How to Prepare for Your First Figure Competition


Deciding to participate in a fitness competition is a big step, and knowing what is involved and the level of commitment required will ensure that you are fully prepared and will perform to your highest level. Fitness competitors are athletes in every sense of the word whose training and attention to diet and healthful living is an inspiration to others.

  • Assess your body. Get in front of that full-length mirror and strip down. Or slip into a skimpy bikini and grab the video camera. Analyze yourself from every angle and decide if you have what it takes to get into the kind of shape to allow you to confidently step on stage and strut your stuff. Depending on your aptitude and physique as a female, you can choose from four categories including: the big muscles in the bodybuilding category; feminine muscles and an athletic routine in the fitness category; feminine muscles and no athletic routine in the figure category; and less muscular and more curvy for the bikini category.

  • Choose a contest. The best way to get started is to make a commitment to enter into a local competition. Check out your local National Physique Committee schedule and find one in a convenient location at a date that will give you enough time to prepare properly. You may need a few months or you may need a year, but choosing a contest will light your fire and keep you motivated to train and eat properly. You will need to join the NPC first by applying and paying the annual membership dues. Also, pay attention to the deadline by which each contest must be entered. Usually the contest entry fees must be paid by money order, sometimes by check, and mailed by registered, return receipt. Give yourself and the post office plenty of time.

  • Design your exercise plan. A strength training plan must be designed to challenge each major muscle group appropriately and progressively. In addition, extra attention must be focused on your weak areas. The Body For Life program by Bill Phillips is a workout that will tell you everything you need to know to strength-train properly. Your cardio plan will need to be custom-designed for your unique goals. If your goal is to gain muscle, you may need to curb your cardio slightly because it can burn valuable muscle. If your goal is to decrease body fat, you may need to do double cardio sessions.

  • Design your nutrition plan. The Daily Plate at is a valuable tool in designing your nutrition plan. Based on your size, goals and activity level, it will determine your caloric needs and allow you to easily enter your food journal, providing instant insight into what you are ingesting. This step is crucial to monitor not only your calories, but also your protein, carbohydrate and fat intake as well. The journal provides daily totals in grams and also a pie chart that shows you immediately your percentage of each.

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  • Photo Credit mirror image by Lars Christensen from women silhouettes on golden stage image by dip from healthy nutrition image by Wojciech Gajda from
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