Sunday, June 29, 2014

NS and Bodybuilding Series: The pre-enlistment phase

Some have been wondering if I'm preparing for Nationals in September - Well, no I can't compete in September. I think most people would already know that I'm enlisting soon, in about a month's time.

Recently I realised that there are many others out there like me who are concerned about losing their gains while serving the nation. Especially those who are still months or years away from enlistment and are worried about what will happen to your body and if you should.. find a way around.

I've decided to start a blog series "NS and bodybuilding" to share everything there is - my personal opinion, my experience and experiences to come and my advice. What I hope this will do for younger bodybuilders is first and foremost, help you stop worrying. The reason you worry is not because you are going to lose your gains but because you don't know if you will. You don't know what its like for a bodybuilder inside. Uncertainty is what makes us worry and fear. I hope to be able to remove this area of uncertainty for you.

I also hope to help you make informed choices, as there are choices to made in NS, and even before - if you know what I mean. And for those who have served, enjoy the read and let it be a reminder for you to appreciate your freedom to bodybuild and not worry about losing your gains - its yours to keep.

The pre-enlistment phase

In this first part, I will cover all there is to know about the pre-enlistment phase where bodybuilders are concerned.

Medical Check-Up

We begin with the pre-medical check up. Most bodybuilders are overweight when it comes to BMI so the very first decision you will have to make is whether you should try to "make weight" as we call it in bodybuilding and other weight classed sports.

I strongly suggest you do, as the BMI limit is quite high(around 27) I think, which even I was able to clear. My medical check-up and NAPFA were at 6 weeks out from Muscle War, thus my body was in prime condition to perform and clear weight(barely by a few decimal points). This is also where you should decide if there's anything you want to you know... declare. Clearing your BMI means that you only need to serve 9 weeks instead of I think around double the length.

Constant Reminder

Now comes the part I really want to focus on. The psychological aspect of a pre-enlistee. The very first thing you will physically experience is everyone around you who knows you are going to enlist will be eager to tell you in a very serious manner that you will lose size in NS. Yea, as if we didn't worry about that since day 1 right? I've worried about it since 2010 and people are telling me now as if I think I'll go in and continue training 5 days a week, eating 6 meals a day and over 3500 calories. Right.

You get the point. It'll come to a point you will be annoyed because of the constant reminder and the way people think you don't know anything.  If they knew what we did to maintain our bodies, they would know we know we will lose size. It'll be fine when people say it as a way of relating to you or a conversation but it becomes annoying when someone really thinks you don't already know and tells you seriously.

Motivation

That's the least of your problems. Your first milestone in experiencing the next step of psychological change is usually when school ends and you're waiting for your letter and basically waiting to enlist. Because now your next thing in life is NS. So inevitably you feel it drawing closer. It's good if you are a competitive athlete and can join a contest very close to NS. It will divert all your focus to the contest and will not be affected psychologically as a pre-enlistee.

During this time to the time you receive your enlistment letter, your motivation in the will still be alright and you will not suffer from what I call "Psychological Sabotage"(I will be doing a blog post on this topic). However, you will likely experience a dip in motivation and your worries will build by the day.

The final milestone before enlistment is receiving your enlistment letter. Once you get the date of your enlistment, things change. You realise "shit, this is really happening". You start to wonder what you will look like after shrinking, how heavy your warm up is going to feel later on and so on.

3 months. 2 months. 1 month. The 3 check-points you will face. As far as motivation to train goes for me, I'm fine still. Eager to get back into gym. However the motivation to progress is lacking and thus workouts may sometimes feel different and less exciting. Every time you are about to progress you will think to yourself: "everything I gain now is just temporary". You will likely experience Psychological Sabotage to quite a degree depending on individuality.

Dilemma

You will also face a dilemma of what you should do with your body prior to enlistment to come out the best after NS. Should you bulk up and get fat? Hopefully that will help you keep size during NS and preserve muscle. Should you diet and get lean? That will help you perform better inside.

I think it's very important to take into account the psychological aspect and you have to be very in tuned with your mind. You've to know if you will feel better psychologically knowing that you've fat to preserve your muscle, keep it on you. If you know you will feel better psychologically if you're lean and look good and not be affected as you see it disappear, diet. Forget about the science of which is better from a scientific point of view. Look after your mind and your body will follow.

Solutions

The 2 things that will really help during the pre-enlistment phase is firstly, always tell yourself that NS will already be taking so much of your time away, don't let it take more away from you psychologically. People will ask you why you are still training since you're going to lose everything, well tell them just that - Why let it eat up even more of your time?

The second is to remember to love what you do and do it because you love it. Keep training because that is what you love to do. If you're like me and bodybuilding always came first in your priorities and mind, learn to give it a backseat. This will help with transitioning and also help take your mind off it. Set new goals and do different things like... writing a blog!

The last would be to let go. It helps a lot psychologically if you don't try too hard to maintain, keeping the stress at bay. Accept the fact you will shrink and don't try to fight it. This is not to say don't do anything to keep size at all but mentally, let it go.

Hope this helps my fellow lifters. My next post with regards to this topic should be after my enlistment. I will likely be sharing progress pictures before and during my journey to give you an idea how your body will change during NS.

To stay updated, head over to the sidebar on the right and like MuscleCeption on Facebook.

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Note to current and future clients: Online coaching is still available and will go on as usual even after my enlistment.

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Online coaching enquiries:
Email: ahmadalifoo@Hotmail.com
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Facebook: Ashley Foo

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