Competing in your first physique competition is an exciting first step on a rewarding journey. But if you’re not careful, that journey can quickly turn sour. Here are ten considerations to ensure a successful and overall positive contest prep experience.
#1: What Is Your Motivation?
Before deciding to fully invest yourself in contest prep, think about the reason you want to compete. The demands of contest prep are not for the weak of heart. With the growing trend of competing in bikini, physique, figure, and bodybuilding, many competitors step on stage with good intentions, but for the wrong reasons. Think peer pressure, social media influences, or a feeling of obligation.
Physique is a subjective sport, and you put in a lot more resources in than you ever get back. Be motivated to get on stage for the right reasons, such as self-improvement, embracing the challenge, and pushing your training.
#2: How Is Your Mental and Emotional Health?
The majority of competitors consider their physical health before they begin contest prep, but few people consider the importance of a healthy mind. Unfortunately, mental and emotional health are often taken for granted by both athletes and coaches. Contest prep can lead to serious repercussions in these areas, such as a negative relationship with food and self-esteem issues. If you struggle with extreme emotions or a poor self-image, it is likely these issues will be magnified during contest prep, not resolved.
#3: What Are Your Ultimate Goals?
Think about not only why you’re competing, but also what you want to get out of the experience, from the prep process to your time on stage. In a subjective sport like bodybuilding, it can be challenging to gracefully accept negative feedback and critiques from a group of judges after you’ve worked relentlessly for weeks to achieve your best body possible. Embrace your body and be content with the package you’re bringing to stage, knowing you did everything you could to build the best physique possible.
#4: How Will You Balance Priorities?
When you take on your first contest prep, it can be challenging to balance priorities. Depending on your style of diet and training, contest prep can feel like a full-time job. This can be difficult if you actually have a full-time job, along with family demands and career responsibilities.
Like anything in life, when contest prep is in the spotlight, everything else can temporarily fall by the wayside. This can impact your family, social life, work and school. Determine what is most important to you in the long run so you can avoid tunnel vision when preparing for your first show.
#5: How Will You Balance It All?
Everyone has daily demands outside of contest prep. It’s crucial to figure out how you’ll be able to balance it all before you start investing your time and money into a prep. How will you make your sessions fit around your daily work, school, and family demands? When will you prep meals and find time to eat throughout the day? Fail to plan, plan to fail. You have to find a way to make it work in advance.
#6: Are You Prepared for the Costs?
The competitive bodybuilding lifestyle isn’t cheap, especially for female competitors. Take time to map out a budget and assess whether a show is financially feasible and responsible. Avoid any surprises. Take the time to price out the costs of:
- Organization memberships
- Registration fees
- Competition suit, shoes, and jewelry
- Contest tan
- Hair and makeup
- Travel expenses
- Coaching fees
- Other costs such as nails, photo shoots, added food expenses, etc.
The costs can add up quickly, and if you don’t set a budget it can be easy to go overboard, even at the novice level.
#7: What About the Hidden Demands?
With more and more Instagram fitness models and social media #fitspos, it’s easy to focus only on the positive aspects of contest prep and bodybuilding lifestyle. But social media doesn’t paint a true or honest picture of the demands and struggles of a contest prep program.
“Be motivated to get on stage for the right reasons, such as self-improvement, embracing the challenge, and pushing your training.”
Do your own research about what it takes to build your best physique. Educating yourself will help you understand what sacrifices must be made to be successful so you can avoid any surprises. For many people, the benefits of competing don’t always outweigh the negatives in terms of social sacrifices, food restriction, and more. Figure out what you’re willing to give up to compete.
#8: How Will You Choose the Right Coach?
Enlist the help of a professional to aid you in making the best decisions for your body and mind. This is especially important for new competitors. Research multiple coaches and get to know their coaching styles. Interview them like you would anyone you’re hiring for a job. Some competitors need more emotional support, while others prefer to work independently, and different coaches cater to different needs.
Hire a coach who knows what he or she is doing and has the credentials to reflect their experience. Don’t hesitate to ask about their education and experience, as well as contest prep history. Consider contacting previous clients to get an honest interpretation of their experience.
#9: How Is Your Support System?
There will be some days during your prep when you want to give up completely and never see another chicken breast again. Without a proper support system to give you the tough love and motivation you need, days it can be a challenge to push through those rough days on your own. Keep your support system close throughout your prep. Fill it with friends, family, and fellow competitors to encourage you and help push you when you need it.
#10: Are You Prepared for Post-Competition?
You’ve heard it a million times, but one of the most important things to think about before competing is what your plan is for after the competition. Many competitors experience post-contest rebound and rapid weight gain. Having a post-contest plan will help you ease back into a balanced lifestyle without the potential emotional and physical turmoil that can occur after the stage experience.
Be Honest With Yourself
Honestly assess each of these questions so you understand your decision to compete. You will be better able to make the smartest, healthiest, and best choice for you and your body and ensure a positive contest experience.
When done in a happy and healthy way, the contest prep process will teach you about yourself, your true abilities, and your true strength. It will transform you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Good luck!
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