Bodybuilding can be an intimidating sport: You pose on stage in front of judges and audience members, every fault and weakness in your body on display. When you step on stage, any mistakes you made during your months of preparation are exposed. Ideally you want to be perfect on show day and display the best version of your physique, but this will surely not always be the case.

Because of these fears, many aspiring bodybuilders hire coaches early in their competitive careers. The topic for today's Table Talk with special guest Mark Dugdale is the value of a bodybuilding coach. He and Dave take on a number of questions: Should you use a coach for competing in bodybuilding? If so, when? For your first show? Second? Third? How do you know if you should switch from your coach to someone else?

Mark begins by sharing his own experience. He started without a coach, doing everything he could to educate himself. He read every book he could about bodybuilding and experimented with different methods so that he could learn his body. Through this process he made many mistakes and learned many things about his body that have helped him through his career. A coach can do this for you, Mark says, but that shouldn't be your goal. You should want to know your body better than anyone else, and even the best coach can't replace that.

Mark went through this process for a number of years prior to finally hiring a coach. When he did, he sought the best, and brought on a coach with a history of preparing IFBB pro bodybuilders for Olympia wins. What happened at Mark's first show with the coach? He came in heavier than ever and placed worse than ever. Long story short, Mark never worked with that coach again. He went back to doing his own thing for a number of years until finally deciding to give the idea of a coach another chance. This is when he began working with John Meadows.

After sharing this history, Mark goes on to discuss how important little details are once you reach the highest level of bodybuilding, like he has. In his final weeks of prep, Mark uses two people to monitor the finer details: John for training, and his wife for diet.

Using himself as an example, Mark points out that a coach can help keep you from going off the rails in the final, grueling weeks of contest prep, but that you'll be better of learning from your own mistakes in the beginning. To this point, Dave explains the difference between hiring a coach and working with a coach. If you aren't learning the craft and developing the skills you need, and are instead simply following commandments from a coach, you aren't going to get much better in the long-term, even if your coach gets you in great shape. You want a teacher, not an authoritarian boss.

WATCH: Table Talk with Mark Dugdale — What Makes You Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced?