In the August, 2017 issue of Applied Metabolics I discussed the details of a study that examined the physiological aftermath of contest preparation in natural or drug-free bodybuilders. The subjects in that study included 7 men and 8 women, made up of bikini competitors, figure competitors, and five bodybuilders. These athletes underwent testing prior to their contest preparation; right afterwards; and for 4 to 6 weeks following their contest appearances. As I noted in that article, although this study focused on various types of bodybuilding competitors, the information gleaned from the analysis of what these bodybuilders did to prepare for their respective events could provide useful information for anyone engaged in weight-training who wants to lose excess body fat and retain lean mass or muscle. What the study showed was that some of the competitors exhibited some residual effects related to their contest prep. Preparing for a contest is more difficult for those who eschew any type of anabolic drug since the drugs tend to promote greater training recovery along with a higher level of muscle protein synthesis. That latter effect helps to retain muscle during stringent dieting conditions. As such, a natural bodybuilder has to be far more analytical about how they prepare for a contest. The goals remain the same. This involves maintaining as much muscle as possible, while reducing body fat levels to the lowest degree possible.
A new study takes the analysis of natural bodybuilding contest preparation a step further by examining what happened to one 21-year-old amateur drug-free male bodybuilder. This man had trained for 8 years and competed for one year. A "coach" planned his training and diet for the contest. Luckily for the bodybuilder, his coach was a professional bodybuilder who had extensive coaching experience, so ostensibly he knew what he was doing. Even professional bodybuilders often resort to having a coach who tells them how to train and eat for a contest. Indeed, many of the Mr.Olympia competitors use such coaches. In return for helping them to prepare for the contest, these coaches are paid anywhere from 20% and up of whatever prize money the bodybuilder wins. In the case of someone such as Phil Heath, who has won Mr.Olympia seven consecutive times, that coach payment is considerable since the prize money for winning Mr.Olympia is currently $400,000. And the coaches often don't work with just one competitor. They can often be working with several at once, which always struck me as a clear-cut conflict of interest. But the pro bodybuilders don't seem to mind that the same person who is directing their contest prep is also doing the same thing for their competitors. Another part of the coaching equation that is seldom mentioned is how the coaches advise their clients about anabolic drugs. I've seen a few of these pre-contest anabolic programs provided to elite bodybuilders, and none are . . .