Off season is a chance for most athletes to let their hair down after a hard few weeks of dieting.
It is also the time when we get a chance to make improvements on our physique and to do this to the best of our ability there are some things we need to remember!
#1 The optimal way to build muscle is to be in a calorie surplus
This is probably one of the most important points to remember. If you are consuming a low-calorie diet and training hard it will be very difficult to build quality muscle to the best of your capabilities.
By adding in more calories slowly, you will turn your body into a muscle building machine without gaining excessive body fat!
Your body needs extra calories to repair and build new muscle, and ensuring you have a surplus of calories is crucial to do this. However, this does not mean you should go crazy and binge eat all the junk food you can find.
✓ Gradually increase calories for optimal results
This will ensure that you have minimal weight gain while building as much muscle as possible, and it will also build your metabolism up again after a dieting down period.
✓ By building your metabolism up, it will then be easier to diet down again next season as you will have extra calories that you can play around with when you need to take some away.
This will make dieting down a much nicer and less stressful experience for you!
#2 Some weight gain is good
It is no harm to gain some weight and this is an idea that can be very hard to get your head around after being stage lean.
Ideally, you don’t want to gain weight too fast as that will likely be fat more so than muscle. Gradual and minimal weight gain is no harm at all, and is actually a reflection of progress when it is done properly. Muscle also will take up less space than the same amount of fat, so although you may weigh heavier, you will still look very lean.
It is ok to put on some body fat off season, and if you are careful to not gain an excessive amount, it will fall off when you do decide to diet down again for your next show.
#3 Cardio should be kept to a minimum
…I’m sure there won’t be any issues with this!
Keeping your cardio to a minimum off season means it is much more effective when it comes to competition season as your body will not have adapted to it.
…This means that there is never a need to run for hours on a treadmill unless you are training for a marathon.
Keep the cardio to a minimum and then you can introduce more when you do decide to diet down as it is necessary.
#4 Supplement where necessary
Supplements can make a great diet even better, especially if you do have any gaps in there or are struggling to meet your protein needs.
Creatine is excellent to take to aid with strength training. It has also been shown to:
✓ Help reduce fatigue.
✓ Deliver strength and power during strength training.
✓ Improve recovery.
In addition, a position stand released by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, claims that creatine is the most effective nutritional supplement available to gym-goers, athletes and bodybuilders. It can help increase high-intensity exercise duration!
#5 Have an action plan
Off season is the perfect opportunity to make improvements to your physique, and to make the most of this time you should have an action plan.
Take note of what areas you need to work on, and plan ahead a training schedule that will work on improving your weak spots. This is a sure fire way to guarantee that you make the most improvements possible in your off-season.
#6 It is not healthy to have extremely low body fat all-year round
As much as we all would like to walk around shredded year round, very low levels of body fat are not ideal for our health.
Gaining a small bit of fat off season is conductive to good health, especially for athletes that compete at very low levels.
Women need some body fat to ensure that their hormone levels stay on track which is why some ladies miss their periods at very low levels of body fat.
Take home message
With some careful planning you can really utilise off season to the best of your advantage. Don’t be afraid to gain some body fat on your journey and put the work in to build your metabolism in the off season so that at your next cut you will have smooth sailing and feel less deprived.
Supplement where necessary and enjoy the journey, off season is the time you will make all those improvements and get closer to your goals!