Coming 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.
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.
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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