Preparing for Your First Bikini Competition

Soy will have to wait.

My bestie and I were catching up over peppermint tea and dark chocolate (we were chatting on facebook, but a girl can dream) when she mentioned that she wanted to compete in her first bikini competition and asked me to help her out, I gladly agreed. So, I put my metaphorical internet surfing goggles on, cracked my knuckles, and started typing.

As I started collecting information to give to my friend, my good decisions birdie popped up in my head and suggested I make a blog post about preparing for competition. That way, I get to help not just a friend out, but hopefully other people too!

So, without further ado, here it is! The Bikini Competition Guide – A Compilation of Other Peoples Information

Are You Ready for the Prep?

First things first, before you decide to begin your journey to the stage, you need to consider all of the things that go into competing: cost, time, energy, sacrifice, and much more.

Things you’ll need to buy:

  • Bikini
  • Hair and makeup on competition day
  • Spray tan
  • Nails
  • Shoes
  • Registration and competition fees
  • Travel/lodging fees

Another thing to consider are the sacrifices that must be made for success. You’ll have to miss important events, sometimes even holiday celebrations. You will need to push yourself when all you want to do is give up – no one can make this happen for you. You will have to pass up on social events when you think that you might be tempted to go off your diet – and learning to be honest with yourself in this way is one of the most important parts of your training.

I’m not trying to scare you out of competing, I am trying to get you to be realistic. And you don’t need to have it all together at the start. Competition prep is a learning process, and those qualities that will help you succeed are developed just like your muscles are. So, let’s get started then!

The Basics

Here are a list of the basic tips that will make your prep and time on stage go more smoothly. Dualfit.com strongly urged paying the extra money to get a coach. They have experience, will help to keep you accountable, and will help you if the road gets bumpy.

Candice Perfect, with a very appropriate last name, was featured on Fitbodyhype, and her suggestions for new competitors were to practice posing and walking in your heels, pay the extra money to have a professional apply your spray tan, and get a custom bikini that fits your body.

Natalia Muntean has a great competition prep guide on her website that is definitely worth checking out. In this guide, she said this, regarding the look that bikini competitors need to aim for: “Nice and round shoulders, toned arms, flat stomach with 4-pack showing, no hard abs muscles, very firm glutes and sculpted legs. That being said, you still need to maintain a very feminine figure. Therefore – no dry veiny skin, no dehydrated look and no exhaustion on your face.

So, in summary:

  • Pay the extra price for a coach.
  • Practice your posing and walking – be confident on stage.
  • Get a custom bikini and professional spray tan.
  • Aim for a muscular, feminine look that is not dehydrated or tired.

The Timeline

Stephanie, from Beautiful to the Core posted a great bikini competition prep guide, which was very informative. If you have the time, you should check out her blog and see all of her great advice!

Stephanie’s prep timeline looks like this:

  • 12 weeks out (W/O): No more cheat meals, intense training begins, drink 2 gallons of water per day.
  • 8 W/O: Begin to practice posing and start tanning 2x per week.
  • 4 W/O: Cut diet down, reduce carbs and consume lots of greens and fish, schedule hair and makeup, and a photo shoot if you want to document your sick bod.
  • 2 W/O: whiten teeth, cut diet if needed
  • 6 days out: Get your nails done, increase sodium for days 6/5/4, decrease carbs, and have your last leg workout.
  • 3 days out: Cut to 1.5 gallons water, go back to a normal sodium intake, exfoliate, get a bikini wax, and nair your entire body (arms too!).
  • 2 days out: Cut to 1 gallon water, lower sodium, and REST!
  • The day before: Cut to 1/2 gallon water, cut all sodium, carb load, deep condition hair, exfoliate, shave before your spray tan, DON’T use deodorant, and get first round of spray tan.
  • Competition day: No deodorant, touch up spray tan, glue suit after meeting, pump up 15 minutes before stage, only take sips of water as needed, have a few sips of wine before heading on stage.

Stephanie also posted a great competition day packing list, it has a lot of things that you would not even think about but would really miss should you not have them with you!

packing-list-1024x1024

The Training

Training comes second in competition prep only to diet. I am sure I do not have to lecture you on the importance of your workouts, so I will skip that and get right to the good stuff.

Bikini competitors need to be muscular while keeping their femininity. But, when you begin to cut your calories and diet down as competition day draws near, you need to make sure you have enough muscle on you so that you can afford to lose some to diet and cardio.

The Weights:

If you are starting at 12 weeks out and are already in relatively good shape, build muscle with 8 to 10 reps. Drop sets are great for developing muscle and definition, along with supersets and triple sets. If you are starting well before 12 weeks out, at 20-24 weeks for example, you can afford to drop the reps down a bit more to build more muscle mass. Try 5-8 reps for your big muscle movements, squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press, and 8-10 reps for your accessory exercises.

