Muscle Talk - By International Protein

How to Measure Success in Bodybuilding

April 14, 2021 International Protein Season 3 Episode 13
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
How to Measure Success in Bodybuilding
Chapters
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
How to Measure Success in Bodybuilding
Apr 14, 2021 Season 3 Episode 13
International Protein

In this episode, we discuss the best ways to measure how you're advancing in bodybuilding.
Let’s face it, your brains is going to play tricks on you, it’s a journey and your prep is going to play an essential role!

  • Contest photographs
  • Trust your coach, they’re your eyes
  • Measure yourself one time a day
  • Look at your body
  • DEXA scans


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






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A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we discuss the best ways to measure how you're advancing in bodybuilding.
Let’s face it, your brains is going to play tricks on you, it’s a journey and your prep is going to play an essential role!

  • Contest photographs
  • Trust your coach, they’re your eyes
  • Measure yourself one time a day
  • Look at your body
  • DEXA scans


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Ash Horton:
Welcome to Muscle Talk where you'll get well-championed advice about nutrition and sticking on muscle. Our host, Christina Envall, she's a three-time world champion bodybuilder and IFPB, professional, a food scientist, and a founding co-owner of our podcast sponsor, International Protein.

Ash Horton:
In this episode, we discuss the best ways to measure how you're advancing in bodybuilding. Let's face it, your brain's going to play tricks on you. It's a journey and your prep, it's going to play an essential role.

Ash Horton:
Okay, Christina, how do you measure success in advancements in bodybuilding? Is it a measurement thing? Is it your brain plays tricks on you, right?

Christine Envall:
Yeah. I love this question Ash because, remember I'm pre-internet, I'm pre-iPhone. I was competing back in the early '90s. And to me, the measurement of success was your contest photographs.

Ash Horton:
Right.

Christine Envall:
Okay. Getting up on stage, obviously the photographs or video captured, that was the end result. There was no trick lighting. There was no angling. There was no taking the photograph in the mirror, putting a filter on. There was none of that. It literally, that was the benchmark. And you could put up your photos from your last comp, put up your photos from this comp and go, I can see that I've grown, or your trusted advisor. Because-

Ash Horton:
What about along the journey?

Christine Envall:
Along the journey, because it's an aesthetic sport, it has to be aesthetics. You can't, you can, I mean-

Ash Horton:
One day in particular, you're just going to feel that you're not advancing as much as another day. And that's your own brain messing with you, right?

Christine Envall:
No, I think that's your approaching your prep the wrong way.

Ash Horton:
Okay.

Christine Envall:
Okay. So looking at it like this, so one you have to trust. If you have a coach, you have to trust your coach because they are your eyes. And your brain will try to play tricks on you. And one thing someone said to me, once very early on in my career, they were talking about coaching and they were a coach of quite a few people. And they said, basically, most of the questions of my clients can be answered by the word no.

Ash Horton:
Right.

Christine Envall:
So, and I thought about that. And obviously they went on to explain that normally it's, "Ah, can I change this? Can I..." No, no, no, no. "Do I need to..." No, no. I've given you a plan. I'm looking at your body. Let me be in control of your training.

Christine Envall:
Let me be in control of your diet, because I'm looking at you objectively. You're looking at yourself subjectively when you're getting into that particular state. So you need to basically put your headphones on, put your blinkers on, get in and just do the work. Don't be stressing on changes throughout the day. All these other things. Just focus doing the work. In fact, that's why I love working when I was prepping because I had so many other things to think about. Pretty much do my cardio, have my food prepped. I knew what I needed to eat. I knew what I had to train. I didn't have to think about it. I didn't want to get consumed by it. And that's where the tricks come in. Because if you're ducking off to check yourself out in the mirror, and you've changed, because you change on an hourly basis throughout the day. So you can't be using that as a judge, like once a day-

Ash Horton:
Was that hydration levels and things like that.

Christine Envall:
Hydration levels, mineral levels. Anytime you eat something, your sodium level impacts how your skin looks tired or doesn't look tired. The lighting impacts. It changes throughout the day. Whether you've just worked out and you're pumped and your veins are out. And then the next morning you're flat because you didn't have enough carbs because you can't afford those in your calorie count. All of those things will come into it. And they're all irrelevant, because if you're focused on bodybuilding, it's about how you look on the day. It's about looking at the absolute best that you can on the day. And I'm kind of skipping ahead here because it's something just popped into my head about weigh-ins.

