Our top picks for the best products to consider on your road to the stage.
By Amanda Burrill, MS
Oh, I have walked the wobbly walk as a Bikini competitor. My first athletic love was actually endurance sports. (Don’t disown me, I just like to suffer.) But after my first string of surgeries, I learned how to lift weights the right way. I also learned that a 45-minute weight-room session can bring about just as much “suffering” as climbing a mountain.
The decision to take to the stage is highly personal. Bucket-list item? Revenge body? Lifestyle? Seasoned pro? For me, it was recovery from a torn Achilles tendon. I was forced into a “gym only” routine and decided to spice things up by adding a goal for myself. The fitness model in me adheres to a lot of competition prep strategies year-round: I write programs and stick to them. But the chef in me likes to eat all the things. So while you’re more apt to find me at the summit of Kilimanjaro or breaking some finish-line tape, my past experience has informed me of some basic rules when it comes to competing. Namely, there are some things you want squared away well before competition day. For example, that teeth whitening appointment and making sure your suit is going to fit properly.
And ladies, if you haven’t started yet, it is never too early to start practicing your T-walk in those Lucite heels. Or in my case, it was never enough practice.
Muscles: Blender Bottle Limited Edition
Where to buy: BlenderBottle.com
Snatch these up starting February 1 while supplies last. Months and months before you dance under those bright lights, you are working your ass off in the gym. Maybe your boo is, too. Much of your stack includes powders. Enter this BlenderBottle that can even mix up your protein pancake mix. BlenderBottle came on the scene in 2004 with its BlenderBall wire whisk. Years later it’s still around for a reason: It works.
Complexion: Zocular Skin Wipes
Cost: $1 to $2 each
Where to buy: Zocular.com
Since you were 13, nothing has been ruining your life more than a ginormous zit at the most inopportune time. On top of Mother Nature being an unpredictable bitch, the stresses your body goes through during contest prep come into play. Fight a skin meltdown with these wipes that I discovered in my quest to travel light but my determination in always going to bed with a clean face. The Zocuwipe eye wipes remove all traces of makeup and moisturize. The Zocuzap wipes thoroughly clean the face with a special ingredient that fights acne while it moisturizes. Both require no rinsing. These make life on-the-go easy and squeaky clean.
Hair And Nails: Youtheory Collagen
Cost: $18 for 290 tabs
Where to buy: GNC or Vitamin Shoppe
Collagen, in addition to being a powerful antioxidant, is a major structural protein in the body (skin, joints, bones, connective tissues), and as we age it naturally breaks down, leading to early signs of aging. Stop that horrible process! Youtheory’s Advanced Formula with vitamin C is designed to replenish the body’s supply of this vital protein. Your tendons and ligaments get dragged through the ringer during prep, but so do your skin, hair, and nails. This is your secret weapon. For those who don’t like popping pills, it also comes in a powder and liquid form. All versions are soy-, dairy-, and gluten-free.
Skin: Preparation H
Where to buy: Any drugstore
I know what you’re thinking right now: “I don’t have hemorrhoids!” Well, lucky you. Preparation H doesn’t dissolve fat or melt away pounds like some creams claim to do, but it’s good for pulling excess water out from under the skin. The active ingredient, phenylephrine, constricts blood vessels and dispels water, leaving a tighter look. Apply this to areas prone to hold water, and for up to four hours you might gain a bit of an edge in the “sleek” department. I saw people using this the day before competition, too, but the science says to do it in the morning before you take the stage. Or, you know, show up ready to slay the competition.
Tanner: Pro Tan
Cost: $10 to $124
Where to buy: ProTanUSA.com
If you’ve competed before, you are familiar with this product. Since 1987 the Pro Tan line has been the number-one-selling competition tanning product in the world. It’s the preferred brand for the NPC and official tanning product for the IFBB and Mr. Olympia. Typically, you can get all your tanning needs taken care of by paying someone else, but a lot of seasoned athletes buy the product and apply it themselves or with teammates. It just takes practice. A tan makes muscles look more defined and lends an overall sleekness to the silhouette. Pro Tan’s “Show Shine” or “Muscle Sheen” products further enhance the defined look. The full Body Builder Kit can be had for $124 and provides everything you need for a show.
Where to buy: AllThatGlittersGems.com
Real talk: I found this nifty thing by scouring Instagram while standing in line and promptly placed an order. This is the answer to a problem I had once on competition day: Where are those damn earrings? Nightmare city. You don’t need to be sweating the small stuff on the big day. Competition suits are a costly investment, so protect them with this case that also features a storage net for your rhinestone jewels, cell phone, room key and/or credit cards. Genius.
Food: Isocube Meal Bag
Where to buy: IsolatorFitness.com
Prepare! Prepare! Don’t be caught slippin’ on comp day when you have zero food options and reach for the wrong thing that sends you into bloat city. Have plenty of food with you, especially if you’re traveling for your show. If you can’t travel with food, get to the grocery store as soon as possible, keeping in mind that there are a bunch of other competitors in town, too. Pack it all the night before in a container like this one from Isolator Fitness and be done with it. This bag is fully insulated with a handy top storage compartment, side mesh pockets, and a comfortable shoulder strap. It’s small enough to fit into a bigger bag.