The first year as a competitor can be very challenging. Realize that all other competitors before you have probably gone through many of the same things you will face on your journey. My goal in sharing my thoughts and advice is to help you go about it as easily as possible. After all, if you know the steps that you must take to be your best, the best shot you have at being your very best!
Do Your Homework!
When considering whether competing is for you, it is important to do your research and determine what this really means. There are several federations and many different competitions you can choose from. For example, do you want to compete in the National Physique Committee (NPC) in either Fitness or Figure? Do you want to go out for a Fitness America pageant? Or maybe you want to do a Galaxy competition.
You must determine which option is right for you. There is a ton of information on different federations and each type of competition available on the Internet. Click here for a full listing of competitions. Determine your skill set and decide which type of contest most closely aligns with your interests and goals.
Set A Goal! Pick A Date!
A well-known quote says: "This one step -- choosing a goal and sticking to it -- changes everything. It's true, too! Once you establish your goal, it's amazing how things begin to line up to help you move towards it.
The next step is to take a good look at your physique compared to some of the top physiques in the federation that you are considering becoming a part of. Do you need to add muscle, lean out, further develop your flexibility or gymnastics skill? After honestly assessing your current physique and objectively determining how long you anticipate it will take to get into competition shape, you should firmly decide which show you will do.
So do your research and then decide on the show that you want to do. This date is your do or die date! This is the date that you will work towards from this point forward. You can get regional schedules for shows in your area, click here. Mark your contest date on your calendar and start telling people about it! Tell your family and friends, tell people in your gym, tell the cashier at the grocery store.
Just tell everyone that you are a competitor! This will encourage you to really go after it! Then back track in weeks how many weeks you have until your show. To give you and idea, my first year I began intense training in January and competed in September. I had an entire 9 months to get myself mentally and physically ready to compete. And let me tell you, I needed every minute!
Develop Your Plan Of Attack!
Now it's time to begin developing your plan of attack. Things that you need to consider include:
- How many times per week will you train?
- Which training strategy will you use?
- How many times will you do cardio?
- How many calories will be in your meal plan and what will your meal plan be comprised of?
- Do you need to use supplements?
- Which ones?
- How will you choreograph your routine?
- Do you need to take gymnastics lessons?
- Flexibility classes?
- Are there mandatory components?
- Do you know how to do them?
- What music will you use?
- Do you need to find a DJ to help you with your music?
- What about competition suits - where will you get them?
As you can see there are A LOT of questions that must be answered and worked into your plan of attack. The sooner you sit down and map it all out, the sooner you can concentrate on the task at hand - developing your best physique and/or best routine for your show! Another suggestion is to write everything out as you go along. My notes from my first year are invaluable as I look back and try to model the same contest preparation strategy that I used then. Don't take it for granted that you will remember everything.
More than likely you won't remember the details and even if you do, it is very important to have certainty that you are doing the same thing (or making modifications where needed) that you did the previous year. It doesn't take long to jot everything down as you go. This will also help keep you focused on what needs to happen in the near-term to get you to where you ultimately want to be at show time.
The biggest piece of advice that I can give you is to be fully prepared by "game day!" The last thing you want is to be the girl who has worked really hard and pushed herself to the limit, but just "didn't realize that there were mandatory components for the routine/ didn't know there was a one-piece AND a two-piece round/didn't know you'd have to do quarter turns. Wait, what are quarter turns? I didn't realize you'd need Bikini Bite to keep your suit in place. I didn't realize all the girls use tanning paint for the show, etc...
In other words, you want to be 100% on the day of your show that you are totally prepared to be the very best YOU on that day. You are there to present all that you have worked to create during the months leading up to the contest. Of course, you will make progress the more shows you do, but please do your initial research so your very first show is a great experience.
Try to find someone in your area that has competed in the type of show you are considering. Find out how they trained, what nutrition program they used and what resources they used for suits, supplements, etc... Bodybuilding.com is a great sources of info for everything! Sample pre-contest plans, books, videos and a huge article database. of past contests that you can watch for inspiration and information.
Find the girls you think are the best and model their presentation and suits. Go to local shows and get a feel for what it will really be like for you on the day of the show. Visualize yourself stepping on stage, doing your turns, performing your routine, etc. You can never be too prepared! So just jump on in and go for it! Feel free to email me with any questions. I'm happy to help.
Finally! Have FUN!
I'm not going to lie to you, there are definitely those times along the way that you will wonder why in the world you are doing this! Not all of it is fun and easy! Remember, it's a challenge and you are growing as a person and pushing yourself to be the very best at something that you are passionate about.
Keep in mind that you are competing against yourself to become the very best possible YOU! Don't settle for less! And avoid worrying too much about which competitors will show up at your show. Just give every day your very best and you will be a winner no matter what the judges say at the contest!