From 1999 to 2022, I have competed in multiple bodybuilding shows. I won my last show in the newly formed classic physique division in the NPC. I loved competing so much that I now own and promote a show with the OCB in Orlando Fla on July 22, 2023.
If you’re thinking of competing in a bodybuilding competition, there’s a lot that goes into the planning process. It takes time. You can’t just decide to compete and the next day, expect to be fully prepared for 4 to 6 months of prep. It takes months even up to a year of dedicated training, dieting, and preparation.
This blog post will provide you with a general idea of the steps that you need to take to begin.
Establishing a goal should be your first step.
What is your goal for competing? Are you looking to win? Are you looking to place in the top three? Or are you just looking to have a good showing and enjoy the experience?
Once you’ve set your goal, you can begin planning your training and diet regimen. If you are genuinely earnest, In suggesting that the instant I would have begun prep. I would locate my show of preference, register and pay the competitor’s fee, and strategize the contest prep.
I had a coach who became one of my best friends. We owned a business together, and he got me in the best shape of my life. He continues to be a good friend, a mentor of positivity, and just a constructive influence.
I’m my worst client. I’m not ashamed to admit that I need a coach. He has been my only coach. I went from a competitive strongman weight of 305 lbs and in a year. I weighed 194 lbs in my first show taking third place!
Find an experienced coach who has done it themselves and can explain it clearly.
If the coach tells you to eat boiled chicken and broccoli for months, drop the dumbass because he doesn’t know shit on a shingle. Don’t just hire Tony the trainer who is fresh out of trainer school and is cheap. Spend the money on a qualified coach who will prep you from day 1 to peak week, to show day. Shop around. Did the coach even compete in a show?
Most qualified coaches recommend you start your precontest planning 24-34 weeks out from the competition date. I agree with this and this is what I do for my physique clients.
The reason for this is that it takes time to lose fat and build muscle. If you try to do it all in a few weeks, you’re likely to lose muscle mass and energy stores, which will sabotage your chances of doing well in the competition.
Having more time for preparation means having more time for pauses in the diet.
As the competition date gets closer, you’ll need to make small reductions in your calorie intake each week. This will help you continue losing fat while minimizing muscle loss. By the end of your prep period, you should be at your lowest calorie intake yet—and you’ll probably be feeling pretty tired, hungry, and cranky by then! But don’t worry; it will all be worth it when you step onstage and see how amazing you look.
After the competition is over, it’s time to focus on slowly increasing your calories again.
You don’t want to gain all the weight back overnight; instead, focus on gradually adding healthy fats and carbohydrates back into your diet over several weeks. Take some time off from lifting heavy weights; your body will need a break after all the intense training leading up to the competition.
Planning for a bodybuilding competition is no small feat.
It takes months—even up to a year—of dedicated training, dieting, and preparation. But if you’re willing to put in the work, it will all be worth it when you step onstage and show off your hard-earned physique. So what are you waiting for? Start planning today!