NPC Texas Legends || The Cost of Competing (& How To Save)

Bodybuilding competitions are NOT cheap. In fact, the money behind it is often a factor that causes people to drop out of shows or not even more forward with a prep. The commitment is not just physical and mental but it’s financial, too. This will detail the costs you may run into if you decide to follow through with a show… this is not an all inclusion list, but a good chunk of what you’ll find yourself spending money on and how much you should start saving.

These numbers are all relative to my current prep, the money I am currently spending, and my financial experience after competing in five shows. After, I will go into detail on why/how these things cost what they do and how you can most effectively reduce those costs. Here we go!

Reputable coach: $125-250/month (multiply by # of months in prep)

12 week prep: $375-$750 16 week prep: $500-$1,000 20 week prep: $625-1,250

Food: approx $300/month (multiply by #of months in prep)

NPC card: $125 (one time fee for entire calendar year)

Professional make up: $100-$125

Professional hair stylist: $125-$150

Tan: $120-$150

Shoes: $50

Jewelry: at least $75

Suit: $150-$700

Entry fee: at least $100-$225 depending on the show (multiply by the number of classes you intend to enter)

Supplements: $100/month (multiply by number of months in prep)

Gym membership: $25-50/month (multiply by number of months in prep)

Hotel (if needed): approx. $200/night

Air fare (if needed): $200-$500

Hair color appointment: $150

Waxing (bikini/brows): $75

Nails: $70

(optional) Posing lessons: $45/hour

(optional) Photoshoot: $300/shoot

If you decide to do multiple shows, you’ll have to multiply some of these costs. Your NPC card, shoes, jewelry, and suit will be great for more than one contest, but your entry fees and hair/make-up/tan appointments will need to be made with each show you do. If your contests are reasonably spread out, you’ll also need to get your hair touched up, another wax, and potentially another set of nails. Now THIS is the expensive, no-effort-in-reducing-your-costs way of doing a bodybuilding competition. (I’ll add all of this up with the differences at the end.)

Now when it comes to saving money as you prepare for a contest, there are particular things you don’t want to skimp on. Some things are just non-negotiable – you NEED food, you NEED a gym membership, you NEED your NPC card – but other things are optional. Lots of them can be done yourself, many have cheaper options, and others CAN be done in a less spendy way, BUT they are things where you’ll typically get what you give. There are two things you NEVER want to skimp on (IMO) when it comes to prepping for a show:

  1. A good, trustworthy coach.

    When you go thru the ups and downs of contest prep, you want someone you can lean on and trust. They are there to do the work for you.. take out the guess work. If you coach yourself, you’ll have to remain objective. That’s basically impossible in the depths of fatigue and depletion. Keep in mind you can be paying $200 for a coach but that doesn’t mean they’re a good one. Ask your questions, be skeptical… when it comes to coaching, you don’t always get what you pay for. It can be more or less… I have the most amazing coach of my entire bodybuilding career and I’m paying the LEAST I have ever paid for coaching.

  2. Your presentation.

    This includes your posing, tan, make up, hair, jewelry, and sometimes (most times) even your suit. If your tan looks jacked up, the judges notice. If your hair and make up isn’t on point, your posing isn’t well-rehearsed, or your suit isn’t flattering, it could (and most definitely will) make a difference in how you place – especially at bigger shows where everyone looks great. With that said, yes, your presentation is vital to your success, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save money while keeping your look polished and professional. Here’s how:

  • Make up/hair: Do your own if you’re capable. Practice, practice, practice! Multiply times. I have had my make-up and hair down professionally before, and I’ve also done it myself. I will ALWAYS opt out to do it myself because I know I’ll like it. Plus, it saves me $250. If you aren’t good at make-up or hair, pay up for services to have it done for you. This the whole “don’t skimp” thing… be cheap if you can, but if you can’t, DON’T SKIMP. Another option is asking a friend who might be good at make-up/hair to do yours… I do my mom’s for her and she saves that money, too.
  • Posing: If you’re just starting out, you’re going to want someone to teach you how to pose. Once you know how to pose, you might just want someone to take a look at your routine once in awhile and fine tune things. If you don’t learn, you won’t be displaying your physique at its best. You could have the best physique of the entire competition, but if you don’t know how to show it off, someone else with a “worse” physique will beat you 9/10 times.
  • Jewelry: This one is (kinda) optional. Everyone else will have jewelry on. One option for this (which I’ve done in the past) is ordering your suit from Angel Competition Bikinis. If you use one of their athletes’ discount codes, you get a free set of jewelry with it – a bracelet, ring, and earrings. That knocks a price tag off the table.
  • Suit: For my first shows, I bought a plain bikini and rhinestoned it myself. I bought the suit for $150, but with the rhinestones, the suit ended up costing me over $800 – WAY more than it would have been if I paid someone else to do the same exact thing. Not only did it cost me more money, it cost me a lot of time… Hand stoning a suit takes A LOT of time, people. If you don’t have that time, just pay the price to have someone else do it. Just keep in mind the more stones, the more money it’ll cost you. Suits are important in your presentation and (in my opinion) if you have a cheap suit on stage, you can typically tell. I will forever invest in my bikinis. I paid $500 for mine this year, and $450 for my suit last year.
  • Tan: Don’t mess with this. There are ways to do it yourself, but chances of it looking the way the rest of the competitors look are slim. Standing out when it comes to your tan isn’t a good type of attention. If you pay for tanning from the show sponsor, you’re putting the responsibility in someone else’s hands. It’ll be even, professional, and you’ll be looking your best. There are many things I save on at shows, but professional tanning is not one of them!

