Competition Prep: What Athletes Should Really Focus On

As I write this, myself and a few other athletes from Guam are preparing to compete in the 2019 Manila Throwdown Individual Edition. This event has been a staple in our competition season and serves as a great test to see how our fitness compares to our brothers and sisters in the Philippines and around the region.

I figured I’d share a few ideas I have in regards to preparing for competition with all of you.

Whether you are gunning for a podium spot, or just doing it for fun, here are some things to consider as you prepare for the competition.


The week before competition is not the time to switch things up. I’ve seen athletes in the past drastically cut their carbohydrate intake simply because they want to lean out and ‘feel lighter’ on the competition floor. This is flawed thinking. Food = Fuel. So don’t cut your caloric intake or do anything crazy if you don’t have to. We eat for performance, not aesthetics. Eat your food!!


This one applies to all aspects of preparation. From nutrition to recovery to training, bring forth intentional effort as you prepare to compete. There shouldn’t be a sessions where you simply go through the motions. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Do the extra work!


This may seem like a no-brainer, but mindset is huge! During the weeks leading up to the competition we want to remove any negative self talk. Instead, focus on positive self talk and visualization. Picture yourself on the competition floor. Imagine how it’s going to feel as you approach the bar. Visualize the crowd and the announcers yelling as you grind through those final few reps. Positive visualization is your secret weapon! Use it to your advantage! Feel good, perform well. Bring the fire!

There you have it. Everyone trains hard leading up the competition. Everyone’s abilities are relatively similar. What ultimately separates those on the podium and the rest of the field is who is best prepared between the ears. This usually takes place outside of the gym. Align all of your habits to best prepare yourself for the competition and get after it!


This is for the coaches – never skip this step when working with a new client

We all have goals.

For some it may to achieve their first muscle-up after years of attempts, for others it may simply be to have more energy throughout the day.

Setting a goal is only one part of the equation.

In my opinion, what’s more important than setting a goal, is knowing where your starting point is.

This is why assessments are critical in the program design process. Whether you are a group fitness instructor or a personal trainer, if you don’t assess, then you’re just guessing.

Assessments can include (but are not limited to):

  • Body composition
  • Movement patterns
  • Energy systems
  • Strength ratios

Now, I’m not going to say what exact tests you should perform on your clients because there is no perfect system. There is only perfect practice.

By that, I mean that as a coach, you must adapt your assessments to tailor the audience you are serving. Keep researching. Keep learning. Take a step back and look at the big picture. Are you actually assessing your clients? Or are you simply giving them exercises to do and hoping that they are able to perform them without your intervention?

Take time in developing your assessment process. This will ensure that you are consistent and clear with your clients which will evidently set the tone for the rest of your relationship with them.

  1. Assess
  2. Test
  3. Re-assess
  4. Re-test
  5. Rinse and repeat, forever and ever

If you want to go fast, you’ll skip the assessment process and go straight to program design by assuming your client’s abilities. But if you want to go far and actually make an impact, you need to master the skill of a proper assessment in order to deliver the most effective training program you possibly can.

If you are a coach and want to chat about what assessments and how to determine if they’re appropriate for your client(s), shoot me a message and I’d love to help.



UPROAR! TERRIBLE TWOs – My initial thoughts

It’s been quite some time since the last competitive fitness (aka fast exercising) event occurred on island. With the first UPROAR! event being a success, the brains behind the event wanted to mix things up this time around. Instead of an individual competition, the second installment of UPROAR! will be a partner competition. Featured below are the main elements of the competition that have been on my mind as of late.


I love that this is a partner competition. What I love even more is that each team is comprised of a male and a female. The co-ed aspect of this competition is going to make things very interesting. We will see which duos have worked out and trained together, and which ones haven’t!


Since the athlete briefing hasn’t occurred yet, I am not 100% positive on the format of the competition and am just basing this off of the first UPROAR! installment. The bracket and single elimination format is unlike any other fitness event. Most competitions consist of multiple events where your placing in each individual workout determines how many points you have at the end of the event. Depending on the format and scoring system, this will determine what place you have earned during the competition. However, UPROAR! is a single elimination tournament. Meaning, if you lose you’re out. This is going to bring the best out of everyone.. because there is no room for error!


