There's no off-season when it comes to fitness and bodybuilding. What others call the "off-season," I refer to as improvement season because it's not a time to take a break; it's a time to work on getting stronger and making new gainz in a healthy, balanced way.
Improvement season is when you should focus on bodybuilding and reverse dieting rather than trying to lean down. But most importantly, it should be a time when you work on making changes to your muscles and physique to get you ready for the following season.
Today, we're going to talk about the importance of improvement season, why you need a plan and a coach for it, and what you need to know to succeed and keep your physique in check all season long.
1. Improvement season is the only time to build muscle
Contest prep is a specific time for dieting when you need to do more cardio workouts and work on leaning down to reach your goals. But when you're in improvement season, the only way you can improve for next season is by being in a caloric surplus to gain new muscle.
It's a fact that when you're dieting, you can't build new muscle because you are in a caloric deficit. If you try to build muscle while in a deficit, you'll reveal more muscle by leaning down, but you won't really gain any new muscle. This means you won't see any new improvements in the mass, proportion, and shape of your muscles for next season. And the truth about competitions is that the judges don't care how lean you can get if you don't have the muscle or the shape to show for it.
So, the only time you can build significant muscle is during improvement season when you're in a caloric surplus. This means this is the time to get clear with your goals and get yourself into gear. As soon as the season starts, you should have a plan and should strategically be working on muscle improvement and managing your diet to help you build muscle at a steady rate, and get back on track with training.
2. Focus on getting your calories up in a reverse diet
The next thing you need to focus on during improvement reason is reverse dieting. When dieting for contest prep, you usually have to drop your calories and keep dropping them steadily to lower your metabolism. But, during improvement season, your goals are different, so you'll need to focus on reverse dieting.
Reverse dieting is exactly as it sounds––it's when you reverse the diet you were doing when you were on prep. This is when you strategically start adding more calories into your diet at a steady, slow pace and continue raising them as time goes on to boost your metabolism back up so that you can burn and consume more calories without putting on a ton of body fat. This strategic form of dieting will help you get a better physique and a better appearance on stage without pushing your weight or your body too drastically.
However, this is not something I recommend you do yourself because it can be very difficult to track accurately yourself. This is something you should always have a coach for your own safety so you don't reverse diet too quickly and rebound in your weight or cause severe long-term health issues in your metabolism or your hormones.
My coaches at teamfflex highly experienced in the proper way to reverse diet and have worked with thousands of clients on this with excellent success rates. Reach out to one of our coaches to help you get on track with your dieting so you can build muscle safely and properly during improvement season.
3. Focus on recovery, but keep your mind in prep mode
Lastly, improvement season is a time for recovery in your body, metabolism, and hormones, but it is also a time to focus on getting your mindset into prep mode. The work you do in your improvement season should be based on the feedback the judges gave you. If they told you you need to round out a specific muscle or build a better shape, that's what you should be focused on.
The problem that many people face during this time is they think they don't need a coach or a plan during improvement season because it's the "off-season," but that's not true. You should always have a good coach and a clear plan for what goals you want to achieve with your physique, whether it's improvement season or not.
Having a coach can not only help you achieve maximum results but can also help break down the feedback that judges give you so that you better understand what specific muscle groups you should target and what nutrition plans you should be on in order to improve. If you don't give yourself the proper time, training, and nutrition during improvement season, you won't reach your goals, and you'll go back on stage only to get the same feedback as before.
Use this time to get focused, get serious, and make the proper gainz you need to improve your results, grow stronger, and increase your chances of success when you return.
Winning physiques are built in improvement season, not during prep season. The only way to increase your chances of success and maximize your results is to get up and put the work in every single day.
At teamfflex, we don't believe in off-season and are constantly working on goals 365 days of the year through all phases during competition. Good results take time and a strict professional plan to achieve. If you need a coach to keep you motivated and get you on track to smash every single one of your goals through improvement season and in competition, check out our carefully curated program, Ultimate Competitor for men and women, and let's get to work.