Hi everyone and welcome back! In this episode, I wanted to deep dive on all things “post show” or “post competition.” The phrase, “post show blues” IS a real thing for a lot of people. Find out what causes it, what it feels like, and what to do about it. I share some first hand experiences with real post show struggles and offer strategies on how to prevent or pull yourself out of it.
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-Download your Free eBook, “5 Tips Every Bodybuilder and Fitness Competitor Needs To Know Before Preparing For A Show” at www.eeinbb.com
There is nothing like the feeling, the rush, of preparing for a show. In hind sight it’s one of the best/worst decisions you’ll ever make.
Seeing your body change week after week is motivating and thrilling. The first four to six weeks, not so much. It’s more of a waiting game during this time while the engines are revving. You look at the scale to see a little movement weekly but no real physical changes just yet. But you know if you hang in there eventually you will hit a stride and you will start to see change visually. With bodybuilding you’ve got to put in the work 24/7. Especially when it comes time to dial in for a show.
Work ETHIC has never been an issue for me. Many might not know this about me but I was a 3 sport athlete growing up and captain of track and field both junior and senior year and also captain of the volleyball team in high school. I had a couple school records for javelin and discus throws too.
My family was very athletic and sports was just a part of life. So was being competitive. In the 1940s my grandfather was recruited for baseball tryouts in New York by what was then called the New York Giants. My grandfather was 6’4” and an incredible pitcher. He was from a small town in the middle of the hills of northwest CT. I have no idea how he got on their radar but he did.
And then there is my Dad. He was a high school basketball coach who brought history to a no-name school in the northwest corner of CT with undefeated seasons and state titles. My father was a tough coach. I remember the jerseys he had the boys wear during practice. On the back of the jersey was the words, “no excuses.” Funny story for you, I remember one of the kids wasn’t able to make practice so he had his Mom call my Dad to let him know. My dad would not accept that he wasn’t able to make the practice until he called my dad to cancel himself. I think my dad was going to make the team do line touches too if he didn’t. If you don’ know what line touches are, just know they are a lot of sprints. My dad had zero patience for weakness and no patience for disrespect. If you couldn’t make practice, you didn’t have Mommy call for you. Grow a pair and make the call yourself. And if you weren’t on time for practice, everyone ran sprints. The first week of basketball tryouts, it wasn’t unheard of for there to be a puker. My Dad weeded out the weak and developed champions.
So as you can see from an early age I learned about work ethic, and, well, winning.
My dad was always physically active too. I can still remember him doing his sit ups every night with 10lb plates. He never knew this until I told him recently, but watching him do weighted situps was my first inspiration for weight lifting. I was probably like 12 years old when I went down into our basement and found a dusty 20lb dumbbell and a 10 pound plate. I grabbed one of each, dusted them off, and snuck them up into my bedroom. I started doing things like shoulder presses, tricep extension, and weighted sit ups quite frequently. This was my first exposure to the concept of strength building.
It translated into my teenage years with sports like volleyball for example. I always strived for greatness and doing the work to make that happen was never an issue. My position on the volleyball team was the setter so I was the one that pushed the ball up in the air for a teammate to hit, or, spike, it over the net. It’s one thing to set for someone next to you, but can you set, with accuracy, for someone ACROSS the court? This requires a lot more strength, and skill. So I came up with something innovative to build my strength to be a better setter. We had a basketball court at our house with men’s basketballs, which are heavier and bigger than women’s basketballs. Any basketball is heavier than a volleyball so I went and grabbed a men’s basketball, and every day in my room I would lie down, and practice setting with the basketball over and over to build my hand and finger strength. It worked! And, again, doing the work to build a better athlete was never a problem..
By the way… any of you listening who are past posing and choreography clients of mine might not be surprised to hear about the drills I made as a teenager because of the odd drills I’ve made all you guys and girls do to get better at posing. You’ve come to realize that my way of building a proper Posing foundation requires you to do things that have absolutely nothing to do with Posing but, really, have everything to do with Posing to make you better. My way of coaching is more about problem solving.
