This is a question everyone should ask themselves and experienced competitors before making the decision to start a contest prep & take to the stage.

It's also a question that can lead to a wide variety of answers & opinions as the psychological effects are different for everyone depending on the person and the method of prep they opt for.

Personally, competing was 100% worth it for me and I gained a lot through my training and prep.
I put this down to finding an experienced coach and explained everything about myself physically & mentally so he could help make the right decisions and evaluate my mindset through training, prep and almost more importantly post competitions.

Training & contest prep help me to live by a structured routine and diet and always keeps my mind occupied leaving me less time to overthink, stress myself out and helps keep my anxiety under control.

Inevitably, contest prep can have negative side effects both physically & psychologically. It is important to be aware of and control them.

This depends on the approach taken.

I found it less stressful to focus on my progress through regular check in's with my coach and making adjustments when necessary.

I was aware I could lose muscle mass during contest prep partially due to significant reductions in anabolic hormones that occur during a cut.

This can be difficult psychologically after training so hard to build muscle but it is important to know it may happen and to plan your diet accordingly so you can make adjustments to continue cutting body fat.

Other effects I've had vary from low energy, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, serious difficulty concentrating (Prep brain) and self-doubt!

It was really important for me to have a coach that knows me well enough that I can trust him to make decisions for me and reassure me when I start to doubt my progress or question my decisions as many people can develop body dysmorphia and obsess over a body part they find inadequate but actually is perfectly fine, nonetheless the person can become dangerously obsessed about it.

Post competition diet is a majorly important time possibly the most important. Everyone looks forward to eating all the food they didn't eat during prep and of course, embrace the cheat meal and celebrate after the comp but it's still important to be aware of your calorie intake as your metabolic rate gradually increases.

I reverse dieted and my calories were gradually increased over time to allow my bodies metabolic rate to return to normal and avoid body fat from rising rapidly.

Contest prep is like a roller coaster and every day can bring highs & lows and new challenges and I can't stress enough how important it is to be aware of both positive & negative effects.

Being prepared for these were key to my success in prep & competitions, it made it easier to accept them as they happened and let me appreciate the positive effects I experienced both during and after comps, which 100% outweigh the negative.

Conclusion

Contest prep can affect everyone differently and there are so many approaches it's important to find what suits you and make it the incredible experience it can be, so research, ask questions and embrace the roller-coaster of prep life.