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Bodybuilding Contest common sense

Q | I'm a young bodybuilder who plans to compete in my first show, but I don't have a professional adviser. What should I look for in a bodybuilding guru?

A | The most important thing for you or any bodybuilder to have is common sense. That's far more important than a "guru." Although I work as an adviser for many of the top pros in the sport, my advice to you is to approach this competition and your bodybuilding endeavors with as much common sense as possible. If you have common sense, then you are capable of preparing for your first contest without the advice or tricks of someone who has less interest in your performance and health than you do.

Your first competition should be a learning experience, where you focus as much as possible on gaining knowledge about your body's responses to your contest prep. This is more important than winning. After all, if you win but don't learn anything about what worked well for you, then you won't be able to duplicate your success as you move on to more advanced competitions.

The first part of common sense is to keep your preparation as simple as possible. Follow a basic diet (FLEX and I have provided many of these over the years), where you cut calories slightly and keep carbs low to moderate. Observe a basic bodybuilding diet with discipline, and you will slowly but surely reduce your bodyfat levels.

Write down everything you take in and do to your body--even how much sleep you get--in a contest-prep diary. Things that don't seem significant at first may prove to be critical when you look back at your notes. Studying and comparing your contest-prep diaries can give you tremendous insight into what you should do in the future.

Never panic and try to come up with a quick fix if you're having a problem with your prep. Quick fixes almost never work, and they almost always backfire, making you look--or feel--even worse than if you'd just accepted the situation. If you are holding Water or you aren't as lean as you'd like to be on contest day, don't worry about it. Go ahead and do the show. You'll learn far more from that than you ever will from last-minute quick fixes, and the new knowledge can be applied to your next contest.

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