Participating in a bodybuilding contest gives me a certain ”high”. Being on stage in my best shape and showing everyone the fruits of my labour and 12 weeks of strict dieting couldn’t get any better. But along with it comes a lot of sacrifice and emotions. Those who have dieted for a contest before (or currently dieting for one), you know what I’m talking about. Here are some tips for future bodybuilding competitors to maximize the joy of competing and to minimize the pains that come with it.
#1 The Diet Won’t Kill You. But The Pressure Will.
Following a strict pre-contest diet for 12-16 weeks isn’t easy. It’s torturous. It’s the slowest and most gruelling torture anyone can put themselves through. But if your calorie deficit is moderate and you have cheat/refeed days every 5-14 days, it’s actually not impossible to follow through. Still, during pre-contest dieting, I have seen many competitors (including myself) go through depression and horrible mood swings. And believe it or not, it’s not because of the diet but because of the pressure of competing. Serious. If you go through the same pre-contest diet BUT without the contest, you will feel a lot more relaxed, as if you’re not on a diet at all. Try your best to relax during pre-contest dieting. Take more weeks to diet so you don’t have to rush things. Whenever you can, go out, enjoy and have fun with your friends and family. Learn how to cook and experiment with spices so your food tastes good but still fits your macros. And most of all, remember that this is just a contest and winning isn’t everything.
#2 Learn From Your Contest Prep
You’re probably gonna make several mistakes during your first contest prep. It could be a diet, tanning, posing or water control mistake. It happens to everyone. The best you can do is to write down every detail of your diet and contest prep, analyze what went wrong and try to not make the same mistake again for the next contest.
#3 Make Plans For Post-Contest
Yes, we all know about pre-contest anxiety and depression. But do you know there’s also post-contest depression too? It’s that feeling you get when you’ve anticipated and focused on that contest so much that when it’s all done and over with, you have no idea what to do next. So remember, before you even compete, plan what you’re gonna do AFTER your competition. A photoshoot the day after the contest will be a great idea, since you’re still in shape (and from experience, you might even look better than contest day itself). And why not go out and have an awesome meal and have some fun with your loved ones? Those are short term plans. For the long term, plan your next contest or what you’re gonna do in the off season.
#4 Have Fun, Stay Humble, Make Friends
I hate it when some people take contests too seriously and they start trash-talking and hating on other contestants. Come on, guys. Have some sportsmanship. The contest is just for a day. Your image and relationship with other people in the sport will last for a long time. Plus, as a bodybuilder, you should upkeep the image of the sport. We are hardworking, dedicated, aspiring athletes. Not petty douchebags.