Competition Prep in 2019, what’s changed this time round?

Dr. Andrew Chappell, BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, RNutr (Sport)

Performance Nutritionist

As I prepare for Pro stage once again here are some of the things I’ve done differently this time round in anticipation of my return to the stage.

Prep Lessons From 2019, What’s changed this time out?

What’s Changed For 2019?

Bodybuilding competition preparation requires meticulous planning and a lot of hard work, to achieve extreme levels of muscularity and conditioning. To get in shape, lot of people employ coaches or have someone who keeps an eye on them and keep them accountable. I’ve generally always had someone who’s kept an eye on me, and I’ve worked closely with Douglas Black from Extreme Nutrition and Guy Addison from the Body Academy to keep me accountable and given me feedback on my condition. They have been great relationships and extremely productive in helping me achieve my bodybuilding goals. I would always credit them with contributing towards my bodybuilding success.

There is a difference though between coaching and working with someone who keeps an eye on, since the diet is ultimately managed by the athlete and it’s more of a collaborative effort. These days though I fully coach myself, and I have done so since since I turned Pro in 2014. The last I competed in 2017, I brought my best bodybuilding package to date, using the lessons learned from previous preps, and new knowledge acquired via research and being around different athletes. My prep 2019, like all preps has been a learning experience. As I prepare for Pro stage once again here are some of the things I’ve done differently this time round in anticipation of my return to the stage.

Hopefully some of these things will help you think about your own preps and how you can make adjustments to get the best out of your physique.


  • I’ve been more sensible around injuries
    • I’ve altered my training style more depending on how I’ve felt that day, I’ve not kept in exercises for the sake of it, even if they are likely to hurt.
    • I’m just not willing to train through pain anymore
    • This has helped my day to day life, I’ve had far less aches and pains and I’ve been taking far less pain killers and using less ice and deep heat.
  • I’ve resistance trained 5 days per week.
    • In the past I’ve only prepped by doing 4 scheduled days
    • I always do a split routine, this time I’ve split my training up a little more Monday to Friday
    • This has allowed me to spend more time focusing on smaller bodyparts like calves, abs and arms
    • I’ve trained hamstrings with back and stopped conventional deadlifting
      • I’ve trained hamstrings first with stiff leg deadlifting and decided not to use a belt to force me to lift lighter.
      • I’ve given up on conventional deadlifts, I’ve done them for too long and I just can’t deal with being injured anymore.
      • I’ve started doing hip thrusters, I’m more or less a bikini competitor now, jokes aside I’ve found them a great exercise for my lower back, glutes and hamstrings
    • I now squat last in my quad workouts
      • Because of a knee injury halfway through my prep I backed off squats and now I do them at the end of my workout
      • Everything being pre-exhausted has forced me to go lighter, which in turn has probably helped my lower back.
      • I’ve done far more single leg movements like single leg, leg press and lunges, I’ve found these great for my hamstrings and glutes.
    • I’ve benched heavy throughout my prep
      • I’ve managed to maintain a consistent 140kg bench for sets of 5 for the last 3 months of the prep without the weight dropping, this has definitely helped my thickness but also my shoulder press.
    • I’ve done front raises, I’ve never really done front raises for my shoulder workouts but the five day plan, now means I have more time to focus on my shoulders
  • I’ve added cardio to the end of my resistance training sessions
    • I’ve never been one to Cain cardio, but with my average activity level being lower than in previous preps I’ve added 15 minutes to the end of each of my resistance training sessions in the last month to help bring me in.
  • I’ve looked to my steps, in previous years I’ve been more active when prepping, to keep an eye on my sedentary behaviour I’ve made sure I get in at least 7,000 steps per day, so I can keep my food high

My training split

  • Hamstrings and Back
  • Calves and Chest
  • Arms
  • Quads
  • Shoulders and Abs


Following my 2014 and 2017 prep I found the longer I dieted the better shape I got in. Combined that with the research I published in 2018 and 2019 on pro bodybuilders I decided to diet for 28 weeks rather than my usual 20 for the first show.

  • The slower diet has allowed me to train hard all year round
  • It’s also allowed me to lose weight slowly
  • It’s also allowed me to keep my food very high
  • I’ve ate more fat as part of my diet
  • Previously I’ve dieting on high protein, high carbs and low fat
  • This time round I’ve cut back slightly on the carbs to ensure my fats aren’t quite as low.
  • I’ve had more variety in my diet
  • I’ve kept bread, butter, dairy in my diet for much longer than I normally would
  • I’ve not simply ate chicken and rice
  • I eventually cut out bread because of the difficulties tracking loaf size and spread on the bread
  • Low fat yoghurt, and rice cakes have been in my diet throughout the prep
  • I ate peanuts instead of almonds
  • I like peanuts and they have a similar profile to almonds, so I thought why not.
  • I cut milk from my tea and coffee this time with 6 weeks to go, I didn’t want the additional calories coming in.
  • I’ve ate far more veg than in the past, the fibre has been good for me and I’ve managed to ensure I’m getting at least 6 portions of veg per day.


  • I’ve used less than ever before, currently I’m only taking a multivitamin, creatine, BCAA, fish oil and Protein Powder
  • The fat burners and pre-workouts are gone, in the past I might have used these, now they are long gone from my diet.


  • I pose much better than I did before
  • People have always known me as a good poser, working with Steff Noble has helped me refine my posing even more by hiding my weaknesses and displaying my strengths
  • I’ve vacuumed, I’ve practiced this pose with the goal of trying to bring a tighter waist and more classic look. I’m more concerned with aesthetics these days, I never felt like the ab and thigh shot was a great one for me anyway.


  • I’ve believed in myself more, Steph has kept me accountable, but she also believes in me which has boosted my confidence and made me much more positive about my stage presentation.
  • Steph gives fair feedback, she is positive and gives credit when it’s due, she knows when it’s important to be critical, but is a motivator rather than acting as a drill instructor which has taken the pressure off me a little

So, there you have it, these are the things that have been different this time round. Who knows what future preps will look like?

If your interested in competition preparation why not get in touch with the ProPrep Coaching team and see how a different approach to prep can help you improve on previous years.