Getting Prepared for Competitive Bodybuilding: Tips and Takeaways

musclesI was never big into competitive female bodybuilding, despite an obsession with lifting weights and building muscle. Then I lost a little bet to my best friend Lauren involving the Olympics and had to sign up for the fall competition in our home city. She was already signed up but was desperate for someone to keep her company. The US Women’s National Team blew it, and my fate was sealed.

As the date drew nearer, we both continued to push our bodies to the limit. I’m funny about competition: it’s my nature to avoid it, but once it begins, I throw my entire being into the fight.

I began to catch myself thinking: “I want to win this thing.” If only I had a crystal ball – to see the marvelous machines of muscle we ended up competing alongside – I don’t think my spirits would have been maintained, no matter how determined I felt to win!

You can probably guess – neither of us won (not even close) – but the experience was entertaining, and for what it’s worth, I learned a thing or two about preparing yourself in the final hours before one of these competitions. Just in case any readers ever decide to sign up for one, you’ll have some insight into how to get ready. Heads up, there’s more to it than just getting your fill of whey protein:

Body hair

When it comes to hair removal, the wrong product can be painful, not to mention leave a red rash lasting through to the competition. Use sugaring hair removal product the night before the competition to get smooth skin without the irritation. For those wondering why removing hair matters, it’s because muscle tone gets hidden behind the hair. Smooth skin allows for bronzing to accentuate the muscles, which are the stars of the show.


Tanning in the months and weeks prior to a bodybuilding competition is standard policy for year-in-year-out participants, but I wasn’t even certain I’d be competing until a month prior, leaving my skin mighty pasty. As it turns out, just about everyone ends up covering themselves head to toe in bronzing agent anyway, so my suggestion is to not worry so much about tanning prior to a bodybuilding competition.

Bad weight strategy!

Similar to the preparation for a boxing or MMA weigh-in, you won´t need a Boxing gear but those teetering near a lower bodybuilding class are going to be tempted to game the system. By that, of course, I mean planned dehydration and fasting for the 24 hours prior to sign in time. The day before the meet, I was pretty pumped to vie for victory and was close to a lower class. By barely making it from the top end, you stand a chance being the biggest dog in the kennel. Let’s just say, despite my efforts, I didn’t make the weight limit, so I had to perform with a headache and a growling stomach against women who looked like they had about 1.5x my muscle mass on average. Lesson learned!

As I said prior, neither Lauren nor I stood a chance. I’m not even sure what made her think she had a serious shot, let alone me, and we’re far from unfit by any means. Yet the experience was one I will not soon forget. It made me appreciate the truth to the saying “There’s always a bigger fish.”

About the author: Katherine Smith is a San Diego based freelance writer who enjoys writing on a wide variety of fitness and entertainment topics. In her free time Kat enjoys the beach and playing volleyball with family and friends. 

Image: Travis Miller

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