Figure & Body Building Competitions – What’s That All About?



I once overheard a conversation in the gym when a lady pointed to a picture of me – in full competition pose – and said she wouldn’t want to look like me as I was too muscular.

Her trainer pointed to me in real life (I was stretching post work out) and asked if she would like a body like mine. She said ‘definitely, she looks so feminine!’  When she discovered I was the person in the picture she was so shocked!

You see, body building is about creating an illusion.

What you see on stage under the lights is not quite what you see in the cold light of day.

Body building as a sport is fairly male dominated  – for most people of a certain age Arnold Schwarzenegger springs to mind – but more women than ever are enjoying this sport and there are many categories open to women (figure and bikini being the two main ones).

Competing in any category requires a high level of commitment if you are to be the very best you can be. The prep work involved is taken very seriously amongst competitors.  Everyone has different ways of building muscle/tone and reducing body fat and there’s no one size fits all method.

For anyone new to the sport it can be very confusing and I would advise finding yourself a good prep coach to guide you.

Fit for competition

Fit for competition…

Lifting weights doesn’t mean getting bulky.

Figure competing is not something you can just train for in a few months at the gym and look amazing. It can take years of hard work! I often smile to myself when I hear women say ‘I can’t lift weights I will get bulky’…. oh if it was only that easy to gain muscle!

If I had a pound for every woman I’ve met or trained who thought resistance training was going to make her look like Arnie I’d be a very wealthy lady by now!

Year after year I worked hard to perfect my physique. I did gain some muscle but obviously not to the extreme you see on the front of female body building magazines.  It’s very rare for women to have big muscles naturally, so more often than not it’s the effort put into the training regime that delivers the results.

You’ve been tango-ed!

I’m sure you are wondering why figure competitors make themselves a shade of oompa loompa!  We figure girls always wear a very dark tan on stage to help show muscle definition under the bright lights.  The contest tan is pretty much the only thing you are wearing other than your bikini and shoes so it has to be applied correctly. Oh my goodness I have seen stage tan go so wrong –  where some competitors have actually looked green after the tan has reacted with the PH in the skin.  When put under the bright lights they looked a bit like the Incredible Hulk!

Jenny on StageI too have experienced tan disasters in my time. 

We used to apply a product called Dream Tan, a very dark cream. Several coats are applied for a deep mahogany colour, excellent colour for on stage.  The downside to using this tan was that it easily smudged revealing white patches.  I remember once dashing to the loo for a nervous wee before going on stage, totally forgetting about the tan smudging to discover I had a white circular patch from the loo seat on my back side.  Luckily I realised before stepping on stage. I think there would have been a few points deducted for my presentation otherwise!

Without a doubt the tan looks hideous in the daylight and the downside is that it takes a while to come off.

After show day you are left looking quite tangoed for several days after. I have had some very odd looks in the supermarket despite trying to cover up.

Competing in figure is a demanding sport.

It requires dedication 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  When standing on stage you need to know in your own mind that you have done everything as you planned it and that you left no stone unturned with your prep.

I hung my sparkly bikini up in 2012, so when it comes to the next big birthday, I’ll have to find myself a new challenge!

Watch this space…

Jenny xxx