Hi again everyone,
Well here we are with the last blog before my 50th contest which will occur on September 15th in WA at the State Titles. I have kicked off all my blogs with something that motivates and/or inspires me so this time it is fitting that I discuss with you just how inspirational and exciting the last couple of weeks is before a contest when the final countdown draws to a close.
As this stage you feel so focused and in the zone that it seems everything you do at work, rest or play just seems to fall into place. Your ability to think laterally and solve problems is heightened which in itself is a great thing to have on board. The bonus of course is that the goal you decided to work towards weeks, months or even years ago is finally coming to fruition. As I have alluded to before setting a goal and having a sense of purpose are two of the essential ingredients to being happy and leading a productive and fulfilling life.
The realization of a goal is very satisfying and a great achievement, so you are an absolute winner whether you place first, second, third or dead last! We all need to take stock and remember that those elite athletes that make it to the stage in extreme condition are in the minuscule minority of society and are only there due to dedication, commitment, willpower, strength, stamina, consistency and the list could go on and on!! Knowing that you have these traits and enviable qualities should be enough to inspire you and make you thankful for choosing this path to the health & fitness lifestyle that has earned you the right to show hundreds of people just how impressive you look after all your hard work!
The proverbial ‘countdown’ is also very exciting and inspiring as the contest looms large. For one you are starting to see changes everyday in your physique which in turn makes you train even harder in the gym. The posing practice is now even more motivating due to the increasing detail, separation, muscularity and vascularity you are observing in yourself.
The creation of your free posing routine is also something you should be very proud of as this is something unique for you with your own personal flair put into it. You chose the music yourself, made decisions on how you wanted to present yourself with your selected poses and came up with a plan of attack to try and engage with the huge audience that you aren’t really used to performing in front of!
And finally you are hoping to place well, even though you know that regardless of the outcome, you have already won. The anticipation of a victory is a powerful driving force that can make people smash through barriers that were previously insurmountable.
These final weeks, days and hours to your show should be cherished as the final flourish of what has been a truly magnificent journey, test of fortitude and a terrific triumph of human endeavour…and CW says don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise!!
( The photo below is a cool shot taken for a local newspaper of my father John Winter, 2nd from the right, after he placed first in the Mr Leeds contest in Yorkshire England back in the mid-1950’s. As I discussed in an early blog, my Dad was my idol and inspiration that got me started back when I was only 19 years old!)
Pre-contest training words of wisdom
Now what I am about to say is far easier said than done. As you get leaner and your joints and overall physique is getting drier you are very susceptible to injury. I have had many injuries over the years from digging my heels in, so to speak, by trying to hoist the same weights I was lifting months ago. What you need to do is be very mindful of this and literally max out on your heavy sets with no more than 80% of what you would normally do. By concentrating on your form and technique, with a mind to muscle approach, you can still get a great pump and stimulate growth. You can look forward to lifting heavier again after your post contest rebound which I  know firsthand always goes well along with the fuller & rounder muscle bellies!
Myths and Magic in the final week!?
Many people ask me what I do in the last week before the show to get that shrink wrapped look of your skin around the muscle. They ask about carb depletion/loading, sodium depletion/loading, water loading & tapering, herbal diuretics and the list goes on and on!
I have tried all of these techniques to supposedly magically transform your physique to make you look fuller, drier and tighter. Sometimes they worked ok but each time I did it some aspect wasn’t quite right as I was either too flat in the muscle or spilled over with extra fluid under my skin (and in my case always in my quads!).
In recent years I have not changed anything as the final days have approached. Why should I, as I am always happy with the way I am looking, having put in the hard yards with my nutrition and cardio to get my body fat levels down to where they need to be. If your skin is thin enough, like what’s on the back of your hand, then you really don’t need to do too much except present your amazing package you have created!
All I will do is drink extra water (around 8-10 litres per day) in the 2 days before the show, taper my cardio back to only once per day with a steady 30 minute walk or treadmill session, on the day of the show simply replace what I pass in terms of water in and out as well as keeping the meals somewhat smaller in size to keep my stomach & waistline as small as possible. Dennis James, Lee Priest, Dave Palumbo and many great competitors I have met all say “if you are looking great then why change anything!!” But particularly if you are natural, you should definitely steer clear of removing water and sodium from your system, it is far too risky and unhealthy and you will feel irritable, stressed and uncomfortable also. You should be feeling vibrant & happy on show day, champing at the bit to get up there and strut your stuff’!
ANZ Annual Ball cheat meal with Louise in Melbourne
I recently got back from a fantastic weekend with my fiancée Louise, who lives in Melbourne, for the ANZ Ball at the National Arts Gallery. Some people say to me how can you do that with only 2 weeks to go before the show. Where there is a will there is a way! I got the redeye flight on the Friday night, got to Melbourne at 5:15am on Saturday morning, did 45 minutes on Louise’s cross trainer when we got to her place, had a nice breakfast out at our favourite cafe, did some fun retail therapy on Puckle Street in Moonee Ponds, had a great HIT back workout with interval cardio at Bell Street Fitness in the afternoon, attended the Ball in the evening with a magnificent & quite ‘clean’ 3 course meal and finished all this with some dance floor cardio to the awesome 1970’s and 80’s covers very ably performed by the outstanding live band! I then did 1 hour on the cross trainer on the Sunday morning, had another nice breakfast out, kicked back for some relaxation at Louise’s place and then got the 8:35pm flight back to Perth later that night.
I had a great time but was still able to keep the contest mode in full swing. A bodybuilding pre contest regime can easily be incorporated into your lifestyle if you are organized…you CAN have your cake and eat it!!
The compulsory poses require compulsory practice!
You will see below some pictures of the 8 compulsory poses for the Muscularity round called out in the order I have presented them. Also the quarter turns that represent the Symmetry round. These poses need to be practiced regularly and when you do practice them make sure you hold each pose for a good 10 seconds or so. I like to do a lot of visualization with my posing and what has helped me is studying these poses as performed by the IFBB professionals on the various DVDs available, particularly the past Mr Olympia contests as well as the fantastic series of Battle for the Olympia DVDs. Bodybuilding.com, Muscular Development.com and RxMuscle.com all have terrific photo galleries available for anyone to peruse and learn from. Try to find a pro with a similar, all be it much larger, shape as yourself and really take note of how he hits each pose to maximize his physique and how that could translate to your posing. Practice makes perfect but perfect practice is even better!
Ready to rock and roll!!
So I have blogged my way with you in 12 blogs over 12 weeks during my final preparations towards my 50th  contest. I have really enjoyed disseminating all these snippets from my bodybuilding health & fitness lifestyle and hope you have been able to take something from them that has either motivated or informed you so as to assist in your own personal development and creation of a better version of yourself. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Maria McCarter and the ANB Team for this pleasure and privilege via the fantastic ANB Australia website.
I will no doubt get my creative blogging juices flowing again after the September/ October contest season finishes up. Until then, stay focused on achieving your goals and I look forward to catching up with you very soon.
Kind regards and best wishes, Craig W.