Updated: May 27
When I first saw the NPC show dates for 2021 released on social media early in the year.. I got a little spark of excitement, but then I told myself I need to grow more. So I sort of ignored it until March.. then it popped up again, and people started asking me when I would step on stage again... so the little spark lit up again. But I tried to ignore it again.. haha. SO i continued to train hard, push heavy weights and just stay in a reasonably good shape.
By September 2020 to about January 2021, most show dates were coming out of some federations, while others postponed theirs to 2022. I’m a big WFF fan at heart. I loved their code and their shows, but I've also always wanted to stand in more than one federation. I was welcomed by the WFF/NABBA family with open arms after just being with them for a year, so they really were amazing, and still are! My first show was 2019 NABBA WC Provincials, I placed second, then came first at SA champs, and then third at World Champs in Mexico, which was a fucking amazing experience. So I was a little sad, and had quite a lot of fomo when I kept seeing other athletes getting back on stage. But, no hard feelings from anyone, so off to new beginnings I went.
I set out a program for myself, aiming to put on as much quality muscle as possible for as long as possible before having to cut down to stage bod if I decided to do the show, and given past experience, I thought If I do decide to enter, I'd need a minimum of 8 weeks to cut. So from about mid January to end of March, I maintained my caloric intake around 2800 cal on regular days, and leg days bumped up carbs and consumed around 3200 calories. My weight stayed around 68kg, while bodyfat dropped from 18% to 15%, and I was happy.
For those interested in training mechanics, I have been following a Legs/Push/Pull program for about 10 weeks. Then I take a 2 week break and do more compound lifts and full body workouts, then back to 3 day split. I enjoy it, it works for me, and its simple. The second favourite, and effective split I enjoy is the typical BroSplit.. but I find that helps more when I only have an hour to workout.
So, back to business. By February I could look back at progress photos and see some definition, some more muscle and of course the chubby cheeks calmed down.
Then came April... and I started telling people I'm stepping on stage end of May, meanwhile I haven't quite figured out a plan for it yet. But I could no longer ignore it. So I started tracking my calories more seriously, snacking on random items less, and adding in a bit of cardio once a week. Only by mid April did I decide I'm actually going to do this. Time to clean up the diet and intensify training.
Ok,, forgive the strange facial expressions.. Every time I have to tell myself 'Nas, its a progress pic, just relax your face and act normal.' Yet every time they come out somewhat like this and I'm like WTF...Anyway, then I started taking pics first thing in the morning, 05h00- 06h00 vibes, and the face just got worse.. #wokeuplikethis is not even allowed for those... (you'll see them towards the end). But, I'm looking at body composition, not my face.
Anyway, the image below is kind of.... wordless.. but a bulk with minimal gym equipment during lockdown was necessary. But I had some heavy weights at home so I got by.
Left: September 2020. uhm.. wellshi I got a bit fat,,,, but lockdown right?. Image on the Right: February 2021. Still a fatty... but hey, we getting somewhere.
So I looked at my body composition in February, legs were sort of on track (they grew a little mass, back mass had grown, shoulders were still slacking (also I get shoulder pain often so training gets compromised sometimes). But, I knew I could do it... it was just a matter of figuring out how (without the help of an experienced coach). But I was confident in change.
What is the figure division like?
On stage, athletes in the Women’s figure category should present a well balanced, symmetric X- figure. Shoulders should be well capped (nice big round deltoids in other words), a V-taper back (well developed lattimus dorsi leading into a small lean waist, and of course well developed glutes and legs). Athletes should be lean, especially at the waist, with a body fat of 6-9%, minimum vascularity and muscle striation should be visible, but body is well conditioned overall. The competitors are judged on their total appearance, from aesthetics to stage presence, and must perform the four quater-turns in heels. We’re almost bodybuilders, because we kind of get to flex on stage, yet we still rock our high heels with grace. Oh and, some federations require figure competitors to perform a posing routine, which I would love to do one day, but this next show is just the quarter turns. A good start.
Now, 2021 would be a test run for figure divsion, and if I am capable of creating the process of competition prep. So far it's given me a good taste of what to aim for, what works and what doesn't. Now, for some silly reason (also a smart strategic plan I have in mind..) I wanted to prep myself for this based on all that I have learnt. I have studied the science, I have done the math, now it was time test it out in real life.
Anyway, hope that gives you an idea of the category I signed up for. So, about 15 weeks out, I did a quick 6 week challenge run by a local fitness coach, it went mostly as planned and I achieved the goals I set out, yet I often did my own workouts because I just wasn't feeling the workouts prescribed... banded shit doesn't excite me, I want to lift (but yes, I should do both..) The challenge was very simple, nothing extreme, and so were my goals for this challenge, as I wasn’t sure if I was going to enter a show anytime soon, and I was performing great but just wanted to drop 2-3% bodyfat. And I did. See image below.
Basically tightened up the waist area a little. And pumped the quads. I was still uncertain about show or no show. On the left you will also see my little pumpkin, she's taken a liking to standing with me when I take progress photos, and I quite like it too.
