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Preparing for competition is hard and stressful, with many factors to consider. One way to relieve that stress is packing the right stuff in your bag. Here are 20 things to pack for your competition to eliminate potential problems and ensure the day goes smoothly.

1. Back-Up Suit

Physique competitors must wear suits that fit the criteria of their division, and as with any item of clothing, there is no way to predict if or when a wardrobe malfunction may occur. That's why it's a good idea to bring a backup suit in case your main one gets stained or otherwise damaged.  

If you've been competing awhile, chances are you have more than one suit to choose from, but newbies can always borrow or rent another suit to have as a back-up. Just like a spare tire, an extra suit is something you hope not to need but should never leave home without.  

2. Glue

By far the most common wardrobe malfunction in physique competitions is a slip of the suit. Even the best-fitting suit can and will ride up when you're walking, posing, or performing. To avoid an embarrassing exposure onstage, bring some Bikini Bite or spray glue to fasten your suit down and avoid any mishaps. 

Posing suit

3. Music

If your division requires it, you must prepare a posing routine, and you must bring your own music in an easy-to-use format. Make sure to trim the song file so the music starts at exactly the right point, and if you are using more than one song, cut them so they flow together. Most shows have you bring a copy of your music on a disc, and you should make sure to bring a few copies for backups.

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4. Personal Music Player

Bring an MP3 player or download your music to your phone so you can listen to your routine music for practice while you wait for your turn to go onstage.

5. Tanning Supplies

Whether you tan at home or opt for a professional application at the competition, bring extra oil, bronzer, makeup, and tan. The stage lights are very bright and could wash out any definition that you've worked so hard to obtain. Make sure your face is dark enough to blend with your skin. You do not want "ghost face" onstage, which makes for awful pictures. 

6. Footwear

Slip-on sandals are a must-have backstage, and if your division requires heels, bring an extra pair just in case. Although sparkly suits catch the eye, don't be too flashy with your heels. You want the judges to look at your body and say "Wow!"—not your heels. Most competitions have a get-together after the show, so bring comfortable footwear to change into.  


7. Towels

Bring a couple of small hand towels to help clean up from makeup and tanning touch-ups. Remember, those lights onstage are very hot and you will work up a sweat. Also bring an old bath towel for washing off the tan after the show.  

8. Food

What you eat the day of the competition is critical to how you'll look stepping onstage. Make sure you have plenty of good carbohydrates to keep you going through the morning pre-judging and evening rounds of competition, and avoid any foods that will make you bloated, sluggish, or tired.

9. Water

Pack plenty of water to sip during check-in and to replace fluids that you will lose during the posing rounds and routines. It's also a good idea to pack an electrolyte replacement drink like Gatorade in case your muscles cramp up during the day.

Stay hydrated with the right electrolyte blend to help you shine onstage.

10. Light, Loose Clothing

Competition tan can easily rub off, so you want to pack clothing that is light and loose-fitting. Silky robes, light-weight hoodies, and loose pajama bottoms or sweats all work well. Avoid anything tight or heavy that can smudge or muddle your tan.


11. Makeup

Pack extra product, plus a brush, comb, hair spray, curling iron, hair dryer, and other items for backstage primp and prep. Use a leak-proof bag to avoid getting tanning products all over your makeup and vice versa.  

12. Jewelry

Make sure you have the right jewelry for the symmetry rounds and for the evening after the show, and pack a backup set in case something breaks or gets lost.

13. Toiletries

For out-of-town shows, bring bath gel, body lotion, hair ties, soap, shampoo, and other body and face products for washing off tan and makeup after the show.

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14. Evening Wear

If you plan on going out after the show, pack a fresh change of clothes. You should pick something that properly shows off all that hard work and dedication. Remember, magazine photographers and writers are hanging out in the audience, backstage, at the contest hotel, and the designated contest party location.

15. Money

This may seem obvious, but when you're having your tan, hair, or makeup done, it's always a good idea to have cash on hand for payments and tips. A little extra cash goes a long way, and vendors really appreciate it.  

16. Bands

It is crucial that you pump up before stepping onstage. Most shows will provide weights and equipment backstage, but everyone is trying to use it at the same time you are. Pack a set of resistance bands so you can warm up anytime, anywhere.

Exercise bands

17. Marketing Material

A lot of competitors are looking for sponsorship. If that's your goal, don't forget to bring headshots and business cards to help you network with photographers, supplement companies, and magazine writers. If you do bring photos, put them in a zip-lock bag with cardboard to protect them from creasing and tanning products.

18. A Designated Picture Taker

The competition photographer is not going to focus on you and you alone, so if you have friends and family in the audience, ask them to take pictures and video. You'll want to preserve those memories and evaluate your posing and routine after the competition.  

19. Support Crew

Bring as many friends and family members with you as possible. It always helps to have a big cheering section, and you'll need someone who can help you with your suit and final touches.  

20. A Good Attitude

You've worked hard to get here, so make sure you have a good attitude regardless of your placing. Competing should be fun—no one likes someone who demonstrates arrogance or poor sportsmanship.

About the Author

Heather Eastman, NSCA-CPT

Heather Eastman, NSCA-CPT

Heather’s mission is to use her passion for fitness and her knowledge of training and nutrition to educate and motivate others to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle.

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