Alright, my friends… For a long time now, I keep vaguely mentioning my goals, how I’m working on my goals, making progress towards my goals, so on and so forth. But I haven’t really specified what these goals are yet. At least, not on here, for the world to see. I’ve mentioned it to a few people like “Oh, yeah, this is something I want to do.” It’s something I’ve been working towards and it has taken a lot of planning and prepping, and I feel like I’m never going to learn all that I need to in time.
But now, it’s time. It’s time to announce, to the world, what I’m working on. It’s time to make it Internet official. It’s time to let family and friends know so they can hold me accountable.
I’m training for a bikini competition!
What. What? A bikini competition? Doesn’t that sounds like something the local bars host for the college kids?
No, not that type of bikini competition!
See, the kind I’m talking about is actually a bodybuilding competition. There are a few different divisions, and bikini is one of them! So, basically, I’m training for a bodybuilding competition!
This may seem kind of out of left field to some people, and in some ways it sort of it. A few years ago when I got into lifting weights, I started to learn more about bodybuilding. It was one of those things that I kind of said to myself “Oh, that would be cool to do someday.”, but I never really put much thought into it. A few things would pop up on Pinterest about how grueling the prep is, and even though I liked the idea of a new challenge, it just seemed to much for me.
But then earlier this year, I thought about what I wanted to accomplish this year. I had been consistently working out for a while, but I just felt like I needed something. I needed something to work towards. I’m usually not a super competitive person, but I just felt this need to do some sort of competition. I was feeling kind of burnt out with running, so I didn’t really care to do a race. And with all the weight lifting I had been doing, running wasn’t really going to fit into what I was doing and what I wanted to accomplish… whatever it was.
I thought about CrossFit competitions. I had a small background with it and felt like with some training I could easily compete in local competitions. During the CrossFit open, I went with a friend to her gym and did one of the workouts (and had my butt handed to me!). But CrossFit is kind of an expensive sport, and the gym at our apartment was grossly inadequate for that type of training.
Then, I came across a video. About a year ago, I discovered Heidi Somers on YouTube (AKA Buff Bunny). I really liked her personality, and she just had a ton of great information. Through her, I started following her boyfriend’s channel, Christian Guzman. I’m not as interested in his stuff because he caters his stuff more towards guys, but there’s still a lot of good information there, and it’s entertaining.
Earlier this year in one of his videos, Christian mentioned that he was putting together a bodybuilding competition, The Summer Shredding Classic. He said he would come out with more details later, but it would probably be held in June. I can’t remember exactly when this was, but I’m pretty sure this was like January/February.
Something in my head clicked. Something in my head calculated how much time I had before June. Thoughts started swirling through my head. Images of me, looking shredded, on stage.
I could do this, I thought to myself. If I start now, I could be in shape for the competition.
So then I started doing some research. I looked more into what a competition is like. I looked at training plans. I watched videos of competitions and posing clinics.
And then I got really excited. I finally knew what I wanted to do.
Then reality hit. Yeah, I could’ve been competition ready for a show by June, but it would be terrible timing. At the time I wasn’t sure exactly when the show would be, but I knew the timing would be off. The show ended up being held the week after we moved. I knew I made the right decision there. When I have a goal, I can be stubborn, but there’s no way I could pull off a move going into what’s known as Peak Week, and then do a competition in another city. It just wasn’t going to work out well for me.
But that didn’t mean I had to give up the dream! It just meant I wasn’t going to do that particular show!
So then I did a little more research. I looked up other shows that were later in the year and not too far away. And I found one. Things started coming together.
Now, bodybuilding is a bit of an extreme sport. There’s a lot of information out there about diet and how to lean out for competition. It does take a bit of an extreme diet and extreme amounts of training to be “show day ready”. It takes weeks (if not months) of work for such a small moment of time to be on stage. And it’s very subjective. Each division has certain standards, but every competition is different.
Placing is determined by judges who like to see different things from show to show. You don’t know who you’re up against until show day. You may be softer than other competitors but still place well if a judge likes how you look more than others competitors. I’ve seen people say they didn’t place well because their tan was too dark or too light. So why on earth would I want to do something like this?
Because it’s new. It’s a major challenge. It’s going to challenge me in ways I’ve never been challenged before. I can’t compete against others here because I don’t know who the others are. There’s no set standard for how I need to perform. It’s not like a race where I know how fast I need to go. It’s not like CrossFit where I know how much weight I need to lift and how many reps to do. So, at the end of the day, I’m competing against myself.
Every day, I have to fight the part of my brain that doesn’t want to go to the gym. Every day, I have to fight the part of me that doesn’t want to eat the food that I meticulously planned, calculated, measured, and prepared. Every day I have to fight the part of me that says “This isn’t worth it. You can’t do it. You’re not good enough for this.” I’m jumping into a sport that I know very little about. I have to spend so much time researching, watching videos, scrolling through Instagram profiles of people who do this. All to spend just a few minutes on stage, in a teeny tiny bedazzled bikini, tall heels, and ridiculous spray tan, and be judged by complete strangers against more strangers.
And I’m so excited.
