By following the industry as I do, I have started to notice a trend. The number of athletes wanting to hit the stage is on the rise. As a competitor myself, I think this is great news as many more people will be able to enjoy the same rush that I get when I compete. The question is though, how does one go from common gym rat to fully fledged competitor?
When I shared with you my '5 step plan for mass' to make your 2005 off-season your most productive ever, it was all about gaining muscle. Following those strategies, it would not be unheard of to gain up to 10 kilograms of lean muscle this year. If competition is your next goal, then you are definitely on the right track. For now all we need to do is 'tweak' the system so that not only do you gain truckloads of muscle, but you are also mentally prepared for the end result - competition!
Venture to any bodybuilding contest and take a good look at the competitors, and have a quick think about what you see. Even though bodybuilding is a relatively obscure sport in regards to mainstream support, it always manages to defy social borders. Race, religion, background, social status - it all means nothing when it comes to bodybuilding.
Competitive bodybuilding is one of those sports where people from many different and varied backgrounds can get together in the spirit of competition, and to share their passion with other like-minded individuals. Plus, it lets you show off all your hard work as well.
I believe that the satisfaction that you get from competing is what continually draws athletes back to the stage, and what makes new athletes want to take the plunge. Put simply, there is no other experience like it. Win, lose or draw - every competitor is a champion. Some might say that sounds cliche, but only a competitor knows the sacrifice and effort that goes into preparing for a competition.
Talk to most competitors and the prospect of winning isn't what drives them. To be able to work towards a goal and to achieve it is what it's all about, irrespective of placing.
It takes a special kind of person who wants to compete.
What Does It Take To Be Successful?
To be a successful competitor, I believe that there are 3 important principles that you need to implement to really get the ball rolling. Fail to implement them and I have no doubt that you will still be successful, its just that the journey might be a little harder then it needs to be.
The first step to becoming a competitive bodybuilder is to conceive the idea that you 'will' be on stage, mixing it up and putting your physique to the test.
If I asked you now to picture yourself on stage, you might find it hard to imagine. This is what I mean by conceiving the prospect. Just imagine the sheer exhilaration you will experience standing on stage in your best ever condition, in front of your family, friends and peers. It's simply unbelievable.
Conceiving the idea is great, but it does come with a catch - competing way too early.
Personally, I believe that too many people are hitting the stage too early in their careers. At the end of the day it is a bodybuilding competition, and a bodybuilders physique is what should be displayed.
To assess if you are indeed up to speed, I recommend that you book an appointment to see someone who has experience with preparing competitors, or possibly a judge with the federation you are interested in competing with. Let them critique your physique, and ask them to be as brutally honest as possible. You need to know where you are at now.
Maybe you are seeing yourself leaner then you really are, or that you already have ample muscle size. The bonus of knowing 'exactly' what you need to achieve physique-wise within the time remaining until your competition will be indispensable.
Ok, you have the green light and are committed to competing - what's next?
Now, you must believe in yourself and your own abilities. You must believe that you have what it takes, both mentally and physically to do well on the contest stage. I have seen too many competitors who simply go 'through the motions' when it comes to competing, prompting me to wonder them why they are competing in the first place.
Commonly you get the standard reply - 'the gym owner said I would clean up', so here I am. Then I ask you, if it is not your goal, do you think you will give it your best effort - no way!
After first conceiving the notion of competition, you must believe that you will do well. That has nothing to do with winning - personal success should not be viewed by who finishes first. If you believe in yourself, and tackle all your objectives to the best of your ability, then regardless of placing - you are successful.
If you don't fully believe in what you are doing, then you will be more unlikely to keep up the intensity when things get tough. It is often the little things that are brushed over when you are not willing to go the extra mile that can make the difference when it matters.
Let's face it. Competing is hard work. It takes an awful lot out of you, and unless you are truly up to the challenge, it will be so much harder then it has to be. But if you do believe in your own abilities, then you are already half way there.
So you have the idea, you have the belief, now you need to achieve! You need to take action and put forth your very best effort in all aspects of your competition preparation.
There are so many different ways you can attack your pre-contest, it all comes down to which one you believe is best and which one you will dedicate the most of your energies too. There is just far too many ways to train, diet and supplement to achieve a great physique, which is evident with champions following every system there, is.
Is there one ultimate way to train? Who knows!
The common factor here between all successful athletes is that they continually give their preparations everything. They truly believe in themselves and their abilities, and the system they follow. This leaves them to enjoy the competition day for what it is - a truly unforgettable, rewarding experience.
If you put these simple ideas into action, I have absolutely no doubt that you will rock the stage in your competitions this year.
About The Author
Josh Dickinson is a dedicated fitness professional, runs the highly successful Physique Essentials website (www.physique-essentials.com), and is a successful natural competitor and fitness professional. You can sign up for his free performance newsletter at: www.physique-essentials.com/team_physique_performance_updates.htm