This advice is for both male & female competitors.
Look at any professional bodybuilder/ figure competitor & you will see the X shape. Wide shoulders/back, small waist & down to muscled legs. To achieve this I believe you should have at least 2 years of hard gym training to develop the required amount of muscle before stepping on stage. In saying that I have seen people transfer from other sports where they have excelled & built a great level of muscle in only a year.
Genetic make up such as bone structure, muscle belly & shape & your ability to gain muscle will all be deciding factors if you will be a champion or not. I have seen some of the hardest working guys with a lot of muscle & very lean be great competitors but never win a show as the above factors were not in their favour to make a balanced, pleasing looking physique. It’s no good just having chest & abs without having the legs to balance out the physique & vice versa also. Recently crowned 6 x Mr Olympia Phill Heath has the ability to keep winning because he has the perfect X shape of shape for a bodybuilder.
I would never discourage someone from competing as you do not know what trials people have been through in their life. I have seen some people who obviously do not expect to win a show but they have overcome huge obstacles in their life & stepping on stage is the icing on the cake that they have achieved their goal & empowered themselves. This is a fantastic sight to see. If you have a dream of being the best & winning your competition though you first need to take an honest look at yourself & ask “Do I have enough muscle? Do I have a balanced pleasing looking physique”. If the answer is no, you may need just another 12 months to bring up a lagging body part. You also need to remember to look at yourself from the back. Set up a couple of mirrors to enable you to see your back & hamstrings. These are often over looked areas simply because we can’t see them easily as we can the front. My advice would be to hire an experienced prep coach who can give you feedback to first see if you are ready to compete & then if you are ready, provide you with a personalized diet & training plan to get you ready for competition.
Don’t be upset if you don’t win. It’s not the judges fault. You were either out muscled, out dieted or outworked. The best piece of advice I’ve received is “how ever good you are, there can always be someone better sooner or later” So, you need to constantly work hard & be disciplined. You need to be realistic with yourself & be able to receive constructive criticism. A good competitor will be able to take the criticism & should even ask for it, then go back into the gym & make the necessary changes. Come back next year, or even the year after & show the judges what you have achieved.
Competing is all about challenging yourself & seeing a goal through to the end. It will be hard but it will also be one of the most fun & rewarding experiences you will ever feel.