Off Season Training 2

Training, Nutrition & Supplementation

Off Season Training 2 - Training, Nutrition & Supplementation
We are now directly in the middle of my off-season training. The weights are getting heavier, and the calories are increasing. With this being my first “off-season,” I am still trying to find the balance between lifting, cardio and caloric intake. The transition from cutting to building is hard physically and mentally. When you have spent the last three months slowly increasing the cardio and decreasing the calories, doing the complete opposite feels wrong. However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if you want to gain muscle mass, your body needs a surplus of calories to fuel the breakdown and growth of new muscle.

While my heart tells me I am doing the wrong thing, over the past two weeks, I have been working hard to limit my cardio to an hour (at the most) and eat at least 2,000 calories/day. It isn’t easy. I have been on the road traveling/moving for the past three weeks. So, trying to eat regularly and sufficiently, while also getting in the heavy lifting needed to build, has been difficult. But, I am proud to say that I have been able to get it all in.


In my last post, some of you commented that if I was looking to add muscle doing an hour of cardio was going to reduce my gains because of the muscle breakdown that can happen during cardio. However, I will continue to do 45-60 minutes of cardio six days/week. Let me explain why. First, we must remember that everyone is different. Everyone’s training style varies, and one program or philosophy will not work for everyone. Second, in my pursuit to strive for both mental and physical balance, doing a little more cardio than a recommended building plan helps to keep me mentally sound throughout training. Throughout my exercise career, I have done at least an hour of cardio per training session. My body has adjusted to this amount of cardio and whether it is steady state, HIIT or a combination of the two, I need to complete 45-60 minutes in order to feel satisfied with my workout. I am willing to take the possible set back it may put on my muscle gains, because I know I will be more at ease throughout my training for doing this. This is my own personal preference, not necessarily what I recommend. What I do recommend, however, is doing what is right for you. Yes, there are certain techniques and “rules” that need to be followed in order to train for a show, but if you don’t feel comfortable, they won’t work for you and you will not get the results you desire. Learning how to tweak the standards of training and nutrition to fit YOU is key for success in competition and throughout life.


Off Season Training 2 - Training, Nutrition & SupplementationRoughly 13 weeks from now, I will be back on stage in my second competition, the Music City Muscle in Nashville, TN on October 5th. Unfortunately, I have been unable to get my body fat measured since I have moved, but I have been keeping track of my weight. Since my last competition, I have gained roughly 10lbs, and I now weigh somewhere between 127-128lbs. This is about the same weight that I started at prior to beginning contest prep; however, I can feel that my muscle mass is much higher than before. Without getting my body fat measured, I cannot know for sure whether I will need to begin contest prep/cutting 12 weeks prior to the show or wait until eight weeks out. But, if I were to go off of how I look in the mirror and how I feel on a daily basis, I think I will be able to build until 8 weeks out and begin cutting then. This strategy would give me more time to build my legs and add on the needed size to present a more balanced physique than at my last show.


With my focus on building up my legs and glutes, I have adjusted my workout splits. I now bookend my training weeks with leg workouts, one heavy quad focus and the other with a heavier focus on the glutes and hamstrings. My weeks are broken down as follows:

Monday: Legs (quadriceps focus) + cardio
Tuesday: Shoulders + cardio
Wednesday: Chest and Arms + cardio
Thursday: Back +cardio
Friday: Legs (glutes and hamstring focus) + cardio
Saturday: Cardio only

Each week, I have been changing my workouts, using most of the same exercises but changing the order in which I perform them as well as how I perform them. For example, one week I will use drop sets in my workouts; while in the next, I will do more supersets or add active rest into my workouts. Changing my workouts on a regular basis has helped to keep me from not getting bored and from getting too accustomed to one style of exercise. I am also hoping to add track workouts once or twice a week into my training, using these sessions as my HIIT cardio. Below, I have given you some of my lifting workouts as well as a HIIT treadmill workout.


Superset* #1: 4 sets
Leg Press-20 reps/set, increasing weight each set
Froggers-10 Hops

Superset #2: 4 sets
Leg Extensions-15reps, drop set**
Jump Squats-15 Jumps

Superset #3: 4 sets
Leg Curls-15reps, drop set
Jump Lunges-10 per leg

Superset #4: 4 sets
Abductor Machine-12 reps increasing weight each set
Speed Skaters-10 per side

Heavy Shoulder Workout:

Superset #1: 4 sets
Shoulder Press-15/12/10/10 increasing weight with each set

Superset #2: 4 sets
Lateral Raise-15/12/10/10 increasing weight with each set
Upright Row w/EZ bar-15/12/10/10 increasing weight with each set

Superset #3: 4 sets
Dumbbell Front Raise-15/12/10/10 increasing weight with each set
Bent Over Dumbbell Reverse Flyes-15/12/10/10 increasing weigh with each set
Military Press: 4 sets, 15/12/10/8, increasing weight with each set, rest-pause*** on last set.

