T Nation

What Does it Take to Prepare for a Competition?

Gents,

I’ve been working out since I was about 16 (am 21 now). I started taking my training very seriously around June 2011. I always wanted to be strong, but in the journey to get strong, I got pretty big as well. I’m contemplating competing in bodybuilding this fall, and I was hoping to get some input from those of you who have competed what exactly it takes.

Here are a few of my stats:

Age: 21
Height: 6’4"
Weight: 290
Body Fat: I estimate around 13-15%. It’s hard to tell with calipers when I’m holding so much bloat. I still have some minor abdominal visibility, have some tiny love handles, and am developing a bit of fat in my pecs.

Edit: Just had my roommate do a 7-site caliper test for me. Results after three pinches per site shows 16%.

Best gym lifts (lbs):

Power Clean: 285
Bench: 365
Squat: 455
Deadlift: 580
Press: 230

I’ve been working on dialing in my diet, still getting about 5100 Calories on average a day (carb cycling, so anywhere from 4600-5500 a day).

I want to run a squat intensive cycle before spending the next couple of months working on some of the traditional bodybuilder musts that powerlifting hasn’t built for me (back width, arm size), taking on a 5-6 day bodybuilding split instead of a 3-4 day powerlifting split.

My main concerns are: how do I learn how to pose? Do I need to hire a handler/prep coach for the meet? Am I even big enough to compete? How does tanning/waxing work? Is it really embarrassing wearing those little speedos? Do I need to stuff?

[quote]Obisidian wrote:
Gents,

I’ve been working out since I was about 16 (am 21 now). I started taking my training very seriously around June 2011. I always wanted to be strong, but in the journey to get strong, I got pretty big as well. I’m contemplating competing in bodybuilding this fall, and I was hoping to get some input from those of you who have competed what exactly it takes.

Here are a few of my stats:

Age: 21
Height: 6’4"
Weight: 290
Body Fat: I estimate around 13-15%. It’s hard to tell with calipers when I’m holding so much bloat. I still have some minor abdominal visibility, have some tiny love handles, and am developing a bit of fat in my pecs.

Best gym lifts (lbs):

Power Clean: 285
Bench: 365
Squat: 455
Deadlift: 580
Press: 230

I’ve been working on dialing in my diet, still getting about 5100 Calories on average a day (carb cycling, so anywhere from 4600-5500 a day).

I want to run a squat intensive cycle before spending the next couple of months working on some of the traditional bodybuilder musts that powerlifting hasn’t built for me (back width, arm size), taking on a 5-6 day bodybuilding split instead of a 3-4 day powerlifting split.

Diet really isn’t a huge issue for me, and I’ve gotten down to 5% body fat pretty easily on multiple occasions. My main concerns are: how do I learn how to pose? Do I need to hire a handler/prep coach for the meet? Am I even big enough to compete? How does tanning/waxing work? Is it really embarrassing wearing those little speedos? Do I need to stuff?[/quote]

You’re obvioulsy a big guy at 290 and 6’4. However, if you are actually only 13-15% bf…you would be FUCKING HUGE at this weight and height. My guess is you are at a MUCH higher bf level than you think.

It is super easy to underestimate your bf level, I know I’ve most certainly done it to myself.

What does it take?

Knowledge - There’s a lot to juggle in terms of retaining maximum muscle mass while whittling away bodyfat to levels FAR beyond even that one ‘really ripped dude’ at your gym.

Money - Entry fees, posing trunks, tanning, foods, possibly traveling costs

Fortitude and Discipline - No one around you will give you any slack for screwing up your real life requirements, so don’t think you’ll have an all around excuse if things get too busy. Toughing it out being a real person while also being a competitor ain’t easy.

Balls - Throwing yourself out there against every other guys who is most likely the ‘big’ or ‘ripped’ guy at his own gym is a daunting task indeed. You not only need to have a good outlook on what you’re hoping to get out of it, but you have to be willing to go well beyond what anyone else is doing in their own preps.

S

A picture is worth a thousand words.

[quote]ironmanzvw wrote:

[quote]Obisidian wrote:
Gents,

I’ve been working out since I was about 16 (am 21 now). I started taking my training very seriously around June 2011. I always wanted to be strong, but in the journey to get strong, I got pretty big as well. I’m contemplating competing in bodybuilding this fall, and I was hoping to get some input from those of you who have competed what exactly it takes.

Here are a few of my stats:

Age: 21
Height: 6’4"
Weight: 290
Body Fat: I estimate around 13-15%. It’s hard to tell with calipers when I’m holding so much bloat. I still have some minor abdominal visibility, have some tiny love handles, and am developing a bit of fat in my pecs.

Best gym lifts (lbs):

Power Clean: 285
Bench: 365
Squat: 455
Deadlift: 580
Press: 230

I’ve been working on dialing in my diet, still getting about 5100 Calories on average a day (carb cycling, so anywhere from 4600-5500 a day).

