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Auto-Regulating Your Contest Prep

What you are getting yourself in for

Word Count - 1000 Words

Reading time - 5 Mins

Topic - Auto-Regulating Your Contest Prep.


What is Auto-Regulation??

In strength training terms, auto-regulation is the ability to make changes as a result of how someone feels, behaves or reacts to a certain stimulus. An example would be, if you are warming up for a Squat on a Lower Body day, and you feel something 'twinging' really badly even on lighter weights, you would ‘auto-regulate’ and maybe either do a lighter day, or change the exercise to something that isn’t going to hurt you.

Auto-regulation is sensible in some cases, however in some cases it can simply lead to you being a p*ssy.


Auto-regulation in a Contest Prep Phase

In a contest prep phase, there are a lot of ‘moving parts’. It’s like a complicated machine, to get all the parts flowing together in unison, you sometimes have to make frequent, intricate changes to keep the parts of the machine moving effectively, if you don’t, something could fall out of line and the machine might not operate as well as it should be doing. With our nutrition and training, alongside managing sleep, stress, hydration etc, we have LOTS of moving parts… if one of them slips, we might have to make a change to another, this will keep us moving in the right direction. So how do we do it…

Training -

Auto-regulating your training is something you should be looking to do even in your gaining or ‘off season’ phases, but like I said, as we have more variables, it becomes slightly more integral in a contest prep phase. Some days, you will walk into the gym feeling…

  • Sluggish

  • Tired

  • Run down

  • De-motivated

  • Frustrated

  • Flat

  • Hungry

Amongst other things ^^ these will sometimes have an adverse effect on your sessions.

However, you CANNOT always be a cop-out.

Auto-regulation, and just being a p*ssy, are two different things, but you must know how to use this tool, so that on the days where you do REALLY need to back off, you do back off, and it will allow you to…

  • Reduce chances of injury

  • Lower stress

  • Stay on track

  • Potentially make more progress later on.

Well, what would we do to training then??

Sometimes, specific moves just feel like absolute GARBAGE. So instead of bruiting through these, getting into mechanically poor positions and potentially hurting yourself, it’s probably better just to back down and swap something out for that day, so you may well change movements for ‘like for like’ exercises.

For example - Barbell Bench Feels AWFUL - change for - Flat DB Bench.

Low rep Squat feels horrendous - change for - higher rep, equated volume squat. See you are STILL getting the work in, but instead of having to (most likely) hurt yourself in the process, you can just minimise the risk whilst STILL training hard, and I think this serves a HUGE benefit when looking to maximise muscle retention.


How about Nutrition??

As you diet down, especially with contest prep, you collect lots of data.

  • Whether you are flat/full

  • Run down, sessions going bad or good?

  • Scale weight loss

  • Progress Images

  • Sleep

  • Steps

  • Stress

Whilst you are collecting this data, you need to realise that your ‘set plan’ for your macros or meals for the week, sometimes needs to respond & adapt as a response to this data. It’s like if you have a fire alarm go off in your house, and you just sit there and ignore it, sooner or later you’ll be surrounded by flames and burning alive. No one wants that… so listening to your data is KEY to both maintaining muscle and making accurate changes. The auto-regulated part, for me, comes more to the LATTER stages of a contest prep, alongside this, the re-feeding aspect of contest prep.

With the latter stages, small tweaks will have a huge impact on your physique, make a change and you’ll SEE it in the physique, even changes as small as switching around macronutrient ratios.

This is where daily changes can sometimes be made, bumps to increase fullness, a reduction in training volume to aid recovery, etc etc. The WAY you auto-regulate this is by, like I said, constantly measuring your variables, because if you DON’T do this, you will miss a trick and end up looking a small percentage off your best. From a re-feeding point of view, I like to auto-regulate these with all of my CONTEST PREP clientele, not generic fat loss guys and girls, but just Comp Prep. Reason being, is I want to respond only when I need to, if someone hasn’t dropped on average, I’ll look at their other data, and see if there’s any other reasons why (sleep, stress,hormonal cycle etc) and if there isn’t, I won’t Refeed them, simple!! (Sad client, happy when fat loss resumes though). This again, shows how important data collection and feedback is though - sometimes you Refeed, chill out, reduce stress, slightly actively inc NEAT levels and DROP weight, it’s crazy but sometimes the body just works like that, and you’ve got to know WHY. As you get leaner and leaner, you’ll find you are able to respond to much higher Refeeds (usually) - Myself I started with 500g Carb refeeds in my 2015 Contest Prep and by the end I was having 1000g Carb Refeeds! I’m a big believer in shuttling in food when you can, but only WHEN you can, not just because you’re hungry :)


So the take homes on this post guys -


  • Always evaluate your approach to training / nutrition.

  • Respond only when you need to.

  • Do what you need to do, when you need to do it.

  • If you make a mistake, note it, and move on.

Hope you enjoyed this, any questions on this topic, let me know!


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