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How I “Build a Body” in the Off-Season

By Jillian Teta

So it has been about 8 weeks since the Pro Bowl and my last blog post. The feedback that I got from that blog was 100% positive and awesome, and for that I thank all of you.

Jillian, shot by our talented friends at

So, in line with my “owning up” to my placing and to the body that I want to build, the thing on my mind and plate has been just that – building. If you read enough on the internet or talk to enough coaches/judges/competitors, you will eventually hear something along the lines of: “you need to get out of shape to get in shape”, “you need to get really big to put on size” and my personal favorite – “if you want to gain 10 lbs of muscle, you have to gain 30 lbs”.

This brings up a couple questions for me. The first is “why?”

I get it. I understand that one cannot go walking around like they just stepped off the stage year-round. But, does that mean that the only alternative, if we want to build, is to get chubby and deconditioned? I kinda refuse to accept that.

My second question is this: “Is being lean mutually exclusive of adding muscle?”

Again, I get it. I can’t have ripped abs all year round. But can’t one add good quality muscle and maintain some degree of leanness?

This is what I am going to test out. For me, being in the building phase (or the off-season) is not carte-blanche permission to eat a ton of refined carbohydrates and food that I know will make me hold fat and look bloated and puffy. It also doesn’t mean that I am lounging around watching my jeans get tight.

I love to live the fat-loss lifestyle year round. It’s what makes me feel and function my best. And as a figure competitor, I realize I have to continually bring up weak areas of my physique. Can’t the two be reconciled?

The foods that I am eating are still clean. I am adding in more fruits, nuts, fats and complex carbs, timing their consumption in a different way than on a contest diet, but the foods are quite similar. I am still eating frequently, getting all of my water in, and working out consistently.

I certainly have no intention of letting myself get “out of shape” in terms of being deconditioned or feeling uncomfortable in my clothing. I am intentionally choosing to add lean muscle to my frame in a structured way by using nutrition and training. In the end, will I look like a water balloon? I will certainly keep you posted :)

More from Jillian: Thoughts of a Reforming Victim
More from Jillian: 12 Weeks Out–Practice makes more practice

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