by Greg Sushinsky
Summer is certainly over—with a vengeance, if you live in the east or the midwest, as you know from shivering every time you go outside now, so thus usually begins the season of shifting your training from training for cuts, to training for mass.
SIX THINGS TO DO
1. INCREASE CALORIES SLOWLY
Some people still do bulk up. There may be a place for this if your sport is football or pro wrestling, but if you’re bodybuilding, don’t think you are going to add twenty pounds of drug-free pure muscle in two or three weeks by eating everything in sight. Add some good calories gradually to your eating, especially if you were on a very strict contest-type diet. This will help you gain muscle mass instead of fat. This is a simple concept, but if you practice it, it will pay off.
2. CHANGE YOUR TRAINING
You can do the same training you’ve been doing, but if you’ve been working out faster, with less rest time between sets, you may want to slow down a little and lift heavier, doing fewer exercises and with more attention to basic or compound movements. If you’re a moderate poundage trainer, you may want to change exercises, sequences, sets and reps—any variables. And you can gain tremendous amounts of mass with moderate poundages, you don’t need to use bone-crunching, joint-breaking weights. If you decide to go heavier, change gradually, your body will reward you. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should jump into super-heavy shock-type workouts if you haven’t been doing these all summer. Small changes in training and workouts often result in surprisingly large muscle growth.
3. WORK YOUR WHOLE PHYSIQUE
People often gloss this over. They get into a mass program and cut down on calfwork, forearm work, delt work, hamstrings, etc., while keeping up lots of (too much?) work on quads, back, chest, and of course, everybody’s favorite, arm work. The result is that an unbalanced physique may become bigger, but more unbalanced.
4. STAY FIT
Too many bodybuilders, especially in the off-season, become too inactive. The word is lazy. They use the excuse that they are training for mass, so they want to burn up less energy. They don’t do cardio or work out so infrequently as to really become unfit and lose conditioning. If you are an HIT trainer, training once or twice a week and “resting” the remainder of the week, which can mean being immobile, you’ve got to get up and move and do something else to stay in decent physical condition. Stay active. This will ultimately help your bodybuilding and probably your health.
If you are a competitor, the off-season is the time to experiment with next year’s contest diet. Yes, you read that right. Take a couple of weeks in the middle of winter and just begin that diet, so you’re not trying it for the first time when you have an important contest coming up. If you do not compete, you have a great opportunity in the winter to try new exercises, entire routines, diets, foods, supplements, and so on. You can often find something that works for you and improves not only your physique but makes it easier to do so.
6. IMPROVE YOUR EATING
This should be a year-round quest. No matter what type of eating plan or nutrition you follow, you can always improve on the quantity and quality of what you eat. It doesn’t matter whether you are a low-carb, low fat, raw fooder—you can always eat better. And food, for drug-free trainers, not supplements, is still the most important element of bodybuilding other than training. By far.
If you concentrate on these six things as you go into the fall and winter, though they don’t look like spectacular strategies, if you apply them, you will be on your way to great gains and a far better physique.