Competing in Bodybuilding has become a ‘thing’ – a big, big, BIG thing. Now, I can imagine there are some people out there that don’t like me saying that… I can also imagine that these people are probably in peak week and even their dog is pissing them off. *gasps*
Well hello, this is the reality nowadays.
Nearly every second person in the gym has competed, is competing or is planning on competing in the near future, and there isn’t anything wrong with that, until there is.
What I mean by this is that competing is something that you can’t possibly understand or comprehend until you go through the process. The amount you learn from that 12, to even 40 weeks for some people is insane, and I can guarantee, its not all good.
I’ve never, ever, ever said that it was an easy process for me (not saying I expected it to be, for ya’ll about to chase me with a pitchfork), and I genuinely tell people how I feel about it when they ask if I ever think I’ll do it again. For those wondering, the answer at this very point in time is probably not. I have my reasoning behind this, and I fully intend to discuss it at some point, but today is not the day.
Instead, I have decided to put together 10 questions to ask yourself before you decide to jump on that brightly lit stage looking like a made up, extra cheesy, weirdly attractive, shredded Dorito.
(You can send your hate mail to me directly if you like, please address it to Beyonschae).
Here we go!
1. WHY do you actually want to get up on stage?
Ask yourself the hard questions, this is one. WHY?
I can’t count the amount of times people have begun a journey to the stage for all the wrong reasons and have to figure it all out along the way. One of the most common ones I’ve come across is, “I just want to be fit and healthy”, and that is seriously not enough. Competing is a temporary physique and it is not fucking healthy, I’m just going to put that out there. Only few people I know can maintain a stage leanness year round and aren’t an absolute prick of a person. Its just not realistic. Think about if the stage can be taken out of the equation, because a lot of the time, it can.
Another common one that people use is “I just want to do it for me”, k, cool, but why? If your answer is borderline shallow and along the lines of “totes just want to look like Paige Hathaway”, there is a high chance that you won’t enjoy the process in the slightest.
One day someone is going to ask you this question, 100%, so stop skimming over the bullshit and ask yourself what your intention is. If you get defensive, there is a reason for it.
2. How invested are you in your placing?
This links in with the first question. If you start the journey for the wrong reasons, hop up on stage and place somewhere much higher (technically lower) than you were expecting, are you going to be okay with that? Today, tomorrow, in a few weeks time?
Remember competing is subjective. You could have the leanest body up on that stage but the judges on the day may decide they prefer the fuller look, and vice versa. You could even look great two weeks out and your body starts reacting differently to your ‘peak week’ (I don’t encourage drastic peak week measures, just FYI). It is SO subjective. If you are going to leave at the end of the day butt hurt you didn’t place top 3, you need to think about why you begun in the first place and refer back to my first question.
It’s okay to want to win, its natural, we ALL want it. But if you are placing your self worth and the last 20 weeks solely on that placing, you are putting yourself in a dangerous position, both mentally and emotionally.
Smack bang in middle, I placed 6th in a lineup of 30 girls… I was beyond proud.
3. Can your bank account take a hit?
This is legit.
Competing can be freakin’ expensive. Especially nowadays when there are theme-wear rounds and bikini rounds making an appearance in most federations. For a good quality bikini you can expect to pay anywhere from 300-600, and that ranges with how many crystals you want. Now throw in coaching, travel, food, registration fee’s, post comp meal (kinda kidding, kinda not, Yoghurtland can get real ya’ll), shoes, tanning, makeup, hair, the list is huge. And that’s not to mention that your grocery bill usually goes up with the insane amounts of fresh vegetables you need to consume (worst one is bloody asparagus, three fucking dollars people). Be prepared to be at a loss and be smart about it – BUDGET your money.
My outrageous bikini for WBFF.
4. Do you actually have enough muscle to be in your chosen division?
Sometimes people’s answer to this is no, that’s fine, they may have answered both questions 1 and 2 honestly.
But, I have had so many girls approach me and ask about competing and when I ask how long they’ve been training for, they literally say “6 months”… SIX MONTHS. People train for years and years before they decide to invest in the process and honestly, it shows up on the stage. Some girls (this is not meaning to offend), can hop up on stage after a few months of training in the bikini division and absolutely steal the show (depending on federation), it happens, its a specific look that some can obtain without a whole lot of training background. But when you are aiming for fitness or figure, I highly recommend you fall in love with training first and do it consistently before the idea of the glitz and the glam of the stage even pops up into your head.
Basically, put in the damn work.
Remember to ask yourself if you actually train because you love training, or if you are solely training for the stage. I pray to god its the first one.
NOT what I’m referring to when I say bikini, haha.
5. Do you have a ‘good’ relationship with food?
This is a huge one.
If you already go in with a disordered mentality when it comes to food, competing only surfaces it even more… This one I’m truly speaking from experience with. I have had no problems in sharing my past with you all, it was actually one of the first things I posted on the blog, so I feel compelled to add this one into the list because I feel strongly about it.
