How To Have Success With Figure Contest Prep
There’s no doubt about it, preparing for a figure or bikini contest is one of the toughest things you will ever do. At times is can be a grueling schedule to maintain, but the results are always worth it. You will have a sense of accomplishment that nothing else can bring, and the knowledge that you can accomplish any goal in life (in figure, bikini or physique contests, or any other wider goal).
This article is going to explain the differences between figure and bikini contests, as well as guiding you on to how to successfully prepare for a figure competition. You will learn the best and most effective methods of preparation (as used by the best in the business) as well as knowing the choices that need to be made for the best results.
Know what to expect
The first step is knowing what you are getting involved with. As noted in the introduction, the road to a top level physique is not an easy one (which is why so few women are able to achieve such results). It takes tremendous drive, discipline and determination to compete, and to go to levels that you have never pushed your body. This is not mentioned to discourage you, however, those who know that there will be times when they want to give up will be equipped to deal with their emotions and keep moving forward. Having a realistic outlook is very important, and the best in the business know and accept this reality.
This is not to say that every minute will be tough. Far from it. In fact, the majority of time you will enjoy the process, especially as you see the results of your body’s transformation. However, know that the dieting will effect your energy levels and emotions. Just be aware of this and you will more likely to reach the stage in peak condition.
What’s the difference between bikini and figure contests?
This is a common question, and one that you need to understand before making a decision. Many women are suited to one type of competition more than the other. It can hard to know which is the best until you have competed, but here is a breakdown of what you need to succeed in each contest:
As part of the bikini contest, you need to display balance and shape throughout all aspects of your body, an overall high level of physical appearance, a healthy complexion and good skin tone, as well as demonstrating that you have a high overall presentation (meaning all aspects are present and at a high level). It is also key that competitors show poise when they are on stage, which makes a big difference to the judges. Your posing can show your body in the wrong way or right way. Hire an experienced bikini posing coach suitable to your member affiliation (NPC, CBBF) and you will do much better on stage.
To the left are three of the top 5 bikini competitors that placed at the IFBB North American Championships in 2013
When it comes to figure competitions, you must have a certain (but small) amount of muscularity with a little separation. However, note that your body should not display any visible striations as seen in bodybuilding contests. Figure competitors are required to have an overall muscle tone and shapely lines with firmness across the body. Importance placed on a healthy appearance, so competitors are not expected to be excessively lean when they step on stage (this is in contrast to physique and bodybuilding competitors who are required to show more muscularity and muscle tone). The above photo to the left is Barbara Molyneaux, International Figure Competitor and Champion.
To the left are three of the top 5 competitors that placed at the IFBB North American Championships in 2013
Once you have decided between a bikini and figure contest, you will need to make the following choices:
Pick a contest 12 months out
If you think that you can diet, train and live the lifestyle to get into contest ready shape, then set yourself a goal. Having a deadline is always the best way to succeed in any endeavor, and figure contests are no different. So, find a contest that is at least 12 months away, especially if this is your first time. You might hear about people that say they contest prepped for 2 months and got ready for a show and did well. Well, guess what.. their diets are at least 90% clean YEAR ROUND and they are training HARD year round. For beginners, you need to prep minimum 1 year out, IF you want to continue through the levels of events.
Again, depending on what your current condition is like, you might not need this amount of time, as it will be based on the category that you choose to compete in, but a 12 month time frame is something that will get you motivated and make you begin to step up your diet and training. This is the ideal way to approach figure contest prep. As the months go by, you (or a trainer/coach) can see how your body is transforming, and you will have enough time to make changes, which lets you step on stage in the best shape of your life.
Have a critical eye when evaluating your body
It is important that you are honest about your current physique and training protocols. Know what level your body is currently at, what needs to be worked on, and how disciplined you currently are. From here, you can make changes and improve the areas that are lagging behind. If you are eating cleanly now, then you are a step ahead of most new competitors. This is a great indicator that you have what it takes to succeed with figure contest prep.
Find professional advice
Having a professional trainer / coach (from the industry) is one of the best things you can do if you are serious about competing. The best sportspeople have coaches, as do the best bodybuilders, bikini and figure athletes. However, the trainer you choose is the most vital step. Find those who have competed at a high level, or have coached successful figure athletes. Always look at the results you want, and find those who achieved them, or assisted others to achieve them. Speaking to current figure athletes will help you to find the best coaches.
A coach will help you with more than your diet and exercise routine. A coach will give you the accountability to stay on course and remain motivated when you lose focus. A coach will also know when your body needs extra rest, can be pushed harder, and when things are working well. A coach acts as a mentor, confidant and motivator which is just as important as the practical exercise and diet knowledge. As competing in figure contests is an individual endeavor, having support and guidance is a huge asset.
Review the comparison above if you are deciding between competing in a figure or bikini contest. Once you have made your decision, you can begin your figure contest prep and get started in the best possible way, giving you the greatest chance of success.