What To Expect On Show Day (and the stuff no one tells you about)
Its show time! You are now ready to show off all of that hard work and discipline you have been putting in at the gym and in the kitchen. Contest day can be a very long day and a not so glamorous one. You will be sweaty, smelly and oily… and trying to keep your competition tan looking good is a whole other story. You also need to have meals prepared, make sure you have everything on your packing list, you need to know where you are going and what to expect…you need to be ready.
In This Post:
- Just Ask
- Contest Weekend
- Night Before
- Contest Day
- Contest Format
- Contest Day Timeline
- Glued & Glazed
- Gluing Your Suit
- Pumping Up
- On Stage
- Keeping Your Tan in Good Shape
- Turning Green
- Tan Faux Pas
- How to Pee!
- Show Day Packing List
If you are doing your first show and you don’t know anyone that will be backstage… don’t worry! If you are ever in doubt about what to do, or where to be… just ask someone! As time goes on, the more people you get to know, the more fun it gets. Bodybuilding can be a “small world.” Most people in the biz know’s everyone else in the biz. Make connections and talk to people. You will learn a lot. Your first show can be stressful so set yourself up for success and be prepared.
Here’s a rundown of what your show prep and day will look like. The following times are used as an example. Make sure you read through all of the information sent to you by your show promoter so you are in the right place at the right time.
Night before a contest:
- First spray tan appointment. (or first coat of DIY tanner) See Your Competition Tan- What to Expect
- Register/check in:
This will vary depending on the contest. Usually NPC contests have you check in for the show the night before or the morning of. Natural drug tested shows such as the NANBF have you check-in at your polygraph test appointment the week of the show. (note, your entry form for a show must be sent on or before a specific date, usually about 1 month prior). Some contests require you to bring or wear your suit bottoms to check for glute coverage guidelines.
- Pack your bag to bring to the show. See packing list
- Prepare food for show day.
- Go to bed early.
You have a long day ahead. Sleep on old sheets and in your dark clothing so you don’t get the competition tan on your good sheets. If you stay at the hotel, bring your own sheets.
What will the day look like? Most shows are all in one day. There is a morning prejudging show and an evening finals show OR a running format where the contest will have pre-judging and finals all in one shot. There are some very large shows that may be split into two days.
All classes go on stage in the prejudging segment to be judged. The prejudging show may take anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on number of divisions, classes and number of competitors entered. Then everyone gets an afternoon break (no afternoon break for a running format contest, just intermission). After that, head back to the venue around 5ish for the 6 PM finals show where everyone goes back on stage for individual presentations and class awards. An evening show could last 2-7 hours.
Contest Day Timeline
The following is a typical time line for a contest although, a contest with a running format will not have the 3-4 hour afternoon break between pre-judging and finals, it would be a 15 min intermission.
4-5 AM: Second spray tan appointment (or 2nd coat of DIY tan)
6-7:30 AM: Do hair, make-up. (or have it done professionally.) Just before you leave for the venue, put on suit, jewelry etc. Wear clean, loose dark clothes over your suit, wear flip flops. If I know the order of events, I will sometimes put my suit on at the show but, changing room space could be very limited and event order could change. It is best for your first show to be stage ready when you get there. DO NOT glue your suit to your ass just yet. Glue and oil/glaze will be done 10-20 min before you go on stage! Also, avoid carrying heavy bags over your shoulders, you don’t want your tan to rub off. Use a roller bag or carry your bag in your hand.
8 AM: Leave for the venue. Or whatever time is appropriate to arrive at the venue to be on time for the competitor meeting or check in.
8:15-8:30 AM: Competitor meeting. Meetings usually last about 15- 30 minutes. They will give you stage directions, show changes, get missing info from competitors, let you know if staff will glue and oil you or if there are designated areas to do these things yourself as well as other general info regarding how the show will run. You need to be at this meeting and pay attention.
9 AM: Pre-judging begins. You will want to make sure you know what classes are ahead of yours and what class is on stage. Some classes can go very quickly and some can take forever! Half the time you feel like you have to hurry up and wait. Every show is different, some run faster than others. When in doubt, just ask the staff. You will need to guesstimate how long you have until you are on stage so you know when to:
- Touch up your tan
- Eat and/or drink
- Fix your hair and make-up
- Put on your shoes
- Get glued and glazed/ oiled (15 min before stage)
- Pump up (lift weights to get the blood flowing to your muscles so they look full)
- Then line up when your class is called. KNOW YOUR COMPETITOR NUMBER!
There will be back stage staff running the show. They are there to help you! Ask them questions! You can ask them what classes are on stage and how long it will be before your class is called to line up. Also, don’t be afraid to ask or talk to fellow competitors. In my experience, most people are supportive and helpful. It’s the kind of sport where you are in it together but competing against each other. If you chat and network, you can make a lot of friends and connections. You will see these people at future shows and that’s what makes it fun!
Glued and Glazed (oiled)
Some shows are staffed with people that will oil and glue you and that is what they prefer to keep the mess all in one place. Body building shows can wreak havoc in buildings. Spray glue can get on the floors and walls which is very difficult to clean up. Your show tans can stain walls, venues seats and chairs, toilet seats etc. As the oil can also get messy. If the show is staffed with people to oil and glue you, get in line for this about 15-20 min before you need to hit the stage, but only after you have hit the restroom if needed and touched up your tan.
