5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Competed in Bodybuilding


Hindsight is a funny thing and when you look back to your past, it makes you think about how you could of done things better or differently.

I understand there are a lot of beginner bikini competitors out there that are just starting out, so to save you the trouble that i went through when starting my bikini competitor journey, here are 5 things I wish I knew before I became a Bikini Competitor.

#1: A Personal Trainer Doesn’t Equal A Bodybuilding Coach

One of my biggest mistakes was to sign up to a company that did personal training for 12 weeks, and told me that I would be competition ready after the 12 weeks was over.

I am not putting personal trainers down as I really admire the profession and they do such a great job, but one thing I wish I knew before competing as a bikini competitor is that seeing a personal trainer will not get you stage ready.

If you have read through My First Time Competing you will know that I was being “coached” by a Personal Trainer and I signed up to a company under the false pre-tense that they would get me competition ready. It was farther from the truth, and although they did a good job in increasing my strength and getting me to eat healthily, I was not competition ready.

What you can do: 

Make sure that whoever you choose as a Competition Coach has had experience in coaching other Bikini Competitors / Fitness Competitors (whatever division you choose).

Ask them about their past athletes, and if they can’t provide you any names for you to contact, keep looking.

Do your research, and don’t get sucked in by the bright lights and fancy name. You pay a lot of money for a Competition Coach, so make sure they are known in the Bodybuilding industry.

#2: You Don’t Need to Buy Supplements From Your Coach / Trainer

When I first started competing, I was told you need supplements A, B and C from our shop / company and it is going to be a ridiculous amount of money. I was so gullible and naive that I just bought whatever my trainer told me to buy because I thought that if I purchased their products, that it would help me become the best competitor. I did this without shopping around or researching why I needed the particular supplement.

My trainer told me that I needed to buy the supplement from the shop, and it ended up being enormous amounts of money. I then researched the same products online after I purchased them, and found the exact same products elsewhere for a more affordable price.

I was to naive to question my trainer and just thought that I needed to purchase this supplement because it is going to help me with my goals. I was wrong.

What you can do: 

The second time around, I told my new coach that I would choose my own supplements. I was given recommendations of what I needed, for example, a whey protein isolate, but I was able to choose what brand and type I was to purchase, and I wasn’t forced to purchase the particular brand of my coach.

This can save you a tonne of money as you can choose the price and brand of the supplement that you prefer. You can even buy a generic brand of supplement which has the same ingredients as the supplement you have been recommended.

Also, if your coach recommends a particular supplement, it is OK to ask them “why?”. Why do i need this supplement? What does it do? What affect will it have on my body?

If your coach cannot answer these questions, don’t purchase the products. If you are unsure, then do a bit of research at home – Google has a wealth of knowledge and you will be able to find the information somewhere! So do your research and save your money!

#3: Your Social Life and Free Time Will Be Cut

Competing in bodybuilding competitions is not something that you can do on the side. You have to already be exercising regularly (at least 3-4 days a week) and lifting weights.

The commitment of time before you actually start competing is at least 1 hour at the gym, 4 times a week.

When you start competing in bodybuilding competitions, the time that is spend exercising will increase slowly, depending on the goals you are trying to achieve.

You can expect to be training at least 5 times a week for a minimum of 1 hour. If you need to do cardio, this time doesn’t include cardio time so you can add an extra 20-30 minutes to your 1 hour sessions.

If you have more fat to lose, and your trainer asks you to do fasted cardio, you could be up in the morning doing cardio for 30 minutes, as well as training at night.

When you are 4 weeks out, you can expect to be training 6 times a week, or even 7 times. You will constantly think about food and when your next meal is. Your night time will be spent at the gym. Your weekends – the gym.

You will be required to attend posing sessions, which is recommended at least once a week for 8 weeks. Say goodbye to your Sundays!

Night out at bars and restaurants will be very hard to attend, especially when you are closer to competition date.

What can you do: 

Prepare yourself for the change.

Talk to your friends and family and let them know what you are competing in a bodybuilding competition and that your time will be very limited.

If your friends and family know why you have no time for anything else but training, you won’t feel as bad when you can’t attend social events – or if you can’t eat anything at those social events!

Instead of organising social events around food and drinks, ask your friends if they want to hang out at your place. You can cook them dinner which you prepare (and make sure you get a meal which is in line with your bodybuilding diet).

Or you can ask your friends if they want to go for a walk around the park. Change the way you usually socialise so that you don’t feel so restricted with what you can eat and with your time.

