What comes to mind when you think of prepping for a bikini competition?
The sparkly suit? The stripper heels?
The dorito spray tan? The makeup?
The diet? Low carb days?
All of the above play a large part in a competition prep. But one aspect of competing that we may not think about right away is COST. I can speak first hand when i say competing comes at a price. Bodybuilding is an expensive sport and if you want to compete now, or in the future, you have to be willing to put the money aside to pay for your new hobby.
I have tried my hardest to compile a list of all the expenses that one must consider when signing up for a bikini competition. *Note- these prices are from my experiences as well as some research that i have done. Prices can vary depending on different factors so that is something to keep in mind.
NPC Card: $120— This has to be renewed yearly and is good January 1st-December 31st. If you choose to compete in another Federation you will have to buy one for that organization as well.
Entry Fees: $60-$80. You pay an entry fee for each class that you enter. For bikini athletes, for example, there can be novice, open, collegiate, and teen classes. Some shows may have you pay $80 for the first and $35 for the second but that varies from show to show. Most shows make you pay a set amount for each class you enter.
Food: $100/week. You can save $ here by finding what grocery stores offer what foods at the cheaper price. Last prep, i knew rice cakes and greek yogurt were cheaper at Martins while chicken and vegetables were cheaper at Walmart. Shop around. Another way to save money on food is to buy in bulk. Competitors go through chicken, egg whites, and veggies in crazy amounts so you could shop at Sams Club or Costco for those bulk items.
Supplements: $30-$100/month. This varies based on what supplements you use, if you want to use them (supplements are NOT necessary to compete–completely optional). I typically use a Pre Workout, BCAAs, and Whey Protein (if you consider whey a supplement). Some individuals use fat burners– i have yet to find any that i believe actually work so tbd.
Coach: $100-250/month. This cost varies based on your coach, the plan you’re following, their involvement, etc. Keep in mind that as i said in a previous post, BPS: Finding YOUR Perfect Prep Coach, cheaper is not necessarily better.
Gym Membership: $10-$50/month. All depends on where you go.
Posing Coach: $50-$100/1 hour class. Guesstimate. I have only ever been to one posing clinic that was conducted by Gary Udit. I would definitely recommend going to a clinic or a posing class if that option is available to you. Posing is something you can always improve upon and it is nice to have an outsiders objective opinion. I haven’t been to a weekly class or done online Skype posing or anything like that.
Tanning (Prior to the Competition): $40-$60/month. Some competitors chose to tan the month prior to the show so that they have a good base on show day and aren’t so ghostly. This is completely optional and up to you.
Hotel: $50-$150. This price can vary based on the hotel, how close it is to the show venue, how many nights you stay, etc. You can save money here if the show is in your area and you don’t have to stay overnight. I typically prefer to get my hotels for the night before the show AND the night after the show. Show day is exhausting and after my post competition treat meal (helloooo cheesecake factory) i am ready for bed. This is my personal preference. You could also share a room with another competitor and save money that way.
Travel: $150 ish. This cost would cover gas if you have to drive, air fare, however you travel.
Hair: $120. I would consider this to cover my pre competition cut/color. I always like to make sure my hair color is fresh and my roots are touched up. Usually around $120+tip.
Show Day Hair: $50-$100. Some athletes opt to have someone do their hair on show day. I have had someone do my hair at a salon and i have also done my hair myself. This is based on personal preference, how you’re wearing your hair, and how confident you feel doing your own. You could save money here by doing it yourself if you feel comfortable.
Makeup: $80-$120. I have always had someone do my make up for me. I am not girly at all and i know zero about makeup so i opt to have someone do it for me. If you go with the makeup artist that’s provided through the show- you are going to pay on the upper end cost wise. I had my friend Courtney do my make up at one of my last shows and she did an ah-mazing job. Definitely recommend. She came to my hotel room, made it super easy for me, and my makeup looked great all day. (The venue’s air conditioner was broken so it was super hot and my make up still stayed on and looked great). Definitely recommend her if you are in the Pittsburgh area- she does competition hair/ competition make up/show day spray tans/ regular day spray tans–check her out here. If you have a lot of experience with makeup you could save money and do your own.
Spray Tan: $120. A spray tan is something you can’t really skimp out on cost wise. I recommended going through the shows sponsored spray tan provider. They are experienced and know what they are doing. A spray tan is super important and can affect how you are judged on stage so you don’t want a botched job. Price can vary based on the number of coats you get. They typically do touch ups the day of the show which can come in super handy. If you opt to do your own, the brand i’ve heard the most about is ProTan or Liquid Sun Rayz.
