Over the past few years, the world of bodybuilding & physique competitions has gone from stigmatised & scrutinised to glamorous & inspiring – seeing incredible physiques on stage seems to be something that we can’t get enough of. The top competitors have risen to social media superstardom and have millions of fans that want to be exactly like them – willing to pay any dollar value for their workout programs and diet plans in pursuit of this.
Now it’s probably time to adjust my tone and explain that I am by no means against physique contests, in April 2017 I began my 26-week journey that saw me compete on five different stages in three different states in Australia. I loved every second of my contest prep, even when I hated it, and learnt so much about my body, training and nutrition along the way. In so many ways it quite literally changed my life, for the better. Does that mean I think competing is for everyone? No.
When a lot of people decide that they want to compete all they’ve seen is some beautiful physiques on stage or some stage photos posted on social media, which in my opinion are the two most glamorous aspects of the sport. They have no understanding of what goes on behind the scenes and just how much hard work goes in to getting on the stage.
Up to six months of hard work goes into what is more or less, a few hours on stage. Throughout that six months, you will also face some of the biggest challenges you’ve willingly put yourself through. I’m not just talking about the diet and the training, it’s also an enormous mental battle, because you are quite literally judged on how you look you have to be extremely mindful of how your body responds to the prep you are putting it through, and you are constantly stuck thinking “will I be ready in time?”
It takes a certain type of person to enjoy the process of a comp prep and it’s not something that you should force yourself to do, because if not done correctly it can leave you with some pretty serious negative effects in the long run. There are plenty of people who enjoy healthy lifestyles and are “fit” yet don’t compete and there’s nothing wrong with that!
There are other ways to challenge yourself that don’t involve competing, trying out an 8-week shred challenge could be a good way to see how you can handle dieting, or dieting and getting a photo shoot done can be a great way to help you improve your confidence while also giving you a lasting memory!
If you think you are ready to take your training to the next level and really want to compete, the best piece of advice I can offer is to make sure that you do your research and choose a coach who will support you from start to finish (and beyond when it comes to reverse dieting) – and most importantly, once you start, remember to have fun!