The last UPROAR! event was held at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort. This time around it is going to be held at Custom Fitness. I think the call to move the event back to the gym environment was a good one. This will keep the athletes in their element and allow the spectators to feel what the gym atmosphere can be like. Hopefully this motivates some of them to consider joining one of the respective gyms that will be represented in this competition!


These workouts are going to be extremely taxing on the forearms and biceps. I have advised my athletes to refrain from any intensive forearm and elbow flexion two days leading up to the event. Due to the relatively short time domains, warmups and cool-downs are going to be even more important leading up to each event. Be prepared to see a lot of people massaging their partner’s forearms. The addition of “The Gauntlet” and the cargo net are going to make for unique visuals for the spectators. Athletes only had one week to practice these implements, so we will see which ones are able to adapt on the fly and overcome these obstacles.


Where: Custom Fitness

When: Saturday, May 11 – Doors open at 3:00pm with the action starting at 4:00pm

Should You Be Training Like That?

One thing I see quite often, especially with newer athletes, is the underlying need to do more. Athletes will see videos of Rich Froning and Mat Fraser training all day and, as a result, they will hop on google and search for the latest and greatest competitive fitness programming blog and begin the next day.

Guess what? I was once that athlete!

While I do believe that taking ownership of your training and seeking more is essential in becoming the greatest version of yourself, some ways are better than others.

Following blog programming catered towards competitive athletes is going to be fun for a few weeks, sure. But once burnout sets in, once those aches and pains start to last longer than usual, only then you will you find yourself right back where you started.

Intent > Intensity

Instead of chasing intensity with every session, seek out a coach who will teach you how to train with purpose in order to maximize your time spent inside the gym.

Everyone is different. This is why everyone shouldn’t be following the same program. Sure, training with your peers is fun. But wouldn’t you want to progress at the fastest rate possible for you?

Think about that before your next session. Are you setting yourself up to have a great training week and month? Or are you going to have a killer session that leaves you feeling beat up and sore for the remainder of the week?

The aimless pursuit of intensity is dead. Take a more structured approach. True fitness is long-term. Don’t skip the required steps.


Post-Workout Essentials

This post is dedicated to the aspect of training that doesn’t get nearly as much credit as it should. 

Lately, there has been a large emphasis placed on warmup and activation protocols to be performed before your training sessions (which is great!), but not as much focus has been placed on what to do after you workout. 

Featured below is the list of post-workout essentials that I aim to complete at the end of each training session. 

Easy Blood Flow 

Simply moving around will allow the body to have a smooth transition from exercise back to a state of rest. This can be achieved by performing 5-15 minutes of easy movement(rowing, biking, walking). The proposed benefits of doing this after a workout are to:

  • reduce heart rate 
  • gradually cool body temperature 
  • prevent blood pooling in lower extremities (which, if undone, can lead to dizziness and possibly fainting) 
  • restore blood levels close to baseline

Post-workout Nutrition

Protein and carbohydrates are vital in the recovery process immediately following a training session. Protein aids in muscle synthesis and reduces muscle recovery time while carbohydrates replenish muscle glycogen stores before the next session. The exact amount of protein/carbohydrates is highly individualized based on body composition, training goals, workout duration, workout intensity, etc. But I have provided a general guide that can be followed after most training sessions: 

Protein: 20-25g high-quality, high-leucine protein

Carbohydrates: 30-100g of high-glycemic index carbohydrates 

Body Maintenance 

Your body is hot after a workout. Take advantage of this increased muscle temperature and stretch! According to the NSCA, post-workout stretching facilitates improvements in range of motion due to increased muscle temperature. The increased body temperature allows for a greater stretch magnitude.

Take control of your training!


Please note that the information provided in these blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals or physicians. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

The Pursuit of Perfection – Skill Development

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t practice enough.

Just because you achieved your first muscle-up doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice your ring transitions, ring dips, dip supports, etc.

More often than not, when athletes “unlock” skills, they rarely return to the practice that got them there in the first place!

Why? Because those drills are boring.

The patience and determination that led them to that skill is the exact same patience and determination that is required in order to perfect that skill! However, this doesn’t happen as often as it should.

Let’s use the ring muscle-up (rMU) as an example.

