Category Archives: figure competition

Keep On Keeping On!

by Contributing Author, NGA/IFPA figure pro and Figure/Bikini Coach Tiffany Benson

Tiffany BensonSometimes it is difficult to keep on; keeping on. A figure athlete should strive to find that perfect place of constantly wanting to improve her athleticism and drive. Our journey does not stop once we step off stage….I, personally have been known to come off stage and gain 10 lbs. While gaining some healthy weight is healthy after competition….my “off stage weight” was not all healthy!

There’s an importance In “balance” and in “reverse dieting!” Figure competing is not for everyone. A lot of people will go on to compete and earn a pro card, to never compete the pro level. They perhaps made their “contest prep” way too difficult, un-enjoyable and unattainable. I like to treat myself as an “on season” athlete all year long. That’s not how I always viewed it though. I have been competing for over 10 years , but this balance I have today took a very long time to achieve. This is why I love helping women learn how to look like an athlete and feel like an athlete whether they compete or not….its very important to aim for “lifestyle” changing training and eating. Continual improvement and enjoying the process is key! Keep it healthy and happy everyone!



Getting started with Figure, Bodybuilding and/or Bikini Competitions

by Contributing Author and Figure/Bikini Coach Tiffany Benson

Tiffany Benson

Personally, I know plenty of women who “think” of how wonderful it would be to try a figure or bikini competition. After some more mature muscle is added to your frame, you may even decide to crossover and compete female bodybuilding. It is all very exciting…I, personally did compete in 2 bodybuilding competitions back when I was in the Army, when I was still on the smaller side. I, really enjoy the look of figure and prefer to carry the “off-season” weight that I carry, rather than the weight I would carry with even more muscle as a bodybuilder. First-thing’s-first is to find where you feel you would fit in best, and what seems more interesting to you. Female bodybuilders need to carry quite a bit of muscle, so would need to start lifting and work up to lifting heavy, and using the correct macronutrients and macro timing to add on muscle mass. Figure, needs quite a bit of muscle but is more about symmetry when you are on stage in front of the panel of judges. The “leaning out” phase is a bit different with figure vs’ bodybuilding, and during the “peaking week” which is the week leading up to your competition, a bodybuilder will do a little bit more drastic changes to come in with a bit more of a “drier” look than a figure girl. Now bikini, is not as muscular as figure, bikini is softer, and while diet is strict still, it is a bit more relaxed than figure or bodybuilding. The training is different too, as the looks are different. All 3 divisions take a lot of hard work, dedication and commitment to become a competitor.

     As a competition prep coach and a lifestyle coach, I get asked pretty often, “do you think I can do it?” And my answer for everyone is “yes!” AS a mother of 3, and one whom did NOT stay in great shape throughout any of my pregnancies, I know firsthand that anyone can work hard and produce incredible results. Yes, becoming a competitor is not easy, but it definitely is worth it and gives one a whole new found respect for the body and dedication it takes to transform, and rearrange your physique. The thing I like to tell most women is to train and diet and prep like you are going to compete. Either way, in the end you have won a competition. You have proven many things to yourself. Never doubt or short change yourself. Become an athlete within yourself first! And best of luck to you, as you will overcome many fears and obstacles. The saying “nothing tastes as good, as looking good feels,” is so true and right on. Impress your own self! You can do it…and I believe in you!

Much love, peace, happiness and health. Tiffany Benson~NGA and IFPA professional figure athlete, and mother of 3!

Worried about Metabolic Damage in Figure Competition? You need to read this.

Do figure competition diets destroy metabolism?

by Figure Diet Coach, Terry Stokes.

Metabolic Damage:

Sorry to disappoint anyone but…
I don’t believe in the ‘metabolic damage‘ that everyone is talking about.
These are my observations after years of training hundreds of figure competitors.

My observations are:

A) Competition training often involves many hours of training and calorie restriction in order to  lose enough body fat to compete.
B) The metabolism will slow down when calories are restricted during contest prep and will increase again as a person increases their body fat after a show.
1) Competitors who continue to exercises moderately and increase calories moderately after a competition are able to maintain their body fat levels within normal and acceptable range.
2) Competitors who stop exercising, stop cardio, eat excessive amounts of carbohydrates will UNDOUBTEDLY gain body fat. The initial weight gain is water (7-10 lbs in the first 2 days) from overeating carbohydrates (each carbohydrate molecule attracts 3-4 molecules of water!). Competitors who continue to eat excessively (especially carbohydrates will fill up their fat cells fast.
   – You combine that (excessive carb intake) , with no training, no cardio + a slow metabolism from dieting… you will gain body fat fast
You must give your metabolism a change to speed up again and you must take the focus of your diet off eating carbohydrates …and include more fats and protein in place of those carbs.