And still excited.
Okay, so a little more details into the competition and what the next few months are going to be like for me.
The competition I’m looking at is October 27, so it’s just less than 3 months away as of now. During the Spring, I started doing kind of a slow, mini cut to help trim some excess body fat before Summer. Part of it was to look good for Summer, and the other part was in preparation for this. I knew moving would really throw everything off. Between the stress, not being able to cook as much, and not having access to a gym for a couple weeks, I wanted to wait until we were settled to really hit competition prep.
In my mind, leading up to all of this, I kind of had an idea of “Okay, I’m going to officially start prep this many weeks out, and I can count down and be able to really track my progress and all that.”. That never happened. I can’t tell you exactly when prep started. In some ways, it’s been going on for months. In other ways, only a few weeks. But it’s going on now. I have my training plan figured out and I have a general idea of how it’s going to change as time goes on.
The nutrition stuff is a little harder to figure out. I talked to one of the trainers at the gym that has a good nutrition background and that has done competitions. He was able to give me some pointers, but bodybuilding nutrition is tricky. I could dish out a ton of money to have an experienced nutritionist help me meticulously plan my meals each week, and tell me exactly when I need to adjust my calories, macros, carb cycle, and all that….. But I’m cheap, and I’m sure my husband appreciates me taking the cheap route. Which means I’m doing my best to figure all of this out on my own.
I have an idea of where I need to be weight and body fat % wise on show day, but again, it’s all very subjective. I’m sure I’m not going to be the only first timer there, so if I’m a little softer than I want to be, okay then. That being said, if by a certain point, I feel like I’m not going to be where I want to be by show day, then I’m going to look for another show that’s later in the year, or possibly early next year. I’m going to put in a lot of time and effort into this. I don’t really expect to win my first show (as awesome as that would be!) but I do have certain expectations of where I want to be. So, basically, I’m in prep for a competition at the end of October, but I’m not putting any money down on anything until I feel like I’ll be ready for it.
I feel like muscle-wise, I have a pretty good start going. There are a couple areas I’m working on building up, but I think I’ll be bulked up enough come show day. It’s the body fat that I’m worried about.
Remember that extreme dieting I mentioned earlier? Yeah. In order to show off all my muscles I’ve built up, I have to get my body fat percentage down to levels they haven’t been to in years.
But, the thing to keep in mind, is that this is all temporary. As soon as the competition is over, I’m going to start what’s called reverse dieting. It’s pretty normal after the show to go out and eat and binge a little over the weekend, but then it’s back to another diet. Reverse dieting means you slowly add calories back into your diet and ease up on the cardio. This helps your body recover in a more healthy way. When you take your body to those kinds of extremes, you can’t just go back to your pre-competition diet and lifestyle, or you’ll wreak havoc on your body. So, after weeks of intense dieting where I slowly lower my calories, I get to do more dieting, but this one is more fun because I get more food!
There’s so much more I could go into with that, but like I said, I’m still pretty new to all of this. I’m still learning as much as I can about bodybuilding and competing and all of that.
Right now, I’m eating around 1700 calories. I have my macros planned out, and those will change as my calories drop. (If you want to learn more about macros, check out my post here!) I’m not sure exactly how low I’m going to take my calories by the end of prep. In my mind, I have the number 1200, but we’ll see how things go. The important thing to remember is that this is not sustainable!!!!! Competing isn’t something to do just to lose weight. Even the pros don’t sustain their extreme diets for too long. Competing is something that you have to kind of have a thick skin for, because it is so subjective. You can’t place too much importance on how lean you are, or what place you get. I want to do really well, but I don’t expect to win this first time around.
As it gets closer to competition, I’m going to start working on posing. Posing includes everything that happens on stage, from the way I walk, to the way I stand, turn, move, to the presence I bring to the stage. Posing is huge. Yeah, sure, I could do all this hard work and have the best body there, but if I don’t showcase it just right, it’s not going to matter. And this is what I’m most nervous about.
There are tons of videos on YouTube for posing, and every time I watch one, I think to myself “There’s no way I can walk like that, stand like that, act like that!” Then my thoughts swing again to the other side and I think to myself, “Of course I can do that!”
Something you have to know about me is I’m kind of weird. (Ha! Kind of….) I’m extremely shy and introverted. I do like meeting people and getting to know people, but I suck at small talk and knowing what to say. But, I love speaking in public, and I love being on stage. I only did one year of theatre in high school, but I loved it and wish I did more.
So, I have to think of this as a performance. When rehearsing for a play, you practice your lines and learn your blocking. You learn where to stand, how to pose properly for what’s being conveyed, and where to look.
Being on stage for a competition is very much the same! I have to practice how I’m going to walk on and off stage. I have to practice how I’m going to stand and turn (or, as they say, transition). I have to practice smiling and making eye contact with the judges. I have to practice my “character” that I’m going to be on stage.
There are a lot of clinics out there where several people come at the same time and all work on posing with one or two professionals. There are coaches that do private lessons. And there’s alway YouTube. Whatever I’m going to do to learn my posing, I need to make sure I practice practice practice!
