8 Things To Know Before Competing In Natural Bodybuilding

8 Things To Know Before Competing In Natural Bodybuilding

Hey ambitious gymrat! Natural bodybuilding is not for everyone, but it might be something for you. Here are some things you should know before competing in natural bodybuilding. Let's get into it.


Don't plan your natural bodybuilding competition yet...

I know you're excited. You want to compete, so why not plan a competition? But wait a minute before you do that for the following reasons. Check in with yourself, are you doing it for the experience alone? Or do you also have the intention to win? 

Check in with a coach who can give you some idea of how long it might take to get you ready for your first competition. This really various per person, and is not just based on your current physique. Do you have experience in posing, in following a very strict diet, do you maybe have a history of binge eating, etc.? This all plays a role in what timeframe you should think about before actually being ready to step on stage.

So, don't plan your show yet. First assess your physique, past behavior and mindset with a coach. If your intention is to win, you might need longer (depending of where you are at right now).


Just looking good is not enough

Of course, it is natural bodybuilding. You need to have a certain amount of muscle mass distribution based on which category you might compete in. But just because people around you give you the feedback that you're looking 'ripped' or 'beach ready' doesn't mean you are ready to compete. You might be though!

Just keep in mind that you need to be able to 'show' what you have on competition day. Your posing is the way to do that. So practice posing as early as you can, preferably with a coach who knows about your category. Make videos of posing, give yourself feedback and be critical. You should feel like posing is the same as brushing your teeth every day; it's so automated but you do it correct every time.


It is not a normal cut

If you've every been on a diet before to lose fat, think about that but the intensity times ten. When you are losing weight to get shredded for summer for example, you are cutting till 10-12 % bodyfat if you're a man, and till 18-20% fat if you're a lady. And to be honest, that is already quite low and can be very uncomfortable (especially that last bit).

However, this is not where you stop if you want to compete. You might even reach 4-7% bodyfat if you're a man, which is a huge strain on the body and mind. So don't think that just because you have done a cut before, that this will be the same. However, if you have every adhered to a strict diet successfully, you might have more chance of succeeding. 


Natural bodybuilding is a lifestyle

You are not only a natural bodybuilder when you are training, or preparing your food. It is a 24/7 commitment. You need to think about your sleep, stress level, recovery from training, posing practice, digestion, supplementation, daily steps, food prep, blood work, training etc.

In the beginning of your prep, you might get away with feeling bloated or a late night, but the closer you are to the competition, these things are crucial to control as much as you can. This means you need to 'breath' the bodybuilding lifestyle. It needs to be on your mind. 


Your first bodybuilding competition will probably not be the best one

Your coach can help you prepare for your competition, and maybe even be there on show day. However, there are things that you and your coach might not know yet about your body. Maybe you guys practiced a peak weak together, maybe not. On the day itself it is likely that not everything will go as planned. Maybe the schedule is moving around a lot and you all of a sudden need to be ready.

It is good to mentally prepare for a lot of different scenarios and how you ideally want to react to those situations. Maybe it will be confusion on stage, or you miss a pose because being on stage feels quit overwhelming to begin with. Maybe your conditioning is not there yet and you are sweating a lot on stage which doesn't benefit your tan. However, the more you prepare yourself mentally, and together with an experienced coach, the more grip you have on your performance.

I do not share these things to discourage you, but more so to inform you and have a realistic point of view. It is better to know these things up front so you can see them coming and hopefully prevent things.


The people around you can make or break you

Please, inform the people close to you that you are going to do a natural bodybuilding show. Tell them that you need focus and can probably not join with certain things due to low energy for example (especially close to show day). Making food takes time and it's not cheap as well.

Know what you need from other people and what they can or cannot expect from you. Be around 'hype' people, preferably people who are going through the same thing or really want to see you succeed. You can do this, but it requires focus and definitely also some sacrifices.


Don't underestimate the power of posing

Posing is so incredibly powerful, as is your stage presence. The point of posing is to not just show your physique in the right way by hitting mandatory poses, but also to highlight your best side (and hide your weaknesses). If you want to do that, you will need to practice it. A lot. Intensity of posing might go up closer to show day, but it should not be feeling 'strange or new' by that time. 

Also, don't underestimate the conditioning that is needed to pose. You have no idea how long you need to be on stage (hopefully as long as possible). Maybe they rush through it, but if you have a big group you might need to stay on stage for quit a bit. Holding your poses for that long is exhausting so prepare for this.


Get a coach

You need a coach for this. Even a coach needs a coach in this. Why? It is going to be hard and when it is hard you don't want to be thinking about everything and make decisions by yourself. It is great when you can rely on a coach to guide you through the process.

Get a coach who has been on stage before and who understands all the aspects of standing on stage as a natural bodybuilder. It is great to just follow 'orders' when you don't have the brain power on certain days to make decisions. Receiving feedback (and being open to this) and being able to ask all your questions is incredibly valuable. Do it.


So, should you compete as a natural bodybuilder?

If you understand that this might take time (especially when doing this natural), and take the things above into consideration. YES! You learn a lot about yourself when competing and it is a great challenge. The feeling on stage is awesome, knowing that you've put all your effort towards this big goal.


Last thing to know is that not everyone will understand what you are doing and going through. That is okay. Explain it once and then let it go. 


Want to know if you have what it takes? Plan a call and fill in your intake with me to find out.





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