Christine Envall:
And one thing that I used to always notice with people was they peaked for the weigh-in. Because the weigh-in, okay, you had to get up, strip off, get on the scales and you're in your costume. And a lot of people thought that they could win it from impressing people at that point there. And then, if you're peaking for that, and you're not peaking for stage, you normally come up looking not so good the next day. You've either peak too early, overdone it, blown out, spilled whatever, or come into flat or too dry. Because you've again, you've overdone it. So, my philosophy always was I really, okay, I had some weigh-ins where a lot of talk went around, "Oh my God, what's she looking like? Shoot, shoot." Because my particular purses meant that I didn't look my best on the weigh-in day. I looked my best on comp day and that's how I won.

Christine Envall:
So, you got to keep that focus, from start of the prep to the finish of the prep, that it's about how you look on stage. Now I'm talking specifically about bodybuilding because when it's just day-to-day life and all that kind of stuff it's different. But, specifically for bodybuilding, you go through different phases and your body will look certain ways. So, you have to keep your mind on that end goal. That it's about looking the absolute best you can on contest day and whatever that means to you. Because for some people, they way, way, way over-diet because they're focused on coming in the most shredded that they possibly can. When obviously, the goal is to still maintain as much muscle, and as much fullness, and as much shape for being as shredded as what you possibly can. So, that's again where your coach come in and you need to trust that they have that same vision that you have. That you're on the same page, so to speak, so that you're not having one expectation, they're having another expectation as to how you're going to look. So, that thing along the way, yes, you're going to be looking at yourself. And one of my other, like my favorite ways for checking my progress was basically what I call my finger pinch test. Because, I would know from pinching the skin on my belly, or whichever particular body part, whether it's kind of fat still in there, or whether it's basically just skin that you're pulling. And that's better than any caliper test that you can do. And you know, now in this era of DEXA scans and-

Ash Horton:
Just get in there and there's plenty of fat.

Christine Envall:
You get to know a feel. Again, in your conversations I've had with other pro bodybuilders, when they go through those moments of self-doubts. Because a lot of them aren't, well back in their day, a lot of them weren't necessarily coached. They were self-coached and that's always a lot harder. Because they would coach other people like, "Oh, I don't need a coach." But having that discussion with you, "I'm doing a pinch and I'm pretty certain I'm only feeling skin. I'm not feeling fat." Or when it's water versus not water, and obviously that's experience. But when you're not experienced, then you can't tell the difference. Then you really do need to have someone who can be realistic and look at you. And that's where your progress pictures are really, really important.

Christine Envall:
But again, that's something where, with so much online coaching and stuff now, you have to really be cautious that you're taking those photographs in the same lighting, at the same time of day, pretty much in the same kind of costume. Because again, you'll remember a person's looking at your photographs and they're making decisions based on these things. And if you're tweaking the lighting or doing something and you're not showing how it really is, and it makes it a lot harder for your coach to really determine what it is that they need to do. Now, whether they need to change an exercise or they need to change your diet. But one of the other tools I always used was the scales. Because people say, "Oh, but you don't always have to be losing weight because you might be gaining muscle. And it's all balancing out."

Christine Envall:
In my experience in contest prep, that's very rare that that is an equal balance. The scales do need to be shifting down somewhat. If they're not shifting down, if you can clearly, clearly see that there's cuts coming in and that changes are happening that's great. But as I said, that's very, very rare. You do need to have the scales kind of moving. So if they're not moving in that downwards direction, that's when you do start to fool yourself because you think, "Oh no, I'm getting leaner. I'm just holding weight." No, it has to come down. But now with all of these DEXA scans and things, you should have a pretty good idea as to how much fat mass you do have to lose.

Christine Envall:
So again, back in our day, we had to go from previous contest weight. We knew what our lean body weight was because we'd pretty much been there. So, okay, you go into an off season, how much do I think I've gained? Or I think I'm going to be a kilo heavier, two kilos heavier. So you would know roughly where you would need to be. If you were 10 kilos over your contest weight, you knew you hadn't gained 10 kilos that year. So there was still a little bit of work to do. Even if you thought, "Oh yeah, I'm looking okay."

