HOW MANY WEEKS BEFORE A SHOW WOULD YOU START DIETING (PREPPING)?
ANN TITONE: Well, lol, I remember the days in my early thirties that It only took 8 weeks to get ready for a show. But wanting to always improve I started my prep at 12 weeks, whereas the first 2 were really getting on a more regimented food and training plan.
TA MARTIN: I specifically watch my high-carb days year-round so I can stay lean enough (around 6-7%BF) that a good six or seven weeks going hard will get me stage ready.
CHRISTINE ENVALL: I usually start 16-20 weeks prior. Back when I used to get a lot ‘heavier’ in my offseason I used to go 20-24 weeks, but now I can cut back to 16. This means I can come down very slowly with little impact on my day to day functioning. I can’t afford to be brain dead for the last month before a show as nothing stops at work.
BRANDEN RAY: My best prep was actually my last prep and it just so happened to be my longest prep. I normally did 12 weeks because I don’t put on much body fat in the offseason. Well, I learned that there is a difference between being in shape, and being shredded. In order for me to get that detail, striated glutes, feathered quads, Christmas tree, and shredded obliques, I had to go deeper than I’ve ever gone. My goal was to look the way I normally look on stage at 4 weeks out. Think about it, how many times have you heard a judge tell someone, “all you need is a couple more weeks.” Well it will make sense to give yourself ample time to make sure everything is dialed in. Leave no stones unturned. So even if you are a generally lean person year round, I recommend allowing a good 3-4 weeks to gradually adjust your mind and body for the rigors and demands of a strict prep so that by 12 weeks out you are already a machine. Then on the back end of the prep, the last 4 weeks, you’re not stressing at all because everything is pretty much in and you have confidence that you can stand next to anyone when it comes to conditioning.
HOW MUCH CARDIO (AND WHAT SPECIFICALLY) DO YOU DO AND DOES IT CHANGE OVER THE DIET?
ANN TITONE: Again, its something that changed over the years. In the beginning it was 30 minutes every other day. A few years in, when I reached the plateau, I needed to change things, not just my diet but how I trained and my cardio. I think its important to do different cardio routines to keep your body guessing and to hit different muscles. I will do different routines on the treadmill, I love the glute isolation of the Arch Trainer and I have a serious love/ hate relationship with the stair-master. TA MARTIN: For the first week or two after a show absolutely no cardio because my body gets acclimated to it and it loses effectiveness. For maintenance and general health I add a 20-minutes warm up to my regular weight training and increase from there as I get closer to competition. The last three or four weeks I’m usually up to 35-minutes in the morning plus another 45-minutes at night with some HIIT mixed into my steady-state cardio. CHRISTINE ENVALL: I maintain 2 x 30 minute walks per day, on season or off season, mainly because I want to maintain a degree of fitness, but also because my dogs don’t understand onseason/offseason… they just want their walks! As I get closer to the show, I do add an extra 25 minute cardio session on the spin bike. I do the spin bike if it rains since I can’t walk outside. I do like the elliptical if I have to do ‘electronic’ cardio, but generally I’m not a fan of cardio machines. BRANDEN RAY: One thing that I learned from Christine Envall is that the intensity of your cardio is as important as the length of time you’re doing cardio. A woman that I know told me that she does an hour of cardio every day but wasn’t losing weight. Well one night I saw her doing her “hour of cardio” and I totally understood why she wasn’t losing weight. There was no intensity. She didn’t even break out a sweat. To make sure I sweat while doing cardio I always wore a long sleeve shirt or sometimes a hooded sweatshirt. If I get too hot I can simply remove layers, but only after I’ve worked up a good sweat. Here at Venice Golds Gym in Los Angeles, you can tell when it’s contest season as you will see all of the cardio equipment occupied by someone with a hood over their head! I personally feel that the treadmill is the most efficient for burning overall fat at a walking pace just slower to than a jog. Now to target specific areas I prefer the recumbent bike to condition my hamstrings and the stairs tighten and tone the glutes. I feel that the most efficient times to do cardio and burn fat while keeping muscle is fasted cardio in the morning and night cardio before your last meal. I started with two 30 minute cardio sessions and by the end of my prep I worked up to two 1 hour cardio sessions.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAYS FOOD INTAKE? (TYPE OF FOOD, AMOUNT) WHEN DIETING
