Thinking about doing a bodybuilding competition, specifically the bikini division?
Before getting started here are some honest truths you need to know, things to ask yourself, tips and red flags with coaching, and more. If you have ever though about competing you need to read this. Please share so others can understand and hopefully we can prevent many issues.
Body image before and after and motives to compete: more often than not I hear girls want to compete to be in the best shape of their lives. I’m sorry but that’s not gong to be the case. You may be shredded but you’re going to be tired and hungry and will be at a state of leanness that is unhealthy to keep for extended periods of time. If you want to be in the best shape of your life train like an athlete, eat plenty, and maybe set a goal to do a Spartan or Tough Mudder. With getting in better shape and looking show lean many girls think they automatically will feel awesome about their bodies, this couldn’t be more false. With competing your body can make huge weight fluctuations and you mentally need to be prepared for that. So if you find yourself now going ‘oh I wish I just looked like this or them’ then I wouldn’t suggest competing. You need to be happy with your body when it’s 21% and 12%. No time on stage will create that happiness. Body image problems and competing do not mix, until you have found a happy place with your body that’s maintainable, don’t compete.
Good coach/ bad coach: coaches can be responsible completely for so many problems in the fitness industry. There are way to many out there that care more about a trophy and a reputation than someone’s health. Here are a few rules of thumb: if they give you a meal plan with no breakdown of calories or macronutrients, they put you on less than 10x your lowest healthy weight in calories (look at a bmi chart), they have you doing hours of cardio right off the bat, and/or they suggest using illegal supplements like Anavar and Clen DO NOT work with them! A good coach will know that you do not always have to kill yourself with cardio or starve on a mostly protein diet. They will be realistic with your goals and a timeline to complete them. However this does not mean you wont be tired or hungry, you will. You may be tired and hungry for weeks on end but it should not be to a point where you are worried about your long term health.
This does bring me to my next point though, understanding your body type. This is where a lot of girls get thrown off. They see someone who is a few weeks out from a show, lean as can be and are still eating tons of calories and carbohydrates. I see this a lot on social media and I wish more of those ‘lucky girls’ talked about their genetics and body type. Not everyone can go into a show like that. Sometimes you have to suffer to even get somewhat competitively lean. Everyone is going to be different. If you’re naturally heavier and put on muscle easy expect that its going to take less food and more cardio to get lean than the next girl who has never been above 16% body fat in her life.
Investing everything: Im sure you’ve heard competing is expensive but the financial burden isn’t the only investment. Your first show can cost upwards of 700$ and that’s not counting your coach. If that’s not enough of an investment understand that your time will be consumed by a prep. No missed cardio or lifting sessions. No breaks here or there in your diet. However long your prep is you are committed, or should be, to giving your show everything you can. Many people see their productivity outside the gym slide. You need to be prepared for this investment to affect all aspects of your life.
Long term effects: you may prep for 16 weeks into a show or several months in a competition season. You’re going to put your body through a lot of stress. It’s incredibly important that you reverse diet your way out of competing. This is where you slowly add in calories as a means to control body fat gain post show. If you don’t reverse diet and just fall off the wagon after a show you will more than likely have a quick jump in weight and body fat that you’re going to have a hard time with. It isn’t easy going from show lean to feeling soft in a matter or weeks. Its hard on you physically and emotionally. Many girls suffer from post show blues where they become unhappy with their conditioning and have a hard time sticking to anything since the deadline of their show is no longer there. Many girls try to hop back into a prep to combat this but that isn’t the right way to go about it. You need to get your body and mind back on track after a show. Getting into another prep will only exacerbate the issue.
So if you’re looking to compete here is the take away: Compete for the experience of doing something new, make sure you hire a coach with your long term health in mind, don’t compete if you have disordered eating or disordered body image issues, listen to and understand your body and give it the time it needs to be ready, be prepared to stay on track for several weeks after a show, and be aware of the full commitment it takes physically, financially, and emotionally. Do note that competing can be done in a healthy manner, it can be a lot of fun, it can be an opportunity to push your limits and make new friends, it just isnt for everyone.