I consider myself extremely good at managing my history with binge eating (I say managing because I don’t believe anyone is every truly ‘cured’ or ‘healed’ in any type of disorder, rather, they just get better at managing it). I went into comp prep with a solid relationship with food, no problems, and following flexible dieting… But along the journey, I felt some triggers slowly start to emerge again much more frequently in comparison to ‘my everyday life’ before I decided to comp prep. Regardless of flexible dieting or not.
Now this may not be the same for everyone, I get that, but from the people who I have spoken to who have a similar past to my own, they felt the same and went through a similar process.
I strongly encourage you to truly think about your relationship with food and if there is ANY type of disordered past or disordered way of thinking, that you don’t feel fully comfortable with or that you haven’t confronted, I can’t encourage competing, and won’t. Ever.
6. Are you willing to invest a lot of time?
Some people can get away with just training weights right up until comp, I was definitely not one and know a shit ton of people in the same boat. By the end of my prep I ended up splitting my weights and my cardio most days to ensure I could put effort into both, AND I had minimal cardio compared to what I hear of. So, taking into consideration driving to and from the gym, weights and cardio, some days my training in total would take around 3 hours.
You see what I mean about investing your time?
Throw in meal prep, groceries, extra recovery measures, study for some people, all ON TOP of training (both weights and cardio), and you can deduct a fair chunk of hours you would usually have from your day to day life. Are you actually prepared for that?
7. Do you have a good network of people in your life?
I can’t count the amount of times that when I was feeling down the people in my life would pep me back up again. Whether it was an encouraging conversation, or going out of their way to get coffee with me, not once did I have someone tell me “Don’t do it” or “It’s stupid”, and that is so important. You want to have those people in your life who are going to support you, encourage you and provide a positive energy, especially in tougher times.
A good network also consists of people who don’t bullshit you either. If you’re acting fucking crazy and people are all like “Oh no, sweetie you’re literally like a warm jam doughnut right now” whilst you are rampaging because the top of your asparagus spear fell into the bin and that asparagus was fucking $3, K?!… That doesn’t necessarily mean they are being supportive.
Try and learn the difference, this applies to everyday life as well, mind you.
The best network.
8. Are you competing to fill a void in your life?
Guys, competing is seriously temporary happiness. It can be an awesome time, but if you are using it to get your mind of things or fill a sense of happiness, when the stage is gone, you are literally going to be left with the exact same thing you tried to convince yourself you’ve covered up.
It just doesn’t work like that.
For example, you shouldn’t feel compelled to compete because you feel miserable in your career. Because holy mother of mary god, SURPRISE, you are still miserable in the exact same career once the show date has come and gone, and you’ll have the scaly orange tan to remind you.
It provides a distraction. And it will always be that if you are doing it fulfill something momentarily.
The stage will not ‘fix’ your career, your relationships with others, or your relationship with yourself. Don’t try convince yourself it has that ability.
9. Are you prepared for your performance to underwhelm?
This was one of the biggest reasons I decided competing was really not for me – I valued my performance way too much. Now, I know, some people can still perform while they are in a deficit, this is me acknowledging that. But for me, my performance took a huge, huge hit – and I couldn’t stand it.
Unfortunately for me, when I’m in a calorie deficit (meaning I am burning more than I am consuming) and am programmed to pick up heavy shit, it’s really damn hard. So hard that I actually injured my back half way through my prep and had to strip it back down and change my programming to compensate, and I have no doubt it was because of the circumstances I was in.
For some, the answer is straight forward… Don’t lift heavy shit. But you see, that is my passion, and it always has been. That is the training I genuinely enjoy and the training I am consistent with. So for me to not be able to perform in that area, the legit reason why I walk into the gym with a purpose, it just wasn’t/isn’t worth it in the end, in my opinion.
If you’re in the same boat training wise, prepare to feel underwhelmed when you do something at a lower body weight, eating less and doing more activity. Regardless of how easy it once felt. Always reflect and evaluate to decrease risk of injury.
There is no way I would have pulled an 155kg deadlift looking/feeling like I did on stage.
10. Do you love yourself? Right here, right now, in this very moment.
I left this one at the end for a reason.
It breaks my heart to see some girls go through the ‘comp prep’ journey searching exclusively for self love and worthiness because they’ll never reach it. Competing will never teach you to love yourself, fully and completely. You must choose to do this, every day, no matter what weight you are at or whether or not you can see some abs or shoulder striations.
You can be the most ripped girl on stage, have the glutes that the whole world will envy, but if you only appreciate yourself for aesthetic purposes and only when you look a certain way on stage… You are forever in the pursuit of an unrealistic ‘ideal’ that is very rarely maintainable for long periods of time. Please remember this.
You are more than the stage. You are more than a scale number. You are more than the body you present on stage. You are more than a body fat percentage. You are much, much more than any aesthetic goal.
The first step is believing that.
Now before you all decide to legitimately send me hate mail, I want you to know that I don’t mean to offend, at all. This is honestly just something I have been wanting to write about for a long time and something I personally believe is important for those looking to get up on stage. Competing is a choice, and a choice that you must decide on your own.
Love the not so brown, but extremely happy,
Fake gun because I’m sure some people are pointing this at my face RN.
Follow me on Instagram: @beyonschae