TA MARTIN: My typical food intake changes a lot as I mix up my workouts and work out intensity in accordance with my job, but one of my favourites looks something like this: ANN TITONE: My body responded very well for the first few years of dieting to carb cycling, I would always bring in the best conditioning and symmetry but tend to lose the softness of my face, which plays a huge role of the whole package. For several years I also played with fat cycling and fat loading, I had the fullness in the face but was able to keep muscles full and a good structure. When I started working with my husband, Jack Titone and George Farah, he determined that “happy medium”to help me achieve my best to date at the Olympia. It’s important to realize there isn’t just one plan that works for everyone. It’s a lot of trial and error and working with people who learn your body and how it responds. Total Calories: 3,291 KCal BFast; 513 (16%) – Lunch; 600 (18%) – Dinner; 941 (29%) – Snack; 1,237 (38%) – Ratios = 37 / 23 / 39 Protein 298gm, Carbs 187gm, Fats 140gm MEAL 1 Egg Whites (EggBeaters) 1.0 cups Baby Spinach, 0.5 cups Tilapia, 6.0 oz Grilled Asparagus, chopped, 4.0 oz – Almonds, 0.25 cups MEAL 2 Grilled Chicken Breast, Skinless, 6.0 oz Broccoli (fresh steamed) 1.0 cups Calrose white rice (steamed) 1.0 cups Almonds (raw) 0.25 cups MEAL 3 Ground Turkey (taco seasoning) 8.0 oz white rice, steamed, 2.0 cups Romaine lettuce, shredded, 1.0 cups diced tomatoes, 0.5 oz salsa, 3.0 oz grated Romano cheese, 1.0 oz Almonds (raw) 0.25 cups MEAL 4 (post workout) T-bone Steak, 6.0 oz steamed Broccoli, 1.0 cups roasted sweet potato, 1.0 cups Almonds (raw) 0.25 cups Whey protein powder, 2 scoops banana, one medium *MEAL 5 (Sat & Sun only!)* Double Blueberry Pancakes Stack (3) roasted red potatoes, 6 oz. Omelette, 3 whole eggs – English Muffin, whole split w/butter
CHRISTINE ENVALL: SUPPS: International Protein Glutamine (1 tsp), 1 Berrocca, 1 tsp ALC, 4 x Vitamin C tabs, Magnesium powder, liver cleanse powder, evening primrose oil, fish oils, Co Enzyme Q 10 Meal 1: After Cardio Cereal (like Special K Advantage) (60g – 70g) International Protein ISO CUTS (50g) Low fat milk or Lite Soy milk or Almond Milk (100ml) Krealkalyn (1tsp) – 45 mins before training Amino Recovery (1 serve) Meal 2: Immediately After Training ISO CUTS (30g) Extreme Carbs (25g) International Protein Glutamine (1 tsp) Meals 3 & 4 (I split this in half and consume over 2 meals) Jasmine Rice (70g – uncooked weight) 120g chicken breast (uncooked weight) 150g Tuna (drained weight) International Protein Naturals Egg Albumen (30g) (I chop the cooked chicken and mix everything together) Meal 5 (Mid afternoon) International Protein Protein Synergy 5 (40g) Low Fat Yoghurt (150g) Chia Seeds (30g) Oats (30g) Meal 6 (after cardio) 180g chicken breast (uncooked weight) Heaps of green vegetables (broccoli, zucchini) and salad (spinach, mushroom, tabouli) with a few roast almonds Meal 7 (middle of the night) Protein Synergy 5 (30g) Low fat Yoghurt (150g) BRANDEN RAY: A typical daily food intake….well, this last prep required me to really be on point because my diet changed a lot. My coach gave me my diet for only 2 weeks at a time. It works for me because I believe that the two week period was enough time for the diet to work. I’ve had clients expect a new diet every couple of days. You have to allow the diet time to work before making any changes. I always saw significant changes in a 2 week period without the diet getting too mundane. As a bodybuilder I kept my protein high during prep, about 2 times my bodyweight. I recommend keeping protein for bodybuilding at around 1.5 times your body weight. I mostly adjust my carbs during prep and keep my protein high. If I need to come down a little I pull carbs from later meals. For example, if I have carbs in my first 3 meals and I need to cut a little, I will cut the carbs from meal 3 first.