This is a topic that all bodybuilders can relate to. No matter what happens with this sport, no matter how many people prove the stereotypes wrong, the haters are here to stay. Nothing you say to them can change their minds because they know everything about everything, and obviously every person who competes is the exact same, so how can they be wrong (insert sarcastic thinking guy emoji*)?
There will always be haters. This doesn’t just coincide with bodybuilding, or internet trolls, but in every aspect of life. Heck, YOU have haters right now. You could be the nicest human on Earth, but Susan from accounting thinks you’re annoying AF, or that you’re fake, or she’s just plain jealous of you because you’re happier than she is. Yes, that is a thing. Sigh* Sad, I know, but the main cause of “hate” is jealousy. And when people try to tear down an entire community of people just because of their sport, you better believe there is something they are missing from the big picture.
There are many reasons why people hate on bodybuilding, but I am going to talk about what I believe to be the main 5. So if one of these haterz sounds like you, maybe listen up for this part to see what you may be missing.
Hater Reason #1: Bodybuilding is all about vanity, and most, if not all, who participate are self absorbed, doing it for likes, or a bunch of bitches.
Dictionary.com defines VANITY as excessive pride in, or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.
Welp, you got me there. Yes, this is a sport focused on aesthetics. We are literally being judged on our overall appearance, and the symmetry and proportions of our body. A body in which we took months, even YEARS to build. So yes. Please call us vain, because the nature of our sport depends on it.
VAIN is defined as an excessively high opinion of one’s appearance, abilities, or worth.
You’re gawd damn right. I’m sorry, but if you don’t walk out on that stage thinking you’re the shit, the judges see that. This doesn’t mean you are a conceited bitch in real life, it means that you took a long damn time to focus on bettering yourself, worked really damn hard to get here, and by gosh, you ARE proud of your appearance and achievements. You need to be thinking you are a gift for these judges to be looking at [respectfully] 😉 , and you are a walking specimen of what the bikini division should look like (insert your own division). When they call your number, you MUST have the mentality that you are going to win. You need to throw sass around like confetti [keep it classy], and be the most confident you’ve ever been. Your stage presence is a huge part of the overall package. And sometimes that’s the difference between 1st and 5th place. You could have the best physique up there, but if you don’t present it as such, if your posing wasn’t showcasing that, or if your confidence wasn’t there, you might not even make 1st call outs (top 5). Judges are looking for the WHOLE DAMN PACKAGE, and you gotta give it to ’em. I’ll be the first to tell you that I have never felt comfortable being the center of attention. I sweat, and trip over my words when I have to speak in front of a group of people, or even when I had to talk in front of my class. I’m a generally shy person until I warm up to you. BUT, when I step onto a volleyball court, no one else is even in that gym in my eyes. I am undeniable in what I do, and I BELIEVE that. Same goes for the stage. I may be panicking on the inside right before I step out there, but the moment I hit that first stride in my 5″ heels, I – am – the – shit. Yup, sometimes you have to fake it till you make it, and that’s fine. So be vain out there. Be vain AF, because this is YOUR stage for the next 8-12 seconds. Own it, be proud, and slay.
How to respond to this particular hater:
Hater: Wow, you do the bodybuilding? Why are you so obsessed with yourself? Don’t you think you’re being selfish by putting yourself first like that, and putting your goals above others’.
You: Yes, I do do the bodybuilding. I’m sorry that you think you can’t put yourself and your own goals first in your current state. You should look into that, because once I started realizing that I am capable of so much more, I started crushing everything I set out to do with the mindset I have now, and I am thriving. Thank you for your concern.
Alternate reply: Stfu, I’m the shit.
Hater Reason #2: Everyone is on steroids.
I’ll make this one short. The NPC is not a drug tested federation. There are, however, numerous Natural shows to choose from in the NPC, where they randomly drug test the athletes, and always test the top 3. This being said, technically, steroid use is allowed. If you are looking for an all natural federation, there are lots! You can find them all listed here.
Back to the NPC. The National Physique Committee is the most prestigious federation to compete in. It is the only federation where you can move on to be an IFBB Professional, which is also the most prestigious pro nomination as well. Only IFBB Pros can get the chance to then get to the top of the top, which is Mr. or Ms. Olympia.
