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Crucial Growth Phase: Beyond the misleading term "off season"

May 27, 2024

The Physique Coach Matt Adams explains why the end of prep is actually where the hard work starts

WHEN it comes to bodybuilding and physique training, the term "off season" often conjures images of relaxed routines and less stringent discipline. However, I’ve always found this term misleading. The so-called "off season" or growth phase is, in reality, a period that demands just as much, if not more, discipline, focus and mental fortitude as competition prep. 

The Misconception

The term "off season" implies a break or downtime, suggesting that we are somehow less focused or committed. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, the growth phase is where the real magic happens. It's the time when we lay the groundwork for future success, building the muscle, strength and mental resilience needed to excel on stage.

The Importance of the Growth Phase

  • Building the Foundation

In the growth phase, we're not just maintaining what we've built; we're pushing boundaries and setting new standards. This period is about progressive overload, increasing training intensity and meticulously managing nutrition to support muscle growth while minimising fat gain. It’s a strategic approach that requires detailed planning and execution.

  • Mental Fortitude

While competition prep has its own challenges, the growth phase tests your mental strength in different ways. Without the immediate goal of a looming competition, it can be easy to lose focus. This phase demands unwavering commitment and the ability to stay motivated over the long haul. It's about maintaining a vision for the future and working tirelessly towards it, day in and day out.

  • Nutritional Discipline

Contrary to what some might think, the growth phase isn’t a free-for-all when it comes to diet. Precision nutrition is crucial. It’s about finding the right balance of macronutrients to fuel intense workouts, support recovery and promote muscle hypertrophy, while keeping fat gain in check. This requires a high level of discipline and constant adjustments based on progress and feedback.

  • Injury Prevention and Recovery

The growth phase also provides an opportunity to address any nagging injuries and focus on recovery. It's a time to listen to your body, incorporate mobility work and ensure that you're setting yourself up for longevity in the sport. Proper recovery protocols and smart training decisions now can prevent setbacks during competition prep.

  • Posing Practice

One often overlooked aspect of the growth phase is posing practice. Nailing your poses is crucial and it shouldn't be left until the last minute. The best physique on stage can finish last if not presented well and, conversely, a well-presented physique can outshine a better one. Practising posing regularly during the growth phase ensures that, when it's time to compete, your presentation is flawless. This is a non-negotiable aspect of your preparation.

  • The Role of a coach

During this critical phase, having a coach who understands the nuances of the growth phase is invaluable. A good coach provides the necessary structure, accountability and support to keep you on track. They help adjust training and nutrition plans as needed, ensuring that you’re continually progressing towards your goals.


The "off season" or growth phase is a time of intense focus and dedication. It’s when we build the foundation for future success, develop mental resilience and hone our discipline. As athletes, we must approach this phase with the same, if not greater, level of commitment as we do during competition prep. Remember, champions are made in the off season. Embrace the growth phase with the seriousness it deserves and you’ll be setting yourself up for unparalleled success when it’s time to step on stage again.

In summary, the growth phase is not a break – it's a critical part of your journey. Approach it with dedication and you'll see the results in your next competition. Stay disciplined, stay focused and keep pushing forward. And don't forget to nail your posing – it's a non-negotiable that can make or break your success on stage.

Matt Adams is a coach and bodybuilder. You can enquire about hiring Matt by clicking here.

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