by Christian Duque
There are top bodybuilders that have slogans like “there’s no plan b,” “chase your dreams,” “believe, achieve,” and many others. It’s great to have that kind of resolve when it comes to tackling contest prep, breaking through a personal record (or “PR”), and/or to get to a target weight. There is absolutely nothing wrong with big talk if you can back it up. It’s the backing it up that really tests your mettle. That’s where the discipline comes into play and where you truly separate the men from the boys (or the women from the girls).
Nothing in life comes easy. And no one knows that more than bodybuilders. Sometimes they’re eating everything in sight while other times they must satiate themselves with lettuce and tuna – dry. So far everything we’ve said when it comes to going for the gold has made perfect sense. Where this type of do or die mentality can come back to bite you in the ass deals with livelihoods and the long haul.
For the vast majority of people bodybuilding is a hobby. I mean that’s what it is for me. It’s a hobby that I love and one that I’ve been actively working on since well before starting StrengtAddicts in 2008. It’s what I like to watch for fun, I enjoy writing articles on the subject, and I love meeting aficionados all over the world. That being said, I went to law school, passed the bar exam, and work as a licensed attorney.
If bodybuilding dries up in terms of sponsorships and monetization of videos it doesn’t change my way of life. If anything I start self-funding my websites and my work continues. It’s my hobby and the majority of people don’t get paid to have hobbies. I’d say 99.9% of people have to spend on their hobbies. The fact my hobby has funded itself for fifteen years and also allowed me to make a few bucks in the process, get clothing, and supplements at no charge and that I’ll have supplements to last me for at least five years (anything I want), is just icing on the cake. And when all that runs out, I just shoot my friends a text and I can get more. I’m set, but what about the folks who call bodybuilding a career. Are they?
Back-ups, or plan b’s, might be weak in the mindset of contest prep, but they’re what you call being responsible in life. This is especially true if you have a family, a mortgage, and bills. If the sport represents your livelihood you have got to have contingencies in place. You need to have money set aside in savings, 401(k), or other investments. This is especially true for top tier competitors.
Many spend pretty much everything they get. Others have no understanding of how business works. They also fail to realize that while they may be placing well today, that’s not forever. People get older, judges may start wanting different looks, and newer competitors might be willing to go further. There’s athletes coming up that will stop at nothing to be successful on stage. Trends also change and sometimes athletes can’t keep up with them – especially physique-wise. If you’ve made your bones as a mass monster and now the only people in the money are streamlined, smaller guys, you can’t just reshape your whole body at the snap of your fingers. Even if it were possible that’s going to put you through insane stress and may compromise your health. There’s also no guarantee that once you make all the changes that you’ll be successful.
I know of so many bodybuilders that used to land covers and were photographed with expensive cars, wearing expensive clothing, and eating at the best steakhouses who were in fact near-destitute. Some crashed on couches during parts of the year. Others didn’t have enough to pay their phone bills. Like when you call someone and you get that recording “this phone is not in service.” That means they didn’t pay their bill. And don’t even get me started on how many somewhat big names have hit me up for loans. As much as you want to help, that “loan” is the last time you’ll ever see your money. Because you know if they’re calling you, they’ve already probably called countless others. Once a competitor hits rock bottom it’s very hard to bounce back.
A lot of guys had promising careers. But they waited till they were all banged up and/or over the hill before they realized the money train was coming to a screeching halt. By the time they figured out that their good fortune had run out, it was already too late to start to put money aside. And it’s not just saving. You need to invest it, whether in a fund that grows, real estate, or even stocks/bonds/commodities. When you look at a guy like Jay Cutler and wonder why he’s so well off, it’s partly because of his work ethnic and partly because he saved and invested. Jay will never be broke. And you know how they say “never say never?” Well with Jay Cutler you can say never because he really did it right.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to live it up and party, but not every single day. If you make $100k and spend $120k each year, you’re in the red. If you do that for enough years and don’t pay all your taxes, you’re in for one hell of a reality check when the sponsorships dry up and you’re not getting prize money. At that point it’s either leave the sport and get a regular job – or go live on the streets.
It’s very sad to be this cold, but that’s how the real world is. If you can’t swim, you’ll sink. I can’t begin to tell you how many guys in the sport right now are living beyond their means and thinking everything will work out when they win the Arnold Classic or the Mr. Olympia. They set unrealistic goals for themselves and may even read this very article and still won’t see the bigger picture.
The secret to success is sometimes being pragmatic and cautious. Assume your run is going to end sooner than it is. What will you have lost? Maybe you’ll party a little less and maybe you won’t have the flashiest car. Buy used! No one will know and if someone finds out and gives you grief, cut ties with them. You don’t need “friends” who associate with you based on what you drive or what you wear. They’re doing you a favor by making themselves known to you. Get rid of them now!
Not only are top guys surrounded by fake friends, but many of these fake friends are also lining their pockets with the fitness celebrity’s money. I’ve seen a lot of this sport. If you’re successful you have to watch your money, save it, and make sure the people around you keep their paws off of it. Some guys are just blinded by stardom. They can’t see what’s happening before their very eyes.
If you’re a top pro bodybuilder or someone who makes their living in the bodybuilding world – wisen up! Because for many this wisdom doesn’t become apparent till it’s too late. Is there money in bodybuilding, supplements, and related services? Absolutely there is! But for every success story – and there are few of them – there’s a sea of broken men and women who succumbed to not looking at the bigger picture while they were doing well.
Good luck! And don’t let your pride deny you having back-ups in place. Always think of the rainy day(s).