For a person just getting into the bodybuilding realm wanting to compete in a bikini, figure, fitness or physique competition, there are a few things you need to know!
The one thing that stood out to me after the show was how sad I was that it was over. -Rachelle M
The process, it’s slow and you need to allow yourself enough time. -Cassandra M
Mentally prepare to reverse diet after your show! I felt that was the hardest part of the whole process! -Becky G
1) Attend a local show
You may say “sure, I want to compete” but you will need to understand how a contest works and what happens to make sure it is something you want to partake in. Attending a local show is a great way to start your research in the sport of bodybuilding. This is also a good time to chat it up with people there and ask questions.
2) Understand the costs you will incur
There are a lot of costs that come along with a bikini, figure or physique competition. See The 23 Costs of Competing to find out what they are.
3) Get a coach
Utilizing a prep coach that has a strong foundation of knowledge regarding the bodies’ physiological processes and the synergy between all of its’ components is key to help you each step of the way to prevent metabolic damage and excessive weight gain after a show and to support a healthy metabolism for long term participation in the sport of bodybuilding. If your goals are a pro card, you are going to want a coach not only for contest prep, but in the off season. The off season is where the improvements happen, the in-season is when you are losing the fat to show it off!
Many go about prepping for a show on their own but they can really wreak havoc on their system as can a poor coach. Do your research!!!!!!!! See How to Choose a GREAT Contest Prep Coach.
4) Meal prep
Whether you are in the off season getting enough calories or the in-season cutting calories for a contest, meal prep is essential! Trust me! When you are hungry and nothing is ready to heat up right away, you eat crap you shouldn’t. Eating healthy and getting the proper ratio of macro-nutrients is imperative to building the best body that you strive for!
Life happens and fitness can take a back seat when it gets crazy. Plan ahead so you will be mentally and nutritionally prepared for a good workout. Especially if it has to happen at 4:30 am
6) Don’t get stuck on the numbers
Getting on the scale is just one form of tracking. In reality, its just a number. Your body composition and how you look matter the most. Progress pics are the best form or tracking!
Understand the differences between federations (NANBF, NPC, OPA) you can compete in and how they work. Each amateur and professional federation has their own set of rules. They also have their own “feel.” You may like competing in one over another. Asking around also helps! See Federations Explained.
8) Don’t be critical
Try your absolute best to not be so critical of yourself before and after the show. You will be comparing yourself constantly. If you have a good coach (because you did your research), trust them and listen to what they say. Especially in the last 4 weeks. Whether you are a newbie or a pro, your mind plays tricks on you. You will think you are fat, your not ready, you can’t go on stage looking the way you do. Just work hard, follow the plan and have fun!
9) Enjoy the journey
The journey is never easy, but it is worth it. Each phase of the process brings different challenges and joys. Contest prep is by far the most mentally challenging in my opinion. Quitting may cross your mind, even so, you are going to miss it because it will be over before you know it. Contest day will arrive, all the hype, attention and glamour (and not so glamorous), one big hoopla, and then it is done.
10) Be a good sport
Jealousy can run rampant in this sport. Bitches be caddy sometimes! If you don’t win, big deal! Congratulate the girl who did and make changes in your off season to come back better the next season you compete. But really, every show I have ever done has been so fun because of the people I have met back stage!!!
11) Reverse diet
You will need some mental preparation for this one. You think cutting cals into a show is hard. Well, try reverse dieting after you are done with that contest. If you over indulge for more than a day or two eating anything and everything, you will gain all that weight back and possibly more. See Reverse dieting- who needs it and how to.
12) Find balance
You have a lot of things going on in your life. Family, work, gym and so on. It is important to find balance between all of the important aspects in your life before, during and after your show. Finding balance after your contests can be harder than trying to fit it all in prior. Make sure you prioritize your life accordingly.
Read tips from a Pro Figure competitor in Unfit to Figure, Meet Figure Pro Mandy Embury