If you have a knack for lifting weights, you’ve probably wondered about becoming a bodybuilder. However, answering the “how to become a bodybuilder?” question is more complex than it might appear at the outset.
For example, how do you define a ‘bodybuilder’?
Some people consider anyone who lifts weights a bodybuilder. Others might need to see a decent amount of muscle mass on your frame to call you a bodybuilder. And then, there are folks who save the bodybuilder tag for individuals who compete in bodybuilding shows, and everyone else is just a hobbyist in their eyes.
In this article, we go over what it means to be a bodybuilder, different organizations and divisions, how to become a pro bodybuilder, and its challenges.
Why become a bodybuilder?
If you’re deliberating starting weight training, the following three points will help you arrive at a decision:
1. Look Like a Greek God
A physique transformation is one of the most common reasons why a majority of people get a gym membership. Lifting weight can improve your physique aesthetics and make you stand out.
Furthermore, a ripped physique is a symbol of hard work, grit, patience, and determination, and you’ll notice the change in people’s perception of you as soon as you start gaining muscle mass.
2. Feel Like a God
To become a bodybuilder, you need to undergo a complete lifestyle makeover. You need to be physically active, hit the gym, eat right, and allow your body ample rest to recover from your workouts.
Even though you might hit the gym for aesthetics, you’ll notice strength improvements as an added bonus. It’s no secret that lifting weights can result in an improvement in your self-image and confidence.
3. Think Like a God
No, a bodybuilder does not have a God complex, but in all honesty, there might be times during a workout that a gym bro might consider himself Zues’ equivalent.
Lifting weights, especially on an advanced schedule, can be as much a psychological challenge as it is physiological. Every time you brace yourself to hit a PR (personal record), you are surrounded with doubt, fear, and hesitation, and getting rid of the apprehensions is half the battle won.
With more lifting experience under your belt, you’ll learn how to shut off your lizard brain, and you’ll find peace and calm in the most chaotic situations. Only a few other things can be as empowering as this.
Must Read: What Does PR Mean in Gym?
Types of Bodybuilders
There are two types of people who hit the weight room. The first type includes people who want to get big and strong. These folks intend to put on muscle mass but don’t fret about missing meals or skipping training sessions.
The second group comprises folks who want to compete in bodybuilding circuits. The competitions could range from local bodybuilding shows to stepping on stage to stake their claim on the Sandow.
Now, every bodybuilder doesn’t want to win the Olympia — a few might be after other titles like the Mr. Universe. These contests are run by different organizations. The six popular bodybuilding organizations include:
- IFBB Pro League
- IFBB Elite
The IFBB Pro League is the most popular bodybuilding organization currently, and it includes a total of 11 divisions:
- Men’s Open
- Classic Physique
- Men’s Physique
- Women’s Physique
Each division has different rules, poses, and types of physiques, and a bodybuilder must choose a division based on their body type and preferences.
How to Become a Bodybuilder — The Genesis
Building a chiseled physique demands dedication. You shouldn’t expect drastic changes within a couple of days of starting training or even a couple of months, for that matter.
Here is everything you need to know about how to become a bodybuilder:
1. Set a Goal
Even before you step inside a gym for the first time, you should have your ultimate goal written down. Most people make the mistake of having a vague target. It is the reason why most of them never achieve their transformation objective and give up.
Here are examples of vague transformation goals:
These are what definitive transformation objectives look like:
- Lose 10 pounds of body fat in four weeks.
- Gain an inch on biceps in four weeks.
- Pick up a girl within a month of joining the gym.
You should set a clear goal and give yourself a deadline to achieve it if you want to be accountable. Remember, the goal should be realistic. You shouldn’t expect to win Mr. Olympia within a couple of years of starting training.
After you have set a goal for yourself, you need to design a customized training plan. Every individual’s body is different, and you need a program that brings up your weaknesses and polishes your strengths.
Figure out a training split that works the best for you and stick with it for at least a couple of months before making changes. If your goal is to build muscle mass and strength, you’d be better off following a six-day training split.
The six-day training split works best for most people. Your next step should be to find a training program that helps you achieve your bodybuilding goals.
You should always lift with the correct form. Bodybuilding is different from weightlifting. In bodybuilding, your goal is to achieve optimal muscle fiber recruitment rather than lifting as heavy as you can.
Following the same workout program for a long time is one of the quickest ways to hit an overhead ceiling. You need to constantly switch up your training by changing your intensity, volume, and rep tempo to ensure your muscles don’t get used to your training regimen.
If your goal is to put on lean and clean muscle mass, you cannot do it without eating nutrient-dense whole foods. To put on size, you need to be in a calorie surplus.
A calorie surplus involves eating more calories than you burn in a day. When you have abundant calories, your body stores them up as glycogen reserves, which helps in adding size.
With that said, you should not be in a calorie surplus by eating a fast food diet. While IIFYM (if it fits your macros) sounds great on paper, eating burgers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner will only get you so far.
