Product was successfully added to your shopping cart.
Product was successfully added to your comparison list.
I could easily write a novel with everything I’ve learned since going to my first bodybuilding show in 2011. Instead, I will focus on the top ten things that stand out to me and that I often hear new competitors experience. This list isn’t in any particular order and some of these things may even be a little bit embarrassing. Part of this list can also apply to some of the men bodybuilders out there too.
1. Spray Tan
Maybe this is obvious, but you will be spray tanned naked and in a group of 7-15 women at one time. You basically change into your “birthday suit” and wait until it’s your turn to be spray tanned in an individual tanning tent. From there, you and several other women huddle around fans on the floor as you wait for your spray tan to dry. Sometimes you get more privacy with two tents—one for spray tanning and the other one for drying—but either way, you’re still naked. Although you don’t have to go all natural, you will see white tan lines on stage if your undergarments are larger than your competition suit which can greatly affect your placing.
Stage makeup is completely different than everyday makeup. Stage makeup can in some ways resemble drag makeup as your facial features are very much enhanced. Up close you will probably think your makeup looks like a hot mess, but you have to realize that the judges are 10+ feet away from you. Your makeup needs to be overly done. Your foundation will also need to be several shades darker than usual to match your spray tan. Otherwise, you will have a tan body and pale face, or the stage lights will wash you out and make you look rather bland.
3. Bikini Bite
Don’t let the name scare you. Bikini Bite is a product used to glue your suit down to your body so it doesn’t ride up or move around. The flip side to this product is that once the suit is glued down, it can be almost like removing a band aid when taking the suit off. So be sure you don’t have to use the bathroom or that the suit is where it needs to be before applying the glue. The glue can be used to keep your top in place. Most competitors use it on the back of their suit so it doesn’t ride up their backside on stage.
4. The Hulk Tan
A Hulk tan is when your tan starts turning green after it’s been applied to your body. This can happen due to a few reasons: 1. You showered too close to your tan time; 2. You used a non-recommended scrubbing agent that had oils in it that reacted negatively with the spray tan; 3. You applied any type of lotion or perfume before or after your tan; 4. You used deodorant more than 24 hours before your spray tan; or 5. The solution of the spray tan doesn’t work with your natural PH levels. You can scrub yourself with a solution that neutralizes your skin’s PH level which helps eliminate the risk of turning green. I personally use baking soda to neutralize my skin’s PH. It also works as a scrub to smooth any rough or uneven skin so that the tan can be applied evenly on my skin. I’ve seen many green armpits because of long-lasting deodorant. When the label says 24-48 hour protection, they mean it. You may not smell the deodorant anymore, but it’s absorbed into your skin for 24-48 hours. I won’t use any lotion, shower gels, or deodorant for at least 3 days prior to my spray tan. This way I ensure my skin is free of anything that may counteract my tan so I don’t look like the Hulk on stage.
5. Going To the Bathroom
I never thought I would have to take so much precaution when going to the bathroom, but we all do because we need to protect our tan. If any moisture gets on our skin, that part of the tan will come off or look very blotchy. So be careful when you sit down that there is no water on the toilet seat. Some girls will hover, while others use a paper cup with a hole in the bottom of it to eliminate the possibility of any splashing effects. The tanning company can usually fix any accidents though.
6. Can’t Go
Constipation is probably the most embarrassing topic no one discusses but should. You may not be able to go to the bathroom anytime from a few days prior to the show up to show day. This is mainly because there is probably not enough fiber in your diet and, more often than not, not enough fluids in your system. Thankfully there is an easy fix that I implement into my prep for every show. A week out from my show, I take 2 large spoonfuls of sugar-free orange flavor Metamucil (some people prefer Benefiber) in a small glass of water. I take this first thing in the morning before I eat or drink anything. It takes about 3 days before it kicks in, but makes my system consistent and I have never once had an issue with bloating or not being able to go to the bathroom.
7. Back Up Suit and Shoes
Having a backup suit and shoes isn’t a requirement, but it is a good thing to have just in case. A few years ago, a friend of mine was backstage at her very first Olympia, pumping up and getting ready to take the stage, when her center bust connector suddenly broke! Obviously she was very embarrassed. She was also instantly filled with panic as she was at the largest show in bodybuilding and her suit wasn’t wearable. Luckily she remembered that she had a backup suit. While it wasn’t her favorite, at least it was wearable. I haven’t had any suit issues myself, but I’ve once had a shoe ankle strap break. I bring two suit and two pairs of shoes to every single show. At one show the majority of the girls were wearing a red suit which was the color I was going to wear. Once I saw this, I changed into my blue back up suit so I wouldn’t look like everyone else on stage. While you may never have a suit or shoe issue, it never hurts to be prepared.
8. Bring Extra Supplies
Always plan to be backstage longer than you expect. I attended so many amateur shows where I expected to go on at a certain time only to go on three or more hours later. Although there will usually be mirrors and pump up bands for everyone to share, sometimes they don’t. I always bring extra food, water, pump up bands, a phone battery charger, and something to sit or lay down on such as a yoga mat or small pillow. Trust me, sitting on the ground or standing for a long period of time isn’t comfortable.
9. Keep Your Shoes Off
I see so many girls back stage immediately put on their heels and not take them off until they get off stage. If you refer to tip #8 about waiting forever, you’ll quickly realize that you may have those heels on for a few hours. The shoes are plastic, pinch your feet, and cut off circulation. The last thing you want to experience on stage is to feel like you danced all night long in the club in 5” stilettos because your feet hurt so much. If you want to practice your routine a couple of times, that’s completely fine, but then take those suckers off and don’t put them back on until you hear the backstage people tell you it’s time to get glazed. Although you will still be wearing those painful shoes for a while even after you get glazed, at least you won’t be crippled by the time you step on stage.
10. Nerves on Stage
Competitors often say that they didn’t hear anything on stage—no music, no cheering. They couldn’t hear their family, friends, or coach. This is very normal. Some competitors freeze, like deer in the headlights, due to nerves and don’t hear the head judge calling their name or number. If you notice this happening to you, stop for a moment and take a couple of deep breaths. It helps to look at the head judge who will be sitting in the middle of the judges’ panel. Listen to what they’re saying as they will tell you what you need to do on stage, whether it’s switching positions on stage with another competitor, doing a quarter turn, or facing the curtain. Your first time on stage can be a little scary, but I promise it will get easier next time.
I hope this top ten list was insightful and gave you a couple of laughs. Don’t ever feel stupid for asking someone who’s done a show what it was like or what tips they would give you. I have learned so much through trial and error since I wasn’t on a team or with a trainer, but I also made sure to ask for advice from more experienced competitors whenever possible. Most people in this industry are very kind and helpful, and will be more than happy to help you navigate the crazy competing world of bodybuilding.