Redefining Off Season

pink dumbbells

It’s happened again. Same as last year. People appear to make the assumption that once you’ve finished competing for the season, you’re on holiday until you start prep again.

Questions like

‘Are you back in training yet?’

‘When do you start training again?’

‘Oh, so you’re back in training then…’

Crop up with relative regularity.

The thing is I have never stopped training. Yes, I took a week off as soon as I got back – I needed it! And yes I took a week off at Christmas, again, I needed it, as it was clear that one week off was not enough to recover from last season and make sure I was fresh before starting my new program.

But in between, I was still in the gym, 5 days a week…


bandaged hands

So how it is that people who see me every day, in the gym, training – hard – can make the assumption that I’m ‘not back in training yet’?

Granted, I’m not specifically in comp prep mode, and am of course not looking quite as striated as a few months ago, so at what point does training become ‘not training’ and therefore subsequently ‘back in training’?

Does it coincide with ‘Off season’ and ‘On Season’?

If so, does that mean whilst I’m in ‘Off Season’, I’m ‘Not Training’ and as soon as I enter ‘On Season’ I then qualify as being ‘Back in Training’?

And if so, that begs the question as to what is the definition of ‘on season’ and ‘off season’

Most people tend to think of ‘on-season’ as the time that they’re actively cutting for a comp and the short duration of their comp(s). Everything else by default becomes ‘off-season’.

However, I disagree with this and would actually define myself as being in ‘on-season’ right now.

No, I’m not in comp prep mode, and no I’m not actively cutting for a comp, but the second I stepped through the gym door on Mon 5th Jan for the first day of my new program that is aimed specifically for this years comps, I was ‘on’.

Back in game mode. Off Season officially ended.


On-season to me, is everything that is actively geared towards getting me to my next comp. My diet is back ‘on’ – no more slackness, no more excuses of ‘post comp’ and definitely no ‘bulking’ – eat to grow – specifically targeted nutrition, yes, indiscriminate excuse to eat like shit, no.

My Training is definitely back ‘on’ – twice a day? Yep , back on in a BIG way.

Resting? Top priority – I make sure I get as close to 8 hours sleep a night as possible – more if I can get away with it, and on weekends 10-12 is quite nice + nanna naps at least once a day – on a side note I saw an interesting re-frame for nanna naps, apparently the pro’s call them ‘muscle naps’. So I’ll be taking my muscle naps very seriously from now on!

Planning what comps I’m going to do, timing, trip planning, when I’m going to start cutting – what frock I’m going to wear, new bikini(s), posing practice – all ‘on’ season stuff.

You talk to any bodybuilder who is an active competitor and a commonly heard ‘off season’ phrase when asked what they’re doing is ‘building a better package for next time’. So let me put it this way – if they’re genuinely actively working towards their next goal, they will most likely have a very specific schedule and plan for their training, they most likely will also have a plan and schedule their diet, supps and rest in order to achieve that better package. They will know what shows they’re aiming for and hence when they have to start their cut. They will know who’s going to be at those shows, how they looked last time, what weaknesses need to be worked on. And if they’re doing that, then their head is already back in the game, they’re already envisioning how and what they will look like at their next show…so doesn’t that meant they’re actually ‘on’?

So with this much going on during ‘On Season’, Off season then becomes that tiny amount of time when I either have time off or am not training towards a goal. So by that definition, in 2013, I only had 2 weeks of ‘off-season’ whilst I was in Thailand for a holiday. Post comps/pre holiday I did not stop training and trained with the same purpose as in the lead up to comps to take advantage of the post comp gains window. Immediately on getting back from holiday, training resumed with the same intensity aiming towards my 2014 campaign. This year I’ve actually had a relatively luxurious 7 week ‘off-season’ – 2 separate non training weeks, and 5 ‘holding pattern’ training weeks prior to my new program starting. In my 7 weeks of ‘off-season’ my diet was not as tight – post comp, Christmas, new year and all that. I didn’t log or track my food and ate more intuitively by feel rather than strict macros/volumes/number of meals per day/the right amount of post workout carbs etc and if the cat kept me up all night being a brat I didn’t care so much, I’d just have an extra nanna nap the next day.

That’s ‘off season’.

And if ‘Off season’ stretches to more than a year without a competition in sight then that becomes ‘Retired’

But that’s not going to happen just yet 🙂

and until it does, it’s well and truly

Game On!

game on


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