by 1st Phorm Athlete Brett Becker January 29, 2010 4 min read
That is a question I get a lot from guys your age. First thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is attend a bodybuilding show. Ask around your gym about what shows are coming up in the area. It’s a good idea to go to a bodybuilding competition as a spectator before you compete in a show to see how the show is run and observe not only the leanness and muscularity of the athletes, but all of the mandatory poses that will be required for you to perform on the day of your competition. Based on the information you gave me, it’s difficult for me to say just how much preparation you will need to get ready for a show, but just to give you an idea, when I did my first show I was your age. I started my contest preparation 12 weeks out from the show at 200 lbs and pretty lean. I competed 12 weeks later at 168 lbs (and 3.5% bodyfat) as a middleweight. You will likely want to hire an experienced coach or trainer to help you with your diet and training for this first competition. A lot of factors go into getting into contest shape. Along with the diet and training; there is cardio, posing (8 mandatory poses, 4 quarter turns, and a 60 second posing routine), tanning, water depletion, carb loading, supplements and the list goes on. In my experience, it has been a much smoother ride when I have had a coach help me with my contest prep. This individual will examine your condition as you progress through the preparation phase and make the necessary changes to your diet/training to get you ready for the show. Some of the top bodybuilding gurus get paid upwards of $6000 for a contest prep package! Don’t worry; you don’t need to get a second mortgage on your home in order to afford a coach. A good place to start is to ask around your gym and at the competition you attend to see who these guys are working with. I have found that most of the time word of mouth is the best way to find someone to help you with your contest prep. Ideally, this person is a former competitor and has experience designing diets for competitive bodybuilders. It’s nice to have “someone on the outside looking in” to realistically evaluate your physique and help you with what you need to work on.
I help guys get ready for shows locally and in fact I enjoy working with guys who have never competed before because they are the best learners. With that being said, what you should NOT do is listen to every meathead in your gym when it comes to competing. Everyone becomes an expert when you say you are doing your first bodybuilding competition. Find one person who you respect and trust and follow only their advice through the whole prep. Ask the potential coach who they have worked with and double check to verify it’s the truth. Unfortunately there are a lot of “armchair quarterbacks” in this game and you don’t want to waste any time with someone who doesn’t know what they are doing.
You will want to learn the mandatory poses early and practice them often. As a judge, I can speak to the importance of being comfortable with your poses. There is nothing worse than seeing a great physique and horrible posing. You can learn these poses by surfing the internet for pictures of the 8 compulsary poses and 4 quarter turns. You can even find videos of competitions online and these are really great for showing how to perform at your competition.
What a lot of novice bodybuilders need to realize before they commit to a competition is that diet is almost 90% of obtaining a competition-ready physique. If you cheat on your diet when you are not supposed to, it will show in your physique on the day of your show. Just think of it like this: when you are diving into an unscheduled greasy cheeseburger when you should be eating fish and rice, there are guys getting ready to stand next to you onstage who ARE eating fish and rice. On top of clean eating, high quality supplements are an essential component to your contest diet. I believe that the staples of contest supplementation are:
Every show is a learning experience and the most important thing is to have fun! It is a lot of work and A LOT of sacrifice. But it is all worth it. Some say that they love being on stage and that is why they compete. I am not this way. What I love about competing is the process. It’s grueling, but I love watching my body reacting to the diet and transforming into contest shape. Not only that, but I love to compete—win, lose or draw. At 25 years old, I won the middleweight novice class at my first show and 11 years later, I’m competing at the national level as a heavyweight and competing is still at the top of my list of what I love to do.