I am currently in my off-season since I have done the 2009 Team Universe show. It is going to be a long one because I have decided to take this year off. The last time I had a long off-season was 2005! Since then I have been competing every year until now and I was only getting 6 months of off-season. As I sit here writing, I want to ask my weekly readers, what does off-season mean to you? Quite often I see physique competitors so caught up in competitions, even when it is their off-season. What I mean by this is that I hear complaints of how one looks and wanting to be conditioned all of the time. Do we ever stop to think that the average person on the street thinks we look awesome even when we are not competing! I have been getting questions all of the time recently, with people asking me if I am competing and that I look good. I laugh at them and thank them for the compliment but deep down I am thinking, "This is off-season, I am not nearly close to looking like I am in competition mode!". This is what I mean! Aah, the mind of a physique competitor!
Off-season should mean still eating clean but not so strict that you are tired, starving, craving, or hungry all of the time. You should feel good! You should be getting some really good nutrient dense, healthy foods in your diet to help feed your muscles. If we are always dieting like we are doing a show, we are depriving our muscles and hindering any progress to gaining any more muscle. Also, training should be fun! We look forward to your workouts, you feel strong, and have some great intensity to your training. And, are ready for that nice post-workout meal to help you recover. I think a lot of us lose touch of what the off-season really is. Of course having once a week cheat meals are included to help spark the metabolism as well as a time to have some of your favorite foods but not pigging out like you came from a concentration camp like we do after a show. And, you should not feel guilty for cheating because it is ok once and awhile.
Also, the off-season should be a time to spend with friends and family, and significant others or our children. Maybe traveling, going on vacation, etc without the stress of having in the back of your mind that you "have to get a workout in". You don't have to spend hours and hours in the gym and miss out on other things. Time is precious and you should enjoy it! Going to the beach, bbqs, parties, etc. You have to live a little and not make competitions your whole life. The shows will always be there. But sometimes, I think we forget that there are other important things in life.
So, not being so hard on yourself in the off-season is the key. What I mean by this is, to remember that off-season is a time to improve your physique. Work on weak body parts that are lagging, but don't strive to look like you are going in a competition the next week. It will only reflect on how you look on the stage the next time you compete, and it will only help your body physically and physiologically. I am embracing my off-season. My goal is to have a more improved physique of the next competition I go in. I feel great and strong! The saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. So, you must be patient when you want to improve but don't beat yourself up about it. So, enjoy your off-season and just remember, that when you are a physique athlete, you will me admired by the general population whether you are in-season or off-season. So live a little! Talk to you next week!