The NPC is not the most distinguished because everyone’s on steroids, so lets get this straight. Yes, both men and women athletes use, but to say that ALL do is obviously insane. I don’t know the actual percentages of users vs. natural, but I would probably put it around 60/40 just to be safe. I was really naïve to how many people were on stuff, even so early on in their careers. For those who know nothing about steroids, there are tons of different kinds for obviously getting larger, and then others like clen or anavar that lots of women take to stay lean. It breaks my heart to hear young girls who are just starting out have started on clen. Your body isn’t even fully muscularly mature yet! You’re ruining your body and it makes me sad when I have to see them take years off to rehab their body to get back to normal. ugh. Please be smart.
Back to the main reason. The NPC is not the most prestigious because steroids are used. it is the most prestigious because EVERYONE looks THAT good at the national level. The athletes look good enough for people to question how they did that naturally or not. All of the natural athletes know they will inevitably be going against a few who are using PEDs (performance enhancing drugs), so we have to look just as damn good, and work hard AF too. Notice I say, “too” instead of work “harder.” Yes, natural athletes will most likely have to put in more work and it may take them more muscle maturity to get there, but I will not put down those who do use PEDs because while yes, they are getting “Help”, they are still working their asses off. The drug isn’t going to work if you sit on your couch and twiddle your thumbs waiting on that six pack and 50″ arms. You still have to WORK.
How to respond to this particular hater:
Hater: Wow, you do the bodybuilding? You’re really muscular, you must be on steroids.
You: No, but thank you so much for noticing all the hard work I’ve put in over the last 5 years, Susan.
Alternate reply for rude insecure boys: *Punch him in his bird chest.
Hater Reason 3: Bodybuilders are Zero. Fun. Sir.
This relates back to Reason 1, where people think we are being selfish when we don’t go out with our friends as much. Let me just start by saying, I barely go out when I’m in off season, let alone want to be around people all the time! I like my alone time. I like my house. And I love my cat. I got all I need when I’m on the couch with him and my boyfriend. So, if you ask me to go drinking when I’m in prep, and I say no, it’s not because I’m in prep and “can’t”, its because I genuinely don’t want to. It is what it is. I’m not a bar person, and I don’t drink much regardless. It’s just how I do things, but I know plenty of my friends who prep, track the alcohol they have, and still get rowdy. (It’s preference, but in my opinion, alcohol can hinder your progress in excess amounts and occurrences.) As far as going out to lunch, dinner, etc. with someone, by all means! I’ll go if I can make it fit. (Lots of places have online menus you can look at ahead of time) If I can’t make anything fit, I’ll simply suggest a different place I know I can fit. BUT please keep in mind, that the deeper someone gets into prep, the lower our macros, the stricter our diet, the harder we’re working, and the more tired we are. So if you’ve ever bailed on a friend because you were tired, cut us some slack and throw us a bone. We TIRED up in here! And for a lot of us, social interaction is exhausting. So, to cut this one short, since I said I was going to make Steroids short and didn’t….We still like to have fun. We still go out and enjoy ourselves. We travel, we engage with other humans, and most people wouldn’t even know we were on prep if they didn’t ask. We all handle the tasks of prep differently, just Please be patient with us if we simply can’t make something work, or if we fell asleep before texting you back. When our brains turn to prep brains, we need an extensive heads up on the plan of attack, and we [most of the time] do want to see you, it just really is harder to juggle a lot at one time when you have so much going on physically and mentally. Don’t stop inviting us places, we are trying our best and love you.
When it becomes a debilitating thing to even try to think about meeting up with friends, or going off your normal routine, this is where we get into a bit of a problem. which leads me into Reason 4 after the following…
How to deal with this particular “hater”: [friends can break your heart too ;( ]
Hater: You never hang out with me anymore. You’re always making excuses. Can you eat this? Just have one bite, it’s not a big deal. Is tequila a carb?
You: I’m sorry I can’t always come out with y’all, but you constantly trying to get me to take shots, or bites of food that I DO want, but can’t fit makes me feel bad, and sometimes gives me anxiety. Lets do dinner soon, I’ll cook.
Alternate reply: Stop fucking pressuring me, Susan! I’m sorry I can’t get In N Out & margs with you every weekend!
Hater Reason #4: Bodybuilding is unhealthy, and no one should do it because it causes eating disorders.
