You start off by wondering if you can do it. Perfect. You’re in the right mindset. Now give it your best shot and surprise yourself at what you can achieve!
A Powerful Coach
To get to your goals, to challenge yourself and stretch beyond what you thought you were capable of, researching and finding a coach who is a good fit for you is a great way to start. Without coaching we can do well, but often can’t get pushed above and beyond what we think we can achieve. Even as a personal trainer and exercise physiologist myself, I need coaching to drive me forward.
You must be accountable to both yourself and your coach. Make a commitment to yourself to work your hardest. By slacking off in the gym or fuelling your body with poor nutrition you’re ultimately only cheating yourself. You’ve likely invested a lot of time and money into training, so keep in mind that you want to get the most out of it. I thrive off of positive reinforcement and recognition of hard work and I never like to be in a position to disappoint. This is why having a coach works wonders for me.
Being An Early Riser
Get used to it, there will be morning cardio. No matter how tired or sore you are, you have to get yourself out of bed and go as hard as you can. I find that if I pack my meals and my workout bags and lay out all my clothes the night before it is a lot easier to just get up and go. It is surprising what just washing your face in cold water or having a quick, cool shower can do to wake you right up with some energy.
Dedication To Diet
You must make a commitment to stick to the plan regardless of what is going on in your life. This means packing your own meals along with you to social events, family get-togethers, work functions, etc. that are going to last more than three hours. You may feel like a weirdo with your container of chicken and broccoli at these things, but get used to it.
Doing Your Homework
Since the sport is judged subjectively and can change from year to year, you have to do your homework and find out what the judges are after. You are judged on the full package that you present, so make sure you cover all your bases. Your physique is just one piece of the puzzle. Everybody’s body type is unique, so you may need to find out which division is right for you. Overall presentation can also include stage presence: posing, confidence, elegance, poise. Your movements and transitions in posing need to flow. Watch videos online of the pros and then take pictures and videotape yourself often.
Go beyond your comfort zone and push past the point you thought you could. Since I most often train on my own, I create my own motivation by giving myself challenges in my workouts. For example, when I’m doing cardio daily, I’ll set a goal to have covered x number of miles in a certain time. The next day I’ll have to make sure I do no less than that to keep building on the intensity each day. Another trick I use is to challenge myself to my own “wet t-shirt contest,” where I don’t let my workout end without having sweated up a storm from working hard with high intensity. If the t-shirt’s still dry at the end of the workout, I’m not done yet!
Cuts, Scrapes, Bruises & Calluses
Sure, we try to look our best on stage, but leading up to that point it’s not all pretty. Year-round I have hands that are callused from gripping barbells and dumbbells. I wear gel nails, but often I have corners chipped off after a week or two of wear and tear. I’ve had the bottom of my shins scraped off from rubbing on the leg extension padding (or lack of padding!) and usually I have big bruises on my hips or thighs from banging them on random gym machines.