The pressures associated with everyday life are enough to deal with. The last thing anyone would want to do is add to that as a byproduct of doing something they thoroughly enjoy.

As goal oriented perfectionists, athletes tend to go to extremes in many areas of their lives. While it does sometimes require extreme measures to compete in the best condition possible, those extremes can easily transfer into what happens after the competition. During this time, the body needs to rest, recover and prepare for new growth. What your body doesn’t need is a whole new stress. To avoid this, having a plan set in place post competition will ensure you give your body the proper attention required to minimize the harsh effects of a post competition rebound known as Metabolic Stress.

Post Competition

It takes many weeks and sometimes many months to get into the condition required to be a champion bodybuilder. Deprivation is the recurring theme throughout a contest prep and that alone is enough to drive anyone crazy. Add to that the rigours of weight training, performing cardio plus juggling everything outside of the gym – the idea of being able to relax and ease up on the bodybuilding lifestyle begins to look very appealing once the competition is over.

For someone who has never competed before, temptation can easily turn into gluttony. All the foods you had to stay away from to ensure physical perfection are now added to the grocery list. You feel as if your body needs rest, and staying out of the gym is the best solution to that problem. Your daily, regimented routine is now a thing of the past and you slowly slip into a potentially health threatening situation.

After maintaining a diet consisting of low to moderate carbohydrate intake, high protein and moderate healthy fats, your body adapted very well to this food and became a fat burning, muscle-building energy-efficient machine. Everything seemed to go like clock work and you were so fine tuned that the slightest manipulation could easily be seen in your physique. Now change all that, introduce grease from burgers and pizza, throw in simple sugars from cookies and ice cream, basically eating whatever you want whenever you want, and you have just created an extreme situation. Post competition the body is like a sponge, ready to soak up everything you feed it. An excess of salts, sugars and fats is going to wreak havoc on your metabolism. Sure you’ll fill up and feel huge and still look pretty good, but what’s happening internally is not so good.

Physiologically speaking, an increase in insulin production can be expected, increased water retention, hypertension, additional stress on kidneys, an increase in metabolism with a subsequent drop leading to extreme weight gains, edema and the over production of stress hormones such as catecholamines is what you are in for. This stress on your body will eventually catch up to you keeping you away from the gym longer than you anticipated.

Other issues that may rise as a result of Metabolic Stress are concerns with the emotional and mental side of your being. According to a study on obesity, short-term overfeeding fails to alter the sympathetic control of energy expenditure and lipolysis. That means that you actually shut down your body’s ability to burn excess calories and fat. Once that happens, most people fall back into their old eating habits and the problems continue with the belief it’s going to be too hard and too much work to get back into shape. That being said, watching your physique diminish right before your eyes is also very stressful. That mental stress has been associated with increased resting heart rate, an increase in blood pressure and a change in mood. Sometimes a bout of depression can accompany called the post show blues.

See Also:
Getting Started in Weight Training - Part 3

So what should you do?

Just as you sat down and planned out your route to victory, the same should be done post competition. Many people agree with the idea that post show is one of the most opportune times to initiate new growth, so why waste that time gorging on empty calories and sleeping in all day. Instead create a new diet, one that introduces new, cleaner sources of food on a gradual basis and slowly increase your intake so that the changes are minimal and less of a stress on your metabolism. Stick with eating your “diet” foods and then simply add from there. Your body will appreciate it, your post competition experience will be a better one, and you will have all necessary ingredients to prime yourself for new, skin busting muscle gains.

What Supplements can help?

BCAA 4500 Best Branched Chain Amono Acid SupplementAST Sports Science is a bodybuilder’s company. For that reason, they understand the needs of bodybuilders at every stage in their development. To help ease the transition from competition to post competition, AST has introduced the most effective products that exist to ease Metabolic Stress. I would suggest including the following in your post-competition supplement protocol:

MultiPro 32X – for its abundance of vitamins and minerals necessary to heal and maintain overall health.

GABA – to help induce growth hormone stimulating sleep for recovery purposes.

BCAA 4500 – to support new muscle growth during the switch between in-season training to offseason.

Finally, r-ALA 200 for its ability to fight cell damaging free radicals and optimize insulin activity.

Metabolic stress can be serious; however knowing how to avoid it is paramount in the quest to taking full advantage of a time when your body is ready to create new muscle. Be cognizant of what can happen should you give in to temptation and make a new, realistic plan with new goals. AST Sports Science is here to support your endeavours. Make it a part of your new program; enjoy the weeks following your show and make informed and intelligent choices with what you do next. Its bodybuilding, not body-destructing so why put yourself in a position that goes against all that you have worked for?


Gérald Seematter, Mirjam Dirlewanger, Valentine Rey, Philippe Schneiter and Luc Tappy; “Metabolic Effects of Mental Stress during Over- and Underfeeding in Healthy Women”; Obesity Research (2002) 10, 49–55.
Goto K, Ishii N, Kizuka T, Takamatsu K; “The impact of metabolic stress on hormonal responses and muscular adaptations.”; Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Jun;37(6):955-63.

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Understanding Metabolic Stress

by Dana Bushell time to read: 5 min