As you start to get closer to competition day, increase to 12-15 reps, and 15-20 reps. You want to focus on building lean and long muscles once you have a good base from your lower rep workouts. Keep up with your supersets, drop-sets, tri-sets. To really burn fat, you can incorporate active rest into your workouts. For example, instead of resting the traditional way between sets, do 30 seconds of jumping jacks, mountain climbers, or rope skipping between each set instead. This will keep your heart rate up and increase your calorie burn.

The Cardio:

Cardio is a crucial tool in your fat loss tool box. Before you reach 12 weeks out, do 20-30 minutes of steady state cardio 2-3 times per week. Experiment with HIIT (high intensity interval training) so that when the time comes, you will be able to do it multiple days per week without trouble. For your HIIT, start with a 1/2 work/rest ratio, like this: 30 seconds sprinting, 1 minute rest. Repeat for 20 minutes. When this gets easy, lower your work/rest ratio as you like, and increase the duration of the workout.

At 12 weeks out, you want to start doing cardio at least 4 days per week. Keep doing your HIIT workouts and steady state workouts, and increase the duration to at least 30 minutes per session. When you start to cut (4-6 weeks out), increase your cardio to 50-75 minutes per day. You can do a combination of HIIT and steady state cardio to keep it less boring. Try doing AM/PM workouts as well if you don’t want to spend a lot of time at the gym. Incline walking, sprints on the bike or treadmill, and plyometrics workouts, are all great forms of cardio for fat loss.

So, in summary:

  • Before 12 weeks out: 5-8 reps for large muscle group exercises (deadlift, squat, bench press, overhead press), 8-10 reps for accessory exercises. Cardio 2-3 days per week, begin to do HIIT for 20 minutes a few days per week to get used to it.
  • 12 weeks out: 8-10 reps and 10-12 reps for large muscle group exercises and accessory exercises, respectively. Experiment with drop-sets, supersets, and tri-sets. Increase cardio to 30 minutes, 3-5 times per week. Increase intensity and frequency of HIIT.
  • 6 weeks out: 12-15 reps and 15-20 reps for large muscle group exercises and accessory exercises, respectively. Focus on building lean and long muscles, and stay flexible. Increase cardio to 50-60 minutes per day. Increase frequency of HIIT and decrease frequency of steady state cardio.
  • 4 weeks out: 15-20 reps. Increase cardio to 60-75 minutes per day, half HIIT and half steady state cardio like incline treadmill walking.
  • 6 days out: light upper body work, last leg workout before show.
  • The day of: use light dumbbells 5-10 lbs to pump muscles 15-20 minutes before you step on stage.

The Diet

Diet is the most important determinant in your success on stage in terms of your body. Good training is nothing without good diet. Before you start to cut, the diet is simple: clean. Make sure you are getting adequate fat (0.5xbodyweight in pounds), protein (1-1.5xbodyweight in pounds), and carbs (1-1.2xbodyweight in pounds).

Before 12 weeks out, if you are bulking to build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you need to maintain your weight. Check out an awesome formula for calculating your daily needs here. Once you’ve calculated your daily needs, add 500 calories to that. That is how many calories you will be eating while bulking.

At 12 weeks out, you want to start to diet down. Decrease your calories by 100 or so every couple of days until you eventually get to a level that is 500 calories less than your calculated daily needs. At 4 weeks out, you are going to really start to diet down. I would suggest carb cycling during this time for best results: 1 day high carb, 3 days low carb, repeat. As mentioned earlier by Stephanie from Beautiful to the Core, during 4 weeks, fish and veggies are going to be a staple in your diet, along with egg whites, whey protein, and peanut butter.

Check out this website for some great bikini competition diet tips.

And that’s all she wrote, folks! Seriously, its 12:30 AM, I need to go to bed. Competing for the first time can be scary, but it is well worth it. Stick to your guns, stay motivated any what that you can, and don’t be afraid to lean on others when you are struggling. And most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself and be proud of all that you have accomplished. Good luck!

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17 responses to “Preparing for Your First Bikini Competition

  1. Excellent article!!!! This is so helpful for me right now.. preparing for my very first bikini competition.

  2. Pingback: Preparing for Your First Bikini Competition | UP.Erin's.creek·

  3. Pingback: Researching “things to be aware of for your first comp” | diary of a beginner bikini competitor·

    • Many people do remove the hair from their bodies to help the spray tan stick better! But if you are uncomfortable with this, you could definitely get in touch with a spray tanning salon and ask them what your options are/if you have to take this step.

  4. Pingback: 6 Tips for First Time Bikini Competitors | ICFSN·

  5. Thank you for this blog, I want to compete in April 2017 that puts me out 17 weeks, should I start cutting now?

    • Hi Tedra,

      It really depends on where your body fat and lean body mass levels are currently at. I would suggest getting in touch with a prep coach who can help you make a plan in terms of timing, as competition prep is quite specific and not my area of expertise. Good luck!

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