So, im all for hiring a coach. There are some really good ones, and im sure there are some that are not so good. HOWEVER, is it a bad thing to at least TRY and do a prep on your own? To try and get to know YOUR body? Ive never used a prep coach (however, im considering one for next year), and ive done ok. Is it harder and more stressful, maybe, but you know when your in shape. If you are shredded the Sunday before the show, then you should be shredded the next week. Keep it simple
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IMO, the only thing you should really NEED a coach for is the last 7-10 days or so. More for water manipulation and diuretics.
You should be able to get lean as fuck on your own with all there is to read online.
There's a mental component that very FEW coaches touch upon and in my opinion - those few are worth their weight in gold. Also it doesn't hurt to work with someone that has expertise beyond you. I've prepped myself twice...and placed well, while shredded and doing everything I could, I still could not get clarity in the glutes and hamstrings...so why wouldn't you hire a guy with a track record of bringing in people like that? Saves you the trial and error experience.
at 7-5 weeks out most people have body dysmorphia either from the stress of the competition or the rigors of a diet, its great to have a trained eye to keep you on track, for some people its worth the money to come in with help.
I have never had a coach, but I do have people I trust to be blunt and honest - that's gold.
As for the final week manipulations, that's great; but like BMC said - if you look shredded a week out, doing nothing different seems to have a higher success rate than anything coaches do. Even Hany, Farah, and Aceto don't bring their guys in perfectly every time. Seems as if that tightrope between being bone-dry and full vs. flat as shit or the worst, watery is a very thin line.
Can't tell you how many times I have seen someone at a week out or so who clearly wasn't as lean as he or she should have been, and they assure me they will be fine 'once I drop my water.' 99 times out of 100, what they need to drop is fat, and it ain't gonna happen in a week.