Now that the Nationals are over and the competition season is drawing to a close, many athletes are left in the same position- reviewing their year's performance and comtemplating 'what's next?'. 
Lisa with Sarah enjoying
a treat meal
It's that time of year when some of us may experience post-competition blues and after being so focused during the competitive season, the off season can seem like unchartered territiory- an seemingly endless expanse of time, a new world filled with foods that are no longer off-limit and next years goals seem miles away. It's a time during which many athletes experience what I call 'the backswing'. No explanantion needed here! 

Without a decent off-season plan to follow, it's little wonder that athletes may find this time in limbo difficult to traverse when all prior restrictions no longer apply. Where once competiton goals lifted us up and fuelled our every thought, there is now a let-down period where we need to re-set both mentally as well as physically- and if you'd like to vaguely resemble your competitive self, it's a time to set some new goals. While off-season goal setting is nowhere near as exciting, the moves you make now as an athlete will either guide you to new heights or prove to be your undoing.


My first recommendation is to set yourself a realistic weight limit. For women, I believe no more than 5 kilos over comp weight as a maximum is ideal, for a large male athlete no more than 10 kilos. It really depends on your height and build and this is only a general recommendation- an experienced athlete/trainer would be able to advise you if you're still unsure on what is a realistic weight for you to maintain.

left: Sarah looking great in the off season
Keeping in touch allows you to be ready for photoshoots, promotional work, modelling jobs or public appearances, all of which are opportunities that open up for those who stay in reasonable shape.

Secondly, design an off-season plan that allows for treats, because no doubt you're going to have them so factor them in from the start. Peronally what's always worked well for me is Monday to Friday on-track and weekends I play by ear depending on my weight.
Off-season I like to operate on a very simple green, orange and red zone for my weight control- I'll explain:

As my competive weight is 58 kilos, I consider 58-60kg to be in the 'green zone'. 60-62 kilos is 'orange zone' weight range, while 63kgs and over is in my  'red zone'. While in the green or orange zone I will allow myself the weekend cheat meals but if I spill over into the red, then it's time to pull finger until I'm at least back in the orange zone. Simple yet effective and works for anyone!

Sarah Parr 1st NABBA WFF, NABBA Class 2 Christchurch Grand Prix 2013
3rd NABBA Southern Hemisphere 2013


Thirdly, don't cease having assessments/measurements
just because you're off-season. Although none of us like to compare our off-season measures and bodyfat percentage to our competitive stats, without knowing where you are, how do you know which step to take next? It keeps you answereable to someone else and also lets you know if things are getting out of hand- before they get there!

Get someone to assess you at least every 8 weeks, perhaps more frequently if you feel you're particularly 'at risk'. The regular contact and assessment results will do so much for keeping you on track and focused for the coming year.

Lastly invest in an off-season supplement stack that capitilises on this phase of down-time. With the extra calories and reduction in cardio, consider the off-season as the perfect time to gain advantage over fellow athletes and use it to set the tone for your victorious 2014!

Look at the off-season through different eyes. Rather than an aimless walkabout in the land of no limits, this is your boom-time for muscle growth-  Don't overlook the basics such as mulitvitamins or a good protein powder. This off-season I've been experiencing great results with the Hyper Strength supplement range and use both whey and casein or sometimes use a blend of both.

Off-season is recovery time so plough into your BCAA's and glutamine post-training*** and get plenty of sleep to maximise results. If you gain too much bodyfat you may wish to cycle a thermogenic but my recommendation is to let your diet do the work and crank up the fatburners during on season prefferably. An experienced trainer can advise you on which supplements would best suit your immediate needs.

However far away it may seem and however lofty your goals may be, THIS is the time to reach for it- your future success is down to you and the choices you make now.

Consider that you can choose now to either:

a)cruise your way to your goals or

b)face going through a motivation-sapping fight to regaining your former figure

When I was training for the Southern Hemisphere Champs in Gold Coast I did a maximum of only 2 hours cardio per week, used fatburners for just the last 4 weeks and came in my leanest ever- creditied mostly to a very well executed off-season.

Off-season doesn't need to equal off-the-chart bodyfat gain and on-season certainly doesn't need to mean gruelling hours of cardio.


Change your mindset about off-season eating, go meet with a trainer, set yourself some physical goals, put in place an effective supplement regime and you will reap the rewards in 2014!

Sarah Parr
16 October

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