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Cliff Wilson Q&A

How much weight should someone gain in my offseason?

This can be a tricky question to answer because not everyone is created equal. I know that some people would really like me to give a hard answer and say something like “don’t allow yourself to gain more than 15 lbs. from stage weight.”, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. I can however give you some insight into things I consider when determining just how much weight my clients should gain during their offseason.

The first thing that needs to be considered is your actual stage weight. This is important because there is a HUGE difference between the ideal amount of weight a 108 lbs. figure competitor should gain when compared to a 180 lbs. bodybuilder. A gain of 30 lbs. will reflect much more significantly on the 180 lbs. competitor than it would on the 108 lbs. competitor.

One thing my clients always hear me talk about in their offseason is what I call “The Sweet Spot”. The sweet spot is the spot in their offseason where things really come together. This is the weight range where they meet 4 main criteria.

  • They are still relatively lean.
  • They have plenty of energy on a daily basis as well as in the gym.
  • They aren’t hungry on a daily basis.
  • They feel comfortable with their offseason look.

Once all three of these have been achieved, then I know we have found the ideal offseason weight for that particular person. Once hunger levels have subsided and energy is good, this tells me that hormone levels that typically decline during prep have been normalized. Maintaining a relatively lean condition for the offseason will be important to make sure the next prep for a show isn’t too long, and the person being comfortable with their offseason look is important for maintaining a healthy mental balance and outlook. Generally, if a person is feeling good, performing well, and happy with how they look then I know we are firing on all cylinders.

These numbers can vary wildly from person to person, but generally I find that the sweet spot will be between 12-30 lbs. for female competitors, and between 25-40 lbs. for male competitors.

Should I include my fiber when I count macros?

This is a question I get quite often. A lot of competitors have been told that they should not include fiber in their daily carbohydrate count because it’s typically believed “fiber doesn’t count”. The reason many people don’t count it in their daily macronutrient total is because they are under the impression that our body derives no calories from fiber due to our inability to break it down and that it will simply pass through our digestive system intact. This isn’t exactly true.

First off, it is important to state that ensuring you are ingesting ample fiber a must. Not only does fiber provide bulk to our diet and ensure that are digestive system keeps running smoothly and remains healthy, there are also certain types of fibers that act as prebiotics which also ensure the health of our digestive tract. 

With that stated, I believe that you SHOULD count fiber as part of your daily carbohydrate total. Contrary to common belief, our body can actually derive caloric value from some fibers. Bacteria in your gut will actually feed on fiber causing it to ferment, resulting in the production of short chain fatty acids. So what does this mean? It means that our body can actually derive somewhere between 1.5-2.5 calories per gram of fiber. The exact caloric value is still a bit debated.

For the sake of ease, and to ensure a more likely accurate measurement, I recommend just counting fiber in your total carbohydrate intake for the day.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard or seen from another competitor?

This is a funny one, and I can say that one particular incident definitely comes to mind immediately.

A few years ago, my wife was competing in her first figure competition. The night before the show I was waiting out in the hotel lobby while she completed checking in and completing her drug testing.

Across the way I notice a competitor that is just staring at me as if I just killed his dog or something. He was looking at me as if he wanted to fight. After giving me the stink eye without blinking for several minutes, he finally came up to me and aggressively said “What class are you in?” I gave a smile and let him know I wasn’t competing the next day. I jokingly told him that he didn’t need to worry about me as I was way too pale and flabby at the moment to step on stage. “I see.” Said the competitor.

He then continued to stare at me for about another minute or two without looking away. It was extremely awkward so finally I turned to him and said “did you need anything else?”. “Yeah, my quads are gigantic!” The guy replied. I was a bit confused about why he was telling me this. Before I could reply, he then said “My biceps are huge too! In fact, I grow so damn quickly that there isn’t a training partner on this planet that can keep up with me!”

By this point I have fully realized the guy is a total nutcase but I still have to stay there and wait for my wife. So I just said “That’s great man.” And went back to my own business. Since he was wearing pretty bagging clothing I wasn’t able to substantiate his claims about his physique unfortunately.

At this point someone else had walked up and he turned his attention to him. I listened to this guy ramble on for several more minutes about his unstoppable genetics, unreal growth, and intimidating physique before my wife mercifully emerged and I was free to go.

The next morning at the show I bumped into the same competitor backstage a several minutes before the show. He saw me and said “Time to carb up and complete this masterpiece!”, he then ripped open a fresh 1 pound bag of Skittle and proceeded to eat the entire thing in a matter of a few minutes. I was pretty shocked that he ate a full pound of Skittles when he was probably going to be stepping on stage in just a few minutes. So you could imagine my shock when he then reached into his bag, pulled out another 1 pound bag of Skittles, and ate that one too.

The show got underway and, unsurprisingly, when my new friend pulled off his warm ups he was terribly out of shape and realistically needed to lose about 30 lbs. to truly be show ready. This didn’t stop him from talking trash to every other competitor as they all pumped up. They went out for prejudging and it was clear that he was going to take last. The guy came over to me and explained that he didn’t get the chance to show is stuff because for some reason his stomach was hurting. I’m sure it was from the 2 POUNDS of Skittles he has just devoured but he didn’t seem to make the connection. He packed up and on the way out he looked at me and said “They just weren’t ready for me today. It’s just that simple”.

That is the story of the most ridiculous competitor I have ever met.

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