Expert Corner: Eddie Franjic on Bodybuilding & Physique Training
Meet Eddie Franjic
Eddie has been working professionally as a personal trainer for the past 10 years, and has been physique training and bodybuilding for the past 18 years. With his background in Kinesiology, Eddie has helped countless clients reach their fitness goals. A firm believer in the balance between building strength and managing nutrition, stress, and sleep, Eddie advocates a holistic approach to health and fitness.
At the most recent Natural Nationals, Eddie placed 2nd in Bodybuilding and 2nd in Classic Physique. Keep reading for is his training journey and tips on how to prepare for a physique content!
Training & Bodybuilding for a Physique Contest
Training for a physique contest should be centered around optimizing training and nutrition, while managing stress, sleep, and recovery. This is no easy task and requires months of preparation and discipline. Often, you will see physique competitors prepare anywhere from 8-16 weeks for a contest. However, for my most recent Nationals appearance, the preparation phase began over a year prior to the day of the show. There is no one plan fits all, but I will give you a brief overview how I utilized my nearly two decades of training experience to structure the plan that ultimately awarded me 2nd in Bodybuilding and 2nd in Classic Physique at the Natural Nationals 2018.
How To Prepare
When competitors prepare for a contest, they often focus solely on the last 8-16 weeks, commonly referred to as their “prep.” Although those weeks are critical, it is equally important to set up your plan beforehand, so that you can get the most out of the final stage of prep. In order to do so, a few things need to happen approximately 52-16 weeks out from the contest:
- Get stronger during your off-season.
Focus on your training – this will allow you to build more muscle that will ultimately be revealed once those layers of fat are gone. During the final weeks leading up to the show, you are primarily focused on fat loss, not muscle gain. It is important to build muscle while your food and energy levels are still high 52-16 weeks out from the show.
- Tapering back training (both lifting weights and cardio).
When you are 52-16 weeks away from a contest, reducing your training can actually help you. This strategy will allow you to increase training volume as the show approaches, which will result in a decrease of overall body fat as the show nears. Remember, working out more is beneficial, but workouts need to be increased wisely. You want to get maximal results from as little extra work as possible. An experienced coach can help make sure you are not doing too little (no result) or too much (you will burn out).
- Ramp up food intake.
As the show approaches, food intake will reduce in order to create a caloric deficit. This is what will drop body fat percentages. However, if you start your prep on low food intake, you won’t have much wiggle room to reduce meal portions and may cause yourself to plateau. Slowly increasing calories well into your off-season is vital, as it will help you gain muscle mass, but more importantly, improve metabolic flexibility. By doing this, you are ensuring success throughout your “prep phase,” as you will be able to cut portion size without starving yourself.
Once those final 8-16 weeks approach, it’s time to ramp things up! You always want to get maximal results from minimal increases in training volume and reductions of caloric intake. This varies from one individual to the next, but once you are in a fat loss zone you just need to put your head down and keep working!
It Takes Hard Work and Dedication
Getting extremely lean is difficult physically and mentally, but focusing your mind on your ultimate goal will help keep you on track. Adjustments to training and nutrition plans are individually specific, so a quality coach with experience goes a long way. I’ve been competing for over 8 years and have competed in over 30 contests, so knowing what and when to change the plan has become a skill that I’ve developed over time. Also, keep in mind that a requirement for training success is hard work over a long period of time. Once you think you are close to your goal, push harder and you will get there!