Are you interested in getting started with bikini, physique, or fitness competitions? Maybe you’ve been competing for a while and wonder how to prepare for national travel. As a fitness and physique competitor with more than 35 shows and two world wins, I share my top five peak-week and show-day mishaps and what to do to avoid them!
1. Calf cramps
Launching into the very first move in my fitness routine, my calf cramped, crumpling me directly back into the floor. What happened? Potassium depletion! Some of my food had been destroyed by an ice pack that exploded during air travel. What I failed to realize was that I’d eliminated potassium by not finding a replacement. Without potassium, muscles will cramp. Major sources of potassium include bananas, potatoes, leafy greens, or electrolyte supplements.
This is a major problem for competitors who cut carbs for prolonged periods. Without fiber, you can’t poop. This issue can be avoided by cycling more vegetables and at least some whole grains into your meal plan for part of each week. If you need to cut down on whole grains by a significant amount to reach your peak physique, try carb cycling and/or using a fiber supplement, flaxseeds, or chia seeds up until a few days before the competition.
Ever hit the stage with uncontrolled trembling and instability on your feet? Even 2% dehydration can impair performance. Many competitors create a workaround by drinking a gallon of water per day for several months to weeks before a competition. On show day, they often sip water all day, creating a relative dehydration to peak physique, as opposed to truly being dehydrated.
4. Tanning Gone Bad
So many things can go wrong in the tanning department! My two biggest mishaps are tanner containers bursting in air travel and forgetting the tanning application sponge. If you are using a self-tanner, how can you avoid these mishaps? If flying by air, the tanner must go under the aircraft. Double bag it in 2-3 layers of zip locks so the tanner doesn’t destroy your clothes and suitcase. Also, mail a backup set of tanner to your destination host hotel at least 10 days before your competition. If you forget a tanning loofa, a car wax sponge works for foam-based tanners. A small sponge paint roller works for Pro Tan.
5. Suit Connector Breaks
While fabric rips can be fixed with needle and thread, broken rhinestone connectors are tricky! I was three competitors away from going on stage when one of my connectors randomly broke. Luckily, a teammate came to the rescue. The fix? Use jewelry wire to repair the connector in seconds.
Photo: Meredith Butulis does a one-handed handstand on stage during a recent fitness competition. Copyright: Gordon J. Smith
Whether you are just getting started in competition or taking it up to a national or international level, I hope the sharing of these experiences helps you prepare for a great next show. Have questions or stories to share? Let us know! We love to hear from you. In the meantime, share this article with your fitness and physique competitor friends to help them prepare for a great experience too!
About the Author: Dr. Meredith Butulis, creator of the ISSA Fitness Comeback Coach Certification (online), is a Sports Medicine Physical Therapist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and Precision Nutrition Certified Nutrition Coach in practice since 2002. She consistently walks the talk as a fitness, physique, and OCR world-level competitor and lifestyle transformer since 2006, celebrating many wins along the way. Want more total fitness lifestyle inspiration and interaction? Follow Dr. Meredith on Instagram @Dr.MeredithButulis or join the free “Fitness Focus Fuel” Facebook Group.