There are a few things to take into consideration once you have decided to compete. Not only does it take time to prepare, there are different federations and classes to consider. Membership fees may also apply as well as possible entry fees to be paid beforehand and then there are the specific rules and regulations that each competition holds.
Phew! That's a lot to think about before you have even thought about getting your body ready!
The key point here is that there is no need rush! Take your time and look for the best options for you.
First things first, how much weight do you need to lose? General guidelines are that weight loss of between 1-2lbs per week is achievable. However, there is less room for error in a competition prep schedule and you want to be sure you are ready. I suggest that you plan to give yourself a week for each 1lb you need to lose plus and extra 4 weeks. These extra weeks safeguard against having to take drastic measures towards the end of your prep if you have fallen behind a little and also allow time for your skin to tighten with the weight loss.
So, we have a time scale. Now to pick a federation that has a show around the end of your prep. There is a current boom in world of bodybuilding and many new federations are emerging every year. When deciding which of many federations to choose from make sure you do your research. Below are some key points that you need to understand about the federations before making your choice.
Drug Testing: Some competitions are untested, meaning the competitors are free to use any form of performance enhancers they choose. Some are 'natural' and competitors can be subjected to random drug and/or polygraph testing. If choosing a natural federation make sure you are adhering to that federations specific rules (banned substances and length of time away from theses substances) you wouldn't want to waste all your hard work to be disqualified on the day.
Stage Attire: Especially for females, there are many, many options for bikinis, shoes, jewellery and even tan. However, there are strict guidelines on bikini shape, coverage, embellishment and in some cases colour. The style of shoes is specific and can even limit your choice of heel/platform height. Also some brands of tan can be banned from certain federations. Try to join a forum or ask a current competitor if they can advise you on the ruling before making any purchases.
*Extra point here for the ladies, custom bikini design for stage can take anything up 12 months(usually 3-6) pre booking to secure your creation is crafted and fitted in time. Be very aware of how long your chosen supplier requires for notice and book well in advance.
Posing: Before you can begin practising your stage presence you will need to know what is required of you whilst the bright lights and all eyes are on you. Routines are usually either and I-walk, T-walk or 30-90 second posing routine. If the thought of choreographed routines terrifies you, choose a federation with either an I or T walk.
Fees: If you are on a tight budget, the cost of membership and entry fees may be a determining factor as some can add up quite quickly (especially if you can, and are thinking of entering more than 1 class).
Classes: Bikini, Figure or Physique??? If only it were still that simple. Just lately there has been an increase in additional classes (especially for the ladies) and we have so many to choose from. Toned or Trained Figure, Alternative Bikini, Tattooed Muscle Model, Miss Diva Fitness......... the list goes on. Searching for a reputable coach that deals with the federation you eventually choose can give you insight as to which category your physique falls into. If this isn't an option search previous winners galleries and compare your own shape to the class photos you can find.
Enough to blow your mind?
It is a hell of a lot to consider, but once you make the right choice all that's left is the good stuff!
Do as much research as you can before deciding, maybe pick a top 3 and then attend a few shows as a spectator to give yourself a real feel for it. Imagine yourself up there and then give it all you've got.