It may be unconventional, but I believe if you follow the crowd… you will get no further than the crowd.
So, back to what I was saying, like I did with my men and women posing clients, as a teenager I intuitively made up precise drills to solve specific problems so I could get better at whatever sport I was doing. I did the work. And I did it consistently.
Then I became a bodybuilder.
Dialing in for a Bodybuilding show is a patience and consistency game. You can do it faster but with anything there is cause and affect. Your body will always want to get back to homeostasis. The slower you go, the longer you give your body to adjust to the changes and create a new normal…so there is less of a fight. The quicker you go, the quicker your body will want to get back to what it thinks is balance, which makes what you do immediately post show critical. And the harder you go, the more repercussions you will have as your body struggles to find balance both during the show prep process and especially right after.
Add in PEDs, as you learned from my interview with IFBB Pro Jamie Pinder, there are all kinds of cause-and-effect that happens while on a cycle and immediately post show or post cycle from taking them. Unfortunately with PEDs, sometimes you can push yourself so far that you can no longer get your body back to homeostasis from a health and hormonal standpoint. This is when things like infertility happen. Heart and kidney problems. Or even a chemical sex change for women.
Doing the physical work to prepare for a show, no matter how bonkers it was, was not a problem for me. I trained for my first bodybuilding show getting up at 4am to train before work, work the full day as an accountant, and either personal train clients at night or go to class while earning my masters degree. The consistency of this protocol didn’t bother me either since, as mentioned, hard work ethic was a part of life for me from a young age.
But here’s the thing. I think you know now from the stories I’ve shared that I understand work ethic….but, when I first started competing, I NEVER anticipated the emotional effects of the post show experience after a bodybuilding show. Training was the easy part. My first shows were 20 years ago, so information wasn’t as readily available as it is now. No one talked about what happened post show ANYWHERE. I just assumed my post show struggles were me being a wimp.
After dialing in for my first show I was so proud of what I had created. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I could build a physique with eight pack abs. I never thought I would win bodybuilding titles. Or best poser awards. The drive to be the best for that goal drove me day in and day out. But when the show came, the day went by with a flash, and I showed back up to work on Monday in corporate America where nobody has a clue what I did this past weekend in my two piece suit with a top the size of 2 Doritos. By the way the competition tops have come a LONG way. The Dorito top was before the fancy suits of today with glitter and glam.
Anyways, as I was saying, After the show, everyone in the office thinks I can eat “normal” now since they believe the food I was eating was “unhealthy.” But let’s not talk about what THEY eat, right? Now THAT that would be shaming people.
Same with friends and family. Post show they think I’m done with this thing and they all want to get together to eat and drink and be merry.
Meanwhile there is me who just spent months focusing on this one thing that drove me get the work done no matter what I had going on. Here I am trying to process the show and what it means now that it’s over, while life goes on around me and no one cares that I just did a show, just that it’s over, and I can hopefully be back to “normal.”
So now the show is over. The immediate goal is over. And at that time there was no catch phrases like reverse dieting, flexible dieting ideas, or even any real healthy approaches to nutrition at all. It was the traditional bodybuilding diet that was full of bland foods and strict protocols. You were either “on” or you were “off” plan. There was no in between.
I didn’t develop the best relationship with food out the gate because of this…. For my first set of shows I didn’t understand that chicken didn’t have to be bland to eat it, I didn’t “have” to eat white fish to get lean, or be afraid that off plan meals would kill my physique.
That took years to learn all that annnnd doing a show “for fun” one day to see that it WAS in fact possible to do all of that.
Bro science protocols still exist today, but for many people, the real issue post competition, is something even deeper.
It’s something you might hear called POST SHOW BLUES.
Post show blues is when you fall into a depression after a show. You just spent months working towards this one thing and now the thing is over. You saw your body change in ways you never thought possible. You finally like the way you look. In fact, you LOVE the way you look. The fat in that one place that drives you nuts is finally gone. Guys, you have the 6 pack abs you always wanted.
