Competitive bodybuilding presents one of the most challenging lifestyles, if not the most challenging lifestyle, of any sport in the world. Every minute of every day is important, with the idea and ultimate goal of being the best bodybuilder each of us can be on competition day.
So maybe you've been thinking about competing? You might have ten years of training under your belt, an above average physique, but do you have what it takes to compete onstage in bodybuilding?
More importantly, do you want to compete in bodybuilding? Having competed for over a dozen years in NPC competitions has taught me a significant amount about this sport. I have made many mistakes and have been frustrated many times, but I love bodybuilding and hope to shed some light on just what it takes to get yourself from reading this to putting your routine together and posing in front of 1000+ people!
Go Watch An NPC Bodybuilding Show!!!
If you have not attended a show, go! When attending your first show, look for the little things that are taking place. Instead of just watching the night show, make sure you attend the prejudging. Here you can see how the judges compare the athletes and how awesome and tough it is to pose time and time again!
Talk to people around you. If you have a chance to talk to a competitor, chat with them and ask them questions. Most of the competitors are drained and tired, but every once in a while you can meet someone who doesn't mind talking to people and sharing knowledge.
When competing I like to chat with others just to ease the tension and make time go by. Check out Frank Roberson's video clip on posing on Bodybuilding.com. You can tell he has years of experience and hundreds of hours practicing his posing. It will give you an idea of how important every detail can be when standing onstage.
Chances are if you are reading this you already have a base knowledge of food and supplements. You know that protein is important and eating clean is imperative to being contest ready the day of the show. Even knowing this, do you have the lifestyle that can handle eating 6 times per day while training, tanning, posing, and getting 7-10 hours of sleep a night?
When I personal train a first time competitor the first thing I do is ask them about their lifestyle. I ask if they have the time to eat 4+ solid meals per day along with 3-4 protein shakes, do they work shift work, can they perform cardio first thing in the morning and at night before bedtime, can they eat properly at their job...
Even with excellent genetics, all bodybuilders have to fulfill their calorie (protein, carbs, fat) requirements in order to grow. If their lifestyle does not support this then it might not be the best idea to compete until their day to day routines are steady, consistent, and calm (example, if a newborn is on the way, or if they are expecting to move or relocate to a different job sometimes it is better to wait to start an offseason or precontest diet).
I am approximately 40 weeks out of competing in the 2007 Mr. Colorado. I just started my offseason diet and am trying to get to the point where I can eat as much clean food as possible. I have a very fast metabolism so during the offseason the more clean calories the better.
Here is an example of what my day to day schedule looks like:
4:45am: Wake Up And Immediately Consume Meal #1
7:30am: Meal #2
- Hi Calorie Protein/Carb Bar
- Protein Shake
10:15am: Meal #3
Eat lunch out. Usually consume about 2 servings of wide egg noodles with 5-6oz. of chicken breast and a ton of mixed vegetables
1:00pm: Meal #4
- Hi Calorie Protein/Carb Bar
- Protein Shake
2:30pm: Preworkout Meal #5
- 3-5 Protein Oatmeal Cookies
4:15pm: Postworkout Meal #6
Meal Replacement Shake IMMEDIATELY after training
5:15pm: Meal #7
- 1 8oz. Chicken Breast
- 1 Large Baked Potato
- Mixed Vegetables
7:00pm: Meal #8
- 1 Protein Shake (sometimes I have a can of tuna with this meal)
As you can see even an offseason diet can be challenging. I am constantly drinking water all day long. I plan on getting up to 240-245 pounds this offseason and will diet down to 215-220 for the show. It takes consistency, day in and day out, of eating, sleeping, and training.
Ok so let's summarize some things you might want to do if you want to compete in the 2007 contest season:
- Go see a bodybuilding show. Have fun, talk to people, and attend the prejudging!
- Make a schedule for yourself. It is TOUGH to eat a lot of food, but you can do it. Stay positive and stay consistent, the gains will come. Make it your goal to stick to your schedule. Do not miss meals and workouts!
- Ask others about your physique who have competed. Based on this, select exercises this offseason to balance and improve your physique.
- Read, read read! Check out Bodybuilding.com and learn from others. Watch the Fit Show and really take in how to perform certain exercises. Get enough sleep, and take a couple days to rest and recuperate every week!
- Talk to a DJ about your music when preparing your routine. Also ask others who have competed to watch your routine. Make sure you get all the necessary things ready before stepping onstage (pro-tan, posing oil, posing trunks, rubber bands to pump up, don't forget your music, your NPC card, fill out your registration form and send it in on time, etc).
- Get a support system. Your family and friends can help you mentally and physically prepare to compete in your first show. It seems like an individual sport, but with a team behind you your day to day schedule can flow better and it can be fun instead of stressful. The more support the better!!!