Greetings, Skip La Cour! I intend to learn as much as I can from you. I'll be starting to compete in a few months, after years of training. When it comes to contest prep, I've found what appears to me, to be a contradiction in how to go about doing things. Bodybuilders in very high places in the fitness industry are often split, some advocating one approach... while others say you should do the other.
Here are the two sides of the argument (as best I can express).
Argument 'A'... Training intensely heavy during contest prep is a needless risk for injury. Since you're in a caloric deficit anyway, you're not going to be 'gaining' more muscle. Thus when you're in the gym, the idea is just to train for maintenance. Going all-out, while in a caloric deficit, will not yield increased levels of mass (it's not even necessary for optimal muscle retention)... all it really does is put you at an increased risk for injury.
Plus that kind of heavy taxation on the body, when it doesn't have the resources for recovery that it had during the bulk phase, is arguably counter-productive. A fast-track to overtraining, so to speak.
Bottom line is: The body isn't being given enough resources to 'build'... so therefore, train accordingly. Train as you eat... for "maintenance".
Argument 'B'... As you diet down to a shredded state, the body is prone to catabolize it's muscle tissue. All that luxurious mass you've painstakingly built, will be cannibalized unless you give the body an incentive to hold onto it. Heavy lifting is what built the muscle in the first place, and continued heavy lifting --even in a caloric deficit-- is the key to maintaining an environment for optimal muscle growth, or, at least... optimal retention.
...they both make sense. Obviously option 'B' sounds more manly. But I'd rather be smart, as well as manly. Personally, I lean more towards the first philosophy (A), it just makes more sense to me. But I concede 'B' could very well be the case. Where do you come out on this issue? Thanks for your insights!