Recovery Diet > Reverse Diet


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May 13, 2016
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Get Shredded!
How many times have you heard this come out of a competitor’s mouth regarding their last attempt to “reverse out” of a show? It pains me to hear this for many reasons. Personally, I know how difficult the task is and realize that there really is no reward at the end of this process. I was once misinformed about why I should take this approach and followed this model for months on end chasing something that sounds very appealing to a competitor post show. They see it as an investment in their “metabolic capacity” or perhaps even changing (lowering) their body fat set point to a place much more conducive for a physique competitor. Eating more than you ever have, pound for pound, while remaining leaner than you’ve ever been during an offseason? Sign me up!

Before I go on, let me make it clear that this is written to reach out to competitive physique athletes who have finished their season and just endured a successful contest prep diet. By successful, I mean they could diet far enough below their genetic body fat set point that they caused some disturbances in their physiology. For anyone else who has just completed a standard fat loss phase and is looking at what they should do next, this article is not for you.

Back to our situation and the “reverse diet” controversy that competitors are faced with post-show. Last year, myself and the 3DMJ coaches, launched a YouTube video titled “The Recovery Diet” to change what physique athletes prioritize post show. This was created to give more insight on what happens physiologically (and psychologically) post-show to most competitors. For reasons listed in the video, we feel that it is fundamentally incorrect to chase the benefits of a “reverse diet”. Our “recovery diet” is what we recommend, or at the very least, wish people would consider. With that said, we found ourselves fighting an uphill battle. The “reverse diet” still reigns the supreme method and outside of our own athletes, we have not observed many using our model.

In some ways, I feel to blame for this as I was notorious for staying in very good shape for months on end post-show. Most notably, I endured a few well executed “reverse diets” that people often site as evidence that this model works. This could not be any further from the truth, and I must clear things up. It wasn’t a reverse diet 10 years ago that allowed my caloric intake to stay in low 3000’s while dieting down to 160lbs. It’s a genetic predisposition that was already there to start with and I followed the reverse diet method because it was what I thought was best practice at the time. This year I vow to start a trend a bit more useful than the “seal row” or eating pop-tarts. I vow to contribute to making this sport healthier by leading by example. In the past (including my last prep) I slowly added weight post show. However, I noticed that I don’t start making predictable weight room progress until I am ~10-15lbs over stage weight. In the past, it took me months to reach this bodyweight. This year, I vow to take what we feel is best practice and I will go from my contest weight of about 160 to about 170-175lbs in 4-6 weeks.
I have not released many of the details regarding this year’s contest prep, but I want to address the exit strategy in advance. Why? Simply because I think it’s that important of a message. More importantly, it’s something worth planning long before the Sunday after your last show. I wanted to make a point to share with my community prior to my season to perhaps inspire some of you to watch our “recovery diet” video if you haven’t already done so. I want to encourage you all to avoid the feelings of disparity or confusion post-show by having a plan…and more importantly, to at least consider this option.

For those of you who have seen our video, consider using this approach during your next contest season. I am ecstatic to report that I have been using a “recovery diet” model with my athletes over the last two years and the results surpassed my expectations. I have seen happier, healthier, and more productive athletes across all divisions and levels of experience. I look forward to practicing what I preach this year and doing the same with myself. I will put my long-term goals at the forefront, even if it means having a little pooch a month post show. For those of you who have not seen the video, it is linked below. Please feel free to leave comments and questions. There are many things I am excited about when I think about my prep this year. Yes, I want to win big and be at my all-time best during my campaign. But even more so…I want to change the way the game is played. Maybe, just maybe, I can get some of you 3DMJ’ers to join me this year.