How Many Weeks does it take to prep for a Bikini Competition?

12 week bikini contest prep

How Many Weeks does it take to prep for a Bikini Competition?

I am writing this blog because as an experienced bikini competition prep coach, I get this question constantly. Hopeful bikini competitors know they want to compete but are unsure how many weeks they will need so they can set “the” date. Setting the date for your competition is like setting the date of your wedding! You can’t plan the other things until the date is set.

For many girls, a bikini competition is a goal they set to get in better shape and they want to reach it sooner than later. Signing up for a bikini competition requires creating a timeline so you can plan accordingly. There’s a lot that goes into prepping for your first bikini competition, so be sure to checkout our “Bikini Competition Prep Guide” to learn about choosing a league, getting a spray tan, buying your suit, doing your makeup, and even an overview of how competition day will go.

Before you sign-up for a specific show, you want to be sure it gives you enough time to get lean & confident in your skin, right? I get ya! I am the same way. Give me a date and then I am giving it 100% to reach my goal by that date. But without a date… I am not fully on board.

The problem is, there is no specific number of weeks for prepping for your first bikini competition. The average bikini competition prep is around 12-16 weeks. The majority of girls do a strict 12 week bikini contest prep. However, it truly varies by person.

If you’re in this boat of questioning how many weeks it takes to prep for a bikini competition, then keep reading.


How many weeks does it take to prep for a bikini competition? The answer is individualized and depends on many different factors.

Factors that impact your bikini competition prep timeline:

-Your current physical activity level (strength training & cardio; intensity and frequency)

-Your current weight

-Your current body fat percentage

-Your current caloric intake (that you maintain weight on)

-Your metabolic health and nutrition history

-The genetics passed down from your lovely parents

You can measure body fat many different ways. Here’s how to measure it at home! Or you can guess based on these photos.

weeks for bikini contest prep

Based on those factors, let’s play out four scenarios together. Keep in mind, these are generalized scenarios and you may not fit into just one scenario. Ultimately, your bikini competition prep timeline should be personalized to your body. You need to know that most girls compete in the bikini division at 10-15% body fat which is very, very lean. The professional bikini competitors are toward the 10-12% end of the spectrum (especially IFBB/NPC league). Some leagues (like all natural leagues) the competitors may be 12-15% as the judges don't expect you to be quite as lean.

how to go from npc to ifbb


Client #1

Sarah comes to us for coaching and her current status is the following:

-She strength trains 4-5 days a week and does very little cardio

-She is currently at a healthy/normal weight for her height

-Her body fat percentage is <20%

-She has a high caloric intake at 2,000+ calories per day to maintain weight

-She has no history of metabolic damage or past issues with eating disorders

When Sarah asks us for a timeline, we will likely tell her she needs around 12 weeks (or even less) to successfully prep for her bikini competition. Why? We estimate she will lose body fat and weight fairly quickly because we can add in HIIT cardio, she likely has good muscle mass from her strength training experience, and she eats a lot already so a slight deficit in calories will yield great results. This is the best case scenario. Clients like Sarah will typically drop body fat well.

Client #2

Sally comes to us for coaching and her current status is the following:

-She strength trains 4-5 days a week and does very little cardio

-She is currently at a healthy/normal weight for her height

-Her body fat percentage is 20-25%

-She has a moderate macro or caloric intake at 1,500 calories per day to maintain weight

-She has no history of metabolic damage or past issues with eating disorders

When Sally asks us for a timeline, we will likely request just a few additional weeks extra compared to Sarah. Why? She has slightly lower calories which leaves us with less room to drop macros for fat loss results. Also, her starting body fat levels are slightly higher. So in her case we may recommend 12-14 weeks to be sure she is fully prepared for her show.

