So you have made a decision you want to compete in a bodybuilding contest. That’s great! But do you know what you actually need to do that effectively? Here are my TOP 8 things you need to prepare for a bodybuilding contest.

Competing in a variety of bodybuilding contests becomes more and more popular and accessible. As I mentioned in my previous article about it, it’s vital to answer these TOP 5 questions before you enter a bodybuilding show and start your contest prep. And once you’ve got it all figured out, there is even more things that you need to prepare yourself for your big day. In this article, I’m going to tell you all about it.

This is my TOP 8 thing that you need to prepare for a bodybuilding contest.

1. A reputable prep coach.

This one is the subject of a discussion in the industry. You may feel like you don’t need one. If so, then, most likely, it means you’ve never competed before and you don’t know what it takes to prep for a contest. Or, it might mean that you have enough experience, you have competed a couple of times before, and you know exactly how to prep yourself. Either way, use your own judgement.

However, if you don’t have any experience or you are going to compete for the very first time, you are going to benefit from having a good coach. She or he should give you some extra information you won’t find anywhere else that will make all the process much easier and more effective. Anyway, do your research, search for experienced prep coaches, check their credentials, qualifications, results they can deliver. Finally, talk to them to make sure they resonate your style, principles, vision and your future goals. This way, you’ll likely feel assured and confident that you’re in the right hands.

2. A reputable posing coach.

TOP 8 things you need while prep for a bodybuilding contest

Yes, you need one too. If your prep coach is capable of doing both for you then fantastic, stick to them. But in most cases, you will need a coach to help you set and polish your stage presentation, which is as important as your physique. They also should know all of the mandatory poses and quarter turns (they differ, depending on the federation) and the style of the walk (a ‘T’ walk or ‘I’ walk) required in different organisations. A professional posing coach should show you and explain to you all the details in the way that you are required to present yourself on stage depending on the federation you choose.

Also, they should record a video of your presentation while doing posing workshop with them, to leave you with some footage to practice at home. Trust me, you will need it, because after your first or even second posing lesson you may not remember all the details they taught you.

3. Training for a bodybuilding contest prep.

Allocate a few hours per day of which you will spend in the gym. Training to a bodybuilding contest prep involves anything from 5 to 6 days a week of strength training. Also, a lower or higher amount of cardio sessions is a must (for almost everyone), depending on your current condition and how many weeks out you are. Initially, at the beginning of your contest prep, you may only need a typical time that people usually spend in the gym, which typically is around 1 hour and 30 minutes to do your strength training and some cardio. But the closer to the show, you will likely spend more time in the gym due to increased duration of your cardio. However, it depends mostly on your condition and how much time you have left to enter the show.

TOP 8 things you need while prep for a bodybuilding contest

Also, if you don’t have a living room which is quite big and a full-length mirror in it, you are going to have to allocate some time to practise your posing in the gym. Anything from 15 to 20 minutes three times per week would suffice at the beginning of your prep. But the rule is the same as with the rest of your training – the closer to the show, likely you’ll need to spend a little more time practising it.

Keep in mind, though, the amount of time you spend in the gym depends on your and your coach’s training approach and your condition. But in a majority of people who compete – the closer to the show, the longer the sessions are (besides the peak week, which is the last week before the show, but it’s another story).

4. Food a.k.a. meal prep.

Food and meal prep is a significant part of any bodybuilding contest prep. You will need time to shop your groceries and to prepare it. Sunday is well known for being a day when fitness junkies meal prep. However, I prefer to prep my food twice a week. It’s because I like to bring more flavours to my diet, which is difficult when you cook in bulk once a week. Also, I do that to keep my food fresh and yummy.

It’s best to plan your meal preps in advance. If you don’t mind eating same lunch and dinner every day, then feel free to cook it in bulk once a week. But if you prefer some more variety and different food options like me, then doing your meal prep twice a week might be a better option for you.

5. Supplements for a bodybuilding contest prep.

You might need some supplements during your contest prep. Starting from the basics, like whey protein powder, creatine or BCAA going through more advanced ones like fat burners, sleep aiders or other.

Your supplement needs will change throughout the prep. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of keeping it simple, but a contest prep isn’t just an usual train-sleep-repeat cycle. Hence, what you don’t need at the beginning of your contest prep, might be a necessity toward the end of it.

6. Sleep and regeneration.

TOP 8 things you need while prep for a bodybuilding contest
TOP 8 things you need while prep for a bodybuilding contest

These two are crucial for successful bodybuilding contest prep. You will need a good night sleep. The number of hours varies and it’s personal, but you need to aim for at least six hours of sleep preferably at night. Closer to the show day, often you may need longer sleep and/or naps during the day. Anyway, sleep is one of the essential elements of the competition prep and you can read more about the importance of it here.

7. Time.

When you look at all the above, including the first two, and time needed to research a good coach, all of that is a pretty time-consuming thing. At the beginning of the journey, you may need slightly less time to spend on all of these things and tasks. However, toward the end of prep, you are going to need more of it to comply with your plan.

Therefore, you need to think ahead about a contest prep as a long term, time-consuming commitment. Think about how to wrap it around your life and still be able to fulfil the rest of your work, family and other obligations. It might be challenging, but it’s doable. All you need is a good plan!

8. Calm mind, confidence and trust in the process.

Having sorted all the above for sure will help you stay calm, focused and leaves enough headspace to follow the process to a T.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but the best thing you can do is to prepare yourself. Honestly, spend time to read about contest prep on the internet. Ask questions in comments and ask friends who competed. Find out as much as you can in advance. Of course, you may still be surprised and challenged many times, but you will be ready for the basics at least.

Wrap up.

TOP 8 things you need while prep for a bodybuilding contest

As you can see, there are many things to take into account if you want to compete in a bodybuilding contest. First, you need to answer yourself why you want to do that. Then, you should know how to prepare to it correctly. Also, keep in mind the things I mentioned above is not the complete list of things you will definitely need. However, it covers these the most important to give you an idea what it takes to make it the right way. And how demanding the entire process is.

This concludes my second article about getting ready for a bodybuilding contest prep. I hope it has helped you with your own fitness journey and covers lot of the information that you might need.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below. Stay tuned, because my next article is going to be about the real costs of competing in the UK.