In this episode I’m going to talk about what it means to become a pro in bodybuilding and fitness competitions. I will explain one of the secrets to getting that pro card. I will also tell you the various options available in the industry to get a Pro card and how my own experiences were different. I will also talk about whether pros actually make money with their pro status and where I think you should compete. Ready? Let’s go!
1. Download the 5 Secrets Every Bodybuilder and Fitness Competitor Needs To Know Before Preparing For A Show at http://www.eeinbb.com
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Welcome to The "Everything Else" In Bodybuilding Show.
Very excited you are here. Welcome back welcome back. now, One of the most common things people ask me is how do I earn a pro card, I want to be a pro, I am about to do my first show and I want to win, and where do you think my physique fits best so I can win a pro card?
I will tell you that, most often, I am going to tell you it’s gonna take more than just a great physique with low levels of body fat. Don’t think you CAN’T earn a pro card at your first show, since there are federations with a one step process to going pro where that CAN and DOES happen, but usually I find that you need strategy to present your best total package and for there to be enough time to develop it. Especially in federations where the road to achieving a pro card is a two step process, which I’ll explain later, where there are a greater number of competitors competing. Your physique might be good. You might have chosen the right division for your body type. But you might not have enough refinement in your overall package to LOOK the part.
And so what I want to do I want to share a few neat stories on how to LOOK the part depending on the federation you choose and what the roads for going pro are like for the different federations. You CAN earn pro status right away. Maybe not in the divisions that require a lot of muscle if you simply don’t have the muscle to meet the criteria, but if you do, you sure can.. But what does that even mean? The idea of going pro?
Let me tell you a quick story.
I worked with a client, Megan, who had competed before but could never break the top 5 at her shows. I think she even came into last place at one of her shows. She had a great physique, beautiful muscle, great symmetry, full quads, tight abs, all great features. She had been trying for years and was discouraged. She reached out one day asking for help because she really wanted to win a show. As her last resort, she hired me to help her. One of the first things I noticed was the odd shapes she made with her poses. She was competing in figure division and regardless of the federation, Figure is looking for an X frame with broad shoulders, wide lats, small waist, and then to complete the X with the lower body you should show fullness in your quads and legs that match the level of development that you have with the upper body. Forget how much muscle she had, or how low her body fat level was, Megan’s posing made her look pear shaped, not an X. She had those beautiful quads and toned abs, but the way she was positioning her upper body it made her back look narrow and her shoulders look small.
Think about that shape for a minute and what the judging criteria calls for. If the judges are looking for an X Frame and you are posing like a Pear you will never win. Ever. Don’t care how lean you get, how expensive your suit is, or all the sacrifices you made to get on stage. You will never win. I don’t care if it’s a federation with a one step process to getting a pro card like WBFF, WNBF, or OCB or a federation where it is a two step process like the IFBB. One step means you can compete on a local stage and win a pro card; a two step pro card stage means you place in a local show as a way to qualify for a national stage where only there can you get a pro card. If you are posing like a pear you probably won’t even make it past the first stage of a two step process to going pro.
So my point with Megan’s story is that she wasn’t even cracking the top 5 because her overall package wasn’t refined. And what I mean by refined, is that it wasn’t a quick fix for Megan to make these new shapes. She had two issues. First, she was used to positioning her body a certain way and now had bad habits. And second, she literally had no mind muscle connection to areas of her back that she needed to access in order to make the new shapes required to be competitive. And this happens all. the time. I see this as a judge for professional men’s bodybuilding. The deal breaker can often be the lats and the inability to open them. Something so simple yet so critical. So for Megan she needed advanced refinement and was willing to put the work in to make it happen. She just needed to know how to do it. So after 8 weeks of following my protocols, BAM, after about 8 weeks she had not only developed the mental engagement she needed to make an X frame with her posing, she also developed a lot more confidence in the process. She was like a different person. She GOT it. She DID it. She KNEW she looked good. And she was now ready to try again on stage.
At her next show, she not only broke top 5, she won first place and her pro card. True story. Posing really does win shows. Assuming your physique is on point of course. Megan’s story shows that you can have a great physique but something might be missing that is holding you back from your highest potential. If you leave no stone unturned in creating YOUR best package, you totally can become a pro.
So as you know I have earned pro status in 3 dramatically different federations. I say dramatically because literally the scoring requirements and what the judges are looking for are nothing alike in these three federations. So when I say there are options in bodybuilding, I really mean it. One pro card was in a federation with traditional bodybuilding type of scoring. The second was judged by industry professionals and photographers who were looking for more mainstream marketability. And the third was a federation where Victoria’s Secret meeting fitness meets fashion. In fact, after a few years, this third federation, The WBFF, took out the word bodybuilding from their title completely to distinguish themselves from traditional bodybuilding competitions.
I remember I was about 10 years into competing and had tried pretty much every federation prior to this one. I was in shape and wasn’t doing anything extreme with my diet and nutrition. I remember being at my cousin’s wedding on a Saturday and having a piece of cake and a glass of wine. I might’ve had a cookie too since I love a good cookie. My aunt Shirley makes the best ones by the way. After every show she always has some waiting for me. So anyways, later that weekend I find out that there is a show being held in Boston that might be fun to try. I wasn’t in contest shape but I was in decent shape and decided to try the show and just have fun. I can still hear the song playing through the speakers as I entered the stage for my individual walk. (Sing it) I stopped at the back of the stage and took a deep breath and looked around the audience. I had a genuine smile on my face and was totally present for the first time on stage.