Client #3

Samantha comes to us for coaching and her current status is the following:

-She strength trains 2-3 days a week and runs 3-5 miles a day

-She is currently at a healthy/normal weight for her height

-Her body fat percentage is <20%

-She has a moderate macro or caloric intake at 1,100 calories per day to maintain weight

-She has a history of eating low calories and fears eating carbs

When Samantha asks us for a timeline, we will likely encourage her to put her goal of competing in the distance and instead focus on making some lifestyle changes first before trying to lean out for a show. Samantha already does a lot of cardio and does not eat very much. So how will we help her lean out from 20% body fat to 10-15%? We won’t be able to make much progress with cardio because her body already is used to and needing steady state cardio, we won’t be able to lower her calories much farther because they’re already pretty low. So we may recommend she spend time making some changes to her routine: steadily increase macros/calories, decrease steady state running, increase strength training frequency, switch to HIIT cardio, and begin to love carbs. A reverse diet and a breakup with steady state cardio would be the perfect plan for her! Then within 6-12 months she will likely be in a better overall physical state to begin an official bikini prep. It will be worth the wait because now her metabolism is healthier and her body will respond to caloric and cardio changes better. She will be more successful on stage thanks to her patience- and likely healthier in the long run.

Client #4

Stacie comes to us for coaching and her current status is the following:

-She does not currently workout at all and is not overly active

-She is overweight for her height

-Her body fat percentage is 32%+

-She has a good macros or caloric intake at 2,000 calories per day to maintain weight

-She has no history of metabolic damage or eating disorders

When Stacie asks us for a timeline, we will likely encourage her to make competing a long term goal at 6 months or longer. Instead, she should make some short term goals with us first. We’d want to teach her how to strength train effectively to increase muscle mass and work on slow and steady weight loss first. Then once we get her to around 20% body fat, we could potentially set a competition date.


After reading those four scenarios, you can hopefully understand how hard it is to answer the question of “how many weeks does it take to prep for a bikini competition?”

So many factors affect our body’s ability to lean out: while keeping in mind we are all individuals and there is no cookie cutter plan that will work for everyone. We must also remember that slow and steady wins the race. Going on a competition prep plan where you are starving and doing hours of cardio to lose weight fast is not healthy, nor sustainable. You will likely end up rebounding hard right after the show and struggling with unfavorable metabolic adaptations. Remember, 1-2 pounds per week is acceptable for weight loss. Any more than that is likely too fast.

Prepping for a bikini competition is complicated and very complex. If you need help with your nutrition or training for a bikini competition, find a professional who can help guide you. Here at Beautiful to the Core we have our two doctoral degrees in health sciences and have a lot of experience coaching women from all different background and scenarios. We can help customize a program that is perfect for you and will guide you to success on stage. Whether it’s a standard 12 week bikini contest prep or a longer one, a fast tracked easy prep, or a longer one with more beneficial goals in mind, we can help you.

bikini competition prep coaching
bikini competition coach

If you’d like an estimate on number of weeks we’d recommend for you for a competition prep, feel free to email us at info@beatifultothecore.com and include all the factors listed about in each scenario, in addition to a photo of you (in sports bra/shorts or swimsuit). We are happy to give you our quick recommendation and answer any questions you may have about our coaching packages. Checkout our package options HERE.

Remember, this is the only body you get. Doing a bikini competition is an amazing learning experience and will help you grow, but there’s life after a competition. Don’t take the fast track to lose weight quick for a show and then expect to keep it off. Don't sacrifice your long term health. Choose a program that fits your lifestyle, goals, and provides a healthy and safe for your body prepared for the stage. That way, your body and metabolism stay healthy post-show and allow you to continue to thrive!

free fit guide back to the basics
Please follow and like us:
Follow

About the Author

Stephanie Dorworth is the Founder of Beautiful to the Core. She is a Doctor of physical therapy, Pilates instructor, Internationally published fitness model, and Freelance health & fitness writer. She is passionate about empowering other women to lift heavy, practice flexible dieting, and love their bodies.

(10) comments

Add Your Reply
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.beautifultothecore.com/2018/02/12/weeks-prep-bikini-competition">
YouTube
YouTube
Pinterest
Pinterest
Instagram
back to the basics beautiful to the core
GET YOUR FREE 52-page BACK TO THE BASICS ebook and the latest health & fitness news from Beautiful to the Core!
x