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If you’ve got a great physique, but want to do more than show it off at the gym, then maybe you need to compete. Here’s how you can prepare for your first fitness/figure competition. [Read more]
If you’ve got a great physique, but want to do more than show it off at the gym, then maybe you need to compete. Here’s how you can prepare for your first fitness/figure competition. [Read more]

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If you’ve got a great physique, but want to do more than show it off at the gym, then maybe you need to compete. Here’s how you can prepare for your first fitness/figure competition. By Maria Kang
Photos by Isaac Hinds


Janelle Haney, NPC figure competitor

YOU LOVE FITNESS. You have your intense workouts scheduled
every week. Your “eat clean” diet is dialed in. Your body has undergone some amazing progressions and your abdominal muscles are starting to become visible. In your usual routine, you read through your favorite fitness magazine while performing cardio, and are once again inspired by the physiques of the accomplished athletes who compete in fitness/figure contests. In your head, you feel you’ve always wanted to compete, you think you can compete…but are you ready to compete? In the last decade, Fitness and Figure competitions have made a solid presence into the mainstream. These two contests are similar as they judge participants based upon their muscle symmetry, total body conditioning and stage presence. Unlike traditional bodybuilding contests, fitness and figure competitions are geared towards women who are feminine with a healthy amount of muscle tone. The only difference between the two contests is that besides a swimsuit round, fitness contests require contestants to perform a physically challenging routine as well.

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Choosing a Contest

There are several ways you can research an upcoming contest in a city near you. You can research key words on the Internet, visit a fitness organization’s site, or look at the end of MS&F magazine for the Lindsey NPC schedule for the entire year. While researching is key, the best way to receive any information is to ask someone. Visit your local gyms and Max Muscle stores. Most often, contest promoters will work through these avenues to get marketing materials out to the general population. There are several different organizations you can compete in. Some of the popular ones include the National Physique Committee (NPC), an organization that leads you to an International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) professional card. Receiving a “pro-card” is viewed as a huge athletic accomplishment for those who become professionals and allows them to legitimately call themselves athletes of the bodybuilding sport. Other organizations include the Fitness America Pageant (FAP), which nationally hosts fitness, figure, and model competitions throughout several regions. The Women’s TriFitness (WTF) is a contest that assesses the winner by several measures including a fitness routine, posing round and fitness skills with an additional obstacle course. The organization you make your debut in will depend upon your experience, location and level of athleticism. Equally important, is how far away the next contest will be. Ideally, many competitors choose to train anywhere between 1216 weeks out from competition. This gives them adequate time to mentally and physically prepare for a contest that will definitely challenge their hearts, minds and spirits. As soon as you choose the contest that’s right for you, the next thing to do is take a good look in the mirror.

Assessing Your Physique

Are your shoulders strong and wide? Do you have a small v-taper going down your back? Do your hamstrings match the strength of your quadriceps? These are good questions to honestly ask yourself as you begin conditioning your body to compete with the best bodies in your region. There are several ways to get a good opinion. You can review the past winners and compare your body to theirs. You can ask a personal trainer or close friend to evaluate your physique. You can even take a personal picture and post it on an online fitness forum for open evaluation. In addition to your physique, if you plan on competing in figure, you must also assess your fitness skills. How well can you perform a one-hand pushup, straddle press or high kick? How strong, flexible and dynamic are you? Fitness contests have a much higher physical demand than figure contests. So in addition to the perfect physique, you have to also perform a perfect routine.

Preparing Your Body

Now that you have selected a contest and assessed your physique, the next step is to create a no-fail fitness program that will lead you up to the very day of your competition. Your physical preparation is the first step you will make during your contest preparation. Many competitors use different tools in their program to attain that rock-hard body at the end of 12 weeks. Some people use personal trainers, a nutritionist, a gymnastics coach and a fitness mentor. Other people use the bare minimum of resources. Ultimately, your plan will be dictated by what you need.



