Make the most of your off-season while still giving your body the rest it deserves
As a female, I have battled the qualms of putting on size. I guess I'm just not too keen on "getting big" or "bulking up". (To be honest, it actually freaks me out!) I like to wear my clothes and look feminine in them, not bust out of them like the Incredible Hulk. However, all of the feedback I have received from the IFBB judging panel since I started competing in the women's physique division leans toward putting on more lean muscle. When I first began competing in figure, I fought with my body to bring down my legs and bring up my upper body. Then, when I switched over to the physique division, I finally began to embrace my wheels, and started training like I used to... which lead to turning pro in my third show.
So far, my first off-season as a physique competitor is going great. It's kind of funny to walk into the gym or see someone I haven't seen in a while and hear, "Wow, you are looking thick!" But I feel strong and healthy, and if that's what "thick" is, then bring it on!
Whether you're a runner, powerlifter, competitor, or just a gymrat however, everyone needs a break from routine to help your body keep moving in the right direction. Personally, I have a tough time forgoing the gym completely, so I like to split my time off--a little time off weight training, and then a little time off cardio. This way, I don't feel guilty and I keep my body stimulated and metabolism revving. For me, it's like the gym is my "coffee". I need it! But I've found that even a light, short workout keeps me satisfied, and makes sure my endorphins are pumping so I feel good. That's why I always advise against completely skipping a gym session during the off-season, unless of course you have good reason. Get dressed and go, and I promise 5 minutes in you're going to feel much better.
So, as the season winds down for many of you who compete, I challenge you to back off your cardio a bit and try increasing your food... you'll be surprised how much you can boost strength during this time. I have a feeling this may turn out to be my new favorite time of the year--a whole 16 weeks devoted to putting lean muscle on and wowing myself in the gym.
Enjoy life, not losing sight of your goals. As for me, I will be in the gym looking thick, healthy, and rockin' my muscle and fitness.