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Everything ELSE you need to know before your first Figure show

ELSE you need to know before your first Figure show By: Andrea Valdez © A N

By: Andrea Valdez

© A N D R E A


2 0 1 4



Hi there!

The following few pages are a sample of Beyond the Build.

To get this whole ebook and others products in my online store so you can stop wondering and start knowing CLICK HERE!

you can stop wondering and start knowing – CLICK HERE! FOREWARD There are many things I


There are many things I wish I knew before stepping on a bodybuilding stage for the first time.

Beyond the countless hours of training, weighing food, and praying to God that I would survive, there are many other unpleasant surprises that blind-sided me right before the big day.

I have written this guide to prevent this happening to you, and to keep you as relaxed, poised, and stress-free as possible during this journey through VERY unfamiliar territory.

The good news is that the investment you made to purchase this eBook shows that you are serious about your success. I would also assume that you have the physique part of this experience under control by hiring a professional to guide you through it.




am hoping that you have a solid coach with lots of experience and an abundance of knowledge when it

comes to bringing out the best in your body. If not, I pray that you have studied your booty off and are

really good at applying research to yourself with a load of patience and a ton of grit.

But you still might find that even IF you have incredible coaches, or even IF you are incredibly smart with manipulating your own body composition, being a competitive newbie will come with many unforeseen challenges.

Back in 2011, during my whirlwind ride from "wanna be" to "gonna be", I was fortunate enough to have a small group of male bodybuilder friends who had been in shows before.

Although they were incredibly intelligent and solid competitors themselves, they were not coaches, and obviously not females. These friends helped me fumble through a contest prep and earn 3rd place in a class of 14 girls (not too bad, if I do say so myself).

But however incredible their assistance was in getting my physique ready, we were all pretty clueless when it came to the unmentioned extras that it takes to be a Figure Competitor.

Many of the best physique-building coaches do not always have the time or abilities (especially if they are males) to walk you through all of these little intricacies. Their job is to get your body ready, not to hold your hand through the pageantry and formalities of competing.

And if you’re like me and want ALL the details before getting into something big, you would be very frustrated without the entirety of this information upfront.

Now of course there are seemingly obvious items to look into, like show registration, getting a suit, and posing. But how do you know which division to compete in? Or how to order that suit? Or how to walk across the stage? Or what shoes to buy? Or how to get tanned?

I had hundreds of tiny queries like this in the weeks leading up to my first show. And probably a hundreds more that popped up as I found the answers to the previous ones.

If you are thinking of starting your journey as a Figure Competitor sometime within the

Not sure if you NEED a contest prep coach??? CLICK HERE to read about why I think it’s a good idea.

next year, I can GUARANTEE that there will be some information in the following pages that you did not know before reading.

There will also be answers to questions you didn't even know you had.

And lastly, just like my other eBook on flexible dieting, I will sprinkle in some external links to other articles, videos, and websites that might help you along the way.

So relax a bit, focus on the training and nutrition, and let this guide help relieve you from the unnecessary stresses of all the extra stuff.

Here is what ELSE you need to know before your first Figure Show.



INTRODUCTION Welcome! If you're over a year away from your first stab at being a



If you're over a year away from your first stab at being a Figure Competitor, you are in the perfect place.

If you are less than a year away, you're still cool. Just be happy that you found this resource NOW, and make sure to read fast and act quickly.

I had never been to a show, never counted a macro, and never had a set resistance training plan until ten weeks before my first show…Don't stress out, all things are possible.

The first portion of this guide will get you acquainted with some terminology and basic principles to help you navigate through the rest of this text.

There will be a broad overview of what is expected at a competition and what you actually DO on show day.

And finally, we will also go over some perspective on the sport of Figure, and how it compares to other athletic endeavors that you might be more familiar with.




Let’s get some verbiage usages settled up front.

I will use the following words interchangeably throughout the text of this guide:

Figure Competitor = Figure Athlete = Figure Girl = Figure “anything else meaning female”

Bodybuilding Competition = bodybuilding show = bodybuilding contest

Physique Athlete = super confusing term because of its many uses…allow me to elaborate…

Many of the industry’s sources of information (including myself) use the term “physique athlete” to describe any individual who competes in any category within a bodybuilding competition.

