by Kris Pitcher
"Wow!" she said watching me put my bikini on in the locker room, "you look great." Awkward. "How much cardio are you doing?" I told her. I'm kind of too tired to put up a conversational fight at this point.
She went on to tell me she's prepping for the fall show and already doing 2 hours of cardio. She hasn't officially started, I think she said, but she's going to start 16 or 12 weeks out, something like that...I didn't really catch the rest.
I shared with her that I always do at least a 20 week prep. Blank stare. "Oh, because you have so long?" she reasoned. Encouragingly, I suggested she was on track by beginning now.
Again, no energy to explain. There is no magic number of weeks a prep should take. If you are a beginner, and you're carrying a little extra cushion...start early and go slow. If you're a seasoned competitor, stay tight off season and you know your body 12 weeks probably suits you.
Pushing the window of a 12 or 14 week prep with someone who has a lot to lose is tricky. And depending on how they respond, and what they are willing to tolerate...dangerous. But that's between you and your coach, and your metabolism.
Taking the snail's pace works for me. I take it slow because I don't want to do lots of cardio. I stay tight off season so I don't have to. This creates a situation where I'm able to maintain my muscle mass in a nice way throughout my prep.
I also don't want to have a highly restrictive diet. There's a limitation when you're trying to lose 35 pounds in 12 weeks. Do some math. Start early and take it slow.
It's always easier to slow things down than to speed things up. Conversely, there is always another contest if you find your date is approaching and you aren't going to be ready. But still, this notion you can get ready in 12 weeks is not a realistic one, especially for newbies.
Like always, this is my opinion. There are many factors to consider as you decide when to start your prep. Time toward your goal on stage is one area where I find more time is better, at least that's what works for me...a snail's pace.