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Should I Get a Coach If I Want to Compete in Bodybuilding?

By Ken Ross

If there is a problem with your car, do you fix it yourself or take it to the shop? This is all dependant on your capability level to address the task at hand. Do you have the knowledge, confidence, tools, time, and expertise to fix your car? Will it restore your car to its original condition? Will it enhance its performance, or is there a chance it could damage your car further? 

Of course, 99% of us will take it to the shop for a complex repair or enhancement when it comes to our car. We do this because it is an accepted and universal practice. Whereas, using a coach to compete in a bodybuilding competition is not. Here’s why you should consider a coach for bodybuilding and how to find the right one.

As a competition coach myself, I must admit it is still a world of mystery. So, it is a daunting experience for competitors and potential competitors to take that next step onto the stage by placing your life and well-being into the hands of a stranger. 


I decided that I would like to hire a coach. Where do I start?

There are many benefits when you find the right coach. This is particularly important. Not one size fits all when it comes to the coach/competitor relationship and dynamic.

Do your research! The hours or days you spend on this will come back to you tenfold onstage.   

Find a coach who is an effective communicator across all platforms. Many coaches operate as they did in 1985. The rest of the world has moved forward. If your coach has not, then they will still be using the same training and diet methods they have always used, and they may not be current with required industry knowledge, and results onstage will reflect that. 

In these uncertain times of gym and city lockdowns, your coach MUST have a Plan B to implement for your preparation. And this may rely on social media, video communication, and the delivery of your competition preparation electronically.  


Is a face-to-face or online coach preferable? 

If you have needed that one-to-one physical mentoring and coaching in past endeavors in your life to be a success, then the likelihood of you requiring that again for a bodybuilding competition is high. However, if you are adaptable and flexible and find automated and semi-automated learning platforms successful, then an online coach may be your choice. You may be in a physical location that demands you must use an online coach. Your level of expertise training in the gym may be high hence, you only need nutritional coaching for your competition preparation. Identify your needs, requirements, and preferred learning environment then decide whether face-to-face or online is for you.   

Does the coach have proven high attention to accuracy and attention to detail?

If they do then it can be guaranteed they will apply this to your coaching. Look for a coach who is constantly requiring data from their clients such as pictures and measurements. A data-driven coach should also take into consideration the competitor’s past, current, and future life including mental and physical health.


Are the social media posts by this coach mainstream? Are they aggressive or argumentative online toward others? Do they criticize their competitors online in public forums without naming them? 

Yes! These are all common! 

Find the coach who elevates their competitors online on social media, always positive and putting their best face forward, and receives unsolicited compliments from their competitors.  All of these aspects will positively impact your training and make you a better competitor both mentally and physically. 

You must be able to take constructive feedback from a coach. Sometimes your bodybuilding coach may tell you things you do not want to hear. A good coach however will relay his thoughts and messages to you in confidence. 


Has the coach created multiple world, national, state, regional, and local champions?

If so, this is a big tick. It not only proves that their coaching methods work, but it also shows that they are well established in the competitive bodybuilding industry. A coach that can guide you through the administrative and logistical side of competition preparation, as well as the nutrition and training, is invaluable. 

Reach out to several coaches and see who responds first or within an acceptable time frame e.g., 24hrs. Potential competitors have often told me that I was the only coach who responded to their inquiry at all! This is a great indication of the service you will receive during your preparation. A prompt response initially usually has a flow-on effect on the delivery of your program. 

Avoid a coach who demands that you must have trained for a certain amount of time in the gym to be coached by them for a competition. This is utter rubbish. I have seen many genetic freaks who could step on stage and win without ever setting foot in a gym. These people exist! No coach can know what you are going to look like or achieve onstage in three months, six months, or even two years from now. Everyone deserves a chance to be on stage.  

Should a coach look the part? 

Many coaches are not in the best physical condition. Whilst they do not need to look like they could compete year-round they should have a level of self-respect and image that endears themselves to their profession. If you visited a new doctor and they were sitting there lecturing you about the dangers of smoking then proceeded to light a cigarette and smoke it, you would probably find another doctor. 

In addition, you will gain extra benefit from a coach who competes, or has competed, themselves. They then know exactly what you are going through, and about to go through. This coach can then use an informed approach to your competition preparation by steering you in the right direction. 


Why are some coach’s fees exorbitant whilst others seem reasonable? 

High-profile coaches can, and usually do, charge high rates because the market demands it. If clients are willing to pay, then these coaches will keep raising their fees. The reasonably priced coaches are usually less well known, less experienced and they do not want to price themselves out of the marketplace. 

Look at the coach’s knowledge, credentials, and level of experience if it greatly exceeds your knowledge, credentials, and level of experience then you may be willing to pay a higher fee for that person to coach you. 


What happens if I sign up with a coach and after a period, I deem the relationship untenable? 

Firstly, speak with the coach. It may just be a misunderstanding through a lack of effective communication. If not, then look elsewhere. Like the doctor, who pulled out the cigarette after you made your appointment and were sitting in their office. Things change!    


Should a male use a male coach and a female use a female coach? Totally your choice. If the coach you select offers the positive services outlined in this article, regardless of who they are, then go for it!

My family and I  are concerned that if I hire a coach, they will make me take steroids. 

This is a common concern that I hear when approached by potential new competitors. Personally, I do not coach enhanced competitors as I have no knowledge of the subject. However, this is a personal choice by the competitor or potential competitor. If you want to stay natural, then find a coach who specializes in natural athletes. Often, they have a better knowledge of how to prepare natural athletes because they have no enhancements in their arsenal to use and must resort to natural methods!  



Your commitment and dedication to a coach are equally as important in the relationship. You must be totally committed to doing everything your coach tells you, to the letter! Most clients pay a coach and then go about training their own way and the results are usually disastrous. So, before you commit your hard-earned cash you must be willing to let go of what you have learned and be guided by an expert in the field.  

This can be a hard concept for many. But once you fall into this mindset your preparation will be easier, more enjoyable, and vastly more productive. 

I tell my competitors “I’ll do the thinking; you do the doing!” 

Remember, your coach is not your friend. They are a service provider just like your car mechanic and your doctor. The coach you select should treat you as a client to ensure they attain your optimum physique for the body-building stage. Most competitors and potential competitors need to be read the riot act on occasion. Because preparing for a body-building competition is profoundly serious, where the body and mind are taken to the extreme.  

In summary, if you want to take your physique to the next level beyond your own capabilities you may need a coach. If you want to improve your placings onstage or you are missing those final few essential elements to be a top-line competitor, then hire a coach. 


Ken Ross is a current competitive bodybuilder with INBA/PNBA. Ken has competed in 117 INBA/PNBA competitions, is a PNBA Pro Bodybuilder, and is in the INBA Hall of Fame. Ken also coaches athletes globally for natural bodybuilding competitions. 

You can contact Ken through Iron Man Magazine

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