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Training for a Fitness Competition Men Article

Training for a Fitness Competition: Men

If you’ve been in the gym for years now and you’re starting to find the whole thing rather monotonous, why not introduce a new challenge? Take your training to the next level and push yourself mentally and physically by entering the world of bodybuilding and training for a figure competition.

What is a Figure Competition?

A physique or figure competition is a bodybuilding competition for men and women comprising of various categories to showcase participant’s super-fit bodies. Each category involves wearing a teeny swimsuit and stepping on stage to perform a series of mandatory poses and then be ranked by bodybuilding judges.

What are the Categories of Bodybuilding?

Back view of man in tank top and shorts flexing

Bodybuilding women have more categories to choose from with varying amounts of lean muscle mass. Men typically can choose from two bodybuilding categories:

  • Bodybuilding
  • Physique

Both bodybuilding and physique categories in a figure competition are looking to showcase the perfect physique. One that shows off muscle, body shape, symmetry, and balance. The difference between the two categories is mostly in the amount of muscle. 

Bodybuilding Competition

The oldest category of figure competitions, bodybuilding dates back to the 1930s. Judges of a bodybuilding figure competition are looking for:

Man standing next to barbell and rack in gym
  1. Muscle mass - there’s no such thing as “too big” in bodybuilding.
  2. Symmetry - the proportional balance of opposite body parts, such as shoulders to calves, chest to quads, and torso to hips.
  3. Definition and separation - the distinct detail between muscle groups.

Men in the bodybuilding category are required to wear male posing trunks. 

Physique Competition

The physique category is the less muscular option in a figure competition for men. Judges of this category are looking for:

  1. Symmetry as defined above
  2. Definition as described above
  3. The muscularity of the upper body, with less emphasis on the legs
Man flexing arms while directing them up

The physique category is more about aesthetics than sheer muscle mass, and men are required to wear board shorts.

Should you decide to take on the challenge of bodybuilding, the first step is deciding which category best suits you. Do you already have a ridiculous amount of muscle mass? Bodybuilding is the right category for you. If you’re leaner, but still have a fair amount of muscle mass, you’re probably better suited for the physique category.

Are You Ready for a Competition?

We talked about adding a new challenge and goal to fire up that motivation that you might be lacking in the gym, but are you ready to dive into bodybuilding and figure competitions? There are several areas that you should consider before you take the plunge.

  • Is your body ready physically? You should be in decent physical shape before you consider a figure competition and plan on training for anywhere from four to twelve months beforehand, depending on your current body fat percentage. You need to be lean to step on stage, and that takes time and cardio. If you’re recently coming off an injury or illness, it’s probably not the right time to begin a bodybuilding training regimen.
Two hands gripping each other while shaking hands in gym
  • Check your motivation. Why do you want to begin bodybuilding? You need a good answer here because a half-hearted, “it sounds fun,” is not going to help you push through training and dieting when times get tough, and you’re considering throwing in the towel.
  • Are you mentally and emotionally prepared? Speaking of when the training gets tough, consider where you’re at mentally and emotionally. Do you struggle when you don’t get to go out with your friends regularly? Because news flash, your friends are still going to go out for dinner and to the bar while you’re at home counting your macros. If this is the case, consider joining a figure competition team, so you can build relationships with people going through the same thing you are. One of the most critical factors in your success will be your support team, so make sure you’ve got someone on which to lean.
  • Do you have the time? Training for a figure competition is mentally and physically demanding and becomes a second job. Aside from grueling workouts and time in the gym, consider the time you will be meeting with coaches, practicing posing, meal planning, prepping, and eating.
  • Are you in a good financial spot? Bodybuilding costs money. Not only will you have to pay for membership fees and registration to the figure competition, but you also have to pay for:
Man in v position doing sit up with weight
  • Food and supplements
  • Gym membership
  • Coach and trainer fees
  • Figure competition outfit
  • The tan
  • Travel expenses
  • How do you feel about performing on stage? Once the hard part of dieting and training is done and over with, you still have to face stepping on stage and performing for judges. Do you have what it takes?

Pick and Research a Bodybuilding Organization

After you’ve determined whether you’re ready to compete in your first figure competition and decided if you’re going to compete in bodybuilding or physique, you need to select with which organization you’d like to compete.

Choose from the following bodybuilding organizations:

Check out the organizations’ rules on supplements, competition attire, poses, etcetera.

Pick a Date

Marking date on calendar with pencil

Next, select the figure competition date. Give yourself ample time to properly prepare, anywhere from four to twelve months from now. If you’re not sure how long it will take to get your body figure competition ready, plan to speak to a competition coach before selecting your show. Work with a trainer that has worked with bodybuilding in the past.

Determine Your Plan

Triangle that says "Idea, Plan, Action" on each side

Even if you’ve been in the gym for years and are reasonably certain you know what you’re doing, you might want to consider hiring a professional trainer to help you prepare for a figure competition.

Other professionals you might want to hire to make sure you’re on the right path for your bodybuilding competition are a dietician and a posing coach. Dieticians, specifically those who have worked with bodybuilding before, can help you construct a personalized nutrition plan to meet your goals in a reasonable timeframe while making sure you do it healthfully and don’t ruin your relationship with food, or your metabolism in the process.

