A Season Change as an Athlete: The Transition into a Competition Prep

Man working on bodybuilding as he preps for competition

As the weather warms up, and we transition through seasons, bodybuilders are gearing up to transition from an improvement season into a competition prep, for some, this transition can be effortlessly executed, and for some a road full of speed bumps. Every season will be a completely different experience from those previous and it is important to be willing to learn how to navigate through each prep from our past experiences and current. Competition prep can be one of the most rewarding experiences on show days and one of the most gruesome journeys during your prep. As an athlete transitioning into prep, I believe it’s important to set yourself up for success from the very beginning to avoid adding in any additional stressors during your prep, this can include setting personal boundaries, building a support system, hiring a coach, creating a rough outline of your plan, and being in a financially well position to compete. Considering all of these variables early as you transition into prep can be a game changer as these are controllable variables that will not become stressors if you have accounted for them.

Setting personal boundaries can be one of the most important variables to consider at the beginning of prep.

This can be extremely hard to figure out for a seasoned athlete let alone a beginner. Some important questions to ask yourself would be:

How far am I willing to take my prep, am I prepared for a complete all-in mindset? Am I prepared to perform lots of cardio if needed? How far am I willing to take my deficit? Am I doing this for the experience or to be competitive? Do I have the time to commit to this?

For myself, I am competing to climb the ranks to the top levels of this sport, I have an all-in mindset, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to become the best. My personal boundaries are non-negotiable, and they include a non-negotiable dog walk every morning during prep, excluding my peak weeks. I’m willing to push myself to the max in all areas of training, cardio, and diet.

For others, this may look different, and that is okay, it’s completely personal, and it’s something for you to reflect on, and communicate to your support system, and coach so they have the ability to be on the same page as you.

Building a support system can be either one of the hardest or the easiest parts.

A lot of those in your life will not understand the extent of how you feel, and the emotional and physical toll it takes on you, so oftentimes it will be completely your job to communicate how you are feeling to those surrounding you. I found the more I competed, the more friends I made in the sport, and the more competitors I had in my support system who understand what prep is like. Regardless of who is in your life, it’s up to you to build this support system, manage your relationships, and communicate to those in your support system, so they can do just that, support.

Hiring a coach, and creating an outline of your plan early can ease your way into the season, you will have a second set of eyes, and someone who is rooting for you, and you will have an approximate timeline which allows you to truly realize that this isn’t forever. Having a coach takes the guesswork out of everything you are doing, this is someone you trust to look at you subjectively, with no bias, and speak the truth to you. Oftentimes we are our worst critics, and other times when it gets hard, we want to give up. Your coach should keep you on track no matter what.

Lastly, prior to starting prep, it’s important to assess if you are in a financial position to compete, this is an expensive sport, budget for your competition season so money isn’t a factor affecting your ability to compete. Consider your federation card, registration, tanning, hair, makeup, stage suit, hotel, flights, and stage photos.

As you transition into your competition prep remember that regardless of being as prepared as possible, anything can happen, and every day we get to wake up and do what we love is a privilege. We are each on our journey, experiencing exactly what we are meant to. Your struggles, and successes all embody who you are, and shape who you are as an athlete. This is your journey, enjoy the ride.


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