prep coach uk

Posted 5 months ago

How to make the final days of prep run smoothly

If you are competing for the first time, it is likely that you’ll be nervous leading up to your first show. After all, you’ve probably read so much about show day, watched videos, etc, but you’ve never experienced it yourself! So, naturally, you’ll probably be feeling a little nervous and maybe even stressed, as you won’t know what to expect. Whilst this is normal, being stressed is not ideal ahead of a show – if you didn’t know this already, being stressed can negatively impact the way your physique looks, making you look a little softer and not quite as crisp as you do when you’re chilled out.

It consequently follows that you should aim to keep your stress levels as low as possible on show day if you want to look at your best. But not only that – it is also equally paramount that you keep stress as low as possible in the days leading up to your show day, as well as the show day itself. Therefore, in this article I’ll aim to discuss some of the dos and don’ts that will help you make the days leading up to your show run smoothly, and help you present your best look on stage.

The days leading up – tips for peak week

When considering the minimisation of show-day stress, the first thing to think about is days leading up to your show, as you could have a lot going on.
Firstly, your food protocol might change – most people will be consuming a bit more carbohydrates than normal in the lead up to their show. If you are a male, then these days can be quite a bit higher in calories than you are used to. Therefore, without realising it, you’ll simply need more time to prepare/cook your food and eat it. If I use myself as an example, my baseline diet consisted of 225g of carbs and then when I was carb loading it went to 1000g on day 1 and 850g on day 2. If you don’t plan for this, and/or if you’ve just gotten used to eating your prep meals, you’ll have forgotten just how long it takes to prepare and eat that amount of food!

Therefore, if you are someone who works a 9-5 job, or has very long shifts, you might find yourself incredibly stressed just by virtue of trying to fit everything in. This could then negatively impact on the digestion, absorption, and distribution of the food, which is not ideal. If your show is a Sunday, you might be carb loading the Thurs/Fri or Fri/Sat but either way, you need to ensure you’ve got the time to eat, and do so in a low stress state, so that the food contributes positively to your final look for show day. Thus, wherever possible, I’d suggest taking the time off, unless you are an online coach like myself then it is very easy to do so.

Specifically for the ladies, consider that in the week leading up to your show you’ll probably have a variety of appointments set up: waxing, hair, nails, etc… These are a lot more time consuming that you might think initially, so please do make sure that you’ve nailed your schedule ahead of time so that you can really enjoy these things, and not be stressed about fitting everything in. Again, if you can, I’d strongly encourage you to take 1-2 days off work if you can, to allow for these and make the back end of peak week a lot smoother.

Travelling to your show

You may have decided to do a show that requires some travel time. It’s common for Scottish athletes to have a 6+ hour drive or an hour-long flight, followed by a couple of hours on the train, to reach their competing destination. Given this scenario, it is imperative that you have everything with you that you’ll need on the day, and that you’re not stressing about forgetting things. If you’ve managed to take a little time off work in the days before travel, this will give you more time and headspace to pack (because prep brain is a thing and could make you more forgetful).

I’d first start off by writing a list of everything that you’ll need, plus spares, before you begin loading the suitcase. The big one is to ensure you have spares of the ‘big’ things. This could be bringing a spare bikini, set of heels, or another pair of bodybuilding trunks. You’d be amazed at how many people experience these things breaking or having small tears right before they go on stage. So, if you have a backup, your mind will be more at ease. I understand this will mean that you have a ridiculous number of bags with you, but you’d rather have the option than not.

If you are driving, I’d ensure that you give yourself plenty of time and allow for potential traffic along the way. It’s rare that you’ll be met with clear roads during a 6 hour drive, so if you’re planning on arriving the hour before your tan is supposed to be due, I’d suggest leaving much earlier! It’s also worth bearing in mind that you’ll be taking natural diuretics the day before your show, and thus, will be needing frequent breaks to the toilet. Please ensure you take this into consideration to reduce stress when travelling to your show.

