Many people view competition prep as a gruelling process that should be dreaded. As a bikini competitor who spends most of her time around bodybuilders, I constantly hear people talk about “the grind” or about how awful they feel on prep. While it is true that competition prep is not easy since you are pushing your body to it’s absolute limits, with adequate preparation and the right mindset it can be an enjoyable and rewarding process that can enhance your life in a multitude of ways. Here are my top 10 tips for getting the most out of your next competition prep:
Give Yourself Lots of Time
Make sure to give yourself at least 14-16 weeks to prepare for your next competition. You want to ensure that you are gradually cutting calories and increasing cardio and are giving your body enough time to adapt to the changes that are being made. If you do not give yourself an adequate amount of time to prepare for your show, you may have to take more extreme measures and could end up burning yourself out.
Hire The Right Coach
The right coach will keep you accountable, will be able to provide an objective eye and will guide you in achieving your best physique for the upcoming show. Hiring the wrong coach can lead to illness, metabolic damage and can downright hinder your progress. If your coach tells you to cut out carbs, has you doing hours of cardio a day from the get go, cuts sodium completely, or doesn’t give you constructive criticism RUN FOR THE HILLS. Remember, anyone can claim to be a “coach” and you want to make sure you entrust the right person for the job.
Develop A Positive Mindset
Life can become very restricted when you start prepping for a bodybuilding competition, and if you are not careful, it can be easy to have a negative perspective on going to the gym and eating certain foods. Try to replace every negative thought with a positive one. Instead of saying “I have to go to the gym”, say “I am young and healthy and I GET to go to the gym”. Or instead of saying “I can’t eat that burger” say “I prefer to eat this meal because it gets me closer to my goals”. Remember, so much of competition prep is mental so if you can get your mindset right, you can achieve amazing things!
Take The Right Supplements
Because you are pushing your body to it’s absolute limits, you have to ensure that you are taking high quality supplements that will help you recover and will accelerate your progress. For men and women who are looking to increase/maintain their muscle mass and stay lean, tight and dry, it is crucial to take the right products. Leading up to the show, about 8 weeks out, athletes should begin taking a natural hormone maximizing product. By increasing your natural testosterone production and decreasing the amount of “bad” estrogen you have in your body, you will be able to reduce water weight, increase lean muscle mass, improve libido and improved recovery. For men, Thrust and Tonic are fantastic hormone regulating supplements and women who are competing should use Tonic and E-Brake.
Peak week is the most important week of your whole prep. This is the time where your months of hard work becomes most noticeable and where you trick your body into dropping water so you can have a lean, tight and dry physique while on stage. Water loading and cutting is crucial during this time as is having an effective natural diuretic to reduce the subcutaneous water you have. Drip Dry is the most powerful natural diuretic on the market that will help you shed excess water weight while providing you with potassium and magnesium to reduce cramping.
Take Weekly Progress Pictures and Measurements
While it is important to know if your weight is decreasing, you do not want to rely too heavily on the number on the scale. Your weight can fluctuate dramatically depending on your hydration level, exercise, what you’ve eaten that day and your bathroom habits.
A more effective and reassuring way to measure your progress is to take weekly progress photos (facing forward, facing sideways and with your back faced to the camera) as well as your measurements.
Know What You Can Gain from Competing
Although there is a lot that you must sacrifice in order to compete successfully, there is so much more that you can gain from it! First and foremost, competing will give you more exposure. If you have ever dreamed of being a sponsored athlete, a fitness model or if you would just like to be more involved in the fitness industry, competing is a great way to get your name out there. At the shows, you will meet so many competitors who love the same things you do and have had similar experiences to you. You can make lifelong friends through competitions. Lastly, you have the opportunity to gain a new level of self-confidence. Getting on stage with barely anything on and posing in front of a crowd of people can be very liberating and will leave you feeling like you’ve accomplished something great.
Trust The Process
Your mind can play tricks on you, especially when you get down to a low body fat percentage and are constantly fixated on how you look. There is no need to stress about “not being ready” as long as you are giving 100% throughout your prep. If you hire the right coach, follow your diet and training plan and practice your posing regularly, you will shine on show day!
Let Your Personality Shine Through
You have worked diligently for months to bring your best possible physique to the stage. You now only have a short time frame to showcase your hard work and impress the judges. While having a great physique is important for your placing, your posing routine is equally as important. If you let the judges see that you are nervous and uncomfortable on stage, you will likely be penalized for it. Practice your posing routine with personality and confidence until it feels like second nature. The judges will notice this and you will stand out in a positive way among the other competitors.
Be Proud of Yourself No Matter What the Outcome
In powerlifting just like soccer, football, or hockey, you cannot deny who the winner is, it shows in the score. Bodybuilding is a subjective sport where your placement depends on the opinion of the judges. Even if you don’t get the placement you had hoped for, you should still be proud of yourself for giving it your all for months and for getting on stage. Not many people have the courage to get on stage in front a lot of people, so be proud of your accomplishment no matter what the outcome!
Have a Good Plan for After the Show
Your plan for after the show is just as important as your plan before the show! Throughout your prep, you will probably get some pretty intense cravings and when you restrict yourself for so long, you may be looking forward to eating everything in sight after the show. It is important to have a couple days of eating whatever you would like but you should make sure you have a good reverse-diet plan to ensure you don’t put on unwanted weight immediately after the show. When you reduce your calorie intake for a long period of time, your metabolism will also decrease to adjust to the lower energy intake. If you were eating 1300 calories at the end of your prep and were doing 45 minutes of cardio a day and then immediately after the show begin eating 2000 calories and reduce your cardio, you will undoubtedly put on unwanted body fat. This is why having a proper reverse-diet plan is so important. Make sure to hire a coach that will slowly increase your calories and macros as well as slowly decrease your cardio so you can hold onto all the gains you made throughout your prep!
If you follow these ten steps and give your next competition prep your all, you will have an amazing time and you will see how strong you really are!