My client Maria just won two Figure competition classes: the overall title, and the only pro card for Figure at Nationals a few weeks back. And while I am certainly no longer about outcomes, there is a lesson in success here on the coaching which needs to be addressed. Some of you will get, most of you will not.

We started Maria’s diet this year at 11 weeks out. A few weeks or so into it, her weight had not changed in three weeks. She was dieting, but there was no weight change for three weeks. After assessing her biofeedback--which is more important to me than the weight scale--and then looking again at her diet, my reply to this situation was, “No changes.” We didn’t alter a thing in her training or her diet to find a “solution” to not losing weight on the scale. You see, for me, (and for most great coaches I imagine) the weight scale is just a component of feedback. It’s not the deciding element, just a mere part of it. So after three weeks of no change on the scale, I trusted the process and the client and said “let it happen.”

“No changes.”

Sure enough, her body started cooperating. More importantly, regardless of the scale, her body began looking like it should for the weeks out we had left.

Fast forward now to one week out from the show. Maria is beyond ready. It is the best she has ever looked. And we haven’t altered a single thing since the start of the diet--not the training, not the calories, nothing. No changes. So at one week out Maria wanted her last week’s preparation guidelines. She took out her pen and I told her to write down two words: NO CHANGES. Say what? But this is the last week! What about carb depleting? What about fat loading? What about diuretics or water pills? What about... the fact that Maria couldn’t look any better. Period. How could some last minute “Guru-Voodoo” make what is best, best-er? It can’t. So my advice: “NO CHANGES.” But this would mean she would go into the show with the same diet, the same training, from the same point as she had at 11 weeks out? YEP!

Now, mid-week before the show Maria contacted me and needed some reinforcement. Are you sure? Nothing wrong in that. I know how competitors get before a show. Doing "nothing" seems somehow counter-intuitive. But I learned a long time ago in this industry that "coaching" and "leadership" are different things. There is an old saying that the sign of a good leader is someone “who can keep his head about him while everyone around him is losing theirs.” That certainly describes the last week before a contest for thousands and thousands of wannabe competitors (and their coaches as well). But we had something else on our side: Trust. Trust is different than blind faith. The latter is so often the norm in this industry, and is used to take advantage of so many people. Real coaching, real expertise, has become almost a farce. But I digress.

So Maria enters the show, with the same meal to meal diet, the same training the week before, the same water intake, everything same same. No changes. And she wins everything there was for her to win that night.

Contrast this now with emails I received during this same time period. One girl is beside herself because she has no idea why her body is acting out on her. Really? She sent me all her pre-contest info from her trainer. It was typical of what I call, “the kitchen sink approach.” This useless coach was throwing every thing at this poor girl. She was carb-cycling. She was sodium loading and depleting, she was aerobic-volume cycling. She was water loading. She was taking diuretics, thyroid cycling, etc. Her coach was attempting to employ any and all “tactics” she had ever heard of. Her coach definitely had that most insipid disease of “Guru-Voodoo-itis.” But the one strategy this coach did not have was an understanding of “biofeedback.” Tactics come after strategy, not in lieu of it. As a result this girl’s physique was not “peaked.” It was a mess.

During that time another girl wrote to me, and she was just as messed up. During this girl’s contest prep the following situation occurred. Desperate to make the same food taste a little better, this girl started experimenting with a specific spice blend. Within a few days to week or so, her body as a result, was now holding water and looking a little puffy. What was her coach’s reaction? Well she was told to cut her carbs again, and increase her cardio again? Say what? This is “applied knowledge”? No, I’m sorry, but its not. It’s panic. Hey, here’s a solution based in biofeedback. Why not just remove the offending spice and allow the same amount of time that caused the water retention to happen, give the same amount of time for it to subside. “Coax the body and it responds, force the body and it reacts.” And that is what this coach did: reaction instead of response.

And then of course the last week pre-contest was a laughable array of all kinds of Guru-Voodoo being played out on these poor girl’s physiques.

And here is Maria, same diet as the start diet at 11 weeks out. Same water intake. No water pills. We coaxed her body to look the best it ever had. No magic last minute “spells.” Simplicity. And the lesson is “sometimes the most brilliant change of all, is NO change at all!” But you can’t teach this kind of expertise. Knowing and understanding human biofeedback takes time and experience.

And this is not about “outcomes.” Had Maria not prevailed that day, the process still would have been one that allowed her to be the best she could be that day.

Some of you will get it, many of you will not. I wish more so-called “coaches” could.

BY: Scott Abel

The industry is running wild with so called gurus that are doing more harm than good to competitors. They look for a chemical solution and don't look at the cummulative and residual effects of a protocol.