Preparing for a physique competition can be one of the most exciting times of your life. After months of disciplined eating, workouts and posing practice, getting on stage is a celebration! The sweat and sacrifice is hard and that’s what makes it GREAT! The thrill and personal accomplishment that accompanies knowing that YOU did the work to get to that moment is something that no one can take away from you, regardless of how you placed.
In my years in the industry and competitive world, I’ve learned a few things to consider before committing to competition prep.
- Do you enjoy, I mean REALLY enjoy your time in the gym?
You’ll be spending a minimum of one hour in the gym 4-6 days per week. In addition to weight training, cardio will likely become an important tool in your program and may require fasted (before your first meal) sessions. Can you commit to this? Is this already a lifestyle you’re accustomed to and can you commit to this even when you don’t feel like it?
- Is your health and metabolism optimal?
If you have a history of yo-yo dieting and an unhealthy relationship with food, it’s likely that your metabolism is not at its optimal level. Be sure you’re not overdoing cardio and eating at your maintenance level at minimum. Having a variety of foods is your diet is always a good thing! As prep continues, it’s likely that the list of foods you’ll be consuming will get smaller. Be sure your list of tolerated and enjoyed foods is long before starting. Healthy digestion and gut health are important factors in one’s ability use and absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. Are you managing stress well and getting a minimum of 6-8 hours of sleep per night? I always recommend checking with your doctor to be sure health and hormone levels are optimal before starting prep.
- Do you enjoy structured eating?
There are a variety of ways one can diet to optimize their transformation. Some of my clients prefer meal plans and others are very numbers-driven and prefer counting macros. I’ve seen success with both! You’ll likely be eating several small meals throughout the day. It’s typically best that you cook your own food or use a meal preparation company that offers high quality foods void of overly processed ingredients and added sodium. During prep, you may have to pack your meals and take them with you to work or when you’re out running errands.
- Is your crew onboard with your goal?
Let’s admit it, bodybuilding can be a selfish sport. BUT, we don’t have to make the people around us miserable when we are in the trenches of prep! Having a supportive crew (friends, family, coworkers) is so valuable and we shouldn’t take that for granted. I like to keep my prep-routine very discreet. I’ve quietly left ball games and concerts to go to my car to eat cold cod and rice out of my cooler. If you make the commitment, then you find a way to get it done; gripe-free! You may have to decline a cocktail at happy hour and have water with lemon instead. Or, skip the pizza buffet and load up on salad. Be nice to your friends and family during your prep if you still want them around after the show is over!
- Competing is expensive; have you prepped your finances?
Prioritizing items/services in your show budget is important. Show costs include NPC card, entry fees, buying/renting a suit, jewelry, tanning services, MUAH, Supplements, Contest prep coaches and posing instruction and possible hotel stay are at the top of the list. Some of these items are optional. There are ways to cut costs if you’re on a tight budget. You don’t need a bling-ed out suit. Renting a suit or buying one and adding a few stones yourself is a perfectly good option! I recommend using the show tanning company. They’ll be backstage and are able to take care of any touchups. You can opt to do your own hair. I recommend using a makeup artist because they’ll be able to match your foundation to the color of your tan. I have several recommendations for service providers who have been in the industry for many years and would be happy to share those with you!
- Are your travel and social commitments minimal during prep?
There’s rarely a perfect time to commit to contest prep! Life happens and things can and will be unpredictable. However, take a look at what you CAN control in your schedule. I try to select shows that follow 3 months of less-demanding commitments. Some people can prep straight through Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with no problem. I’ve done it too! But, it was annoying having to explain what I was doing as to not offend my relatives after they spend hours preparing a beautiful meal. Starting prep AFTER a family vacation is always better. Fortunately, in Texas there are many shows to choose from and you have options almost year-round! You can find a complete list of TX NPC shows at https://www.texasbodybuildingcontests.com .
It is my goal make your transformation a fantastic and rewarding experience! Feel free to email me with questions about preparing for your first show at firstname.lastname@example.org.