So you want to compete?
Competing on stage is no longer just for the hard-core jacked 70s style ‘bodybuilders’. It has transformed into a highly accepted and relatable sport earning the recognition & respect that it so rightly deserves. People still, however, have their reservations.
I’ve always thought that everyone, just once in their life should complete a prep diet of some fashion. Not for aesthetic purposes, but purely to learn about their bodies, macros, micro-nutrients, emotional & physical limits & if nothing else a sheer appreciation for the abundance of food that we have. It certainly did that for me!
While some people run for the hills at the thought of prep (understandably), it is far more common now for men & women to be hitting the stage. The rapid growth in the physique categories demonstrates this. However, a common misconception is that getting stage lean, is the same as getting lean. Remember, as a stage competitor you will be judged & critiqued in a more physically brutal way than you ever have been before. There is no clear goal scoring or time to beat. You will need to leave your bashfulness at the door, develop some thick skin to stand next to some insane conditions, showcase your physique to the best of your ability & accept whatever subjective decisions are thrown at you. Like with many sports when you take it to a certain level, sacrifices must be made. And with bodybuilding, these sacrifices come pretty high, as it’s not just your time in the gym or meal prepping that dominates your life. Prepping for a competition will influence so many other areas; getting to your ultimate peak physical condition will actually take incredible mental & emotional strength. Meticulously tracking food over the course of several months, training smarter & harder in the gym & unexpected emotional & hormonal adaptations all while trying to raise a family & work a normal full time job for the most of us.
The standards in competing are changing pretty rapidly & the competition is fierce. Even with a mass of online coaching & many more federations to choose from, a decision to compete still shouldn’t be taken lightly. Getting stage lean isn’t about being the biggest, or skinniest, size does not win. In my limited experience, conditioning, muscularity, symmetry, proportion & stage presence wins the show. It’s about taking your physique to extreme levels without being careless. Being critical & objective on yourself, & taking critism, without losing sight of your progress. For most people, it’s about getting to where you think you need to be, & then taking it that little bit further!
So many questions will influence your journey. Which federation do you choose to compete in? How long will your prep be? Will you seek a professional coach? Will your coach provide nutritional or training plans, or both? Will this coach provide just macros or a specifically designed regimented diet plan to follow? How often will you check-in? Which category will you compete in? Have you read the federations rules & criteria? Will your competition be influenced by professional or personal commitments? Where is your competition? Who will tan you? Who will do your hair & makeup ladies? Can you budget for this competition? Are you prepared to compete again if you qualify for the Finals?
Please bear in mind, I speak from just my experience & observations over the past few years & as a natural athlete. This is just scraping the surface to give you an idea of whether you are suited to taking this journey…