I am ever wondered how to become an elite bodybuilder. Let us begin by explaining what it takes to be a competitor and how to choose an organization, division, or show.

Considering the financial and time commitment before you start competitive bodybuilding would be best. It would be best if you made significant lifestyle changes, such as meal prep, dedicating time at the gym, and possible impacts on your social life. Accepting that you are different is essential. Then, focus on your goals and find a way to balance life while still enjoying the process.

Many competitors start bodybuilding with different goals. Because they fear failure or have a set date, some people enjoy contest prep. Some bodybuilding careers are pursued external validation, trophies, or to please their social media followers. The more severe athletes might set their sights on a professional card right from the beginning.

It was my passion to help feed my competitive fire. I have been bodybuilding since the age of 14. Competitive bodybuilding is a great choice for those with a competitive personality, strong genetics, and an incredible work ethic.


If you have competed in the past, your coach and judges should be consulted before you decide on your next competition. You can then select a show that fits your schedule and is close to your location based on your current shape, goals, and experience. It’s best to compete locally in a regional NPC qualifier contest.

You can compete on the national stage for one year at your local NPC show once you have been ranked amongst the top five (1st callouts). National shows are a huge step up in terms of competition and cost. You must first improve your skills and build your physique at the regional level, before you can move up to the national stage. This can prove very frustrating for new athletes who need to place better.

When I coach athletes regionally it is a sign that they are ready to move to the national level. This is when they win their height class, place well before different judges, and win the overall for their division. As a bodybuilding and physique prep coach, I meet with the judges to discuss any issues and make a recommendation to the athlete if they are ready to move on.

This complex process considers the athlete’s body, how it responds, their mental and financial health, stage presence and poses, and any areas that need improvement before they can step onto a national stage.


Training and dieting to build muscle can seem overwhelming and difficult for most gymgoers. It is a lifestyle shift that elite bodybuilders have made more independent over time. Your lifestyle must be based on your goals. Your schedule should be built around meals and you must spend 5-7 days per week at the gym. To aid recovery from intense training, quality sleep is also a must.

Training is a variable process and will be tailored to the athletes’ needs. The requirements of each division and the lagging areas will heavily influence training volumes and frequency. Most competitors will train in the Muscular Development phase (Hypertrophy), with some undulating periodization to Phase 2 or 4. This phase also incorporates progressive overloading and cardio augmentation throughout the prep.

The average bodybuilding prep phase (the cutting phase) takes between 12-20 weeks, depending on the goals and athlete. Pre-prep is recommended for those who have more complex needs or need more time to improve their body.


The athlete’s baselines and genetics may impact nutrition. To build muscle, there will be a surplus in calories, while to reduce the deficit, calories will decrease (relatively to TDEE). Advanced techniques for carb cycling will allow you to burn more fat while allowing you to eat more carbs during a cutting phase. It is a good idea for the pre-prep to concentrate on metabolic conditioning, which will boost metabolism going into prep.

The athlete’s body’s response and how it is leaning out may affect the calories consumed. Calories will likely decrease as the show nears. Some coaches and athletes prefer flexible macro diets, while others prefer structured and limited options. The key to success is understanding your body’s needs.

Pro Tip: When you feel depressed or think about cheating on your diet, ask yourself this question: “If I were an IFBB Pro Bodybuilder, how would I act?” “

Pre-workout macros should be kept between 15:5 and 2:3 (post-workout), Carbs, Proteins, Fats. Essential Amino Acids (EAAs), which aid in muscle growth and recovery, are the best intraworkout supplement.

A major part of an athlete’s success is micronutrition. This should be discussed with their contest prep coach, nutritionist/R.D., or doctor. A good place to start when looking for nutrient deficiencies or toxicity is bloodwork. This will help identify outliers and key health indicators and provide opportunities to improve performance and health during preparation.

Hiring a competent contest prep coach with a track record and experience as an athlete and coach on the stage is best.


You must be ready for both highs and lows during your bodybuilding journey. You will have times where everything works out perfectly and you do well. Sometimes, however, things may go differently than planned. It is best to accept the losses and keep moving. Every prep is an opportunity to have fun, adapt and improve!

You may be faced with challenges in your physical health, as well as financial and mental burnout. To avoid burnout, taking action in all of these areas is crucial. Mental toughness is key to keeping athletes focused, engaged, disciplined and consistent.

There are many steps that an athlete must follow to become a professional bodybuilder. But it all starts with a burning desire for excellence. Do not take shortcuts. Get the right coaches and team and be obsessed with the journey. Remember that everyone’s journey will be different.