I will typically use it to cover the broad spectrum of people whose athletic success is dependent on the appearance of their body.

However, in the natural bodybuilding world, the use of the word "physique" has become quite puzzling in that some competitive divisions now use this exact same word as their title.

To try to squash any confusion, here are the four common uses of the term “PHYSIQUE”:

1. Naturally, your “physique” is your body in and of itself. It is your build, your structure, your musculature, etc.

2. There is the term "physique athletes" as defined above that encompasses all athletes who build a physique in the literal sense of the word. Basically anyone entered in a bodybuilding show.

3. There is also a category in some competitions called "Male Physique", which calls for board shorts and cheesy grins.

4. There is another category called "Female Physique", which is sort of like female bodybuilding but smaller, and sort of like Figure minus the heels plus mandatory poses with open hands.

Figure minus the heels plus mandatory poses with open hands. Although we are ALL “physique athletes”,
Figure minus the heels plus mandatory poses with open hands. Although we are ALL “physique athletes”,

Although we are ALL “physique athletes”, here is a “Female Physique Competitor” next to a “Male Physique Competitor”….weird huh?

Again, I know it seems to make no sense, but such is life. Let's accept the absurdness of it and move on.




With the aforementioned vocabulary in mind, I'd like you to consider the following four items to give you a better sense of context as you read though the rest of the material.

1. What is a Figure Competitor?

A figure athlete is an individual who performs in the Figure category as a division within a bodybuilding competition.

You will find that these ladies are not as large or as lean as true Female Bodybuilders.

They are also not scrawny runway models or moderately fit Bikini girls.

Figure Athletes have above-average amounts of muscle and display their lean physique in a feminine way to be assessed on various aesthetic qualities.

We will further discuss those specific qualities in a lot more detail throughout the next section.

2. What occurs at a competition?

A traditional bodybuilding contest has 2 parts; Pre-Judging & the Night Show.

During Pre-Judging, you are lined up and compared against the physiques of other athletes in your same category and height class.

To start the night show, every athlete gets their individual performance time. In the case of a Figure Competitor, this consists of a stage walk that typically lasts anywhere from 20 seconds to one minute in the spotlight.

The night show ends with awards for each class. The winners of each height class are lined up again and compared against one other for the judges to name an "Overall" winner for each category.

As a simple example, the Figure Short Class winner and the Figure Tall Class winner will be called back out so that the judges can compare them against each other. The winner of these two athletes is named the Overall Figure Winner for that particular show.

is named the Overall Figure Winner for that particular show. He re’s a shot from the

Here’s a shot from the Pre-Judging lineup at my very first show in 2011. That’s my teal booty on the far end



3. What does a Figure Competitor actually DO?

For the year(s) prior to competing, they should be resistance training to create a muscular physique of appropriate size and shape.

For natural competitors (which is what we will refer to throughout the entirety of this manual), they will most likely spend anywhere from 15 to 50 weeks in "contest prep" mode that consists of a long, slow, progressive fat loss phase.

At the show, they display this physique using four mandatory poses which feature each side of the body, and a stage walk for presentation.

We will go into precise judging criteria later on, but it is to be noted that athletes need a muscular, feminine physique with appropriate skin color, suit fit, shoe design, jewelry choice, hair style, and face of make-up.

Yes, it can get a little fancy and a little bit expensive, but totally worth it in the end.

and a little bit expensive, but totally worth it in the end. The top 5 Figure

The top 5 Figure girls at the 2011 Yorton Cup (photo:

4. Is Figure like other sports?

Having been an athlete my entire life, there are many similarities and differences that I can provide from my viewpoint in regards to other sport activities.

Team Sports: If you ever played basketball, volleyball, soccer, or any other activity where you had other people around to keep you motivated, to pull you out of bad situations, to provide emotional

support or anything of that nature


is NOTHING like that.

The most-obvious difference is that you are by yourself. No-one's efforts can make you better or save you from poor decisions.

You also do not "go to practice". Sure, you go to the gym, but ultimately there is not a collective of individuals who are depending on you to show up.

Even if you have a coach, they will not be there to spot you through every rep, make sure you hit your macros, etc.

This is all you. This is a decision that you have made. Nobody can do it for you.



