This is the second step in the “How to be a Bodybuilder series”. If you haven’t seen the first step (What is your Goal? …link to article) I would recommend reading that before going through this step.
In the previous article I made reference to the various bodybuilding categories you could choose to go into. People have different definitions and perceptions of bodybuilding. Sometimes when I talk to people about bodybuilding they think about people that are very muscular and females that look very masculine in appearance. Do you really know what bodybuilding is?
According to Wikipedia, “Bodybuilding is the use of progressive resistance exercise to control and develop one’s musculature”. The person that does this kind of activity is considered a bodybuilder. What does that even mean? Any exercise that involves lifting weights to develop strength is bodybuilding.
Many females would say I don’t want to do strength training because I don’t want to look like a man. That’s scientifically not possible without taking hormone supplements. If you’re a woman and want to consider bodybuilding you can confidently move forward with this path knowing that you’ll keep your feminine structure while getting in better shape and enjoying better health. I’ll stop there on that subject because it could be an article by itself.
On one hand there is casual bodybuilding at home or going to the gym to stay fit. On the other hand there is competitive bodybuilding. Let’s talk about that for a moment.
As a competitive bodybuilder you have to decide which federation and category you would like to compete in. There are numerous federations and categories so you have to decide which one you will enjoy more and what fits your personality.
Step 1: Assess Your Body and Personality to see where you fit best
You have to be real with yourself and see what fits you best. If you are not sure what type of person you are, I would suggest taking a personality test. There is a good one offered on 16personaities.com. https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
Why do a personality assessment? There are some federations that requires different stage presentations so you have to see which one you are comfortable with. I personally first explored the IFBB Bikini Fitness competition in Jamaica because it was suggested that it was the easiest category to enter based on the number of weeks that were left for me to train. I did the stage presentation well based on the feedback from the audience and videos I saw but I found out that I hated it in the end. The perky personality on stage, the plastic smile and showing almost a flirty behavior just wasn’t my thing. It conflicted with my personality and values. This is why I strongly recommend that you get clear about your own personality and values before you just jumping into competitive bodybuilding. Doing so will help you enjoy the journey much better.
Step 2: Know your bodybuilding goal
You have to be honest with yourself and see how much work you want to do to even start competing at the level necessary to achieve the body type you desire most. What is your personal goal and motivation for competing? Get clear on that.
When I entered the bikini competition, I didn’t enter the category I wanted most because that category (Body Fitness) required more muscle development to enter into. I didn’t have enough time to gain muscle while losing weight before I could get accepted into the body fitness category. Due to time constraints, I had to decide if I wanted to enter the competition that was to be held in a few weeks or wait another year to enter the category I really wanted to enter later. I chose to get started right away with the less desirable category for myself to gain experience.
What is your goal? It all depends on when you want to enter the competition, how far away the competition is and how much work you have to do to look similar to competitors for that category. If you just want to enter because it’s on your bucket list or just for fun, sure go right ahead but I’m assuming even if it’s for fun you would still want to look your best.
Step 3: Choose the right bodybuilding federation for you
When I began my body building journey, I had no idea there were so many federations until I started my research. In Jamaica they only focus on presenting the most popular one (IFBB) which includes having Mr.Olympia.
If you are familiar with bodybuilding you might have at some point come across acronyms like WBFF, IFBB, NPC and many others. Have you ever wonder what they mean?
There are a lot of federations out there so I’ll list out the more prevalent ones:
- NPC – National Physique Committee (Amateur)
- IFBB – International Federation of Bodybuilding (Pro)
- NANBF – North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation (Amateur)
- IPE- Internation Pro Elite (Pro)
- UFE – Ultimate Fitness Events (Amateur & Pro)
- NGA – National Gym Association (Amateur & Pro)
- ABA – Amateur Bodybuilding Association
- INBA – International Natural Bodybuilding Association
- PNBA – Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association (Pro)
- OCB – Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders (Amateur & Pro)
- INBF – International Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness (Amateur)
- WNBF – World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (Pro)
- ANBF – American Natural Bodybuilding Federation (Amateur & Pro)
- SNBF – Super Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness (Amateur & Pro)
- USBF – United States Bodybuilding Federation (Amateur & Pro)
- DFAC – Drug Free Athletes Coalition (Amateur & Pro)
- WBFF – World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (Amateur & Pro)
- Fitness America Tour (Amateur & Pro)
- NPA – Natural Physique Association (Amateur & Pro)
- NMA – Natural Muscle Association (Amateur & Pro)
- OPA – Ontario Physique Association (Amateur)
- CBBF – Canadian Bodybuilding Federation (Pro)
You can do your research on them to see which ones fit your values, morals and personal beliefs. These federations have different rules, regulations and requirements that are available on their website. There are tested and non-tested federations that you can compete in.
What does tested and non-tested mean, you ask? It simply means that for non-tested federations, they allow athletes to take drugs and added supplements to enhance their stage and physical appearance, while the tested federations restricts it.
If you are a Christian for example you might want to choose the natural method or federations (tested). You can enter non-tested competitions if you are a natural bodybuilder but if you are not natural, you can’t enter the tested competitions.
Choosing the federations depends on the individual.
Step 4: Choose the bodybuilding category you want to compete in
After you have chosen your federation, you have to choose which category you would like to compete in so you can determine the type of muscle growth that is required for that category. Going back a little to the previous article in this series, I asked you “How long do you plan to compete in this category?” Getting clear about your time-line goal is important.
The next piece of the puzzle is to determine where you want this competition journey to take you. Are you planning to be an amateur or are you looking to go professional?
Winning one competition doesn’t make you become the next sponsored athlete or give you professional status. You have to enter multiple competitions to become Pro and get a Pro card. You therefore, have to decide if it’s a category you want to compete in long term. I would suggest starting to compete in small competitions first and get some stage practice. It also helps you decide if it’s even some you want to do.
To choose your bodybuilding category I suggest examining your personality and see if the category you are looking to enter is a category that fits your personality. Watch a few videos and see what the competitions are like. Look at what competitors are doing on stage and see if it is something you like to do or don’t have a problem doing. Look also on the body type you have and see which category best fits your body.
Step 5: Prepare for the financial cost of bodybuilding
One of the things I think is very important that people hardly talk about is the cost for bodybuilding. It is a very expensive sport as you have buy healthy food, supplements (which are very expensive), gym members and preparation for the competitions. You really have to research the categories/federations as some of them require a membership fee, a competition fee plus money for your stage wear. Some even require more stage wear than others.
When I entered my first competition I ended up investing about $3,000US from start to finish.
If you are thinking to go Pro, don’t expect it to be easy. There are athletes that have been competing for years and have never earned a Pro card. You will have to work for it but don’t forget to enjoy the journey along the way.
Step 6: Find joy in the journey!
Whichever route you choose, always seek to find joy in the journey. There will be hard times as is the case with seeking after anything worthwhile in life! When you get clear about your goals and motivations for bodybuilding and surround yourself with social support you will have the power to break through the barriers you encounter along the path of personal success.
Too many people focus on the results, the success, the things it can get you and not the journey; which I think is more important. The journey is what helps you to really appreciate the results/success.
In the next article in this series I’ll be teach you about how to get a trainer and the importance of doing so.