To succeed as a bodybuilder you will need to break your year up into two distinct halves: the ‘off-season’ and the competitive season.

In both seasons you will need to train for up to an hour each time you are in the gym, and spend time stretching and recovering on your rest days.

During the off-season you need to train hard and eat a lot, with the aim of gaining lean muscle mass, and you also want to limit your fat gain as much as you possibly can.

The competitive season is all about preparing for your bodybuilding show. You will need to be strict on your diet and reduce calories slowly to drop body fat whilst maintaining muscle mass.

If you become successful then you will have a very hectic schedule and will most likely need a team to deal with commitments and logistical issues like:

  • Events and expos
  • Media obligations
  • Travel for competitions
  • Sponsorship obligations

Becoming a professional bodybuilder

Bodybuilding is a demanding sport that requires years of hard work and dedication,
and you have to be consistent. If you are serious about pursuing a career in bodybuilding, then for the foreseeable future you will need to:

  • Train hard in the gym four or five times a week
  • Follow a strict and well-structured diet
  • Ensure that you get enough sleep every night and recover properly

Only for the persistent

Success in bodybuilding is not achieved in six months or a year – a point made clear by the two-time Arnold Classic champion, Branch Warren, in ‘Generation Iron’: “My physique is not the product of three months of hard work, it’s the product of over 20 years of hard work.”

If you are a weekend warrior who trains for fun and misses the odd session here and there, then you may lack the work ethic necessary to achieve success in bodybuilding. But that doesn’t matter; your training works for you and your body still looks awesome. However, if you are dedicated to improving your physique and are willing to put in work, then bodybuilding may be the sport for you.

Next time: How to prepare for the big day; your first competition…

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