IFBB Figure Pro Jami DeBernard’s 7 Keys to a Successful Contest Prep

I’m Jami Debernard, 2x Olympia IFBB Figure Pro athlete and founder/head coach of Team FitBody Fusion. Team FitBody Fusion delivers a top tier, unique competition experience as well as personal coaching to achieve and maintain the amazing body transformations that our clients obtain. I’ve been in the industry for years and coached hundreds of athletes.

Here are my 7 tips for competing:

1. Hire the Right Coach for You

It’s very important to choose the right coach for you. Make sure that the coach’s results with their clients are consistent with what you are looking to achieve. Find out what types of post show support will be provided. Many people are surprised by the emotions post show and the need for assistance with their nutrition to avoid the dreaded rebound. Find out if the people working with the coach you’re considering are happy and thriving both during competition prep and during their off season. In addition to proper nutrition and training techniques your coach should teach you how to present your individual physique to showcase your strengths and conceal your weaknesses. A great coach can evaluate your physique and create lines and shape to emphasize muscles that can make the difference in where you place.

2. Choose the Right Show

Make sure you have plenty of time to properly prepare yourself for competition. Crash dieting combined with tons of cardio is a recipe for metabolic problems and rebound. This is also a sure way to lose hard earned muscle so make sure you understand your body and metabolism and prep is a healthy safe way.

FitBody Fusion IFBB Bikini Pro Hana Devore

3. Avoid Stress

The key to remember is you need to avoid any additional stress added to your psyche. Stress produces cortisol and prolonged high levels of cortisol produce a number of negative side effects one of which happens to be the production of abdominal fat, so that alone should encourage you to eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. Obviously that is not going to happen from one day of stress, but it is good information to help give you one more reason to eliminate unnecessary stress from your life. Plan well so when your competition day arrives it will truly be an enjoyable experience despite the fact that it will be somewhat overwhelming.

4. Hair and Makeup

I suggest getting your makeup done by an artist that has done many shows. Make sure you’ve seen their work and that you like it. It’s important that your makeup matches your tan and that the makeup is going to look good under bright stage lighting. If you are really good at doing your hair it’s fine to do it yourself but make sure looks natural and not overdone.

5. Tan

You should also get your spray tan done by a professional. You do not want an uneven blotchy tan. A too dark tan or a too light tan can be distracting and take away from your physique and the whole package you bring to the stage. Regular spray tanning at your local salon will NOT be dark enough. Check the venue’s website to find out what company will be on site tanning. Make sure you follow the tanning company’s instructions to properly exfoliate and hydrate your skin the week leading up to the event. Once you have your first coat (the night before show) protect your tan by staying away from water and staying cool so you don’t sweat. You will want to sleep in lightweight clothing so you don’t mess up your tan while sleeping.

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FitBody Fusion National Bikini Athlete Kami Pellerin

6. Suit, Heels & Jewelry

One of the most important decisions for a successful competition is the bikini. Make sure you find out the rules of the types of bikinis you are allowed to wear. The most important thing is that the suit fits correctly. You want to stand out on stage so jewel tones and blinged out suits help get you noticed. To save money, many bikini designers offer to rent or suits but you loose the advantage of the custom fit. There is no need to replace your bikini for every show. Get one that looks great on you and you can use it over & over.

The standard heel is clear and with a 5 inch heel. Buy your shoes ahead of time so you can break them in and practice posing. Typically the heels without the ankle strap are better. They hold your foot in place and are easy to slip off backstage so your feet can get a break.

Keep jewelry simple. Stick with crystal (or costume jewelry), bangle bracelets, earrings and rings. Make sure that what you choose fits your style and looks good with your suit.

7. Posing

You need to have your stage walk and posing perfected! You only have about 10 seconds on stage and you want to stand out the entire time. Taking a posing class is a great way to get familiar with a stage walk. A coach can help you get a routine in place and then you can practice before show day. Also, when on stage make sure to make eye contact and acknowledge the judges. It’s also important to make sure the judges can see your number at all times and that you remember what it is so you can follow their instructions. Many times the floor is carpeted so if you aren’t sure about the venue practice both on hardwood floors and low carpeting. The best way to know how you look is to videotape yourself posing. Relying on mirrors can get you in trouble when you get on stage and you need to be able to feel whether you’re in the proper position Once you think you have your routine down start videoing yourself doing it without the mirror. Stage presence is important. Be your most vivacious self and have fun. Don’t worry if you are shaking or nervous … even the pros feel this way sometimes.

Practicing your routine as much as possible will allow you to perform it on stage without hesitation. Efficiently transitioning between your poses not only creates a polished and flawless presentation, it also allows more time to hold each pose. This becomes extremely important when considering the limited window you have to present months of hard work and training. Most competitions will only allot you approximately 10 seconds to complete your presentation. This equals roughly two seconds per pose if you present four poses and allow time for transitions. When you’re on stage, you need to be able to get into your poses and “feel” how long you hold them so you don’t run the risk of falling short on time and failing your routine.

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Jami, Kami, Raquel, hana with text