to normal” and I actually believe this helped kick start some of my fat loss, as the bloating I had before starting prep immediately went. Not the way id advise to lose weight, but hey it worked.

Following this, I was improving almost week on week. Something that normally doesn’t happen for me during my contest prep. I was dieting on 400g carbs pretty much all the way through my contest prep. I did a week of carb cycling to burn some more fat, but in all honesty, it wasnt really needed. I ended up increasing my daily carb intake to 450g of carbs, and i will still burning fat.

I was only doing cardio 3 times a week, normally id be doing it every other day, or 4 times a week at 40 minutes. Everything was going well with my diet, training and workouts at just 30 minutes cardio, and a steady carb intake.

I was 6 weeks out and looking on point. Then things went hectic.

As a bit of background, I work in digital marketing. I work a day job, but I also lecture at University to marketing students. Outside of this, I also run my own web projects and provide freelance work.

Everything outside of the gym, had a massive impact on my gym life, and it just went downhill from there.

  • Full Time Job Change
  • Increased Work Load With University Lecturing
  • Increase In Personal Web Projects
  • Increase In Freelance Work
  • Business Trips

I had an increased work load, between my day job, lecturing, and free lance work, I was running myself into the ground. I was working long days, and going on business trips, caught up in meetings, missing meal timings.

The best business meeting I had was actually heading down to the Myprotein Headquaters. I was invited due to the my protein discount codes I publish, and because of some of the myprotein supplement reviews  (its also how I get all my bodybuilding supplements dirt cheap)

Lack Of Focus, Lack Of Motivation

I was going to bed exhausted, waking up exhausted. This had a direct impact to my workouts, I just couldnt train as hard as I wanted to.

I was having a meal out maybe once every 2 weeks, Wagamamas specifically. Their beef and rice bowl. “Clean eating” but the exact macros – i didn’t know. I lost focus, noticed progress was actually going backwards, and lost motivation.

I began going through the motions. Not what you need to be doing when in contest prep.


Outside of my usual bodybuilding workouts and cardio sessions, I also began MMA training. This was something I did when I was younger. I was doing this for a couple of weeks, a few times a week, on top of all my other training. I never injured myelf during my brief stint of training during this contest prep, but it definitely interfered with my recovery and workouts.

I never missed a workout, or a cardio session, but my sessions just weren’t as intense as they needed to be. I was basically fitting my workouts in around my working day, to allow me free time on an evening.

As such, I was training at an Xercise 4 Less commercial gym through the week. Its not a bad gym, it just made me lack drive. Its fine for cardio, but i’ve learned that in order to get the best out of my weight workouts, I need to train at my regular gym in Hartlepool, ideally with training partners on big days such as legs, or chest.

This became a cycle, as the lack of focus for bodybuilding meant I wasnt obsessing over my meal timings, and meal prep in advance. Instead I was just eating around lectures, without proper planning. I was sometimes forgetting to prep my rice, so buying microwave rices, which have higher fats.

It was just a combination of a lot of things leading to a poor end result.

Lessons Learned

Bodybuilding is all or nothing

As soon as you start to half arse your diet, or workout, whether intentional or not, you’re wasting your time. Sure I could go on holiday, or on a beach, walk around with my t shirt off and look good – but that isn’t competitive bodybuilding.

For me, i got too focused on work, and took some of my focus away from bodybuilding. Long term is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Im working on my career, which will pay long term dividends. Is it bad for my bodybuilding. Yes.

What I need to do is balance this. Rather than forcing myself into the gym when is convenient so i have more free time on an evening, I need to stick to my game plan, because it works.

Sticking to the diet is crucial

This if obvious, and its not a lesson i’ve learned here, its just something i need to hammer down on.

I know that swapping a meal or post workout shake for a protein bar isn’t optimal.

I know that waiting 6 hours between meals, and then making up your macros on an evening isn’t as effective (for me at least) as regular meals.

Its just something that with a bigger workload, I kinda disregarded and thought “it will do”.

It wont do, it didnt do.

dont get cocky kid

Don’t Get Cocky Kid

6 Weeks out I got complacent. 6 weeks out is when things started going in reverse.

Its something i’ve never ever done, and I can only imagine that because of a lack of focus, and prioritising other things, I did get complacent, which led to the above.

I can’t and won’t do it again.

Don’t Compete Unless You Can Commit 100%

100% or nothing is an age old, cheese filled cliche quote, but it applies.

If you have a focus on building a business, raising a family, relationship, studying towards a degree, or other commitments there is nothing wrong with that.

Bodybuilding is a selfish lifestyle and selfish sport. You need to make sacrifice to a certain extent, and put other focuses on the back burner during contest prep.

If any of your commitments mean you can’t put 100% into your bodybuilding 100% of the time during a contest prep, then you can’t expect to place well.

I’ve learned this the hard way and im now able to speak from experience.

Refocused & Motivated For Bodybuilding

As someone who competes, and has placed last, this has been a massive kick up the arse. I was in the gym 9 o clock Monday morning, pushing harder through a chest workout. Harder than I had done for the past 5-6 weeks.

Tuesday I trained with Eddy Ellwood for a Quad workout, as Im typing this, im in fear of standing and sitting, as there is a slight (see tremendous) ache in my legs. Its a naughty but nice feeling – and I love it.

Im going to be refocused with my workouts, meals, meal timings, weight sessions, and cardio sessions. Basically, ive got a fire under my arse, and its not going out.

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Adam Foster is an aspiring bodybuilder, and has been training since a teenager. As the founder of the website & youtube channel 'Shreddybrek' he shares his experiences and knowledge via informative videos and articles. Get in touch if you have any questions!

Posted in Blog, My Training Log

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