Whether you are just starting to think about entering the world of bodybuilding or you have a couple of shows under your belt – the right competition coach can help propel you towards your goals or completely derail all of your hard work.
Coaches can be a very valuable tool for feedback, nutrition, structuring the right workouts for the division you wish to compete in, peak week, stage presence, and securing sponsorships. On the flip side, coaches with little to no experience or coaches who are just downright bad can underfeed you, push drugs your way, take your money with little to zero communication, prepare you for the wrong division, overtrain you, and make you feel genuinely crazy.
So how do you land a good coach and how do you know when to run? I’ve outlined some questions and goals for you during your search.
#1: Do your research!!!
Ok – say you want to compete in the bikini division and you kind of sort of workout currently but have no idea how to enter a show. A competition coach might be perfect for you! Or, say that you have done a few shows but have yet to crack the top 5 or qualify for a national show – a competition coach could help you! First, you are going to want to do some research about shows in your area. Look at the names of the girls who cracked top 5 and figure out who their coaches are!
For example, say I want to know who coached the winners of each bikini class at the most recent national show. I would head over to NPC News Online, search for the most recent national show (the most recent was the 2014 NPC Nationals in Miami) and check out who the winners were OR who won their pro card. At the 2014 NPC Nationals – you can see that Laurin Conlin won the bikini overall. By doing a quick search of her name, I easily found out that she was coached by Layne Norton (an outstanding coach). At this point, you can either contact that coach directly to see if they are taking new clients or keep doing research on other winner’s coaches.
You can also easily search, coaches in your area too. For example, I would search “Chicago bodybuilding coach” or “NPC Bodybuilding teams”. Threads, Yelp, and Facebook posts will be your best friend as you can usually find first hand testimonials from happy or disgruntled competitors.
Instagram can also be a good tool! Use #npcbikini or similar hashtags as a starting search. You’ll likely find hundreds of pictures of people on their competition day or getting ready to compete. Scroll through to see if a competitor mentions a coach or simply contact them or comment for a quicker response.
#2: Make a goal list!!!
Now that you have found a potential coach you are interested in contacting, it is important that you have all of your goals laid out so you can ask proper questions. Outline whether you want to do just one show or multiple shows. Write down if you are willing to travel. Write down how much money you can actually afford for coaching and everything that comes along with the sport. Write down how often you are willing to workout! Anything that is important to you, make sure you write them down so you don’t forget to mention these things later on.
#3: ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!!!
There is a darn good reason the above is in caps. If you just blindly trust a coach to train you, diet you down, and lead you on stage then you are acting like an idiot. Your health and wellbeing are the #1 most important thing. Health is not guaranteed – it’s a privilege! You need to keep your best interests top of mind at all times! Some questions you will want to ask a potential coach:
1. What are your fees?
2. What do your fees include?
3. Will we be training in person together or will you provide me a workout plan that I am to do myself?
4. How often do we have to check-in with each other?
1. How many people are currently on your team?
2. How many competitors have won a show that you prepped?
3. Have you ever coached a national competitor?
4. How many years have you been coaching?
5. Have you secured your pro card or have you ever competed before?
6. What division is your specialty?
1. Do you have your personal training certification?
2. How many hours a day or week am I expected to workout? What if I cannot workout that many hours due to scheduling?
3. What is your stance on cardio? Will I be doing hours of cardio leading up to my show?
4. What if I currently train a certain way (Crossfit, functional fitness, spin, yoga, etc) – can I incorporate those into my prep?
5. Do you help with structuring a year competition plan for multiple shows?
1. Do you work with special diets or allergies?
2. Will you be giving me a nutrition plan?
3. Are you a nutritionist?
4. Will I have to eat fish and asparagus the whole time?
5. How many calories on average will I be consuming?
6. What is your post-show plan? Will you help me from rebounding?
7. Are you affiliated with a supplement company?
1. Will you be helping me pick out a suit?
2. Do you help with tanning?
3. Do you offer posing lessons?
4. Do you offer suggestions for hair and makeup?
1. Do you help with sponsorships?
2. Do you have any team discounts or codes?
3. Do you help with marketing your clients?
As you can see, the questions are pretty endless when it comes to finding a coach that is right for YOU! Pick some questions that match your concerns or core values and don’t be afraid to ask them! The worst thing you can do is be running hours a day, eating little to no carbs, compete, and then have no guidance after your show. A good competition coach will help you in all of the areas above or at least be able to direct you for further help (posing coach/hair and makeup/etc). Remember, just because someone has won a few shows or if they are an “Instagram phenomenon” does not qualify them as an expert! If you do your research and choose wisely I promise that you will have a lot of fun and an easier time balancing life and competing.