*Superset: A superset is performed when two exercises are performed in a row without stopping
**DropSet: A drop set is the simple technique where you perform a set of any exercise to failure or just short of failure, then drop some weight and continue for more repetitions with the reduced poundage
***A Rest-Pause set is a technique where a set of a given exercise is performed to failure then the weight is “racked” and you rest for 15 seconds before performing another set to failure.

HIIT Treadmill Workout

Minutes % Incline MPH
1-5 2%  4.0 Warm up
6-7 5%  4.5
8-9 2%  7.5
10-11 2% 3.0
12-13 5%  8.0
14-15 5%  3.0
16-17 5%  8.0
18-19 2%  5.0
20-21 2% 8.5
22-23 2% 4.0
24-25 5% 8.5
26-30 2%  4.0 Cool Down


In regards to nutrition, I have been aiming to eat 2,000 calories/day. I am keeping my macronutrients at a 40/40/20 ratio (carbs/protein/fat). For the time being, I am doing both of my cardio and weight lifting training sessions together in the AM. Because of this, I start my morning with a whey protein shake, as well as my Amino Energy/L-Carnitine drink. Before lifting, I drink my pre-workout, either Cellucor C4 or Evogen EVP, both contain creatine and provide an energy boost. Immediately post-workout I have Evogen KEM, a BCAA recovery supplement, followed by my whey shake roughly 30 minutes after my workout.

The rest of the day consists of meals filled mainly with lean protein and vegetables every two or three hours. However, my first meal after my workout is higher in carbs. I either have a baked oatmeal or oatmeal porridge. I have provided two recipes for these below. I also add Ezekiel bread or another type of grain during my lunch and afternoon snack, but I avoid them during dinner. With the higher calorie allotment, I am also having a casein-based meal post-dinner/pre-bed. My favorite is a chia seed protein pudding. I have also provided the recipe for this below. Having more calories has allowed me to be more creative in the kitchen, using a variety ingredients and techniques. Keep an eye for more recipes, including entrees and salads.


Off season training changes one’s focus. The shift from leanness to size forces one to adapt to new training styles, explore new nutrition techniques and become stronger, both physically and mentally. Adding small obtainable goals, focusing on the strength you gain each day and knowing that hard work always pays off will help to push through plateaus. I hope your off season will be as successful as I hope mine will be. Please feel free to comment below, or find me on Twitter and add me on Facebook and as always #trainhard.


Off Season Training 2 - Training, Nutrition & SupplementationPumpkin Oatbake, 1 serving

½ cup old fashioned oats
½ cup liquid egg whites
½ cup canned pumpkin
½ cup water
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 Tsp no sodium baking powder (Hain)
Stevia to taste
Pumpkin Pie spice to taste
Cinnamon to taste


1. Pre-heat oven (or toaster oven) to 425F and grease a small baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine all ingredients and pour in baking dish
3. Bake for 20-30 minutes until firm and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
4. Allow to cool slightly before eating, top with a tablespoon of nut butter if desired.

Nutrition Facts (without nut butter)

308 calories
5g fat
47g carbohydrates (12g fiber, 2g sugar)
22g protein

Cocoa-PB Oatmeal, 1 Serving

½ cup old fashioned oats
½ cup liquid egg whites
1 cup water
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
Splenda, to taste


1. Mix all ingredients except peanut butter and Splenda in a pot
2. Bring mixture to a boil over low heat, and continue to simmer, stirring, until desired consistency is reached.
3. Let sit for 1-2 minutes, covered, then add Splenda and peanut butter.
4. Serve, eat, enjoy

Nutrition Facts

355 calories
13g fat
37g carbohydrates (8g fiber, .5g sugar)
25g protein

Chocolate Chia Pudding, 1 Serving

1 scoop casein protein powder
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup water
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp PB2 (powdered peanut butter)
Splenda, to taste


Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and set in a refrigerator for at least 30 minutes until pudding has set.

Nutrition Facts

255 calories
9g fat
18g carbohydrates (9g fiber, 1g sugar)
34g protein

Rachael Olkin

Rachael graduated from UCLA in December 2010 with a degree in International Development Studies. She is currently working towards admission to nursing school, where she hopes to obtain both a Bachelors of Science in Nursing as well as a Masters of Science in Nursing.

Rachael is also preparing for her first Figure competition and will share her journey along the way, including her goals, aspirations and struggles.

Find more of Rachael on:

Muscular Development