Training for a Bodybuilding Competition: Dieting

Aside from the workouts, your diet is the most essential and challenging part of training for a figure competition. When you and your dietician are coming up with your meal plan, you will likely eat the same things every day, with little variation. To get lean, you will be breaking even with your calories or in a caloric deficit. For these reasons, a daily supplement regimen is essential for training for a figure competition. Supplements help meet any nutritional gaps in your diet from eating similar things for four months or more and help you reach your macro goals. Consider the following supplements your daily staples while you train for your figure competition:

1. Multivitamin supplement

Opti-Men Vitamin Multivitamin Supplement Superstore

Multivitamins are one of those supplements we suggest for everyone, not just those training for figure competitions. Multivitamins are a great way to give your body a daily dose of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals without worrying about tracking each and every one.

Supplement Superstore’s recommendation: Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men a complete multivitamin designed for men that includes antioxidants, minerals, amino acids, and over twenty fruit and vegetable concentrates.

2. Omega-3 fish oil supplement

Allmax Omega 3 Supplement Superstore

Omegas are another supplement beneficial to almost everyone, with a vast list of health benefits from heart health to joint and skin health.

Supplement Superstore’s recommendation: Allmax Omega-3 healthy fats are delivered without the fishy smell and aftertaste. Sourced from deep ocean cold-water fish processed in a licensed facility.

3. Probiotic supplement

Silver Lining Pre & Probiotics + Digestive Enzymes Gut Health Supplement Superstore

Probiotics help to keep your digestive tract regulated and in tip-top shape. They also boost your immune system and help fight off illness. You can suffer huge setbacks in your training plan if you come down with a bought of the flu.

Supplement Superstore’s recommendation: Silver Linings Pre and Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes. This probiotic contains fifty billion active cells to support your immune system with no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives.

4. Protein supplement - low carb

Allmax Isoflex Whey Protein Powder Supplement Superstore

Dependent upon your macros, you will likely need a protein shake with minimal carbs for immediately post workout, or when you need more protein, but nothing else.

Supplement Superstore’s recommendation: Allmax Isoflex. A great tasting whey protein isolate with 110 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate, 27 grams of protein, and zero added sugar. Isoflex has a fantastic taste and the highest quality ingredients available. Available for purchase in two or five-pound containers.  Isoflex comes in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, banana, orange dreamsicle, cookies and cream, chocolate mint, chocolate peanut butter, cinnamon French toast, birthday cake, caramel macchiato, pineapple coconut, or unflavored.

5. Protein supplement - meal replacement

Mammoth Meal Meal Replacement Powder Protein Supplement Superstore

If you often struggle to hit your protein and carbohydrate goals, a meal replacement protein shake is a great way to hit those goals and fill you up.

Supplement Superstore’s recommendation: Mammoth Meal. Easy dosed for building your perfect meal replacement and banned substance-free, this is the best meal replacement on the market. Mammoth Meal is also free of peanuts, gluten, soy, and artificial colours. Each scoop includes 100 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of protein, and just 1 gram of sugar. Scoop up to four scoops into a single serving. Mammoth Meal is known for its great-tasting flavours, and it comes in chocolate fudge brownie, vanilla ice cream, and strawberry shortcake.

Optional supplements for added support:

1. BCAA supplement

AminoCore BCAA Allmax Supplement Superstore

BCAA supplements work to support your lean muscle mass through calorie deficits, and the tough workouts you will undoubtedly face when you’re training.

Supplement Superstore’s recommendation: Allmax Aminocore BCAA. Free from fillers, sugars, and non-BCAA amino acids, this BCAA supplement is available in 30 or 90 servings with a scoop-lock lid.

2. Pre-workout supplement

Prophecy Pre-Workout ANS Performance Supplement Superstore

Pre-workout supplements fire you up, give you a burst of energy, and help you push yourself to achieve maximum effort and maximum results from your workout sessions.

Supplement Superstore’s recommendation: ANS Performance Prophecy. Clinically dosed ingredients to deliver a superior pump, focus, and energy.

3. Diuretic supplement for the day of the figure competition

WaterTight Diuretic PVL Water Weight Loss Supplement Superstore

Check with your organization’s particular rules regarding supplementation, but a diuretic is a great tool to have in your back pocket on competition day. Diuretics help you shed excess water weight and get you the look of tight skin over hard muscles.

Supplement Superstore’s recommendation: PVL Watertight. Works in as little as three days, and one of the most popular diuretics on the market.

The Benefits of Competing in a Figure Competition

Once you’ve overcome every obstacle and put your motivation and dedication to the ultimate test, you get to step on stage and show off all you’ve worked for. There is truly nothing like the buzz you get from competing.

You will feel a sense of pride that you did what many set out to do, and fail. You will have your dream body, and you will learn more about yourself and your body than you can in any other way. Through training and competing, you will likely make meaningful relationships and friendships and get to know yourself on a deeper level.

Man with hand and knee one bench while curling dumbbell

If you succeed, you could earn trophies, cash, sponsorships, advertising, and even supplement deals. You could even earn your pro-card and start a career in the fitness industry.

Even if you don’t succeed in your first figure competition, you still reap many of the benefits mentioned above. Even if you decide never to step foot on a stage again, you will have done something extremely challenging. Something that many people wish to do, but can’t push themselves to go all the way. Bodybuilding is to recreational weight lifting what marathons are to recreational running. The ultimate test. Do you have what it takes?

Supplement Superstore is passionate about helping all our customers reach their goals. We offer a wide selection of the most trusted brands in the supplement industry, and we love to talk about health and fitness. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us if you have questions regarding workouts, supplements, or competing in figure competitions.

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