Some shows are not staffed with people to glue and oil you but they will allow a pass for one person to be back stage with you. That person can help you with that. If you don’t have anyone back stage with you, ask a fellow competitor. Most people would be happy to help you out! Please provide gloves and an old towel for whoever is to touch up your DIY tan or oil you. Also, glue and tan in the designated areas.
Sometimes the event tanner will oil their clients. If you used the event tanner, they will let you know in the info they send you before the show, but again, don’t be afraid to ask.
Gluing Your Suit:
If the show does not have designated staff to glue your suit, do this in the designated areas. There are usually spaces that have tarps or heavy paper taped to the floors and walls. Someone will need to do the back of your bottoms but you can do your top if needed. Gluing your suit is necessary to keep everything in place. You don’t want your suit top to gape in the side pose or your suit bottoms to look like a thong! If your suit bottoms do happen to ride up your well formed gluteals while you are on stage, don’t pick it out. It will look far worse to see you up on stage picking your suit out of your crack. Deal with it. You are already in a skimpy ass suit anyway.. a little more cheek won’t kill anyone! 😀
Back to gluing; Use spray adhesive like 3M spray adhesive or bikini bite spray. Spray the glue onto a fat popsicle stick, away from you toward a towel or the paper taped to the floor/wall, then spread the glue onto the inside seem of your suit, 1” length or less should to the trick.
Hold the suit in place for a minute until the glue adheres well. Taking your suit off after the show may be a challenge for some. The glue may take off the top thin layer of your skin. Only apply what is necessary to hold your suit in place. I have oily skin so this was never a problem for me.
How to pump up for before stage:
Now that you have been touched up, glued and oiled it’s time to pump up. Usually you will eat a sugary type food or drink right before you hit the stage. To pump up, you will want to use weights, resistance bands or body weight exercises. The venue may provide the weights and bands but having your own resistance bands are best so you are not waiting to use this equipment. You will want to pump up slowly, increasing intensity but don’t over do it. You don’t want to miss your peak. Do 5 sets of higher reps for each body part- shoulders, back, arms and chest. Don’t do legs. Its good to have paid attention to what it takes to pump up your muscles during your workouts 4-6 weeks out to a contest.
Which brings me to a good point… when you are lifting upper body during your workouts prior to contest day, pay attention to the amount of lifting you need to make your muscles look big and full. I think its really hard to tell when you have never done a show and then you are told to pump up before stage… how do I do that? What does that look like?… start paying attention now. It can be subtle but those stage lights will bring out some nice shadows on that lean bod!
Stay in the pump room/back stage area for your class to be called to line up. You can continue to pump up in the line. When your class is ready to go on stage, ditch the bands, stand up tall, smile and walk out.
You will be on stage for about 10-20 minutes or more during your pre-judging class. It could be longer if the class is large and competitive.
Anytime you are in the site line of the judges, you need to look your best. During posing lessons, you should have learned what will happen while you are onstage. But here is a run down. You will all walk out in a line. Smile at the judges as you come out. The stage lights are bright so you will most likely not be able to see audience members. Line up on your mark. There are tape marks where you should stand. Hit your front pose and keep smiling and looking at the judges. The head judge will direct you. You will then hear “quarter turn” for figure or “half turn” for bikini. Turn to your next pose.
The head judge may move you around in the line up to compare you next to someone else. Being in the center is ideal. Judges will usually place the top women in the center but this isn’t always the case so don’t be discouraged if you are moved toward the ends. If the head judge calls your number (know your number!!), you will raise your arm, step out of line and switch places with the other person they also called. Walking in front of or behind the line will depend on the contest and they will tell you this at the competitor meeting. Step back into line in your new place and hit your front pose, smiling. Raising your hand lets the audience know who the head judge had called as well as the other woman on stage you are switching with. Hopefully you practiced posing every day because you could be holding a pose for 30 seconds to 3 minutes or more! That’s hard work!
If the class is extremely large, they will have about 5 women stay on the line and the rest of the women walk to line up on a diagonal side stage. When standing side stage, you will stand in a model pose. Then the head judge will call women from side stage to step forward to the front line (know your number!). Once judging is complete, the head judge will thank you and you will exit in your line off stage.
Once the prejudging show is over, you may have a good 3-5 hours to relax… so do just that!!! Lay down, watch some TV, read, practice posing or your T-walk… whatever. If the show has a running format, this will be intermission.
Keeping Your Tan in Good Shape
Some formulas and brands can turn certain people green. One tanning product turned my under arms green. I had to be touched up all day to fix this. Even though I was touched up, I still turned green soon after. This was not seen from the audience nor could I see it in pictures. Products will react differently to different people. If a product turned me green, that doesn’t mean it will turn you green. Bodybuilding can be a series of trials and errors from workouts to diets to competition tans. After having done several shows, I know what works for me and what doesn’t as I will continue learning throughout this process.
