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Thinking of Competing? Here's a Checklist to Get You Started

Racquel Hutchinson

Racquel Hutchinson is the 2018 winner of the Muscle Insider Road to the Pros Challenge, sponsored by Optimum Nutrition. A finance administrator from Hamilton, Ontario, Racquel placed second in her bikini division at the 2018 Canadian National IFBB Pro Qualifier.

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Thinking of Competing? Here's a Checklist to Get You Started

Ever want to compete in a physique show? It may not be your thing, standing onstage with the barest of posing trunks or suit, for all the world to see. But the payoff isn’t just the by-product of 12 weeks of hard work; it’s you overcoming a challenge you created, giving it your full effort, and achieving your best-ever shape, none of which would’ve likely happened if you hadn’t made that initial decision.

So what should you consider when deciding to compete? Let’s see if my experience as a part-time bikini competitor who holds down a full-time job outside of the fitness industry can help you out.

It’s always important to set goals because it gives you something to work toward. It’s what will make you take that first step and move you forward toward what you desire. Goals can be seen as a map of sorts guiding you toward a bigger accomplishment. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, that will put you squarely in a position to start a true competition prep and ultimately step onstage.

Goals drive you to be accountable; nobody wants to fail, so you can set goals and let the responsibility fall on yourself, accepting the result, good or bad. It’s always important to be realistic with goal setting; taking it slow isn’t a negative. You want to be successful in your goal setting; therefore, you must understand the realm of factors that apply to achieving each one you set.

To be successful in achieving your goals and to be accountable, you absolutely must have your head in the game. You must be committed to making changes and sticking with them. Tell yourself that it’s a must to eat accordingly and to get to the gym. You must manage your time and schedule according to your goals and make them priorities. Personally, I’ve been asked to help my friends and family be accountable for their decision making in their own efforts. Recruiting friends and family for support is a smart way to get encouragement and advice and help push you a little more toward your finish line.

The decision to compete is a complex one involving many factors. First and foremost, you must be willing to become very disciplined, both mentally and physically. Stepping onstage requires discipline, confidence, and consistency. It would help greatly to find a coach who can help you step in the right decision regarding your goals and timelines.

It’s not required, but it’s surely helpful to find a coach who has knowledge in the world of bodybuilding and experience in preparing athletes for the stage. My coach, Darren Mehling of Freak Fitness, has created a great workout and diet plan that will give me optimal results. You must also ask yourself if you have the time to prepare for a show. Preparation for a bodybuilding show takes a lot of your time, and you must be willing to commit yourself to at least five days a week of physical training or cardio sessions. Preparing your meals is also a significant commitment that shouldn’t be underestimated.

It would be smart to pick a show in your hometown. A bodybuilding organization in your area will have regional shows that would be the number one choice for someone just starting out. Check out the Canadian Physique Alliance contest listing for Canadian contests either online or listed in Muscle Insider magazine.

Posing is a very big part of competing in a bodybuilding competition. Every category has some sort of posing attached to it that must be followed correctly. Poor posing can result in a lower score. If you don’t invest in getting aid with proper posing, you could very well be hurting your chances. There are many different posing coaches connected to local bodybuilding organizations, or you can reach out to other competitors or judges for their recommendations. You might even just start watching videos online. Ultimately, you’d like to practice your posing several times per week or even daily to absolutely nail it. All eyes will be on you in that moment, so you must be prepared to show confidence and personality.

Doing all these things requires you to invest some money to prepare yourself. There are fees related to your organization, coaching, selecting a show, accommodations, and travel. Every competitor has a mandatory suit or clothing that must be worn for your category, which must be purchased. You’ll also want to have a nice, deep tan to show off your physique under the harsh stage lights, but fortunately that doesn’t mean exposing yourself to harmful UV rays in a tanning booth anymore. Add them all up and you might want to start putting money aside every week to account for your expenses.