If you want to become a bodybuilder, you should cut out refined sugar and processed and fried foods from your diet. Your diet should consist of high-protein foods as they help build muscle, burn fat, and can keep you satiated for longer.
It doesn’t matter how hard you work out in the gym, if you are not giving your body enough time to rest and recuperate, you will not see favorable results.
On a muscle-building program, you should sleep anywhere between six to eight hours every night. Besides a good night’s sleep, you should also schedule massages and take ice baths to improve your recovery process.
Most pro bodybuilders will tell you that real food is the king, and you should get the lion’s share of your daily calories from whole foods. However, meeting your daily calorie goal, especially during a bulking phase, can be a nightmare.
Supplements can help meet your daily micro and macronutrient needs conveniently. Here are some supps you should add to your transformation regimen:
- 10 Best Low-Calorie Protein Powders Reviewed
- Best BCAA Supplements
- 12 Best Creatine Supplements
- Best Pre-Workout Supplements
- Best Multivitamins
Additionally, pro bodybuilders use other ‘supplements’ to maintain their monster size and strength. Steroids are a part of the pro bodybuilding circuit. Anyone contemplating turning pro should weigh the long-term health hazards of roid use before starting out on the path.
6. Learn To Pose
The sport of bodybuilding revolves around aesthetics. A chiseled physique isn’t enough if your goal is to win bodybuilding shows. You need to know how to present your physique to the judges and audience.
Many bodybuilders take posing classes to improve at the art. In fact, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu were filmed taking ballet classes in the cult-classic bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron (1977).
7. Get Help
The best of the best, including Ronnie Coleman, Phil Heath, Jay Cutler, Flex Lewis, and Chris Bumstead, all have something in common. They rely on their coaches to help them with their transformation.
Although bodybuilding is an individual sport, do not expect to reach the top by yourself. Hiring an experienced professional can help save a lot of time, money, and frustration you would otherwise endure while learning through trial and error.
8. There Are 99.9% Chances You Might Not Make It
Competing at the top level in bodybuilding is hard. Heck, even reaching the two biggest stages in the sport — the Olympia and Arnold Classic USA isn’t for everyone.
Don’t believe us?
Besides hard work, determination, dedication, passion, and grit, you need to be blessed with perfect genetics if your goal is to step on the Olympia stage.
How To Become a Pro Bodybuilder in the IFBB Pro League
The NPC (National Physique Committee) is affiliated with the IFBB Pro League. The NPC awards a pro card at various international and national contests.
NPC Worldwide IFBB PRO™ Card Qualification Rules
(For International Regional and Pro Qualifier Contests)
|TYPE OF CONTEST||OPEN TO||PRO CARD|
|National Regional||Host Country Only||No|
|Pro Qualifier||Worldwide||See Table 1 below|
|National Pro Qualifier||Host Country Only|
|Ben Weider WorldWide Classic||Worldwide|
|Arnold Amateur (Australia, Brazil, UK)||Worldwide|
|Arnold Amateur (USA)||Worldwide||See Table 2 below|
|Amateur Olympia||Worldwide||See Table 3 below|
|Table 1: Standard Pro Qualifier|
|TYPE OF CONTEST||MINIMUM NUMBER
|NUMBER OF IFBB PRO CARDS AWARDED
PER DIVISION OVERALL
|National Pro Qualifier|
|Ben Weider WorldWide Classic|
|Arnold Amateur (Australia, Brazil, UK)|
|Table 2: Arnold Amateur (USA)|
|DIVISION||MINIMUM NUMBER OF COMPETITORS PER DIVISION||NUMBER OF IFBB PRO CARDS AWARDED PER DIVISION OVERALL|
|Table 3: Amateur Olympia|
|NUMBER OF COMPETITORS
|NUMBER OF IFBB PRO CARDS AWARDED
PER DIVISION OVERALL
|10 or more||3|
|less than 5||0|
Things to Know Before Turning Pro
Training at the gym, eating six to eight meals a day, and sleeping eight hours a night is all fun and games until you finally step on stage. Competing is a different beast altogether.
Before you make the decision to turn pro and make winning the Sandow your life’s mission, you might want to try your hand at competing in a couple of local bodybuilding competitions.
While watching bodybuilders compete might be exciting, it can be mentally and physically exhausting for the athletes. Plus, the health implications due to years of steroid abuse cannot be ignored.
You should only set your eyes on turning pro after you’ve competed in a few bodybuilding shows and have placed reasonably well. Remember, there are only a few pro cards given out each year.
Furthermore, competing at the pro qualifiers isn’t cheap, and you might end up filing for bankruptcy if you don’t have a high-paying job, a big inheritance, or a sponsor backing you.
On the other hand, if you want to lift weights to build muscle mass, look jacked, and lead a healthy lifestyle, we couldn’t be more proud of you.