Needless to say, I have a lot of work ahead of me over the next few months. I’m planning on writing more on here about the process and journey, but I’m human. I might forget. Heck, I meant to write this up weeks ago and I’m just now getting to it! But it’s going to be a new experience, full of ups and downs, and I’m excited! As of now, this is something I hope to get into and do more competitions, but I want to see how this first one goes. The cost of competing can be steep, so we’ll see if it’s worth the time and money to do another after this one!
Which brings me to another thing. Support. My husband is awesome and so supportive. He’s always complimenting me and pointing out where I’m making progress. He helps keep me on track, and if I’m having a bad day, he helps put me in the right mindset. I’ve told a few friends that I’m thinking about doing this, and they have been so supportive too! Like I said earlier, I’m shy and not the kind of person that likes to draw attention to myself, but all the help and support has been awesome!
What is a bikini competition?
Okay, so I’ve covered a lot of the personal aspects, now I feel like I should give a little more information about what a bikini competition actually is.
For women, there are four divisions in bodybuilding; bikini, figure, physique, and bodybuilding. Some competitions have another division called fitness, which I’ll go into in just a second. Bikini is the “smallest” division. Imagine the swimsuit competitions in beauty pageants, but a little more muscles, and a lot more spray tan. The other divisions just get bigger. They each have certain things they’re looking for. They each have different poses to showcase muscles differently, and some have the bikinis cut in different shapes to emphasize muscles differently. Fitness division is very similar to figure as far as what the judges are looking for in musculature, but the competitors also have to do a little routine to show their stuff. This usually includes gymnastics or something along those lines.
There are also a ton of different federations out there that moderate and put on the competitions. The one I’m looking at doing is part of the NPC- National Physique Committee. Again, each federation have different requirements and standards. With the NPC at least, each show breaks the different divisions up into classes. The classes are usually based on height. Someone who is 5’1” will have very different looking muscles than someone who is 5’8”. This makes it a little more fair, because you’re being judged against people more similar to you. There’s other divisions based on age, some for handicapped competitors, etc. So, really, bodybuilding can be for anyone!
Most competitions will have two events. Pre-judging is in the morning (or possibly the night before depending on the show) and then final judging in the evening. From the videos I’ve seen of competitions, some shows do the pre-judging a little differently. There are 2 things the competitors do, but some shows will do one first while others do the other first.
Each competitor gets to do a solo performance. Basically, they walk out on stage and have 10 seconds to hit front and back poses, with transitions, so show the judges all their muscles. That’s it. 10 seconds to show off their hard work, and then move off stage to make way for the next competitor. Then there’s the comparison round where you’re on stage with your class. The judges have you transition from front to back pose, sometimes walk upstage and back down, all while comparing you to others. They switch competitors around so they can see you from different angles. It’s not 100%, but from what I’ve seen, most of the time, if the judges put you in the middle and don’t move you around, it means you’re getting a call back for final judging! So, you really want the judges to place you in the middle.
Some shows do the comparison round before the solo round. It just depends. IF you get a call back, you get to come back for final judging!
With final judging, I think you just do comparison round with the others in your class. This helps the judges determine the placing. I’m not sure if it’s all shows, or just some, but if you’re lucky enough to win first in your division, you get to compete against the others that got first for the over-all winner! So, you could place first in your division, but like fifth overall. Which is still pretty dang awesome. And I think if you don’t get a call back, you still get a place ranking, you just don’t come back for the final judging.
During the comparison rounds, you can be on stage for a while, but it’s still all this hard work just to be on stage for a short amount of time. A lot of people think that’s crazy. Sometimes I think I’m crazy. But, like I said, I needed a challenge, and a challenge I got!
I think it’s also worth noting that as of now, I’ve never had a spray tan before. I’ve never even been to a tanning bed! I’m the type of woman that hardly wears makeup. I’m not a hair person. And probably the only time I’ve ever worn heel taller than 3 inches was my wedding. I get to do all that in a tiny bikini in front of hundreds of strangers. It’s going to be awesome!
A new series
I know the title of my blog is mshattuckruns, but if you’ve read much of my blog, you’ll know I don’t really focus on running. Running will always be my first love, but my fitness journey has taken me in other directions. For now, I plan on keeping the same name, but I’m going to be doing kind of a little side-blog series on here. (I just hope I can figure out how to organize it all!) With all the research and reading and stuff I’ve done, I feel like I’ve had a hard time finding up-to-date blogs that match what I’m looking for and trying to do. Of course there are a ton out there, I just had a hard time finding stuff that I feel like matched my personality and style.
So, I’m going to do my best to document this prep process. I’m going to talk about my meals, my training, the ups, downs, struggles, victories, all that. I’ll share things I learn leading up to show day. Things that happen on show day. Things that happen after. All that. Hopefully it will help someone else out there, and hopefully y’all will find it interesting!
Again, I’m not perfect, so I don’t know how much I’ll actually get on here. But, I’m hoping that having somewhere to document stuff will keep me motivated and give me some encouragement!
P.S. If you have competed, or know someone who has, comment below or let me know! I could use all the help I can get!!!!