Christine Envall:
So that those kind of benchmarks and competing frequently made it a lot easier because you had something to go back to. But, if you're getting right into it for the first time, then having that DEXA scan and saying, "Okay, I know that I have this many kilos of body fat. I'm not going to be looking good until I have at least about this percentage." So until you're not going to put on 10 kilos of muscle to balance that out. The scales are going to have to come down at some point. So, keeping them moving and not letting them stagnate for too much was always a way that I kept that progress going. Because you wouldn't sit on the same weight for a month. If you did, you pretty much knew you just lost a month of comp prep there. So, that would be part of the measurement. But, your progress photos for you, for your coach.

Christine Envall:
If you are doing it yourself, it is a lot tougher. You do need to have a significant other or a person that you trust who can, I guess, confirm what it is that you're seeing. Because your mind will tell you, particularly you'll focus in maybe on your best body part and, "Oh yeah, my abs are in great, fantastic." And then forget that your back's still really loose or, not that you can necessarily control that, but as part of prepping things happen at different times.

Christine Envall:
So everyone who competes knows that, "Oh, this comes in first for me. That's always what comes in last." So until the last part is in, you have to keep going. Or you make the decision that I'm going to get on stage with this part not really, really cut. Which penalizes you because you're supposed to be even-definition all over your body. So, that is the thing when you're competing. You have that end goal, you have that vision that you're working towards. So it actually, to me, makes it quite easy. And my one piece of advice would be to just drop all of the thoughts.

Christine Envall:
Don't overthink it and just do that work, just do it. If you feel like something's falling behind in your coach isn't on it as much as you are, again, have that discussion. Because maybe, in part of their plan, they do it at a certain speed or maybe your body's just behaving differently this time. So those are the watch-out things where if something feels like it's not moving, you feel like you're not changing, and because you should be changing. And at the six week mark, the changes almost seem to accelerate coming into competition. From that point, it almost seems, very much on a weekly, almost daily basis, you're seeing something else changed, something else pop up.

Christine Envall:
But again, that's because you're looking at yourself one time a day at the same time. Preferably wake up, strip off, do it look and don't look again. Just at that point in time. Because that is when your driest. Because obviously overnight your body's flush water and that's the closest to what you'll look to stage-ready without going through that particular process of peaking for competition.

Christine Envall:
So that's sort of best indication as to whether there's still body fat on there or whether you are actually getting in condition because the water is at its lowest for that point. So, that's how I would measure success going along for competition. Obviously, in your off-season, it's a little bit easier to measure your success because your weights might be going up. Obviously your size, your measurements. Which means that you're tracking in the right direction for putting on more size for your next competition. The weight thing isn't always a good gauge, because I hit a certain point where, I think my strength maxed out, and I knew I wasn't going to go any heavier than that without probably damaging something or severely injuring something.

Christine Envall:
But, I still continued to grow over another period of a few years, even though my weights weren't really necessarily going up. So, strength isn't always a good judge of whether you're growing muscle or not. And again, in this day and age of the DEXA scan, goodness me, yeah, you've got the luxury of magically looking into your body and seeing if you are actually making muscle gains. So it would be a good idea to probably get one. Start of your off season, end of your off-season, and see what you've actually changed. And then going into comp roughly where you're heading.

Christine Envall:
I've been using those and I find them relatively accurate for telling you what your changes are and including how much water you're holding and that type of thing. So that's a very, very definitive, can't-argue-with-that kind of measurement. But, obviously when you're getting on stage, you're not holding up your scan and saying, "Look, but my body fat's only that high." They're looking at your body. They're looking at your cuts, your definition. How it's proportioned over your body. And, that's the true judge. That is the ultimate and true judge.

Ash Horton:
And it's the only real point in time that it is.

Christine Envall:
Yes. Yep. So.

Ash Horton:
Thank you very much.

Christine Envall:
No problem. Hope people got something out of that.

Ash Horton:
Words of wisdom. If you like what you've heard, leave us a review and recognize that these bodybuilding tips from International Protein, they're free. So show you support by becoming a loyal International Protein, the best supplements money can buy. So jump online, hunt down our product, and hit that buy now button