April 27, 2014

Pre Competition Update | Physique Boss’ Mathew Tidball

April 27, 2014
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This is a follow-up from a previous blog exploring the possibility of competing and you’ll be pleased to hear I have taken the plunge!

I’m now approaching the end of my 12 week contest preparation diet and training regime and it’s starting to get tough both physically and mentally.  However, the end is in sight so I’m staying positive, focussed and motivated.

I’m competing in my first competition which is the UKBFF, tall Physique class.  This is a relatively new class which allows individuals who previously would not have been able to compete in conventional bodybuilding competitions to step on stage!  Competing has never interested me until the last 6 months.  I’ve seen a few of my fellow iSupp Ambassadors step on stage and I wanted to give it a whirl.  It’s an opportunity to test myself and create a physique I can be proud of.  Obviously I have a competitive nature and I’m entering to do well and hopefully win.  However, for me it has been a journey and has provided renewed focus and goals.  My training has been great over the last few months and my diet and nutrition has been spot on.  I can guarantee that on May 4th 2014 I would have achieved my ‘best’ physique to date!

The first 6 weeks of prep were relatively easy.  I’m used to regimental eating and training and was still having the odd ‘cheat’ meals as my refeeds.  However as the weeks have progressed and the diet has got even stricter then it has become more of a struggle.  Competition prep takes extreme will power and is certainly not for the faint hearted.  At the end of the day if you want the fruit you have to be willing to climb the tree.  Something worth having is worth the struggle.  I’ve had to sit and watch people eat pizza and chocolate, go out for meals with family and friends without eating and worst of all not go out for a few drinks with my mates!  The mind games really kick in as well, thoughts of feeling weak and feeling small etc.  I believe competition prep is 80% mindset and I have certainly learnt a lot about myself during the process, utilising extreme will power and discipline in order to avoid temptation and distraction.

My training has not changed a great deal during the preparation period.  However I have had renewed focus and have certainly increased the intensity of my sessions.  In my opinion there’s no point changing what works for you.  The goal has been to maintain as much muscle as possible whilst reducing body fat.  If your body is in a slight calorie deficit then you are unlikely to gain significant muscle tissue instead the focus needs to be on maintaining and sculpting what you’ve got.

I have monitored my body composition, diet and training on a weekly basis, making adjustments as required.  I have been very fortunate that most of my ‘cut’ has been through diet with limited cardio required.  I have only performed 1-2 HIIT (High Intensity Interval) sessions and no LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) sessions per week.  My starting position on February the 1st 2014 didn’t leave me with an unrealistic amount of weight/bodyfat to lose pre contest.  I have been able to retain most of my muscle and would have lost no more than 3kg scale weight during the preparation period.  I have achieved this with intense training sessions and placing my body in a very slight calorie deficit over an extended period of time.  From previous experience during photo shoot preparation I have lost muscle mass by creating too much of a calorie deficit and doing more cardio than was required.  You have to learn what your body responds best to and this is done through a trial and error process.  Some people require daily cardio but for me this isn’t the case.

As previously mentioned I have not changed the format of my training dramatically.  The training split I have used is as follows:


Contest Training

Training Split

Monday: Chest and biceps

Tuesday: Posterior chain; back, hamstrings and calves

Wednesday: Abs and HIIT

Thursdays: Legs (Quads dominant)

Friday: Shoulders and triceps

Saturday: Work on weak areas and weighted abs

Sunday: Rest day

I have kept my nutrition very basic and repetitive.  I appreciate this is not necessary but for me food is fuel and I find it a lot easier to buy in bulk and prep my meals in this way.


Contest Nutrition

Daily Diet

Monday to Saturday

7.30AM:  5 egg whites, 2 full eggs, spinach, green pepper, tomato, almonds

10.45AM: cod, brown rice, green veg

1PM: Chicken, brown rice and salad

3.30PM: Chicken and green veg

Train at 5PM

7PM: Sweet potato and cod

10PM: Cottage cheese and almonds

I have a high carbohydrate day on my rest day which is always Sunday

I have used iSupp products throughout my preparation.  I have utilised:

  • Pure
  • Quantum
  • Restore
  • Dual Fuel
  • Core 365
  • Omega 369
  • Meta Rip

I have consumed approximately 5 litres of water per day and also used vitamin C, multivitamin and drank green tea daily.

This is what I have personally found works for me.  This training split and diet format would not work for everyone.  I have not been overly concerned about scale weight, preferring to use the mirror to track progress, at the end of the day the mirror doesn’t lie.  Also I have taken other people’s opinions and views on board during the preparation period.  I have had a weekly review where adjustments have been made as required.

I am due to start the most challenging phase of the prep, one week pre contest which is the depletion and loading phase.  This is the most complicated part of the process as there are so many theories and concepts as to how you can get the best out of your physique.  This involves depleting the glycogen in the muscle through diet (low/no carbs) and training before reloading the glycogen to make the muscle look fuller on competition day.  There are also ways of manipulating sodium and water to help you look drier and tighter on the day.   There seems to be so many different views on what’s the best approach but again I think each individual would respond differently.   A large part of the process is learning what works best for you and then making tweaks as required.   I plan to keep it as simple as possible.  Drastic changes can create more problems than benefits

In conclusion, I can safely say that I have given 100% to this preparation period in terms of my training and diet.  I can honestly say that I am and always have been natural in my approach since the day I first stepped in a gym aged 16.  The competition class that I have entered will hopefully suit my aesthetic natural physique.

I’d like to use this blog to thank some people for all the help and support during the preparation period.  Firstly, i’d like to thank iSupp for allowing me to prep with limited hassle and meeting my daily supplement needs.  I’d also like to thank my fellow iSupp ambassadors for all their words of wisdom and encouragement.  Big thanks to my long term training partner Mike Collins and my good friend Carl Preece for the constant encouragement and support during my fitness journey.  I’m sure I wouldn’t be competition ready without Thomas Hicks, (Hicks Nutrition) he has formulating my diet plan and tweaked as required each week.  Tom knows my body as well as I do as we have worked together previously.  He has also been invaluable with his posing tips, constant positive attitude and encouragement and I couldn’t have got to where I am today without him.  Finally I’d like to thank my amazing girlfriend Nathalie.  Physique sport is extremely selfish as the sacrifices you make not only affect you but those around you.  She fully understands my reasoning for competing and has helped me every step of the way!

Pre-Competition Update | Mathew Tidball 

Hope you have found this helpful and insightful.  I am by no means an expert in competition prep but if you have any questions then don’t hesitate to ask and I’ll help as able.

Mathew Tidball

iSupp Ambassador


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