Yup, here it is. Arguably the main issue people have with bodybuilding is this gem right here. For the record: NO, competing does not CAUSE eating disorders. Get your mind out of the gutter and think logically here. One does not simply call one thing a causation, because then it would have to be true for all subjects. So for this to be accurate, all bodybuilders would in fact have to develop an eating disorder promptly after competing. We know this to be false, as majority of the bodybuilding community does not fall into this [Eating disorders]. However, there is a large number of people who have previous EDs, ED tendencies, or unhealthy relationships with food or their own body, who choose to compete, which in turn usually makes things worse. Reasons why anyone with a soul will immediately warn you that bodybuilding is not the answer for anyone with these types of behaviors, and in a perfect world, WILL NOT TAKE THESE PEOPLE ON AS CLIENTS SAYING THEY CAN HELP THEM WITH THEIR ED! [Please consult a professional for help, not a “fitness coach.”] When this happens, a lot of these people tend to turn away from bodybuilding after more damage has been done, sometimes bashing the sport into being the main reason for their ED, which is misleading to the general public. Bottom line, DO NOT COMPETE if you fall into one of the categories I listed above. That’s all I am going to say on the ED subject, because as someone who has never dealt with one personally, I do not find it my place to act as such. I have had many girls who struggle with EDs and other mental illnesses come to me for training or nutrition or prep advice, and whether they get mad at me or not, I will always advise against something as strict as a competition prep.
I want to touch on body dysmorphia now. Also known as body dysmorphic disorder, this is described as a mental illness (not an eating disorder) involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance, and is what I would consider the most common disorder among bodybuilders. Although this disorder has to be medically diagnosed, I believe we’ve all had instances where we showed a few tendencies of BDD and thought we weren’t lean enough to post that picture. Or maybe a guy who thinks he’s too small, and covers up with layers. Maybe you thought you were fat, but everyone can see your six pack and wants to look like you. Maybe you thought your arms were too small and you need to try out steroids for the first time to get bigger, but in reality, your biceps are as big as The Rock’s. This disorder fucks with your brain, hence the “mental disorder” part. It makes you perceive your body in an unflattering way, even when you are perfectly healthy, or lean, or muscular, or are everyone’s #GOALS online. You may not think you’ve dealt with it in the moment, but I know I’ve looked back at pictures from prep where I knew I was thinking I wasn’t lean enough. I was embarrassed to post a picture, but my obliques could have cut diamonds at the time. It’s something that happens a lot, and we’re not looking for sympathy or compliments when we act shy or embarrassed, or cover our bodies. Sometimes we just feel uncomfortable in our own skin. Haven’t you ever felt that way? Just because you may see someone who is in great shape, doesn’t mean they don’t have insecurities as well. We’re all human.
Again, all disorders must be medically diagnosed, and while some of these symptoms seem like no big deal, and you may have them from time to time, those who do get diagnosed will be very extreme about it. Those with similar symptoms, even myself at certain times over the years, do not HAVE the disorder simply because we feel a certain way, but moreso have tendencies that we need to keep an eye on so that it doesn’t develop into something more. (i.e. you don’t have depression because you get sad sometimes. Same rules apply for other mental illness as well. Make sure to consult a professional before self diagnosing.)
PREP IS AN EXTREME! We all know this. So stop beating a dead horse by trying to deter EVERYONE from competing by telling them your causation theory, and telling them its unhealthy. Obviously *eye roll*, I’ll say it again. Prep is an extreme. We go to extreme measures to achieve a particular level of balanced musculature and conditioning. And to compete at the national level, you have to be real with yourself and realize that you’re going to have to dig deep to get there. But every bodybuilder will tell you over and over and over AND OVER that the stage physique is just that; a STAGE physique. This body is not maintainable for long periods of time, and you will have to reverse out of a deficit, or increase calories out of your prep to get back to a healthy maintainable state that’s comfortable for you. Some people choose the bro diet approach, some choose the flexible dieting approach (IIFYM). I find that that the IIFYM approach is easier for me and most people. There’s more wiggle room for something sweet, or whatever you’re craving (major sweet tooth over here!). You can make something “fit” and not feel like you have to restrict anything as long as it’s within your macros. This actually helps with people who have trouble with restrictions, because they can have what they want without feeling guilty. I like to keep an 80/20 clean to treat ratio.
Bottom line, we all know competing isn’t healthy. But there are different approaches that ARE healthy, DO work for most people, and they come out of the experience completely fine, loving life, and wanting more. Those who stick with competing, do so BECAUSE WE LOVE IT! Weird. What a concept. We learn what works best for us and how our bodies react to certain stressors, foods, and extremes. It’s 100% a learning experience each and every time, and we continue to push ourselves to be better than our previous best. Some people do get into competing when they shouldn’t, or for the wrong reasons, some people do it because they think it’ll make them more popular, some people do develop EDs or mental illness, some people only compete once, some people stay in the bodybuilding world for years. It is all individual, and it is all up to your (or your coach’s) better judgment on whether competing is for you or not, if you should stop prep and focus on health at this time, or if you can handle cutting further. Make sure you are in a good place mentally to go through a competition prep, and overall ENJOY the process. I actually love all the prep shenanigans. The week to week changes, the discipline involved, the structure, the bikinis, the people I meet, show day! The whole experience has become my passion, and that’s why I continue to come back to the stage. I genuinely love it, and am happy that I have been able to find a healthy way for me to go about my prep. And this is why I wanted to document it all in this blog. To open eyes, to shut down stereotypes, and to just educate people on what goes down, what you’re capable of, what it takes, and more.