Fast-forward past the challenge, it's now 45 days to show day, I decided I’m going for it. This would be the shortest cut, which meant it would be tough, but technically I’ve also been training and prepping for this since June 2020, so mentally I was ok with 9 weeks. Back then I said I needed 2 years before I could stand in Figure. I was skinny, lean, but skinny. Bodyweight was around 58kg, at 11-12% bodyfat. Fast forward 6 months I was 72kg and 20% bodyfat (Around Jan 2021), the height of my bulk before I needed a break from food, yes that happens because 3500 calories a day is actually shit load of food if you're not use to it! It's even more for me who is someone that really eats minimum 'high caloric low-nutrient' foods... i.e. fastfood and cupcakes. I also felt training was becoming a little slow when I reached 20% bodyfat.. the most I've ever had.. so it was time to cut.
Mexico, November 2019. The last time I got a spray tan and looked pretty skinny... Weight was 52kg, bodyfat around 9%. I felt strange that day. I was late, missed my second tan, almost missed my name being called out, well they called me and I was still doing make-up.. so my nerves were high and I was a little out of place. But I enjoyed it. A lot. I just didn't feel like I belonged in the bikini line up. I didn't quite like the look of the bikini girls and didn't like the way they moved.
So 29th May, the NPC Regional Qualifier. I looked at it, and tried so fucking hard to look away each time like I said before. But, 9 weeks out I made the final call. Like seriously Nas, you haven’t even got a figure suit yet. And you're posing isn't nearly as perfected as you think, you play around with posing but you haven't yet studied it. But, on the bright side, you have heels, you have a bikini that can get altered to be a cross-back, you can get a tan, you do your own hair, it's near home, you can train hard, diet hard, and who knows. You could win... too ambitious?
Here's a breakdown of my Prep Protocol
9 Weeks out
Switched to a diet which has a decreasing carb intake over the period of a day, dinners should be lean meat and mostly veg.
Diet: 1900 cal/day for weeks 9-7, then 1600cal/day for week 6-5
Carbs: 200-300g (4:3 day cycle)
Heavy (80%+ 1RM, and push to 8-4 RIR)
Cardio: 1 x HIIT session of 20 - 30 min, 2 x moderate intensity (120-140bpm) 30-40 min sessions, or a boxing/hot yoga/switch session now and then.
Photo: 9 weeks out. And again, the face. But not a bad starting point. I thought.
5 Weeks out
Diet: 1400cal/day for 5 days with re-feed day on Sundays at 1600cal.
Fat: 0,8g per kg bodyweight (roughly 50g)
Carbs: remaining calories (roughly 100-130g)
Photo: 5 weeks out, things were starting to change up. The momentum was flowing and I was on a roll.
4 weeks out I get a full on skin allergic reaction to something I can’t point out. But it was shit and training was highly compromised. That lasted about 5-8 days on and off. But diet continued and I pushed to get in 10k steps at least.
(Something like Hives.. I didn’t go to the doctor or anything, because I rarely visit a doctor unless it feels like I’m dying... ) This too shall pass. Anyway- a week post skin rash I’m swollen, bloated and soft..
Above image: 01 May... I was feeling pretty nervous as fat loss had stalled a little. And I felt a bit bloated for the whole week. But kept to the plan and kept pushing.
3 Weeks out
Diet: 1400cal/day for 2 days, then 1300cal for 3 days and Sundays are 1500cal and rest (but still get 10k steps in)
Protein: 150g (chicken, tuna, steak, hake, salmon)
Fat: 40g (mixed nuts, avocado, olive oil, nut butter)
Carbs: remaining calories (sources: green veg, white veg, oats, rice)
Photo: 3 weeks out, now we talking. Shit's getting serious, bodyfat around the waist has dropped, still held quite a bit around the legs and back, but I had more faith in me then than 5 weeks ago. So I was positive.. you can see it in my face. finally. All it took to get back was a week. That’s when I knew I could do it.
2 Weeks out
I got a throat infection 2 weeks before show day, tonsils are a little swollen, but it was manageable. But still... perfect fucking timing immune system, thank you... But put one and all together, I’m in a calorie deficit, I’m training everyday or some days twice a day, I’m travelling between Tzaneen and Joburg every weekend.. my body is just a little tired. But, I kept to my diet, slept a little extra, took 2 days off to rest and recover, then got back into it.
Diet: 1400cal/day, and Sundays are 1600cal and rest (but still get 10k steps in)
Protein: 160g (chicken and fish only)
Fat: 40g (cashews, almonds, avo and olive oil)
Carbs: remaining calories (sources: green veg, oats, rice)
Image above: May 11. Legs were leaning out. And thank the universe my abdominals were finally starting to pop. But also, why can’t this prep just go smoothly without any fucking speed bumps!!
This too shall pass... but in all honesty, prep thus far has been pretty good given I did it alone. Ups and downs but I was happy with what I could do in a short time.
I actually don’t think I’ll ever do a cut for longer than 6 weeks again... maybe I’ll do 7 weeks, because I do feel like I need another 5 days this time due to all the bad luck, but overall.. imagine I didn’t get I’ll or skin attacks..
So, next up: 10 days out and PEAK WEEK.
Stay tuned for the NEXT BLOG POST :)
(which will be posted after the show)
happy flexin fit fam!