If competing in a fitness competition has crossed your mind, but you have no idea where to start here are some tips to get you going. First off let me say I do not know everything and I am not a super pro. I am about to compete in my third show coming up soon for my natural men’s physique pro card. But I am one to always do my research, consult with the best, and give 100%. I currently compete in the NANBF natural circuit (drug tested) as a way to challenge myself, but also to show that you can be your best at any age naturally. Here are some tips to get you started down the competition path.
Do it sooner than later! Don’t feel like you have to wait until you have the perfect physique to compete because that will never happen. Our physiques are always a work in progress. Yes, you have to be in shape that is a given, but don’t keep holding off waiting for perfection. There are a lot of other aspects to competing that you need to learn sooner than later such as the preparation process, clothing selection, day of event procedures, posing and more. Best to get your feet wet and experience all aspects of competing. Be a doer not a talker.
Choose an organization. There is where you need to make the decision to compete naturally (without steroids or other enhancements) or not. I am not here to preach or tell you what is best for your life. I have always been health first. If you choose to compete naturally here are several organization to look into:
OCB (Organization of Competition Bodies): http://www.ocbonline.com/
NANBF (North American National Bodybuilding Federation): http://nanbf.org/
The most popular non-tested organization is the NPC (National Physique Committee): http://npcnewsonline.com/. Then find the NPC chapter in your state.
WBFF (World Beauty Fitness & Fashion): http://www.wbffshows.com/
NSL (Nspire Sports League): http://www.nspiresl.com
*There are a bunch more and probably other options if you live outside the USA.
Select the class that fits you. Each class has its own criteria. It’s best to look at the website of the organizations and look through the photographs of each class to decide what look best suits you. I compete in Men’s Physique.
Men have the following choices:
Women have the following choices:
*You will need to buy a membership to whatever organization you plan to compete in. Note that some of the organizations memberships run Jan 1-Dec 31. So you may buy a membership for a Nov show and your new card will expire Dec 31 already. Other organizations run 12 months from when you buy them.
*If you have never competed before many shows have a “Novice” class which is a great starter. If you are competing in “Open” be prepared to battle the best. I recommend competing in several classes since you’ve already put in the work and are there.
Pick a show. Now it’s time to pick the show you want to compete in and start preparing. Ideally you want to lose only 1-2lbs a week when preparing so you can hold on to as much muscle as possible in the process. Pick a show far enough in the future that you can reasonably be ready. Look at the organization’s websites which will list all upcoming shows.
Show preparation. This process typically involved leaning out and getting into contest condition. Some people need 12+ weeks and others only 4. It just depends on how much body fat you need to cut. If you are highly experienced and do your research you can do this on your own. Many use a prep. coach to guide them with diet and training. At least get the advice of someone who not only competes, but does really well. They can tell you who the best area coaches are. You can also hire online coaches. I happen to do custom online programs and nutrition plans (WittigWorks.com).
Posing. Don’t forget about the posing aspect. It’s important and cannot be “winged” if you hope to succeed. Start by watching videos of other competitors. Then its probably best to work with an area pro or hire someone. Each class has its own requirements. Then start practicing many weeks out in advance. Go through your routine and also hold each pose for long periods.
Do a test run. The body can be manipulated in many ways before a contest. The week and days leading up to a contest are really important. What works for me may not work for you. Figure out a game plan for “peak week”, the week of the contest, either from your coach or your own research. I suggest doing a test run of your plan many weeks before the contest to see how your body responds. Don’t guess. What you eat and drink days before a show can make a difference.
Tanning. I suggest to do some tanning a good 4-6 weeks out from your competition to have a solid base tan. The spray tan or rub on tan doesn’t look right going on a white body. Trust me as I have made this mistake 😉 Then decide if you want to pay for the spray tan ($100+) or buy your own rub on tan. I personally use Dream Tan nowadays and apply it myself the night before. It’s cheap and looked just as good as the expensive spray tans. I also brought my own oil (Pro Tan Muscle Juice) because they typically use Pam cooking spray backstage and the smell bothers me ha.
Shaving. Yup, you pretty much have to shave everything. I used a razor on my chest, stomach, underarms, and back. I find an electric trimmer good enough for arms and legs. No need to bic the whole body unless you really want too.
Day of show preparations. Pack up the night before and get all ready. Don’t plan on sleeping much the night before. Besides waking up throughout the night to eat I was also excited. Here is a quick list of things to consider packing for your show:
Extra stage outfit: have a back up
Dream Tan: touch ups
Posing oil: I bring my own
Pillow or folding chair: lots of backstage waiting
Sweat pants and hoodie: Stay warm backstage before the show
Resistance bands: have your own warm up gear
Music (if needed for show): bring back up copies
Toiletries: tooth brush, comb, chapstick, etc.
Hand Towels: To wipe sweat and tanning oil drips.
Food and water: I bring my 6 Pack Bag with snacks that work well for me and plenty of water.
Keep an eye on the schedule. Once you arrive they typically have a competitors meeting. Then its off to the backstage area to sit and wait. Sometimes the wait is long so be prepared. Keep a good eye on the schedule so you know when to start warming up and getting ready. I really benefited from having a good friend backstage to help keep an eye on the schedule and keep me focused.
Smile and have fun. Making new friends backstage was some of the most enjoyable moments of competing. It’s very important to smile on stage and not make posing faces.
Document everything. Make notes of your preparation, week of show, and day of show. This data will help you for future shows. Make special note of things you thought worked well and things that did not.
Watch the video blog from my August show HERE.
-Wittig, ISSA CPT
Kaged Muscle Athlete
NANBF Natural Competitor