You have pondered this thought for years.
“Should I compete in bodybuilding?”
After a long analysis of the situation, you have finally committed to getting on stage. Congratulations to you.
With that said you must develop a plan of action. Going into a show blind will lead you into the abyss.
That is exactly what happened to me in preparation for my first show. I went at it alone for the most part and learned the hard way. Admirable, but sadly mistaken.
Today we are going to talk about the 3 basic steps that you need to take once you finally commit to competing in bodybuilding.
These steps can be followed by a rank beginner or an experienced pro. The goal is following the path that will allow you to bring your best package to the stage.
Knowing how to prepare to compete in your first bodybuilding show or your tenth show will make your journey to the stage much smoother and ensure that you yourself are not smooth.
1) Determine Your Weaknesses
I failed at this part tremendously.
I did not look in the mirror and truly look at my strengths and weaknesses before I competed for the first time in 2011. By bodybuilding standards, I had no lats, no arms, no muscle fullness, no size, and no density.
Not having these pieces gave me no chance to win, place, or compete.
I had good legs and was lean but I was the true Bird Man of natural bodybuilding.
Being the Bird Man is not good enough to do anything except put money in the promoters pocket.
Your best option as a soon to be competing natural bodybuilder would be to find a professional bodybuilding coach or someone with experience in bodybuilding who can tell you what body parts you have and do not have.
Genetically we all have strong and weak parts.
This makes perfect sense when I think back to grade school track meets. Sprinting and running came naturally to me.
I was always in the top 3 in track. But in gym class when we had to perform pull-ups, the bent arm hang, and push-ups I was pathetic like a Phit Vixen posting excessive selfies all day on Instagram.
I had to fail in order to learn about my body. Even though my physique was not great or even good at those first two shows, the failed contest prep made me a much better trainer and competitor.
One great thing about getting an assessment from a professional (unless they are a pure charlatan) is that they will be very candid about where you are today. They should have no bias for you whether you are a paying client or just Bobby Bodybuilder from down the street.
One group of people who you do not want to listen to is your uninitiated friends, gym flunkies, or social media hype men.
If you have friends who are not keen to the game then what can they do to help you? They would not know lean if it gave them a Stone Cold Stunner.
Of course, they will tell you “Dude, you look like Arnold!” Or even “Bro, you are so shredded that no one at this contest can even compete with you. You are all the way in!”
Your friends love you and they will be biased. This is expected as they think you are a modern-day Adonis.
But the truth of the matter is that you are not. Not even close.
You are actually all the way out and you are looking flabby and sick.
You are not lean and “holding water” as your friends say.
You are smooth and holding fat. You are much closer to looking like Sherman Smooth than you are to looking like Adonis.
Find an objective bodybuilding coach who will tell you the truth. This will allow you to focus on what body parts you need to work on in order to build a complete and stage-worthy physique.
2) Choose A Show
Once you have determined what you need to work on you can then determine what show you are going to do. Your choice of your show is dependent on how you currently look.
If you are a genetic superior who has a history of training hard and eating correctly then you are on the right path.
If you have a balanced body and are pretty lean then your first show could literally be 8-12 weeks from today.
If you are genetically average (ME) and you train hard, eat correctly, are reasonably lean but you are missing pieces, then you may be at least 9 months to even 2 years away from your first show.
I have seen guys and gals who have great genetics hop on stage with no specific nutrition or training plan and place very well.
Even though genetics is not the only factor in your success as a bodybuilder it plays a huge part.
If you naturally have a few of these attributes like a big chest, thick arms, muscular legs, a wide back, or a small waist and you are lean then you will be visibly easy on the judges’ eyes.
I have also seen guys and gals with average genetics hop on stage with no specific nutrition or training plan. The results are very underwhelming.
If you are naturally lacking body parts you can attain them but it will definitely not be easy.
But if you want to be on stage you will work through the tough times. Remember the great book from Dr. Robert H. Schuller says, tough times don’t last but tough people do.
The bottom line here is that your assessment of your current physique will make it easier to pick a future show. Take your time and plan it out.
Do not jump at the first show you see because your friends are hyping you up. Give yourself time to build a stage ready physique.
In the same breath do not wait forever to get on stage because you think you are not “ready.” That is how Charlie Charlatan at the gym talks.
He always tells you he is going to compete but he never steps on stage. You will never be 100 percent ready. But you will gain experience and be able to prepare for the next show even better.
3) Choose the Correct Training and Nutrition Protocol
One the biggest myths in the iron game are that you need a “contest specific” training protocol.
This typically results in super high reps, no strength work, excessive cardio, and a focus on isolation moves.
When this protocol is used, the trainee always ends up smaller, flatter, weaker, and not as muscular or conditioned than they should have been.
When you are a true, drug-free natural bodybuilder it is very important that you continue to lift heavy and perform high-intensity conditioning like sprinting or bodyweight training during the pre-contest period.
Heavy is relative as you may experience some slight drop-off in your strength mainly with upper body pressing movements. By continuing to lift relatively heavy you will ensure that your muscle loss will be minimal if any at all.
When you continue to sprint or perform other high-intensity forms of conditioning it allows you to maintain your hard earned muscle.
You can always tell when a competitor spent way to much time slogging away for hours on the treadmill or elliptical when they look stringy, small, and lack muscle fullness.
Nutrition-wise the same myths are out there too. The most persistent and flawed dieting advice is the classic low-calorie dieting combined with low carbs.
This nutrition protocol with leaves you with low energy, low intensity, low confidence, and low muscle mass. Eating excessively less and exercising dramatically more is a guaranteed road to Flatsville.
As a natural bodybuilder, you need to diet in a way that will allow you to retain muscle mass and to lose body fat.
My nutrition protocol of choice for this task is a daily rotational carb cycle as I believe it is the most effective way to accomplish this task. But many a bodybuilder have used various nutrition schemes to allow them to retain muscle and lose fat.
The bottom line here is that you need to pick a training/nutrition plan and stick to it. You cannot be program hopping all the way up to the contest or you will be on a one-way trip to nowhere.
If you are properly prepared for your first show you will have a great experience.
You will meet some cool folks (and unfortunately some not so cool folks) and possibly even place at the show. By developing a plan of action, your first show may motivate you to continue to want to compete. Follow the above steps and success will be talking to you soon.
Multiple natural bodybuilders have used The Fit Coast Offense Training System to place top 5 in their respective divisions. This list includes myself, NGA competitor Jeff Brockenbrough, and NGA Physique Pro Jazmane Jenkins.
We also have a rising competitor, Amy T. Pittman who had phenomenal physique transformation in just 7 short months of training.
The only promise I can make is that you will get an honest physique assessment. The truth will set you free.
I’ll holla at you next time,
The People’s Trainer