So you’re thinking of competing this year?
So you’re thinking of competing this year?
Written by Leanne Hurst
There has been a huge rise in the number of people competing in bodybuilding competitions over the last few years. In my opinion, a big part of this is the increase in the number of people weight
training and being more conscious of their diet as a means to getting in shape. Another significant reason I’d suggest is the growth in popularity of the sport on social media.
It really is fantastic that so many more people are enjoying weight lifting and how females specifically, are changing their mindset towards it.
My question is, however: “Does this automatically mean that you should then have a goal of entering a bodybuilding competition?”
I don’t shy away from hard work. In fact, I thrive of it. However being quite honest with myself, I’d be lying if I said the two seasons I competed (2016/17) weren’t probably two of the most challenging of my life.
Social media might glamorise competing and of course there are so many pros but the truth is, it takes up a huge amount of time, effort, sacrifice and dedication for what is ultimately, just a hobby.
So, what actually needs to be considered before you think about competing?
- Your WHY.
Why do you want to compete? Without a doubt, this is the single most important question you need to ask yourself. It’s also the first question I ask a client who comes to me with this
goal. It is absolutely critical that you have a firm understand of why you are doing it as this is will be the thing that will motivate you to keep pushing, even at the most difficult of times.
Some goals are really easy to understand. If, for example, you are severely overweight and you have been advised that losing 2 stone will reduce the pressure on your knees and help
you to walk with less pain, for most people this would be a no brainer. With a contest prep it is almost the opposite of this scenario. You are likely to take your body and your mind to
places that they don’t really want to go and these aren’t going necessarily healthy approaches either.
It is therefore really important you have it clear in your own mind as to why you want to embark on this challenge. Reasons such as, ‘because everyone else is doing it’, ‘I want some
good content for social media’ or ‘because I want a goal to help me lose weight’, just won’t cut it.
- Your existing relationship with training
Weight training is a prerequisite to successfully competing in a bodybuilding competition. It’s therefore logical to suggest that you would already be consistently and frequently
training with weights in the gym. Not only that but it should be something that you love to do and would do regardless of a competition. There will be times in a contest prep when
you may fall out of love with training for a short time but it is essential to have that love to start with.
- Are you being realistic?
Can you commit the time that is required? It is one thing to be a regular gym goer but it is a whole different ball game committing to a prep. You are realistically going to have to
commit anywhere between 16-24 weeks to get into contest shape. Do you have time to do this? What are your roles and responsibilities? Do you work full time, have dependants to
care for? Do you already have a lot on your plate? Can you commit to training regularly, preparing your food, practicing posing and having the thought of competing constantly on
your radar? I can’t stress the importance of making sure you are in a good place to start with and you don’t set yourself up to fail.
- Do you hold enough muscle mass?
There is a large array of federations to compete in, each with a number of different categories. Some of these will require more muscle mass than others but do not be mistaken, all categories will require some degree of muscle mass from bikini right through to the heavy weight bodybuilders. It is therefore important that you have enough to enter the category you want to.
- Do you have a good relationship with food?
Are you eating a sufficient amount to support your current lifestyle and levels of activity? If, for example, you are currently maintaining your body composition on low calories and a
high output, how are you going to continue to progress? You can only reduce calories or increase output to a certain amount before it becomes completely unsustainable and
dangerous. It is therefore important are in the best possible place to start with. You can then keep as many ‘tools in the toolbox’ as you can and utilise these as you progress through
a prep to keep you moving forward. You don’t want to start a prep in a position where you’re already hungry and focused entirely on food.
- Are you willing to give yourself enough time?
As with most things in life, creating a physique that will be competitive on stage is going to take longer than you think, both in terms of muscle development and getting lean enough to
get on stage. You might want to compete in a show that is close to home or because a friend is doing a particular show, but you need to be willing to give yourself enough time.
This will vary from person to person and depend heavily on your starting point but that’s what your coach is there to advise you on. What you need to do, is be willing to listen and
work with realistic timeframes.
- Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices?
Irrespective of how you approach a contest prep phase, some sacrifices will have to be made. The aim, of course, is to keep things as flexible and enjoyable as possible but as the
prep progresses, it’s inevitable that things will become harder and harder. I can’t think of a particularly ‘good time’ to prep. There will always be birthdays, weddings, holidays and
although all these things can still be enjoyed, it is highly unlikely they can be enjoyed in an unrestricted manner. When it comes to prep, ‘balance’ is something that’s hard to attain.
- Do you have a good support network?
Competing is a very selfish thing to do. It is a solo activity which culminates in you getting on stage and showing off your hard work. It is for these reasons that you need a solid
support network. You will experience a huge number of emotions as you progress through a prep and these can change on a day to day, or even hour to hour basis. There will be times
when you are hungry, unbelievably tired and overcome by waves of crippling self-doubt. There will be times when you just want to talk to someone or quite often not talk to anyone
and just be left alone. It can be a difficult time for those around you and that’s why it is so important for them to be on board and understand your decision as much as possible. A
good support network of friends and family can drag you through those workouts you just can’t face, prepare food for you when you just don’t have the energy, be a shoulder to cry
on and be that constant reassurance that you are good enough.
- Do you have a good relationship with your coach and trust them 100%?
It goes without saying that you want to invest in a reputable coach who you know can get results. What, however, isn’t always considered as fully as it ought to be is the relationship
with the coach. It is important that you feel comfortable and confident discussing anything that may be relevant. You need someone who will be there for you when, not if, you
wobble. You are investing a lot in this process it is important you are happy.
- Have you been to watch a bodybuilding show before?
I would always encourage someone to watch a show before they compete. It will give you a great insight into what the day involves and whether it is right for you. It would also be a
good idea to watch a show of the same federation, as they all run slightly differently.
- The cost
Unfortunately, this is something that needs to be taken into consideration. Unless you are going to win the Olympia, competing will leave you out of pocket, more so as a female
competitor. Some costs to take into account include, federation and competition entry fees, potential travel to and overnight stay at a venue, posing lessons, a bikini, shoes, tan, hair and
make-up, stage photographs. It is important that you factor these in at the outset.
- Committing to an exit strategy
In order to compete you will be taking your body and mind to a place that it is has never been before. Your body will be leaner that it ever has been but you will be in a sub optimal
position in terms of health. The goal of a prep will always be to maintain as main health markers as possible but this isn’t always the case. In some respects, the goal of getting on
stage can be extremely powerful and it can quite often be the period post competition that people find the most difficult. It is therefore imperative that an exit strategy is put in place
even before you get on stage and you commit to following this in the same way as you did the prep.
- Your WHY.
As you can see from the list above, the decision of whether or not to compete isn’t a quick or an easy one. Although stepping on stage or coaching someone to step on stage is one of
the most rewarding things you can do, it needs to be for the right reasons and the drawbacks, as well as the benefits need to be considered fully.
If you feel ready, you’re committed to change and you want to achieve a set of results you never though would ever be possible, why not head on over and apply for our #Leanwithalife The 12 Week
Online Coaching Programme.
If you’re a little unsure but still feel like you need a helping hand and some guidance to get you started on your transformation journey, head on over and start our free #Leanwithalife progamme
21 day trial.
As always, if you have any queries, then get in touch – email@example.com.