Written by Master Coach, Jade Mckee
All good competition preparation coaches will understand that one client’s journey to the stage can be COMPLETELY different in EVERY aspect, to another client’s journey to the stage.If you’ve been working with a client who is eating high calories, has been training for some time, has a good amount of muscle mass, and you have both decided they are ready to prep for a competition – what’s the next step?
Rather than going by the generic, “You need to prep for 12 weeks, 16 weeks, 20 weeks” or, “insert random number here”, to take a more individualized approach you need to CALCULATE the MINIMUM length of time you will need to prep them for.
How to calculate the minimum length of time for comp prep:
- To begin, you will need your client’s weight and their current body fat percentage.
- Then, you will need to ESTIMATE the percentage body fat would you like them to be when they step on stage. This number will give you the percentage of body fat your client will need to lose.
- As your client is likely to lose some lean mass along with their body fat, you will also need to calculate the TOTAL body weight they will need to lose.
- Finally, you can then decide on a rate of fat loss (between 0.4 and 1.2% of body weight per week), which will in turn determined how long their prep will be.
Let’s work through the example below to find the minimum length of time needed for this particular client.
Your client is a 60kg female, with body fat measured with callipers to be at 19%.
Your goal is for her to step on stage at approximately 12% body fat.
To reach this number, she needs to lose 7% body fat (19%-12% = 7%).
7% of 60kg = 4.2kg, this means she will have 4.2kg of fat mass to lose.
Total mass reduction:
Assuming 70% of what your client loses will be fat mass, you will then need to find out what the TOTAL mass reduction you will need to target is.
– 4.2/0.7 = 6kg of total body weight will need to be lost.
Rate of loss:
Next, you will need to determine the rate of loss (with Dr Layne Norton recommending between 0.4-1.2/week of body weight) – for this example, we have decided to go with 0.7% per week.
– 0.7% of body weight (60kg) is 0.42kg.
– This means you’ll be targeting 0.42kg per week of weight loss (of which 70% is predicted to be fat mass and 30% predicted to be lean mass).
– Your client needs to lose 6kg in total. To work out how long you will need, divide 6kg by 0.42kg/week, which gives you 14.2, or 15 weeks in a deficit.
Now you have a number! BUT keep in mind, this does not account for anything that might happen unexpectedly throughout the prep process… And unexpected things DO happen! It also doesn’t account for diet breaks or for refeeds. These will both extend the prep for longer and may be necessary to mitigate the negative metabolic adaptations that your client may experience through the course of their prep. It may be safer for this particular case study to prep for a MINIMUM of 20 weeks.
And while you COULD go more aggressively with the deficit, this will put your client at a higher risk of losing increased lean body mass, which you do not want!
These calculations will provide you with more accurate data on the MINIMUM length of time you will need to have your client in a deficit, for them to reach the stage. Remember though, you may still need time working with your client in a hypertrophy phase BEFORE the deficit begins, which will increase the length of the prep again.
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Dr Layne Norton – Training The Physique Athlete. Clean Health Fitness Institute 2020.