T Nation

When and How to Start Competing?

I’m a few weeks from finishing my diet, and after following many contest preps over the years have always had it in my head that I want to compete in bodybuilding at some point. I don’t think that point is now necessarily, since I’m 6 ft 2 and currently a pretty lean 173 lbs. I don’t really know how much more I would have to lose to be contest ready but as objective as I can be and from reading through a bunch of prep threads on here, I would GUESS 10ish more pounds to give me a shot at being the level of leanness guys like brick, rob, and stu have brought to the stage.

Which at 6 ft 2 with long limbs, low to mid 160’s isn’t exactly packed with muscle and while experience is invaluable I also know if I did do a contest at mid 160’s I have no realistic chance at competing for a top spot. A former poster pwolves on here a couple years ago was about my height and competed (at a show I would consider doing actually) mid 170’s if I recall correctly. He did well, but he was outsized by a couple of other guys in the tall division.

Basically, at best I’m a year or 2 away from any competing. But I wanted to ask, how do you know you’re ready? How do you find out if you’re going to be able to be competitive? I found a youtube video for a competition in my area from last year, do you go off that essentially? What’s the process for getting started competing?

I used to go through old magazines and find guys similar to my height, trying to gauge dimensions and if I would be In a similar league in Contest condition.

With social media, I’m sure there’s plenty of exaggeration going on, but knowing the basic weight limits of different federations can be useful.

At 5’8 I knew I’d have to be between lightweight, middle and light heavy. 150–165, -176, and 190+ respectively



Thanks for mentioning me. There’s a guy Cliff Wilson who won a natty pro card at 160-something at like 6 feet and change, if I recall correctly. The guy is VERY dedicated and although he has some strengths and good condition, some think he came in too stringy and looked like a professional dieter rather than a pro BBer. But as far as BB I respect him a lot because he is dedicated and busted his ass. So you never know what hat will happen in what contest, but obviously you prefer to have some mass.

As far as knowing when you’re ready, I don’t want to sound silly or open ended, but you’ll know when you look like a BBer! It’s the same concept regarding fat. Like when people ask what bf percentage one should be, it’s really as simple as looking in a mirror. If someone looks fat, they are too fat. And when someone looks like a BBer, they’re ready.

Go up to an experienced BBer and ask him if you’re ready or how much work you need. That’s the best thing you can do for your inquiry. As much as forums like TN are great, they cannot substitute socializing with other BBers. It just can’t. My friend Josh got his ANBF pro card this past Saturday. When I met him in the gym last year, he had no idea what to do. I told him, “look, I’ll introduce you to my friends and you will learn how to go about this.” Months later he dieted, learned the poses, and got on a stage.

When I got ready for my show, I’d travel to the Mecca of the East, Bev Francis Powerhouse, for some of my workouts. Why? Because I thought that although I’m not a top IFBB pro, I want to be on “the inside”, and although I’m not Dorian Yates, I wanted to be the most psycho BBer that I could be personally. And if I was the lowliest BBer l in the whole gym, so be it! I’d rather be a lowly natty BBer at Bev’s than a decent BBer in a gym with no BBers at all.

You know what I’m saying? If you want to compete you need to hang with competitors. They’ll let you know what’s up and how to go about it. You might have to hire one too for your first prep as well.


Appreciate the responses! I’ll keep the suggestions in mind over the next year or two, hopefully I’ll be able to get to the point within the next couple years when I start to feel like I’m ready. At least after this diet I have a rough idea of about what weight I would currently come in at so I can use that to measure progress. In the meantime I’ll check out some competitions and see how competitors are broken up and see if I can’t find some guys who compete around me and pick their brain a little.

As for hiring a experienced coach for my first prep, I currently see myself doing that. I understand dieting pretty well but as I’m stalling here at 173 and knowing I will absolutely be clueless on posing, competition day, and the last few weeks of dieting I can see how an experienced coach would drastically improve my experience

Thanks as always!

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It all depends what you are trying to accomplish by getting on stage. It has been 5 months since I was last on stage and just now I have a bit of clarity on the whole thing! I wanted to be competitive and look like I deserve to be up there and I accomplished my goal. I still apply a lot of what I learned from my coach @The_Mighty_Stu to every day life to stay lean while enjoying good eats with the lady. My one recommendation would be hiring a coach you trust who will help YOU be the best version of YOU. If all the coach needs is your height, weight, and a picture to write you out your prep then chances are you are going to get a generic “one size fits all plan”. Also keep in mind when you get down to the single digit body fat percentages everything will be exposed so my one recommendation is to really look in the mirror and see what needs work before you decide to prep because once you are shredded you cannot hide any weaknesses.

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