After 35 years of training, 25 years of competing, and 26 years of marriage (and four kids and two grandkids — yeah, I’m that fucking old), I should know a thing or two about how to balance family life and bodybuilding. Sure, just because someone has been married for a long time doesn’t mean they’re happy. We are. It isn’t just me saying this; I have had clients who have come into town and stayed in my home, who, before leaving to go home, will tell me they hope to one day have a relationship like we have. I am always flattered to hear this, but even more so when I hear it from someone half my age.

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I won’t sit here typing this and pretend I have all of the answers, but I have learned quite a bit over the years and grown from a narcissistic, obdurate, and pedantic teenager who thought he was destined to win the Olympia one day, to a responsible adult who eventually realized that as important as bodybuilding was to me, there were other people who were equally as important. Being the selfish prick that I am, I figured I better find a way to have the best of both worlds. Though the maturation process is still ongoing, I have worked hard to find balance and feel that I have succeeded in spades.

As many questions as I have received over the years about nutrition, training, and supplementation, I find that I am also asked a lot of questions as to how I am able to balance my bodybuilding endeavors with family life.


Though there are many facets, and I could talk about life-balance for hours, I have narrowed my focus to five main variables that I feel are the most important (in no specific order):

1. Structure

Without it, you are screwed. Though that should cover it quite well, I am going to expound. No one will ever be successful at balancing a hectic schedule without structure. Whether you have one kid or five, there are so many things to accomplish each day that without structuring activities and obligations, you will likely quickly become overwhelmed and feel your life is blanketed in chaos.

Some like to say that I “had it easy” because I worked from home, and that’s a bullshit excuse that people use when they think their situation is more stressful than someone else’s. What I did have was the flexibility to work whenever it fit my schedule best, but running kids to sports, doctor appointments, after-school functions, and every other kid obligation that came up was still a huge demand on my time. I ended up falling into a schedule that worked for me where I worked a couple of hours when I would wake up around 1 p.m., take care of appointments involving the kids for most of the afternoon, train in the early evening, spend time with my wife for an hour or two after the gym, and then work from 11 p.m. until roughly 5 or 6 a.m.. I would then get the kids up, send them to school, and go to bed. My point isn’t “hey, look at me and how tough it was,” but rather to make the point that to accomplish everything I had to get done each day, this was the best schedule for me.

You need to get to the point where your day is scheduled just like a day of meetings at work and get good, as quickly as you can, at meeting those obligations like clockwork.


2. Compartmentalize

Become good at keeping your bodybuilding life and your family life separate. Your family isn’t passionate about bodybuilding; you are. In fact, your kids couldn’t care less other than the rare exception when their friends might think you’re the Hulk or some other comic or cartoon figure they can relate to. That’s as far as it goes with your kids being impressed with your bodybuilding, trust me. Sure, they may enjoy seeing you on stage for a few minutes, but they likely remember the exhaustingly boring hours of waiting for you to go on stage so much more.

Your spouse doesn’t want to hear about your workout, your diet, what supplements you need or want, and how much you benched. If you claim you have a “swolemate” who loves this type of thing, you are in the minority. Even then, your spouse has workouts, diets, and supplements to pay attention to and likely gives not one shit about discussing yours for the thousandth time.

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The friends you have and your extended family don’t care, either. In fact, if you are one of “those people” who can only talk about this one-dimensional facet of your life, please know this is usually a giant eye-roll. My best advice is to leave your bodybuilding conversations for your meathead friends and at least feign interest in other topics.

3. Money

If you want to piss off your spouse and have them resent you bodybuilding, spend money that you cannot afford on your selfish “hobby.” I know, you prefer to call it a “lifestyle,” but that is more your own justification to give what you want to do more importance than it deserves. Semantics won’t change the reality that your spouse is not going to appreciate you spending money on your supplements instead of paying bills or spending that money on the family.


If you want to live a bodybuilding lifestyle, you have to be mature, fair, and responsible enough to make enough money so that your interests don’t take anything away from your family. Your kids won’t give a shit that you feel you need to stand on stage in your underwear, grunting, and showing off your muscles for a trophy, even if you try to explain that, “This is what daddy/mommy does and this makes me happy.”

And don’t get me going on GoFundMe accounts asking for handouts to compete. If you can’t pay for it yourself, your sorry ass needs to stay home until you can find a way to make more money (I cover this topic here).

4. Stable Home Life/Support

If you have a shitty relationship with your spouse, good luck with your bodybuilding endeavors; it rarely works. Your spouse will come to resent your time spent at the gym. A lack of support at home is a killer — not just on you, but on everyone in your home. I cannot even begin to tell you how many competitive clients I have had over the last 20 years who have, at some point during a prep, messaged me that either they or their spouse was leaving. Even if you don’t care about your relationship, care about the impact it will have on the kids when they either feel or hear from the other parent that your bodybuilding is more important than they are.

Support is critical and is likely why so many people in this industry are single. They simply prefer to focus on their own selfish needs instead of focusing on how they can improve their relationship. If you don’t believe me, ask a competitor who just had a failed marriage and see if they take any responsibility, at all. Most blame the other person for “not understanding me” or “not supporting me,” when in reality, their spouse just got fed up with coming in second place.

The only chance you have if your spouse doesn’t support your interests is to go out of your way to help out even more around the house, so they at least tolerate it because of your added effort.


5. Don’t Make Excuses

If you aren’t around the house as much due to spending time at the gym, that is not an excuse for not helping out with household obligations. You can’t do 20 percent of the things around the house while your spouse does 80 percent. Even though you spend a lot of time at the gym, you still need to contribute 50/50. Remind yourself that your bodybuilding time is not an obligation and in no way does it add to the household in any way.

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Do not complain about your spouse to your meathead friends, either. They are almost certainly dealing with the same challenges you are, so talking to a friend who sympathizes with you is a mistake. If they are your friend, they will almost always agree with you. We all know in our heart-of-hearts, when we lie down at night and stare at the ceiling fan, whether we are being fair and giving our relationship the attention it deserves.

As I mentioned earlier, there are myriads of other things that are involved in balancing family life with bodybuilding, but if you focus on just these five things that I have detailed above, you will be well on your way to finding a pretty good balance. Balance takes effort, and balance takes time. It is also not something that once you achieve it, you are finished. It is an ongoing and constant challenge that, in the end, will be worth it for everyone involved. Finding that balance is also the best way to ensure that the people closest to you are proud of you and support you 100 percent. Just Sayin’.