This is an article designed to help you work toward competing in a Ms. Fitness or Ms. Figure contest. If you are debating the idea of competing then don’t debate, just go for it! Almost anyone can prepare toward a Fitness/Figure contest and this information should give you a great boost toward that goal! It is nice to have the 2 classes to choose from.
When I discuss competition, there are several obstacles which seem to deter women from competing. The 4 biggest concerns I hear are:
- I can’t do gymnastics
- I am not flexible
- I can’t jump
- I could never get that lean
These are all very simple problems to deal with and age has no bearing on anything! I have competed alongside many women in their 40’s who have won or placed very high.
The Ms. Fitness routine is not judged on what “tricks” you are able to perform, but rather on how clean and polished the content is. Ms. Figure has the same focus with a bit more on physique, of course, since this is a contest where the judges want to see a body in between fitness and bodybuilding. Ms. Figure is perfect for those who are not interested in the strength, flexibility and endurance components of competition. Ms. Figure contestants should recognize that Ms. Figure does require that you to be somewhat leaner than for a Ms. Fitness competition.
Planning Training & Diet
Let’s start of with planning. You want to look ahead a year to 4 months away from a contest date depending on your current level. Training and diet needs to be periodized toward your contest so that you are prepared and peaked at the right time. I always suggest doing a few contests the same year especially if there are some contests that fall a week apart so that you can get some experience and get to utilize everything you worked so hard for. Periodizing simply means you plan progressively over time so that you can:
- avoid injury
- work on different aspects of training/diet progressively
- avoid overtraining or too many plateaus
- ensure success
Ms. Fitness wants to concentrate on the outcome of a nice toned and moderately lean physique with out too much hardness or striations. Ms. Figure wants to get a bit leaner than Ms. Fitness with a bit more muscle density and hardness yet not as lean, striated or muscular as the bodybuilders. Achieving this balance is the trick. Even once you’re at your best the rest is up to who is standing beside you and how you all look in comparison.
The type of weight training/cardio and diet depends on each individual, some need more others need less but everyone needs a different combo and levels can vary so programs have to be individualized, you can’t train/eat like “everyone else” because it may not work for YOU. Mass produced competitive training/diet manuals made bulk in advance to help you prepare for a contest can work but were not made just for you, which means you are getting second best. I am very insistent on making sure all the programming is catered to each of my clients individual needs but unfortunately not all trainers do that which can result in injury or lack of preparation. You don’t want to be ‘group’ trained for contests because the chances of all participants being at the same level has a very low probability resulting in some participants not getting all the attention needed to be properly prepared.
Don’t have one? Who cares! You can put a routine together with any theme. I have put all types of routines together for Ms. Fitness, Ms. Figure and Bodybuilding that utilize all types of talents from Salsa to Martial Arts. Take what you like and enhance it. Even some ethnic backgrounds can translate into a cool routine, so be creative because that always gives you points! Here are some theme ideas used in past fitness, figure and bodybuilding routines:
- cowgirl / lasso
- Orphan Annie
- I dream of Jeannie
- Ballroom dance
- Flames on bikini, songs using Hot as the theme (Hot Hot Hot , Hot Stuff)
Suits, Posing and Tanning
Costumes and posing suits are also going to be judged. Even if they’re not part of the formal scoring, your outfits can make you look better or worse so keep that in mind. The color of your suit is a big factor. With Ms. Figure you have to stick with a solid color for pre-judging so you want to pick a complimentary color that will enhance your physique but not take away or distract from it. Black seems to be very popular. Now it has been okay to use a dazzled up suit for night shows in Ms. Figure and Bodybuilding. Like the Ms. Fitness women, the Ms. Figure ladies want to have 2 suits to highlight the morning and night show. Most of the judging is normally done in the morning show but there are times when ties occur and those are the occasions when you will be judged at night.
Skin tone is also normally judged and affects your look. The appearance of looking ‘tight’ is enhanced by tanning and coloring. I normally suggest tanning well in advance so that by the last few weeks prior to competing you don’t have to tan which can make some people feel drained and considering you’re already dieting and depleted you don’t need added stresses. Then you can start coloring up a few days prior to contest. For those of you not familiar, there are products sold for that extreme tanned look which is needed on stage to keep from being washed out by the stage lights. The products vary but are made especially for competition and can be found online at some bodybuilding sites. I find being tanned then using the coloring product is your best bet.
Now you have to assess your skills. For Ms. Figure most women are required to do the routine in a regulation suit and heels although some organizations have a figure that is close to Ms. Fitness in the way that they can wear a costume and do a high energy routine but without inverted movements and adding poses into the routine. Ms. Fitness uses heels for the physique and gown round so here is a skill that is needed — practice walking in 4-5 inch heals (I always suggest platform, you may think they are ugly but they look the best on stage)! Of course, open hand posing (similar to the mandatory bodybuilding poses) must be practiced for the comparison rounds in Ms. Figure. Both classes need to practice posing for the quarter turns. There is a variation of ways to pose but you don’t want to be too stiff. You want to get a balance with your arms to avoid over exaggeration but the line is fine because you do need to strain a little. You want to angle slightly but keep heels together, head high, shoulders level and back, chest out, exhale to show abs. On the side pose some judges like you to look at them and others like you to look straight ahead so keep your ears open for the cues. The side pose is when you want to hike up the hip that faces the judges and even lift your heel a tad to give a nice defined leg and glute.
Lastly on your back pose you need to bring the lats out more for Ms. Figure than Ms. Fitness but in both cases the shape has to show, and tuck up the tush for a nice tight booty.
Skills for the fitness routine are a variety of holds, push ups, splits and dance. With a minimum of these you can put together a winning routine. When girls perform ‘lacking’ routines but still win fitness contest the audience can still see for themselves who the REAL fitness girls are regardless of the placings – likewise if you see a great routine but the girl has cellulite on her rear the audience can see it! Unfortunately I have seen Champions who have won contests without so much as a push up and no flexibility whatsoever but they had unbelievable stage presence, a clean and polished routine, or a higher point grade in other rounds. I still to this day believe you should go into a contest with strength and flexibility components in your routine but you don’t have to be a gymnast to win a Ms. Fitness contest.