Training for a Fitness Competition: Women
It seems like everyone knows a woman from high school that has done a fitness competition and become a bodybuilding woman. You might be curious and wonder if you’ve got what it takes, too. If you already assume you could do a fitness competition next week with little to no prep, you might need to take a step back. Just because you lift weights and use supplements does not mean you’re ready. A lot more preparation goes into a fitness competition than you may think. Bodybuilding women spend thousands of dollars on coaches, gyms, and supplements, and countless blood, sweat, and tears building their physical and mental strength to step on stage for a fitness competition - it is not for the faint of heart.
What is a Fitness Competition?
Unlike other sporting events, fitness competitions are not a display of participant's athletic abilities. Instead, they display the efforts that went into the participant's physique up until that day. There are many different categories of women’s bodybuilding from which to choose. Still, all categories involve stripping down to attire that shows off your body and performing in one way or another on stage. Athletes are then judged based on their physiques and overall presence and ranked.
What are the Categories of Bodybuilding Women?
Bodybuilding women choose from a variety of categories, with new categories popping up all the time. If you don't see one that looks appropriate for you, have faith that there will be a category for your body one day.
- Women’s Physique
- Women’s Bodybuilding
Bikini Competition -
The most popular women’s bodybuilding category is the bikini category. The bikini division was created in 2010 and has grown and expanded every year since. Bikini competitors are:
- Smaller in frame with a slim midsection
- Perform on stage in a more fluid, less posed way
- Physically toned, but not as muscular as the other women’s bodybuilding divisions
Figure Competition -
Women who compete in the figure division are typically:
- Lean and defined, with a focus on the V taper with broader, defined shoulders, a slim waist, and lean legs
- A moderate amount of muscle with some visible muscle striations
- Perform on stage with mandatory poses
Fitness Competition -
A unique category, the fitness division involves competitors to perform a routine involving the inclusion of these mandatory moves:
- High kicks
- Side splits
Women’s Physique -
The second most extreme category of women’s bodybuilding, these women have:
- Exceptionally lean and defined muscular build
- Focus on the V taper with broad shoulders and a slim waist
- A large amount of muscle with some visible muscular striations
- Perform on stage with mandatory poses
Women’s Bodybuilding -
The most extreme female category, women compete on:
- The most defined, muscular look possible
- The V taper with very broad shoulders and lats, and a slim waist
- The most extreme amount of muscle with the most visible muscle striations
- Compete on stage with mandatory poses
The answer about which women’s bodybuilding category you'd like to compete in is personal; you must unbiasedly consider your own body and determine which category is appropriate. If your goal is to compete in a physique competition, but you have trouble building muscle, you can work your way there, but it will take considerable time.
It’s essential to be realistic when choosing a fitness competition category. There’s a reason the bikini competition category is the most popular. Bikini is closest to society’s idea of what a woman should look like and most women’s ideal physique (regardless of if that is right or wrong), but it is also the easiest to achieve as far as the amount of lean muscle. Due to natural female hormones, it is harder for women to gain muscle than men. Notice we said harder, but not impossible. If you want to compete in a more muscular category, you should! Just prepare for a long road ahead of you.
Assuming you are going to start with a bikini competition, even if the ultimate goal is physique or women’s bodybuilding, let’s talk about how to prepare.
Are You Ready for a Bikini Competition?
There are aspects to consider before you jump into your first bikini competition. You have to consider where you are physically, but there are other things to consider, as well.
Are you mentally prepared?
Again, the grueling workouts and strict meal plan you must follow to achieve the desired physique for a bikini competition is not for the faint of heart. If you are not in a good place emotionally, you should not consider taking on such an extreme sport that pushes your mind even harder than your body. It’s essential to have a close support team, so whether that’s a supportive partner or the bikini competition team you join, make sure you have your people.
If the people closest to you don’t understand what you’re doing, or actively try to dissuade you, it might become challenging to continue to push yourself. You also need to consider that it can be a lonely time if all of your friends tend to go out for meals and drinks, as you likely won’t be able to cheat on your meal plan. Consider what the isolation might do to your mental health, especially if you’re not already in a decent spot.
Ultimately, if you have an excellent support system and can afford some short-term isolation for the reward of walking on stage and looking as physically fit as you ever have, you’re on your way to checking all the boxes.
Check your motivation.
Now is the time you need to look deep inside and determine why. Why are you interested in training for and competing in a bikini competition? Be honest with yourself, because the answer to this question will ultimately determine whether you can do this in a healthy way. Are you thinking, “because I want to achieve my ideal body, and this will force me to?”
If that’s your answer, walk away. Understand that the way women look when they compete in bikini competitions is not realistic or sustainable to maintain forever. Women’s bodies require more body fat to function. The chances are that if this is the answer behind your motivation, you could end up developing an eating disorder and ruining your relationship with food and fitness.
On the other hand, if your motivation is something like, “I want to test my motivation and fitness level, and see what happens,” you might be in a better place to consider training for and competing in a bikini competition and using it as a positive growth experience.
Is your body ready physically?
Your body will go through a lot in the months of training for a bikini competition. You will be in the gym five to six days a week, and you will be strictly watching your caloric intake every day for four or more months. Consider your body right now. Do you have a lingering injury preventing you from lifting heavy? Do you have a medical condition that could worsen with added stress or a change in your diet and workout routine?
