Competing – Where to start?

By on April 25, 2017

 

When deciding to compete you need to ask yourself four questions.

  • Do I know what federation I want to compete with?
  • Do I know what category(s) I am wanting to enter?
  • Can I afford this?
  • Why am I doing this?

If your answer is no to the first 3 questions above, do not panic! And if you’re not sure about the last question, then you really shouldn’t be competing, yet.

After reading this article you will be more informed about what competing involves and how you can achieve the best possible outcome for yourself.

The 4 main areas we will be focusing on is…

1)      Choosing your federation and category

2)      Budgeting

3)      Training & Nutrition

4)      Mindset

#1 Choosing your federation and category

The first step to take when deciding to compete is choosing what federation you want to compete with and what category(s) you are wanting to enter. There are numerous categories that you can enter that all differentiate with regards to body shape, age, weight and other titles unique to that event. Make sure that you research each federation to find a suitable one for you and to see what categories each federation has to offer.

Here is a list of a few well know federations in the UK: 

  • Miami Pro
  • Pure Elite
  • UKBFF (United Kingdom Bodybuilding Fitness Federation)
  • NABBA (National Amateur Body Builders Association)
  • UKUP (United Kingdom Ultimate Physiques)

Now that you have chosen your federation the next step is to decide what category(s) is best for you. Each category will have a specification that you must adhere to, so make sure that the requirements are achievable and realistic. Specifications can also differ slightly between federations so be careful to read the specifications required for by your federation. The most popular categories to enter are: Bikini, Figure, and Fitness Model.

If you are unsure about what category is best for you, here is a brief outline of the requirements for the categories (Miami Pro guidelines).

Ms. Bikini

Bikini Category (Miami Pro)

Attractive and healthy look that is marketable in the fitness industry

  • Competitors who are toned with some muscle development to the upper and lower body
  • Lean physique with minimal body fat, but should not display significant muscle size, separation or striation

Figure

Figure Category (Miami Pro)

Attractive appearance that is feminine and represents health and fitness

  • Athletes that have more of a muscular physique than Fitness Model and Ms. Bikini
  • Lean physique with good muscle development in the upper and lower body but still have a feminine shape
  • Minimal body fat but not overly lean
  • Muscle separation and abs are to be visible without being too dry or striated

Fitness Model

Fitness Model Category (Miami Pro)

Attractive and healthy look that is marketable in the fitness industry

  • Models are to be less muscular and smaller in size than the Muscle Model category
  • Females are to be leaner and show more muscular development than Ms. Bikini, but not as muscular, bulky or lean as the Figure category or Muscle Model category
  • Males are not to be as muscular and bulky as the Muscle model category

Now that you have a clear understanding of what category is best suited for you, you need to make sure that you can afford to compete, which comes on to our next topic…

#2 Budgeting!

Most people do not realise the financial impact that competing has so it is vital that you are able to support yourself for these expenses.

What do I need to budget for?

  • PT (desirable, not essential)
  • Meal prep
  • Costume
  • Shoes
  • Tan
  • Hair and makeup
  • Accommodation for the night / travel expenses
  • Posing classes

Most of these are desirable but not essential, the costliest expense that you will be paying for is, ladies – your outfit. Bikinis can cost anything from £100 to £800, but if that is not affordable for you, do not worry. Certain companies will allow for you to pay for your bikini in instalments. If that’s not an option for you then preloved bikinis are available to purchase for a quarter of the original price.

Shoes are also another expense that with a little research on the internet, can be purchased for half of the price. Most federations require clear posing shoes; these can be found online by many footwear brands at a cheaper cost.

Posing classes are an essential expense that make a huge difference to your physique on stage. Without knowing how to pose correctly you are sabotaging your performance on stage, even if your physique is a 10/10! Not only does it draw attention to your physique, but it entices the audience in and makes them have all eyes on you. Performance and stage presence is a must.

Finding a sponsor is another way to help you budget and save costs throughout your competition prep. Sponsors are companies who will send you free products in return for advertisement of their products. Obviously you do need to be a huge fan of their brand as it’s important that you’re representing products that you genuinely use and what benefit you.

Now that you are aware of what you need to budget for and you are still wanting to compete, you are ready to enter your competition and begin prepping (yay!).

#3 Training and Nutrition

Your training and nutrition will now be your priority for the next upcoming months. If it’s your first time competing, then it would be highly beneficial to get yourself a PT (preferably one who has trained fellow competitors before). It will also be helpful if your PT is able to design a nutrition plan for you. No PT? Not to worry.

