Case study: Natural bodybuilding contest preparation

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2014 Dec;24(6):694-700. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2014-0016. Epub 2014 Jun 5.


The purpose of this study was to document the physiological changes that occur in a natural bodybuilder during prolonged contest preparation for a proqualifying contest. During the 26-week preparation, the athlete undertook a calorically restrictive diet with 2 days of elevated carbohydrate intake per week, increased cardiovascular (CV) training, and attempted to maintain resistance-training load. The athlete was weighed twice a week and body composition was measured monthly by DXA. At baseline and every 2 weeks following CV structure and function was measured using a combination of ultrasound, applanation tonometry, and heart rate variability (HRV). Cardiorespiratory performance was measured by VO(2)peak at baseline, 13 weeks, and 26 weeks. Body weight (88.6 to 73.3 Kg, R(2) = .99) and percent body fat (17.5 to 7.4%) were reduced during preparation. CV measurements including blood pressure (128/61 to 113/54 mmHg), brachial pulse wave velocity (7.9 to 5.8m/s), and measures of wave reflection all improved. Indexed cardiac output was reduced (2.5 to 1.8L/m(2)) primarily due to a reduction in resting heart rate (71 to 44 bpm), and despite an increase in ejection faction (57.9 to 63.9%). Assessment of HRV found a shift in the ratio of low to high frequency (209.2 to 30.9%). Absolute VO2 was minimally reduced despite weight loss resulting in an increase in relative VO2 (41.9 to 47.7 ml/Kg). In general, this prolonged contest preparation technique helped the athlete to improve body composition and resulted in positive CV changes, suggesting that this method of contest preparation appears to be effective in natural male bodybuilders.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Diet
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*