#4: Bodybuilding is a Very Expensive Sport 

I can’t tell you exactly how much I spent on bodybuilding competitions but I can give you a rough estimate on how much items would cost:

  • Personal Trainer: $40 – $80 per session
  • Gym Membership: $20- $40 per week
  • Bodybuilding Coach: $100 per check-up (usually every 2 weeks)
  • Posing Lessons: $50 per hour (minimum of 8 sessions)
  • Supplements: $300 per month (Protein powder, fat burners, BCAAs, pre-workouts etc)
  • Food: $150 per week
  • Competition Bikini: $10 – $500 (See this post how you can save money on a competition bikini)
  • Bodybuilding Competition Entry Fees: $150 per class
  • Tan for Competition Day: $50 per coat (usually need at least 3 coats from a professional spray tanner)
  • Dream Tan: $60
  • Competition Jewellery: $50
  • Professional Photos at Competition: $150
  • Competition Heels: $100

When I competed in a bodybuilding team, I can tell you that all of us competitors were struggling with money and would talk about how expensive competing is. It is definitely not a cheap sport, and it is something that you need to be aware of before you go into a bodybuilding competition.

The money adds up. The weekly costs would be:

  • Gym Fees
  • Personal Training Fees
  • Coaching Fees
  • Food Cost
  • Supplements

When the competition comes around, you have to be for various items such as competition entry fees, fake tanning, competition bikini, hair and make up and other ad-hoc costs.

What can you do:

Assess whether you have the money to compete.

The minimum items that I believe you will need to spend on is:

  • Gym
  • Food
  • Competition Bikini
  • Competition Heels
  • Competition Tan
  • Competition Entry Fees
  • Posing Coaching

All other items are luxury items that are optional.

You can compete without supplements and without a coach or personal trainer. It may be harder, especially if you are a beginner, but you need to spend within your means.

If you can’t afford a bodybuilding coach, be creative. Read a lot of blogs, talk to competitors, reach out to people that could help you.

My advice is definitely do not get into debt for your bodybuilding competitions.

Spend the money that you have, but don’t feel bad if you can’t afford a $300 bikini like some of the other girls that are competing – you will still look fabulous on stage.

I spent $16.50 on this bikini, and felt happy and confident in what I was wearing: see this post here. 

You can also purchase competition items such as bikini’s and heels, for second hand. Checkout some buy and sell group pages on Facebook.

#5: Bodybuilding Is About The Journey and Not Just The Competition Result 

After giving your competition preparation everything you have got, and still not getting the medal or result that you wanted at a competition can be very disheartening and disappointing.

You give everything you have to your training and diet, and you still didn’t place in your bodybuilding competition.

You have looked the best you’ve ever looked in your life, and you still didn’t win a place in your competition.

This can make you feel upset, disappointed and even angry. It is a hard thing to take, especially if you have given every effort and dedication to this goal.

But the most important part of competing, is the journey.

What can you do:

The decision to start competing in a bodybuilding competition, no matter what division you compete is, in a big decision. You will have to give 100% commitment in everything that you do for this competition. You will learn a lot about yourself and give the competition everything that you have got.

What I didn’t realise was that the journey of competing, is an experience that I will never forget.

Your time on stage at a competition, is about 2 minutes or less.

But the time that you spend working out, preparing your food, taking your supplements, planning your workouts and showing discipline and commitment day in and day out is at least 12 weeks minimum.

I believe that competing makes you really push yourself to your limits. You have to push yourself each day, and do things that you may not necessarily feel like doing – like going to the gym on a Sunday morning, or not being able to go to a birthday party because you’ve have to train early in the morning.

So don’t forget the strength that you have gained, the lessons that you have learned and the way you dedicated yourself to this goal.

It doesn’t matter whether you get a placing in the competition because you know that you are still a winner. (Cliche I know – but it is true). You are a winner because you have shown to yourself that you are strong enough to compete in bodybuilding competitions.

You are dedicated enough to compete.

You tried your hardest.

You gave it your all.

And you learned a lot about yourself during this time. Never feel that you are not good enough because you didn’t place in a competition.

You just may not be what the judges were looking for in that particular competition. Don’t stop believing in yourself and doing what makes you happy.


Thanks so much for reading and I hope that I have helped you with your decision to compete in bodybuilding competitions. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Help For Fitness or me on my social media accounts below.

If you want to keep in touch, please like Help For Fitness on Facebook. 

You can also find Angeli on Instagram:

Angeli Yuson – Instagram


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Posted Under: Bodybuilding Competitions


Written by Angeli - Help For Fitness

Angeli is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and founder of Help For fitness. Angeli is currently studying a Lifestyle, Food and Wellness Coaching course. Angeli enjoys training, having fun and eating delicious and healthy food.

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