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Have you thought about entering your first bikini or figure competition? Do you get butterflies of nerves and excitement when you do so? That’s a good sign. As a competitor and coach, I’ve had to run through the pros and cons several times not only with my clients but also with myself.
Competition prep really is a first world problem. You know? You’re healthy enough to go from being the average gym-goer, fitness fanatic to a sparkly bikini wearing, high heel (made by the Shoe Fairy, obvi) strutting, lean machine with sub 10% body fat, everything else that goes along with it must be something you’re willing to do!
Here are ten things, in no particular order, that I suggest you think deeply about before committing to your first competition prep!
Competing is expensive! It is a hobby and for most, especially first time competitors this is not part of your job. You will have to set aside a separate budget (can be upwards of $2500!) and be sure this is something you can manage during your busy life. Here is my most recent video which breaks down the costs of competing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR6D-hUZ6XA
Competing can be lonely. Not everyone will support you or understand this new journey you are embarking on. Prepare yourself for the change in some relationships and begin to think about the type of support system you have when the process becomes challenging. Not to sound negative, but more often than not people will find out who their true friends are when their hobbies begin to change.
This one is simple. Do you have enough time to devote to meal prepping, posing practice, training and cardio? Competing should be something that you do as an extra and shouldn’t take the place of studying or working or even spending time with your family. If you put too much on your plate at once you may not be able to give 100% to all of them. Choose wisely!
Are you someone who will carry out a goal no matter how hard it gets? Ok, good. Competitive bodybuilding is one of the most testing sports both mentally and physically. There will be some days where you can’t possibly get another rep in, complete 10 more minutes of cardio or count another macro. This is where your commitment to yourself and your goals needs to be rock solid and although you don’t want to push onward, you will find it inside yourself to do it anyway.
I’m not talking about pistol squats or handstands pushups here. I’m talking about your stability with yourself and your body image. If you have a disordered past, competing may not be right for you. You will hear many women say that bodybuilding has helped them overcome eating or body image issues, but you have to be weary that this new obsession and addiction (although healthy) is not just replacing the old habits. You must be in love with yourself as you are now because the stage body is not forever.
This is it. Prioritizing your training or meal prep may come first to a night out with friends. Why? Because if you’re putting this much time, money, energy and effort into your competition prep, you may not want to be skipping training sessions.
All this may seem extreme, but you do also need to think about WHY you are wanting to prep. There is definitely a way to make things flexible where you can swap a training session here or there, but if you’re taking it to the next level, you will choose to get your work done no matter what it takes!
Grind. You will learn very quickly how to juggle everything in your life to ensure you get it all done. This takes a strong work ethic, if you want to succeed you will be accountable for what goes into the process. Think about your work ethic… do you have what it takes?
How long will it take you?
This is one big thing that you need to think about! How far are you from a competition shape body? What will be required of you? Are you creating a realistic timeline? Everyone is different but if you are choosing a show that is 12 weeks away when you really need 20 weeks, choose a later show date and start working now! Slow and steady wins the race, especially if you intend to be competing for more than one season.
Preparing for the outcome and creating realistic expectations
If you’re competing for the first time there will be a lot of changes, both good and bad. You will start seeing results like never before (“Great! Awesome! Woohoo!”) but you will also work harder and feel defeated likely, like never before (“Ouch! Ok. This Sucks!”). Prepare yourself for the outcome, if the competition results are not reflective of what you hoped for. Also prepare yourself for post show… see next step…
Having a plan post-competition
Crucial. It’s necessary to be thinking about your post competition plan before you even begin to prep. Almost all of these things listed above will go into how you manage your post competition period. Competing, as I’ve mentioned, is like nothing you have ever done before and when it’s gone, often times competitors feel lost and experience “post-show blues”. Your body will change back, likely very quickly unless you create a plan with your coach post show. The mental strength you had while prepping will need to be implemented every day after the glam of show day is over! Create conversation with your coach and pay attention to how you feel every day before prep, during and immediately after!
Use these ten tips when deciding you are ready to jump into a competition prep and also watch this video I have recorded: What I Wish I Knew Before Competing