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Wednesday August 15, 2018

Competition Training at Any Age - Part 5

Written by Scott "Old Navy" Hults
Training for your first Bodybuilding Competition at any age

Training for Your First Competition at Any Age

Step 5: Tanning & Grooming


by Scott “Old Navy” Hults, NFPT-CPT

FAME WNSO, NGA & IDFA Natural Master Pro Bodybuilder

FAME, NGA and OCB Contest Judge


Note: This comprehensive article, written for the prospective competitive athlete is split into seven sections, any one of which can be reached through the following links. Special thanks to Scott "Old Navy" Hults for this well written and thoughtful article.


1. Introduction and Deciding to Compete.

2. Diet and Supplements

3. Training

4. Posing

5. Tanning and Grooming

6. The final two weeks

7. Considerations

Tanning & Grooming:

tanning for a bodybuilding competition

The darker you are the more defined you will appear on stage. It is very difficult to be too dark. The common expression is "apply several coats of tan, when you think that you are finally dark enough, apply another coat. A good natural base tan is recommended however you will need to be considerably darker.

Tanning & Grooming:
There is an old bodybuilding saying, “If you think your tan is dark enough, put on two more coats.”

Great advice. Tanning for a bodybuilding competition is different than tanning for the prom or before you go to the beach or to a modeling job. While posing on stage during a bodybuilding competition, your cuts and muscularity must show up well against the very bright stage lights. You look your best if you are very, very dark. You look washed out and flat if your tan is not dark enough.

There are lots of ways to tan. Some are inexpensive and some are very expensive. Let’s talk first about the least expensive way. The sun. It’s free and easy to use. But there are drawbacks. First, you can’t always depend on the sun being “out” when you need it. Second, it takes longer to tan in the sun than it does to tan using other means. Third, you can burn in the sun and cause peeling, which, on stage would be a disaster. And, finally, unless you know of a nude beach or have access to a private deck, you will develop tan lines that may show up on stage when you wear your posing suit.

The most reliable tan is achieved over time by visiting a good tanning salon. By good, I mean one that changes their bulbs frequently and is clean and well organized. I wouldn’t go to a tanning salon located in the rear of a coin-operated laundry (they do exist). If you want to keep a good healthy tan throughout the year, you should purchase a tanning package of minutes or unlimited sessions and try to go twice a week. By doing that, you won’t have as much “white” to cover up as you make your final preparations for your competition. And, in order to keep you skin healthy and smooth, you should apply a good tanning bed oil before each session and a good moisturizer after tanning. Both of those products are available for sale at the salons.

Once you have a decent base tan, one where people ask you in the middle of the winter, “Where have you been?”, maintain that color until it’s time for your contest.

During the final week, while your body is carb robbed and your brain is a lump of mush, you must think about applying enough tanning color to be “right-on” for the stage.

Again, there are a couple of ways to achieve this impossible task while the rest of your world is in a pre-contest daze. One way to apply self-tanning products and the other is to be professionally sprayed.

The bodybuilding industry has several products that guarantee a competition-quality tan, applied in coats, two to three days before your show. And, they offer several products to enhance the “look,” including competition bronzers, contest finishers, hair removal products (we’ll talk about that later), instant tanners, etc. All of them work, some better than others. One company is ProTan (, another is Dream Tan, featured on many bodybuilding websites. Since they are oil-based, most of the self-application products never really dry on your skin and you wind up leaving a trail whenever you touch or rub up against something.

Pro Tan Instant Competition Color ASN Dream Tan

The most expensive, but most effective way to tan for a contest is to be sprayed professionally two or three times the week of your contest. Most larger tanning salons have a spraying room where you strip down to your posing suit, pulling it up to how you will wear it on stage and let the attendant apply a generous spray-coat of dark color. You will notice instantly that you are darker than you were when you walked in with your base tan. If you are really dark to begin with, you can get away with two coats over two days. Three coats over three days will guarantee you will be dark enough. The sprays dry on your skin and last up to four days before beginning to fade, and they can be washed off in the shower on Saturday night after your competition. But, during the competition, you will not have to worry about being dark enough.

No matter if you decide to do it yourself or have it done professionally, just be aware that your tan will help determine your standing in your competition. Give it the attention it deserves.




During a bodybuilding competition, the audience and judges are looking at you while you are standing on stage wearing nothing more than a skimpy posing suit.  You are trying to show off your physique and grooming is a very important part of your appearance.  If you are not well-groomed, it will take away from your overall look.  In the last section, I covered tanning.  Here I will cover hair.  In short, other than the hair on your head, you have to get rid of it.  A male bodybuilder cannot have chest hair, underarm hair or leg hair.  Women need to rid themselves of all underarm and leg hair.  Unless your hair is very fine, you will also need to get rid of arm hair, toe hair, and hand and finger hair.  And, where there is hair under your posing suit, it has to not show, period.


Start you final week of contest preparation by getting a good haircut or styling.  You should do this before you begin your final tanning prep, since you will want to tan any area that was covered by hair before it was cut.   For a Saturday contest, I recommend you cut your hair by Tuesday.


Removing the rest of your body hair can be tedious.  There are several ways to remove hair.  The most expensive and most permanent is laser hair removal.  It can take several sessions and cost hundreds of dollars but it very effective if you want your hair removed permanently.  More temporary and far less expensive is using hair removal products.  Usually found in the women’s products section of drug stores, the most popular are Nair and Sally Hansen.  A bottle of lotion costs around $4.50 and is usually enough to take care of your contest needs.  It takes about five minutes to apply, four minutes of waiting and then a shower to remove the lotion and hair.  After drying, you should apply a light coating of moisturizing cream over the area where you removed the hair.  Hair removal products usually keep the hair away for a week, plenty of time for your contest.


If you don’t want to use a hair removal product, another way to remove hair is to shave it off.  Use a fresh razor and plenty of soap or cream and go slowly to prevent nicks and cuts.  Sometimes, shaving will leave a rash or stubs of hair that could show up under the bright lights on stage.   If I am Scott "Old Navy" Hults logogoing to shave, I do it on Wednesday morning before my Saturday contest and on the other days, while I’m tanning, I go over the areas with an electric shaver to prevent cuts.  I also use an electric shaver the morning of the contest, never a razor.


One of the best ways to remove hair is to apply tape-like strips to the desired area and then quickly rip off the strips, removing the hair with the tape.  I have never tried this method and I don’t think I will.  It does work though and seems to last longer than lotions or shaving.  But, man, it really hurts!


You always want to look your best on Saturday morning at the prejudging.  If you take care of the little things early on in your preparation, you will be confident, look confident and show well.









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