Contest Mentality: The Way to Survive Contest Preparation


This post is sure to rile up some people and make others cheer, but what I am about to say needs to be said. I have worked with people preparing for bodybuilding contests for the past 2 years. During that time I have come up with some interesting thoughts about how different people handle contest preparation.

It Is Your Choice

Each person embarking on a contest preparation cycle has made that choice on their own. Nobody forced them to consider competing. You might not realize that many of these people complain through the entire process. I have heard so much complaining that I have often wondered why these people do contests at all.

When you make a choice to do something then just shut up and do it. Whining isn’t the correct approach at all when you’ve made a personal choice. Buckle down and get the work done. You made the choice now live with it.

Is It Really That Difficult?

Contest preparation is all about mental toughness. When you tell yourself that it can be done then it gets done. This is truly a case of mind over matter. Is it really that difficult?

People who want to do a bodybuilding competition are likely already lifting weights. That means all they need to buckle down on is diet. So they will have to focus on macronutrients and calories. What’s the big deal?

How to Survive Contest Preparation

After the above discussion I wanted to present my list of 6 tips on how to survive contest preparation.

  • Do not complain. You made the choice to do this so just go ahead and do it. Complaining not only annoys other people, but it sets you up for failure.
  • Get someone to hold you accountable. I personally use a contest preparation coach for this. They will check in with you on a regular basis and make sure you are getting the job done.
  • Plan out the entire preparation cycle. This means plan your workouts (weight and cardio) and your meal plans ahead of time for the entire cycle. If you are doing a 12 week cycle be sure to have 12 weeks of a plan all written out.
  • Stick to the plan the entire preparation cycle. Once you have your plan in place stick to it. The plan only works if you work the plan.
  • Set goals for the entire cycle as well as parts of the cycle. Having goals helps you measure your own progress. Set a goal for the entire cycle (like a body fat percentage goal, a weight goal, etc.). Then set smaller goals for each week of the preparation cycle.
  • Enjoy the process. This might have been better suited next to “do not complain” but I wanted them at the opposite ends of the list for a reason. I think that once you make the choice to do a show you should enjoy the entire process. Immerse yourself in what you are doing and find enjoyment in the process.

Get the Bug

By taking control of the mental game around the contest preparation cycle hopefully you will catch the bug. You will continue to refine your physique and step on stage many more times.

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