Ways to save on supplements: Look for them on or Or just don’t take supplements. This cost is going to be different for everyone and dependent on what your coach has you taking. I am at Vitamin Shoppe A LOT. I spend a lot of money of supps and energy drinks. My best advice for saving on this is not buying the extra stuff you don’t need.

Ways to save on food: Get a Costco/Sam’s Club membership and shop in bulk. Yeah, you gotta pay for the membership but it’s food and you need it to survive, sooo…  I spend about $100 per trip and I freeze some of it so it doesn’t go bad. Only buy what you need! Shop with purpose, not with your eyes or your tastebuds. You’ll find yourself either throwing away tons of food or binging/over-eating on whatever “fun” stuff you bought when you were hungry. Get the necessities, get in, and get out.

Ways to save on your shoes: You can go to a competition heels website, like Shoe Fairy, or just head to Amazon. If you get plain shoes they’re going to be cheaper than the rhinestoned, blinged-out ones.

MORE ways to save on your suit: Borrow or rent a friends. Your friends will more than likely just let you use it or charge a reduced fee to rent it from them. Some bikini suppliers have an option to rent on their sites or have sales. Also make sure you’re part of the resale/consignment groups on Facebook. Woman are constantly posting on the pages trying to sell their suits! Most at 50% of what they paid for them.

Ways to save on hotel/travel: The easy answer is to just do a local show where you can stay at home and drive to the venue. This alone can save hundreds and hundreds of dollars! If this isn’t an option, most competitions have a host hotel block and a discounted rate on rooms during the contest. For example, this year, I booked my hotel before the show rate came out. I booked the hotel for $200. I saw a post about the hotel rate for the show, cancelled my reservation, and re-reserved a room for $139. Major score! Another option if you need to travel is driving to your show instead of flying – even if it’s far away. Tickets to fly to Pittsburgh are over $360… my mom and I are going to take on the 12 hour drive instead. It’s 820 miles, which is a little over 2 gallons of gas… $360 for a 3 hour flight or $65-70 for a longer drive and time with my mom?

Ways to save on your wax: For you bikini area, you caaaaan shave, but I would recommend against it. You can see the little hair follicles with the tan sometimes. If you wax, you won’t have to worry about that or razor burn or anything else. This is something I would recommend coughing up the money for. Even though it really sucks.

Ways to save on your hair: Use a root touch up spray from Ulta or Sephora. It comes in a little aerosol can and you spray it into your roots. It looks like you just got your hair done! If you don’t want to do this, get some box color. It’s about $9-$10 for a box and you can do it on your own time.

Ways to save on your nails: Instead of getting them done professionally, just head to Walmart or Target and grab some press-ons for $10. I found some super cute ones last year that stayed on super well. It’s annoying to pay $75 for acrylics when the second you get your tan, they’re stained. I feel like a million bucks with my nails done, but if you want to save, that’s the most cost-effective way to do it.

SO. If you’re made it this far, I’m going to do some math and find some totals. These are estimates if you were to do a 16 week prep.


The cost of competing if you do everything FULL OUT, no efforts to save at a NATIONAL show:

Coach: $200 for 4 months = $800

Food: $300 for 4 months = $1,200

Supplements: $100 for 4 months = $400

Presentation (tan $120/make-up $100/hair $150/suit $500/shoes $50/jewelry $50) = $970

Show prep (wax $75/nails $70/hair appt $150) = $295

NPC card: $125

Entry fee: $225

Posing sessions (every other week) = $360

Gym membership: $45 for 4 months = $180

Hotel (for 3 days): $200/night = $600

Airfare: $350 for round trip = $350

TOTAL: approx. $5,505 (if you don’t have any sponsorships to pay for things for you)

The cost of competing if you do everything FULL OUT, no efforts to save at a REGIONAL show:

TOTAL: $5,505 – hotel – airfare – entry fee difference =  approx. $4,235

The cost of competing if you make a conscious effort to save money at a local, nearby show:

Coach: $200 for 4 months = $800

Food: $300 for 4 months = $1,200

Supplements: $100 for 4 months = $400

Presentation (tan $120/suit $250/shoes $50/jewelry $50) = $470 (doing your own make up)

Show prep (wax $75/nails $10/hair appt $100) = $185

NPC card: $125

Entry fee: $100

Posing sessions (only 3 sessions) = $135

Gym membership: $45 for 4 months = $180

TOTAL: approx. $3,595

The cost of competing if you do the bare minimum, save as much money as possible, and potentially sacrifice your presentation at a local, nearby show:

Coach: $150 for 4 months = $600 (if you choose to coach yourself, subtract this)

Food: $300 for 4 months = $1,200

Presentation (tan $50/suit $100/shoes $50/jewelry $20) = $220 (doing your own make up)

Show prep (press on nails $10/ box color $10) = $20

NPC card: $125

Entry fee: $100

Posing sessions (only 1 session) = $45

Gym membership: $45 for 4 months = $180

TOTAL:  approx. $2,490 

Now take your base cost, and add in the costs of doing additional shows if you choose… competing on the national circuit for your pro-card can cost you up towards $10,000 in 3-4 shows. These totals don’t include any extra stuff like fun photoshoots. If you feel I forgot anything or am totally off/wrong about something in this post, let me know.

If you can’t tell, even if I missed some costs or you think I’m off, competing (as a woman) isn’t cheap. Before you commit to a bodybuilding competition, consider these costs and if you can add it in your everyday “life” budget. You should know what you’re signing up for instead of going in blindly! This is long, I know… but thanks for bearing with me. I hope you learned something! Please reach out if you have any questions or edits/additions for me.