Prepared to compete?

13 August 2014

It was suggested to me by a fellow competitor that it would be a good idea to have a blog article explaining what we have to go through to prepare for a contest.

Do you feel that you have the time and dedication to give it a go?

Is it something you would even consider doing?

I’ve put down some things I think might be helpful to maybe help you to decide.

How long to diet for?
I suppose the first thing to do is some sort of assessment as to where you are, this probably is best done by someone else with an objective eye, who also has also perhaps experience of competing before.

Depending on how much weight you need to lose on average one lb a week weight loss would be a reasonable enough amount as a guide.

The only thing is if you are natural and not on any performance enhancing drugs it can be easy to underestimate how much weight you need to lose to get low enough body fat percentages to appear on stage as some muscle loss is going to be inevitable.

It think it is best therefore to overestimate and allow more time. If you think you need 16 weeks go for 20!

What diet to follow?
When preparing for a competition calories must obviously go into a deficit to drop body fat. When you have an estimate of how much weight is to be lost in your time frame this will affect your calorific intake and nutrient balance.

There may have to be an adjustment to macro-nutrient ratios in terms of carbohydrates fats and protein. Food sources may also have to change and the diet “cleaned up”.

Calorific expenditure and ratios can be worked out using various tools such as:

myfitnesspal – you can also view see in my vodcast how it can be used to add foods, work out calories and adjust ratios.

An online calorie calculator or Katch-Mcardle BMR Calculator can be used to calculate your TDEE (total daily expenditure) BMR (Basal metabolic rate) and BMI (Body Mass Index)

You may also consider having your bodyfat measurements taken by a professional using callipers or even a dedicated bodyfat measuring pod.

There are some excellent websites out there to help you plan your contest diet such as

Mike Matthew’s excellent website, blogs and eBook’s

Layne Norton’s Ultimate Cutting Program…

Mike Westerdal

Cut and Jacked

What type of training?
Some people may claim that weight training needs to switch to high volume workouts to burn more calories but I think it’s better to keep utilising low volume heavy training to maximise muscle retention.

Cardiovascular activity can gradually begin or be increased over the preparation period. I find that high intensity sprinting fasted in the morning before breakfast works best. Slow intensity steady state cardio can also be gradually introduced, for example evening walks. My training methods can be seen in more detail on my training page

As there is to be a calorific deficiency in order to drop bodyfat some supplementation should be taken in order to minimise muscle loss.

Pre cardio or weight training supplementation with Branch Chain Amino Acids, Glutamine, CLA and L-Carnitine that can assist with this.

Creatine should also be taken to enhance workout performance and recovery. Protein supplementation may be required if food intake is below protein requirements.

Fat burning stacks can help you to burn fat faster by elevating your metabolic rate. These
should be taken before your workouts because they have direct beneficial effects on fat burning whilst you exercise. These may not need to be introduced until further in to the diet when plateaus occur in weight loss.

My pre cardio/workout stack for example:

CLA and L-Carnitine Stacked with Extreme Labs Storm T6 or T9 fat burner

Supplementation in more detail can be seen on my supplements page

What competition to enter?
There are several organisations and several categories and this can be a difficult decision to make. At least two competitors I know of in the recent UKBFF NI contest felt that they had entered the wrong category.

Fitness Model
Nowadays there are fitness model organisations that organise contests and these are becoming more popular. Such organisations would be:

NIFMA (Northern Ireland) categories include:

Formal Wear – Mr Athletic -Mr Physique – Mr Muscle – Miss Bikini – Miss Toned – Miss Muscle – Body Art – (all age class)

Age Classes: Under 16s, 18s, 21s Over 21s, 30s, 40s, 50s

Miami Pro categories include:

Muscle Model
Ms. Bikini
Yummy Mums

WBFF Categories include:

Mens Fitness Model
Mens Muscle Model
Mens Bodybuilding
Diva Bikini Model
Diva Fitness Model
Womans Figure


Some bodybuilding organisations are drug tested as being natural, whereas others are not therefore this would need to be taken into consideration when choosing a contest to enter.

Non Natural Organisations

NABBA Categories include:
Master Over 40
Master Over 50
First Timers
Miss Toned
Miss Athletic
Miss Trained
Mr Class 4
Mr Class 3
Mr Class 2
Mr Class 1

UKBFF (IFBB in UK) Categories include:

Men Bodybuilding;–70kg, 80kg, 90kg, 100kg and over 100kg
Beginners Men
Junior Men up to 23 years of age
Master Men over 40years of age
Master Men over 50years of age
Intermediate Men up to 80kg, up to 90kg and over 90kg
Classic Bodybuilding
Men: various height classes
Men’s Physique – Upto 178 cm and Over 178 cm
Women’s Physique – Up to 163 cm and Over 163cm
Body-Fitness – Up to 163 cm and Over 163 cm

Natural Bodybuilding Organisations


Women’s bodybuilding – one class unless 12 entries class split by weight
Masters (male) over 40 over 50
Teen (male) under 20
Junior (male) under 23
Miss figure one class
Masters figure over 40

Men’s Physique and Women’s Bikini classes, qualifier for INBF World Championships.
Men’s Open Bodybuilding,
WNBF Pro Qualifier.

The NBFI promotes the sport of natural bodybuilding in Ireland.


In the weeks coming up to the show tanning beds would be used. Exfoliation and shaving may
be required!

There are several tanning products used by competitors. Some organisers ban the use of DreamTan but Pro Tan, Jan Tana and Dark as can also be used.

Some tanning salons sponsor organisations that are running competitions such as Bronze Tanning who sponsor NIFMA and provide free spray tans for competitors.

This can make a big difference to a competitor’s result if they can look confident and display their physique to best effect. There are some good resources available to give advice on posing and the routine should be well practiced before contest day.

Peak Week
The final week before a contest can make a big difference to how a competitor appears on stage. Many competitors will deplete carbs, manipulate sodium and water in this week and then load up with carbs and drop water later in the week up to the contest.

Some good advice on this from Chris Aceto and Layne Norton on Peak Week.…

Contest day
Most of the hard work is done and it’s time to enjoy the day. Some organisations have pre judging for comparisons early in the day then the competitors have to return later in the evening for individual routines. Some organisations just run their awards through each category.

Some folk back off on the carb loading on contest day and just sip at water and perhaps have rice cakes and honey with dark chocolate or sweets for energy before going onstage. Some competitors may even take some alcohol beforehand to bring out vascularity!

Hopefully some these points may help you to consider deciding if you want to compete – if you want to know more I’m around on my Contact Me page.

Author’s Bio:

My name is Kenny McDowell – 50 years young ! I was fat not so long ago and have in just 2 years transformed my physique from what it was losing 60 lbs on the way to become a champion fitness model. To find out how I did it and see if you can do the same – just visit My Story page.