Your First Show – Simple Steps to Success

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You may have been toying around with the weights for a couple of months or even years, followed a pretty structured diet, done some cardiovascular training here and there, and realized you are ready for another challenge. The question is: what is that challenge going to be? So you go online or pick up a magazine and find there are shows where you can display the physique you have worked so hard for and compete against other physiques. As you research more, you may find that for every answer you get, it is raises two more questions. The key, at any level or point of this lifestyle is, DO NOT OVERCOMPLICATE THINGS. This article will go over the basics of what you need to know for your first show.

1.  Pick a federation and division that is right for you. There are numerous federations out there, and they all have different rules. The largest amateur federation in the U.S. is the National Physique Committee (NPC), which has an array of shows from local shows to get your feet wet to national level pro qualifiers. You can also find drug-tested NPC shows throughout the country, if that is one of your concerns. There are two divisions for male competitors in the NPC: Bodybuilding and Men’s Physique. There are five divisions for female competitors in the NPC: Figure, Fitness, Bikini, Women’s Physique, and Women’s Bodybuilding. Find out what division your physique fits into best. You can go to to learn more about what the judges look for in each division. I also suggest searching any division you may be interested in on to get a better understanding of what the competitors in a given division look like and the common poses. Take advantage of your resources!

2.  Evaluate where you are currently with your training and gauge how long it will take you to get “stage ready”. Everyone is different, and some people will need more time than others to prepare. Most contest preps run anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks. This allows you enough time to gradually bring yourself into show condition through diet, weight training, and cardiovascular training. Give yourself enough time – this allows you to appreciate the process and keep your sanity in check. Ultimately, it is you versus you. On show day, you should be able to look back and be proud of how far you progressed since the beginning of your prep!

3.  Time to prepare! No one knows your body as well as you. While you can always go out and hire a coach, if you do so, PLEASE ask for references. There are a lot of good coaches out there, but unfortunately there are also a lot of bad coaches. The most important part of this journey is to stay safe and put your health first. If you do hire a coach, I cannot stress the importance of talking to any current and previous clients of theirs. If they have nothing to hide, they shouldn’t have any problem with giving you references. You can ALWAYS prep yourself – you will just need to do some research. A good basis for a competitor looking to condition themselves for the first time is as follows: (i) keep a balanced diet of lean protein, slow digesting carbohydrates, and minimal healthy fats; (ii) keep weight training intensity high to reap the added cardiovascular benefits and an increased heart rate; and (iii) incorporate cardiovascular training to keep your metabolism firing, and gradually add time as needed. As mentioned earlier, DO NOT OVERCOMPLICATE THINGS. Doing so will only lead to second guessing and elevated stress levels!

4.  Posing practice makes perfect! Why put in all of this work, if you can’t present the final product on stage in a favorable manner? You can watch Youtube videos and read articles to get a basis for your posing, but this is one area where you should seek guidance from someone who is knowledgeable on the subject matter. The good news is there are numerous posing clinics held across the country at affordable rates. My suggestion would be to contact the promoter of your show, and see if they know of anyone that could spend some time with you to work on your posing. If you can, videotape or take pictures of your session so you can take what you learn and PRACTICE. You should be practicing your posing at least 15 minutes every day leading up to a show so the moves are second nature and polished.

Ryan Stankovic

Ryan Stankovic

5.  Make a checklist of items you are going to need for show day. It is better to be overly prepared than underprepared. Some items you will need for show day include posing suit/trunks, posing music (if required), posing oil/glaze, show tan (this process starts at least a day before, whether you do it yourself or pay for spray tanning), posing heels for the ladies, food to keep muscles filled out, towels, and an MP3 player to keep yourself busy and calm. Your nerves are going to be on edge show day, so you want to keep the stress to a minimum. Again, DO NOT OVERCOMPLICATE THINGS!

Keep in mind that if you have ANY questions, you can always contact the promoter of your show. They are there to help make your first show experience the best it can be. With each show you do thereafter, you will be better prepared and learn more and more.

Remember that everyone starts somewhere. I will be honest, it is not going to be the easiest at times, but that is what makes it rewarding. Take a moment and look back as to how far you have come. Use that as your motivation to keep pushing forward during the harder times. As a competitor, I can attest that in the end, when your hard work is being displayed, it will all be worth it. If there is one thing you take away from this article, it is to enjoy the process and, I’ll say it again, DO NOT OVERCOMPLICATE THINGS!

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