You just earned your bachelor’s degree. Well done! You have finally gained some confidence in your academic ability. Your collegiate powerlifting journey was a great feat, as well, and now that it’s coming to an end, bodybuilding has piqued your interest. I know you have lots of questions about your career, especially whether you should continue your education and how you can become a bodybuilder.
Ultimately you will have to make your own choices. Though it may take forever for you to commit to a decision, most of the time your first reaction is the right one, so trust your instincts. All in all, you’re going to end up in a great spot. I don’t want to change your course, I just want to improve the journey. To that end, here are a few key points to help you out.
1. Set Higher Goals
You may have goals, but often you’re not thinking big enough. You did not go into powerlifting with the goal of being a top bencher, but then it happened. I want you to set some big goals in all areas of your life. They can be absolutely crazy, but think big. Write down your five-year goals for business, education, bodybuilding, finance, and personal life. Post them on the wall—you must see them every day. Determining the steps you need to take to hit those goals will help guide you in the short term.
Also, don’t make “not getting last place” the goal of your first bodybuilding show. Your goal should be to dominate the competition. You can do this.
2. Never Settle; Take Risks
Complacency is death, buddy. Things in your life are holding you back right now. Refer to what I said about setting goals, and do whatever you must to achieve them. Don’t settle for the convenient school or the convenient job. You need to go for what will push you outside your comfort zone. You are very good at school and I know you enjoy being a nerd. Find the program that allows you to study the thing you love and go for it.
3. Reach Out for Help
You achieve at a high level and work well alone, but this is also one of your weaknesses. You need others who challenge your beliefs and give you a different perspective. Although you read everything you can about bodybuilding, you will get better results if you have a coach. You can budget for a coach; you will gain more value from it than you realize. Find someone who has an education, has done well on the competitive stage, and has gotten results with their athletes. Make sure this coach can get a natural athlete peeled, because drugs mask poor coaching ability.
For your education and career, volunteer more! You need to experience the jobs you are interested in to know what they’re actually like. You also need to find a mentor from whom you can learn.
4. Stop Being a Powerlifter
You are going to be a bodybuilder—you have a knack for it—but you are going to have to let go of your identity as a powerlifter. This is no longer about moving weight from point A to point B. You need to make every rep of great quality and focus tension on the muscle you’re training. Don’t chase the logbook without thinking about form. I am good with you getting into DC training now. Stick with it, and, as I said, keep your form as strict as possible.
5. Stay Functional
You are still at the stage where you have good function and mobility. If you don’t continue to work on these areas, injuries will happen; it’s only a matter of time. Remember that hamstring tear you had last year? Let’s not do something like that again. Here are a few muscles that you never train: abs, psoas, glute medius, adductors, and rotator cuff. Always strengthen these areas, and it will go a long way toward helping you be strong and remain injury free. Also, and it may sound crazy, but I want you to take advantage of that yoga class you have access to and go once a week.
6. Train Your Waist
I already mentioned training abs, but let me repeat that point. While abdominal aesthetics didn’t matter at all in powerlifting, it makes a huge difference in bodybuilding. Stop with the “abs are made in the kitchen” mindset. Train your abs. Learn how to do an abdominal vacuum. Practice that and master it. Look up Frank Zane for some abdominal inspiration.
7. Learn to Pose
The posing routine doesn’t weigh heavily on your score in the current era of bodybuilding. I know you don’t really care about it now—you just want to get huge and peeled. I get it. You do need to learn to present onstage, however, to make yourself look as big as possible. Find someone very experienced to help you learn to pose and watch you do it. Posing is an art form and you will learn to enjoy it, so put some time into it now.
8. Diversify Your Training
I know you love training and nutrition, but you need to diversify and learn other things. All of those courses you take that you don’t think will be useful—well, they will be. Take some business and marketing courses and a personal finance class. Since you want to coach, look into psychology courses, as well. Think about all aspects of what you would need to do your dream job.
You have already found a passion in life, which many are never lucky enough to do. Go all in on that passion and don’t hold back. You won’t ever regret living your life doing the things you love.