Thinking about entering natural bodybuilding competition?
A study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance followed a natural bodybuilder around 6 months before, during and after his contest. Here’s how he was affected and what you can expect on the journey so you can make an informed decision. (If you can’t see the infographic below, all information is in text below the image)
Natural bodybuilding competition prep – what happens to your body before, during and after?
6 months before contest : 9.22 ng/mL
Contest : 2.27 ng/mL
Normal range : 2.9-13
T3 Levels (thyroid)
6 months before contest : 1.34 ng/mL
Contest : 0.67 ng/mL
Normal range : 0.6-1.75
6 months pre-contest : 132/69
Contest : 103/63
Normal range : 90-120/60-80
6 months before contest : 53bpm
Contest : 27bpm
Normal range : 60-100 bpm (less for well-trained athletes)
6 months before contest : 14.8%
Contest : 4.5%
Normal range : 8-19%
Lean Body Mass/Fat-Free Mass
6 months pre-contest : 87.65kg
Contest : 84.84kg
Normal range : N/A
6 months pre-contest : 2500
Contest : 1300
Normal : 2500 calories for men (depends on height, weight, goals etc)
Most stats returned to normal levels 6 months post-contest except for lean body mass which stayed at 85kg and took much longer than 6 months to return to pre-contest levels.
Something to definitely keep in mind when thinking about how long it takes to build hard earned muscle naturally.
This should also make you realize that if natural bodybuilding is your goal, competing year after year is not at all the smart thing to do, especially if you want to show improvements in your physique since it will take you over 6 months after your competition to even get back to old levels of lean body mass.
Most of the best natural bodybuilding pros and the best naturals in the world take more than a year off and would only compete every two years at a bare minimum. Some take an even longer improvement season as building muscle naturally is such a slow process.
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23412685 – Natural bodybuilding competition preparation and recovery: a 12-month case study.