4 October 2023
Contributor - Fitness Model & Competitive Athlete
Have you been training hard, enjoying a healthy lifestyle — and looking to take yourself to the next level? You might have started entertaining the idea of preparing a classic physique for competitive bodybuilding competitions.
As a seasoned fitness model, sports model and bikini competitor, with over 6 years of fitness competitions behind me, let me tell you, it’s a big step, but an exciting one! These are the 7 most important things for first-time competitors to know before planning their debut on the competition stage.
Physique competitions are a serious commitment, and no matter how long you’ve been eating healthy meals and in the gym, seeking professional guidance is a key step towards stepping on stage for the first time.
While it isn’t mandatory, a coach or mentor is a solid investment and highly recommended when you’ve not competed before. There are going to be times when you have questions, or you’ll doubt yourself. Having that added support on your fitness journey makes a huge difference to the experience. Plus - it helps keep yourself accountable while you build your classic physique!
We all start in different places with different body shapes, but most competitors diet for a minimum of 16 weeks before a competition. They diet to cut down on body fat because they’ve already built the much needed muscle for a classic physique in their category.
Be honest with yourself about whether you’re ready to cut down or whether you need more time to build quality muscle mass. If you are ready, consider how much body fat you have to lose. This is usually the best indicator of how much time you may need. A professional coach or experienced competitor would be able to help you with this assessment.
Bodybuilding requires strict conformity to a rigid diet. A bodybuilding meal program is one of the most critical parts of preparing for a competition, and with that comes a healthy meal prep. Although there is no one ‘right’ way to diet to achieve body fat loss, the average competitor will follow a high protein, moderate to low carb and moderate fat nutrition plan. This sort of plan helps to build muscle fibres and lean mass which are fundamental components of a classic physique.
My Muscle Chef has plenty of prepared meals with an optimal ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat. The Calorie Control Plans are a simple way to reduce calorie intake and achieve fat loss while hitting your optimal macro targets during prep. Protein powder can help increase muscle size too.
Dieting for physique competitions is so much easier when nutritious food is prepped for you in advance. It was such a time saver for me during my competition preps!
Building a classic physique for a bodybuilding competition is nothing fancy, honestly. You don’t need the latest gadgets or a costly training schedule. All you need is determination, perseverance and a gym that includes basic strength training equipment. A classic physique can be achieved when you lift weights, eat healthily and cut down on body fat. Your body composition will build muscle quickly by complying with these three steps. Protein powder can help too.
You can spend time doing weight training the way you always have, so long as you are consistent and put in the hard work every session. Some people like to aim for higher reps, and less heavy weights before a competition, but it isn’t the be all and end all. The kicker is your consistency and your progression. Make sure you continue to push yourself and stay consistent with your workouts. While you diet, you want to maintain the classic physique: the upper body and lower body muscle mass that you’ve worked hard for, so consistency is important.
If I can pass on one thing, it’s that you probably won’t nail your diet for the first time. I have tweaked and updated my diet for every competition, but the one thing that has rung true has been consistent healthy meals and nutritious food. My diet plan during prep was all about eating real food to keep me on track to changing my body composition: I wanted to lose body fat while maintaining muscle mass.
My Muscle Chef makes that easy with nutritious food available every day of the week. The Calorie Control Plans are an easy option, but there are plans to fit any professional bodybuilders' preference. In the last few weeks, most competitors cut down carbohydrates as this often leads to the optimal physique conduction for stage day. The Low Carb Starter Pack; with less than 20 grams of carbs per meal, really took the pain out of tracking my carb intake.
Stage presence is just as critical as your diet, if you ask me! You have worked so hard to get to stage day, so make sure you know how to present your athletic physique in the best way possible. Invest in a posing coach, or ask an experienced competitor to help you with mandatory poses. Each competition may be different, so it is always good to be sure you know what the mandatory poses are. Then, time to spend some time doing posing practice, and practice some more - every day if you can!
Most importantly, enjoy the process! The journey to your first bodybuilding contest is an adventure, and something to remember. Try to be in the moment, learn as much as you can and soak up all the advice you can get. Time will fly by so fast, and before you know it, you’ll be on stage.
Fuel your body with healthy meals and nutritious food. Real food is best!
You don’t need the best of the best to do well, only the basics. Train hard, eat according to your plan and push through the challenging times and you will achieve the athletic physique you need.
Be prepared to invest in things outside of your diet and workouts. Posing, tanning and overall stage presence is just as important.
Most of all, enjoy the process!
Committing to competitive bodybuilding is tough, but extremely rewarding. It is a big choice to make, but if you’re looking to challenge yourself, build a muscular body and take your goals to the next level, I’d recommend looking into it. Good luck on your adventures!
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