How to deal with this particular hater:
Hater: I prepped for a bodybuilding show once and it was the worst thing ever! It caused all these health issues, and you shouldn’t compete because the same will happen to you!
You: I’m so sorry that you had a bad experience, but I’m glad that you found out that bodybuilding wasn’t for you. I totally respect that you choose not to compete, but I kindly ask that you give me the same respect when I choose to. I am perfectly healthy, and am aware of what’s “too much” for me.
No alternate snarky reply here because you do not want to stoop to their level by bashing those who choose not to compete. They bash us because we do, and if we did the same, we are no better. Respect each other.
Hater Reason #5: It’s not even a real sport, judges just choose who they like best. Anyone can win if you’re popular enough.
Ahhh politics. Yes. It’s no secret that bodybuilding is a subjective sport. The judges DO get to choose the winners, but they are looking for specific features for each division. Each being different, because of the different level of muscle size, the posing, the suits, everything. For instance, in bikini, they are looking for lean muscle, full glutes, hamstrings, and capped shoulders (not too much of anything though). They want your body to be proportionate, conditioned, tanned evenly, hair and makeup done. Your posing requires a front and back pose. The transitions and sass are up to your discretion. You must wear at least 3″ heels, a two piece tasteful bikini, and you have 8-12 seconds on stage to present your best physique. Jewelry is permitted, again, tastefully. With all that being said, literally everything about you is being judged and is fair game. When I say they are looking for an overall, full package, I mean FULL package. Everything has to be on point. This is where doubt and politics come into play, and let me keep this one “short,” because here’s the truth: some shows and a few judges come to mind when I think about politics, BUT in the 7 different shows I’ve done, in 7 different states, with 7 different groups of judges, not once were there noticeable politics involved where someone who won didn’t deserve it. And yes, maybe someone had a better physique than someone else, but as I mentioned earlier, your posing, confidence, and how you present yourself can be the difference in a top placing or not. You can get outposed by someone who may not have the conditioning you have, but they presented their body to show their best physique and highlighted their strong points better. When the person with the best physique doesn’t win, this can sometimes get misconstrued as favoritism, or politics. Just remember when I say you CAN get outsassed.
Moving on to what some may have heard, or know to be true or not. There have always been rumors that some girls sleep with judges to get their pro card, or that certain coaching teams have an in with certain judges as well. I have never heard of anyone actually sleeping with anyone like that (honestly if you can’t win your pro card on your own, how are you going to compete in the pro circuit at all? Makes no sense, but I digress). I know y’all want some tea, so here you go. I went to Team Universe this past year (as a show mom, not a competitor), and it definitely seemed like the judges favored team bombshell athletes. I watched that show go down, and it was obvious to a lot when class winners and overall bikini champion was chosen (who is a team bombshell coach). Not trying to talk shit, but anyone who was there was giving the side eye, and super confused. Yup, there’s the tea y’all. Other than that, I’ve never encountered it at any other show. The best piece of advice I can give anyone, for any show is to be undeniable. Work so hard that your body is at its peak, your posing is flawless, you are radiating on that stage, and the judges have no room to deny what you’ve earned. Leave no room for error. Be undeniable.
How to respond to these kind of haters:
Hater: The only people who win are people who have an in with the judges. Everything is all politics, so you better start sucking up to some people.
You: Very few shows are like that, and most award those who put in the work and look like they deserve to be up there. And I think I’ll win on my own, thank you.
Alternate reply: Very few shows are like that, so fuck off, Brian. I’ll win on my own, thanks.
Things to remember
- There will always be haters. Block ’em out, brush it off, and be polite as possible unless a sassier response is merited. Don’t stoop.
- Competing is not for everyone, and does not have to be the next step in your fitness journey.
- You ARE the shit
- Not everyone is on steroids and they are not always the answer. Work harder.
- Health comes first. Mental and physical, if you feel like something is extremely wrong, or are showing extreme signs of illness, please consult a professional.
- Politics are way less prevalent than people think
- Be undeniable.
Love y’all. Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have any specific topics you want to be covered, DM me on Instagram (carafit3), or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).