Hiring a personal trainer is the first step many people take when beginning a contest-prep program. The trainer you choose will be someone who is experienced in training other competitors and has delivered clients success. Personal trainers are often also used as nutritionists and fitness mentors. They can create a diet, workout and supplement plan that is tailored to the physique you want to achieve in the end. If you are competing in fitness, hiring a dance and gymnastics coach is also a worthy investment as they will help create your fitness routine, choreograph your music and assist in your flexibility, strength and stamina.

Ultra Multivitamin and Max EFA’s. They will also guarantee you are consuming the right supplements according to your specific goals. You may also need additional fat loss supplements like ThermXX to stimulate weight loss and muscle building supplements like Max Creatine to stimulate quality weight gain. Once you’ve got your physical plan worked out, the next step is to prepare yourself mentally for the contest.

the contest and purchase additional tanning lotions to apply the day of the contest. Practice doing your stage make-up and hairstyle and wearing any additional non-distracting jewelry.

Preparing Your Spirit

The best way to prepare for the destination ahead is to see as much as you can of the destination first. Do your due diligence, order last year’s contest video, talk to past competitors and ask the promoter questions. Get a solid idea of what the judges are looking for, what the winners brought to the stage and how the contest day played out. Most importantly, start posing each day in the mirror and in front of qualified people who can give you a reliable opinion. Make sure you have fluid “quarter turns” and keep your chest up and abdominals “drawn tight.” Keep your body firm, but look as equally relaxed in your joints and hands. Maintain a genuine smile and try to keep it consistent for at least 15 minutes. In addition to practicing posing, walking and performing your fitness routine, make sure you are mentally prepared by purchasing all the necessary tools that Janelle Haney at the will keep your mind at NPC Sacramento ease. Buy a one-piece Bodybuilding, Fitness & and two-piece contest Figure Championships suit that will make you in Sacramento on feel beautiful, confident November 1. and fit on stage. If you are competing in fitness, you will need a fitness In addition to your trainers, your local routine costume and additional props if Max Muscle Sports Nutrition stores needed. In addition to your suit, you will are also available to assist with your need “crystal heels” that will elongate diet and supplement plan. They will your legs but not distract from your ensure you are taking the minimum physique. Practice walking gracefully supplementation, which includes Max and confidently on hardwood flooring. High 5 Protein, Max Glutamine, Max Begin tanning at least a month out from

Preparing Your Mind

The entire 12- to 16-week process takes much from you both physically and mentally. There will be times when your body is broken down, your mind becomes weaker and your spirit starts separating from its original goal. There may be times when you don’t feel adequately prepared or feel insecure in your ability to perform on the contest day. Preparing your spirit for the task is as significant as priming your body and mind. You are challenging yourself beyond your current capabilities and will be forced to discipline your desires for an end goal you’ve never seen, felt or been before. Your spirit will manifest itself as the countdown begins towards the last leg of your contest preparation. A week prior to the contest many competitors go through a strict carbohydrate depletion, a diet that restricts all forms of carbohydrates including brown rice, oatmeal and fruits, for a few days to deplete their muscles of glycogen. A couple days pre-contest, they begin to “carb load” and re-fill their flattened muscles with sufficient glycogen that will make their muscles appear fuller and tighter on stage. In addition to manipulating their diet, competitors will also limit their salt and water intake to ensure their body doesn’t look bloated on contest day. In this last week your body and mind will feel drained, but your spirit to win will be the defining deal in this tough time. In the last few months you have transformed yourself physically, mentally and now spiritually. Who you were when you began this journey will be significantly different from the person you become as you end this journey. Janelle Haney, NPC figure competitor and coowner of Powerhouse Rancho Cordova, knows that accomplishment comes from discipline, focus and resilience found during the contest preparation and not always necessarily afterwards. Janelle exclaims, “I’ve always believed that strength does not come from winning, for your strength is developed through your struggles. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” MS&F

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