Bodybuilding: When Should You *Not* Compete?

Behind all the tan, awkward cut bikinis/speedos and carb-depleted divas lies a sport I really love.  So much, that I am frequently encouraging people to get out of their comfort zone and commit to a formal show.  While I think this is a really great goal for a lot of people, I am reminded time and time again that it really isn’t for everyone.  Here are a few times you should *not* compete


You are fat: This should go without saying.  Losing weight is ABSOLUTELY a worthy goal.  It is also a goal that must exist to some extent while getting ready for a show.  However, unless you want a brutal prep/recovery, getting yourself to a fairly lean walk-around weight is important for most competitors.  Granted, there are a few talented *VETERAN* bodybuilders that get pretty thick in their off season and have mastered their individual rate of change through many preps.  What you will notice is that by 12 weeks out, most competitors do, in fact, look like they are getting ready for a show.

You are broke: Like any hobby, competitions cost money.  I wrote about this before, but here is a breakdown on the cost of the average costs you can expect to incur:

Coaching: 150-250month  x 4 months (600-1000)
Additional Groceries: 75/week   x 16 weeks (1200)

Suit: 500-1500

Heels/jewelry: 100.00

NPC Card: 125.00

Registration: 100.00

Comprehensive tanning package: $150

Make-up/Hair: $150

Posing Lessons: $50 x 4 (200)

Hotel room stay: 150

Gym Membership:35-65/month  x 4 months (140-260)

On the low end, you could spend 3415.00.  On the high end you could spend nearly 5000.00.  Of course there are ways to take the costs down, but these are not atypical costs. Really look into the cost of your individual competing and then consider the actual life you live.  If you are paycheck to paycheck, I would recommend waiting until you have financial relief to pursue a show.  The stage is never going anywhere, but you cannot wreck your financial well-being to get there.

Your undivided attention is needed elsewhere: Again, its time to look at the life-stage you are in.  At the best, you can expect your personal and professional development to hit the pause button while you are in the depths of contest prep.  Bodybuilding is a VERY selfish sport, no matter how you cut it.  It doesn’t matter if you want to be there or not, the simple act of being away from your responsibilities for upwards of two hours a day just getting the training in will impact your other responsibilities if your ducks are not in a row.  If your in a relationship you value and its in a struggling spot: don’t compete.  If you are on thin ice at work or have responsibilities that necessitate your attention: don’t compete  If you are in the middle of some messy divorce: probably don’t compete. I’m not saying that these areas WILL FOR CERTAIN go down the tubes, but contest prep certainly doesn’t help.  If you must choose between keeping your spouse/job and competing, I hope you forego the stage.

Lack of intrinsic motivation: If any considerable chunk of your motivation for doing a show is a result of pressure from others, just don’t.   The physiological and psychological hardship that getting to single digit body fat is SO extreme in itself that unless you are extraordinarily motivated by your own desire to see it through the end, you just wont. Remember, contest prep starts and ends in your own body.  Your coworkers aren’t going to stop offering you cake, your aunt isn’t going to stop telling you that “just this one bite” wont hurt, and your friends aren’t going to stop asking you to go out with them and grab drinks. Well..unless you are a complete loser. The ability to stick to a diet and training regimen that is as extreme as a contest prep diet has to come from dedication to yourself and only yourself.


If you are fat, broke, distracted AND improperly motivated: save it for another time.

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