Your First Body Building Competition: Packing Your Gym Bag for the Show

Packing your Gym Bag

Leave Nothing Behind & Plan Ahead to the Big Day

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You've mode the big decision. You've been training and dieting with good results. You've learned the mandatory poses. You've got appropriate music and a posing routine that shows your physique at its best. And now you've sent in an entry for your first bodybuilding competition. This article won't tell you what to eat or how to train in the final few days before the show, but it will help you with something just as important - the real "nuts and bolts" of competing - what to put in your gym bag as you head off to your first onstage bodybuilding appearance.

I put a lot in my bag. Overly cautious? Perhaps, but there is one thing don't want to happen. I don't want to see all those months of training and dieting wasted or jeopardized because I left my posing trunks or posing oil home or ripped my trunks on a piece of equipment in the warm-up room. Here's what you should take.

1. Posing trunks and a spare. Make sure your trunks comply with all contest requirements. For example, they may have to be black, or the "wet look" may not be permitted. It bears repeating: Bring a spare!

2. Tanning lotion and applicators. Your tan may look perfect to your eyes when you leave home, but bright stage lights may delineate some missed or light spots, and a polka-dot design left by water accidentally splashed on your chest may not be the look you want. If you use rubber gloves to apply the color, bring them, too.

3. Posing oil.

4. A towel to wipe off excess posing oil or to dry yourself if you get sweaty due to pumping up or hot lights.

5. Your posing music. There are a number of things to remember about your music.

» Your music should be the first (some would say only) music on the tape, and the tape should be set to start playing at the beginning of your music.

» All competitions specify the maximum allowed length of posing music. If the entry form says 60 seconds, don't use music that lasts 70. The music man will probably turn off your tape at 60 seconds and the final 10 seconds in which you hit your best pose will be lost.

»Choose your music carefully. Good music may help you; vulgar music or nasty lyrics will hurt you.

»Put a label on your tape to note your competition number, and whether you want to enter to your music or begin your music when you are already onstage.

»Finally, bring an extra copy of your tape in case you lose the first, or if the tape deck at the contest eats your tape. Many times, you'll have to turn in your tape at the prejudging, so you can use the extra copy with a Walkman to review your routine in the afternoon before the evening finals. That's what I do.

6. Workout cables or other easily portable exercise equipment you can use to pump up. The equipment available backstage is sometimes insufficient, or the time allowed to use it is limited, so it helps to have your own stuff handy. Your equipment may work better for you anyway.

7. Loose workout pants, a warm top and socks. You may sit backstage for a while before your weight class is called. You'll want to keep warm and loose. Also, I find that my veins are more pronounced when I stay warm.

Even when the pants and top are not needed, you may want to wear workout socks or athletic shoes. The warm-up area may not have the smoothest, cleanest floor, and there are a lot of things that get dropped on it. You don't want to pick up a splinter just before you go onstage. That's the practical reason for wearing socks or shoes. There is an aesthetic reason, too. When you do a rear pose and "spike a calf," the audience may he staring directly at the dirty bottom of your foot. And one last thing - don't forget to take off the socks or shoes before you go out to pose!


1. If you belong to the organization sanctioning the contest, take your membership card unless you want to pay for another one at the registration table.

2. If you need a membership card or have not yet paid the contest entry fee, make sure you have enough money.

3. If you're competing in the teen or masters classes, don't forget to carry proof of age. A driver's license will usually suffice.

4. Bring the instructions spelling out times and locations for registration, weigh-in, competitor's meeting, prejudging and finals. It is good to have this written reminder even though there will probably be announcements of the schedule during the course of the contest day.

5. If the contest, weigh-in or a polygraph test is taking place in an unfamiliar location, remember to take directions. You might even want to go to these locations before the day of the event to make sure you can find them.

6. If you're traveling to an event and will stay overnight, be certain to make hotel or other arrangements.


No, it's not time for the big post-competition pig-out yet, but from registration to the end of the finals, you're in for a long day. I don't know about other competitors, but I need some food in my stomach. If you do, too, take something that will keep you going. Maybe it's a small meal right after the prejudging or a no-sodium energy bar. I also take a small bottle of water to sip. Yes, there will probably be water fountains somewhere, but I don't want to waste time walking to find them, particularly if my mouth and throat are dry just before I'm about to pose.

Your gym bag should be pretty full by now. And you'll probably want to take some other things (sprays? potassium pills?) that I've left out. Whatever it is, take it if you think you might need it. I have a friend who takes a pair of scissors with him to contests. He kneels during some of his poses, and the sharp sides of the plastic covering the number pinned to his trunks can stab him in the thigh. He uses the scissors to round the edges of the plastic cover. Now you are ready to show your best. Good luck!

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