As of this writing, I am fresh off of the 2019 Europa Games event in Orlando, Florida. It was a hell of a time, let me tell ya! I competed in both bodybuilding and classic physique, a crossover in which I’ve never attempted before.
That was where one of my first mistakes was made. That and a few more led me to compile this list of 5 mistakes that you can avoid making on your next contest prep so that you can bring your best package to the stage!
Mistake #1: Looking At What Everybody Else is Doing
Now look, don’t get me wrong, you can learn a lot from people more experienced in the field than you are. But one things for sure, it can easily fuck you up mentally as well.
Something that I caught myself doing often times was obsessively researching all over the internet through forums, articles, and even the scientific literature as to what was the BEST way to do something.
For example, during my peak week, I was looking at all the different loading strategies for cutting carbs, water, sodium; the whole nine yards. Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with gathering information, but what is wrong with it is being an information whore and not sticking to a plan that you’ve logically thought out for yourself.
And that leads me to my next point…
Mistake #2: Constantly 2nd Guessing Yourself
I didn’t have a coach for this prep nor any of the other preps I’ve done during my time as a bodybuilder. But even when you do, you still have the urge to question “Why?” “Why can I only eat xxx amount of calories while so-and-so can eat xxx more calories and still lose that lower ab fat?”
It’s questions like these that can lead to frustration and even anxiety. So how can we fix this problem? Hire a coach? Possibly. But some people can’t afford that. Just “fake it till you make it” until you start oooozing with confidence? No, that shit never works. So what do you do?
Well, let me tell you what you DON’T do, and that’s
Mistake #3: Not Being Meticulous Enough
Yeah, that’s right. I said it (or typed it anyway). Just like me, you’re more than likely NOT BEING PRECISE ENOUGH WITH YOUR PREP!
There were quite a few things I did this prep that I now scratch my head at in disbelief. Things such as:
- Eat copious amounts of Walden Farms products (zero-calorie dressings, desserts, etc.)
- Never developed a solid game plan for peak week as well as the day of the show
- Made a last minute decision to crossover into both classic physique and bodybuilding
As far as all of the new “diet” products that are out now, such as Walden Farms, diet sodas, zero-calorie sweeteners, they’re all fun and great, until they start adding up!
Especially as it pertains to the last 4-8 weeks of prep when you’re really cutting it close, I now believe that these should really be tapered down, or at the very least, tracked for precisely. Even Walden Farms products contain trace calories even though they are marketed as “zero-calorie, it even says it on the label! Even though we don’t know exactly how many calories are in there, what we do know is that FDA guidelines allow for products with less than 5 calories per serving to be labeled as “zero-calorie”. Therefore, to err on the side of safety, I would label every serving you take of this as a gram of carbs, or 4 calories.
These MUST be accounted for, where everything counts. Think of it as a clinical trial, but on yourself. Everything must be tightly controlled if you want to achieve the most optimal results.
And as for making other important decisions on prep, please make sure to have a plan in place! Especially for something as important as peaking for a show! I kind of treated it as an afterthought, and when it came to show day, I was trying a million and one things to try to drop weight for the lightweight bodybuilding class as well as peak optimally during my carb backload. Which brings me to my next point…
Mistake #4: Crossing Over
Unless you have A LOT of money, or are simply curious, I don’t suggest crossing over into two different classes. I feel like at that point it’s more like being a “jack of all trades” as opposed to a “master of his craft.” Instead of being an expert in one, you kinda mediocre at both.
At the last minute, I decided that my weight was pretty close to a lightweight bodybuilder that I decided to throw out the big guns and try some dehydration strategies so that I could make the weight cut-off for that class. BIG MISTAKE!
Because I decided to do that, I ruined my chances of succeeding in the classic physique division. At this point, I was far below the weight cap for this division, as I now sacrificed too much size to be able to even place in the open class.
So please, just do the one division you feel best fits your physique. You’ll save a lot of time and money that way.
Mistake #5: Not Practicing Your Posing Enough
And last but certainly not least, PRACTICE YOUR POSING!
I can’t stress this enough how important this is. I think that posing needs to be practiced every single day, starting at 8 weeks out minimum. I was beginning to do this, and then I began to slip up, giving myself excuses like “I’m too tired” and “I already know how to do this.” Trust me, no amount of excuses are going to help you here. It could be the difference between a 1st or 2nd place trophy.
It’s a workout itself. It takes practice to not only hold the poses for an extended period of time, but also to capture the right angle and lighting that you want the judges to witness the pose in. You’ve worked this hard, don’t screw it up by not practicing your posing.
Well, there ya have it. Five mistakes that you can take with you to the bank. Learn from them. Learn from your own mistakes as well, because everybody makes them. This sport is very rewarding, especially when you snag a first place trophy 😜
Boston-born bodybuilder currently residing in the beautiful city of Tampa, Florida in pursuit of a Master's Degree in Exercise & Nutrition Science. Competitive NPC Classic Physique athlete with a passion for strength training, health, well-being, and the science that makes it all possible. I want to sift through all of the B.S that's out there to provide you with the best information possible for you to achieve YOUR goals, whatever they may be. Human physiology is an amazing thing, let's find out what the human body is capable of!