How To Be A Successful Bodybuilder


What in your opinion is the single most important thing if I want to be a successful bodybuilder? Diet? Training? Drugs?

Or is it just keeping at it, until I get somewhere?


Full disclosure: I’m not a bodybuilder, nor was I ever interested in being one.

Having said that, I’ve been around a lot of them over many decades.

Being successful in bodybuilding cannot IMO be boiled down to just 1, most important thing.

In fact that’s why so few people become successful bodybuilders – you need to have everything dialed in perfectly most of the time, and even then it’s a subjective judging standard you’ll be up against.

So if you’re ripped to shreds but 15-20 lbs too light for the judges taste and they’re looking for MASS that week, you’re SOL. You starved yourself and took bigger health risks for what exactly? Nothing.

No guarantees what they’ll be looking for the next time you get up on stage either.

So what is key to being a successful bodybuilder?

Define Success

First, we need to define successful.

Unless you’re independently wealthy, making a living at this is going to be priority #1 – because you can’t train and diet etc if you’re homeless, can’t afford groceries and can’t afford a gym membership.

You can of course work a 9-5 job like most, spend every cent on bodybuilding and continue to chase that dream.

But the sad truth is this: The number of men that make a (decent) living at this is miniscule. You can probably count them on one hand, maybe two.

Even the ones who have “made it” have paid a terrible price.

The most successful Mr. Olympia in history (Ronnie Coleman) is today, a broken man.

In June 2020, Coleman revealed that he can no longer walk due to botched surgical procedures necessary to correct bodybuilding injuries. Saying that he may never walk again, Coleman blamed his problems on questionable surgeries and noted that his last 3 surgeries cost a total of $2 million dollars.

Remember folks, there is no medical insurance.

Ronnie had it all: He trained hard, dieted hard, had the genetics and 8 consecutive Olympia crowns to cement his success. Yet look where he is today – if that’s success, I want no part of it.

Necessary Things You Can’t Buy

There are some things necessary for success that you can’t buy – genetics to be a pro would be one of them.

It takes time too, lots of it and a very supportive and understanding spouse or significant other.

Not many will be so understanding BTW, as your dedication will probably be seen as selfish or narcissistic.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it does mean it’s going to be difficult. Very, very difficult.

Understand there is no retirement plan, not even a 401k, no union, no paid vacations and no health insurance – you’re on your own.

Health insurance can be a big issue for anyone BTW, but especially bodybuilders who want to turn “pro”. Getting simple bloodwork done without insurance can cost thousands, and this assumes there are no catastrophic health emergencies – #1 cause of bankruptcy filings in the US last time I looked.

Anyway, I think you get the point: A lot goes into being a successful bodybuilder, and the chances of you making a living doing this aren’t good.

I’m not saying don’t body build.

What I am saying is build your body for the ultimate contest: It’s called Life.

“Success” has nothing to do with money, trophies or trophy wives. Success means living well and being in great shape, good spirits and good health. Have a strong, healthy body – some $ in the bank, some food in your stomach and a roof over your head. If you then find someone to love you, then you have everything you’ll ever want or need. More than most people in this world.

Everything else as they say, is just an illusion.

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Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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