You know, I haven’t ranted in a while, because I haven’t really had anything that has been on my nerves until this last month. I understand that a prep guy complaining about whiny competitor clients won’t always go over well but, honestly, I don’t give a shit. I have always spoken my mind and that is not ever going to change.

First, let me preface this rant: Not all competitors are whiny and not all competitors think they should be in first call-outs when they don’t deserve to be. There are a lot of competitors that are realistic and understand clearly how good or not-so-good they are. However, they are typically in the minority, in my opinion. Far too many people blame judging, their prep coaches, and anyone else they can for placing poorly. These are the people that I am going after.

I have been in this game for a very long time — much longer than most all of you that will read this. That means I probably have seen more than most and dealt with more than most (though there are exceptions to everything, admittedly). What follows is a collection of my observations about the competitive physique and bodybuilding world.

As a rule, I typically do not like to work with competitors anymore. I still do, of course, but I am incredibly selective with whom I work with because the typical competitor’s attitude makes me want to puke. Everyone wants to win—we all do—but that isn’t what makes me want to puke. What I cannot stand is when competitors are delusional and either think they are better than they are or complain on social media and blame everyone else when they don't get the call-out they want.

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The main reason I don’t enjoy working with competitors anymore is because even when you have someone in their best condition ever, if they don’t win, the entire venture is a failure and a waste of time in their minds. This actually happens more in physique than in bodybuilding, because at least in bodybuilding you can say that someone needs to be bigger, leaner, etc., wherein physique it is far more subjective. Hell, I’ve heard physique guys say they lost because they wore the wrong damn trunks. Are you kidding me? I’m a judge, and I assure you that you will never get last call-out because you wore the wrong trunks. That is absurd, bordering on stupid. Sometimes I want to copy these comments on social media after a show, save them, and send them a couple months down the road and make them read them out loud hoping they will realize how stupid they sound.

27230429 - bodybuilder flexing his muscles in studio

When a competitor is involved with the decision to either go into a show full or err on the side of being shredded but giving up some fullness to do so, it would be really nice to hear some accountability after the show that the competitor, along with his prep coach, agreed on the plan. Something like, “We decided to come in as full as possible and it wasn’t what the judges were looking for” would be great to hear a competitor say. The large majority of the time the competitor was “robbed” or the prep guy fucked up and ruined their physique, leaving the poor competitor on stage to get last call-outs.

Forget the exchange of messages leading up to the show and how happy the competitor was, and forget how happy the competitor was only hours before hitting the stage in the pictures that were sent to the prep guy who stayed up four extra hours to make sure that the competitor was able to check in when they got up the morning of the show. Forget all of that, because the prep guy owns all failures of the competitor’s placing and call-outs. It is sometimes as if the competitor is shopping less for a prep guy and more for a scapegoat if they don't win.

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These are usually the same competitors that don’t have the same prep guy from show to show and don’t typically prep their entire prep with a coach. They start making contact with a prep guy when they see things aren’t going as planned and around the six to eight week out mark are scrambling for someone to clean up the mess they have created. And then they complain that your fees are pretty high considering they only need you for the last six weeks or so. Apparently, a prep guy should be paid by the week rather than being paid for cleaning up a mess that, if they don’t get cleaned up, will make their name look bad because the competitor got on stage looking less than 100%. Please tell me you read the sarcasm in my writing. I would appreciate it.

Competitors, here is some advice for you:

  • If you want to come in peeled, you will have to give up some fullness to get there.
  • If you want to come in ridiculously full, you have to give up some condition/dryness to get there.
  • If you try to compare your pictures at four days out in the locker room under the best lighting and Instagram filters you could find with the worst stage pictures you could find of yourself, you are lacking some accountability here. Stage pictures typically aren’t that good – most of the rest of us know this.
  • Your friends will support you and your “I got robbed” story and they will also buy into your “my prep guy fucked me up” story. However, when you lay down at night and it’s just you and your ceiling fan, I hope you know how dishonest you are for trying to blame someone else for your not placing or your last call-out. You know, after you were so excited that your condition was saved at the last minute and you were incredibly happy with your condition less than two hours before you went on stage.
  • Please know that your condition will not change in two hours before hitting the stage, causing you to go from first call-out to last.
  • Your family will always think you are the best and that you deserve to win. The texts from your kids telling you that daddy is their superhero and that daddy will win don't mean a damn thing. If that disappoints you, teach your kids that you can do everything right and still not win. It’s called “life.” And it isn’t always fair. Being the hardest worker (though everyone would vote themselves as the hardest worker in this sport) doesn’t mean shit when it comes to placings or call-outs. My kids think I should be pro but they are wrong — very wrong.
  • If you get on a plane shredded and dry and you get off the plane shredded and dry, don’t blame the plane flight for not placing.

Whining, complaining, and a lack of accepting how good you are or aren’t is immature at best, and most of the rest of the world would expect a grown man or woman to be more realistic. In fact, it’s quite unbecoming. Some of you should just be glad you have a pro card and accept that you really aren’t as good as you think you are. Can you improve? Yes, but maybe you just aren’t there yet despite what your Instagram-filtered pictures tell you.

I like the first-time competitors or the competitors that aren’t so unrealistic that they think they are going to go from last place to first place for their next show. They are grateful for their improvements and the time and support you put into them. They tend to want to continue to work with the same prep guy so that they can build on their previous best and they know that staying with a prep guy allows the prep guy to continue to learn their body, tweak adjustments, and fine-tune things so that next time the outcome is even better.

Or, you can just blame someone else because you don’t seem to improve from show to show. Just Sayin’.

Image courtesy,  Csak Istvan ©