It had been 10 years of competing and for the first time I did a show for fun. I was so happy just to be there. I had no expectations because I was in shape but I wasn’t that lean. So when it came time for trophies, they started counting down the top 5 placement. 5th place, 4th place, 3rd place, and then there it was, I got second place. I was so excited! And here is where it gets really cool. No I didn’t win first place, but as we were exiting the stage, the MC called out to me and told me to stick around so I could be included in the comparisons for the overall title. This was huge because the overall winner earned a pro card. I thought it was odd that I was second in my class but being asked to share the stage with the winners from all three class winners. I just went with it and had fun with it.
So all three winners are called out and there I am standing with them on stage vying for the overall title. Once the judges took us through a round of posing, the MC announced the overall winner. It was not me. I wasn’t surprised because I was second place. The winner was the first place winner from my class so I turned and hugged her because she not only won the overall, she won her pro card.
Meanwhile, as we are hugging, we are interrupted by the MC again. He calls out my name, so I turn to face him and the rest of the judging panel. He then says, congratulations, you have also earned your pro card. It was like something out of a movie. I did not see that coming.
The moral of the story was, although I wasn’t the leanest on stage that day, my overall package and presentation earned me a pro card. So, yes, your physique matters. Your posing matters. Your energy that you portray on stage matters. It ALL matters. To what level depends on the federation ANNNND the division. so if you choose a stage where your overall appearance is a huge chunk of your score you better spend more time on what I call “everything else.” If you are in a more traditional bodybuilding category, your important takeaway is that how big your smile is won’t matter as much as how well you execute the mandatory poses. You should be able to do them in your sleep and you better be able to hit them and stick them. You will look unprepared otherwise. If you can nail your physique, your posing, and your stage presence, you are likely to go pro at some point.
So I want to tell you the second part of this, I am going to teach a lot, especially in the first half of this entire show I am going to teach a lot of concepts and principles. But what I want to talk about now is what it actually MEANS to be a pro. I’m so blessed in hindsight, that I have competed in 6 federations. It’s only because of having this first hand experience that I can share what truly makes the federations different. I’m against competing where it’s not the right fit for you. For whatever reason. The vibe, the judging process, the standards of the physiques, whatever it is, you might just not enjoy competing somewhere. And there is nothing wrong with that.
There is what I think is an ODD idea of loyalty to a federation. I’m sure this will offend people but whatever, it is what I think and believe and I’ll tell you why. Here goes: unless you are in the top 1% in the fitness industry and have a strong influence on social media, you aren’t going to make a ton of money as a pro. You might not make any money at all for that matter.
Let me say it again, most pros don’t make ANY money from competing.
Big concept. Big principle to understand.
The truth is you won’t make money. I can’t think of any other sport that pros don’t all earn some sort of pay check. With bodybuilding you make money in one of two ways. You earn a few thousand dollars if you win a pro show (and a few thousand might be stretching it unless you are competing in the men’s bodybuilding division at the IFBB Olympia competition). The second way is from endorsements, which are few and far between because bodybuilding is not a mainstream sport. You might get a supplement sponsorship where you get free supplements. Not many actually get actual money to pay for competition expenses. So if you don’t win or place where there is prize money, or have any financial support from an endorsement, YOU will pay for all of your costs of competing. These costs will add up, so even as a so-called PRO, you need an additional profession that provides you another stream of income to support you.
Compete and try to earn pro status where it’s FUN for you. You might fall in love with the first federation you compete in. Great. Or you might try a couple to find out where you fit best. Once you find the right fit, dump your energy and focus into that ONE federation because YOU want to, not because you feel you have to out of loyalty. Know you won’t make money literally from competing.
The credibility from competing gives you the ability to add to your resume and make more money as a fitness trainer or as an add-on to your resume for some other niche in the industry if that’s something that interests you. In other words, what you do to leverage your pro status, can increase your potential to make money in other ways, not from act of competing itself. Being a pro doesn’t mean you are going to get on the cover of a magazine either. Ten years ago, maybe, but not now. You need more than just a pro card, you need a marketable image and a following. And because bodybuilding is not mainstream, you won’t see the sport broadcasted on mainstream television or any of the pros modeling mainstream fitness clothing brands like under armor or nike.
Even as a pro, for 99% of them across all federations and divisions, competing itself is still a hobby. And like I mentioned in the last episode, think of it like golf, which is also an expensive sport. Compete because it’s fun and you love it. Have a budget set aside for expenses. Don’t skimp on creating your best package because everything counts. It takes a lot of time and effort day in and day out to prepare for a show, especially if you want to actually win or even earn a pro card. The last thing you want to do is blow your chances on things that were totally avoidable if you were better prepared with a complete package.
Hopefully you enjoyed todays’ episode, if you did please please please let me know, I would love to, if you are down with it, tag me, I’ll repost you on instagram, and leave a. review. if not had a chance, go to www.eeinbb.com . There is a free ebook you can download that will teach you five things I think you should know before your next show Thanks so much guys, I’ll see you in the next episode.