Therefore you must begin introducing calories slowly back into your diet. Go ahead and eat like a crazy person for a few days after the show… it is good for you. BUT, then you have to reign it in. Eating boxes of Captain Crunch, jars of peanut butter or a gallon of ice cream (I’ve heard many many true confessions about what happens in the weeks after a show) etc.. is not a metabolic problem.
I’ve had many competitors who once complained about metabolic damage… who later competed again and then realized that they were able to maintain an acceptable weight after competition by just using common sense.
I’ve spent years perfecting my Figure Prep Diets. If you are worried that your diet might lead you to metabolic damage then I urge you to consider reading about my Figure Prep Diets by Clicking Here.

Did you give it your all?

by Contributing Author and Figure/Bikini Coach Tiffany Benson

Tiffany Benson Have you ever done something that had you walk away thinking and saying to yourself, “I really could have done better, or given more of me?” Yeah, me too…and I don’t like that feeling…So my first few figure competitions I gave it my all…I did the prep just right, ate the foods on target, did the cardio, and always placed in the top 5. But I could have practiced my posing more, I soon realized, and my t-walks… I always talked with the judges after all my figure competitions, to ask them what I can do better, and where I can improve on my overall physique and presentation.

I always took the feedback and ran back home with it. Well, in 2009…I did everything just right, no cheating on my diet, no slacking on my posing, and I went into the 2009 NGA Heart of America figure competition as an amateur, and came out as the newest NGA figure pro! What a great feeling! Knowing I gave it my all…my identical twin sister did NOT compete that competition and she was the one who awarded me on stage, so that was extra special too.

But the ultimate feeling of walking away knowing I did give the entire prep my all….is such a fantastic feeling! Now I get to joing the pro ranks and compete as an NGA figure pro and an IFPA pro. I think as a mommy of 3, I love to keep myself competing because it keeps me on my toes, and that goal, the journey and the end result, competing, is just an incredible accomplishment. You realize after the competition, that the stage time may be over with until your next competition, but wow! Look at the incredible transformation you have made! And that does not go away once you walk off the stage….now, many competitors do NOT stay competition lean all year round, that would not be healthy for your system and metabolism.

But once you have done it, and you did it all natural and with hard work, you know you are fully capable of doing it again and  it becomes quite an addiction. And at least it’s a healthy addiction! I will continue to compete figure so long as I can.

Happy training, and happy competing! Remember to give it your all!

About the Author:

I am an all-natural professional NGA figure athlete and professional IFPA figure athlete, a mommy of 3, a wife to my best friend Christopher, all-natural figure/bikini coach, Certified NOMA makeup artist, and a veteran of the U.S. Army.


The sport of Figure!

by Contributing Author and Figure/Bikini Coach Tiffany Benson

Tiffany BensonThe sport of figure for me has been something I started back in 2007 as a means and a goal to lose the baby weight after my 3rd baby was born and I stopped nursing. Most of my friends and co-competitors have similar stories…it all started with a goal. Which brings me to the whole journey to the stage….My opinion and outlook is “if you make it to competition day, you have already won the show!” Getting on stage is about way more that a trophy of a few, or even a pro card…it is within you that you have completed the journey and you have overcome all of your obstacles and fears. Becoming a figure athlete is about instilling within yourself…your mind, body and spirit that you are DISCIPLINED enough to make the decision to do this and disciplined enough to follow through with the lifestyle, sacrifice, routine, mental and physical stresses/pleasures (as there are both) and the pure determination. One must be focused, able to plan, and carry out that plan to succeed.

Off season is always more relaxed and not having to do the amount of cardio you did during your prep…it is a time to build the muscle you will showcase during your next on-season/competition season time. It is a time to eat and refuel your metabolism after all the dieting during your prep…it is a bit of a reward, as I see it…for completing the previous contest prep phase. Off season always helps me to appreciate the on-season/dieting phase more than I realized during the actual phases of it….I am usually pretty excited to get back into contest prep mode after a few months of off-season…

If you are one who has always thought about competing figure or bikini or bodybuilding…instead of just wondering “if you could do it,” I say “believe in yourself and go for it!” There would not be any of us athletes out here if we did not just go for it….everyone has to start somewhere…and quite frankly, the hardest part is starting out! Anyone who has a dream or vision of becoming a competitor has the will to do it…the drive. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. It all starts with a dream. Becoming a figure athlete is all in all transforming into your best athlete, your best you…that you can become!

About the Author:

I am an all-natural professional NGA figure athlete and professional IFPA figure athlete, a mommy of 3, a wife to my best friend Christopher, all-natural figure/bikini coach, Certified NOMA makeup artist, and a veteran of the U.S. Army.