Competing For Bodybuilding: What You Need To Know To Begin!

Bodybuilding is at an all time high right now for men and women. It has never been more popular than now. I hope this guide can help you prepare properly so you can become a winner at your next show. So, let's get you ready for the stage.

Do you compete? Have you considered competing? Ok, so, you've been training and lifting in the gym for months. Why are you keeping it under wraps? Shy? Or are you afraid? Your friends all say you have a great physique. But, has a panel of physique judges judged that body and compared it side-by-side together with other physiques?

To win in bodybuilding competitions requires a certain level of physical and mental discipline. Do you have what it takes? Ok, let's say you do, but do you know what to do to get there?

Bodybuilding is at an all time high right now for men and women. It has never been more popular than now. I hope this guide can help you prepare properly so you can become a winner at your next show. So, let's get you ready for the stage.

Reality Check People

Before you begin, be realistic. For instance take your own physique and take a look in the mirror. Some individuals have what might be deemed as perfect genetics and fast metabolisms. Others carry more body fat than they would like.

If you are going to get on stage or use someone's help to get on stage, they better be honest with you. A lot of people aren't. Maybe you would rather have someone tell you what you want to hear?

When I help someone I want them to go up looking their best, I am honest and truthful because in this business too many people assume they are OK for the stage and everyone thinks they should have won. Personally, I'm not going to put anyone on stage that I'm helping unless they are looking their very best. If you have more work to do then I'm going to tell you and so should your trainer or support crew.

It took me years of practice and mistakes to get it right and even years to learn the politics of bodybuilding. Yes, there is politics in bodybuilding. Sandy Ranalli (NPC Women's Representative and promoter) told me once, "Anita it's just being at the right show at the right time."

Did she say anything about how my physique should look? Nope. Not at all. And that's the reality check. You all need to understand before you step on stage.

Furthermore, do not ever think you are going to turn pro at your first National show. That's if you make it that far. It has happened to some, but be realistic in your assessment. I always shot for top 5 or better, not to get "cut" from the lineup.

All of those are realistic and positive goals that will generate enthusiasm and the drive needed to keep the competition fires burning. It's a long haul to turn pro. So, you better have tuff skin to be a bodybuilder.

What's Your Plan?

What will it take for you to be successful for the stage? That's easy. Get yourself a plan and getting ready for that show will be so much easier. Regardless of your level, a game plan is an absolute must. Some people can be ready in less time than a year and others take longer. The following is a basic schedule to help you prepare for your next bodybuilding show:

12 Months Out:

  • Pick your show
  • Develop your off-season training program
  • Eat quality foods in the off season, eating every three hours and pounding down protein, lots of protein.
  • Do cardio two or three times a week for 20-30 minutes at a time
  • Keep accurate records in your training journal (get a journal if you don't have one)
  • Find a couple different songs you like
  • Think about suits and your posing routine

6 Months Out:

  • Start work on your mandatory poses
  • Change your workout routine, start focusing on anything that might be lacking, but do not neglect the size exercises either.
  • Up your cardio to 30 minutes a day.
  • Continue to eat quality food and 1.5-1.8 Kg. Of protein per pound of body weight.
  • Eat regular meals all week and "junk food" on Sunday's.

18-12 Week's Out (Competition Diet STARTS!):

  • Set up competition diet
  • If possible have an experienced judge or experienced competitive bodybuilder assess your physique or someone who is close to the industry and knows what to look for.
  • Start working on your routine and doing mandatory poses, holding each mandatory pose for 10 seconds. Do this after workout.
  • Take pictures doing each mandatory pose.
  • Order posing suits (remember to order two sizes smaller then what you are now for contest day)

The sooner you start working on your mandatory poses the better. I was told by Muscle Sport announcer Kenny Kassle to start doing timed mandatory poses after your workout three times a week to start and then every day closer you get to your show.

I suggest doing each mandatory for 10-15 seconds to start. It is critical to practice these poses over and over again to cement it into your memory. You want to go up on stage during pre-judging and look like you did this before, like a pro. No, better then a pro. This alone will have you prepared and ready to show your stuff on competition day and it will definitely harden you up too!

Every week take pictures... this is a great monitor for your progress.

8 Weeks Out:

  • Register for competition and keep your receipts. This cannot be emphasized enough-you've put in the hard work. Don't let something as simple as forgetting to register ruin your big day.

    Find A Competition In Your Area Here...

6 Weeks Out:

  • Make travel arrangements if competition is not local
  • Choose hair style, accessories, and make-up (if applicable)
  • Start tanning
  • Purchase competition items such as lunch cooler, body lotion, tanning products, nail accessories, make-up, etc.

3 Weeks Out:

  • Stay focused!
  • Stick to your diet; practice, practice, practice those mandatory poses and your routine!
  • Tan

Last Week:

  • Practice mandatory poses and go over your routine in all your costumes
  • Make a competition checklist to ensure you have everything you need. For example, posing suits, tanning products, 2-copies of your music
  • Tanning

Day Of Competition:

  • Get to venue early and check-in
  • Find out schedule of events and be ready
  • After all the work you put into this competition, go out there and have fun-you've earned it!


Diet, weight training, and cardio are the most important pieces of your competition preparation. Your workouts should be tailored for growth, size and shape development. Since dieting will help refine your physique, make sure you prioritize your weak points during workouts.

Another thing is do not think super sets are a workout that will get you "cut." This is not true. Or do not think you are going to get weaker the closer you get to your show. This is another fallacy. Three weeks out from my last show I cranked-out 6 reps with 140 pounds on dumbbell rows, and was still pressing 80-pound dumbbells on Incline.

If your diet is right and your food intake is maintained all the time the above will occur. Being FULLER and THICKER is every bodybuilder's goal to look on stage.

If this is your first contest, you may have a ton of questions and consulting with a coach will help eliminate your fears and help you reach your goals.

Learning From Your Mistakes

In bodybuilding learning from ones experiences is very helpful. It is a good idea to attend shows. This is a must. Go to and read what Ron learned from doing his last two shows. Talk to the competitors and ask the judges questions. However, the latter is something I readily tell people not to do, especially after the show they've competed in.

If you ask more then one at the competition you'll get two different answers. I learned quickly to not ask them the day of the show or around others. I asked the head judge of a National show, years ago, why I got placed where I did? The answer was: "Your legs where smooth!"

In astonishment I replied by picking up my skirt and flexing my striated cut thighs and then went on to say that they where full of it. I later wrote this person a letter to the fact again. Only to receive a call late one evening from this judge explaining to me why what was said.

This individual read my letter of disharmony, and then explained that I received what I got because I was "too big" and though this person said I looked "great" at the time the NPC was "toning it down," and to "never ask in front of others." I said thank you and never again asked a judge why again.


First and foremost, get a support crew. This can be a group of individuals or one person. A support crew should help you achieve your bodybuilding goals. They serve as advisors telling you what strengths and weaknesses you have.

You can get me (learn more), of course, even Mrs. Olympia Andrulla Blanchette, yes, we are women, and most likely better for women as Chad Nichols, Charles Glass and Ron Harris are great for you guys.

Again, contest prep requires you to devote your day's making your meals, going to the gym, doing cardio sometimes twice a day, working on your mandatory poses, and your evening routine. All these elements will determine the outcome of your efforts.

If bodybuilding competition is something you've been thinking about, my advice is, to use the directions provided in this article and make your competition goals a reality.

Even though competing for bodybuilding may be tough, if you maintain your focus and put in the hard work then everything will pay off and soon you'll be holding that overall trophy high over your head. Good luck, have fun, and compete!