10 Tips to Competing Made Simple

While it is common to have anxiety preparing for your first show or your tenth show, having your plan laid out will help you know you are on the right track.

It can be an emotional roller coaster, but stick to these 10 tips to ease anxiety.

1. Competition Coach

Hire a reputable coach and/or trainer.  From experience, I have had trainers that really put me through the ringer with unnecessary protocols making it harder than what it needed to be.  Competing is hard enough as it is.

Find someone who knows what they are doing so you get the most out of your workouts, and guide you through your nutrition and contest prep with experience.  You need to know they will be there for you, support you, and guide you.

A competition is not going to be easy.  It takes alot of mental strength and positive support from friends and family.

2. Know Your Why

Everyone has a reason for competing.  Allow your show to be a part of your story.  Whether you are facing a fear, an insecurity, want to get in the best shape of your life, want the next challenge, desire to see what you are made of…. the story is yours.

Write your story out.  Blog about it, post about it, pray through it, and pin it visibly on your wall because when you get tired, you will need to remember why you are doing this in the first place.

My First Day in Training

Here’s My Why to my first show.

3.  Nutrition

It is true that abs are made in the kitchen.  Follow your meal plan to a T.  As you get closer to your show, your coach should be manipulating macros and/or calories to see how your body best responds so you peak at your best by showday.  There is no one-way rule of finding it.

Everyone responds differently to foods.  While competing, take notes on your body.  You may notice you feel better with some foods more than others.  For example, one client of mine would bloat with oats but would tighten up with sweet potatoes.  We learned to use sweet potatoes and not oats, especially on show day.

Supplements:  Many athletes will do what it takes to come out on top.  This means many are taking steroids, even the ladies.  Be prepared to have to stand next to someone that could be using them, but don’t forget your WHY to competing.  You are there for you, not them.

Supps can be expensive.  Especially when you look for the best ones that are Non GMO or any additives.  Never buy protein from a store, they usually are packed full of fillers and metals.  Check out consumerlab.com for ones that are tested.  You will probably need a good whey protein, BCAA’s, L-Carntitine, and a good fish oil, to name a few. Many use pre-workout supps as well for extra energy through their weight training if not using their food for their main energy source.

Most also do fat-burners for that extra edge.

4. Suit and Jewelry

You can have the best physique on stage, but judges are looking for the overall package.  You will need a suit that has the right color and cut that goes best with your complexion, hair and makeup professionally done (or at least look like it was), perfected posing, your walk mastered with grace and confidence.


Women’s bikini, figure, physique, and bodybuilding suits can range from $300 to $2,500.  For your first show, it’s best to borrow or rent a suit. (I rented my first suit for $150 before purchasing my next one for $350.)

For more affordable suits, get involved with a local competing community to borrow or rent from another competitor.

Here are a few more to look into:

Diva Exchange

Cynthia James

Suits You Swimwear

Suits by Amy

Bling goes a long way on stage.  You don’t have to spend a fortune here but can easily do so.  Find the jewelry that goes best with your suit.  Usually one or two rings, bracelet, and dangling earrings.


Most competitors drink a gallon per day.  The week prior to the show, some coaches may increase your water intake to two gallons per day, and slowly decrease water intake. There is more than one way to peak for your show.  Don’t stress out listening to how everyone else is doing theirs.  Stick to YOUR plan.

Diuretics are a hot debate.  You’ll have successful IFBB Pro’s that are for them, and some completely against them.

6. Posing and Heels MUST be Mastered

Posing is just as important as following your meal plan and training hard in the weight room.  I’ve seen girls with flat butts make first call outs simply because they posed in a way that made them look like they had a butt.

Work with an experienced posing coach that can help you nail the angles of your body that bring out your strengths.  Not everyone will look good with the same pose, so you need to find what flatters your lines and curves the best.

imageYour personality while posing is also important.  Judges see thousands of competitors, so you need to discover what makes YOU uniquely YOU.

