In this article, Team LoCoFit Coach Gillian Sanfilippo discusses the importance of an offseason, and the best way to execute one to set you up for a successful fat loss phase. If you are interested in coaching, where we apply these principles and methodologies to bring you to your best physique, click the button at the bottom of this page!
Let’s Dive In.
It’s no secret that Instagram followers like seeing lean physiques and stage shots (even more than food porn. I know, crazy). We’ve gotten to a point where you can never tell what is realistic anymore. So many competitors post throwback after throwback, but what about the present? Who are you when you’re not stage lean? Social media platforms are easily turned into highlight reels. You show people what gets the most likes, even if it portrays the wrong image.
The beautiful thing about bodybuilding is the fact that we get to build the physiques we want. There are seasons to grow and shape what we want to look like when we step on stage again. The time spent in the off season is just as much a part of this sport as getting shredded is. We all have a favorite, I’m sure, but you can’t have one without the other and expect to go far. I myself love having photos to look back on and I look at my stage shots as an accomplishment! It takes some serious work to get stage lean and having those photos will always motivate us. Nonetheless, we need to remember there are two important seasons we take part in as bodybuilders. One of them doesn’t happen to get as much spotlight as the other.
A trend that I’ve seen more and more recently is treating the off season as some kind of ‘how-much-can-I-eat-and-stay-lean’ challenge. Some kind of competition to show off all the food you’re eating at your body composition. That itself is contradictory to the main point here. You don’t just get shredded and try to stay that way, nor should you expect that when you dive into competitive bodybuilding. The off season is honestly where you’ll spend a majority of your time. Why? Because it’s real life and it’s the most sustainable place to be both mentally and physically.
My main point is that you need to take time to grow and should fully expect that when you’re not preparing to step on stage. An off season cannot be spent only a couple of pounds over your stage weight. Physiologically, it is not realistic or healthy in the long term. There are so many factors to consider including but not limited to hormones, blood panels, hair/nail health, training recovery, and rest. Who ever seems to be walking around shredded year round are either fooling you or failing to see the importance of taking time off. If you want to go far in this sport, you need to take the necessary amount of time to recover from the diet, grow, and get back to a healthy baseline. Both of these phases should be embraced in the sport.
Now that’s not to say we need to go into a full on bulk (been there, done that). We can easily go too far either way. Putting on unnecessary body fat will not only make us feel ‘bleh,’ but it won’t help us in the long run. It just gives us more work to do (aka more weight to lose) next time you enter a dieting phase. Most of the time, traditional bulks just end in more body fat than actual muscle gain.
As both a competitor and coach, I think it is incredibly important to be prepared. Competitors should be fully aware of what to expect when dieting for a show as well as what to expect in the months afterwards. Having realistic expectations is going to make the transition from prep to off season much easier on you. Keep in mind that you’re an athlete based on your discipline and work ethic. The hard work you put in will show even more when you get on stage and beat your last physique!
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