I bet you’ve never heard anyone compare being a figure competitor to walking a trapeze, but much like walking a trapeze, training for figure is a delicate balancing act. Competitors must ensure that they are considering the look that is required for the sport. This too can present its own challenges as depending upon the organization there are different norms. Not to mention, the industry changes at times and “the look” that judges require can be totally reconstructed. Figure competitors are lean and toned females with moderate muscular definition. However, moderation is key! The previous goal of becoming as shredded and lean as possible is not the current direction that figure is headed. A competitor must balance their training and dieting to ensure that they maintain a relative soft yet toned appearance. Many believe that the change in the category has been influenced by the newly emerging “Physique” category which is the place for a lean competitor with an athletic/ muscular look.
The best options when preparing and training for a figure competition are:
#1. Do your research
Knowing the look that your category requires can aid in a more successful placement and prep.
#2. External Observation
Have a training coach or an individual that is very familiar with the sport keep an eye on your progress to ensure that you are on track and heading in the direction to success.
#3. Train according to your body type and development.
We are all aware of the various body types including endomorphs, mesomorphs, and ectomorphs. Be sure that your method of training is conducive to your particular body type. Along with this you want to consider your strengths and weaknesses to avoid over or under training a particular muscular group.
#4. Vary Training
You want to ensure that you are not allowing your body to become accustomed to your usual choice of cardio and weight training. Adding variation ensures that your body is working and responding to all of the effort that you are putting forward. Jogging, swimming, bicycling, and using gym equipment such as treadmills, elliptical, and stair masters are all examples of the various options for a great cardiovascular workout. Varying your choice for weight training options is important as well. Therefore, if you do preacher curls and dumbbells curls for biceps during one arm routine. The next routine you can incorporate twenty-ones and rope curls. This way you are still working the bicep but varying the exercise.
While the key to competition is working hard to gain victory, you want to find ways to enjoy the journey. Figure out what works best for you. Whether that means obtaining a work out partner, incorporating nontraditional and fun fitness and cardio routines, or just switching up your gym playlist every now and then. Enjoying the sport will help to avoid that burn out and pressures of a competition prep.
Figure Training 101
In the figure category the goal is to obtain a lean yet toned physique. In order to do so one must stick to a strict training regiment and diet as well as. Along with weight training for muscle definition a large part of figure training for many competitors is Cardio.
Cardiovascular exercises include any exercise that is aerobic and increases your heart rate. Cardio exercise increases circulation and blood flow throughout the body. There are numerous benefits of cardiovascular exercise that include weight loss, stronger heart and lungs, increased bone density, reduced stress, more confidence about how you feel and how you look, better sleep, and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Some may engage in less cardio than others but this is solely dependent upon your body type and physique goals. My contest prep cardio begins with one cardio session six days a week. As the weeks progress, cardio sessions turn into two-a –days, thirty five minutes each. At the latter portion of my competition prep, cardio is increased from 35 minutes each time to one hour. Varying cardio equipment is key, however no matter what machine is used you must ensure that the intensity is there. Cardio programs such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) help to ensure proper intensity during workouts. This is a method of cardio training that I incorporate at least three times a week. Another way to ensure the intensity level of cardio is high is by increasing your resistance. In doing so you are forced to exert more effort in the exercise of choice.
Along with Cardio there is weight training. While cardio is key to burning calories, weight training burns more calories as a whole. It requires more energy/calories for our bodies to maintain muscle cells than it does to maintain fat cells. Therefore by incorporating weight training, you are lifting weights to add more muscle mass. This will boost your metabolism and cause the body to burn fat more efficiently.
Personally I incorporate weights into my training regimen six days a week. I initially began with grouping two muscle groups for training each day. Therefore if Monday was Abs and Biceps, then Tuesday would be Shoulders and back. As time progressed, I learned what areas of my body required greater attention. For these areas I decided to work them twice a week.
My current training schedule looks a similar to this:
- Monday – Quads and Hamstrings
- Tuesday- Back
- Wednesday- Arms and Abs
- Thursday- Glutes and Quads
- Friday- Shoulders
- Saturday- Arms and abs
Although I have discussed balance previously, it is really a major part of any competitive training. Judges are seeking proper proportions and flowing symmetry. I have found that with a body type that gains muscular mass very easily that it is important to not over do it in any one area. Training very heavy has helped my muscular growth in areas such as back and shoulders, but currently it is high repetitions and varied exercises that I am utilizing to get better definition from my legs.