One man, shirtless man training with dumbbells
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Many bodybuilders take time of from the gym after a show. Of course, taking a break to spend time with the family and friends who supported us while we focused on ourselves during a contest prep is therapeutic. However, I firmly believe in getting right back into the gym.

Here’s why.Think of the body as an old locomotive train during your contest prep. You keep feeding it with the right fuel and those wheels start turning. You gain speed and momentum as you steamroll ahead. You do come to a stop at your show, but it’s so easy to pick up full speed again because the fire is lit. The wheels start turning again and get up to full speed in no time.

Now, imagine you allow that train to sit for too long. The fire you lit now dies. In order to get that train moving again you have to reignite that flame—but it’s harder because the next show is so far away. There seem to be more things going on that keep you out of the gym, and the motivation starts to die.

I’ve realized that the optimum time to grow is immediately after a show. Just like that locomotive, your metabolism is still revved up, the supplements you’re taking are still active, and your body wants to grow. That train is still moving full speed ahead and you can make quality gains. Here’s how to do it.

First, limit the post-show binge. Going longer than two full days of eating bad food will make you extremely sluggish and unmotivated to train. Your body is used to clean foods during dieting weeks, so it has to work harder to digest all the fats, sugars, and simple carbs you’re loading it with. You also subject yourself to developing edema, when the dam you’ve built cracks and the flood gates open. Hands and feet swell up, and back pumps come from simply picking up a 45-pound plate. High-sodium foods can being a main culprit here, so P.F. Chang’s may not be the best choice for a post-contest meal.

If you get back to your regular diet and increase your carb intake gradually, you’ll have more than enough energy for great workouts. I’m usually back on my regular diet by Tuesday after my show.

Now for training: Of course, after extreme dieting and depletion, joints can be brittle, so you don’t want to shift immediately into sixth gear with your training. I recommend circuit-style training so you don’t overtrain any muscle group when the body isn’t ready to handle it just yet. Your body is still in recovery mode.

Click "Next Page" for Branden Ray's Post-Competition Workout Split >>

By Sunday, your body should be ready to start a regular training split based on the weaker body parts. Make that weaker part the first thing you train and use that as motivation to improve. The faster you get into the gym, the faster you can look forward to your next show (and put the last one behind you if it didn’t go your way). If you did end up in the center of the first callout, get back in the gym so you can keep the hunger, knowing that those you beat are gunning for you and are already in the gym going hard to get you the next show.

That’s the beauty of bodybuilding— there’s always something to improve. Why not start right away, and give yourself a head start on a new and improved package for your next show! 


DAY 1 Tuesday after your show: 

I. Cable Crossover: 3 sets, 10–12 reps

II. Incline Smith Machine Press: 3 sets, 10 reps

III. Lat Pulldown: 3 sets, 10–12 reps

IV. Seated Row: 3 sets, 10–12 reps

V.Machine Lateral Raise: 3 sets, 10–12 reps

VI.Machine Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 10–12 reps

DAY 2 Wednesday after your show:

I. Leg Extension superset with Lying Leg Curl: 3 sets, 12–15 reps

II.Leg Press: 3 sets, 8–10 reps

III. Seated Leg Curl: 3 sets, 10–12 reps

IV.Triceps Pushdown superset with Cable Curl: 3 sets, 8–10 reps

V. Dip superset with Machine Preacher Curl: 3 sets, 8–10 reps

VI.Seated Calf Raise super-set with Standing Calf Raise: 3 sets, 10–12 reps

DAY 3 Thursday after your show:

Repeat Day 1 (exercises can be different)

DAY 4 Friday after your show: 

Repeat Day 2

DAY 5 Saturday after your show:

Rest and spend time with family and friends