Hey Brett. I’m a 20 year old college student and a competitive bodybuilder. At my last show, I won my class and qualified for a National event. I’m planning to take the next semester of school off so that I can focus on my training for Nationals. P...

Dear Next Best Thing…yeah, that’s one I haven’t heard before. You may not want to hear this, but I applaud your parents. You would be an idiot to leave school for what you call a semester, because once you hit the weights in lieu of the books, you are very unlikely to return to school. What will happen if you don’t place as well as you had hoped at Nationals? Will you decide to take ANOTHER semester off to focus on your following show? You see what I am saying? Then you will wind up one of those 60 year old janitors at Gold’s Gym, talking about what you could have done with your life if you had only stayed in school.

To break it down even further, let’s talk about this dream. Your main goal at 20 years old should be to get out of your parents’ basement. Do you really think that the chicks that are going to be all over you when you turn pro are going to be enticed by the idea of going home to your twin bed and Xbox in the basement of your parents split ranch? Not likely. Furthermore, I can’t stress enough, the value of finishing your education. You know the job market isn’t pretty right now. Nobody is going to want to hire a meathead with 4 college credits shy of a degree to run their office. It will be extremely difficult to pick up where you left off in a few years—I have seen it all too often.

As for me, I personally didn’t step onstage until I was 25 years old. By that point, I was a Registered Nurse with a Bachelors degree and a full time job. That backbone was crucial since as you know, this sport is not cheap. The reality of the situation is, there are only a small handful of professional bodybuilders who can live on their endorsements and prize money alone and don’t have to have some kind of other career. Let’s not forget to mention, once you enter the pros, you will be up against athletes with almost twice your years in training and muscle maturity and you will be lucky to win a gym bag for the first couple of years in professional competition. And then what happens if you get injured? As you know, I tore my pec 6 months ago and thankfully, I didn’t have to rely on my bodybuilding endeavors to support my family. I was able to work, continue to make a living and cover the expenses of extensive rehabilitation and massage therapy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t doubt that you could very well be the next big thing. Bodybuilding is a very rewarding sport to participate in and a very big passion of mine. You certainly shouldn’t give up your dream but I fully believe in balance. Continue your schooling and bodybuilding will always be there for you. No matter how bright your bodybuilding future may be, endorsement contracts will not simply fall into your lap. I have competed for almost ten years and even won my class at a National show. It took me until just this last year to receive this endorsement contract with 1st Phorm. Now I know that education is not for everybody, but you have already started your college program and completing this will be a solid foundation for you if and when you decide to pursue your bodybuilding dreams. In the mean time, study, train, eat, sleep and get big.

I hope that I have talked some sense into you. Whatever you decide, always remember to stay grounded. It’s ok to have a dream as long as you don’t lose sight of reality. For the rest of you, be sure to continue to send me your questions and feedback. You can get in touch with me at: brett.becker@1stphorm.com. Until next time be consistent, and stay balanced!