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Five Tips When Considering Entering a Bodybuilding Competition

A Journey of Self-Discovery On Your Way to the Stage

entering a bodybuilding competitionAre you losing interest in your workouts? Are you looking for a new challenge? Would you like to take your fitness to the next level? Then consider entering a bodybuilding competition.  For many, preparing for and entering into a bodybuilding competition, no matter the division or category, can be a life-altering experience.  Competing can benefit many aspects of your training such as:

  • Animating each of your workouts with specific and progressive training objectives
  • Igniting your motivation and purpose for training
  • Providing you with greater knowledge of the dynamics of the sport of bodybuilding
  • Offering you a better appreciation for your physical and psychological potential and limitations
  • Improving your self-esteem
  • Spanking your body to the next level of fitness

Entering a Bodybuilding Competition

Convinced enough to go for it, but don’t know where to start?  Check-out my guide to preparing for entering a bodybuilding competition!

  • Attend a Competition

A great way to learn more about the competition experience is to first attend a competition.  Also, check out the competitors of previous contests in your area. Pay attention to what the athletes looked like and who did well. It’s also a good idea to research other contests around the country to see how the athletes look. There is much more to a contest then just getting up and hitting a few poses.  Reviewing the criteria of each division will help you select the one most applicable to your physique level.   It seems Women’s Bikini Fitness and Men’s Physique Divisions seem to be catching the attention of most of the new competitors with the increased attainability of the smaller men’s physique versus the bodybuilding physique.  Bodybuilding takes several years to develop while these new divisions take less time and is usually within one’s genetic reach.

  • Break your training into phases

The preparation for competition generally consists of 2 general phases: an “Off-season Phase” and a “Pre-contest Phase”.  The Off-season Phase is approximately 8 to 9 months of the year and the focus is on gaining muscle size while optimizing proportion and symmetry.  The Pre-contest Phase is  approximately 3-4 months prior to the competition day with the focus being on maximizing muscularity, balance, definition (lose body fat – referred to as “cutting”), proportion, and symmetry.

  • Eat to Meet Your Biological Demand

Training for competition is physiologically and psychologically demanding.  In order to meet these demands, you will need to eat well and more often.  Understanding how to eat to meet your increased biological demand will require learning more about the principles of sports nutrition.  These principles include learning what to eat pre- and post-workout to promote muscle repair, growth, and performance.  There are many ways to eat prior to competition, not all are healthy.  The trick is to eat right for your body and mind that is progressive, ethical and safe while “leaning out” without going crazy.

  • Learn about the Judging Criteria

Judging Criteria vary between the Women to Men divisions.  Basically, contestants must display, through “Mandatory Poses”, their proper shape and symmetry combined with muscularity and overall condition.  In addition, judges look at contestants’ “Stage Presence” and “Personality.   Understanding this criteria ahead of time, can improve your chances of placing well during the competition.

  • Get an Experienced Coach

If you want to do it right the first time, you may want to consider hiring a coach.  An experienced coach can save you lots of wasted time, energy and pain.  Your coach is worth it.  He/she will monitor your progress; strategize your training; teach you how to “Pose” and guide your nutrition.  Your coach will teach you the do’s and don’ts of “Competition Day” in terms of rules and regulations of backstage & on-stage etiquette, suits, skin tone, grooming, footwear (ladies).  When selecting your Coach you should consider his/her  experience, availability, services offered, ethics, reputation, frequency of coaching sessions, the size of his/her network of resources, and of course training rates.

It’s Stage Time!

Contests are divided into two phases: the Prejudging phase and the Evening Show.  The prejudging phase is all business and includes Individual Posing Routines and Comparisons.  It is usually in the morning, this is like a rehearsal of the evening show.   It gives the judges an opportunity to evaluate the competitors without the distractions of a large audience.   The evening show is where the magic happens.  Contestants are “pumped up” and at their best.  The audience is very supportive and loves to participate with shouts, whistles and applause.  It is an experience you will never forget.

Consider Training for Entering a Bodybuilding Competition

In closing when entering a bodybuilding competition training for and competing in your first bodybuilding show is one of the most self-affirming journeys through self-discovery that you will ever experience.  Personally, I am forever grateful for the opportunity to coach several successful contestants and have grown immensely as a trainer.  If you are looking to transform yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, I highly recommend you consider training for entering a bodybuilding competition – it will rock your world!


Sylvain Cyr


Personal Trainer – Trainer of Fitness Leaders

16 Week Contest Prep Training Package

Elite training plan tailored to body builders, physique competitors, bikini competitors, figure competitors