Nails: $35 + tip. I usually opt to get my nails done at a salon- again because I’m not girly and like to leave that to the professionals lol. You don’t want something TOO crazy. I usually go with a french manicure and you can jazz it up a little bit (i added some glitter). If you have a blue suit i wouldn’t recommend doing blue nails. Keep it simple. As far as toe nails go, i keep it simple- a light pink or nude is always a good choice. You could do them yourself to save money but again, personal preference.
Eye Brow Wax: $10-$20. My eyebrows are not on fleek so i like to make sure my eye brows are touched up during peak week. Optional and personal preference.
Suit: $150-$700. The amount of money you choose to spend on a competition suit really depends on you and the amount you are willing to send. My first competition suit was around $275. It was the Diamond Princess style by RAVISH SANDS. My second competition suit had much more crystals/bling and is absolutely stunning. I paid on the higher end for this Ravish suit and in my opinion, it was well worth the extra money. Crystals can really help you stand out on stage. The suits with more crystals/bling will cost you closer to the $600-$700 mark. Suit companies i really like are Ravish Sands and Angel Competition Bikinis- both of which are gorgeous and have great customer service. It is also possible to rent suits at a cheaper cost or if you have friends that compete you could potentially borrow their suit- both are other options that are available. Another way to save money is to buy a less bedazzled suit and stone it yourself. This is what my sister did to her last competition suit. (Follow my sister on instagram for drool worthy food posts and her off season and competition prep journey here.) She bought stones/suit glue at JoAnne fabrics and it turned out really well. If you have the time to spend stoning a suit this may be a good option for you.
Jewelry: $50 ish. This price depends on where you buy you’re jewelry. As a bikini competitor, i chose to wear large, dangly earrings, two bracelets, and a ring. I also wear a conservative, simple belly button ring. I found my jewelry online. You can also check out jewelry places such as Claires or Charming Charlies which have cute, relatively cheap jewelry. It’s costume jewelry that is blingy and can really help to pull your look together.
Heels: $35-$50. This cost depends on where you buy the shoes, whether they do or do not have a strap, if you want bling on your shoes, etc. I chose the strap because it helps me feel more secure on stage- you do not want to fall or trip on stage lol. My shoes also do not have any bling because i don’t think its necessary (the judges aren’t looking at your shoes). I ordered mine online- these are called the M-brook shoe by Ellie. 5″ heel and typically the shoe you see most competitors wearing.
Show Day Attire: $50-$150. Come show day, you want to be comfortable. In the past, i have opted for Victoria Secret PINK jump suits. They are comfortable, you can easily take the jacket/pants on and off and throw your suit on when it’s time to go. Many competitors also choose to wear VS silk robes because the fabric does not leave lines/creases on the spray tan. I may go the robe route for my next competition season. If it’s summer- maybe go for the robe since the temperature is hotter . If its fall or winter- maybe opt for the jump suit. The choice is up to you.
As you can see, the fiscal cost of prep can really add up. Not only are you paying for the cost of prepping but you are also paying for the expense of show day. The more shows you compete in the higher the cost which is another thing to keep in mind.
While the main focus of this post is the $$ cost of prep there are also 2 other areas that you are paying for when you compete: Your Time and Sanity. It takes a lot of time to be a bodybuilding competitor. It takes time to go the gym everyday, do cardio, meal prep, and count your macros. I plan my meals, for prep, typically the night before so that i leave no room for error. All of these things take time. You have to be willingly to sacrifice your time doing other things because you have to prep your meals for the next day or do that hour of HIIT on the treadmill.
Then, last but not least, you’re paying for prep with your sanity. While i personally believe that flexible dieting, IIFYM, can help with your cravings/etc. during prep, that does not mean that you are going to coast smoothly through competition prep. You will be hungry and you will be counting down the minutes until your next meal. You will (most likely) cry randomly or be bitchy here and there because you are sore/tired/and hungry. You will look at food porn on Pinterest and Instagram and drool because you can’t actually eat those gigantic cookies or doughnuts you see on your feed. The “diet brain” and “diet feels” are REAL during a competition prep (I’m sure i will post about this more as i start competition prep myself). You will be exhausted and low on energy and that’s to be expected while dieting in a deficit…but that is something to be expected and to keep in mind.
Bodybuilding is an expensive hobby and that is something you need to realize before you start a competition prep. If you have the desire to compete, set money aside each pay check or put half of your tips aside each night (hello to all you fellow servers out there) so that you can pay for your competition and show day expenses. Sometimes you have to say “no” to those new pair of Lululemon wunder unders to pay for prep and to me, the sacrifice pays off.
If any of you fellow competitors have any tips or tricks for saving money on a prep PLEASE comment below and so us competitors can help each other out. Also, please “like” this post and subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already.
Thanks so much for reading and keep checking back for more on my BIKINI PREP SERIES,