Strategic Planning for Competing in Multiple Shows


Navigating the competition season for IFBB athletes requires strategic planning, especially when participating in multiple shows. Balancing stage readiness with long-term health and progress is crucial for both coaches and athletes. This guide provides a comprehensive approach to efficiently managing the challenges of competing in several events within a single contest season.

Maximizing Stage-Ready Phases

Preparing for a competition is both nutritionally and physically intensive, making it impractical to aim for constant stage readiness throughout the year. To leverage the hard work invested during contest prep, we recommend targeting multiple competitions spaced closely together—ideally within one to three months. This strategy minimizes an athlete's duration to maintain a stage-lean physique, reducing the impact on hormonal balance and overall health.

Managing Extended Competition Seasons

For example, this year, female athletes may face the challenge of a late World Championships in week 51. This gap between qualifications and the World Championships can be challenging.

How to Maintain a Competitive Physique:

  • Competing in International Shows: One effective strategy is to compete in international invitational shows to maintain focus and motivation.
  • Taking a Diet Break: Taking a diet break may also be beneficial. If done correctly, it can enhance competitive condition for the World Championships rather than impair it.

Regardless of the chosen strategy, this period requires thorough preparation and a positive attitude to ensure continued competition readiness.

Post-Competition Recovery and Planning

After each show, the approach to recovery and preparation for subsequent competitions must be managed carefully, based on the athlete's condition and the timing of the next event.

  • For Athletes Needing Further Weight Loss: Immediate return to the competition preparation plan post-show is necessary, focusing on gradual fat loss while preserving muscle mass.
  • For Athletes at Optimal Leanness: Increase caloric intake to maintenance levels and reduce cardio to prevent muscle loss, focusing on recovery and muscle preservation.

Strategic Importance of Diet Breaks in Competition Prep

Understanding and leveraging diet breaks is invaluable for supporting athletes through demanding competition preparation phases.

Concept of Diet Breaks: Diet breaks involve temporarily increasing calorie intake to maintenance levels for 3 days up to 2 weeks. This approach alleviates the psychological and physiological stress of prolonged dieting, offering athletes a mental and metabolic reset.

Benefits of Implementing Diet Breaks:

  • Purpose: The primary goal is to reduce diet-related fatigue, refresh the athlete's mental state, and prepare them for the subsequent stages of prep. Diet breaks can also help mitigate the negative effects of long-term calorie restriction, such as slowed metabolism and decreased leptin levels.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Timing and Duration: Carefully plan diet breaks to align with the athlete's overall prep timeline. A strategically placed diet break, ideally every 4-8 weeks, can maximize benefits without derailing progress.
  • When to Implement: Introduce a diet break when noticeable stalls in fat loss occur or when signs of psychological burnout and decreased motivation affect dietary adherence.

Effective Diet Break Planning:

  • Adjusting Caloric Intake: Elevate caloric intake to the new maintenance level, focusing on increasing carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores.
  • Nutrient Adjustment: Slightly increase fat intake while maintaining protein levels to support muscle preservation.
  • Flexibility in Tracking: Allow for reduced tracking precision or include 1-2 untracked meals to encourage psychological relief.
  • Alignment with Training: Coordinate diet breaks with training deloads to maximize recovery and reduce fatigue, supporting readiness for intensified training phases.

Understanding the Physiology of Stage-Leanness

Being stage-lean, while visually impressive, comes with significant physiological challenges that must be recognized and addressed:

  • Managing Insatiable Hunger: Elevated levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Strategies include establishing regular meal times, consuming high-volume but low-calorie foods, increasing intake of proteins and fibers, and strategically using caffeine to suppress appetite.
  • Combatting Brain Fog and Concentration Difficulties: Reduced cognitive function due to diminished energy intake. Align mentally intensive tasks with periods of higher energy and ensure nutrient-rich meals around these times.
  • Overcoming Lethargy: Reduced energy availability. Promote rest, monitor activity levels, and encourage balanced physical activity.
  • Alleviating Extreme Cold Sensitivity: Lowered body temperature from fat loss. Advise wearing layered clothing, consuming warm beverages, and maintaining a warm living environment.
  • Addressing Low Libido: Decreased secretion of sex hormones. Foster open communication with partners and explore alternative expressions of intimacy.
  • Reducing High Food Focus: Natural survival instinct to seek energy. Engage in distracting activities, limit exposure to food-related content, and practice stress management techniques.
  • Easing Mood Disturbances and Personality Changes: Psychological impact of semi-starvation. Encourage awareness of emotional shifts and maintain open communication with close ones.
  • Mitigating Constipation: High fiber intake. Monitor hydration and fiber consumption to maintain digestive health.
  • Preventing Loss of Menstrual Cycle (Amenorrhea): Prolonged energy restriction. Seek medical advice and incorporate diet breaks to mitigate chronic energy deficits.
  • Counteracting Self-Doubt: Heightened focus on body image. Discourage comparison with others, cultivate positive self-talk, and maintain an objective perspective on progress.
  • Avoiding Light-Headedness (Hypotension): Decreased blood pressure. Warn against abrupt physical movements and ensure adequate fluid intake.
  • Relieving Joint Soreness: Diminished fat tissue affecting joint cushioning. Employ fatigue management, focus on low-impact exercises, and consider omega-3 supplementation.
  • Improving Poor Sleep Quality: Increased wakefulness. Establish a calming pre-sleep routine, ensure sufficient sleep duration, and explore melatonin supplements.
  • Enhancing Decreased Performance: Variations in glycogen storage and body mass. Adjust training expectations and consider nutritional supplementation to support performance.

Long-Term Health and Progress Considerations

Maintaining a stage-lean physique for extended periods is counterproductive to muscle gain and can have detrimental health effects. Coaches should guide their athletes through a structured recovery phase, focusing on health recovery, hormonal balance restoration, and muscle development to prepare for future successes in competition.


While challenging, competing in multiple IFBB shows within a close timeframe can be rewarding when approached with careful planning and consideration for the athlete's health and long-term development. Coaches play a pivotal role in navigating these complexities, ensuring athletes achieve their competitive goals while maintaining their health and well-being.

At IFBB Nordic Academy, we are committed to providing the knowledge and support you need to excel in your competitive journey. Our comprehensive courses and resources are designed to help you navigate every aspect of the competition season effectively.

Stay focused, stay positive, and continue passionately chasing your goals!