Individual, Objective Sports: If you ever competed in track and field, tennis, swimming, or



is KIND OF like that.

You are probably used to being responsible for you own successes and failures.

However, a point is a point. If you score more than your opponent, you win.

The clock is the clock. If you cross the finish line before your opponent, you win.

Unfortunately, a Figure Competition is not so black and white.

Judges and their minds’ preferences will not be so precise, despite whatever amount of experience and training they have had.

Individual, Subjective Sports: If you ever competed in diving, gymnastics, ice-skating, or



is MORE like that, but still only KIND OF like that.

Even if you ARE used to being judged in other sports, there is a different spin in the bodybuilding world.

There is not ONE governing body with a set of criteria or standards of testing for the officials.

Additionally, most other sports are performance-based, so you focus on the task to be executed.

In Figure, you not only have skills to practice in the gym, but you also have the LIFESTYLE to keep in check.

This is the biggest challenge of being a physique athlete of any kind, and this is what makes it so different from all other sports.

Everyone knows that there will be difficult workouts and some strict dietary monitoring, but it will be important for us to discuss all of the other mental and emotional factors that will make this experience one of the most difficult and rewarding things you have ever done.

With all that being said, let’s go ahead and dive more into the specifics.



THE IDEAL FIGURE PHYSIQUE Throughout this journey, no matter how much we’d like to focus


Throughout this journey, no matter how much we’d like to focus on every little detail that comes our way, none of it matters without keeping the main goal in check.

We are bodybuilders, so our body must be built. Plain and simple.

So keeping in mind that I will NOT discuss the specifics of training and nutrition within this guide, I am assuming that you know how vital all of that is and have taken the initiative to seek out professional coaching (or you know enough about yourself to get the job done as an individual).

What we WILL talk about throughout this text are the goals that you and your coach should be aiming for while you are creating your ideal Figure physique.


Let us first start with the fact that the Figure Athletes are, in essence, ATHLETES. And the overall goal of an athlete is to win.

In theory, winning a show is based upon how closely you fit the judging criteria so that you can score well and earn the highest count of points.

Unfortunately, this point system will differ depending on the organization you decide to compete it.

And even MORE unfortunately, there is not ONE governing body overlooking all of these smaller organizations.



The good news is that within the flood of shows and companies that have popped up over the past decade, there are still a select few industry leaders that have done their best to set standards in the natural bodybuilding world.

Let’s examine the judging criteria from some of these organizations, as snatched directly from their respective websites, to determine the best description of the overall "ideal physique.

The NANBF Figure class will focus on the physique. A fit physique is encouraged, muscular

development is not discouraged, but overly bulky and striated muscles are. An overly soft

physique is discouraged

physique. When it comes to presentation there are three key elements. Appearance (which includes tone, complexion and color), Style (includes creativity with choice of suit and heels and

grooming) and Stage presence (gracefulness on stage, confidence) are all taken into account.


will be ranked against each other in symmetry and

Judging for OCB Figure is based on good leanness and conditioning with full, healthy and shapely muscularity, and good balance, proportion, and symmetry of both muscularity and conditioning. OCB Figure competitors should not display deeply drawn-in faces or stringy-looking muscularity (an emaciation look), indicative of leanness, or less shapely muscularity due to muscle glycogen depletion.

In general, her physique should show separation and conditioning without visible striations in the muscle groups. In addition to presenting an overall healthy-looking, shapely muscular and lean body, ANBF figure competitors should have an even flow throughout the body; no body part should stand out from the rest. Competitors should display execution of quarter turns and figure walk, posture, confidence, and stage presence.

Judges will be looking at balance and proportion (e.g., between upper and lower body). Figures should be symmetrically balanced; upper or lower body should not overpower the other; no

must show good muscle

tone. Leanness and muscle development is expected; however, competitors should NOT exhibit

as much conditioning and muscle mass/size or present an over-conditioned physique as is presented in bodybuilding or Fit Body.

one-body part should overpower the rest of the physique





As you can see the slight variances in competitor criteria from the above, there are some key similarities to be found.