When it comes to accommodation, do some research beforehand. Have you picked a hotel that has parking? How far away from the venue is it? I’d personally recommend getting the closest hotel possible to the venue, and for most shows you’ll find one within a 5–10-minute walk. That way you know that you’re not far away to get to your tan (usually at the venue), make up, hair etc on the day and have one less thing to stress about. Suppose you chose a hotel that is a 15-minute drive away, and then there is a crash on route, traffic, and your late for your appointment…You’ll soon realise that stress builds very quickly. You’d probably also have the added cost of an uber or petrol/car park, so it really isn’t worth staying far from your venue.

Show Day

 If you’re staying in a hotel, it’s unlikely that you’ll have a fridge in your room – so what will you do about food on show day? Ideally, you’ll have already spoken to your coach about this, and you will have come up with a plan with specific food sources for show day. I always ask my athletes to have pre-chosen foods as options for us to put in on that first show day check in, and it is always easy sources to transport and store such as rice cakes, whey, and nut butter etc.

If you’ve got an Airbnb then of course you may have more options for food prep, but it’s just remembering too that the hard work is done by now, so it’s just about deciding what’s needed in these final few meals before stage. Be assured in knowing that at this point it’s usually just about ensuring you get to stage looking like you did when you woke up, or in some/most instances, even better!

Aside from food, let’s talk about social media. You’ll have probably spent a good portion of your prep telling Instagram about when your show is and updating people on how it’s going. The last thing you should be doing is searching for your competition, searching the hashtags of the federation, and seeing who you’re up against. This will only contribute to you getting in your own head and beginning to worry about placings and what not! Therefore, I’d suggest you come off Instagram completely on show day, and that you are mindful of your usage in the days leading up to your show too. Not only will this keep your stress levels down, but it will also remove any pressure you might be feeling. A lot of your followers may want to wish you good luck and tell you that you’re going to win, but this can really give rise to a lot of pressure for athletes that is not needed nor helpful. So, log out or turn your phone off. It’s worth noting that you also don’t want to spend the majority of your show day on Instagram: enjoy every moment of the day, after all, it’s only your first time once!

The hours before stage

When you arrive at the venue, it can be all too easy or tempting to get the headphones on and go into the ‘zone’. Whilst there isn’t anything wrong with this, I’d save it for those moments prior to stage. Instead, when your registering, waiting around in the lobby, I’d encourage you to mix and mingle. Chat to other competitors, see whether they are in your class or not, make connections and enjoy the social aspect of the sport. Not many people in this world ‘get it’ but the ones at the show do, therefore chatting to like-minded individuals will put you at ease. Remember it could be their first time competing as well, you’re all allowed to be nervous, and normalising how you feel with others feels great!

When you’re backstage pumping up, that’s where you can go in your zone. Don’t spend your time looking at what everyone else is doing, especially if you see people eating in those moments prior to competing. That food will do ‘nothing’ for the final look so avoid eating, even when others are. Stick to what your coach has instructed you to do!

It doesn’t matter how anyone else looks backstage, your hard work is done, so now is really the time to enjoy it! Therefore, if you see some unbelievable competitors pumping up, don’t stress about it, you’ve spent 16-20 weeks grafting – the last thing you want to do is get in your own head, stress, and start looking softer. So, pop your headphones in, or do your thing, and enjoy every moment of this unbelievable experience.

I’ll always try to be there for my clients’ first show, just to help keep them level-headed and chilled. With every one of them, I can tell how much more chilled they are with me being there, so if your coach can make it, ask them to be there for your first show!

In summary, the few days leading up to your first ever show and the show day itself can be stressful. The best way to manage food, appointments, travel, and everything else in between is to give yourself some down-time in preparation. Give yourself enough time to arrive to the location, pick a hotel close to the venue, and continuously communicate with your coach. On the day, stay off your phone, mix and mingle with other competitors and have fun doing it!

Vaughan Wilson Bsc Hons