Bikini & Figure Competitions: 1 Week Out + The No Fail Technique for Competition Prep

By Kate Horney

I’m an efficient person. Well, at least I TRY to be efficient! I have an 8 month old son and there isn’t any time to waste! So when it comes to preparing for this completion, I HAVE TO make the most of my time. Both my nutrition and my training must be quick AND effective….

Nothing says efficient like a 30 minute weight training workout in the garage with a baby AND a dog!

When it comes to competition prep, it pains me to watch so many competitors waste time with poorly structured workouts and counterproductive diets.

That’s why when I set out to compete in my very fist bikini competition; I decided to do things differently.  With just 6 weeks to prep (traditional prep begins at about 12-16 weeks out!) I knew my time was short and that I needed to get the MOST results I could in a very SHORT amount of time.

I’m just one week out from show time now, and I have to tell you-I couldn’t feel better!  Not only have I gotten some great results, tightened and toned, dropped about 5% Body Fat and gotten in show shape in record time… I’ve also done so WITHOUT sacrificing time with my family and WITHOUT doing long term damage to my metabolism.

Today I want to share with how I’ve learned to make the most of my time and how to do a competition better!


So here’s my 6 Step, No Fail Technique for Competition Prep:

1. Learn how to use food in the right way. I don’t diet and I do not let food control me. I eat according to my goals and I use food in a very strategic way. Do I enjoy my food?  Absolutely!  But I view food as the fuel that it is and I have learned- through years of studying my own body and it’s reactions to foods- what works and what does not work. Through trial and error I have learned how to structure my meals in a way that is optimal for fat burning.  I know what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat so that I can get the results I want.


2. Eat plenty of protein & veggies with every meal. By centering my meals around good sources of protein and plenty of fibrous veggies, I’ve been able to keep myself feeling full (even when in a caloric deficit) and have preserved as much lean muscle mass as possible.  Protein keeps blood sugar stable (giving me the energy I need to take care of Jackson and run my business) and blunts negative effects of cortisol.  Adding fibrous veggies to my meals not only gives me the nutrients I need to breast-feed my son and keep my hair, skin and nails in tip top shape (yep, that’s important if you’re competing) but also adds lots of fiber and water to my diet- again, helping to balance my hunger and cravings. Certain cruciferous veggies (think broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc) also natural estrogen detoxifiers also and aid in shedding excess water., Plain and simple, protein + fiber is the foundation for balanced hunger and a strong, lean physique.

3. Focus on sustainable efficient exercise. When creating my competition prep workouts I ask myself “is this something I could do for the rest of my life?”  If the answer is no, it simply won’t work for me.  The fitness industry’s norm of excessive cardio workouts and hours at the gym are not only counterproductive metabolically, but they are also unsustainable!  I don’t have time, nor do I want to spend hours on my workout.  A few long leisurely walks with my family plus short, intense workouts using weights, sprints and plyometrics fit much better into my lifestyle- both now and long term.

4. Make rest a priority.  It’s impossible to go, go, go, go-and never take time to rest.  Competition prep can be especially draining so it’s important that you take time to rest- not only with consistent, restful sleep, but also with strategic rests and down time throughout the day.  As a busy new mom, this is something I struggle with.  But I know that sleep plays an important role in fat loss. Sleep is prime fat-burning time and serves to regulate many metabolic hormones.  Sleep is part of every sustainable plan.  And in addition to sleep, it’s also important to schedule down time.  (again, something I struggle with!)  More workouts are not always better.  Killing yourself in the gym day in and day out without any rest days may feel productive, but you’re really doing more harm than good. Efficient, effective exercise is the name of the game. Taking rest days is key to keeping you physically, mentally and emotionally prepared- not just for competition, but for life!

Downtime at the beach: 2 Weeks out from our show and just 8 months postpartum.

5. Don’t deprive yourself.  I only had six weeks to prepare for this competition.  And at the 4 week mark, I went on vacation!  In the world of contest prep, that’s almost unheard of!  While I did continue to eat according to my goals, I also managed to enjoy my trip without falling into the “dieting victim” mindset.  For women, this is key. Thinking of food in terms of items that you can and cannot have is disastrous.  Not only are you are setting yourself up for an all out binge, but you’re also wasting a ton of mental stress by focusing on something that truly doesn’t matter.  It’s FOOD!  I don’t know about you, but as a busy wife, mom, friend, and coach, I have much more important things to think about than some stupid brownie I am telling myself I “can’t” have.  To keep from depriving myself I not only altered my mindset, but I also use buffer foods (hey almond butter and cocoa powder!) and strategically consume “off plan” meals to stay satisfied.  In addition to enjoying occasional treats, here’s my perspective and a great mindset shift that you can adopt as well: I CAN have anything I want, at anytime. But I am simply CHOSING not to. It’s my choice.

6. Don’t rely on willpower. Right in line with not depriving myself, comes not relying on willpower.  Willpower is not only among the weakest of mental forces, but in most people it actually fatigues with continued use.  I’m sure you can relate… we’ve all been there at some point or another… You start out strong and excited but after days (or weeks, or maybe you even made it months) of avoiding temptations you finally cave, fall “off the wagon” and raid the pantry, stuffing your face with all the forbidden treats from days past.  I am no different. In the past, when I come across a tempting carb during the week, too often my will was not strong enough to resist it. When I found myself confronted with a basket of warm Mexican chips, a super chocolaty brownie, or a jar (yes JAR) of peanut-butter—especially if it was near the end of the day— I’d end up eating it almost as often as I would pass it by. It didn’t take too many weeks of failing this way for them to become discouraged and give up.  The reason I failed with making fat loss nutrition a lifestyle was because I was relying the wrong strategy to implement it. The key to resisting the temptation isn’t willpower. It’s prevention.  If you want a no fail technique to competition prep, you’re going to have to prepare.  Prevent the ultimate defeat of your willpower (trust me, no matter now strong you are, it’s inevitable) by finding a sane and sustainable way (both with efficient exercise and satisfying nutrition) to prepare for your show. 

So that’s it. 🙂 It isn’t any crazy magic or super secret preparation method. In fact, it is these same basics we teach to anyone on how to get in shape-no matter where you are starting from.

If you focus on the tips above, and work smarter not harder, you will make amazing progress and will not have to worry about doing long term damage or about giving up things in your life you love.  oxo!