Preparing for a competition: From A to Z. Part 3.

Before passing from assiduous training to preparing for a competition, there is one more short step...and yet this small step must be considered, contemplated and calculated, matured and considered again. In this series of articles, we will address a little bit everything you need to know (or stop) in order to take the step.


Here comes the hard part, the heart of the matter: the exact and precise planning that will lead you towards the next competition. The countdown will begin after identifying the well-distinguished phases and the points to be addressed during these phases.

12 months before

  • Choose your competition, don’t go too far from the level that is not very hard for you at the first time, it’s also important that the organization must be well-established (see the archives of previous years, the opinions, the photos...) to avoid being disappointed in the room, the lighting, the sounds, the arrangement, the judging, the audience. The first competition is like the first date, we will never forget that – and it will bring the desire to continue or not.
  • Plan your off-season training program – it’s time to try a lot of the possible things to see what’s working for you.
  • Eat quality food in off-season, eat every two or three hours and eat mostly protein, lots of protein. The disciplined nutrition is the key of the success.
  • Do cardio two or three times a week for 20-30 minutes each time after the sessions.
  • Write down exactly what you do and what you eat in your journal (start to keep a journal if you’re not keeping one already).
  • Find the songs you like and stimulate you during the training. They will help to motivate you during the cutting diets.
  • Find songs that you can imagine to be played while you’re doing the routine on the stage during the competition – you have to make an exceptional, unique choice. Despite the fact that fewer and fewer categories demand to do individual routine on music, and fewer and fewer competitions give time for it – I still remain an old-school bodybuilder who likes to pose and actually poses, and thereby shows the fruit of his work.
  • Think about costumes and your posing routine – inspiration and elaboration starts well in advance and constitutes a long process, especially at the first time.

6 months before

  • Discover and start working on your mandatory poses. A competition is a comparison with the opponents, you are judged by placing yourself exactly the same positions and being compared directly to the others. Apart from the perfect performance on the day, the posing work allows to burn a lot of calories, and makes the loss of adipose tissues easier during the preparation for the competition.
  • Change your training routine by focusing on all of the muscle groups that have to be trained, but don’t forget about strength and volume training as well.
  • Increase your cardio to 30 minutes per day.
  • Continue to eat quality food and increase the amount of protein to 3-4 g per each kilogram of your body weight.
  • Eat regular meals throughout the week and eat “cheat day” menus on Sunday if you feel the need for it.

20 weeks before (start of pre-competition diet!)

Competition diet: This process differs for everyone. I was taught – and I still believe right now – that starting 20 weeks before the date makes the process easier. It’s much better to do this than – like the way many other people do – to start to prepare for the competition only 12 weeks before – only twelve short weeks. It’s too close to the date, causes unnecessary stress, without knowing one’s body and its reactions, we learn, we make mistakes, we make a slower progress, we do not feel ready, which increases stress and has a negative effect on the process, which has been already difficult and stressful. But then again, we all have our preferences. However, we are talking to beginners, and for them I truly recommend to start the work in advance.

  • If possible, ask an experienced judge or an experienced competitor to evaluate your physique, in order to have an exact record and a situation analysis without emotions and without compromises.
  • Start to work on your posing routine and do the mandatory poses, while keeping each mandatory pose for 10 seconds. Do this after the training session, it helps you to improve the work on your cardio and accelerates fat loss.
  • Get your posing suit and also your tan. This will bring positive tension during the preparation, the tangible things of the preparation will make you remember that D-day is coming.
  • Take photos while you do the mandatory poses, it will help you to judge your progression week by week very easily. From now on, the weighting scale is an enemy, because it never shows the right evolution. The sooner you start to work on your mandatory poses, the better they will be. This not only helps you physically (accelerating the metabolism, working on the cardiovascular system as mentioned earlier), but it also gives you confidence and ease because you create automatisms. In the beginning, I suggest you to do each mandatory pose for 10-15 seconds. It’s essential to practice these poses again and again to memorize them once and for all. Do you want to get on stage during the pre-judgment and show yourself like someone who has done it dozens of times before? Like a pro? No, better than a pro, because all the excess upstream work you do will be assurance, ease and downstream points, believe in my experience. We never do too much.
  • Take relaxed photos every week, with the same lighting and the same habits, this is your best way of monitoring in order to judge your progress. Taking them before breakfast is the best way to do it.
  • Communicate with the organization who does the competition. Ask for all the rules and all you need to know. There shouldn’t be any possible surprises on the D-day. No unforeseen and unexpected errors. The stake is too big, you cannot take it easy.

8 weeks before

  • Pre-register for the competition at least one month before – this will be like “entering into a contract” for you, and it will show you the determination and willingness to finish what you started. A tough and definitive engagement. Keep all papers preciously – the closer you get to the date, the more you will see how tired your mind is, even more tired than your body. Build the habit of writing down the things you need to do and not to forget in a notebook – your memory will be very short soon.
  • Make sure that you paid the contributions you have to pay for the organization: the license, the participation.  You will not have the courage to think about these things on the D-day.

6 weeks before

  • Start to arrange the travel if the competition is not local: airplane or train, the nearest hotel to the place where the event takes place, make things as easy as possible.
  • Start your tanning sessions.
  • Buy the items for the competition, for example the cool bag, body washes, tanning products, elastics, blankets, slippers, paper towels, gloves...
  • Specific accessories for women (makeup, bikini, etc...) are also to be expected.

3 weeks before

  • Stay focused!
  • Follow your diet literally. Practice, practice, practice the mandatory poses and your posing routine!
  • Keep getting a tan
  • Train without limits. Being tired is necessary for the victory.

Last week

  • Practice the mandatory poses, and do your routine several times with your eyes closed at different speeds every day.
  • Write a checklist for the competition to make sure that you have everything you need. For example, the clothes, the tanning products, the music, the elastics, the food, etc... Follow the rule “the better is more than less”.
  • Having some more tan never killed anyone.
  • The trainings are light – injuries must be avoided. You are finished with cardio. We stop physical activities at least 2 days before, the legs are trained 5 days before the competition for the last time.

Day of the competition

  • Get to the place early, and that doesn’t mean being there one or two hours before checking in, unless you live around the corner. You have to be prepared for everything – accidents, breakdowns, etc... – but also for the possibility of being among the first registering in the category. This means that you will be among the first on stage – and if there are many competitors, this is more than an advantage. All chances must be set aside, one more time, all of the hard work you’ve done wasn’t for nothing.
  • So you may have the opportunity for some relaxed posing behind the stage too.
  • Discover the schedule of the event, get yourself, plan the way you do the day and get ready. Soon it’s up to you.
Written by:

Denis Tchoumatchenko

Denis Tchoumatchenko

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