Posted on April 27, 2016 at 12:00 AM

You have lifted rigorously for a number of years.  Your physique has changed with those years of lifting as has your knowledge and interest in taking your lifting experience to the next level; the only thing holding you back now is knowing how to get started!  Once you have crossed that imaginary threshold and decided that you are physically and mentally ready to step onto a stage or platform it is now time to make your “blueprint”.  Some of the issues you will have to consider include:

  1. What organization do you want to compete in?  There are numerous organizations that sponsor power lifting and just as many for bodybuilding.  Do some research to determine which one is right for you.  Some things to consider when making this choice include:

    1.  The rules for each different organization (you can usually find this out online).

    2. The quality of show. Find out what people say about it (word of mouth).  If there are people in your gym who compete in different organizations ask for their opinion (some organizations are not nearly as professional as others).

    3.  Find out if an organization hosts enough shows or events in your competing area to allow you to compete as often as you hope to (online schedule of events will help answer this).

  2. Establish a training timeline leading into the event.  Power lifters for example, need plenty of time to practice and work with pause benches, deepen squat levels if necessary, possibly bring their deadlift up a few pounds or even determine which weight class they want to compete in.  Bodybuilders also want plenty of time - usually 12-16 weeks depending on conditioning levels going into prep - for dieting, posing practice, and contest conditioning.  Whatever timeline you establish, make sure to leave yourself plenty of time – better to be ready early than scrambling in the end. 

  3. Once you have committed to competing – send your entry fee check ASAP.  It is easier to commit wholeheartedly to a contest and contest prep once you have made a financial commitment.  Sending the check and entry form locks you into the idea of continuing with your prep and makes it harder to back out when things get a little rough.

  4. Make all contest arrangements early – waiting until the last moment leaves you stressed at a time when you might already be stressed from prep.  Things to consider:  

    1. Hotel reservations (if needed)

    2. Membership cards (most are available at registration)

    3. Check in times for the contest (some require you to be there the day/evening before which may possibly require you to ask for time off of work)

    4. Schedule and order of events for the day of competition.    

  5. Organize yourself.  Make sure that everything you will need is packed away in an easy to grab container.  Membership cards, birth certificates (if required), lifting suits, wraps, belts, long socks, different shoes for squatting and deadlifting are just a few of the items a power lifter might put in their box.  Bodybuilders might pack posing suits, copies of posing music, extra bed sheets (spray tan on hotel sheets is expensive), extra towels (see previous item), and back stage snacks.  My point being, there are a lot of little things to remember – relieve some of the post week stress by taking care of as many of these things as you can beforehand. 

  6. Go and compete!  You are ready and have earned the right to compete - now go have fun!  While you are there, learn as much as you can - fellow competitors have much to offer.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions at the appropriate times, most people are more than willing to help. Lastly, behave in a manner that represents you in the best possible light.  At some point in time everyone has been red lighted for a lift they thought was legal or placed below a competitor that they thought they had beaten. Remember that what is done is done and acting a fool won’t change it.  Learn from it and be more prepared next time.

I hope that some of these tips are beneficial as you transition from a gym lifter to a competitor.  Competition has much to offer as it sharpens your training and your accountability.  Don’t let the little things hold you back.

A special thanks goes out to PEAK ATP for allowing me to write this article.  PEAK ATP is a terrific supplement backed by terrific people! 

- Tim Nassen


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