Competing has exploded in the last few years. An overwhelming amount of people are flocking to the stage, often being inspired by those before them. For me, I love bodybuilding, always have. But an influx in anything often exposes some greater dysfunctions at its base level, and boy, do we have a few.
Competing needs a higher standard, and it all starts with the competitors. So if you want to compete in your first comp, then that’s great, but let's get a few things straight first.
1. If you want to get your health straight, competing is not the place to start.
The black and white of it is that competing is anything but a health inducing practice. Getting lean enough for the stage forces you to take your body to places it does not want to be for long.
- Elevated cortisol (stress) hormones
- Down regulated thyroid function
- Cellular energy discrepancies
And this is just to name but a few. Taking the time to get your body to a place where you feel good, your food intake is high, your energy levels are optimal and you are training consistently, only then should you consider this type or practice.
2. In your journey to the stage, you don’t get to miss - ever!
This is the one part of physical preparation that seems so simple, but it wears on you over the course of 12 to 20 weeks that you take to get in stage condition.
Don’t feel like training today? Too bad, get to the gym.
Need to head out for a birthday dinner? Guess who probably has to ‘approve’ the menu beforehand.
You need to make sure that any prescribed training, cardio and nutrition protocols happen when they are supposed to, regardless of life circumstances. Make no mistake about it; even the smoothest of preps have their rough patches.
You cannot half commit.
3. Competing won’t fix your food relationship issues, in fact, it causes far more than it fixes.
I’ve said this before; the body is a logical organism.
We have set ways many things work, and how to have them work in your favour. However, the mind is emotional. It plays tricks on you and often causes people to do some drastic things. Rather than look to biology and science, they look to social media and their friend who read a fitness magazine once.
We focus on the self-doubt and the way things ‘feel’ in our heads, rather than what they actually are. We feed off each other’s insecurities and in turn, create some of our own.
The large number of competitors has lead to the waters of quality information being diluted.
What it takes to get lean safely, and how to come out of it safely are not practices widely considered. So much so that 100’s of competitors gorge on foods they have been self-deprived of for their entire prep, which is great, for 5 minutes.
All of a sudden there is a clearly defined line between healthy foods and naughty foods, between ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
This is the beginning of an emotional roller coaster with no end in sight. The scary thing is, often these are the same people passing on their food values to others who want to make the positive change as well, and round and round we go on this vicious cycle.
You better have a solid idea of your food values and your food education.
Because it only gets tested if you don’t, and many people take far longer than a 16-week prep to get their heads, and their bodies right again.
4. Some people actually get really messed up trying to get stage ready.
This is an extreme example and an extreme case.
Nevertheless, I would guess it still happens to 10% of people, and if I’m honest, that’s a nice number.
If you’ve never competed before, most don’t know where to begin, so they hire someone. Sadly, some coaches are just idiots. These same coaches got lean themselves (albeit once), purely by accident in some cases, so their approach now becomes yours.
No science, no tailoring, this is it.
You would agree we all don’t react the same, so this is where you can run into trouble.
So what can we do about it?
Being 2017, we know so much more each and every year, so the chances of competing and coming out virtually unscathed are high. All the same, ensure your coach isn’t getting their information from a fitness magazine and can actually justify the choices they are making for you.
Team work makes the dream work!