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Getting Ready For Your First Competition

After youíve been training hard for a number of months, thoughts of entering a bodybuilding figure or fitness competition might be crossing your mind. Not only is this a great way to meet others who are involved in the sport, but also since it gives you something solid to train for, it can be a terrific way to boost your commitment and motivational levels of getting to the gym.

After you’ve been training hard for a number of months, thoughts of entering a bodybuilding figure or fitness competition might be crossing your mind. Not only is this a great way to meet others who are involved in the sport, but also since it gives you something solid to train for, it can be a terrific way to boost your commitment and motivational levels of getting to the gym.

Many people after making the decision to compete aren’t entirely sure what steps they need to take to get ready for the event, so having a plan in place before hand is a huge help throughout the process.

Make no mistake about it, competing in any fitness or bodybuilding related event is going to take a very high amount of drive and determination, and as such, you are going to have to dedicate a great deal of time to training, preparing your food, and taking time to relax as the whole process is very stressful on the body.

Here is a guideline to use for what you should be doing as you progress towards the day of the event.

Twelve Months From Show-Time
Generally, most people will do best choosing a show that will give them about one year total to prepare for.  Obviously this will depend to a large extent what your current conditioning level is, but for your first show, this is a good time frame to consider.

When it comes to learning the contest prep process, more time is always a good thing.
Begin by looking into the different shows that are going on around the time you want to compete and narrow down your options to your chosen show.  Usually it’s good to do a show for the first time around where you currently live as that will ease any discomfort of having to travel, but this is a personal decision and entirely up to you.

If you’re still slightly low in lean muscle mass, use the next six months to focus on putting on quality mass, while keeping the gains as lean as possible.  Lift heavy and be sure you’re supplying your body with quality nutrition, slightly above what you would take to maintain your body weight.

Be realistic about the gains that you will be able to achieve; about one to two pounds of muscle mass a month for males and half of that for females.

If you are going to be competing in a contest that includes a routine round, now’s the time to select the music you will be using so you can start developing your routine.
You may also at this point want to start looking at various posing suites, but refrain from purchasing one just yet as your body is going to change quite a bit before the show arrives.

Six Months From Show-Time
By this point you should have gained a few good pounds of lean body mass and are now getting ready to start working on your overall body composition.

Since competing requires such low levels of body fat, giving yourself plenty of time to obtain this is going to be a very smart move since it will help to preserve your raw muscle mass tissue.

The first thing to do is to start adjusting the diet, so now you’re at a more maintenance level.  It’s a good plan to eat at maintenance for a week or two before moving to the diet process to allow your body a chance to adapt from a higher calorie intake to a lower calorie intake. After the two maintenance weeks have passed, then start decreasing the calories by 10% every week until you’re losing weight at a rate that’s comfortable for you.

The next thing to be doing during this time is to start working on your posing and your routine if necessary. If needed, you might want to get some help from a choreographer for this area, so don’t hesitate to contact someone in your area. Moving on, typically during the mass gain phase you will have reduced cardio dramatically. Now, it’s time to add that back in.

Start out on the lower end of the scale with cardio and work your way up as you progress.  Potentially one of the biggest mistakes bodybuilders make is going from a hyper caloric diet with no cardio to a very hypo caloric diet with hours of cardio a week. This is such a shock to the system that it causes rapid muscle mass loss, something that you really have to prevent.

Gradually work up your cardio training – the less you do the better. Always remember that diet should take precedence over cardio when it comes to fat loss.

Finally, now that you’ve put on as much size as you’re likely going to get for this contest, it’s time to start considering posing suits more seriously.

You will still lose a great deal of body fat during the prep, but getting a clear picture in your mind which suit you want to wear should be a focus right now.

5 Months From The Day Of The Show
At the five month mark, it’s time to start getting more serious about your diet and get on a very structured plan.

Get A Diet Set-Up
Now you need to start tracking calories, protein, carbs, and dietary fats carefully, so you know what adjustments to make as you progress along.

You should be getting between 1.5-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight during the diet phase to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass, at least six grams of fish oil, and carbohydrates around the workout period.

Many people like to get a diet custom made by someone who works with figure/bodybuilding athletes, so that’s something you might want to do. Diet is one of the most important factors of competing, so it’s something you cannot afford to mess up on.
You’ll also want to start putting forth more effort at getting your routine and posing in order, so commit to a few sessions each week dedicated to this, usually done after your workouts.

Again, it’s advisable to consult a professional if you need help in this area. At this point, you might also want to re-evaluate your workout program once again and make sure everything is where it needs to be. You might need to add more cardio to your workout or switch around your training split so the body keeps responding.
Just be sure you’re constantly monitoring what you’re doing so that you are aware of what changes work and which don’t. This allows you to gain more knowledge from the experience and potentially put what you learn into practice during the next contest you do.

Two Months Out From Your Show
The show is now quickly approaching and you need to be sure you stay on top of your game.

Once you’re about eight weeks out from the show, it’ll be time to register and secure your position on stage.  Be sure to read all the regulations of the show and everything about events going on during the show that you’ll want to attend.

Keep in mind that doing a show is more than just walking on stage – there will be plenty to see outside of your actual event.

Keep Up Your Diet
Now is when you’re likely starting to notice higher levels of hunger pains so it’ll be increasingly important you continue on with the diet.  Consider having a cheat weekend at this point to help you out psychologically and give your body a break before things get really serious.

One or two days of higher calorie eating won’t set you back too much at this point and could really be of benefit when you’re only a few weeks out.

Six Weeks Left
With only a month and a half left, you’ll need to start planning for your event a little more thoroughly.

It’s a good idea at this point to book your travel and hotel accommodations so that’s out of the way for later.  The worst thing to do is leave this to the last minute and then have to stress over getting it down when you’re really dieted down and your mental energy is at a low.

You should also be sure you’ve purchased your posing suit and know exactly how you’re going to have your hair, make-up and so on if you’re a female competing.

You also want to look into the various tanning products available and be sure you start working on developing your tan for stage.

The Three Week Mark
Once you get down to only three weeks left, there’s a very good chance you’re now going to be feeling the effects of the diet and concentration and energy levels will be at a low.  To help combat this, try and stay focused and make your everyday life as simplistic and stress free as possible.

The less you have to worry about outside of your diet and training, the better.

Also be sure you keep up with your posing at this point, getting everything down perfectly so it’s not something you need to think about any longer.

The more automatic it is, the better you’ll do on stage when the pressure is on.

The Week Before The Event
With the final week now under way, it’s important to be sure you’ve packed everything you’ll need – food, supplements, clothing, tanning products, make-up, and so on.
Plan out everything you will do on the day of the show so there are no surprises and you know exactly where to be at all times.

Also double check that you have two copies of your music to hand in should there be problems with one tape.

Finally, experiment with different pre-contest prep factors such as water depletion, carb loading, pre-contest workouts, and so on.  Your best bet for these is to get guided help from someone who has competed before and can give you their experiences with these techniques, as they tend to be highly technical and can vary depending on how your body responds.

The Day Of The Event
Finally, on the day of the event try and relax and enjoy yourself.  You’ve worked hard to be where you are and now it’s time to show off all that hard work.

Try your best not to criticize yourself too much at this point – it will be tempting, but remember that this is a great experience and one in which you will learn from.
After the event is over, then you can look back at pictures and assess what you’ll do differently for next time.

So, keep these points in mind if you’re looking for a new challenge with your training and make the decision to give competing a try.

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