Compete or Just Look Good?

Compete or Just Look Good?


There are a lot of motives for building muscle..

You can be a bodybuilder and not go into competition. That’s fine. Bodybuilding on the most basic level is about building up your body’s muscles and getting into the best physical, mental, and aesthetic shape you can—and reaping all the physical and mental health benefits I outlined in the Introduction. You can get all that without ever slapping on the oil and posing on a stage. It’s all good. But if you are interested in taking bodybuilding to the next level competition—you will want to explore exactly what preparing for a competition entails and to ask yourself some important questions:

• Can I commit the time to prepare for competition?
• Do I have the time to do the required training?
• Can I afford it? (Not just entrance fees but the costs of a special diet, supplements, gym membership, and travel.)
• Should I train on my own or hire a coach?

These are all legitimate questions that you should ask yourself before embarking on the journey to compete in a bodybuilding competition. Bodybuilding isn’t only about the day of competition, it takes vast amounts of time to prepare yourself for that day, beginning months in advance. The amount of time you’ll need to train, prepare food, and practice the art of posing will be a big part of the journey. In addition, the costs associated with food, travel, and registration are many times overlooked by would-be bodybuilders. Another potential cost that needs to be considered is hiring a prep coach. A big way to jump the learning curve is to have the guidance of coach. Start with a realistic evaluation of your potential and ask yourself, “Why do I want to compete?” Is this a personal journey or a challenge? Do you want to compete because you feel you have a physique that will win? If your sole purpose of competing is to win, I recommend that you reconsider your motives.



A bodybuilding journey for the sole purpose of victory will keep you from being able to truly enjoy every step you take. By the time your competition arrives, you may have missed the grander rewards gained from all that preparation. Competing as a bodybuilder is more about the journey and about your personal commitment to bringing your physique to a level only a few achieve, than about any trophy or award you may take home. Bodybuilding is a commitment. You must make a strong commitment to training, nutrition, meal preparation, and self-improvement, which all leads back to your strong commitment of time and money. For many professional and elite level bodybuilders, a way to balance this all out is to hire a prep coach, someone who becomes a second set of eyes to evaluate your physique throughout the dieting and training process. This person can be someone who only evaluates your physique or someone who provides you with both training and nutrition coaching. This can be done personally by taking pictures week by week and reevaluating your progress or relying on the judgment of the coach you’ve hired. Of course, if you hire a coach, you are facing a bigger financial commitment.


The financial impact of preparing to compete in a bodybuilding competition is often overlooked by new competitors. For one there is the jump in grocery costs for the duration of your contest preparation, and this cost can increase over time because food quantities may increase. Weekly grocery bills can run you anywhere from $150 to $300 per week. Second, you have to look at the cost of the registration for a competition—and your membership dues to the organization holding the competition. This alone can run between $100 and close to $300. For many who choose to compete, other surprising costs are the expenses of travel, hotel, tanning supplies, and perhaps even tickets for family to attend your competition. Each of these will add to your initial costs. For example, in 2010 I won close to $3,000 by either winning or placing second or third in three competitions, and yet this didn’t cover my costs during the contest prep season. But, as you can imagine, I’m not doing this to get rich or even to pay the bills. This is my avocation. I’m just fortunate that it meshes so closely with my day job.

Natural bodybuilding isn’t about competing to win money or even about being awarded a trophy. Your decision to compete must be more about you challenging yourself, than it is about you beating any other competitor. Bodybuilding is a subjective sport: you’re allowing a judging panel to decide whether they believe your physique is better than your fellow competitors’.