Josh Maley on the Perfect Offseason
The “perfect” offseason …….
Unfortunately, like most things in bodybuilding there is no “perfect”, however there are some ingredients to a very productive one!
Drawing from my own experience of over 10 years of bodybuilding and more recently an offseason which saw me go from 310lbs to 340lbs (the heaviest I’ve ever been) here are the factors I found to be crucial in successfully growing without getting overly fat!
Each of these points could be delved in to more but to keep things short I hope to summarize them well.
Consistency and routine:
Anyone who has completed a competition prep knows the focus you put in to it.
Never missing a beat, pushing every aspect of bodybuilding to the max, and along with that achieving some incredible results.
Now what happens if we take that same mindset in to an offseason?
If you can set a routine that prioritizes the points I’ll cover shortly and stick to it day in day out then progress is simply a by product!
Here we need to consider what it takes to grow, a calorie surplus.
Once you’ve got your food in a place where weight is increasing week on week then you don’t need to change things until things stall.
Don’t eat more just for the sake of it, that’ll get you fat.
Equally, make sure you are eating enough!
When it comes to weight loss/ gain, calories in VS calories out is king BUT when it comes to optimal growth I feel there is more to it.
This offseason food has been the cleanest it has ever been and this has resulted in a leaner physique as well as feeling healthy at a higher bodyweight.
This the easy part no? It should be for most of you. I’m yet to find a bodybuilder who doesn’t love to train!
My focus this offseason was to get the most out of the least volume.
I’m a believer in progressive overload (especially in a calorie surplus) so that underpinned my sessions.
Progressive overload is useless however if you don’t control your reps, execute exercises well and most importantly maintain your standard of reps as you increase the weight.
One thing to consider as you get heavier (especially reaching peak body weight) is recovery will more than likely take longer. Program for this with regards to volume and potentially needing more rest days.
Now that’s a word you probably didn’t expect to read in an offseason article.
This year has been the first I’ve implemented offseason cardio (20 minutes bike, fasted, 5 times a week) and the difference in how I have felt is night and day.
My appetite has maintained as food has been pushed up.
I feel fitter at my higher bodyweight and this has a positive effect on my training performance and recovery.
It has definitely kept me leaner without hindering my “gainzzz”!
Sleep and recovery:
These two things need to be managed all year but especially during an offseason to optimize your results.
I’ll take you back to the importance of routine for this; factor in adequate and consistent sleep each night. A good routine here is invaluable.
Set your training program up so there is enough recovery time.
I was training 2 days on, 1 day off for a large portion of my offseason, moving to 4 training days a week towards the end.
The temptation is often to train more, but if you cannot recover from that then you are doing yourself no favors.
That’s all bodybuilding is REALLY about isn’t it?
Well no from my point of view.
The above points have been far more important in adding the size.
But for transparency yes the drugs will have helped.
I’ve learnt over the years to keep things simple, there is no magic drug unfortunately.
I choose testosterone and one other compound (NPP generally) and run that for 12 to 20 weeks depending on my results. If I feel good and am still progressing I will run it for longer, if I feel like shit then I’ll cut it short.
I don’t want to talk about dose as I’m a 340lb bodybuilder with 10 years experience and don’t want a 200lb guy taking what I do just because they read it.
What I will say is once again, aim to get the most out of the least and if you need to increase as you go that is then an option.
This offseason was not my biggest cycle proving more is not always better.
Accept you are going to feel uncomfortable:
While the above points focus on making an offseason productive with minimal fat gain, the fact is you will get fatter.
If you have a complex over this then you won’t get the most out of your efforts and potentially won’t make any progress.
Focus your attention less on how you look and more on you are training.
If progress is being made there and your bodyweight is increasing then you are likely on the right track.
I hope this helps guide some of you in your quest in progressing your physique.
Get big, get strong, and enjoy the ride!
Sports Science and Managment BSc.