Posted by Tammie Sarkozy in Muscle Building
Estimated reading time: 12mins
Let’s start at the beginning. Bodybuilding is the art of constructing what is considered the most aesthetically pleasing physique. Every single division, in every single federation, requires an element of muscle and lower than average body fat. To achieve this, you must have a solid background in resistance training or sport. This is where many go wrong. A lot of people decide they want to do a show because they have experienced a body transformation and feel motivated to take it to a new level. Maybe they lost body fat in a challenge or perhaps started their fitness journey and are addicted to the results. However, the most extreme of all body transformations is bodybuilding.
Often people do not understand that bodybuilding requires a lot of muscle (even though it seems obvious) and phases of 'off-season' that involves dedication to a particular style of training and nutrition. This means months and even years are dedicated to building lean mass (it's slow progress) so that when it comes time to strip the fat down, a beautifully carved physique is revealed, shaped by the perfect amount of muscle, in all the right places to suit the chosen division.
So, for those who do not have training time under their belt, they are always bitterly disappointed when the fat loss reveals a 'skinny' appearance with no shape due to a lack of muscle. I highly recommend at least one year of solid weight training before deciding to prepare for a show and men, much, much more.
Now that you understand the art of bodybuilding here are 4 more steps:
Different bodybuilding federations
It’s important to choose a federation that's right for you. Each competition has unique qualities, so you must understand the differences.
For example, some have a compulsory theme-wear round. You either get totally excited by this or petrified. If dressing up isn't for you, find a federation that doesn't require this round.
Go to a show and see what it’s all about
Do you want to be the best? Think like an athlete. Research every element of this sport to be Prepared on all levels. The ones who do well are those who go that extra mile and leave no stone unturned.
Find out the costs of competing
The cost of federations varies dramatically so your choice must be affordable. You will need to know:
Enter the division your body is most suited to
Research the criteria and determine (with your coach) where you have the most potential.
As a judge, I can recall 100s of times the panel has agreed one particular athlete looks far better than everyone else in that lineup, however, perhaps this particular athlete is too conditioned (lean) or too muscular than the division requires. They cannot take 1st place as they don't fit the criteria. It isn’t always who looks best (as this is subjective), it’s about who best fits the division criteria. So, try to enter the division your body is best suited for.
While it might seem cool to win seven trophies in one show, it makes you look greedy and I can guarantee the judges and audience are tired of seeing you up on stage repeatedly.
Not only this, but stage day is exhausting. If you are peaking your body for an extremely specific look, you must have minimal stress. Getting up on that stage repeatedly, nerves, adrenalin, and the pump up will 100% place stress on your body.
In my years of judging shows, I have seen bodies change over the day. From looking razor-sharp in their first-round with 1st place potential, to flat and watery on their last round where they wouldn’t even rank top 5.
Keep your body looking like a masterpiece and get up there with integrity and absolutely NAIL the division you truly want to enter.
My advice is to enter no more than 3 divisions. If divisions have multiple rounds (e.g. bikini and theme-wear), I'd consider 1-2 divisions (as this will ultimately be 4 rounds on stage if you enter 2).
Get ready for 4-6 months of one hell of an emotional ride!
You will need guidance from someone who:
It's really important you research who you decide to hand your health to. This person should be someone you can get along with, trust and has experience. I can’t stress enough the importance of the knowledge and qualifications of your coach.
There is still 'so-called coaches' that strip their clients down to sub-1000 calories/day in the sheer desperation to shed the fat. Some of their clients may win a trophy but leave with health issues.
Considering you have had a good off-season and starting your prep in a healthy position, you should see physical changes on average, every 2 weeks.
You will slowly lose body fat over 4-6 months to chisel down to the required look. A slow and steady fat loss is desirable to retain muscle. This requires a world of patience and where a coach is needed most. It's easy to want to fast track things to finally reveal those glorious abs… patience my friends. All in time, and at the right time.
The most common question I get asked.
For most, abs don't shine through until the last 8 weeks, or for some, the last week.
It's very genetic and depends on how much muscle mass you have in your mid-section. A lot of first-time competitors have very little muscle mass here (mostly due to not having enough time for training). As I mentioned, be patient.
Muscle Food 101 - to support protein synthesis and extra energy and recovery with added carbs. Perfect for off-season growth gains!
Whey Protein Isolate – lower carb and fat alternative to Muscle Food 101, for those taking a less aggressive approach to growth.
Creatine Monohydrate - to assist in strength gains and growth.
So, my friends, there is a lot involved in the art of bodybuilding and to be honest, if you are thinking about competing for the first time, no amount of knowledge can prepare you for what’s ahead.
It is an amazing and exciting ride with an extraordinary result worth every single moment. Do your research, have a solid offseason, surround yourself with the right people and dive right in. Good luck!
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