Contest Prep 101, Part 2

How to keep progressing toward your ultimate goal of stepping onstage in the best shape of your life.


Per Bernal

If you are reading this now, I hope you have already read Part 1 of this series and successfully absorbed/processed all the information presented. In Part 2 we will simply be building on the foundation program (Weeks 12 to 9) so that progress is continuous and progressive. The goal of any contest-preparation regimen should be to manifest an improved physique every week by making small, painless, and highly strategic tweaks to your diet, training, and supplements so that your peak is timed perfectly for contest day.


Often the first four weeks of contest prep are the most difficult from a mental standpoint. Why, you ask? Well, that’s because after four weeks your body fat will be down, but it might not really show just yet on your physique. Because your skin has been stretched due to off-season weight gain (and, as I mentioned in Part 1, hopefully not too much weight gain), it is likely that it needs more time to adhere and “shrink-wrap” around your muscles. This can make you feel smaller and flatter (rather than more ripped) and leave you wondering, “What the heck is going on?” But I assure you, my friends, this is all a normal part of the process—and that if you stay on point, you will soon be rewarded greatly for your efforts! 


Below you will find the slightly updated list of high-quality foods that can be included in your diet for Weeks 8 to 5 of prep, as well as a sample meal plan so you can see how to properly put things together. As we move along, more and more foods will be removed, and the macronutrient profile will be adjusted. This is to allow for continuous progress to take place every week right up till the show. 

    • 96% lean beef, 99% lean chopped turkey meat, turkey breast, chicken breast, steak, egg whites, game meats, white fish, salmon, nonfat cottage cheese, protein powders (can be used for up to three meals per day)
    • Brown rice, white rice, sweet potato, white potato, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, cream of wheat, quinoa, rice cakes, pasta, carb powder
    • All green and colored types
  • FATS
    • Walnuts, peanuts, almonds, avocado, olive oil, fish oil, flax oil, coconut oil, nut butters 


For these four weeks of the program, 93% lean beef was replaced with 96% lean beef, 93% lean turkey was replaced with 99% lean turkey, fruits were removed from the carbohydrates list, and cheddar cheese was removed from the fats list.

At this point in the prep, it is time to lower overall fat intake, as well as remove fruit sugar (fructose). While fruit is very healthy, I have found that fructose is not an optimal carbohydrate when fat loss is the major goal. Additionally, cheddar cheese was removed so that greater focus is put on essential fatty acids.


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