Some have that cheerleader bouncy personality, some have more sass, some are more graceful, and some are more bold.  Go to a show or youtube how some competitors stand out based on their posing and personality. The best ones don’t look like everyone else.

To practice your best posing and walking in heels:

  • meet regularly one-on-one with a posing coach
  • meet weekly in group posing classes that simulate stage presence
  • attend a posing clinic
  • Every day, twice a day practice your poses about 5 minutes each time. Try with a mirror, without a mirror, and video yourself. You need to be prepared to do your presentation without a mirror, since you won’t have one on stage!
  • Heels: Wear your 5 inch heels at least 2-3 days per week about 20 minutes at a time.  I wear them while cleaning the house.

You need to look like it is effortless to walk in them! If not, judges will notice.  Do NOT wait a few weeks before your show.  At least 10 weeks out you need to practice posing and heels on a regular basis.

7. Register for Your Show and NPC Card

Most shows you can register online before a deadline.  Some will let you register the day before the event. Check the rules and deadlines for your show online and contact the show promoter if any questions.  Every show is run differently.

Most local shows let you buy NPC card at the show, but if competing in a national show, you’ll need to purchase online ahead of time to send NPC card in with your registration.

When you register, you will see who the show tanner is to schedule your tanning, and also make your travel arrangements. Tanning is usually $120

8. Tanning

IMG_2446Use the official show tanner with your particular show or schedule with your favorite. I personally love Liquid Sunrayz color the most.

You will get a coat the night before the show and the morning of for touchups.

Be sure to wear loose fitting and silky clothes after your tanning to preserve your tan as much as possible.

Exfoliate and moisturize weeks in advance to prepare you skin to absorb the color as best as possible.  Most wear black silk pj’s and robes.


The dark tan color is that dark because of stage lights.  The lighter your color is, the less the judges can see your lines and muscle definition and can easily be overlook to someone that has a better tan.

Remember judges see thousands of competitors, so put together a full package so their eyes are drawn to you, not through you. 

If staying in a hotel, bring your own sheets and towels.  The tan does stain clothes and sheets.

Have all your food prepared before tanning.  Even a drop of moisture from a tupperware lid can discolor your tan.

Be sure to follow this blog for upcoming step-by-step prep tips for getting the perfect tan for your big day. Important tips like to not forget an umbrella and how to balance your pH to not turn green.

9. Hair and Makeup

Another way to think of competing, is like you are doing a beauty pageant with muscle. The day of the show, its funny to hear everyone backstage talking more about their false eyelashes than the months they put into training.

If you are not skilled in doing your own makeup, hire someone.  This can be $100-$200 for hair and makeup, but you need to look professional.  Choose colors for you complexion that bring out your eyes, hair, and the color of your suit.

10.  Have fun!

You may shake like a deer in headlights by the time you get on that stage, but practice, practice, practice your posing, smile, and personality!

Show the crowd and judges that you are there to have fun, that you worked hard, and that you deserve to be there. 

Stage time is a moment to celebrate, whether you are first place or last place.  Judges will sometimes choose a softer look over a harder look, and then other days choose a harder look over the softer look.

You can’t really know ahead of time, so all you can do is bring YOUR best regardless of placing.

I’ve seen the best physiques embarrass themselves because of their attitude thinking they should placed higher.  This is a subjective sport, so meditate on your WHY and what your personal goals are. Remember when I asked you your why? Print it and bring it to your show if you need it to stay focused.

Show your character and good attitude at all times.  That in itself is worth celebrating on stage and is icing on the cake.

Whether your first show or your tenth show, you want to be able to walk off that stage smiling and knowing you couldn’t have trained any harder, pushed yourself any harder, posed any better, or dieted any tighter.

Lay it all on that stage and know you did your absolute best and have fun with it. You just accomplished a feat that won’t ever be easy  But as you know, anything worth doing isn’t easy.

If you have more than a few shows under your belt, what advice would you give?

My First Bikini Competition

My First Figure Competition at the Arnold

Placing Top 5 at The Arnold


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