by Chris Aceto

The rebound. That?s what happens after a competition. You starve yourself before the big show to drop every ounce of visible fat - and pounce on cardio ? only to switch gears and go back to eating anything you want. Cardio? Heck, aside from walking back and forth to the frig, it becomes a thing of the past.

The few weeks after a show can be a total disaster resulting in startling gains in body fat if you suddenly start chowing anything and everything and take a complete break from training. Or, you can plan out what can be, the ideal growth opportunity, where the body can easily gain 5, 6 or even 10 pounds of real muscle mass in just 5 short weeks. This month, I?ll explain how to transition from a contest straight into 5 weeks of pure anabolism. In short, your best gains of the entire year are often found in the first few weeks after a competition.

1) Understand the Over Compensation Effect

Not everyone has a fantastic metabolism that allows him to get ripped to the bone while retaining valuable hard earned muscle mass. For many bodybuilders, getting ready for a show is an exercise in modified starving. You have to cut back on nearly everything; fat, carbohydrates, and total calories all while spending a good chunk of time on some type of cardio exercise to facilitate the burning of body fat. Truth be told; the entire contest prep process is wearing on the body and often throws it into a chronic catabolic state where it loses some degree of muscle or, at best, struggles to maintain its muscle mass. The upside; when a potentially catabolic process is alleviated-after a contest- the body over compensates, reverses gears and rebounds into very strong anabolic state. When your show?s over, the body is rearing to grow!

2) The Anabolic Primer

When you?re dieting, you are always restricting something; fewer carbs and less fat resulting in less energy. While that can trigger muscle loss, it also sets in motion anabolic signals that can prime the body for major growth ? as long as there is sufficient amounts of carbs, fat and energy in the diet. So, after dieting, the body can?t wait to get growing ? as long as you start to re-feed it with the right amounts of carbs and fat.

In addition, hormones and enzymes help get the growth ball rolling. When you diet, testosterone levels fall. When you start to eat again, they quickly rebound. Rising testosterone levels coupled with an increase in food intake always results in quick and substantial gains in muscle mass. Furthermore; while muscles reserves of stored carbs ? called glycogen - decline during the dieting phase, glycogen storing enzymes that potentially pack away far more carbs then ever are always working overtime. When you finish your diet ? after a contest - and eat more, your body blows up with massive glycogen stores, which directly impacts growth.

3) How Much Carbs To Eat: Follow the 150 Rule

No two bodybuilders have the same metabolism. That?s one reason many diet on different levels of carbohydrates - some eat a very low carb diet to get cut up while others eat a modified low carb diet. In both cases, you can?t just go out and start pounding carbs after a competition and expect to grow without getting fat. You have to be choosey and take a smart approach. If you dieted on 170 grams of carbs a day, then you can expect to grow without gaining body fat by adding another 150 grams to your daily intake for the first 3 weeks. That would put you at 320 grams a day. If you ate 300 grams while dieting, go to 450 grams a day.

4) Adjust Carbs At week 4

The body is an interesting machine. As you feed it after a dieting phase, the metabolism actually rises. As it rises, you should continue to add more carbohydrates to compensate for the increase in metabolism. If you do not add more carbs by week 4, the body will stall, and fail to continue to achieve additional muscle gains due to a lack of energy coming into the body to support a rising metabolism. Therefore, you can proceed to add another 100-125 grams of carbs a day to the diet. If you were eating 320 grams at the completion of week 3, you could go to 420-445 a day. Those eating 450 grams a day will need to go to 550-575.

5) Fat Aint Bad

I?ll be the first to say, an extremely low fat diet remains an excellent and proven way to rip up for competition. Extreme low fat dieting gets rid of the main macronutrient that is most likely to interfere with the shedding of body fat ? dietary fat ? and it allows you to keep your carbs somewhat higher during a cutting phase. The big downside; very low fat diets can also cause a drop in testosterone and growth hormone levels. Guess what? When you go back to eating fat ? the right kinds ? in the few weeks after dieting, it helps support testosterone and growth hormone levels and we already learned in #2 that rising testosterone levels have a strong effect on adding lots of new size post dieting. Increase your dietary fat in weeks 1-3 by 40-50 grams a day and add another 10-15 grams by week 4. Ideal sources of fat include a mix of saturated fat found in lean beef and whole milk dairy products, ***** fats from salmon and fish oil supplements and monounsaturated fats common to olives, nuts and olive oils.

6) The Protein Quotient

You have to pound protein to grow, right? Not so in the few weeks after a contest. Getting the body to overcompensate is really a matter of energy - provided by upping your carbs and dietary fat. Course, getting off the pre-contest cardio also helps get you growing again. That said, how much do you need. In the 5-6 week period after a contest, 1 gram per pound of bodyweight is more then enough ? even a little less is fine. Why? Efficiency. When you increase calories ? by adding carbs and fat- you completely shut off the need for that higher protein intake. The added fuel from carbs and fat makes the body extremely efficient at taking protein and packing it away into muscles. A higher carb and fat intake also relieves the burden for additional protein commonly consumed in a dieting phase. And, rising testosterone and GH levels further support the body?s ability to uptake and use protein without waste, another reason protein needs are not as great as many think during the post contest period.