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How Do I Sign Up For a Fitness Competition?

By Joe Talarico on Feb 16, 2018 3:28:00 AM
5 Minutes Reading Time


“Be Prepared!” - The Lion King

I wrote another article (Are You Ready For Your Bodybuilding Competition?) on preparing for a competition discussing the training and nutrition side of it all. This one will go over costs and anything else you may need to know.


If you haven’t even been to a show, how do you know what you’re getting yourself into? Go see what you’re up against.

 Talk to experienced competitors. What hardships did they have to go through? Sacrifices and changes have to be made from what you are used to. As you get closer to a show you’re going to have to be prepared to prioritize yourself over your relationships to an extent. Ask them the cost of this lifestyle.

Bodybuilding ain’t cheap!

Food - This goes without saying, but what you buy and what quality you buy should change. If you’re truly trying to bring the best package on stage, you shouldn’t be buying crappy grain fed, farmed low grade protein sources. Yes, these small differences can make or break you. 

Supplements - Definitely not as big a proponent of how badly you need these as I used to be, but if you do feel the need to use certain things like creatine, BCAA’s, etc. realize these are more costs added into your budget. Which brings up the bigger point, if you are on a tight budget, then that money is better spent back on higher quality food. If you’re on gear, then you’re well aware that cutting stacks jack up the costs to several hundred a month on top of what you were already doing.

Posing Trunks - Yes, make sure you have that little banana hammock ready to support your 5% lean jewels. For the leg day adversed physique competitors, make sure you have those sad below the knee boardshorts. You’d be surprised how much thought goes into these. From length, to how the color contrasts your tan.

Nutrition/Training Coaching

Before you even dive into this long, arduous journey, find a coach or someone who actually has experience on stage and let them give you an honest critique on if you’re even ready to compete. You don’t want to be that guy (and there is always one) that steps on stage and everyone knows shouldn’t be there. Building a respectable physique takes time. Started seeing your six pack? Guess what? The other guys on stage have feathered striations on their obliques.

While you don’t HAVE to have a coach, and it can get expensive, it is worth it (assuming you chose a smart coach and not a deadbeat). The process can be a whole article into itself so I won’t get into that too much, but the benefit of having a coach takes a lot of the mental stress away. Why? They’re objective, honest, make the changes you need, and they take out the guesswork of you having to do it on your own especially if you’ve never competed.

I always found it interesting that of all sports, bodybuilding is the only one where you can go pro and still need a full time job just to PARTICIPATE in the sport. Are you financially prepared for all these costs?

Tanning-  just lying in the sun ain’t gonna cut it. Get sprayed by a professional. There’s plenty that offer their services leading up to and the day of the show on site.

Competing- One of your most expensive costs sadly. You have to make sure you pay for a membership in the organization you want to join - NPC (most popular), OCB, WBFF, IFBB, etc, then pay for EACH category you want to do - usually novice, and then a men’s open (your weight class or height), but there’s also junior divison, and for women - bikini and figure. Go on their site, and look for upcoming local shows.

Posing Coach- I’ve beaten people who looked better than me simply because my posing was on point comparatively. PRACTICE! Make sure you’re taking pictures every week.

Pick music for your posing routine and make sure you’ve rehearsed it. Keep in mind each category has it’s own mandatory poses that you HAVE to know how to execute properly.  Again, this is where a posing coach is really useful. They know exactly what the judges are looking for. They’ll be able to position you in ways that optimizes YOUR body and how to present it best on stage. You’ll learn really quickly that it's a matter of the SLIGHTEST adjustments, and hand placement to give you a better V taper, or more broad look. PRACTICE.

My final advice is - have a support crew! Competing is a very lonely journey, and as you can see, there’s a lot of different elements to juggle leading up to show day. It’s nice to know someone has your back even when you start getting a little cranky.


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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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