Most of us are in awe of bodybuilders who are able to look so lean and carry such a low level of body fat, yet this is not the case 365 days of the year. You see, we always see the physiques of body builders at their peak, in magazines or in shows on the television. This is their competition level, their peak condition for which they have trained intensely for.
Cyclical season based training
Bodybuilders use cyclical and seasonal training. They bulk up and they cut down, or get ripped and some say. They don’t walk around with 3.5 – 4% body fat all year, and they don’t let themselves get fat and out of shape either. If you see a bodybuilder out of competition mode then you might think they were past their career best, come back 12-14 weeks later and you will see a poster worthy body full of muscles ripping through the skin.
When bodybuilders are at competition level with serious low body, contrary to popular belief it is not a healthy condition. You will notice their faces look drawn and dehydrated. This is because they don’t drink much before competition as they don’t want water retention to spoil the look of their physique. In the weeks prior to the competition they hardly eat any calories in order to cut up for the big day. Subsequently their immune system becomes low due and they become prone to illness. Continuous low calorie diets don’t work, which is why bodybuilders choose a specific time period for losing weight, because they know once they go over that time period they will hit a plateau where the body refuses to shed any more weight.
A bodybuilder is never ‘out of shape’ in the common sense of the term, but he/she maintains a good body at all times and then elevates to ‘great’ for competition. Those who don’t compete also train in cycles and partake in seasonal training, usually bulking in the winter and cutting for the summer. It is simply impossible to maintain a ripped body of such epic proportions all year round. Having literally no subcutaneous body fat is not a healthy way to live.
Diet as a bodybuilder
This is perhaps where serial dieters could learn a lot from bodybuilders. Trying to maintain such low calorie intake all year round isn’t natural or healthy. Cyclical dieting makes more sense. Slim down in the summer and maintain a healthy body weight the rest of the time. So you look good at all times but come summer you look amazing. Remember: you can’t hold a peak forever; otherwise it wouldn’t be a peak at all. Bodybuilders peak and then maintain and grow.
Of course, it goes without saying that bodybuilders use supplements to achieve low body fat. Many will use fat burners prior to competitions to speed up the process. But even with that extra help, dieting is a massive part of the sport and it is those who get their dieting and cyclical training perfect that go on to win competitions. Even out of competition, bodybuilders have body fat percentage of around 8-10%, which is still very low but healthily so. This is achieved by eating lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds and other quality sources of protein, and of course by implementing an expert cardiovascular and weights routine