I'm sure you've watched a race before, or if you're like me you may occasionally go to races. Well, every so many laps they need to come in for a pit stop. Maybe it's for new tires, more fuel, a small mechanical adjustment, etc.
Then they go out there and average faster lap times after they get the necessary adjustments. The human body is similar and as you progress further into the journey of bodybuilding, you too, will be fine tuned like a race car. So what do I call a pit stop in bodybuilding?
A pit stop for me can be one of a few things. It may be a de-load week where weights are cut in half. It may be an increase in calories or a cheat meal. Hell, it may be a cheat week!
There are some factor(s) that I need to change in order to:
B. Heal my joints, recovery, and nervous system
C. Get my mental state back and live a little.
It can be very easy to fall victim to food phobia, especially when dieting. You're looking good, you're cutting up, the compliments are coming, it just feels good! But your body is taking a beating, your sleep may be off, and you're becoming prone to injury. The cushion/fluid on your joints isn't as good when you're leaning out. You can become vulnerable to injury and it only gets worse the leaner you get and the older you get! Now, you need to be prepared to take a step back, and a mental step away from your current reference point. This can be difficult.
But let's put things into perspective here. You're not going to get fat. It's going to take a long time and a lot of bad eating to get fat, and that you won't let happen. Your waist probably won't move THAT MUCH. Many times I'm back to packing in food and even though what I see in the mirror may be a fat guy, the belt doesn't lie. If that waist is staying 34″ I'm good. I know I'm in the ballpark and can get whatever definition I've lost back extremely fast.
There just comes a point where you become catabolic rather than anabolic. I don't care what “studies” say about protein, carbs, carb cycling, veggies, whatever, you go long enough cutting up and you're going to become catabolic. The definition of catabolic means to “tear down, destroy” and the definition of anabolic means “to build”.
Now, being in a catabolic state also affects your mind, probably even more than your body. It gets depressing. All of these people are telling you how great you look, but it doesn't matter because you feel like total shit! If you're not training for a competition or any specific “cosmetic event” then know when to recognize this and come in for a pit stop.
Coming in for a pit stop does not necessarily mean you will regress and then get back to where you were. You should get back to where you were and then beyond. This is what bodybuilders mean by taking two steps back to take another step forward. You can only race that car for so long before it needs new tires. So know when to make those adjustments.
Anyways, train hard!