Bodybuilding is now more popular than ever before, but that doesn’t necessarily include competitive bodybuilding. Whilst there are more and more people hitting the gym and lifting weights to improve their physiques, more and more people are also making the decision to step on stage and become a competitive bodybuilder. Though in their heads, people imagine bodybuilding contests to be like the Mr Olympia, complete with huge hulking bodybuilders, supplement companies and sponsors, and magazine photographers, in reality, most everyday shows are far less glamorous. Becoming a competitive bodybuilder is extremely rewarding, especially as you get to see months and months of hard work all boil down to just one day, or one weekend, but the life is far from glamorous. If you’re entering your first show, or are attempting to pursue bodybuilding as a possible career, here are a few things that people will not tell you about becoming a competitive bodybuilder.

It’s a lonely life

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If you wish to become a competitive bodybuilder, you will obviously need to take your training very seriously, which will mean having a virtually non-existent social life. When you are in training, not only must you put your work in at the gym, you must also ensure you are eating right, eating regularly, and getting plenty of rest. When in prep for a contest, you can’t just skip a workout to go hangout with your friends because that missed session will then mess up your routine for the rest of the week. You also can’t eat out because you must be eating certain foods at certain times, and you can’t miss a meal. The life of a bodybuilder is relatively lonely, especially when you are prepping for a contest, but people who truly care about you will understand this, and will support you regardless.

Not all coaches know what they’re talking about

To help you get in shape for your first contest, you may be tempted to hire a coach that offers contest prep services. However, finding the right coach for you can be tough, due largely to the fact that not all coaches are good. Sure, on paper they may have certain credentials and qualifications, and they may even be in good shape themselves, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily right for your prep. Some coaches will offer bad advice, and some will truthfully not know what they’re talking about. When you hire a coach to help you with your contest prep, you are essentially putting your future in their hands, so make sure you choose the best coach you can. If something feels off, or if the advice they are offering just isn’t working, don’t be afraid to cut ties with them and look for somebody new instead.

You will feel physically and mentally exhausted at times

In the lead up to a show, when your calories and carbohydrate intakes are low, you will feel physically and mentally exhausted, and truthfully, you will feel miserable as well. Sure you may look great, but if you don’t feel great, you may ask yourself what the point is. The thing to remember is that you will feel better, and truthfully when you begin carbing up, that’s when your mood will improve the most. You may feel like bodybuilding is taking over your life, and that is because it is. To be a competitive bodybuilder, you need to eat, sleep, live, and breathe bodybuilding, and that will leave you drained physically and mentally at times.

There will be huge setbacks

In your mind, when you’re busting your butt in the gym, eating Tupperware after Tupperware of grilled chicken breast, rice, and broccoli, and working harder than ever before, it will all be worth it because you’ll step on stage on show day, will look amazing, and will land first place. Sure, that is a possibility, but you may sadly find the exact opposite. There can only be one winner, and you may find yourself holding too much water, looking flat, or just simply not looking good enough on the day, and placing badly. This will be a huge blow and it is here when your true resolve will be tested. In your mind, all those months in the gym, and all of those bland and tasteless meals, and quiet nights in alone will have been for nothing. You will feel awful, and rightfully so, but true winners remain strong in the face of adversity. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, go back to the drawing board, find out what went wrong, and look at what you can do to make things right.

You will grow sick of eating

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Though some of you will probably thing that it’s impossible to grow sick of eating, that is exactly what will happen when you’re bodybuilding. In order to get in shape, whether bulking or cutting, you must make sure you are eating certain foods at certain times of the day, without fail. If you aren’t feeling hungry, you can’t just skip a meal or wait an hour, you must force yourself to chow down on whatever it is that you are supposed to be eating for that particular meal. Early in the morning, when you’re struggling to swallow stodgy oatmeal and water that tastes more like wallpaper paste, the thought of eating anything else may fill you with feelings of disgust, but you must carry on anyways.

Posing is much harder than you realized

In order to deliver the whole package on contest day, your posing routine must also be flawless, and if you’ve never posed properly before, boy are you in for a shock. Sure you know how to bust out a front double biceps, and you’ve perhaps practiced the odd side chest in the mirror, but to truly be a bodybuilder, you must know every pose, you must master every pose, and you must come up with a great routine to wow the judges.

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