But now the show is over and there is nothing to look forward to, work towards, or motivate you. And you also have to accept that the physique you worked so hard for, and love, is about to soften under a layer of body fat. Seeing your body put on body fat and go in the reverse direction can kill your motivation if you let it. I’ve seen people gain 30lbs post show after falling into a depression.
I had my share of post show blues during the first decade of competing, but it wasn’t due to a lack of work ethic. Or PEDs. I’ve never taken them which is why I had that awesome interview in episode 7 to educate the masses on them from someone who I consider is an expert on them. By the way, go listen to that episode if you haven’t. Jamie REALLY delivered. We talk about Ev-er-y-thing.
So again I had my share of post show blues during my first decade of competing so I know what it is like. I remember one time I was up 10lbs in a week after a show. This particular show was a struggle to get to in the first place. I had spent an entire year prepping and building muscle because I wanted to win a Pro title. About 8 weeks before the show I tore my hamstring while sprinting on a track. Luckily it wasn’t completely torn off the bone so I didn’t need surgery, but I still had 8 weeks to get to my show and I wasn’t going to pull out for a muscle tear. The orthopedic provided me some exercises to do so I opted to skip physical therapy and keep going. It hurt to sit on hard surfaces. I could feel a tugging sensation when I walked too. It took me about 11 minutes of warmup to get enough adrenaline pumping through my veins to overshadow the pain in my hamstring to do my track workouts. I remember the agony turning the corner on the track while still trying to sprint my way to the show. I remember talking with myself and saying that I would take care of myself after the show. I promised myself I would, and just needed a little longer to get to show. My body was TIRED. I had worked the past year through agonizing shin splints, an inflamed disc in my lower back, and now a torn hamstring. I told myself I only had 8 weeks and I would get there.
I had a line of tank tops made with the phrase “Kill It With Drive” on them for those who were supporting me on my journey to the stage. I sold them to people all over the world and many of them wore the shirts on my show day to show their support. This show meant a lot to me. I had come in runner up in the world the year before so I felt that with a year of improvements I might have a chance at the title. I did put on some size in all the right places and I would say to this date, despite injuries, I built my best physique for any show.
And then the show came. The promotor requires us to use their official tanner and says that they want to keep a more mainstream look for the photos and marketing of the show so they didn’t want any dark tans on stage. We were given 2 coats of tan. But here’s the problem….My skin is very very fair, so two coats of tanner on me will make me look like I spent the summer at the beach, whereas on someone else with a naturally darker base, it makes them look like they have a competition tan on. Sure enough, my tan was too light and you couldn’t see much of my hard work on stage. I was drowned out by the lights. After pre-judging the feedback from the head judge was that my tan was too light and I didn’t look lean enough. I’m like, really. No kidding. But it was too late. They already scored us. Needless to say I didn’t win the show. Or even place top 5. An entire year of prep got thrown down the drain. I was physically and emotionally drained. My leg hurt. And I didn’t like the vibe of the federation anymore so I was at a loss on what to do next. I ate and drank a lot off plan immediately after that show with friends as a distraction. I definitely started to fall into a post show depression.
Until I found a new goal to inspire me.
With a goal, I’m laser focused and leave no stone unturned in the process. If an expert suggests to me a protocol that is going to make me the best, I will follow it. If I’m told to follow a program in the off season that will give me a competitive edge at my next show, I follow the program. I don’t complain. I figure out the cost. And I do the work.
I also experienced many nutrition and training protocols that contributed to a difficult post show experience. They were extreme but I did them anyways because my goal was greater than my immediate suffering and I wasn’t thinking about post show. If I needed to eat this thing to be the best, I would say pass it over. I can remember eating bites of bland cod fish and using water to make it go down like a shot just to get it down. I’d toss a piece in my mouth, take a swig of water, and get it down quick before my taste buds fired that horrible flavor. Anything to avoid the taste of what would happen if the smell of dirt and worms had a flavor. And then there was another show prep that had me eating only white fish and spinach or broccoli 6x day. No fruit. I don’t think I had any fat either. I remember, and this is gross, but it’s real so I’ll say it anyways, I remember not being able to control my bowels from leaking throughout the day. I was literally leaking poop during the day for the final weeks of prep and there was no way to stop it. I had to throw out a lot of underwear. Seriously gross.
