1: Accountability


I've met many experienced & Pro bodybuilders that don't use a prep-coach and have a great understanding of how their bodies react to different pre-contest cutting methods.


However, I have also met a lot of Pro's that do use a coach and for a great reason, accountability.


For me, a prep coach is essential!


Even if you are experienced in the sport it always pays to have someone else to monitor your progress and guide you to bring the best-conditioned physique you can on show day.


During prep, you are so focused on achieving your best condition and training as hard as you can to get there it can be difficult to critique yourself, and to be honest it's one of the most stressful parts of prep, you will always find 'flaws', feel like your not lean enough or just struggle with adapting calories and macros as you advance into prep.


A coach will cut out this stress and should be able to balance your macros and training to suit you as your body mass decreases and metabolic adaptation occurs.


Do yourself a favour and seek out a coach that suits YOU. Chat to several prep coaches and find one that you feel comfortable with and cut out some stress!


2: Consistency is key!


During prep, your body will adapt to the diet plan you have been following. Ideally, your diet should be changed in the weeks leading up to your prep to get you used to the changes your making and keep the transition to cutting less stressful.


Start cutting out the foods you won't be eating in the weeks leading up to show day and if you're introducing new food or supplements, this is the time to do it as you can figure out if anything causes you problems and cut it out.


As you get further into prep, don't mess around! Try to not introduce new foods that might cause a reaction you don't want.
Personally, the 'Flexible Diet' approach works for me and I generally eat 90% 'clean' & 10% 'bad but so good' during prep. It’s one of the best methods my coach has shown me, which allows room for little treats and stops me craving or needing a 'cheat meal'.

Plan! Plan! Plan!


Meal prep is a lifesaver (sometimes for those around you lol). Everyone that has been through prep before will tell you how stressful it is finding yourself away from home and hungry. It's not a fun time when every calorie counts!


Try to dedicate 2 cooking days a week and you will have 3 days of ready-made meals that add up to a perfect balance of the macros you aim to hit.


It's basic but its possibly the most important and helpful tip I picked up along my journey so far.


#3: Salt & Water are your friends!


A majority of competitors and coaches use salt & water manipulation in peak week with the aim of limiting the amount of water under the skin and will then use carbs to fill-out and bring a hard, vascular look to the stage.


I do NOT cut water or manipulate sodium!


I make the water work for me...


The body stores water in the cells and also outside the cell wall in a 70/30 ratio.


The water in the cell holds glycogen in the muscle and gives the full look, hence why when you eat too many carbs you can 'spillover' aka the muscle fills up as much as they can and the rest of the water & carbs literally spill out of the cell leaving a softer look.


There is no way to take away the external water without reducing water in the cells at the same time which is why I personally don't use diuretics or cut water & salt, instead I utilise the natural cycle they have in the body.


I need every drop of water in the muscle cells to transport carbs and fill them out. Sodium assists the protein SLGT-1 to absorb glucose and give a full look so I simply keep salt & water the same all through prep, increase water a day or two before show day and then slightly less on show day so I'm not running for the loo!


Conclusion


These are the main tips that have helped me as I prepped for & placed in my first 3 comps in the Spring and will hopefully help you on your prep & show that it doesn't have to be 'by the book', find what works for you!