Instead of going from one ring muscle-up to trying to RX “Amanda” the next week, use the following principles when designing your next training regimen.

Skill Development (using rMU as an example)

  1. Skill Acquisition – having the ability to perform rMU in a non-fatigued state
    • Accumulate 10 perfect rMU singles; full recovery between reps
  2. Skill Volume – increasing the number of repetitions of per session
    • 2-3 unbroken rMU; rest until recovered; x 3 sets
  3. Skill + Cyclical – rMU with a cyclical modality added
    • 5 sets: 60 sec row @ 2k pace + 2-3 rMU; full recovery x 3 sets
  4. Skill + Mixed Modal – rMU with mixed modalities
    • 3 RFT: 3 rMU + 10 cal AB + 10 shoulder to overhead 135/95#

Great technique is essential for injury prevention, balanced muscle development, and efficiency.

There’s a reason why the fittest on earth also have the greatest technique on earth!

Be patient, and don’t rush the process.

Be relentless in your pursuit of perfection.


Four Percent

“I just don’t have time to workout.” – Lots of People

I get it. People get busy. This post isn’t to say that busyness doesn’t exist.

However, I will argue and say that rather than not having time to workout, people just haven’t found their purpose to workout.

Shift your focus from just going to the gym to improving your health.

All it takes is some perspective.

A one hour workout is only 4% of your day.


Take ownership.

Make moves.


Rest Day Essentials

When focusing on improving fitness and health, most people will hone in on the following two areas:

  1. Training – what changes can be made inside of the gym
  2. Nutrition – how they can adjust their food intake to align with their goals

However, one thing that is often overlooked are rest days and what exactly to do one these days.

If you find yourself avoiding the thought of rest days because you feel the constant need to exert yourself every single day, then this one might sting.

Rest days are essential if you want to improve.

Each training session we complete places great amounts of stress on our body. In order for our bodies to adapt to these stressors, we must give it time to do so.

I prescribe two mandatory rest days per week for my athletes. One of these days is an active recovery day (Thursdays) and one is a full rest day (Sundays).

Try to add the following activities to your next rest day to ensure that you are setting your body up for ample recovery before your next session.

  1. Easy Blood Flow – these are on our active recovery days. Go for an easy walk, row, bike. This is to move blood through our body and aid in decreasing muscle soreness.
  2. Screen-less Personal Time – take a break from your cell phone or laptop. Spend some time outdoors, reconnect with loved ones, read a book, play a board game, etc.
  3. Body Maintenance – perform simple body maintenance such as yoga, active/passive mobility, low-intensity prehab exercises. We all have areas in need of improvement, so dedicate some time to doing exactly that.
  4. Nutrition – take advantage of this extra time to meal prep and set yourself up for success. Don’t leave food up to chance. It is one of the most important variables in recovery and is also one that you have full control over.

On your next rest day, be proactive with your recovery and nutrition. Don’t leave anything up to chance. Take control of your progress!



Effort is a Choice

Thanks to the crew at Training Think Tank, this statement has been stuck in my head since I started following their content over a few years ago.

Such a simple phrase, yet so powerful.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Every time you step into the gym, you make the choice to either:

  1. Work relentlessly towards your goals, or
  2. Go through the motions with no intention

It’s up to you. Don’t sit around and wait for things to happen.



Don’t Let Your Emotions Hinder Your Progress

Too many of us, whether you’re a competitive athlete or not, probably have too much of an emotional connection when it comes to training.

Comparison is the first thing that pops into my head in regards to this issue. By comparing yourself to others you may find yourself thinking, “I wish I were that strong,” or, “If only my nutrition were better.”

If you find yourself asking these questions, this is okay! This feedback is valuable. It is evidence that you are aware of where you need improvement. Now we just need to act upon them.

Below are some examples of how you can shape these feedback statements into more thought-provoking and actionable questions you can ask yourself.

Instead of, “I wish were stronger,” think to yourself, “How much have I progressed over the past 6 months?”

Rather than, “If only my nutrition were better,” ask yourself, “What changes can I make to improve my current nutrition regimen?”

Take a step back and look at the big picture. There is more to training than what you see people post on the ‘gram. There is always more that you can do to ensure that your lifestyle is in alignment with your goals.

You are in control of your training!

Set a deadline. Create a plan. Execute.