So as you can imagine, post show was a challenge after these competitions too …..until I had a new goal to inspire me.
Then this one show prep happened. I was prescribed to do double sessions of HIIT cardio plus 1 hour workouts two days in a row while fasting the entire day for BOTH days while torpedoing into a show. This didn’t break me either and I followed it to a “t.” Yes, this did happen and yes I did this with a coach who wanted to test a protocol because I was behind schedule for a show.
I remember hunger pains waking me up in the middle of the night during this protocol. I never felt hunger hurt like that before, but I was changing federations so I needed to earn another pro card. In case you didn’t realize, if you earn a pro card in one federation, unless the federation specifically states they will accept the pro status of another federation, you are expected to start from the bottom up and earn your pro status in the new federation. For me, I had already been a pro multiple times and had to start over every time. I was yet again starting over to earn pro status so I did the work to leave no stone unturned. I did get the pro card, but you would think I would fall apart after the show and go on a complete bender. Right? Double sessions of cardio plus full workouts two days in a row with zero food both days?
But you know what….I didn’t. This was a pivot point for me. Why? I had a new major goal before the Monday after the show came around.
It sounds so simple, but really, it all starts with the goal.
Why a post show plan with a big goal is so critical.
Think about it… You just spent months preparing for a show. Getting your body fat levels down to a level that for most of us is uncomfortable. Your body’s stress level is through the roof. What you do those first few weeks dialing out of a show will set the stage for your entire off season. I learned that lesson the hard way. I also LEARNED from it too — to not eat like an asshole after a show.
But the greatest lesson post show was having a new goal right away. For me this meant having a specific body part to focus on that I wanted to bring up. I made a mindset shift and created a mini obsession in my mind with this body part, to grow it. No matter what, I did the work. As things progressed, I switched to a new physique goal. Each goal was always super specific and the specifics of it drove me to do the work. There was no need to look for comfort foods and distractions to fill a void.
For you, your goal might be a new show that you picked out already and have specific improvements you want to make and focus on while preparing for it.
Some other goal ideas are:
You could have a photoshoot booked for a month post show.
You might want to grow your fitness business and be motivated by the idea that more food post show means more energy to get the build out of the business done.
You might also want to look fit and healthy for your new business too and let that keep your post show protocol in check.
You might want to lead by example for your kids and show them what a healthy relationship with food looks like, and not fall apart in front of them.
It could be anything, but the goal has to be great.
If you are competing or planning to compete, like me, you will do the work. For me, I’ve done some extreme things in order to accomplish my goals. Probably because I have a strong foundation of hard work ethic and athletics from my youth. But, Emotionally, emotionally post show isn’t about a lack of work ethic. It’s about a lack of having something grand to work towards.
Many struggle post show because there is nothing to work for that is greater than the emotional withdrawals they are feeling at the end of the ride. If it’s a mediocre goal, your focus will go on the glass half empty and you’ll think about all the drawbacks of post show. It can be a small goal, like my example of picking a body part to obsess over, or it can be something posing related that you want to “fix” now that you have the time to do it….but if you believe it to be grand, you will work for it.
If it’s a grander goal, you’ll show up to work and you’ll never fail.
Hey guys I talked a lot about post show and my personal encounters with post show struggles when I didn’t have a goal or something to motivate me, BUT I do have something for YOU that you can use to help you with a post show goal…or if you have your post show somewhat in check, but are looking for something new to improve, I have something new you can follow that will help you gain a competitive edge. It’s so sick and so fun too. As you know I judge and head judge for bodybuilding competitions so I also factored in things missing with posing and stage presence from a judge’s perspective, in addition to an athlete and coach’s perspective. Things that will really fill in the gaps for all things show day. Go to posingwinsshows.com and check out more on what I’ve got for you. I’m super excited to share this with you and I really think it’s something every athlete, male and female, in all divisions will gain a competitive edge from. It makes a great gift too.
Awesome guys. More to come….