How Do Bodybuilders And Fitness Models Get So Lean?
By Tom Venuto, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
QUESTION: "Tom, on your burn the fat feed the muscle
website, you wrote: 'Who better to model than bodybuilders and fitness competitors? No athletes in the world get as lean as quickly as bodybuilders and fitness competitors. The transformations which occur in 12 weeks prior to competition would boggle your mind! Only ultra-endurance athletes come close in terms of low body fat levels, but endurance athletes, such as triathletes and marathoners often get lean at the expense of using up all their muscle. Some of them are nothing but skin and bone.'"
"There seems to be a contradiction. Am I missing something here? Why do bodybuilders and fitness competitors have to go through a 12 week transformation training period prior to each event instead of staying in a lean and mean physique all the time? If they practice the secrets exposed in your book, they should be staying in low body fat shape all the time instead of having to work at losing fat prior to every competitive event. That's what I would think."
ANSWER: Of course, there's a reasonable and logical explanation as to why bodybuilders, and other physique athletes (fitness and figure competitors), do not, SHOULD NOT, remain completely ripped all year round, and it is also the reason they are able to get so ripped on the day of a contest!
You simply cannot hold a peak of fitness and physique like that forever or it's not a "peak", right?
So, what is the definition of a peak?
It is a high point surrounded by two lower points isn't it?
So, you see, any physical shape you are able to stay in the whole year round is almost certainly NOT your "peak" condition.
Therefore, the intelligent approach to nutrition and training (which almost all bodybuilders and fitness/figure competitors use and agree on), is to combine training and diet in some form of seasonal, or other cyclical fashion, and build yourself up to a peak, then ease off to a less intense maintenance or growth phase.
Understand, I am NOT talking about a cycle of bulking up and then letting yourself get fat, and out of shape, and then dieting it all off every year. What I AM talking about is going from a sustainable and genuinely good shape to great (peak) shape, then easing back off to that "good" shape.... but never letting yourself get "out of shape."
Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
Here's an example: Let's say I have no intentions whatsoever of walking around 365 days a year at 4% body fat
like I appear in the photo on my website. Off-season, when I'm not competing, my body fat is usually between 8 - 10%. Mind you,
that is very lean and still single digit body fat.
I don't stray too far from competition shape, but I don't maintain contest shape all the time. It takes me 12-14
weeks or so to gradually drop from 9.5% to 3.5%-4.0% body fat to "peak" for competition with NO loss of lean body mass...using the same
techniques I reveal in my e-book.
It would be almost impossible to maintain 4% body fat, and even if I could, why would I want to? For the few weeks prior to competition I'm so depleted, ripped, and even "drawn" in the face, that complete strangers walk up and offer to feed me.
Okay, so I'm just kidding there, but let's just say being ripped to
shreds is not a desirable condition for an individual to maintain
because it takes such a monumental effort to remain in that state. In fact, it's
probably not even healthy to try forcing yourself to hold extreme low
body fat. Unless you're a natural ectomorph (skinny, fast metabolism body type),
your body will fight you. Not only that, anabolic hormones may drop and
sometimes your immune system is affected as well. It is just
not 'normal' to walk around all the time with literally no subcutaneous body fat.
Instead of killing myself trying to hold the peak, I regularly cycle
back down to a less demanding off-season program and avoid creeping beyond
9.9% body fat. Some years I have stayed leaner - like 6-7%,
(which takes effort), especially when I knew I was going to be photographed,
but I still don't let my body fat go over 10%.
Not Just for Bodybuilders
This practice isn't just restricted to bodybuilders. Athletes in all sports use periodization to build
themselves up to their best shape for competition. Is a pro football player in the same condition in March-April as he is in
August-September? Not a chance. Many show up fat and out of shape (relatively speaking) for training camp, others just need fine tuning,
but none are in peak form... that’s why they have training camp!!!
There is another excellent reason why you WOULD NOT want to maintain a 'ripped to
shreds'; physique all year round -- you would have to be dieting (calorie restricted) all the time. And this is one
of the reasons that 95% of people can’t lose weight and keep it off...they are CHRONIC dieters...always on some type of diet. Do you know anyone like that?
You simply cannot stay on restricted low
calories indefinitely. Sooner or later your metabolism slows down and
you plateau as your body adapts to the chronically lowered food intake.
But if you diet for fat loss and push incredibly hard for 3 months,
then ease off for a while and eat a little more (healthy food, not
"pigging out"), your metabolic rate is re-stimulated. In a few weeks or
months, you can return to another fat loss phase and reach an even
lower body fat level, until you finally reach the point
that’s your happy maintenance level for life – a
level that is healthy and realistic – as well as visually
Bodybuilders have discovered a methodology for
losing fat that’s so effective, it puts them in complete
control of their body composition. They've mastered this area
of their lives and will never have to worry about it again. If they
ever slip, and fall off the wagon like all humans
do at times … no problem! They know how to get back into
Bodybuilders have the tools and knowledge to
hold a low body fat all year round (such as 9% for men, or about 15%
for women), and then at a whim, to reach a temporary
“peak” of extremely low body fat for the purpose of
competition. Maybe most important of all, they have the power and
control to slowly ease back from peak shape into maintenance, and not
balloon up and yo-yo like most conventional dieters!
What if you had the power to stay lean all year
round, and then get super lean when summer rolled around, or when you
took your vacation to the Caribbean, or when your wedding date was
coming up? Wouldn’t you like to be in control of your body
like that? Isn’t that the same thing that bodybuilders and
fitness/figure competitors do, only on a more practical, real-world
So even if you have no competitive aspirations
whatsoever, don’t you agree that there’s something
of value everyone could learn from physique athletes? Don’t
model yourself after the huge crowd of losers who gobble diet pills,
buy exercise gimmicks and suffer through starvation diets like
automatons, only to gain back everything they lost! Instead, learn from
the leanest athletes on Earth - natural bodybuilders and fitness
These physique athletes get as ripped as they
want to be, exactly when they want to, simply by manipulating their
diets in a cyclical fashion between pre-contest "cutting" programs and
off season "maintenance" or "muscle growth" programs. Even if you have
no desire to ever compete, try this seasonal
“peaking” approach yourself and you’ll
see that it can work as well for you as it does for elite bodybuilders.
If you’re interested in learning even
more secrets of bodybuilders and fitness models, visit the Burn The Fat
website at: www.BurnTheFat.com
About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, an
NSCA-certified personal trainer (CPT) and a certified strength
& conditioning specialist (CSCS). Tom is the author of the #1
best-selling e-book, "Burn
the Fat, Feed The Muscle,” which teaches
you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using the secrets of
the world's best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid
of stubborn body fat and increase your metabolism by visiting the : burn the fat feed the muscle website.
To learn more about Tom's Fat Loss Support Community, visit: www.burnthefatinnercircle.com
Want to know more about fitness nutrition? Click here
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While I do not normally recommend diets themselves, healthy eating is important to any health, fitness, or weight loss program. Click Here to learn more about Wonderslim Diet Plan.
Why Diets Don't Work.