Every person will face obstacles when they train for a fitness competition. Still, some conditions may mean you put your dreams of competing on the back burner and focus on healing, while others mean you might have to train for a little longer while you nurse your injury.
Do you have the time?
Training for a bikini competition will become a second job. On top of your workouts, you will have to plan and cook your meals, meet with coaches, and eat your meals on a schedule. If you’re extremely busy at work, or already have a hard time squeezing in your workouts, you might not have the time to train for a bikini competition.
Are you in a good financial spot?
On top of registration fees, training for a bikini competition is costly. Consider that you will be paying for:
- Membership fees for the fitness organization
- Gym fees
- Fitness coach, dietician, posing coach
- Food and supplements
- Bikini, shoes, jewelry
- Travel expenses
- Tanning, hair, and makeup
- A photographer
How do you feel about performing on stage?
If you can overcome all that we’ve mentioned, you still have to get up on stage, in an itty-bitty bikini, in front of a bunch of strangers who will judge you on your body. You also have to do all of it in heels. Everyone gets nervous about getting on stage, but if you know that you can’t handle it, or more importantly, that you don’t want to do it, then a bikini competition is not for you. There are supplements for just about everything, but fighting stage fright isn’t one of them.
The dark side of fitness competitions.
Many people have positive experiences competing in women’s bodybuilding and bikini competitions, but the hard fact is that several people do not. There are countless stories of bikini competitors who became obsessive about their workouts and diets, and after competitions, they could not stop eating. Whether or not a bikini competition will be a positive or negative experience depends on your personality, goals, and motivation. Women’s bodybuilding is an extreme sport, so consider the following factors and take warning:
- Do you have an addictive personality?
- Do you have a healthy relationship with food?
- Do you love and respect your body in all shapes and sizes?
If your answers are no, yes, and yes, you might be able to take on a bikini competition challenge in a fun, light-hearted way. If you check off all the boxes and you’re still excited about competing, the next step is to find an organization and show you’d like to compete.
Pick and Research a Bodybuilding Organization
There are many different fitness organizations from which to choose. Each has its own rules, regulations, and standards. Consider the following organizations, do some research, and determine which sounds right for you.
Check out the organizations’ rules on supplements, bikini attire, shoes, etcetera.
Pick a Date
Once you’ve determined the organization you’d like to do your first bikini competition with, pick a show and register. Consider where you are right now, and how long you will need to train and put your best foot forward. If you’re unsure, you might want to begin working with a coach first. They can help you decide how much time you need to prepare.
If you are not working with a coach, and are already reasonably physically fit, pick a bikini competition four to twelve months away. If you are not where you’d like to be physically or recovering from a minor injury, you might want to choose a show farther than twelve months away. But selecting a date and registering is a great way to commit and become a true bodybuilding woman.
Determine your Plan for Bodybuilding
Now that you’ve picked your show, you need to get serious about your plan. Are you going to train for your bikini competition all on your own? It's possible, but it can be challenging. Are you going to hire a fitness trainer? Be sure to hire one that works with bodybuilding women.
If you don’t know much about nutrition, consider hiring a dietician. Registered dieticians are the only regulated nutrition body in Canada. Steer clear of “nutritionists,” as they are not regulated and have no governing body. You might want to look for a dietician that has worked with bodybuilding women in the past.
It would help if you also consider working with a posing coach. These coaches will help you learn how to walk in heels, pose appropriately for your organization, and build the confidence you need to step on stage.
Training for a Women’s Bodybuilding Competition: Dieting
Your diet is arguably the most important challenging part of training for a bikini competition. When you’re coming up with your meal plan, you will likely eat the same or similar things every day, and you will be either breaking even with your calories or in a deficit. For these reasons, we highly recommend a daily supplement regimen. Supplements will help meet any nutritional gaps in your diet and help you meet your macro goals.
Consider the following daily staples while you train for your bikini competition:
- Multivitamin supplement
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplement
- Probiotic supplement
- Protein supplement - low carb
- Protein supplement - meal replacement
Optional supplement additions for added support:
Other Considerations for a Women’s Bodybuilding Competition
We’ve covered the basics of getting ready and building a plan to compete in a women’s bodybuilding bikini competition. Some other things worth considering in the early stages of planning are:
- Your workout plan
- The essential bikini competition details: your bikini, the tan, your hair, makeup, jewelry, and heels. Get your heels early on, so you can break them in and practice walking in them.
- Peak week - the week leading up to your women’s bodybuilding event
- A packing list for your women’s bodybuilding event
- The night before your competition - usually involves eating something sweet to pump up your muscles
- The itinerary for the day of your women’s bodybuilding event, and how to get a pump before you step on stage
Women’s bodybuilding is no joke. It's a serious sport that requires money, time, hard work, and extreme dedication. This guide is your first step if you're ready to take on your first bikini competition and become a bodybuilding woman. The rest is up to you. Remember to have fun! Supplement Superstore is here for all your supplement needs to give your body the nutrients and support it requires to look and feel your best for competition day.
Supplement Superstore offers a selection of high quality, trusted supplement brands for all of the supplements you will need for training for a fitness competition and life afterward.