It is now January 7th and the holiday festivities are coming to an end. With the new year ahead this typically is about the time people decide to compete or to start prep for a bodybuilding competition. While i am still in “offseason”, i have selected 3 potential shows for the upcoming 2016 competition season (official prep start date to be announced soon..eek). With that being said, i thought this would be a perfect time to start this Bikini Prep Series. This series will cover all the valuable information thats pertinent to a competition prep such as finding a coach, choosing a suit, how to select a show, cost, etc etc. I will also take you along for the ride of my competition prep. With that being said- i wanted to start this series by sharing some important aspects to keep in mind before you register for your first competition.
Why do you want to compete? This is the first question you need to ask yourself and you need to be honest with yourself. Are you doing it because you want the mental & physical challenge? See what you’re capable of? Step outside your comfort zone? To be competitive? Have a goal? Or to get the experience of stepping on stage? Those are some of the reasons why i compete. I love the mental and physical challenge of prep- no, it is not easy but it can show you just how strong you truly are. However, some individuals have other reasons to compete.
If you are competing because you:
Hate your body and want to be “lean”. This is an awful reason. As i will discuss later, being stage lean does not guarantee happiness.
Everyone is doing it. Awful reason. You do not have to do what everyone else is doing. What’s best for someone else is not necessarily what is best for you.
To get attention. Another awful reason. So many other ways to get attention. And if you aren’t going into prep knowing what to expect and prep gets challenging- you’re in for a rude awakening.
So, after you have figured out WHY want to compete here are a few other important things to consider before beginning a prep. Now, this is in no way to discourage anyone from competing but instead to make them aware of what prep entails.
Things to Consider:
- Your Body Image. This is super important. If you are stepping on stage because you hate your body and want a lean physique this is not a healthy thing to do. A lean physique does not mean that you will be “happier”. Even when i was a few weeks out from my show, i still did not think i was lean enough. Prep will forever change the way you look at your body. You will think that you aren’t lean enough, dry enough, you’ll feel like you look “bloated” today yadda yadda. Bodybuilding makes it difficult to be 100% satisfied with your body. That being said, it is important going into a prep that you do LOVE YOUR BODY. You need to love yourself at every stage- 10% body fat or 20% body fat. With extra fluff or with abs. Self love is of utmost importance. When you can say to yourself you love your body 100% that is a good time to compete.
- Your Relationship with Food. Also, super important. If you have recently overcome some type of eating disorder this may not be the time to start a prep. The strict macros or meal plan can amplify or simply mask eating disorder tendencies. After strictly dieting for X amount of weeks, these habits can return which is why so many individual experience binging after competing in a show. You have to be strict about every single thing you put into your body and measure everything you eat. You will now see food as Carbs, Fats, and Protein. A healthy relationship with food is necessary going into a contest prep that way when your show prep is over you minimize eating disordered tendencies (i.e. binging or obsessive compulsive tracking or other unhealthy food behaviors)
- Making Sacrifices. A competition prep requires making your training and nutrition your number one priority. This can mean having to wake up at 4:00 AM so you don’t miss your training or going to the gym after you just worked 12 hours to do cardio. When I prep, i say no to Cheesecake Factory for X amount of weeks *GASP: this is a really sad time for me but makes cheesecake at the end of prep that much better lol*. Sometimes you have to say no to going out with your friends for prep reasons x, y, and z. This is not to say that you need to be a hermit while on prep however some sacrifices are inevitable.
- Can’t Do It Alone. Prep is not something i would recommend tackling on your own. Besides having friends and family that are supportive a good coach is a necessity. I’ll be doing another BPS blog on this because it is that important. You need to have an educated, qualified coach to guide you with your nutrition and training choices. You need to choose someone who is right for you- whether thats a meal plan or macros- in person or online- and so on and so forth. Keep an eye out for this blog post coming soon for more on this topic. So yeah, have a QUALIFIED coach to support you on your prep (are we noticing the importance of qualified and educated coaches here? i sure hope so).
- Negativity. This is something that comes along with the prep territory. Not everyone understands bodybuilding. You may get weird looks when you’re weighing out your food at a restaurant or weird looks at your physique. People will question why would you want to look like that or tell you that you’re too muscular… Just ignore them. It’s your body and you can do whatever you wish with it. Also, you will have people criticizing your body. “She’s not lean enough”, “she’ll never be ready on time”, “she wants to compete? HA thats hilarious” … other people’s opinions of your body are irrelevant and you cannot let their opinions impact you.
- Hunger. This may seem like common sense but competition prep hunger is so much different than regular hunger. There are no just a tiny bite of this or a tiny bite of that. There’s no eating peanut butter and not tracking it. When you commit to competing in a show you agree to be hungry. You are in a deficit and hunger comes with the territory. You will have cravings and while you can fit some “fun foods” into prep in small amounts it is still not the same. For example, there’s no way Cheesecake Factory Adam’s PB Fudge Ripple will ever fit my poverty macros *sigh*. So be prepared to be hungry and be prepared that there is nothing you can do about it except drink some hot tea and suck it up.
- Timing. You need to ask yourself if it is a good time in your life to do a competition. Do you have time to prep? Are you able to give 100% to your training and nutrition at this time? If you have a super chaotic job that requires all your time and energy- you need to consider that and keep that in mind. Are you able to afford prep? Competing is expensive. Very. Between a suit, shoes, hair, makeup, a coach, gym membership, show fees, NPC card, the list goes on… the price really adds up and you need to account for that. Lastly, is this the good time to put your body through a prep? It is important to have a good muscular base under that fluff before you diet down for a show. Otherwise, when you diet down you’ll have no muscle and that is not how you will want to look on stage. It is important to put the time and effort into building muscle and strength before undergoing a contest prep.
- Go to a Show. I would recommend going to a show before you decide that you want to compete yourself. You may get there and see the stage and judging process and it will light that fire underneath you and that is great! However, you may get there and be like oh crap, i could never do that. Either way, it is important to have at least a small idea about what show day is like.
If you read through any of these 8 (9 if you count asking yourself why you compete) bullet points and you were like “ehhh, idk” then i would recommending taking the time and evaluate whether or not this is a good time to jump into a competition prep. If the answer is no, it’s not a good time then that is OKAY. It is important to remember that the stage will always be there. Take the time to build a strong muscular base or take time to get a good routine down with your new job and then step on stage a bit later. I think it is also important to realize that it is possible to diet and train hard without competing. Bodybuilding is an extreme sport and it is tough on your physique to achieve this body that you literally have for ONE day. You can diet and train hard without going to the extreme of doing a show.
Prep is not all sunshine and rainbows like we sometimes see on social media. There is so much more to prep than sparkly suits, high heels, and crazy tan and makeup and it is important to realize that. The hunger, the exhaustion, and the soreness are all a part of the process. Prep is just as tough mentally as it is physically and you need to be in the mindset that enables you to tackle prep head on.
I hope this blog posts helps you if you’ve never competed before or if you are deciding you want to start prep for your second, third, or even forth show. Please give this post a like (found at the top of the post by the date posted*) if you found this helpful and feel free to comment with any additional topics you would like to see in this Bikini Prep Series.
Thanks so much for reading,