The Life and Struggles of Becoming a Bodybuilder

If becoming a bodybuilder, or at least looking like one, were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s the distinct lack of bodybuilders walking among us that should clue you into something: It’s very, very difficult to get the look of a bodybuilder, and even harder to start competing. It takes a complete and total revamp of your lifestyle, and maintaining a strict diet, workout schedule, and sleep schedule is something that most people can’t handle.

If you want to get started down the bodybuilding road, you should start with one simple question: Do you even have the discipline required to make it?

Life as a bodybuilder

Bodybuilder Radek Malek of the Czech Republic prepares himself for the Body Building competition

Bodybuilder Radek Malek of the Czech Republic prepares himself for a competition. | Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Again, most of us don’t. It’s incredibly hard, and there isn’t much room for mistakes or missteps along the way. If you falter one day and eat too much dessert — or any dessert at all, as it were — you can set yourself back by weeks. That’s how difficult the path is. But many people manage to do it. It’s just that most of us would find life as a bodybuilder too difficult, if not unbearable.

Here’s what it takes to live like a bodybuilder.


rib-eye steak in a cast-iron skillet with a bottle of wine

You need to know what to eat. |

It may be surprising, but possibly the hardest part of living like a bodybuilder is adjusting your diet and daily intake. There is literally no room for leeway if you’re serious about looking like the bodybuilders on TV. Getting extremely cut and muscular means you’ll be eating lean proteins and vegetables, and really not much else. Say goodbye to soda, candy, beer, and everything else that’s tasty and comforting. There are other foods you should definitely avoid as well.

Just be sure you’re eating enough calories to spur muscle growth, and keep a cut, lean figure. It’s a tough balance to strike.


muscular young man drinking water

Learn to love water. | Ammentorp Lund

Much like your food intake, what you drink will likely need to undergo a drastic transformation if you want to live like a bodybuilder. You shouldn’t be drinking tons of calories, or needlessly consuming sugar and carbs. So, purge your fridge of sodas, beers, etc. But you’ll need to stay hydrated to keep your body in working order — so learn to love water. Of course, protein shakes and even milk are going to be good for muscle growth, but by and large, you should be drinking more water.

Alcohol consumption is OK from time to time. But be selective and smart about what you drink.


A comfy and inviting bed

Get adequate sleep for muscle growth. |

Don’t underestimate how important sleep is to maintain a cut and muscular body. Sleep is actually just as, if not more important, than diet and exercise. It’s during your sleep cycle that your body is actually building and repairing itself, creating the muscle and removing older tissues. So, go to bed and allow yourself to recover.


A weightlifter prepares for a lift

And of course, exercising is a must. | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Finally, you need to learn to lift and learn to love it. Bodybuilders spend an awful lot of time in the gym, but lifting is only part of the equation — without enough quality sleep and a locked-in diet, you won’t see the results you’re hoping for. But in terms of workouts, there are numerous regimens you can put together. You should focus on different body parts on different days — leg day, arm day, etc. — and be sure you’re getting in full-body workouts every week.

Do some additional research, and figure out workouts that work for you. If you’re a beginner, start slow. And be sure you’re covering all your bases.

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