I’ve been thinking about competing for awhile, I’m just not sure where to start. People at my gym think I could do very well. I’ve heard of this guru in my area who has coached several bodybuilders at my gym. I’m a personal trainer so I think I hav...

Thank you for your question. It’s great to hear that you have potential and are thinking about stepping foot on stage for the first time. I think it would behoove you to employ the services of a diet coach, but let’s keep in mind a “guru” as you refer to them, is only as good as you are willing to work. Bodybuilding and training for a show is the ultimate sacrifice. Although you may consider yourself an experienced trainer, to prepare for a bodybuilding show and look your best onstage is practically a science- one that requires experience and expertise. Not only are you looking at every workout and each morsel of food you will eat over the 3-4 month span leading up to the show, but the final week which must be executed in the right way so that you look ripped and full in order to showcase your hard work. Water manipulation, carb depletion, filling out- these are all things you want to leave in the hands of a professional if this is your first time on the stage.

If you have never competed in a bodybuilding show before, you should know that it is a very time consuming and exhausting endeavor. Food preparation and working out up to 3 hours every day can leave you with very little time for much else. I have seen many competitors make novice mistakes because they were trying to do their prep on their own. If you want to reach your greatest potential, I recommend that you leave your show prep in the hands of an experienced professional. The first three bodybuilding shows that I competed in back in 1999, I did everything on my own and it showed. I was taking advice from anyone who would give it. Although I held my own in the novice classes, looking back, I had no idea what I was doing. I began to thirst for more and when I wanted to take things to another level, I was introduced to Ronnie Gregorecz. Ronnie is a national level NPC judge and competitive bodybuilder and working with him truly transformed my physique, and my bodybuilding career. Ronnie and I have been working together now for close to ten years, and he has come to know how my body responds to adjustments in my contest prep better than anyone. Over the years, I have benefited from taking this responsibility off of myself and putting it in the hands of an experienced coach.

There are a lot of trainers and so-called self-proclaimed “gurus” that exist in the fitness and bodybuilding community that try to make it a business of getting their clients ready for bodybuilding shows. Each trainer uses their own “secret” methods to prepare their athletes for bodybuilding competitions. Many of these trainers charge a small fortune for their expertise and a 12 to 16 week diet and training protocol with which the athlete will use to get ready for their show. A word of warning, there are MANY unqualified people out there that will be very happy to take your money and try to help you get ready for a show, which is why its extremely important that you do your homework first. These days, it seems that everywhere you look there is someone calling himself or herself a “diet coach”. Some of the misinformation I hear from these people is actually mind blowing! Do your homework…you’ll be very glad you did.

As I just mentioned, there are so many bodybuilding coaches and it is such a big decision for you to make when you place every aspect of your competition prep in the hands of a total stranger. So with all these self-proclaimed “gurus”, how do you know for sure they are legit and how can you make sure choose the best one for you?

I have put together a list of characteristics that you should look for in a quality bodybuilding/diet coach:

  1. What is this person’s reputation? Ask other people about this person and how they treat their athletes and the manner in which they run their business. Is this person someone that is reliable? How important are his/her athletes to him or her? Will he get back to you in a timely fashion with questions/concerns during the prep? Is this person someone who is respected in the industry or he just some pompous ass who likes to hear him or herself talk? Word of mouth counts for a lot when you are shopping for a quality bodybuilding coach.
  2. How do their athletes look? Do they place well in competitions? Would you like to look like their athletes look on stage? It wouldn’t hurt to go to a show and ask some of the top competitors who they are working with. Hell, you can even get on Facebook and network with other athletes and get their opinion on who is a quality coach.
  3. Cost effectiveness – How much a trainer will cost you will have a lot to do with whether or not you will hire them. Its great if you can afford to spend $2500 for a coach to prepare your contest protocol but you really don’t have to go breaking the bank for a single competition. The going rate is between $600- $750 for a 12-16 week contest prep program.
  4. What kind of shape are they in? Do they have any competition history? I find it hard to take advice from a personal trainer who has never themselves competed in bodybuilding or if they are an out of shape slob!
  5. Is this person honest? Can this trainer give you an honest opinion about your physique and get you to where you need to be? If you are going to shell out a wad of cash on an expert, you want to make sure that this person will put you onstage in the best condition that you can achieve and that they have to tools and experience to do so.

I hope that this advice is helpful to anyone looking to get onstage in a bodybuilding competition. I’m sure that many of my readers will be inspired to compete if they were in attendance at the 1st Phorm 2011 NPC Midwest Novice Bodybuilding, Figure, Fitness and Bikini Championships a few weekends ago in St Louis. There were over 100 novice athletes competing in this event and 25 of the top figure and bikini pros competing in the IFBB St Louis Pro show held in conjunction with the event. I was proud to be representing 1st Phorm at this event and I had a great time chatting with fans at the show. If you live in the St Louis area and are looking for an experienced, reputable nutrition and bodybuilding coach, I personally recommend my close friend Kit Kitson of In Shape Nutrition. To get in touch with In Shape Nutrition, you can contact Kit at (314)605-9346. His clients get results and he has every single one of the characteristics of a qualified and professional bodybuilding coach that I listed above!

Until next time, stay consistent and remain balanced!

Never Settle