What To Bring To Your First National Show – Besides Your Physique

Soboardshorts you competed in a national qualifier and got your qualification…fantastic!  But now you may be wondering how to prepare for a national level show, what to pack, and generally what to expect at the national level.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen competitors who are newbies to the national circuit and have that deer in headlights look. They are completely stunned by the magnitude of a national show and intimidated by all the other nationally-qualified athletes who, for the most part, look amazing.   Quite frequently these new competitors have no idea what to pack for a show outside of their local region and end up scurrying all over the place trying to procure the items they neglected to pack.

In light of this, here is a list of essential items to pack for a national level NPC/IFBB show, along with explanations.  If you go to a national show fully prepared, you won’t have to deal with the stress of having forgotten something.


  • Board shorts (at LEAST two pairs, in case something happens to your main pair)    
  • Dark towel (you don’t want to get tanning solution on the hotel towels because the hotel will charge you to replace them!)
  • Dark t-shirts (these make great pillowcases at the hotel)
  • Umbrella (you never know if it might rain)
  • Close-toed shoes
  • Flip-flops
  • Driver’s license or other ID
  • Cash for incidentals, cab fare
  • Basic toiletry items (toothbrush and toothpaste, moisturizer, hair gel, deodorant, razor)
  • A good skin scrub – sugar scrubs are much gentler on the skin than salt scrubs.  Make sure the container is leak-proof and place in a Ziploc bag for extra security.  If this is being packed in a carry-on bag, make sure the container is 3 ounces or less.
  • Touch up foundation or bronzer for your face to match up with airbrush color on body
  • Baggy pants with NO elastic at waistband
  • Loose brushed cotton or flannel button-down long-sleeved shirt
  • Socks (your tanned feet will stain the sheets!)
  • Underwear
  • Enough changes of casual clothes for the time that you will be at location
  • Nice outfit in case you feel inclined to go out to celebrate after finals
  • Diuretic (if your coach advises it)
  • Food – make sure to pack extra food.  You can freeze your food then pop it in the microwave as you need it.  
  • Supplements
  • Safety pins
  • Moist wipes – travel pack size

If you map out your packing strategy you should be able to remember to pack all the essentials.

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