Let’s take a look at the three common objectives that all of these lists seem to “agree” upon:

1. You need muscles. - More muscles than an average non-lifting female. More muscles than a Bikini

Athlete. Chances are, if you've been resistance training in a smart manner for a year or two, you're probably muscular enough.

2. You are not SUPPOSED to be too lean. - Every one of these organizations states that a

Figure Athlete is not supposed to be excessively lean. In theory, a Figure Athlete should not be as lean as a Female Bodybuilder.

NOTE: I have NEVER been to a show where someone was disqualified or placed lower for being "too lean". It is EXTREMELY rare that someone is too lean for Figure. Remember that it is MUCH better to get very lean very early than to never get lean enough. One is a quick and easy fix; the other cannot be fixed or faked in a short amount of time.

3. Appearance and presentation matter. - There is definitely an advantage to the overall

attractiveness of a Figure Athlete. Many elements contribute to this and it is almost completely subjective. Although this is further down on the list of importance, you must still pay attention to your suit, shoes, skin color, jewelry, hair, make-up, posing, walk, smile, etc.

Happy reading so far?

Want to find out more about what it takes to be a Figure Athlete?

Here’s one more FREE chapter that you might find interesting….




Other than the ripped physique and awesome poses that you're going to bring to the stage, you will also need a few other bells and whistles to complete the perfect Figure picture.

The suit, heels, and jewelry that you select must fit the part, accentuate the body, and grab attention in a positive, flattering way.


The Figure suit is a work of art that must fit well, move well, and compliment your physique.

In my experience as a competitor, I have only used one contest apparel company, Suits By Amy, for three reasons.

1. I knew that in 2011, the one and only Dr. Layne Norton recommended that all of his female clients use Amy.

2. Amy Ardizzone's website,, provided video tutorials on how to select and

properly size a suit.

3. Amy actually WAS a Figure Athlete, so she can tell you firsthand what it should feel like and fit like.

Even if you still have weight to lose, and even if you are half a country away like I was.

Because she was always so helpful, I chose to request her sponsorship for my next season in 2013, which she fortunately accepted.

Upon another pleasant experience, I am convinced that she's the expert and so I will deliver her message to you the best that I can.

so I will deliver her message to you the best that I can. Here’s Amy Ardizzone

Here’s Amy Ardizzone on stage in 2003. She’s been there before and definitely knows what she’s doing



A Figure suit is typically the same shape as a Female Bodybuilding or Physique suit, and they all differ

from the ones you will see on the beach or on a Bikini Competitor.

Your suit will be a two-piece that connects in the back via two cross straps. You can choose to rent one, buy a pre-made one, or purchase a custom-made one. I personally choose the last option every time, but you can do whatever you'd like.

Naturally, this whole process would be extremely convenient if you knew of a certain designer in your local area. You could then view, fit, and alter everything in person.

Because my personal decision was to go with someone who was recommended, it had to be done via FedEx, email, video, and pictures.

To give the example of the maximum amount of elements that could potentially go into your suit-buying experience, I’d like to give you the details of what all had to go down for the completion of my long distance custom order.

Selecting a Suit

In my opinion, this part is the most fun. It's kind of like going to the mall, but you don't have to walk

around and you know that whatever you pick will fit correctly because it's being custom made for you.

With that in mind, the very first thing to aim for would be finding a suit that you LOVE within your price range. Choose a color that compliments your skin tone, a design that fits your personality, and a cut to enhance or hide your various body parts.

Selecting a Cut

Suits By Amy (and many other contest apparel companies) have a variety of choices when constructing your custom-made attire.

In Amy's case, you can choose the shape of your top (triangle vs. halter vs. super support), the width of

your bottoms (V vs. Tiny V vs. Micro V), and a couple of extra options that I'm sure you didn't even know you had.

One of the cool things they can do with top is to insert some VERY realistic Super Padding, which I used

in 2011, to enhance a small chest. Even if you currently have a B cup before dieting, I'm sorry to inform

you that by the time you enter your show you might be a small A cup. (Or in my case, I went from a B cup to a 10-year old boy chest that could barely fill out a training bra.)

You can also choose a more modest approach with the regular push-up padding for those who were blessed with enough size to withstand a dieting phase. (This is what I used in 2013, since I had a breast enhancement in 2012.)

