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What Does a Bodybuilding Specialist Do?

Reading Time: 4 minutes 48 seconds

BY: ISSA

DATE: 2023-11-15


Bodybuilding is a tough sport that takes time and dedication. As a sport that includes both intense physical fitness and an aesthetic look, successful bodybuilding requires precision in training and diet. 

Bodybuilding specialists are experts in this sport. They work with clients to train and prepare for competitions. For anyone new to the sport, working with a specialist is a must. Even seasoned competitors work with coaches because of everything they can do for their clients when it comes down to being their best on competition day. 

What is Bodybuilding? 

Bodybuilding is a unique competitive sport that involves strength training but that is significantly different from other strength competitions, like powerlifting, CrossFit, or Olympic lifting. 

Health and fitness are important in bodybuilding, but the focus is on appearance. It is the practice of creating the ultimate physique according to standards in the sport. You can say that it is an aesthetic sport. While it requires intense physical training and fitness, the ultimate goal is a certain look. 

Bodybuilders work on their physiques for competitions. They pose in front of judges and receive marks based on symmetry, muscularity, size, and presentation. 

What is a Bodybuilding Specialist?

Bodybuilding is a tough sport. It requires a lot of physical training, a major time commitment, dedication, and the ability to stick to a strict nutrition plan. While it’s possible to go it alone, working with a specialist or coach is a better approach. 

A bodybuilding specialist is a personal trainer who specializes in working with, training, and coaching competitive bodybuilders. They should have a certification in bodybuilding as well as personal experience in the sport.

Are you a personal trainer looking to expand your role? Check out these alternative careers for certified personal trainers. 

What Does a Bodybuilding Specialist Do for Clients?

A bodybuilding specialist is essentially a bodybuilding coach. Even experienced bodybuilders rely on certified specialists and coaches to prepare them for competitions. These are some of the most important things a bodybuilding coach will do for their clients: 

Bodybuilding Coaches and Specialists Create Effective Training Plans

All trainers do this, but training plans for bodybuilding are highly specialized. Even an experienced personal trainer will struggle to create a training plan for bodybuilding. It takes specialized knowledge and experience to craft a plan that works. 

A bodybuilding coach or specialist creates a training plan for each individual client. They design it to meet that client’s goals, and they modify and update it as needed throughout the training period. 

They Check in with Clients Regularly

When a competition is the endpoint of training, it is essential that the coach checks in with their clients at a minimum of once per week. This means doing a weigh-in and looking at the client’s physique to see how they are progressing. If they can’t be there in person, the coach will ask the client to send them pictures. 

A Bodybuilding Coach Provides Objectivity

Because bodybuilding is so focused on appearance, it’s easy to get bogged down in subjective thoughts about your own body. A coach or specialist offers an objective viewpoint for those times when you aren’t sure if you could improve or if you’re being too hard on yourself. 

What Does a Bodybuilding Specialist Do About Food?  

Diet is a vital part of bodybuilding, potentially as important as the physical training. To build muscle and lose fat requires a precise eating plan. Bodybuilding coaches cannot prescribe diets, but they can guide an eating plan that promotes the right body composition for competition. This includes the dietary shifts that occur in different phases of training. 

Bodybuilding trainers must be able to advise each client on nutrition that meets their individual needs. For instance, eating as a woman bodybuilder is different from men. Learn more here.

Bodybuilding Coaches Teach the Specifics of Competition

The bulk of the work of getting ready for a bodybuilding competition is time spent in the gym. But there are all kinds of other details to consider. They know all the ins and outs of competing. 

For instance, bodybuilders need to know how to pose properly for competitions. They have to showcase the muscles they have developed through training. Posing in competition isn’t exactly natural. A coach teaches their clients how to pose and practice with them until they get it right. 

They Protect Their Clients

Bodybuilding can be harmful if not done correctly. Poor form and overtraining can lead to injuries. The focus on appearance and weight can lead to mental health issues and eating disorders. Protecting clients is an essential role of a bodybuilding specialist. This means ensuring they train safely but also helping them maintain a healthy perspective on their appearance and weight. 

Bodybuilding Specialists Provide Accountability

It’s easy to go into this sport with enthusiasm and determination, but it’s more difficult to stick with it over the long term. Bodybuilding is difficult. It requires a commitment to hours of workouts, a strict eating plan, getting enough sleep, and avoiding extras like junk food and alcohol. 

It’s not easy to tough it out without a coach pushing you. Bodybuilding specialists provide important accountability with regular check-ins, motivation, inspiration, and encouragement. They help clients remember why they started on their journeys and the goals they hope to achieve. 

They Ensure Their Clients Recover 

Recovery is important for all kinds of training, but in bodybuilding it’s much more precise. Building muscle requires adequate recovery time and a specific strategy. Bodybuilding coaches understand this about their sport and build appropriate recovery into their clients’ schedules to maximize results. 

Can a Personal Trainer Be a Bodybuilding Coach? 

Personal training is a great foundation for becoming a bodybuilding specialist. A personal trainer certification and experience in the career are not enough, though. To work with bodybuilders, you need more specialized expertise. 

Likewise, your own personal experience as a competitive bodybuilder isn’t enough to be a great coach. It is a great starting point, but also consider getting certified in bodybuilding. A certification course will teach you about muscle building and the technical aspects of strength training for hypertrophy and appearance. It will also prepare you to excel in the art of coaching, which is different from general personal training. 

A bodybuilding credential isn’t just for future coaches. As a personal trainer, you can benefit from this specialization in working with regular clients. Many clients come to you with physique goals, even if they have no interest in bodybuilding or competitions. 

A certification course gives you a lot of expert knowledge you can apply to these clients. You’ll learn the underlying mechanisms of building muscle mass and changing body composition to help clients meet their goals sooner. 

How to Become a Bodybuilding Coach

If you’re interested in becoming a bodybuilding competitor or becoming a bodybuilding specialist, it’s important to know what it involves. This is a unique sport that requires very specific knowledge. Becoming a coach can be rewarding, as can completing your first competition. 

The ISSA’s Certified Personal Trainer – Self-Guided Study Program is an excellent foundation for any career in fitness. Start here and work toward specializations, like bodybuilding.  

Already a personal trainer and ready for the next level? Take on ISSA’s Bodybuilding Specialist Program. Become the known authority in preparing athletes for everything from high-level bodybuilding to physique competitions.



Featured Course

ISSA | Bodybuilding Specialist

This distance education course covers training, recovery, motivation, and nutritional strategies to prepare the personal trainer to work with bodybuilders.


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