Sarah-Jane’s Comp Prep Transformation
Sarah-Jane came in to Enterprise Fitness on 14th of January 2021 wanting to compete in an ICN show. Having previously been overweight at 100kg, this was a challenge and a goal she wanted to accomplish for herself. As we looked through the show calendars during her initial consultation, she set her eyes on the ICN All Female Classic on 16th of May 2021, giving us 17 weeks to prep for the show.
Coming from a background of dieting in an extreme caloric deficit to lose weight, our first order of business was to bring her calories back up to create a slight baseline set-point so we could zig-zag her calories leading up to the comp day.
The goal was to get Sarah-Jane comp-ready as early as possible, so we could cruise through the last 2 weeks by increasing calories, fine tuning any final details and keeping the home as stress-free as possible.
Here are her stats:
- 14.5% -> 5.7% body fat (8.8% loss)
- 54.2kg -> 48kg bodyweight (6.2kg loss)
- 132.7mm -> 65.6mm total measured fat (67.1mm loss)
During the next 16 weeks of comp prep, Sarah-Jane’s training and nutrition were as follows:
Weeks 1 – 2:
Training: 8 – 10 Linear x 4 days | We started with a quick general preparatory phase to iron out any minor structural issues. We also increased her calories during this period to accompany her training. Starting out at 4 training days per week (consisting of 2 upper-body and 2 lower-body days with a total of 88 sets for the week), the main focus here was getting the basics right.
Nutrition: 1800 calories Daily | As with the initial training phase, her first nutrition phase was about hitting reset and bringing her metabolism back to baseline in order to deal with the ascending road ahead. During this phase, Sarah-Jane was on the same amount of calories and macros every day, and dropped 1.5% body fat during these 2 weeks.
Weeks 3 – 7:
Training: Pre-fatigue Tri-sets with Steady-state Cardio x 5 days | After the initial baseline phase where Sarah-Jane was 1.5% down in body fat, it was time to start kicking the comp prep into the next gear. We moved her straight into a 5-day training split that looked like this:
- Day 1: Quads & Hamstrings
- Day 2: Back & Delts
- Day 3: Glutes
- Day 4: Back & Delts
- Day 5: Quads & Hamstrings
- Day 6: Rest
- Day 7: Rest
During the first week of this phase, we were hitting 150 sets per week with increases every week, hitting a weekly total of 180 weekly sets. This was combined with 5 days of steady-state cardio which started at 30 minutes on the first week, before being increased up to 60 minutes in the final week of this phase.
Nutrition: 1700 – 1400 calories | During the initial week of this new phase, we started Sarah with the same amount of calories and macros every day, this time in a 20% deficit. We then moved Sarah-Jane into split nutrition plans where her upper body and rest days were at 1400 calories, while her lower body days were at 1700 calories. This was to help her develop lean mass in her lower body as quickly as possible while also aiding recovery from the increased training volume.
Weeks 8 – 11
Training: Pre-fatigue & Post-exhaustion Giant Sets with Steady State Cardio x 5 days | Four exercise giant sets were next on the cards for Sarah-Jane. The first exercise was an isolation movement, pre-fatiguing into the next larger compound exercise, then finishing off with high reps and more isolation exercises, all on the same muscle group. We also introduced a drop set on one exercise and some sets programmed to technical failure to increase the density throughout the workouts. The first week of this phase started with 180 sets per week, increasing weekly until we finished the phase with 220 sets per week. Steady state cardio accompanied the strength training, starting out with 35 minutes a day, 5 days per week, finishing on 65 minutes a day, 5 days per week. The training split for this period was exactly the same as the previous phase.
Nutrition: 1700 – 1000 calories | Starting out with training days at a 40% deficit and then having 2 high rest days a week at baseline of 1700 calories a day, Sarah-Jane’s caloric intake continued to zig-zag each week, with a whole week of baseline in the middle to help prevent metabolic adaptations and allow us to continue periodising her nutrition leading up to comp day without any hiccups, surprises or plateaus.
Weeks 12 – 15
Training: Giants Sets + Drop Sets & Rest Pause with Steady State Cardio x 5 days | Five exercise giant sets starting off the first week of the phase with 204 sets per week and ending with 300 sets per week, this was the final phase to get the job done and have Sarah-Jane ready to go 2 weeks before show day. Steady cardio had made a stay, progressing from 40 minutes, 5 days per week, up to 70 minutes a day, 5 days per week. For the first time during the prep, we also incorporated a step count, aiming for 14,000 steps per day. This wasn’t previously needed due to the fact that Sarah-Jane was already doing 12,000 steps a day when she first came to Enterprise Fitness. The key difference with this phase was that the training days were approached depending on how Sarah-Jane was recovering, both physically and mentally. If she felt like she needed a rest day, we did just that.
Nutrition: 2500 – 1400 | During this phase, we lowered calories as much as possible, dipping into a 40% deficit during training days, while still keeping rest days closer to baseline in order to aid recovery and preserve lean mass. We also did a practice peak week where we simulated what the peak week of comp would look like and how her body would react going into show day to prevent the occurrence of any surprises. After that, we dropped cardio and slightly increased calories to maintain as much lean mass as possible while keeping body fat where it was as. This was to make the last 2 weeks as easy and stress-free as possible.
Training: Straight Sets 10-15 reps x 4 days | During Sarah-Jane’s peak week, the goal was to keep her relaxed and get her body to feel at its best going in to comp day. We did only upper body for all 4 days with straight sets, plenty of rest time in between but also not too much as we still wanted to utilise the her carbs.
Nutrition: Varied | Finishing off week 15 with a 2-day depletion to lead into Peak Week, day 1 and 2 Sarah-Jane had 2 moderate carb days, followed by 3 high-carb days, while the night before was a lower carb day. Comp day was only carbs pre and during show, where she consumed rice cakes, jam and maple syrup to get her pumped and full for her show. This was all dependant on how she looked on the day before her line up and stage time.
Sarah-Jane is to be hugely congratulated on achieving her goal of competing for the very first time – and doing so with complete confidence!