For the suit bottoms, the addition that I always get is called Suit Stay, which is a built-in liner to keep the already-small V from going into your crack while you strut your stuff.

Whew! Way more options than you thought, huh? Not to worry, I was BLOWN AWAY by all this stuff once I finally started looking into it, too.




Once you've picked out your desired design and fitting options, you will need to take measurements for your order form.

Here are the ones requested by Suits By Amy, and I find that most designers and tailors need these same things.

find that most designers and tailors need these same things. Typical Required Measurements  Height 

Typical Required Measurements






For specifics on how to get these numbers, you might find it helpful to watch videos from the Suits By Amy website.

With the bodily measurements, your current body weight, the amount of time from your show, your height, and your fitting preferences, a talented and experienced suit designer should have no problem getting started with the suit-cutting process.

Remember, they are not creating something for you RIGHT NOW. They are creating something to fit a smaller version of you from the future.

This is why I would stay away from regular seamstresses or people who have never worked directly with Figure Athletes before. It is a specialized skill that is not very common.

DO NOT skimp on this part of your competitive process.

Ordering your Suit

Amy says that the ordering process for her usually takes about six to eight weeks, beginning to end.

I would recommend placing your order about seven or eight weeks from your show so that you have it at least a week ahead of time and you are not stressed about it. This way you also get to pose in it a bit, see where its placement looks the best, and get comfortable with how it feels while you move.



Now you don't want to go all “over-achiever” and order it like 15 or 20 weeks away either. I would argue against that because you will still have a WHOLE lot of size to lose, so your measurements will be more difficult to estimate.

In my experience, the typical overview of a long distance order like this with a custom design requires a minimum of two package exchanges, sometimes three.

First, I sent my completed order form via email to Suits By Amy. Not that it’s necessary, but I usually call them right after to speak to someone about any questions I have (which ALWAYS happens for me) and for them to confirm that I am not missing any information that they need.

If I know the exact suit design, fabric, and jewels, then I'm all set to make my payments so they can begin cutting my suit. But if I am unsure or undecided, Amy sends me fabric swatches or crystal samples to help me make the call.

Most designers will ask for a deposit up front before cutting into any or their materials. For Amy, it is half of the cost of the suit. This might differ for some companies or individuals, but just assume that they will not start unless you have fulfilled the invoice.

Once the suit has been cut and appropriate padding and liners have been attached, she then sends me the blank custom suit without the bling or fully attached hooks.

This is blank suit helps you check the fit and coverage on your body while you use safety pins to place the hooks where you want them.

Keep in mind that at this point (still four or five weeks from your show), it should be quite snug. You still have size to lose, so if it fits now, it will be way too big on show day.

Taking pictures and/or video of yourself in this unjeweled, safety-pinned suit will help your long-distance designer see what she's working with. She can also correct you if you are not wearing it as it is meant to be worn (I know this from experience).

Many of us girls who like to wear their shorts and bikinis super low to the beach find it to be quite odd wearing a Figure Suit. I remember that the first time I got my blank suit I tried to tell Amy that we needed to make changes that were actually not necessary at all. I just needed to pull that sucker up over my hips like a real competitor and it helped tremendously. Not just with the fit, but with the overall

aesthetics of my physique by enhancing my "v-taper" and overall silhouette They know what they're doing.

Trust these people.

Once I sent the suit back to her via FedEx, emailed her my comments/pictures/video, and paid the remainder of my balance (in 2011 when I wasn't sponsored), the suit was then completed accordingly.

A couple of weeks after that, the suit comes completed with straps that are cut to the length at which

you pinned them, crystals placed in accordance with the chosen design, and any sizing tweaks that may have been necessary after the fitting.

Viola! A finished suit! This tiny bit of attire that fits in a Ziploc bag can be quite the show stopper if you do it right.



Take the time to shop around and find the right company, design, color, crystals, price, customer service, and overall experience that is right for you.

Just don't forget that this should be a fun and exciting part of journey!

Give yourself enough time so that it is not an added stressful factor as you lead up to competition day.

Are you digging this???

Want an entire 12-month plan on how to better-prepare yourself with all the details of a Figure Competitor contest prep experience???

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Howdy! My name is Andrea Valdez, and I like making things to help people get shredded without hating their lives.

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