This is part 4 of my “Becoming a Bodybuilder” Series of articles, see the other parts here:
Part 2: Selecting a Show
Part 3: The Training
As you get closer to the date of the show you have selected, time will come to think about the finer details. Unfortunately, many of these details are not easily handled without the assistance of an experienced competitor or prep coach. This is when you get into the details that seem so small, yet many don't realize that they can make or break your show. These include the tan, posing suits, music and personal appearance.
Posing suits are a good place to start. Although many feel uncomfortable wearing the suits, it is important for you to get used to wearing what is essentially a “speedo.” Hence, you should put yourself in the most possibly realistic scenarios, and your posing routines should be practiced wearing what you will wear on stage.
However, lets first start with where to get your posing suit. I personally use a website, but there are many other options for a competitor. In fact, if I could do it all again, I would opt for a custom made posing suit from a local vendor. Furthermore, you can reach out to your state’s NPC communication portal for specific referrals to where this can be obtained.
Initially, I tried to take the easy way out and went for the cheapest one I could find. Nonetheless, you must keep in mind that posing suits do not have a return policy, so in most cases if you buy it, you keep it. Sadly, when my cheap selection showed up at my door I was blown away by how off the sizing is and how terrible the material is. I ended up having to place a new order for the correct one.
Long story short, I suggest you just pay the extra money for that custom suit uniquely fitted to your body and style. It is essential to choose a material and color that fits you. For instance, I originally went for the red color, and when it showed up in person, I realized that it was a terrible choice for me. In the end, I settled for black instead.
Another good tip for many competitors is to purchase two suits - one for prejudging and one for finals. As a matter of fact, I will be doing this myself, so during the pre-judging I will be wearing blue, and during finals I will be wearing black. Besides, you want to have two suits on hand in case of malfunction, or even the small possibility of it not passing the suit requirements during check in.
The suit cut is another aspect of great importance. Before selecting a suit cut please determine what is and is not allowed by your NPC division. Currently, there are several cuts to choose from, some of which are narrow, whilst some are wide. In the end of the day, the best cut depends on your personal preference, and what you would like to accomplish. However, keep in mind that not all cuts are consistently supported by your division. The cut I have decided to go with is the so called “Brazilian” cut, which suits my body-shape best.
Choosing music is another small, and yet crucial detail. First, as a bodybuilding competitor, you will likely be doing a one minute solo posing routine on stage to the music of your choice. Remember, the stage is not the place for music screaming about “bitches and hoes.” These are family events where audiences of all ages attend. Therefore, not only is vulgar music typically prohibited to begin with, but using it for your routine will get you seriously frowned upon by the judges. Choose music that fits your movements and your physique. For example, powerful music requires a powerful physique. In my particular case, I have selected a unique song with a strong beat - “Jungle” by X Ambassadors.
Tanning is not as easy as it may seem at first, since you don't know what you will really look like till that tan is actually on. Interestingly, NPC shows often have a hosted tanning service at the event, and I would encourage you to go for this option. It might be expensive, but keep in mind that you have them there to do the touch ups you need, and to fix any issues. Nothing is worse than stepping on that stage with all the muscle you worked so hard to achieve, just to be washed out by the light. Luckily, the tanning service at the show will have the best idea of what it takes to be under those bright lights and still look good. There is always that one guy in the lineup who you can tell did not put effort into his tan - don't be that guy! I will be building a base with basic tanning at the tanning salon to make sure I come in as naturally dark looking as possible because it helps the spray tan blend better with your natural skin.
Some shows finish with very petty judgments. Often two competitors can be so closely matched that it comes down to who has the best hair or the best smile. I will be as clean cut as possible, for messy facial hair or a poorly maintained haircut would be a really unfortunate reason to lose. Hence, give yourself something that will help stand out, while still looking sharp.
For instance, if you look at a typical line up, almost everyone shaves their head. However, you need to set yourself apart from the line up, as this is a sport just like any other. The more effort you put in, the more return you receive. Of course, there may be things out of your control from time to time, but at the end of the day, you need to be able to say you did your best.
These minor details are the hard part, and these are the things I encourage you to seek help on. If anything, at least reach out to online communities to collect general opinion. So far, I have already learned my lesson the hard way with the posing suit. As for the song choice and the tanning suggestions, I reached out to some old friends for good advice. I have also been active in online community seeking all the help I can find. Evolutionary.org is the perfect resource and support channel for you to seek advice.