In this post:
- Choosing a show
- Become a member of that contests affiliate federation
- Register for the contest
Choosing a Show
- Time Frame
- Which federation?
Three main things to consider when choosing a show will be location, date and which federation/ organization that contest is affiliated with.
The date is important as you will need to allow enough time to get into contest shape. You will have to figure out how much fat to lose by figuring out your current body fat and lean body mass, goal body fat percentage based on the division you will compete in and then aim for losing about 1-1.5 pounds per week.
If you need to lose 15 pounds, I would start contest prep about 18-20 weeks out, this gives you wiggle room. Also see: Divisions Explained, My Contest Prep 2015, Weekly Updates and Contest Prep Articles.
Note that pictures will be your best tracking tool along the way. Don’t let the scale frustrate you. See also 7 Reasons Your Body Weight Fluctuates and Build Muscle While Losing Fat, Fact or Fallacy?. Second best tracking tool- dexa scan body fat tests. The most accurate and consistent way to measure body fat and lean mass.
don’t be afraid to take some time to really build muscle so that you will be competitive on stage. Building muscle takes time and is optimal when you are eating enough calories.
Location is important for me as long distance traveling is not ideal with two small children. Also, traveling to shows an hour or more away from home will add to the expense of that show, but, it is really nice staying in the host hotel as the event tanner and check-in is usually at this location.
Some shows have check in the night before the contest, others the morning of at the show venue. This may affect how you travel and plan for a contest. If you use the event tanner, you will need to be sprayed the night before and early the morning of, like at 5AM, plus, you will need to get ready (hair, make up etc.) Driving long distances back and forth can take a toll.
I have, in the past, for shows that were 45-60 minutes away, asked friends that lived close to the contest venue if I could crash at their place or just get ready at their house the morning of a contest after I had been spray tanned. If I was tanned at 5AM, I didn’t want to waste time driving home to get ready. So my friend left the door unlocked to her house, I walked in, got ready and was there when they all woke up. Other times I have gotten ready in the hotels bathroom after being spray tanned at 5AM to avoid driving home. This makes for a long day but I don’t want to have to rush around either. I want to enjoy the day and have time to sit down and relax.
If you are partial to a particular federation (see also- Federations Explained), you can go to their website and see a list of events. If the federation does not matter to you and you know of a contest that is close to you, go for it! You will most likely not find a website with all the bodybuilding shows for your area (which can be annoying, it was for me as a newbie!) because they are associated with differing federations.
It’s easiest to go to a specific federation website and see their list of schedules contest. Once you have chosen a show, make sure you read all the rules and regulations for that organization and contest. Important things to consider are a list of banned substances, suit coverage, jewelry and posing rules. Each federation will have different rules on posing. Attending local bodybuilding show seminars and contacting prep coaches in your area or online is a good place to get started as well.
Each contest you do will be affiliated with a particular federation. Before competing in that show, you will need to be a member of that federation. (See Federations Explained)
I will compete in the NPC Gopher State Classic on April 18th 2015. I must be a member of the NPC federation before I can compete in that show. I went online to their website: NPCNewsonline.com and clicked on Join the NPC Now at the very top. I printed off this form:
and mailed it in with a check for $120. This particular show promoter for the Gopher State will let you register for the NPC membership on the night you check in for the contest. Other contests will not let you do that and you will need your membership card ahead of time. This $120 fee gets you the membership, a few NPC magazines a year and, its only good through December 31st of that year. You will still have to pay the entry fees for the contest of your choice.
I am also competing in an NANBF show this year in May, the Mr and Mrs Natural MN contest on May 15th and 16th. I have to have my membership card ahead of time. I went to NANBF.org, clicked on membership application, I filled out the form online, paid my $62.50 through paypal and hit submit. This membership is good for 1 year from the date I submitted it.
Registering for a Contest
When registering for a contest, most will have applications you can download and submit online or print and snail mail. Deadlines are usually about 1 month from the contest date. The registration documents should state whether or not you need to have a federation membership card prior to the contest or if you can purchase one during check-in the night or week before the contest. If you send in your contest registration late, the cost to enter classes doubles.
You can enter multiple classes (beginner, novice, open, masters) within a division (bikini, figure, fitness, physique) if you qualify.
For example, below is a 3 page entry form for the NPC Gopher State Classic. Say are you a 40 year old woman that has never competed before and would like to do figure for the first time.
You could enter:
- novice figure open
- novice figure masters
- open figure
- 35+ masters figure
- 40+ masters figure
Not all shows offer beginner or novice classes and, even though you qualify for multiple classes, you don’t have to enter all of them. You could choose just one or two if you like. Doing as many classes as checked below can be tiring and expensive. But, it keeps the show moving along as there is a lot of waiting around all day long. Some contests will let you crossover and enter another division as well such as competing in figure and bikini classes or figure and physique at the same contest. You will have to check the rules before entering. For your first contest, you may want to focus on one division and select the classes you would like to enter.