With regards to your training and nutrition, depending on how much fat you have to lose, you should start prepping at around 14-12 weeks before the contest (as long as you are within 15-20 pounds of your desired weight goal). (1)

Your nutrition (if starting at 12 weeks) will be split into 4 segments.

Weeks

1-4

5-8

8-11

Week 12

Throughout these segments you will need to start reducing your calories without dropping your protein. In the week before the show you will vary the amount of carbs, sodium and fluids to help your muscles look lean. (2)

Many competitors will spend a good few 4-5 months bulking before their competition, this is to help them gain mass before they start to cut.

Take a look at my ‘Top 5 Prep Products’  listed at the end of the article.

When competing there is no right or wrong way to train, nor are there numerous rules that you must follow. But, what you must always do (and it’s one of the easiest rules you can follow) is to rest. It is vital that you rest to allow your body to repair and restore its energy.

For your training there are many different methods that you can take, you just need to find what suits you best. Some people like to designate certain days to particular muscle groups.

An example below being:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Cardio

Hamstrings & Glutes

Abs

Back

Biceps

Cardio

Abs

Chest

Triceps

Cardio

Quads & Calfs

Abs

Shoulders

Abs

Rest

The upper/lower body training is also another form of training that involves splitting your upper and lower body workout across 4 days a week. (3)

An example below being:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Upper Body Lower Body Rest Upper Body Lower Body Rest Rest

These are just guidelines of what to train on what days and will vary amongst each person. Last but not least is your… 

#4 Mindset!

You have entered (or are wanting to enter) this competition for a reason. Whether it’s for your own personal experience, a chance to win or a career for you, you have entered it because you want to. And now the only thing that is holding you back is you. Fear and anxiety are personal traits that are experienced amongst everyone and whilst others may seem more confident than you, never doubt your abilities or put yourself down because of this.

So how can you get over nerves?

  • Everyone here competing is in the same boat as you. Whether they have competed once, twice or ten times before, they will be just as nervous as you are
  • Practice, practice and practice your posing! Posing is something that doesn’t come natural to us but if you practice (ladies in your heels) many weeks prior to the show, the neuromuscular adaptations will make you feel as though you’ve been doing this your whole life!
  • Lastly, enjoy the show! The adrenaline rush that you experience will be so overwhelming that you won’t have time to worry. So what do you have to put yourself down about? Months of dedication and hard work are finally about to pay off. Your physique will be in peak condition and it’s time to celebrate and show it off. You’re going to look incredible! Good luck!

# Top 5 Prep Products

#BCAA’s

Branch Chain Amino Acids prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue and delay fatigue. They are most commonly consumed in intense training and are used as an energy source. Cherry Burst is a refreshingly tasty flavour which I love to consume during a workout. It’s light on my stomach and keeps me hydrated.

#Whey Protein

Protein encourages muscle growth and repair through protein synthesis. It helps to increase recovery speed and build muscles more effectively. Jammie Biscuit is my favourite flavour, I recommend taking one post workout and one during the evening!

#Nuts

Nuts are high in protein, fibre and minerals and can be eaten on the go or mixed in with your dinner. Have you tried a walnut salad or cashew stir fry? Even one handful of almonds before a workout can help to increase muscle. They contain essential fatty acids which help lower harmful LDL cholesterol whilst increasing good HDL cholesterol.

#Cutting Hamper

Meal prep is tiresome, numerically challenging and time consuming. As I mentioned previously, finding a sponsor or even a brand that supply prepped meals can be so helpful and time saving. At the moment my favourite vegetarian meal from the Cutting Hamper is Stuffed Peppers with Couscous, Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese. There are 6 other meals available which can also be bought from the Bulking Hamper and Sports Performance Hamper.

#Liquid Egg Whites

Whilst prepping, numerous amounts of eggs are consumed. Liquid egg whites are handy for those consuming on a daily basis. There are no added preservatives, flavours or colours and can be frozen for up to 12 months! Although whilst on prep you would easily consume a 500ml bottle within one week!

References

1)      http://www.muscleandfitness.com/muscle-fitness-hers/hers-nutrition/12-weeks-competition-body-diet-plan

2)      http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/kim-oddo-figure-bikini-competition-101-lesson-1-nutrition.html

3)      https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/upper-lower-4-day-gym-bodybuilding-workout

Emily Singer

About Emily Singer

Strength and Conditioning Undergraduate. Go Nutrition Social Media Assistant.