Thinking of competing?
One of the first things you should do before you commit yourself to competing is research! The best place to start is to look at the federations that hold fitness/bodybuilding competitions and decide on which federation you believe your physique and look will be most suited to. The federations that are current in Australia are:
International Natural Bodybuilding Association “INBA” (Natural competition) www.inba.com.au
Australasian Natural Bodybuilding “ANB” (Natural competition) www.anb.com.au
World Natural Bodybuilding Federal Australia “WNBF” (Natural competition) www.wnbf.com.au
International Federation of Body Builders “IFBB” (non-tested competition) www.ifbbaustralia.com.au
National Amateur Body Builders Association and World Fitness Federation “NABBA” and “WFF” (non-tested competition) www.nabba.com.au
World Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation “WBFF” (non-tested competition) www.wbffaustralia.com
The difference between natural and non-tested competitions is that natural federations strictly enforce drug testing policies and rules with their competitors. Some competitors in non-tested competitions use substances to enhance their muscular mass and also assist with the fat loss process. If you are a natural competitor, don’t be disheartened to enter the non-tested federations as there are some divisions, particular for the women (bikini and figure), that are still achievable without using drugs or banned substances.
Once you have done your research on the federations and decided on which federation you believe you would be most suited to, I suggest attending a local competition to experience what it would be like on competition day and to see how that particular federation runs their competition. Have a good look at the physiques on stage and see which division you think you may want to aim for or are best suited to. The best bit about this part is that it is extremely motivating and inspiring to see all of the hard work there before you and is the ultimate kick-start to your goal of competing.
Each federation has their own set of divisions that you can enter. This aspect can become quite confusing when comparing the federations and divisions because some will have the same category name for the division, however, will have two different looks to suit that particular category. This is why it is best to research each of the federation’s sites and look through past photos of winners to compare your physique to and determine which category/division you will be best suited to.
If you are unsure of the federation or division you should compete in, I suggest contacting a coach/trainer that specialises in competition prep. If you have no idea where to start with this one, you can either reach out on social media for recommendations, contact a known competitor you follow on social media (most athletes I know are happy to give their advice and recommendation on who to enlist the services of) or contact federations and see their list of recommended coaches. With the competition prep process, generally, a 16 week preparation is advised for your first competition and a 12 week prep for competitions thereafter. If you have a good personal trainer that you are happy with or train well on your own, you may only wish to enlist the help of a nutrition coach for the diet aspect. Personally, I have done all of my own training and nutrition for competition preps so it is not impossible to do it on your own with the right research and preparation. A great website for articles from qualified professionals in the fitness industry specialising in competition prep is www.bodybuilding.com and Layne Norton’s articles on Simply Shredded http://www.simplyshredded.com/layne-norton-the-most-effective-cutting-diet.html. An extremely useful article that Layne has put together is his peak week diet approach http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/layne-norton-peak-week-episodes.html. The forums of bodybuilding.com also have helpful subject matter that is addressed with the large amount of bodybuilding competitors that post on the site.
Once you have established whether you will be seeking the help from a coach (they can be online based also), another person that needs to be sought is a posing instructor. One of the biggest mistakes competitors make is not devoting enough time to posing. You are on stage for a matter of minutes and you have one chance to impress the judges through your posing. After putting in so much hard work over an extended time during your competition prep, it would be such a shame to have it wasted with poor posing on competition day. Many people leave this to the last stages of their competition prep, but I suggest starting early so you can practice as much as you need (every day if you have to). A great starting place is YouTube with various shows placed on there. The poses required changes between the divisions so it is best to not what will be required of you on stage. Start practicing at home and enlist the help of a posing coach during the early stages of your competition prep. Again, you can seek recommendations of posing coaches through social media or by the federation’s list of contacts. Once you have done enough lessons to cover the basics, continue practicing and enlist the coach’s help again towards the end of the prep to ensure you have nailed each pose.
Other elements that need to be considered throughout your prep are your costume, foot wear, tan, hair and makeup. There are company’s that specialise in competition day packages. When you take into account the costs of coaches, personal trainers, posing instructors, federation memberships, registration fees, costumes and the services required on competition day, it is important to be aware that this sport can be expensive.
Bodybuilding is a very challenging sport, however, the challenge can be very rewarding by testing your boundaries and proving to yourself what your mind and body are capable of. The one thing you need to remember on competition day is to have fun, enjoy your moment in the spotlight