In this article, I will provide some pointers to consider or maybe even use to your advantage while preparing for a bodybuilding event. Some of the "pointers" I am about to discuss have been passed on to me by persons whom I was very fortunate to have met that were very knowledgeable in the sport of bodybuilding.
1) Pose practice
One suggestion that I kept receiving was that I needed to practice posing 10-12 weeks prior to a competition. At first I really didn't take it seriously. In actuality, I thought it was over-kill. Why would I need to stand in front of a mirror for up to an hour holding poses or practicing transitions!! Logically, at the time, it didn't make sense. I thought it was much more important to be in the gym lifting iron. As I mentioned in a previous article, I could not have been more mistaken. Posing is an art of bodybuilding that must be mastered!! It has several benefits that you will eventually realize as a new bodybuilder. Posing in advance will help deepen the separations and striations in certain areas of the body. It will build your stamina for those unexpected competitions when you are on stage for a seeming eternity in a large class. It will enable a more fluid transition from pose to pose. It will burn calories! Finally, pose practice will help you determine weak areas that need more development by forcing you to view yourself. I recommend performing pose practice at least 8 weeks from a show for a minimum of 30 minutes. As a show nears, increase practice to 45 minutes to an hour (break it up into multiple sessions if needed). Trust me when I tell that you WILL benefit greatly by doing it. In the final weeks prior to a show, it is just as important as training. I will usually pose between sets during training and after meals when not. Remember, pose...pose...pose!
What to eat?...how much to eat?…when to eat?...where does not matter! As a beginning bodybuilder, I asked myself these questions when I realized I needed to refine my diet. This will be the most difficult process in your entire bodybuilding experience. Everyone has there own in idea of what will work. Remember this, you must find what will work for YOU. Many of the diet plans you will see in bodybuilding magazines are designed for the pros. As a pro, you have a single weight class. This means, you must try to be as big and lean as possible. This is a whole different story for the amateur bodybuilder. In amateur bodybuilding, there are different weight classes in which to compete. This means that, based on your physical make-up, you may be more competitive in a certain class (i.e. Light Heavyweight). When you have decided what class you will be more competitive, you will then need to determine an appropriate diet that will allow you to make the weight required to compete in that class, as well as, trying to be as big and as lean as possible in that class. Very, very, very intricate process. It will take many attempts at different diet plans. It will require keeping a log of each diet and how long you followed it. You will constantly adjust the diet based on personal assessments and body fat measurements. Many things that you will find out will not make sense at first. When I was told by my nutritional advisors to increase my meals from 5 to 7, I almost screamed. I was already at 183 lbs and 5% body fat (right on target) with 3 weeks before my show. I didn't know why I needed to add two more meals! The fact was, I was actually going to burn more body fat since the additional meals increased my metabolic rate. Keep in mind, the meals were nutritional in content! Not pizza, not spaghetti, not ice cream. Instead, I added a serving of whiting fish with vegetables for meal six and a low-carb protein shake for meal seven. The increased calories further enabled me to maintain my bodyweight since when I reduced the water intake before the show, I would definitely make my weight class limit of 176 1/4 lbs. The things you learn!
3) Stage Presence
Maintaining stage presence is a vital part of bodybuilding success. Having good stage presence can help to score points as well as gain crowd support. Keeping a smile on your face while standing flexed may help to alleviate the physical demands some and it may also indicate your level of conditioning to the judges. I always practice with a smile. Some that have watched me compete have commented on how my smile made such a difference. In reality, I may be grimacing in pain but I have learned (practiced) to make it look as though I'm smiling! Another aspect of good stage presence is standing as erect as possible. Making sure you walk and move "BIG". Walking around with slumped shoulders, your head down, and abs poked out, won't score points with the judges. Stand tall with your shoulders back, head up, chest out, and walk hard!! Just those little adjustments can sometimes make you stand out from the rest. Another very important thing to remember while you are on stage is to always angle your body so it is in plain view of the judges. In other words, make sure you are facing the judges directly! If you are on the outside end of the line-up, always angle your body so that you are totally facing the judges. You may want the audience to see you but they are not the ones scoring you. Make sure you are SEEN by the judges! One final suggestion on stage presence is to make sure you remain flexed even when you are not in the current comparison line-up. In some larger classes, the judges will split the class into two or sometimes three smaller groups for the comparison round in order to get a better look. They will have one of the groups move to the front and center stage while moving the other groups behind. It is VERY IMPORTANT to remain flexed even when you are not center stage. The judges will periodically take a look at you while you aren't expecting them too. You would be much more impressive if you remain tight and flexed when you have been given the choice not to.
4) Eleven P's
I learned about the eleven P's while pledging a fraternity in college. They are, Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Piss Poor Performance Promotes Pain. The eleven P's speak for themselves and have a meaning that I can apply to just about every aspect of my life. If you are prepared then you eventually will be rewarded. Preparation includes, preparing your meals each and every day in anticipation of a competition, preparing an appropriate diet plan based on your present condition, practicing posing to make certain you execute them correctly and in a manner that will allow your strong qualities shine, prepare your gym bag everyday to make sure you have all you need to hit the gym, gathering all that you will need on the day of a competition well in advance, ie. tanning lotion, oils, meals, old clothing, getting a trainer to assist you etc. Without adequate preparation, your day in the "light" could become a disaster. Trust me, I was there once and refuse to be there again.
5) Open Your Mind!!!
This is my final and most important pointer. You must always have an "OPEN MIND". You will be judged subjectively and I guarantee that you will at one point disagree with a judgment! This is not the time to be angry and quit. This is not the time to place suspicion as to why another competitor is so HUGE!! This is also not the time to be un-sportsman-like or un-sportswoman-like. This IS the time to OPEN YOUR MIND. If you must, wait a few days before formulating any opinions and then evaluate yourself thoroughly. I mean physically and mentally. If you can't find at least one criticism of yourself, you will never be happy with any judgment that does not fall in your favor. That in itself will tell you something of value. I suggest taking time to discuss your deficiencies with the judges. This is the best place to start since they just evaluated you at your peak conditioning. Next, and if possible, stick around and watch the remainder of the show and look at the competitors who beat you. This will help you formulate a baseline as what it will take to win. Next, if you PREPARED properly, ask your assistant what they think you need to improve. Ask the question in a way that an honest answer is possible. Many of your friends who came to watch may tell you afterwards that you were "robbed", "cheated", etc... They may honestly feel this way since they are not used to seeing you so conditioned. Unfortunately, they may not understand the sport well enough to realize certain important factors that made the difference between you and the next person. Because they were so amazed at your transformation, they may fail to pay enough attention to the other people in the class. You should learn from every experience, win or lose! This will make you better prepared next time you step to center stage.
In my next article, I will have competed in two more competitions. I honestly haven't decided what to write about yet. I will try to make it as helpful as possible. Thanks again for reading...
"Do not follow where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail!!" - Unknown
Pic 1 | Pic 2 | Pic 3