I want to run a squat intensive cycle before spending the next couple of months working on some of the traditional bodybuilder musts that powerlifting hasn’t built for me (back width, arm size), taking on a 5-6 day bodybuilding split instead of a 3-4 day powerlifting split.

Diet really isn’t a huge issue for me, and I’ve gotten down to 5% body fat pretty easily on multiple occasions. My main concerns are: how do I learn how to pose? Do I need to hire a handler/prep coach for the meet? Am I even big enough to compete? How does tanning/waxing work? Is it really embarrassing wearing those little speedos? Do I need to stuff?[/quote]

You’re obvioulsy a big guy at 290 and 6’4. However, if you are actually only 13-15% bf…you would be FUCKING HUGE at this weight and height. My guess is you are at a MUCH higher bf level than you think.

It is super easy to underestimate your bf level, I know I’ve most certainly done it to myself.
[/quote]

As I mentioned, I very well may have inaccurately estimated my body fat. I’m pretty proficient at using skin fold calipers, but like I said, since I’m carrying a significant amount of bloat, it’s difficult for me to get an accurate measurement using calipers. The last time I did a 3-site test, I recorded a body fat of 12%, but I’m rounding up because of the aforementioned factors–and that is also why I mention other factors like abdominal visibility, love handles, etc.

But I am pretty fucking big.

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
What does it take?

Knowledge - There’s a lot to juggle in terms of retaining maximum muscle mass while whittling away bodyfat to levels FAR beyond even that one ‘really ripped dude’ at your gym.

Money - Entry fees, posing trunks, tanning, foods, possibly traveling costs

Fortitude and Discipline - No one around you will give you any slack for screwing up your real life requirements, so don’t think you’ll have an all around excuse if things get too busy. Toughing it out being a real person while also being a competitor ain’t easy.

Balls - Throwing yourself out there against every other guys who is most likely the ‘big’ or ‘ripped’ guy at his own gym is a daunting task indeed. You not only need to have a good outlook on what you’re hoping to get out of it, but you have to be willing to go well beyond what anyone else is doing in their own preps.

S[/quote]

Thanks Stu, your input is always appreciated.

be prepared to be humbled by what you actually look like once weight starts coming off

I think the biggest thing, that stu already mentioned, is to be prepared for a mentally grueling time. FYI no one outside of the bb world cares what you’re doing or going through. You can also pretty much kiss any type of social life you have goodbye.Best of luck.

Obsidian–seen you around the boarfs for a while, and you obviously are pretty commitred to the iron life, in some form or other, so take what i say with a little introspection…

You are likely nowhere near 14% at 290 unless you are both gifted genetically and also using significent amounts of PEDs (i dont have anything against that, so i dont personally care one way or the other). Much more likely you are 20% and what you term bloat is actually fat (particularly around the pecs, which is one of the last places to fatten up on a guy besides triceps). Additionally a 3 site caliper test is not what you want to go by, since it contains in many cases underestimates actual bodyfat. 7 site calipers are significantly more accurate…or DEXA, but of course that is expensive.

Even at 20% however, you would still be monstrous on stage in proper contest shape.

What it takes is a willing mental toughness to grind it out. The big aspect for you is something thst prof X has written about, among others, and that is the psychological trouble you get into watching yourself not being the “big” guy in the room as you watch yourself shrink in the process of getting to contest shape–especially in the mid stages when you aren’t seeing daily i,provement, ypu feel flat, and the scale is shrinking and your clothes fit looser.

You can do it though. It will be good experience regardless of if you go back to powerlifting or not.

I think the biggest thing, that stu already mentioned, is to be prepared for a mentally grueling time. FYI no one outside of the bb world cares what you’re doing or going through. You can also pretty much kiss any type of social life you have goodbye.Best of luck.

I think if you have REALLY got down to 5% ‘multiple’ times in the past, which I doubt, then you’ll have no problem with the prep!

Seriously though, you sound kind of monstrous, I agree a pic would be appreciated

your understanding of BF levels is downright bizarre.

gotten to 5% BF multiple times “pretty easily”

currently 290 low teen BF?

i am sure you are a cool guy so i dont mean to be too harsh but based on your tone alone i would guess your “5%” was more like 12% and your current is more like 25%+.

no doubting you are still a huge guy but it is simply strange to me that people state BF levels which are clearly so wrong. At your “5%” how did this compare to guys in the Mr O? they must look like minus 20% BF in comparison. 5% BF is extremely unnatural your face would be completely sunken and you would be covered head to toe in deep cuts and striations. it is not achieved “pretty easily” lol.

just giving some perspective, you are still a big dude and come across well but you are WAAAAAY off with these %'s

I’m not here to have a debate over my body fat percentage. I did a bod pod test last fall when I was doing a mock prep and was about 5.5% at 234. When I say I dieted down to 5% pretty easily, I meant that in the past three years, I spent 8-12 weeks on a very strict diet, never deviating, and that I hit near 5% for no more than a couple of days. The dieting, while obviously difficult, was not the greatest tragedy that I ever experienced, and at the end of the day, it was pretty easy.

