Two weeks and counting…

It’s now only just over two weeks to go until the Pure Elite championships. With every passing week, the training and nutrition gets that little more precise. Before I go into details, however, a quick recap…

The Pure Elite fitness modelling contest is on November 2nd in Margate. It’s an event where the competitors are on stage with not much on in the way of clothing, and there is a team of judges to study the physique, presence and presentation of those competing – and a theatre full of spectators, and TV cameras, to catch every move. Fitness modelling is a lot like a bodybuilding contest but, as I’ve said before, with smaller muscles but bigger smiles and bigger swimming trunks!

I’ve done such competitions before – I’ve just counted to realise I’ve actually done eight – yikes! – but this is my first with Pure Elite. It’s also my first in the over 45 age group, as previously I had been in an over 50 age group. I’m also entering the non-age restricted body transformation category, totally new to me, where I hope the fact that I’ve lost over a third of my bodyweight in fat over the past few years will help my chances.

IMG_4809I’ll be there with Dan Wynes, to whom I have been acting as mentor for the past six months with this specific contest in mind. Dan is entering different categories to me – as he’s 21, he doesn’t qualify for the genteel environs on the over-45’s. Genteel? I doubt it!

The overall aim of all the competitors is to increase the amount of muscle, and reduce the amount of fat covering those muscles. All of the exercise and nutrition practices are focussed on delivering those objectives. There’s a few other parts involved in chasing success – for me that’s posing practice, body shave (yuck), spray tan (double yuck) – and I’ll talk about those nearer the event, but here is a flavour of the exercise and nutrition sides from my own viewpoint.

I am pretty good on both exercise and eating correctly all year round – but for the past few weeks I have ‘turned up the dial’ on both these factors. If I had to summarise the approach in one line, it is we are now doing more of the good things, and less of the bad things.

On exercise, I’ve moved my fat-burning cardio from 4 days a week up to 7, and increased it from 40 minutes to 50, all on a cross-trainer. I much prefer the steady state approach to intervals, as I can use the time for emails and the like and don’t have to be focussed on keeping detailed track of time minute-by-minute. I can also get into the rhythm from my music, man. I like to keep the heart rate well in the aerobic zone, at 120bpm plus or minus 5. I do this cardio session first thing at the gym, as the last hour of my overnight fast, before going home for a decent break-fast.

On resistance training, or weights, I have again turned the dial up. I used to train an average of 5 times a week – one each of ABCDE then two days off (ABCDE are Arms, Back, Chest, Delts and Elevators) – Delts is shoulders, and Elevators is the new marketing-friendly word for legs invented for my system! Now I try for six times a week, doing double legs and only one day off: ABECDE – and upping each workout to 8 exercises rather than 7.

On the nutrition side, I’ve cut down on carbs Mon-Fri. I don’t normally keep a detailed record, but I try for around 2500 calories a day with around 250g of protein, 250g of carbs and 50g of fat. That’s all done by estimation and eyeballing amounts, which I’ve become OK at doing. Now, I’m being more precise – keeping the weekends with the numbers as they were before (but with more accurate measuring), but Monday-Friday I’ve now cut the carbs down to 100g while leaving other macronutrients the same – giving around 1900 calories per day. Of those carbs, I see the sugars are the key thing to avoid, and I have those sugars just as fruit, and that only as part of my post-cardio breakfast and post-workout meal. The increased carb amounts at weekends is a carb ‘re-load’ and helps the body not get too accustomed to the low carb routine.

Is it having an effect? Well, the scales say I’m down a few pounds, and the percentages show that specifically the bodyfat percentage is also down – which is the plan. Also, the gym performance is not deteriorating, so I’m still adding some strength along the way. We will know in two weeks time, I guess, although there’s a few more macronutrient manipulations to come.

There are a couple of factors that will influence all of this:

Firstly, Dan and I are off to do a week of concentrated gym and cardio training, plus spot-on nutrition, in Los Angeles, the spiritual home of fitness. It’s a chance to catch up with True Performance Nutrition, the company for which I am an ambassador. That trip should be good for the contest preparation.

Secondly, and less good for the contest, but something I have to do (nay, want to do) is the Dublin Marathon. This is just six days before the Pure Elite. I’m running to raise money for a very poorly little girl who lives near us – please read the story and perhaps offer a few quid on – I haven’t really worked out the likely effects on my stage presence of expanding my cardio that day into a 26 mile trip, except to say that I think I may give the E workout a miss for a few days after! I definitely think marathon day will be a significant carb re-load day, and I will need to drop lots of carbs in the few days between the run and the contest.

So – two and a bit weeks to show time. Dan and I will be as ready as we can be, we will be cheered on by the manic supporters that are my wife Jenny, and Liz – Dan’s girlfriend – plus others from Dan’s family. We plan to do the best for ourselves, our good ladies and our families. And I want my ninth event to be my best ever!