By Laura Petrolino
Well this recap is long overdue. I can’t believe it’s been a month since my figure competition—The Tricky Jackson Classic, in Lexington, Kentucky.
The entire experience, from start to finish, was absolutely fantastic. I’ve competed in a lot of things in my life, but bodybuilding is really one of the most empowering sports I’ve ever taken part in.
Like all sports, it’s both a mental and a physical game. It teaches you to push your limits, overcome your mental barriers, and really dig deep and bring your best—even when you don’t feel like it.
Growing Into Figure
In order to be able to compete (and be somewhat competitive) in figure, I knew I needed to build quite a bit. I had a two year improvement season to do just that. During that time I did one mini-cut just to reset my body and metabolism and minimize overall fat gain.
But from the the time I started until the beginning of my prep I gained a total of 26 lbs. That’s a lot of weight for my little 5’2″ frame. But, much needed weight since I was seriously underweight at the start of my improvement period.
Figure Competition Prep: 20 Fun Weeks of Change
We started prep in mid-June and I competed mid-October. Prep was simply a ton of fun for me. Don’t get me wrong, I worked super hard and there were times I was tired, or hungry, or just weak…but nothing that really affected my life in a negative way.
I never did a ton of cardio (my max was four 45 minute sessions/week and two HIIT sessions and that was only for about a week), my calories never got too low, and I had very large refeeds at least once per week.
The last three weeks of prep my calories were pulled up and cardio was eliminated. The last week (peak week) I essentially felt like I was refeeding everyday and my last workout was the Tuesday before my Saturday competition (that was probably the hardest part. I missed working out so much).
Motivation on Stage and Off
For me the best part of the entire thing was being able to see how far I could push my body and watching its changes and responses to different stimuli. It’s fun to be a human lab experiment.
I stepped on stage content, confident, and knowing I brought the best I could this round. I was happy to be there, proud of what I accomplished, and excited to know that next round I’ll come in even better.
Now four-weeks into improvement season that excitement and motivation is just as strong as it was up there on stage.
Improvement season is often overlooked, but really the most important time for a physique competitor. It’s when you grow and improve—using it effectively is the only way you’ll get better.
Next post I’ll dive more into the importance of improving, how mine is shaping up so far, my goals for the next several months, and the different phases of a physique competitor’s season (aka- why you shouldn’t stay stage lean year round).