That being said, I admitted from the get-go that my body fat calculations may have been off because skin caliper tests (especially done by oneself) at higher body fat percentages are difficult to perform accurately and often yield inaccurate results (if only because of user error). I say that the extra weight I’m carrying is “bloat” and not “fat” because every time I start dieting down, I lose 8-15 pounds in the first day–unless that’s fat, I’m pretty sure it’s GI content, glycogen, and water.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not raging, and I wholly recognize and appreciate that I may not be as lean as I believe. I have no problem with that at all, and I would much rather be called out than allowed to live in my own delusion, little world.

My current body fat is pretty irrelevant to the OP, though. I will try to find a recent picture, but I would rather not turn this into an RMP thread. If I do post a photo, it will be in a separate subforum.

Thank everyone for your input insofar. If anyone can comment on learning how to pose or give me a rundown of what to expect at a typical day at a show, I would really appreciate it.

unitedfitness.org/INBF_Mandatory_Poses.pdf

^Gives a nice summary of the poses and the rounds. Also, lots of good (and tons of bad) videos online. Best thing I ever did when prepping for my first show as to find a clip of an entire prejudging. I would practice along, holding the poses as long as the competitors did and changing when the judges made their calls several times each week.

Definitely great practice for being onstage under those damn hot lights, squeezing every muscle you’ve got for what seems like hours, while smiling through it all.

S

are you natural?

even at 6’4 234lbs at 5.5% BF at the age of 20 is absolutely monstrous

are you aware a prime arnold was 6’2 240lbs at around 8% BF?

and you’ve put on 60lbs in only a few months?

you have already been vouched for here by a well respected guy so i am not really “calling you out” as is the common parlance in these situations, but I would genuinely be interested in seeing pics as something seems off somewhere.

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
unitedfitness.org/INBF_Mandatory_Poses.pdf

^Gives a nice summary of the poses and the rounds. Also, lots of good (and tons of bad) videos online. Best thing I ever did when prepping for my first show as to find a clip of an entire prejudging. I would practice along, holding the poses as long as the competitors did and changing when the judges made their calls several times each week.

Definitely great practice for being onstage under those damn hot lights, squeezing every muscle you’ve got for what seems like hours, while smiling through it all.

S[/quote]

Thanks Stu, great link!

[quote]yolo84 wrote:
are you natural?

even at 6’4 234lbs at 5.5% BF at the age of 20 is absolutely monstrous

are you aware a prime arnold was 6’2 240lbs at around 8% BF?

and you’ve put on 60lbs in only a few months?

you have already been vouched for here by a well respected guy so i am not really “calling you out” as is the common parlance in these situations, but I would genuinely be interested in seeing pics as something seems off somewhere. [/quote]

I thought Arnold was a bit bigger when he competed; I was under the impression he was about 235 on stage. I could be wrong. That being said, I’m pretty sure there’s a pretty big difference in being 5-6% at 230 pounds (especially at my height) and STAGE READY at 230 pounds. I might have incorrectly stated my weight at the time of measurement, but 230-235 is honestly what I remember weighing around that point.

I just had my roommate do a 7-site caliper test for me (he’s pretty good at it), and after three pinches, the result was 16%. New numbers are reflected in the OP. Again, thanks everyone for pointing out that my body fat estimations might be inaccurate, but if anyone has input particular to competition prep, that’s really what I’m trying to learn about: mental preparation before the tournament, final dietary tweaks in the last weeks before the show, etc.

[quote]Obisidian wrote:

[quote]yolo84 wrote:
are you natural?

even at 6’4 234lbs at 5.5% BF at the age of 20 is absolutely monstrous

are you aware a prime arnold was 6’2 240lbs at around 8% BF?

and you’ve put on 60lbs in only a few months?

you have already been vouched for here by a well respected guy so i am not really “calling you out” as is the common parlance in these situations, but I would genuinely be interested in seeing pics as something seems off somewhere. [/quote]

I thought Arnold was a bit bigger when he competed; I was under the impression he was about 235 on stage. I could be wrong. That being said, I’m pretty sure there’s a pretty big difference in being 5-6% at 230 pounds (especially at my height) and STAGE READY at 230 pounds.[/quote]

arnold never once ever competed at 5-6% BF lol never mind less which you seem to be inferring

you have no concept of how lean 5% BF actually is it seems.

guys known for bone dry conditioning at a very high international level MIGHT get to this low a % for a few hours on the day of a top level contest - generally as a result of HUGE abuse of drugs and diuretics and many weeks of BRUTAL dieting

i am pointing this out as i feel it is highly relevant in such discussions on a BB forum and should not just be accepted as gospel as it would be on some dumb mens fitness site “i heard hugh jackman is like 1% BF” etc

/end pointless rant

good luck with your prep

Jesus christ, guys. Just give the guy some contest prep advice.

[quote]LankyMofo wrote:
Jesus christ, guys. Just give the guy some contest prep advice. [/quote]

This, please. I’m trying to be civil, and I’ve repeatedly conceded criticism just to bring the thread back onto rails.