In my experience, competition tans can be the biggest pain in the ass of the entire day. If your tan gets wet, it will run. This poses some issues when getting through the night and day with your tan!
First show tan faux pas:
True story #1:
After my first spray tan appointment, which was at the host hotel I was staying in, I went back up to my hotel room to use the bathroom. My husband had just given our two small children a bath so the bathroom was humid and damp, including the toilet. After I sat on the seat, three not great things happened…. I stained the toilet seat, I now had a large white ring on my ass and legs, and pee drops on my upper inside thighs. I freaked! I went back down to the tanner and asked them to touch me up. I was pretty embarrassed but they see this stuff all the time. If this happens, don’t worry, it can also be touched up the next day.
True Story #2:
The next morning at my 2nd, and very early spray tan appointment I was waiting to get tanned when a fellow competitor came down from her room with her hands covering her face. She looked at us and dropped her hands to reveal a white streak that went from her mouth onto her cheek toward her ear. She had drooled while sleeping. We laughed so hard… together. Then I proceeded to tell her about my toilet ass ring so she wouldn’t feel so bad. Later that morning her family walked by me and called me the toilet seat girl… super :/
How to pee after being tanned…..
Yes, how to pee after being tanned. This is yet another glamorous point about competing. When you sit and pee, urine can splash onto your inner thighs or run down your leg if you haven’t wiped well. There are several strategies girls will take to keep their tan looking good. Many pee into a Dixie cup with a small hole in the bottom holding it close to their body when urinating. For me, I still had to keep pee from running down my leg. I was not a fan of the cup. I was also told to try putting a lot of toilet paper toward the front of the toilet and then hold yourself over the toilet… sort of squatting. I still feared pee running down my leg. What do I do? Are you ready for this, I have two clean, old hand towels and I will do one of two things. Either, hold the towel on my inner upper thighs, straddle the toilet and pee, then wipe and make sure I am super dry. Or, put the towels on the toilet seat and sit with your legs wider than normal, hold the towels up a little so they cover your inner upper thighs. Pee and dry well. Its easiest if your suit bottoms are around one ankle. See, totally glamorous. But hey, when it all comes together, when your sparkly, tanned, oiled, and pumped it will be glamorous on stage!!!
4-5 PM you should start getting your stuff together to go back to the show, touch up your hair and make–up, put on your suit, dark clothes, flip flops and head out to the pre-show meeting at the venue…
5:15-5:10ish: Show meeting
6 PM: show time.
The finals contest runs similarly to pre-judging. They will run through all the classes. Some shows will have every person in the class go on stage, the head judge will direct a quick round of quarter (figure) or half (bikini) turns. Then the competitors will walk and line up side stage. The winners of that class will be called out to step to the front of the stage and be awarded one by one beginning with 5th place. Other shows will have everyone in the class line up back stage. Then, they will announce the top five. The top five will come onto stage and line up. They will be award trophies beginning with 5th place.
At some point in either format of a finals show, they will have a segment where every single competitor walks onto stage individually, gets 10 seconds to pose OR do a T-walk, a short bio is read and the competitor walks off. The promoter of the show will let you know in the pre-show meeting if a T-walk or a 10 second posing session will be done. I like to know this ahead of time so I email the promoter after sending in my entry form for the show (1 month out).
If you win your class, you may need to go back onstage to be judged for an overall award against other competitors in your division that have won their height class. This is the winner of the winners.
If you want judges comments, you can ask them during or after a show or email the promoter and they will send you the comments.
When the show is over, put some shout stain remover on your suit, place it in a plastic bag, pack up your stuff, gather your trophies then … GO EAT!!!! YAY!!!!!!
Show Day Packing List
- Competition suit and other costumes (fitness)
- Many have suggested to me to have this on before I get to the venue. But, I have found this not necessary, especially if you know the order the classes will be judged in.
- Competition shoes
- Small sewing kit (needle, thread, scissors, safety pins)
- DIY tanning products if you did not use the event tanner
- Spray adhesive glue + fat popsicle sticks for application
- Resistance bands
- Dark clothing/flip flops (which you should be wearing there)
- Curling irons
- Comb/ teaser brush etc
- Hair spray or other products. Dry shampoo is a good mid day refresher.
- Rags or hand towels for wiping hands free of oil or tan
- A stack of disposable Dixie cups with holes in them
- To pee through- yes weird but you don’t want to splash on your tan! It happens and you can touch it up. I have also used hand towels placed inside of each leg to prevent splashing on my tan.
- Cell phone
- Music player or a book for down time
- Cooler + food + drinks + timeline of what to eat when +napkins +plates/tupperware
- Clothing to wear after the show (out to eat/ after party)
- Directions to venue
- If you are traveling and staying overnight at the hotel- Old sheets to sleep on. The competition tan gets on everything!
Other things to consider:
- Extension cord
- Phone Charger
Most of the time, competitors are hanging out in hallways. Many will lay out a blanket, spread out their food, mirrors, make-up or just plain lay down and put their feet up!
Also check out:
- Cut phase 2014
- Build phase 2014
- Contest prep 2015 – Calculations and initial plan
- My weekly cut phase updates
- Competition Guide Articles