If you want to build your body and you are, in fact, a competitive bodybuilder, decisions are easy.
Goals are clear and simple paths can be set up to make the most out of your efforts, both in-season and out of season.
But what if you do not see yourself hitting the stage any time soon? Or what if you never have plans of competing, but you still enjoy building your body?
Can you still call yourself a bodybuilder? Or are you just a poser who doesn’t deserve to be reading our content here on this “bodybuilding” website?
Unfortunately, there was a time in my life when I thought this was true — where I thought that non-competitors were people who weren’t serious about their goals. Not just in bodybuilding, but in any sport.
If you weren’t posing on stage, stepping on the platform, wearing a uniform, or jogging onto the field, you were just an average person to me who had no business calling yourself an athlete.
As I’m writing this in 2018, I don’t feel that way anymore. It unfortunately has taken me falling into my own current “non-competitor” rut to change my stance on that argument, and I apologize if I ever made anyone (including myself) feel less than awesome because of it.
You see, two years ago I decided to dedicate every bit of myself to a functional fitness sport called GRID. (If you’re interested, you can read more about my transition into that sport here.) And as of last month, my coach and I gave into the functional fitness industry’s cues that this sport was officially not coming back for another season. In short, I have dedicated over two years of my life to a sport that no longer exists.
Many people thought the natural thing to do with all of my new skills would be to transfer fully into CrossFit. I also have been reminded that I have the physical capabilities to compete in powerlifting or Olympic lifting whenever I’d like to as well.
And of course, because I am a bodybuilding coach by profession, I have been asked many times in the last few weeks if I am now going to diet to get on stage again. But to be entirely honest, not a single one of these competitive options truly excites me at the moment. Not even the thing I talk about every day for a living.
I don’t know if I will step on a bodybuilding stage in 5 years, in 10 years, or ever again.
But I do know that building my physique over time is important to me for a variety of reasons:
- Lifting weights is one of the most fun and rewarding things I have ever consistently done in my life and getting better at something I care about feeds my soul.
- Lifting keeps me physically healthy and mentally sharp.
- I like having the option to get on stage sometime later in life if I want to and continuing to train keeps that door open.
- Having a muscular appearance helps my confidence and self-esteem. While I know the way I look is not the most important thing in the world, I’d be lying if I didn’t say it feels good to look good. And in my opinion, muscles look good. It’s not about sexiness, but about what it exudes. If I see someone who has a strong physique, I can assume they know how to work hard towards at least some of their goals in life, which is usually a personality trait that I find attractive in other people.
All that said, because I have been through multiple contest prep diets, I know that a competitive bodybuilding season takes a life-disrupting amount of effort and attention that I don’t want to give right now. I have injuries to take care of, some pretty big career goals to handle, and I’m honestly just having too much fun being active in all the ways I enjoy being active currently.
So in short, here is where I stand:
Building my body is a goal of mine, I consider myself a lifelong bodybuilder, but I am not currently competing in bodybuilding.
And for the first time in my life, a sentence like that doesn’t sound wrong or contradictory at all.
Does that mean I don’t take my training seriously?…Nope.
Does that mean I just eat whatever the hell I want every day without regard for what it does to my bodyweight?…Nope.
Does that mean I should feel ashamed for incorporating movements and activities into my training that are not seen as “optimal” for hypertrophy?…Nope.
It simply means that I have a very strong personal set of priorities, and as long as my current training program is in alignment with them, all is 100% okay.
I still lift weights in a fashion that will build my strength and size over time. I am still mindful of my physical appearance and keep it around a comfortable level of body fat that allows me to perform well and feel good. I still follow the principles of The Muscle & Strength Pyramids for my nutritional intake, and I am still very serious about my time in the gym every day.
And most of all, I still consider myself an athlete.
So, whether you are able to dedicate 3 hours every day or 3 hours a week to your personal progress, I think you should just do it.
Don’t let idiots like the old Andrea keep you from feeling like your own journey isn’t important or worthy of attention.
As long as you recognize that your efforts will dictate your progress, and that the 3-hour-per-week person cannot expect the same return as the 3-hour-per-day person, all is good.
With realistic expectations and an open mind, you can still get everything you want from this sport whether you decide to compete in it or not.
And as for further reading, if you’re feeling stuck in competitive limbo or aren’t sure where you fit on this spectrum of athletics, please enjoy this article by Greg Everett of Catalyst Athletics titled “Are You An Athlete Or An Exerciser?”. I’ve yet to find another article that says it better.